some thoughts on love

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Today, the Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages in Utah and it makes me sad. A Utah girl born and raised, I was so excited when I heard the news in December that the ban on same-sex marriages was struck down by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby. I honestly never imagined that happening in Utah, at least not in this decade, and to have it happen a day after New Mexico was pretty amazing.

Now, I don’t want to get religious or political here. That’s not the point of this blog. I want to talk about love. Last August, I wrote what I think love is, and I want that for everyone … no exceptions. With a few edits, here’s what I wrote:

I think love is kind. And simple. And happy. It’s that feeling of being proud of the person or people you’re with. It’s the quiet moments when you’re sitting next to them and nothing else in the world matters because you’re content. 

True love is selfless. It also makes things more bright and beautiful … and light. It doesn’t weigh you or others down. And it can be a fairy tale, but it’s one you have to create for yourself, no matter the circumstance. No one can do that for you.

I think love, for me, is being able to say and/or feel it often for others, no strings attached. It’s in laughter over the simplest of things. It’s in long days filled with adventure that I never want to end. It’s when my friends, fiance and family are happy and excited to be with me, and I feel exactly the same way about them. It’s when they are there for you in the hard times … the times you cry for hours and they don’t care because they love you. It’s when you see something is wrong with them and you try your hardest to help.

I think love can last that way. I think it can last when we care more for others than ourselves. When we don’t need some Hollywood plot to make us feel like it’s real. When we don’t get lost thinking love has to be magic and fireworks all the time, and it’s actually just as strong on the simple days. And I think when we come to the end of our lives, it’s wishing that others are happy without us, no matter what. And maybe if we lose someone, love is about taking adventures without them … for them.

I don’t think it should matter if you’re gay or straight. Everyone should be able to feel the kind of love they need and imagine. And if they want to get married, they should have the choice.

Growing up, I was taught gay marriage was wrong and I believed it because that’s what many people instilled in me. Not only was I taught that it was morally wrong, but it was culturally wrong. People couldn’t really wrap their heads around it because they didn’t understand it.

And then college came and my views started to flip upside-down (or perhaps right-side up) as classes invited panels of LGBT students to talk to their peers about growing up gay, hiding it, coming out and coming to terms with a world that often still did not accept them. That was only 10 years ago. Our country has come so far in 10 years, but days like today can put us right back to 2004 in an instant.

I remember listening to the stories that came out of these panels and I thought long and hard about them afterward. This issue wasn’t something I could put in an imaginary box and hide away because my heart wanted something for these students who often felt like outcasts in their hometowns, their schools, and sometimes even their families.

I remember one night, years after listening to that first panel of LGBT students, I told one of my best friends that not allowing same-sex couples to marry did not seem fair. I asked him, “What’s the happiness in that? What’s the happiness in not getting to be with the one you love in the way you want?” He didn’t agree with me on the issue, but he could see my point, and he didn’t have an answer.

As I’ve said in a previous post, I now believe we are all connected in some way. Several experiences and a lot of thought has gone into this belief. I believe we are connected to the dead, the living and future generations yet to grace this earth. And although each person’s influence will affect our lives differently, one way we can ultimately connect is love.

People who disagree with same-sex marriage often say they still love gay people, but just don’t think they should be able to marry. And while I believe they mean what they say, I think they are still more concerned with themselves than the couples who long to have families just like straight people do. And I always have to wonder, why are people so afraid of same-sex couples who love each other? Even if they are allowed to marry, that does not change the relationships straight people get to have at all. I just don’t feel there is enough love in the statement, “I love them, but …”

Love isn’t about making someone act the way you want them to act. Love is just about … love. No strings attached.

In 2012, I went to the Pride Parade in Salt Lake City and I can honestly say the atmosphere was full of love. There was laughter and rainbows and goofy costumes and there was cheering. There was support. And there were a whole lot of people, both gay and straight, on floats … entertaining as a way to be accepted by crowds who had already accepted them.

I’ve seen videos of same-sex couples getting married in Utah and New Mexico and they are beautiful. Some people have waited decades for this moment, and I hope in Utah it’s not taken away for long.

In New Mexico, the Dona Ana County Clerk just started handing out licenses to same-sex couples one day, saying simply it was time. That happened to be the same week Travis and I got married. We were gone less than a week, and when we got back, we knew four same-sex couples who also tied the knot. It was pretty amazing.

One of the women we know, who had actually told us that a marriage certificate didn’t mean anything, got married and ate her words. She said marriage actually did feel different to her. She said there was something sweet about it, even though she’d been with her partner for 16 years already.

So, I know my little blog won’t change the minds that are already made, and I never want to make people feel bad. My hope is that we can each evaluate what love means to us and what marriage means to us. And if it’s something we find beautiful and beneficial, I hope we’ll wish it for everyone who wants it … no strings attached.

warm memories

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This year I’ve found it’s possible to actually like January. I’ve lived in Albuquerque, N.M., for a little more than a year now and I’m loving the sun. It’s not warm here, like many people think, but it’s not freezing, either. And yes, we do get snow, but not in huge amounts, and it usually disappears quickly. Can you tell I’m not much of a snow person?

Yesterday, Travis and I went on our first hike of the year which basically means 2014 is starting out well.

I hope wherever you are, you’re able to find a way to like January. Maybe you already do. Maybe you’re a ski bum, or someone who likes to snowshoe, or someone with an attitude much better than mine when it comes to winter.

There’s that old movie, “An Affair to Remember,” that has such a lovely line.

“Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.”

I hope wherever you are and whoever you’re with, you’re able to make some warm memories this season.

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a million billion trillion stars

This image captured by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) highlights the Small Magellanic Cloud.  Also known as NGC 292, the Small Magellanic Cloud is a small galaxy about 200,000 light-years away.

A Man Who Had Fallen Among Thieves
By E.E. Cummings

A man who had fallen among thieves
lay by the roadside on his back
dressed in fifteenthrate ideas
wearing a round jeer for a hat

fate per a somewhat more than less
emancipated evening
had in return for consciousness
endowed him with a changeless grin

whereon a dozen staunch and Meal
citizens did graze at pause
then fired by hypercivic zeal
sought newer pastures or because

swaddled with a frozen brook
of pinkest vomit out of eyes
which noticed nobody he looked
as if he did not care to rise

one hand did nothing on the vest
its wideflung friend clenched weakly dirt
while the mute trouserfly confessed
a button solemnly inert.

Brushing from whom the stiffened puke
i put him all into my arms
and staggered banged with terror through
a million billion trillion stars

I read this poem on another blog a few years ago and fell in love with it, mostly because of the last stanza. We like to think people would never leave someone on the roadside drowning in their troubles, but it happens. I don’t think this is because people are necessarily thoughtless; maybe they just don’t know how to help or what to do. I like the idea of a person brushing the stiffened puke off this fallen man, putting him in his arms, and carrying him through a million billion trillion stars. We’ve all fallen at some point and we’re lucky if we have someone pick us up again, stagger and bang through the terror and help us see the stars.

Photo by Space Dynamics Laboratory

life in jellybeans

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A few weeks ago, Travis showed me the jellybean video below. It’s been viewed more than four million times, so there’s a good chance you’ve already seen it. If not, take a look. It provides an awesome visual explanation of how short life is.

Even if we live as long as the average person, the extra time we have between work, sleep and going to the bathroom is very limited. It’s important to ask ourselves what we’re doing with those precious hours, days and years. Are they spent helping people? Are they spent laughing? Are they spent loving? Are they spent doing the things we’ve always wanted to do, or learning the things we’ve wanted to learn?

My favorite line comes at the end of the video:

“How much time have you already spent worrying, instead of doing something that you love? What if you just had one more day? What are you doing to do today?”

Since it’s the beginning of brand new year, I’m hoping this video can inspire you the way it’s inspired me to make 2014 and beyond the best year(s) because we never know how many jellybeans we have left.

friends

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Let’s be friends.

There is absolutely nothing in this big, wide world I love more than friends. They are the people who inspire me, make fun memories with me, who listen to me when I won’t stop talking, who laugh with me, who text me ridiculous things to make my day, who stay up late with me, and who give me a million reasons to be a better person.

Even though I’ve been lucky in life to have many wonderful friends, I’m always looking to expand my circle. At a young age I was taught to be friends with everyone. My mom, who is my biggest role model, told me over and over not to leave anyone out, to avoid cliques, and to be nice because everyone deserves a friend. And at some point around my junior high years, my brother told me something he probably doesn’t remember, but it’s stayed with me always. He said, “Everyone has something cool about them if you look for it.”

To master being a good friend to everyone is something I strive for. The last couple years I’ve learned the things that separate people from one another are usually not important. We are all connected in some way if we look for it, and there is something cool about each and every person if we choose to find it.

I like to think someday I’ll have a small, cozy home with big windows, a fireplace and a giant table where folks will come over for dinner and we’ll eat fatty comfort food and creamy, chocolatey desserts over candlelight. OAR will play in the background because I feel like OAR can ease a crowd. And nothing will be too serious because there will definitely be plenty of laughter.

Hopefully people will want to visit because they feel comfortable and happy in our home. Differences will be celebrated instead of shunned. The Harry Potter lover will chat with the guy obsessed with all sports and beer, and the Vogue connoisseur will chat with a grandma who’s been wearing the same sweater for 25 years. A 45-year-old someone with a real passion for politics can find something in common with the girl who cares about nothing but makeup and shampoo. Perhaps they could talk about … makeup and shampoo.

I’d like to make a place where religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, age and income are not factors in whether or not relationships can be formed. Because with friends, amazing things can happen.

My family members make up some of my greatest friends. They loved me from the beginning and I loved them. And sometimes, friendship can turn into something more … you just never know. After six years of being friends, a guy named Travis and I fell in love and got married two years after that.

I’m often thinking of ways I can be a better friend. What I know for sure is friendship takes effort. It’s not something that appears on your doorstep. It has to be sought, and if you want it to last, you can’t take it lightly. You have to actually care, listen, love and laugh with your friends. You have to make time for them. You have to be there in good times and bad. And even when days, months and years get in the way, you have to be willing to pick up where you left off when you get the chance.

I know you can’t be best friends with everyone, and sometimes, because life is difficult and complicated, there are reasons people can’t be in your life. Sometimes people scar you or you scar them. Even if you can’t talk to them, though, there is a lot of power in forgiveness. I do believe there is a way to have a friendly acceptance toward every person in the world. There is a way to have a warm heart for those you don’t even know. I’m not there yet – not even close – but I hope to be there someday.

If you and I aren’t friends yet, I hope we can be. But I will warn you, once you make your way into my life (and I hope you will!), I won’t let you out easily.

Let’s be friends. Want to share some creamy, chocolatey dessert?

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we see stars

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In 2011, I experimented with writing an anonymous blog called Little Lovely Stars. After about a year and a half, 37 posts and 0 comments, it never amounted to much.

I originally wanted the blog to be a creative space where I could share original writing, graphic design, photos, quotes I loved and anything I deemed beautiful. I wanted several posts to relate to stars, but I also wanted to share what I was learning about life, love and this great, big world. Unfortunately, I was struggling at the time I started posting and several posts in the beginning were gloomy, which was not what I was going for. But when you think no one’s reading, sometimes it’s easier to let out the dark parts of your soul.

My boyfriend (now husband) was the only person who ever knew about the blog and he was my only consistent reader. I don’t know how Little Lovely Stars was visited 680 times, but I imagine there were people who stumbled across the blog somehow, but never came back. I didn’t post regularly enough to have followers. I didn’t advertise anywhere and, to be honest, my posts for the most part weren’t that compelling.

I did like having the secret of being anonymous. It was kind of an open secret on the world wide web. And I did like the whole idea of the blog, though I never managed to make it what I wanted it to be.

So, this year, I’m starting over. I deleted the old blog and created this one. And while it’s not going to be anonymous, the intention behind Little Lovely Stars is still the same: to have a place where I can post about all the things I find beautiful and inspiring. I want a place to share creativity, imagination and inspiration. Some posts will relate to what I feel about the nighttime sky and stars, which are lovely to me, and some posts will be more random. I’ll share the things that are important to me which range from friends and family to good conversations, food, music and breathtaking landscapes.  What I don’t want this space to become is a day-to-day journal … I have another blog for that.

I’m hoping if I have any followers at all, I can create a space for them to come read a well-written, beautiful quote, or see a lovely photo, a new design I’ve put together, or read something from my heart.

I’m working to become a more positive person, so I want this space to be a reminder of the positive things all around me. And I want to share them because I love when others share these things with me. I want to remember that there are always positive things happening all the time, even during the hard times.

One of my favorite quotes I read years ago and ended up planting in a song is, “When it’s dark enough, we see stars.”

Stars are always there even when we can’t seem them. Even when we don’t recognize them. And sometimes it takes darkness for us to fully appreciate them.

I hope to someday be the type of person who has the perspective that little lovely stars are there all the time, in darkness and in light. They are there in the forms of people, laughter, music, art, good writing, the outdoors, moments of adventure and moments of love.

I view myself as a pretty optimistic person, but sometimes I get lost as we all do and forget how blessed I am. With life being so short, I want to limit my negative thoughts as much as I possibly can.

Over the next year, I’m hoping Little Lovely Stars will amount to something this time around. And I’m excited to share this journey with you.