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This morning I made the decision to break up with the NFL – The National Football League. I’ve been having a love-hate affair with the NFL for well over 50 years, and finally – I have had enough.

It’s sad to walk away, but sometimes – sometimes we have to do what feels right for us – for our well-being, for our sense of what is right and wrong. For me – it is time to walk away. Time to put my NFL hats and my NFL t-shirts on the shelf and spend the time I would watching football doing something constructive, and spend the money I would on hats, t-shirts, etc on something more positive – you know- like a trip to England or France or Big Sur.

Watching football was a nostalgia thing for me. It was Sunday afternoons in the early 1960’s at my Aunt Jeans laying on the floor watching the Baltimore Colts with my Dad and my Uncle Mike. It was a bonding kind of thing – not so much of a drinking, yelling, eating and cursing kind of thing.

I love football, but when we went to the Stadium last year to see the San Diego Chargers, I thought that perhaps the wand search was a little too much, along with all the rules about swearing and fighting and drinking – seriously – are we not adults? Do we not know not to drink too much and punch people? Obviously, we do not.

Susan and I stopped going to night games when we had to lay down on the floor of our car and call 911 because people were running through the parking lot shooting at each other.  Again – there was alcohol involved in this incident and something about someone wearing the wrong jersey. Seriously – you’re going to shoot someone because you don’t like their jersey?

The whole Ray Rice thing was the last straw for me.  I feel that the NFL cares little for me as a woman, or as a fan. I don’t care who instigated the fight – I don’t care that she married him after he knocked her out – I care that he’s the pro football player trained to hit and injure. He’s also a man and should know that you never strike a woman – no matter what – you walk away. And I totally care that the value of knocking out a woman to the NFL is a two-game suspension.

  • Vincent Jackson got a 3-game suspension for unlicensed driving.
  • Terrelle Pryor got a 5-game suspension for violating the NCAA’s improper benefits policy
  • Plaxico Burress got a 4-game suspension for shooting himself in the leg – He was later sentenced to two years in jail for violating the stringent gun laws of New York.
  • Michael Vick was suspended indefinitely before the 2007 season. He served almost two years in federal prison. He was permitted to return to the NFL and was suspended for four games of the 2009 season.

Breaking up is never easy, goodbye is not always goodbye, but for now – the National Football League is not something I want to associate with. If they were to apologize to women for their lack of respect, and talk about domestic violence – I’ll pull my hats off the shelf – until then – my Sunday’s just freed up!

So, if you are watching and drinking and yelling – remember that the NFL places the value of women at two games.  For me: it’s time to walk away – and so I shall.  For the truth of the matter is this:  Football is a game – domestic violence is most surely NOT.

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Perhaps the answers to life lie in not where we’re going, but where we have been. And maybe not so much where we have been, but who was there with us – who traveled the road with us. Who ran us off the road, who walked beside us, who helped us find the short-cuts, and who was reading the map along the way.

Now that I’m in my 60’s, I understand that our lives are touched in some way by all the people who have come in and out of our lives. If only for a moment or a day or years – our lives are somehow changed by every encounter we’ve ever had.

Every path –every person – every opinion – every compliment – every criticism – every love – every hurt – every laugh – every tear – every little thing and every single person has brought us to this very moment in time.

We may have been shaped by where we grew up and who are families were, but as we grew up and faced the world on our own – the decisions we had to make were ours. At the moment we were making these decisions, we may have thought we didn’t have a choice – but – even if you did not make a decision – that was your choice – your decision was not to decide. We have to own our decisions – at some point we need to take responsibility for our lives.

I believe we spend way too much time finding a way to blame our parents or our siblings or our friends or religion or politics or whatever you can think of for our lot in life.  The simple truth is – we are responsible for our lives – we are responsible for our happiness.  It’s up to each of us to make ourselves happy. No one else can possible be responsible for that – no one.

I also believe we spend far too much time trying to figure out what makes us happy and we miss out on just being happy.  Life isn’t about what you have – it’s about who you are.

I read a book recently that made me understand that every day we can choose to go one way or the other. To go with the good or not go with the good. To go away from things like anger, hate, war, evil, prejudice – or – we can choose to go toward them. The choice is ours to make.

Whichever you choose to go toward – that is who you become.  If you fill your life with anger and greed and hate and unrest – then it’s inevitable that you become this person – angry, arrogant, hateful, resentful, blaming, bitter…

On the other hand – go toward the good – and this is the person you become. Nonjudgmental, loving, understanding, giving, compassionate, happy, content.

It may sound easy – this going toward the good – but during the course of a day we can slip toward anger in the blink of an eye. Someone pulls in front of you on the freeway and you have to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting them – going toward anger happens before you even blink your eyes! Someone’s teasing feels more like being bullied, someone pushes your buttons simply to get an angry reaction from you, and someone plays games with your heart…

It is the wise choice – this going toward the good – but it’s not always the easy choice. Choose wisely.

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1-IMG_0090-001This morning I stood in line for about 4 hours with approximately 1000 women. There were men there – maybe 100 or so – the rest were women. Women of all sizes and shapes and color and religion and status and age – we all stood, without complaining, waiting our turn to meet Hillary Clinton.

There are some moments in our lives that define us – for me – this was one of them. I’m 61 years old and I finally understood why there are men who don’t particularly want women to be united. I finally understood why men didn’t want women to have the vote and why there are men still don’t want a woman to have any voice when it comes to our own bodies.

It’s because – Women who are united – on anything – are strong and powerful and know in their hearts they can facilitate change.

This is why men want to keep women down. This is why they hit them and alienate them and keep them “barefoot and pregnant.” Not all men – but some men – they just don’t want women to have any power or know that they could even have the chance at any power or self-respect.

I’m not bashing men.  I know there is this belief that lesbians hate men – trust me when I tell you – that’s not the case. I enjoy the company of men – well – most men.  I have men in my life whom I simply adore. I find them sweet and funny and they value the women in their lives.

But – I also have men in my life who absolutely do not value women – any women. Women who have strong opinions – women who are smart – women who have power, they especially don’t like them, and I find these men hard to understand and hard to have any sort of relationship with. Go figure…

The thing I noticed most in my 4 hours of bonding was that we all wanted the same thing – freedom and peace.  We all agreed we were are tired of war and death and yes – guns…

Is that a liberal thing – the not wanting guns? I honestly don’t know – but I know that the women with whom I had the pleasure of spending time with this morning are sick of the guns being worn over shoulders and on belts while we’re being told it’s for our own protection. We all admitted that we thought twice about coming to this book signing for fear that someone with said gun slung over their shoulder would come and take a whack at we crazy liberals wanting to see Hillary; the Benghazi killer!  We also all agreed that if we had stayed home – the gun-slingers would have won, and that wasn’t going to happen – not on our watch. So there we were.

We talked – as women do – about other women. We wondered why any women would vote against their own best interest – and why women just can’t seem to find the strength to stand up for one another.  Some of the questions we asked one another were:

Why would a woman vote for a man who wants to control where you can get birth control? And how do we help her see that this is her right as a human being to be in control of her own body? How do we educate women? How can we help one another? How do we unite and how do we learn how to treat one another with respect? It starts with each one of us – respecting one another enough to leave the men out of the equation. Women need to respect and care for one another – period.

These women made me understand that perhaps television shows such as The Housewives of OC and NYC and NJ and anywhere else – were to blame for how we see each other as women.  My partner Susan, has told me this for years, and now – finally – I get it.  These women certainly do not treat one another with any respect – and I get that I shouldn’t find it entertaining – I should be offended. Scripted or not – these women are not what we should aspire to be and certainly not an example for our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, or any of the women in our lives. The 80-something woman who asked me just what it was I got from those shows was quite pleased with herself when I had nothing to give her as an answer. And when she asked me why I watched – again – I had nothing – and again – she looked at me with raised eyebrows – I knew she was thinking: “Well then – why are you watching?”

What I also got was the thing that united us this morning was Hillary Clinton. We all had our own reasons for being there – but in the end – it was all about Hillary. Maybe we all see ourselves in her in one way or another; Perhaps we’ve been betrayed by a man that we love, or betrayed by a woman we thought was a friend with the man that we love, or maybe we are ridiculed by the men in our lives for trying to be strong and independent thinkers, maybe it’s waiting for the birth of your first grandchild – and maybe – just maybe – we simply aspire to make the world a better place by living our best life.  A life of service – a life of choice, a life of caring for one another.  Perhaps these things are some of what we see in Hillary Clinton.

So – Thank you Hillary – for leading the way – for showing women what we can be – what we should be – what we will be. And thank you to all the strong, loving, caring, powerful women who shared those 4 hours in line with me on Girard Ave in La Jolla, CA this morning.  It was inspirational – to say the least…

For the past 2 days I have thought of little other than the fires that are burning to the North and East of my home here in San Diego County. It’s been unusually hot in San Diego County – over 100 – and windy. The sort of weather we expect in September or October – certainly not in the middle of May. And yet – here it is.

Susan and I are safe – We have electric – We have the internet – We even have a portable Air Conditioner that keeps us quite comfortable. We have food and water and a bed to sleep in. Our children and grandchildren are safe – but  others are not so fortunate.  My heart breaks to watch the devastation and see homes going up in flames. I feel helpless and without a sense of stability. There is this sense that all is not safe in our world.

Southern California is dry – I mean – 100 year drought dry.  The canyons that surround our home are filled with things that would probably ignite if someone just has the thought of a burning match.  Add to that the signs that tell me there could be unexploded weapons buried there – and you have the formula to keep me awake at night when fires are burning.

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I’ve also been thinking the past 2 days about the people in the world who live with the threat of fire and bombs and gunfire and death every day of their lives.  I can’t imagine how their lives must be. In certain parts of the world – this is their life – this is what they know. There fears are mostly a reality, and my fears seem minuscule compared to what they face.

But, the thing is – these are my fears, and this is my home – mine and Susan’s. I understand that most of our things can be replaced. Still, I love where I live and my neighbors could never be replaced. I’ve never lived anywhere where I have been so loved, so cared for and accepted for exactly who I am. Susan and I are safe here; and that means more than you could ever know.

Everyone wants and needs to feel safe in their home. Safe from abuse, safe from violence, safe from prejudice, safe from harm, safe from a world that sometimes chooses to belittle and judge.  We all deserve such a life, such a home, such a refuge. We are blessed with such a place.

Now – if I could just do something about those unexploded weapons that are scattered all over this place I call home…

Keep San Diego County in your thoughts and your prayers.  We need all the goodness we can get…

I was informed by an email awhile back that my family wasn’t a “real” family. The woman who wrote me this email went on to explain that my family couldn’t possibly be a “real” family because I’m a homosexual. God would never deem to allow me to have a loving family since I am a sinner in the largest sense of the word.

Susan, my partner of 33 years has 4 children and in the course of those 33 years – her children have also become my children. I love them – I worry about them – I support them – all the things that Mothers feel for their children – I feel for these 4 children.

Along with the children have come spouses and grandchildren and pets and friends. Girlfriends and boyfriends and proms and graduations. School plays and competitions and dressing as angels and wise men in Christmas pageants at church. Weddings and divorces and fights and hugs and love and yelling and laughing and adventures in Las Vegas! Standing in front of Stonehenge crying on my sons shoulder, sitting with my daughter in a courtroom trying to be the strong one for her and my grandchildren. Picking kids up at school, driving all over town to find just the right gift…

Does any of this sound like a real family to you?

Sitting at my daughters house yesterday laughing with the grand-kids and just enjoying all the love in the room – I understood how blessed I was to be surrounded by this family that makes my heart so happy.

I thought of the woman who wrote me that vile email and I sort of felt sorry for her – sort of.  I feel sorry she will never understand or accept the love that flows through our family. I feel sorry that she will never, ever know the joy of loving someone for who they are – and I’m sorry that her “faith” is such that she is filled with such loathing.

I’m sorry that she doesn’t know that “family” is all about the people who love you and accept you and support you – no matter what. It’s not always about blood – it’s about love. Sometimes the whole blood thing is just too complicated and way too judgmental. I don’t know why that is – I don’t know why the people you want to love you the most just can’t… or won’t…

I never thought I wanted to be a Mother – I never thought I’d be a very good Mother… I was wrong – on both counts.  I love these children and grandchildren more than they will ever know – I hope they know they can count on me – I hope they know the joy they have brought into my life, I hope they know how they fill my heart with such joy just being in the same room with them. I tell them – I just hope they know.

That vile, email woman is wrong…   2 Mothers – 2 Grandmothers loving you, supporting you, accepting you, baking for you…   Who doesn’t need that?   Who doesn’t want that?

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I was in Palm Springs last weekend for some fun and relaxation. I walked into a coffee shop and noticed that every single person there was looking at a phone or a tablet.  Not one person looked up or even noticed I was there. There was no conversation going on – it was people being one with their electronics.

As much as these said electronics have made the world smaller by allowing me to call my son in England by simply touching a few numbers, I have to wonder if these said electronics have not also separated us from one another.

We wait in a line for coffee or groceries or food and we don’t speak to the person in front or behind us because we have to check our Facebook or email or Instagram or Twitter on our phone because someone may have said something about us or we need to post a picture of our coffee or muffin or perhaps our scone.   Are we seriously that self-absorbed? I believe the answer to that question is: Yes, Yes we are that self-absorbed.

I’m not passing judgment on anyone, for if I were honest: “My name is Barb – and I’m a phoneaholic.”   I have email and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all installed on my phone – and yes – I do post to all of them.  I also have the Nook and Kindle App and more books downloaded that you can imagine. I have Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Bejeweled Blitz, Pet Rescue Saga and Juice Cubes. I have my Starbucks app, Netflix and my bank – I even have a flashlight! There’s so much more, but I think you get my point.

Do I need all of this? No, of course I do not. But apparently I am so self-absorbed that I do believe I need all of this.  I believe that people want to see my coffee cup and scone, and I believe I’m so important that people will “follow” everything I have to say…  Seriously?

Perhaps I need to get over myself.

I don’t think of myself as a vain person – However – to believe that people need to see and know what I’m eating and where I am and what I’m doing every moment of the day? Well – that’s pretty vain now, isn’t it?

I love the part of Facebook that keeps me connected with friends – and also allows me to make new friends.  I love looking at pictures of friends and their families and I love the travel photos my friends post of places I’ve never been.  I love this part of Facebook – it makes me feel that my friends are close when they really are scattered all over the world.

The thing is – I don’t need to check my Facebook page every five minutes… The messages, the pictures, the posts will be there even if I only sign on once a day.

And Twitter? I never understood Twitter – I still don’t. I’ve tried, I just don’t get it – so I believe my account can just go away…

Instagram?  Well – I’m a photographer, so it will stay. I won’t post as much – but I do like looking at other people’s photos.

I’m breaking up with my phone – well – with some of the apps on my phone. I’m going to go into a quiet room and uninstall a few of them and grieve in quiet solitude.

I don’t want to be one of those people with their face in their phone and miss my life as it goes by. The faces of my friends and family and friends I’ve yet to meet are there waiting for me to see – and not through the eye of that camera on my phone!

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When I started writing my first blog I had no idea what I was doing. I just started writing because I needed to vent. There was no method – there was no point – other than me writing down how I felt. It was therapy and the more I did it – the more I enjoyed it – and the more I started to feel better about who I was.

Writing changed my life. I was in a pretty dark place when I started writing. The more I wrote about the darkness the lighter my world became.  The more I let things go, the easier my journey became.  My bitching and complaining became embracing and rejoicing.

Then somehow my writing became about how many people were reading and commenting and tweeting and retweeting and liking and sharing.   When no one would comment I started to think I wasn’t writing well and wondering what I was doing wrong.  I started writing what I thought people would want to hear, and I started questioning my writing ability and wondering how I could change to get more likes, more hits, more followers…

This is so not who I am. So – I’ve decided to go back to the beginning – Back to where it’s just me and my laptop having some therapy time. Back to writing about what matters most to me – back to not concerning myself with the numbers but concerning myself more that the content comes from my heart –

I don’t know if this happens to you; But I most certainly got too wrapped up in getting validation from others that I am indeed good and kind and thoughtful and all those others things that puffed me up!

I’m just going to try and be good and kind and thoughtful every day, and not really worry that others might not know that.  I will know that I’ve tried my best and that I don’t need likes, shares, tweets and comments to validate who I am.

Don’t get me wrong – I love when people read and I’ve helped them or they feel better or they see something from a different point of view – I’m just choosing to not let their comments or lack of comments define who I am. I just need to write – that’s all.

So – those of you who are reading this – I thank you – genuinely thank you – for taking the time.  I know you have a million other things to do – and I appreciate that you spent just a little time with me.

Remember – you don’t need others to validate who you are – look in the mirror and smile at that face looking back at you.  Be kind to yourself and to others.

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