J is for Jealousy: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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I work for an amazing company and over two decades ago, shortly after it it went public, growth was rapid and profits were abundant. The CEO would have these awesome company meetings where, after announcing another great quarter, would randomly tape $100 bills to the bottom of our seats, give away tickets to the Superbowl or have cash machines from which employees could grab at bills of varying denominations. One year, a colleague of mine won $5,000 in some sort of “Let’s Make A Deal” type game. I was in my late twenties at the time and my husband-to-be and I were in the process of planning a wedding that were paying for, mostly on our own. I really needed money. I remember being so envious that this woman, who lived in Darien and drove a luxury automobile to work, won this money. I was happy for her but, at the same time, the green-eyed monster reared his ugly head. I remember saying something about it and my friend saying, “Alicia, don’t be jealous. That isn’t flattering at all.” And she was right.

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I try so hard not be be jealous. But i am not perfect and I shamefully admit that it is the deadly sin that I am most guilty of. As my Facebook feed is flooded with people on their Orlando-bound flights, I find myself wishing that I wasn’t spending my spring break working. Then I realize, jealousy is really about timing, isn’t it? I am a very fortunate person, my family and I have had some wonderful spring vacations to Québec, Disney, Pigeon Forge and Barbados. As we are posting our photos from our vacation we aren’t feeling so envious, are we?

I’ve had a lot of single friends become deeply depressed after their social media feeds were flooded with engagement announcements, wedding photos and baby pictures. I suppose the same would hold true for the unemployed when they see others are getting promotions or raises or the high school senior who gets rejected from every school they apply to while their peers get full rides from their top choices.

As someone who is active in the theatre arts, the opportunities to be jealous are omnipresent. It is especially difficult in a tight-knit community, where the people you are competing with are usually friends. As friends announce landing their dream role, or getting their first Off-Broadway/Broadway play produced, or launching their first CD, or publishing their first book, there is envy waiting in the corner of my mind. Anyone who says they are never jealous is lying. Again, it is all about the timing. For theatre artists, if you aren’t creating something, if you aren’t performing or writing or directing, you invariably find yourself wishing you were. When you are fortunate enough to have your creative outlet, it is amazing how quickly you forget to feel jealous.

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There are two things I am constantly reminding myself of when envy creeps her way into my thoughts. First, did I make the choice to put myself in a position of longing for another’s good fortune? If I chose not to do the work or invest the time in developing my creative endeavors, I have no right to be jealous. If I don’t write something, there is nothing to publish. If I don’t audition, there is no role to be had. If I don’t submit for directing opportunities, there are no productions to helm.

The second thing, and the one I find saying most often, is this: Another person’s success does not equal my failure. If anything, another person’s success should inspire me to succeed. So quit your bitchin’, Alicia! Work harder. Work better. And remember when you succeed, be gracious enough to inspire and give thanks. Be the person that other people are genuinely happy for.

And that usually kills the green monster.

I is for Improvement: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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We have lived in our house, built in 1931, for almost fourteen years. Within the first year of living in our house, we experienced September 11th, endured flesh-eating bacteria and welcomed our twin girls. While no year will quite match the first, the years that followed were generously filled with birthdays, holidays and gatherings for a family of five, their pet Shih Tzu and all of their family and friends. It has also seen its share of wear and tear.

Through the years, we haven’t done much renovation or many improvements to our home. And when the bottom fell out of the real estate market, so did our property value. Which means we are likely to be here for at least another 10 years while we endeavor to improve upon what we purchased in 2001. Most of the changes we’ve made have been cosmetic, mostly painting. Through the years we have been through two wall-to-wall carpets in our living room but in 2012 we did our first major improvement to the house, we had the original hardwood floors sanded and stained as well as some nice tile laid in the kitchen. But that’s about it, folks.

The list of remaining improvements is long and bit by bit we are trying to tackle them, somehow managing to squeeze it into our schedule and budget. This year, we are getting our roof replaced. Let me tell you, if you don’t already know, this is a tight squeeze into both our schedule and our budget. In fact, this year’s spring break vacation budget has been reallocated to the roof replacement. Try explaining to the children that we aren’t going to Florida just like “all their friends” because we cannot make it through one more lengthy and brutal New England winter without sustaining permanent damage. Not fun.

The roof of our 1931 Colonial, awaiting sparkly new shingles, chimney repair and bright shiny gutters.

The roof of our 1931 Colonial, awaiting sparkly new shingles, chimney repair and bright shiny gutters.

While I am most certainly missing the warm weather, sandy beaches and tropical cocktails, there is something almost euphoric about scratching something so monumental off of the proverbial “to do” list.

Maybe next year we’ll get to go see the Mouse. This year we can look forward to weathering a thunderstorm without waking up to a smattering of asphalt shingles on our lawn.

Little things. Big things.

H is for Henckels: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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The other day, with the help of my friend Wayne, I “harvested” and packaged my first ever attempt at homemade capicola, a delicious dry-cured Italian cold cut made of pork shoulder and the perfect blend of seasonings and wine. As we were running our hunks of meat through the Food Saver, we were noting how difficult to it was to slice the pieces that probably should have been taken down a few weeks earlier. After we were done packaging (and tasting) the capicola, Wayne told me that what you really need is a good sharp knife.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as a lifelong foodie we have decent knives at home. Our wooden knife block and knife drawer, contain some Wüsthof knives that are nearing the twenty year mark and one Henckels paring knife I picked up at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets years ago. The Wüsthof aren’t high-end knives, they are the affordable starter set. While they have served us well over the years, they aren’t top of the line.

Between Christmas and my birthday at the beginning of the year, I maintain a pretty good Amazon wish list. I had heard about Global knives being a good kitchen knife and had it on my list with the hopes that someone would gift it to me. As of the night in question, when I desperately needed to be able to slice my capicola, I had not received the knife I had wished for.

With a bag full of capicola in my back seat, I headed to Bed, Bath & Beyond with the intent to purchase a good, sharp knife. I looked at the Shun and the Global knives, known for their sharp blades. Then I held the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro 6″ Chef’s Knife in my hand. It was a little heavier, the handle felt a little more comfortable and the blade was the right size with a nice curved end, perfect for chopping and multi-purpose use. And this baby is sharp! Wowza!

My fancy new Henckels Pro knife contributed to today's healthy lunch: smashed avocado on low-calorie wheat bread with a sprinkling of Hawaiian pink sea salt!

My fancy new Henckels Pro knife contributed to today’s healthy lunch: smashed avocado on low-calorie wheat bread with a sprinkling of Hawaiian pink sea salt! Yum!

As someone who likes to cook, I have oft been told of the importance of a good, sharp knife. Now that I own one, I see exactly why it is so important to the true foodie. This versatile kitchen tool, resplendent with its super-sharp blade, is the beginning of what I am sure will become a lifelong insistence upon decent knives in my cutlery collection. My knife and I have been getting along famously. So well, in fact, that I may or may not have been overheard, as I pull it from its sheath, referring to it as “My Precious.”

G is for Gender Variant: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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This post is a little delayed and for a good reason. It was a post that I wanted to take my time with, not dash off in some hurried manner just to meet a deadline.

Over the past couple of years, there have been several stories that people shared with me about parents who accept and support their children from a very early age as it pertains to their sexual preference and/or gender identity. The most notable stories were the woman whose son was in love with Darren Criss, the family who raised their daughter as a boy and Brangelina’s willingness to call their daughter Shiloh by her preferred name: John. When people share these posts with me or my husband, they usually say something like, “I saw this and it made me think of you guys!” The reason why is because we have a daughter who shares similarities with each of the children in these stories and my husband and I share similarities with their parents. Every time someone shares one of these viral stories, I tell myself that I want to write about my daughter.

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My husband and I have three girls, a fifteen-year-old and twelve-year-old fraternal twins who are as different as night and day. From a very early age, I’m guessing around four, one of my twin daughters began to show signs of gender noncomformity. One morning, as were getting ready for day care, Izzy peered at me from atop the toilet and asked, “When am I getting my peanuts?” Mind you, the male genitalia is not something we generally talked about at the dinner table. Assuming it was because of the shared bathroom experiences in her potty training years at day care, I went with it and said something snarky like, “Why would you want one of those? They cause nothing but trouble.” To which she responded, most assuredly, “Because then I could pull it and tug it like the boys!” She also wanted one because, like every other woman on Earth, she wanted to pee standing up.

In the few short years that followed, our daughter openly identified herself as being gay and would develop crushes on other girls in her elementary school classes. During that same time, she eschewed any feminine clothing, favored playing with her Nerf guns over dolls and eventually chopped off her long, blonde, curly locks in favor of a high and tight hairstyle. It was easy to support these choices for her because it made her happy. To the wait staff in the restaurants, she was always little buddy or dude. Initially, we would correct them but after she told us it didn’t bother her, we stopped.

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The people that meet Izzy generally fall in love with her. She is energetic, funny, smart, kind and unique. She embraces who she is and so do the people that get to know her. Over the years, I’ve had conversations with people about Izzy and it is interesting what people will say. The most common thing I hear is that she is just a tomboy or probably going through a phase. Yes, it is entirely possible. We all go through phases in life. I have also been told that there is no way that an elementary school aged girl could possibly know whether or not she is gay. I’m sorry, when was it exactly that you knew you were attracted to the opposite sex? There have even been people who have suggested that because my husband and I allow her to make these choices we are encouraging her to be gay. Does that mean that I encouraged my other two girls to be straight?

When Izzy wanted to join scouting, she was disappointed that she couldn’t join the Boy Scouts. She didn’t want to do crafts and sell cookies, she wanted to play basketball and race cars in the Pinewood Derby. Fortunately, the scout leaders got wind of her disappointment and let her join as an honorary member. Those really were the best years for her because she was completely comfortable in her skin, got to do what she wanted to do and with friends who had been going to school with her for six years. They didn’t question her choices, they were just her friends. She got so comfortable that she even came out to a few close friends when she was in fifth grade.

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As the middle school years approached, we were getting a little nervous and so was Izzy. Middle school, if you recall, is horrible. I know very few people who recollect their middle school/junior high years with great fondness. As Izzy’s elementary school career was ending, marriage equality and a string of teen suicides related to sexual identity were prominent in the media. Izzy developed a heightened sensitivity to issues related to bullying, diversity and acceptance. One afternoon in February, she created a Bob Dylan Subterranean Homesick Blues style video about the topic, in which she wrote:

Hello people.
I don’t have sound so I will write.
Don’t worry. Nothing will be sad.
LOL
People in my school are nice.
They would not if they found out if I was gay.
Get this. I’m a girl.
Thx for watching.

Six months later, Izzy was navigating the nasty terrain of middle school, the place where you desperately want to fit in but still want to be true to yourself. While she continues to remain true to herself, she is a little more quiet about it these days. She finds herself avoiding the bathroom so she doesn’t have to endure the eighth grade girls screaming at her to get out because she’s a boy. Thankfully there are understanding teachers that allow her to go during class time when the bathrooms aren’t filled with classmates asking her if she’s a girl or a boy. She even decided to wear a dress to the school dance after not wearing a dress for five years. This was followed by her requesting to go shopping for some more feminine clothes. Why? So she wouldn’t get questioned when she went to the girls’ room. Seriously, there should be some sort of universal law that mandates unisex bathroom in public places. Just ask Izzy. Or any woman who has stood in line at the theatre or a One Direction concert.

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A couple of summers ago, my husband and I decided to give the girls the opportunity to go to sleepaway camp. Two of the girls opted to go to the more rustic 4H camp in Windham-Tolland while Izzy, due to an aversion to bugs and an affinity for basketball, when to an indoor Nike camp. Last year Izzy opted not to go to camp. We later discovered that the reason she didn’t want to go to camp was, once again, because of things like being split into boys vs. girls teams or having to decide where to go to the bathroom.

Last week I posted about Camp Aranu’tiq, the summer camp for transgender and gender variant youth located in beautiful New Hampshire. When my husband and I heard about it, we asked Izzy if she’d be interested. Right away she Googled it and soon thereafter gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up, proclaiming, “It’s a camp with people like me!” So now Izzy will get to fish, swim, kayak and play basketball without being concerned about having to dodge a million questions. As for the bugs, that’s another story.

If Izzy decides she would prefer to be called Zack, I’ll do it. If she asks us to switch to male pronouns, we will. If she someday desires to undergo hormone therapy, we will find the money to make it happen. As of today, she hasn’t asked for any of these things. And perhaps she never will. The thing that is most important to me is that my daughter is happy. I am no different from any other parent who strives to have children that are happy and healthy.

Now I don’t profess to be an expert on being transgender or gender variant. I have read a lot about gender variance in the last year or so and I still have much to learn. I can only imagine how it must feel to be in a body that you don’t feel comfortable inhabiting. But I don’t have to imagine what it is like to make every effort to ease any discomfort my daughter may experience by ensuring that she is loved, accepted and supported. Every day. No matter her choices.

And in the end, isn’t that what we all want? Well, that and more unisex bathrooms. And the ability to pee standing up.

F is for Facebook: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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I’m in my mid-forties and I will be the first to admit that I am addicted to Facebook and have wasted countless hours scrolling through my feed, reading your memes, looking at your cat pictures and silently judging you for your snarky, passive aggressive statuses. Admit it, you do the same thing. Well, maybe you aren’t judging quite so silently, depending on how many cocktails you’ve had or which hot button has been pushed.

I was a Facebook early adopter. When I first joined in December 2006 most of my friends were high school and college students that I did theatre with. Slowly, as my circle of friends grew, so did the average age of the people with whom I interacted. As time wore on, Facebook became this hybrid social media platform. It was a networking tool, an advertising medium and a way to keep in touch with friends and family, both near and far.

When my eldest daughter turned thirteen, I told her that she could get a Facebook account. I had artfully dodged requests from her friends while they were still in elementary school and told my daughter that when she was thirteen she could get an account. When her thirteenth birthday arrived, she sneered at me and said, “Facebook is for old people, Mom.” Oh, the humanity! Instead, her digital biography is being played out on Instagram, Twitter and, the site that I really don’t get, Snapchat.

For the better part of the last decade, I have checked my Facebook multiple times a day, with the exception of a brief hiatus I took during a difficult time a couple years ago. I have learned that when I begin to exhibit the Facebook behaviors that I loathe in others, it is time to step away.

There are several bad behaviors on Facebook and numerous articles about the subject have surfaced through the years. For me, Facebook reminds me of high school, a place fraught with cliques and stereotypes that really aren’t that different from the ones I endured almost thirty years ago:

The Mean Girls (Boys) These are people on Facebook that are constantly making sure you know how much better they are than you. They have more money, they have better jobs, they are smarter and better looking. They will constantly post selfies and statuses letting you know it, too.

The Popular Kids These are the people that have more “friends” than God. Their status can be something as mundane as, “I just ate breakfast,” and within five minutes 50 people will have liked their status.

The Jocks These are the folks that are constantly posting very excited comments about whatever ball game is on TV, in the language of the sport and referencing the team and/or player that everyone obviously should know.

The A/V Club If you need a video or photo fix, just check out their wall. Every viral video or meme that is trending is sure to be in their feed. These are also the folks that cannot resist taking pictures of their meal or every single sunrise/sunset.

The Theatre/Band Geek These are probably the people you get the most Facebook invites from. “Come see me in The Life and Times of Debbie Boone at the local community theatre!” or “My band is playing at the Up ‘n’ Chuck! Come on down!”

The Kids from Under the Bleachers They are just so in love and can’t stop displaying it, publicly, for all to see. Just… Ewwww!

The Class Clown Every status is an attempt at humor. Whether it’s about their kids, their boss, their pets or the funeral they just attended, they will find some way to make it funny.

The Nerd This the person you look up if your computer stopped working, thereby <gasp> making it impossible to post anything on Facebook. They are also the grammar police, the fact checkers, the urban myth de-bunkers and all-round social media buzzkills.

The Desperate to Fit In Type These are the ones that like everything you do on Facebook. Everything. Within seconds of posting it. They’d like it twice if they could.

The Debate Team This person must have the last word and will argue with you about anything. Whether it is gun control or the weather, they will always have an opinion that is different than yours. Oh, by the way, it’s the right one.

The Quiet Kid in the Corner In Facebook lingo, I call this person “The Lurker.” They never interact with you on Facebook but they know everything that is going on with your life based on what they gleaned from reading your Facebook page. They never comment on or like your posts but when they see you in person they bring up every detail of your life as if they had. Creepy.

The Rebel It’s all about the shock value. These are the ones that post photos of their open wounds, give you play by plays about their Grindr encounter or share every detail about their Brazilian wax. These are the people whose Facebook posts make you gasp or roll your eyes then run screaming from your computer with the “TMI! TMI! TMI!” falling from your lips.

The Party People Every single post involves alcohol or drugs. They are either planning a party, are on their way to a party, are at a party or are recovering from a party. (NOTE: Party can be used interchangeably with “bar,” “GNO,” “poker night,” etc.)

The God Squad People that can quote scripture from memory and use it in an effort to let you know how wrong your views on marriage equality, homosexuality, politics or religion are.

The Editor-in-Chief of the School Paper Facebook’s own town crier. Every circle of friends has one. Was there are a car accident in town? Did Kim Kardashian get exposed to Ebola? Have they found a cure for cancer? Did your third grade teacher die? Whenever something remotely newsworthy happens, this person is the first to share it. Even worse is the town crier of gloom and doom, the newsie who only shares bad news.

Have I missed any? What types of people do you see on Facebook that make you momentarily consider unfriending them? That is until you realize that you fall into one or more of those buckets yourself. Which one are you?

E is for Earl Grey: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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I used to be a coffee drinker. I was never a die hard caffeine junkie and I’m not one to ask for a triple shot at Starbucks, although I do like an occasional espresso. I like the flavor and the smell of coffee. Recently, however, I find my body reacts adversely to strongly caffeinated coffee drinks. I am not a person who is offended by decaffeinated coffee drinks but when I fire up the laptop in the morning I do find I like a hot beverage that has a little pizzazz.

So now I’m a tea drinker. Earl Grey is a favorite of mine, it is still caffeinated but it doesn’t leave me jittery like the rocket fuel at Starbucks. Besides, and I think Dr. Sheldon Cooper would agree, being in the company of Captain Jean-Luc Picard is pretty nifty.

D is for Diabetes: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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Two weeks before my 40th birthday I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For the last six years I have been living with a chronic illness that, for the most part, goes undetected by the people I encounter in my day to day life. Only when I suddenly have a low blood sugar or have to calibrate my insulin pump are people fleetingly aware of what I live with every moment of every day.

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Diabetes is one of the more stealth of the chronic diseases. Every seven seconds a person dies due to complications from diabetes. One out of every 12 people has diabetes and one of every two people with diabetes don’t even know they have it.

When I was diagnosed, I had very little knowledge about diabetes. As with any diagnosis, I am continually amazed at the things that people say:

How can you have diabetes? Nobody in your family has it! No. Nobody in my family has it, thank goodness. I guess I got lucky. Surprisingly, even doctors have said this to me.

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Do you have the good kind of diabetes or the bad kind of diabetes? Ummm… Any diabetes diagnosis is scary, whether it is Type 1 or Type 2. The difference is that Type 1 is insulin dependent and Type 2 is managed with oral medication. Both types of diabetes are better managed with close attention to diet and exercise. So are many other diseases.

Wow! I can’t believe you have diabetes, you aren’t fat! I’m not thin, I’m not fat. I’m diabetic. In fact, before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was quite happy with the weight I lost. Little did I know it was because I was living with blood glucose in the 500+ range for quite some time.

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You must’ve had a sweet tooth as a kid. Actually, no, I didn’t.

Well, at least it is a controllable disease. Yes, modern medicine has made diabetes a much more manageable disease. However, it cannot be cured. I will never go into remission. Also, it is a crazy expensive disease. Thankfully I have good insurance. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t. If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be able to afford my insulin pump supplies, which average $700/month. If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be able to afford insulin and test strips, which average $760/month. That is $1,460 a month for the rest of my life. Just to stay alive.

I could never do finger sticks and inject needles into myself! Yeah. I never thought I would have to do that either. It is amazing what you’ll do so that you don’t feel sick or end up in the hospital. Or worse.

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Should you be eating/drinking that? I can eat and drink anything you can. I just have to take insulin to cover it.

I read on the Internet that if you do X then the diabetes will go away. The number of cures and ways to regulate sugar levels is astounding. I am amazed that medical practitioners that devote their lives to helping people live with diabetes haven’t heard about how eating a pound of beans a day, adding cinnamon to everything or taking Vitamin B every day will cure diabetes!

These are just some of the things that I’ve heard since becoming a diabetic. As with any disease, questions or statements that seem irritating or uninformed are best answered with proper information and, even better, with a little humor.

C is for Challenge: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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So this blogging challenge is, in and of itself, indeed a challenge. As I navigate my full time job, being a wife, a mother of three and a foster mom to a puppy, it is hard to carve out time in my schedule to write. This has and always will be a challenge. When you consider the fact that I am also a world class procrastinator, it is a recipe for an uphill climb that when the end of the day comes, I am oft too weary to take on.

I had intended to write about Camp Aranu’tiq, a camp for transgender and gender variant youth that my daughter will be attending this summer. However, that would be a long and meaningful post that unfortunately the Universe was not willing to assist me in writing. Yesterday afternoon, whilst doing the dishes, a wine glass shattered in my hand, shredding a couple fingers and necessitating stitches and splints for two fingers.

So, the challenge now isn’t so much the challenge itself anymore, the challenge now is typing and keeping the pain at a minimum.

I urge you to Google Camp Aranu’tiq. And I promise that once the stitches are out of my hand, I will dedicate some meaningful time to telling you all about it.

B is for Boycott: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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I believe in equality for all people. I believe that every human being has the right to the pursuit and attainment of life, liberty and happiness, no matter their beliefs. This tenet is one I feel especially passionate about as it applies to the LGBT community. The recent conversation regarding Indiana’s RFRA law, which goes into effect in July, has sparked quite a few debates in my predominantly liberal social media feed.

Even Gov. Daniel Malloy, the governor of the state I live in, Connecticut, has spoken passionately about the law that Gov. Mike Pence signed into law last week. He made Connecticut the first state to ban state-funded travel to Indiana and urged other states to do the same. As a result, Kevin Ollie, the coach of the UConn men’s basketball team, will not be traveling to the Final Four in Indiana to show support for Malloy’s ban.

When Chik-fil-A, a company who has openly contributed to groups opposed to LGBT rights, announced they were coming to my hometown, I made the decision that I would not be patronizing their establishment. In a sense, I have boycotted their company, much as I have boycotted the Salvation Army for their anti-gay hiring practices.

As a human being, I support companies with similar views to my own and I give money to those that share my belief that love is love. I also have no issue withholding my hard earned spending dollars from companies who use their love of God and scripture as a foundation for hatred. In doing so, my boycott is a personal choice.

While I understand and support the intention behind the boycotting of travel to Indiana (or any of the other 19 states with RFRA laws, including my own), I can’t help but think of the people that live in those states, who are the targets of the discriminatory laws that are in or going into effect, and how a broad stroked boycott can affect them.

Discrimination, at its foundation, is an action based on personal belief. No matter the law, the onus is upon each of us to treat one another with love and respect. It is only when we love and respect each other, regardless of our race, creed or sexual orientation, that we can make a real difference in our lives and in the lives of others.

A is for Adoption: Blogging From A to Z Challenge

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When it comes to pets, I think it is a fairly safe assumption that most people fall into one of two camps: Camp Canine or Camp Feline. I come from a dog family. Only because there is picture evidence, I know that we did have a Siamese cat once when I was a toddler. After a scratching incident, the cat was banned from the house forever and any pets that passed muster with my father were dogs. Period. The end.

Thankfully, my husband is a dog person, so it stands to reason that our family is a Camp Canine family. He always had small dogs, we always had big dogs. We currently have a soon-to-be-nine-year-old Shih Tzu whom I adore. He is my fur baby. Most days he is enough for our wee little house that already provides a home to a family of five humans.

Over the summer, one of my daughters suddenly became obsessed with getting a new puppy. She would get books about dogs from the library. She would constantly ask to be taken to the puppy store. It even got to the point that when we asked her to do something, we would have to say, “Please, puppy,” instead of the standard, “Please.”

Enter Tails of Courage, one of our city’s local dog shelters. Unlike the other shelters in town, Tails of Courage allows children to volunteer with a responsible adult. So, my daughter and I spent a couple afternoons at the shelter, cleaning and walking the dogs. It seemed to suffice. Until the shelter rescued ten puppies from under a house in Virginia and they were looking for foster families.

That is when Chubs came into our lives.

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It has been almost nine years since we had a puppy in our house. It is like having a newborn. They need to be fed more often, they go to the bathroom more frequently, they need to be watched constantly. Yet this puppy has brought new life into our house and even the most resistant can’t turn down his sweet face.

We fostered Chubs for about a week and a half and then he was adopted. A few weeks later, while I was in the ER dealing with diabetes complications, the shelter called and explained that he was returned and asked if we could foster him again. My husband went to pick him up and that night I found myself sleeping on the couch with the puppy who had doubled in size since we said goodbye to him a few weeks earlier.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be volunteering at a dog shelter, I would have questioned your sanity. I’m a busy woman with a full-time job, three children and some very time consuming avocations. If you asked me about volunteering today, I would try to sign you up. This experience has changed me. It has taught me the importance of doing good for our community and, more importantly, for the many rescue animals that are desperately in need of a forever family. While I did purchase our Shih Tzu from a puppy store, I now stand firmly in the belief that adoption is the only way to go. Make sure you visit your local shelter or online listings to find the dog that is right for you. Shelters do have puppies, shelters do have more than just one breed and shelters are doing amazing work. I can say that first hand.

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My attachment to Chubs has grown exponentially since the beginning of March. He is still with us, waiting for his forever family to find him. Sadly, he will grow to be more dog than our house or our set-in-his-ways Shih Tzu can handle. If you are interested in adopting him, please visit the Tails of Courage web site. I promise you, he will change your life.