Truth

“Truth –
Fully present. Calm, balanced, at peace. Living my truth. A declaration of self — my soul’s freedom. Embracing who I am and what I stand for. Aware of my faults and loving myself anyway. I am content. This is me. I accept it and that’s what matters.”
– Fellow Flowers Blue Flower

I signed up for a virtual race and chose Team Truth because ….
5 years ago I made a life altering decision.  After being married for over 20 years, I made the choice to leave my abusive marriage and filed for divorce. I made a choice so that my son could live his truth. I made a choice so that my children and I would know freedom.  I have spent every day since,  sharing my story and helping others in similar situations so that they too can experience freedom and live their own truth.So, as my son would say, here’s the “Tea”….I missed the race on Saturday.
I signed up before I knew when graduation would be held and as luck would have it….my baby boy’s high school graduation was on race day. He is the last of my 5 to graduate so….the race was put on hold. Sunday it was hot as blazes and I found a million excuses. My adult kids had spent the night and I was not ready to leave “mom mode” for a run.When I originally registered for the 10K, I was not sure about the distance. See….I have not really run since January.
Why? Well, I wanted to celebrate my birthday, planning to run 5.5 to celebrate 55. I was about a 1/2 mile from my house when my pup and I were chased by an off leash dog. I turned, looked back, missed a curb and face planted …..on my arm which snapped like a frozen twig in the cold winter air. I drove myself to the hospital (much to the shock of the ER staff) only to find out that I had a colles fracture. Closed reduction, surgery, hours of OT and here I am.  What a great way to celebrate turning 55!
Since then, I walk over 10,000 steps per day with my dog but have not really tried to run. 
This morning I went to OT before school. Today was my first and last day teaching from home since March so I had a little time! My therapist asked if I was running yet and I told her I was a little apprehensive. She is a runner too…..”it’s time…” she said.
So, during my lunch hour  I decided to put on my MTM tank, tutu, flower and try for 3 miles. Yes, I was running around my neighborhood in a tutu! Full disclosure, I tucked the medal into my pocket fully planning to take a photo and celebrate just running a 5K. 
Well, I was feeling a little like Forrest Gump,  so I kept going!  
6.2 later…..I was done!
It was not fast.
It was not pretty.
There was walking.
There was crying.
There was cussing.
There were flowers (and my blue flower got lost!)There was another big dog (this time behind a fence)
There was a nervous pup that kept looking back to make sure Momma was ok.
There was a point at which a choice was made….go big or go home.
There was a text to my BRF at mile 5 asking for a kick in the a$$.There was a response “You can do anything for 14 minutes”
There was a friend who drove by at mile 5.5 honking, hollering and playing loud music! (Totally fate!)
There was the perfect song at the perfect time from the playlist when I needed a reminder that I am a fierce badass.
There was an eight year old pup pulling me the last few blocks (because he wanted his ball!)
There was a shade tree to collapse under and take a photo. 
There were a lot of signs that told me that this was the run I was supposed to have today.
I needed this run for so many reasons. 
I stopped caring about my finish time a years ago. 
Time is numbers on a clock. 
I am content.
I accept myself, my life and live my truth.
That’s what matters.
I was Made to Move. 
Forward is MY Pace. 
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Pride

June is Pride month. It is a month to celebrate the LQBTQIA+ community. It is far more than rainbows and parades. While the rainbows and parades are important to increase visibility, the work is year round and ongoing.
Pride is about celebrating celebrating people. Pride is about protecting those trans and queer young people. Pride is about validating intersections. Pride is about honoring those that paved the way like Marsha P. Johnson and those at the Stonewall Riots. Pride is about respecting those that can not or have not come out yet. Pride is about fighting for equal rights. Pride is about doing hard shit. Pride is about love.
My Pride is that of a mom to a gay son. My. Pride is that of an ally. I serve as a safe place for those who don’t have loving and accepting family. I coach parents on how to accept the child in front of them. I coach colleagues in how to ask about and honor pronouns. I serve as a safe space in my school. I am still learning and growing in my journey. I am far from perfect but I follow my heart.
This is why I partner and volunteer with Free Mom Hugs. This organization is a group of affirming parents and allies who love the LGBTQ+ community unconditionally. They are dedicated to educating families, church, and civic leaders encouraging them to not only affirm the LGBTQ+ community but to celebrate them. Each year at pride I walk in the parade just giving hugs and listening to the spoken and unspoken words of so many. I have heard stories….so many stories. Some bring tears of joy and some bring the tears of searing pain. But it is in those moments, there is so much LOVE. Love, acceptance and affirmation…..and did I mention LOVE?
This year I have taken on the task of organizing our group for the Chicago Pride Parade. The Parade has been moved to October this year, and for that I am so grateful as I am hoping for cooler weather!
If you are someone in need of a virtual hug, an in person hug, a listening ear, or just to be seen…. I am here for you. If you need support and do not know where to turn for help. I am here for you. If you are a parent who is learning to navigate a different path and want a friend to walk with you. I am here for you. I am here for you. My head and heart are judgment free zones. I may not have all the answers for you, but I can help find resources that will not only help you but others as well.
For those that are not accepted as they are, I am your mama now. I see you. You matter. I love you!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Home

Home. Sometimes you just have to run home. This weekend I ran home. I ran to my running home. I ran to my running family.
When I decided to run my first marathon I trained alone. I read some books and found a training plan that was manageable. I learned a lot that year and then joined a training group (how that happened is another story for another day!). What I didn’t realize at time was that joining that group would change my life. That group would become my chosen family. My running family.
3 years ago I ran what I now realize was my last marathon. If I had known it would be my last, I would have done things a little differently. No regrets…just some changes. I have signed up and trained since that last marathon but injuries took me out. My running family has always been supportive and ever present even when I thought I didn’t need them.
Saturday I ran home. I went back to the group I call family and the path I call home. The Chicago Marathon this year is virtual and some from the group were running the virtual marathon on the path. I returned to the group with my 4 legged running buddy wearing my tutu! I ran out on the path for a few miles and met up with runners on the last “leg” of the marathon. I walked with and supported the runners as best I know how. I realized it was where I belonged! I was cheering them on home!
I watched as many friends crossed the finish line in an entirely personal fashion. No throngs of people cheering as runners climbed Mount Roosevelt. No “official” finish line. No long walks to water, bananas and family. But what those runners did have was their kids running across the finish line with them. Family right there to hug them at the finish. And a full selection of treats other than bananas! It was amazing!
Today is National Coming Out Day. I know you are wondering what that has to do with running and marathons. Well, as I thought about running home, I realized that so many LQBTQIA+ people do not have a home to run to or even a safe place to run to. Runners, especially marathon runners, run for a reason. Each marathon I run for charity and then dedicate each mile to a special person. Today I ran the Pride Stride 5K, however, I felt called to run more…so I did! I ran for every person who does not feel safe coming out yet. I ran for those without a safe place to call home. I ran for all those who have come out only to be shamed and rejected. I ran……
Working with Free Mom Hugs, I have heard stories from the LQBTQIA+ community that have broken my heart and brought me to my knees. Feeling unloved or incapable of being loved is agonizing and traumatizing. Being forced to live life hidden away, unable to walk in truth, not being accepted and/or judged by family and friends leads to mental health issues, alcoholism, drug abuse and many other self destructive behaviors. As a parent it is our job to love and accept the child we have…not the one we wished we had or the one we wished we were as a kid. Thus, as a Mama Bear(an ally), I accept, hug (virtual now!) and love all LQBTQIA+ people, reminding them that they are worthy, they belong, they matter and they are loved as they are for who they are.
I have stepped into my role as coach, cheerleader and ally with the same determination and dedication as marathon training. This weekend I did not run a marathon but I ran for others. I supported others. I cheered for others. I may or may not run another marathon (never say never) but I know I will always have my chosen family and can always run home. I know that I can and will always provide a safe place for others.
Today I ran 6.2 miles in a tutu with my running buddy (wearing a cape and carrying his ball)! I ran in celebration of love, family, acceptance, belonging, endurance, and because we all deserve a place to run home to.
Peace,
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Domestic

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, which first began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It was designed to raise awareness and empower others to speak up, speak out, and get help. Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Now is time to take a stand. Support survivors and speak out against domestic violence.
Domestic violence is more than physical violence. It is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Ending the harm, shame, and stigma of domestic violence requires an understanding of the behaviors that define it. It affects millions of every gender, race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it. The mental wounds of Domestic Violence are invisible and run deep, with recovery often taking years of therapy.
Domestic Violence is:
Physical
Psychological
Financial
Verbal
Sexual
Digital
Stalking
Spiritual/Cultural
Damage to property
There are so many other forms of abuse and control, many that utilize the children. Once a victim has the courage to leave, they are often not safe and nor free, especially if there are children involved. Abusers use the children and the family court system in a variety of ways to continue the abuse.  The family court system is slow to change, thinking that ordering the abuser to attend anger management classes will address any issues thus correcting the abuser’s behavior. This only angers the abuser more thus empowering them in new ways.
To be clear, abusers never start out that way. They slowly, insidiously destroy the boundaries and self esteem of the victim. In a relationship with an abusive partner, the future-abuser has an agenda. And future-victim will not be aware until it’s too late. Those who abuse others are skilled manipulators who play on the fears and insecurities of others. They feed on the victims need for love and acceptance. They dish out kibbles here and there to keep the victim in line and coming back for more…..just like a casino! Lose every time you visit the casino? You stop going. You need the hope and promise of a win to continue going back. Victims always hold out hope that the abuser will change. Abusers groom victims to trust them, they learn the victims’ weaknesses and use that knowledge as fuel for further control.
What does Domestic Violence look like? It looks like the neighbor who wears a lot of makeup and long sleeves to cover bruises and then lies about how she got those injuries. It looks like the friend that never can go out with friends or when he does, he has to share a location with his partner at all times all the while his phone is blowing up. It looks like the lady in the checkout line who will not speak without looking at her partner first. It looks like a teenager who changes their whole personality for a partner. It looks like the friend who is isolated from friends and family by their partner. It looks like the depressed anxious person who can nor seem to focus, fearful of doing/saying the wrong thing, forever walking on eggshells. It looks like the one that is posting about how perfect life is…..It looks like me.
People who haven’t lived through this kind of trauma will always ask, “Why don’t they just leave?” It’s not that easy — if it was, they would. Choosing to leave an abusive partner is arguably the most life-changing and empowering decisions a person can make, especially if children are involved. Finally, the victim chooses to become a survivor. Victims live in fear and shame. The decision to leave is one that they will ponder many times before actually being courageous enough to actually leave. A nonjudgmental place of safety is what every victim craves. .
What can others do to support victims of Domestic Violence?
Watch for the signs. Start a conversation. Listen to them. Just listen. Do not pressure them. Do not tell them what to do. Do not blame them. Although your natural impulse may be to “rescue” someone from domestic violence, the person being abused needs to make the ultimate decision whether and when to leave and get help. Support them no matter their decision and continue to provide them with a loving and safe place. Once they do feel supported and safe, they will eventually make a life-changing choice. Always…
LISTEN TO THEM!
LOVE THEM!
BELIEVE THEM!
BELIEVE THEM!
BELIEVE THEM!
BELIEVE THEM!
We need to break the cycle of violence. We need to continue sharing stories, listening, supporting and loving, all the while raising awareness, empowering victims to become survivors and thrivers. Lives depend on it!
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace





Ordained

I am now an ordained minister! I followed the lead of my friend and founder of Free Mom Hugs, Sara Cunningham by becoming ordained!
With restrictions from Covid starting to lift, people are beginning to plan small gatherings for weddings. It is often difficult to find a minister to officiate, especially if you are part of the LQBTQIA+ community.
I love LOVE! I am a strong, vocal advocate for love. Becoming ordained really allows me to support and honor acceptance and love between all people.
I do not have a religious focus (unless that is your choice)…just your love story!
If you are in need of a minister for your wedding, please contact me! I would love to officiate your ceremony and celebrate your love.