Monday, July 14, 2014

"IF ONLY..."

Those two words, when paired together create one of the saddest phrases in the English language.

I've chosen to live my life with no regrets. Sure, there are things I would have done differently if given the chance for a do-over. And yes, I often feel as though my upbringing might have cheated me out of many things that others take for granted in life. But in the end, I am pretty happy with who I am right now and know that changing the past, would only change who I am and nothing else.

Here are a few things that lead to that "If only" phrase of regret, and perhaps how to elude them.

Wearing a mask to impress others. If we are always trying to be something that we are not, one day we will wake up and realize that we are not ourselves. When we spend too much time concentrating on everyone's perception of us, or being who someone else wants us to be, we eventually forget who we are.
You don't have to be perfect to impress or inspire people. Instead, let them be impressed and inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.

Letting someone else create your dreams for you. We all have trouble discovering who we are. Then we must learn to be happy with who we find ourselves to be. It is often a struggle to stay true to your own goals and dreams. If you have people that that don't agree with you, Good! It means you are standing your ground and walking your own path. When you catch yourself excitingly losing track of time, you know you're doing it right.

Keeping negative company. Bad attitudes are infectious. Don't allow yourself to get caught up in someone else's trouble. Being around negative people is your choice, not an obligation. Free yourself to keep the company of compassionate, generous and patient people, leaving the anxiety behind.

Being selfish and egotistical. A life filled with loving deeds and good character is the best tombstone. Those who you inspired and shared your love with will remember how you made them feel, long after your time here has expired. So carve your name on hearts, not stone. What you do for yourself alone dies with you; what you have done for others will remain.



Avoiding change and growth. If you want to know your past, look in to your present conditions. If you want to know your future, look in to your present actions. We all must let go of the old to make way for the new. The old way, no matter how good or bad, is gone. If you accept this now and take steps toward the future, you will position yourself for lasting success.

Giving up when the going gets tough. There are no failures in life, just results. Even if things don't go the way you expected, don't be disheartened. Learn what you can and move on. As long as we keep moving forward, we will come out ahead. Even the smallest of steps, keeps the momentum going.

Trying to micromanage every little detail. Life should be touched, not strangled. Sometimes you've got to relax and let life happen. Learn to let go a little and take a deep breath. When everything settles down again, take the next step forward. You don't always have to know where you're going to be headed somewhere great.

Settling for less than you deserve. Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to wait for what you deserve. Sometimes we have to be knocked down further than we thought possible so that we can stand up taller than we've ever been. Our eyes need to be washed with tears so we can see the possibilities in front of us with clear vision.

Endlessly waiting until tomorrow. We always think we have more time than we do. One day we will wake up and there won't be any more time to work on the things we wanted to. I've seen too many lives "cut short", with goals left unachieved.


The world doesn't owe us anything. It is us, whom owes the world something. There comes a time to stop daydreaming and start DOING. We need to develop a backbone, not a wishbone. We each need to to take full responsibility for our lives and take control. It is our life! We are important and we are needed. If we always wait for the right time, it will never happen. Someday is now; the somebody that the world has been waiting for is YOU. Your life until this point has been training for the exciting things to come.

Life is The Brighter Side of the Grave. This is your chance to make a difference in this world. Chose to leave a legacy of Love. The more you love for the fewest of reasons, the more reasons there will be.
You know, love life, love another, love yourself, love people, love mornings, love French toast, love sunshine, love rain... everything.
Same goes for the more you laugh, smile and skip. But be careful with waving, winking and honking.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

A New/Old Home

Lately, I've been fascinated by people who choose to restore old homes and buildings rather than just tear them down. Living near Detroit, I see thousands of buildings that were designed and fabricated during the industrial age. As time found them in a state of disrepair, many were stripped of their grandeur in fear of pieces falling off. Many more were abandoned and left for time, weather and vandals to have their way with. It is sad that it has gotten to a point where there are no more options but to tear them down and start a fresh. But the truth is, starting fresh will not happen until people start to take some responsibility for their own actions and lives. To watch the Detroit newscast, even for just one day, many would loose hope for all humanity. It seems like there is no end to the destruction. Destruction that starts in the mind and spreads to the surroundings.

Leaving a neighborhood is not the answer to saving it. Chasing the riff-raff out, is not the answer either; they will only go somewhere else. Saving these historic landmarks, starts with education. From there, we can teach people to take responsibility for their own selves, homes and neighborhoods. We also need to lead by example. I believe this with everything I have.

Having stated that, I recently was thinking of leaving my own neighborhood. I've been living in the home that I had built twenty years ago. In that time, I've made that house into the home that I've always wanted, with attention to every detail. It is a modest home by any means. I never intended to stay here and didn't want to sink a lot of money into a temporary place. But during my years here, I have witnessed the rise and fall of the neighborhood. I've seen many faces come and go. I've always taken an ownership in the entire area. And yeah, I'd say that I love it here. I'm comfortable here. But with my new found freedom from family obligations, I thought it might be time for a change.

In the interest of combining my home and business, I've had my eyes open for something with a little more space. Character is a must in a home that would welcome me every day. I'd love a small yard in a small town atmosphere. Walking to stores and entertainment would be great. Considering the nature of my business, a garage is a must. At least space for three large cars. The other day, I ran across someone that has a home on a main street in a small town. Built in 1926, it's an Early American Craftsman with lots of wood moldings, stained and leaded glass windows and a lovely garden in the back. They have not put it up for sale yet and I would have first option to buy. After falling in love with the charm of the home, reality peeked it's head into the room and reminded me that it has only a small two car garage and a narrow driveway.

Feeling dejected at the reality of the situation, I turned to my own home and looked at it with new eyes. I've come to recognize that my home and the surrounding neighborhood is exactly what I have made it. It is exactly what I need and want. There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into this house and I like renting a garage. It gives me a sense of "going to work".


Each of the cabinets in my home was put together by hand, piece by piece. The floor was laid one board at a time.


Every color and every finish was selected by me (with the input of my beloved)



Only the finest is worthy of entering here, my little oasis from the chaotic world.



Sometimes walls had to be moved to make things just right.



This is a place where neighbors and friends are always welcome.



This is a place that I am not leaving. Not anytime soon.

For those of you that have been following this blog for a while and wondering where I've been, I've been working out private issues after the loss of my parents and you can see some of the results in the photos of my home above. Design and hard work, help me to think my way through things.

This is only a sampling of the many things I've been working on. Stick around and you will see some of my other projects.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Proud

June is Pride month in the good old USA. And I am not here to convince anyone that it is a good thing or bad. I will say that I am proud of who I am. I am proud of the life that I have built with my husband. I've been to but never marched in a parade or even danced on a table at an after-party. But in 2005, after 6 years of a committed relationship, when Ontario legalized marriage equality, we proudly declared our love in front of a magistrate at Toronto city hall, during Toronto Pride weekend. And I like to think that we sent a message to the government back at home, that we were willing to travel to make it official.

I like to think that I don't know many people that would argue against my right to live as I see fit. And I never try to tell anyone else how to live their lives. I do however get tired of being called a "non-believer" or "sinner".
Firstly, I don't believe that either of those is real. The term non-believer could be used for anyone who does not believe the way another does (about anything). Just because a person believes a certain religion, does not make them any better than someone who believes another religion or someone who believes in science or inner spirituality. I know what I believe and if you believe some old book written by men that did not know that the earth is round and floating in space, I could call you a non-believer.
Second, I don't believe there is such a thing as sin. I believe that all people should respect other people regardless of how stupid you might think they are. Respect them for where they are in their own journey. And if I choose to overeat or lust after someone, that is my issue. As long as I respect the people around me, then who's business is it but mine? And I really don't care if you like who I choose to sleep with because odds are, I wouldn't choose whom you've chosen either.

There has been a lot of religious nuts out there recently pushing back against the momentum of equal rights for all. I will remind them that our country was founded by people looking to escape persecution. And that the 1st amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an established religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

Recently, I bit my tongue when I was helping my sister move to a new apartment and two of her friends from church rode with me in the moving van. They were blindly debating that gays should not be allowed to marry. One even suggested that he knew someone that had been healed of his sin of being gay simply by repenting and accepting Jesus into his life. The other asked if the man now had a girl friend and the reply was "No, but he would like one." It was all I could do to keep from laughing and driving the truck off the road. They then went on debating the "rules of being saved". I was so proud of myself as I drove silently listening and absorbing how stupid they sounded, talking about Paul as if he were their neighbor.

I grew up in the Penticostal church. I listened and learned what I was taught. I lived that life for far too long, blindly going along with what I was told. I had no life of my own. I was not gay. I was not straight. I was Christian. I believed what I was told through and through to the point of giving up my life for Christ. There were many events in my life that brought me to where I am today. In my daily work, I respect each church and all that attend. But in my private life, I will not pretend to be something that I am not any longer. I will not be ashamed of who I am either. I will be proud.

So, even though it is now July, Happy Pride!


Monday, June 30, 2014

An Obituary filled with Hope

Since this is the Brighter Side of the Grave, and this obituary is already being shared around the internet, I felt it was appropriate to share it a little more.

Wouldn't it be great if we could all look at death this way....


Nevena Ann Topic

Newburyport, MA — Ann would like to let you know that her work here is done. She received a call, a sort of an offer you can’t refuse, for an appointment from which she will not be returning. This assignment comes with a huge sign-on bonus, a reunion with family and friends she has not seen in a long time. Job security is exactly 110 percent. Her new mission takes her to a wonderful place where she will be socializing, dancing, gardening and reading to her heart’s content. Music, laughter and love are guaranteed. Food is delicious and you never gain an ounce. She left detailed instructions for her husband and children to celebrate her mission here, which has now been completed. Low adherence to this instruction will not be tolerated.
We want to let her know that she did a great job and wish her a safe journey. We will remember her smile, her warmth, her energy, her love for life, family and friends, but also students, colleagues and clients, many of whom over time also became friends. She worked very hard all her life, up until the very end. She made a difference in the lives of many. We invite you to join us and celebrate together.
ARRANGEMENTS: Life Celebration will take place on Saturday, April 6, at 1 p.m., at Roger’s Funeral Home, 35 Green Street, in Newburyport. Internment will be private