Thursday, December 18, 2014

A random memory: My knight in shining armor

First a little background. I am terrified of thunder storms. I know lots of people are, too, but with me it's in the extreme. I think somewhere in another post a long time ago, I shared that when there's loud thunder striking close by, I come very close to having a bona fide panic attack.

Ever since being a little kid -- and still to this day -- I have to hide in a closet when I'm by myself at home and there's loud thunder exploding close by outside. I seriously start hyperventilating and my panic spikes. Bad. So today I've edited a post I wrote back in the summer of 2011 when tornadoes were headed my way. Just remember, Matty and I were not living together yet when this happened. This is the memory I shared with Matty last week:

I was home all by myself when the news reports started coming in. My mom and sister had gone to visit some family friends in Rhode Island and my dad was at a two-day conference in New York.

All the local TV stations were having this Breaking News coverage and were actually broadcasting pictures of some of the tornadoes as they were touching down. I'd never seen anything like this while it was happening. I mean this was live TV. It was still early afternoon so the pictures were coming in pretty clear. They actually showed the top of this apartment complex being blown off while it was happening! 

I was in total freak-out mode. No matter how strong I like to think I am, when something like this is happening, and I'm all alone, I regress to a two-year-old. They were giving these time frames of when the tornadoes were going to hit different communities, and then there was the town I live in showing up on the screen! They were saying to get ready to go to a safe place like your basement or cellar. And the TV announcers were all starting to freak out but trying not to show it. Now, what was I suppose to do next?

I called Matty. I mean, I didn't know what else to do. They let him go home early from work and when he answered his phone, I started screaming and crying like a baby. He said he was already on his way to my place and was about 10 minutes away. ALREADY ON HIS WAY! He said he had already called his family and told them I was all alone. They had everything under control there, so they told him to be safe and make sure I was safe.

When he finally got there I grabbed him and held on tight. I couldn't stop crying. I was honest to God hysterical! Matty just held me, rubbed my back, soothed me, reassured me we were gonna be okay. Then he took complete charge like he had been through all this before (which he hadn't).

He made sure we had plenty of drinking water, so we began filling up these bowls and some empty spring water gallon bottles. The wind was coming from the west, so he got the storm windows down on that side. Then he got all the flashlights and batteries out, along with some candles. He went down to the basement to check things out there and then said we needed to bring the radios and other supplies down. He was in this total rational action mode. 

We watched the TV some more, and it looked like the storm was heading a little further south from where we were. At least our town was no longer on the TV screen as a possible target.

Matty NEVER let me out of his sight. I wouldn't have let him anyway, and I think he knew that. The announcers on TV kept saying you never knew if these storms might take a different track, so that got me freaked out even more.

After we did everything that could possibly be done, Matty led me to the basement and we watched TV there. He sat me on the couch and wrapped his arms around me and cupped my head in his strong but gentle hands. He kept kissing me on my head and whispering to me that it was going to be alright. He then put the TV on "mute" so he could watch it, but where I couldn't see it.

Then out of the blue he started calmly telling me this story from his childhood about when his grandparents came to visit when he was like 6 years old. He started telling me all kinds of sweet things about his grandad and grandma, like how he was so excited to see them and what kind of presents they brought him and his brothers. 

His story went on and on and I learned some things about his childhood he had never told me before. I mean, he was telling all this in such a totally calm and soothing voice, I thought I might fall asleep, but I wanted to hear it all. I sorta went in this fetal position and realized I was totally calm, like there was no storm going on and nothing to worry about.

The storm kept on a southward path away from us and Matty stayed the whole night. Just me and him. I woke up several times and realized he had undressed me and had me tucked away on the sleeper-sofa with blankets all around me and him laying there with his body cuddling me. The storm eventually passed and I was awakened around 3 AM with him right by my side.  

This memory is so special to me. I learned something about Matty that is still true today. What happened that night was him essentially saying, "I am totally here with you. You have nothing to worry about. Nothing."

Do I believe in fairy tales? I do now. And I have my own special in Knight in Shining Armor.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A random memory: "I know you are"

One of the random memories I shared with Brad the other night is actually a very recent memory. Like a week and a half ago.

The thing you have to know about Brad is when I'm anxious about something, he does more listening than talking. And I think it's his deep listening that makes his few words so powerful and helpful. And what happened last week is a prime example of how much he communicates to me when he gives me the gift of his full attention.

I had gotten back from one of my follow-up appointments with the doctor who prescribes the meds for my ADHD. He always goes through some basic routine questions to make sure the meds are still doing what they're suppose to do. And since he's a psychiatrist, he always asks about my mood, my sleep, whether I've had any more nightmares about the time I was ambushed and attacked, my relationship with Brad, how work is going, etc.

I told the doctor I still occasionally have nightmares about the attack. Unexpected loud noises still freak me out and I start checking my surroundings because sometimes I get this uneasy feeling inside like I'm going to be attacked. And then my anxiety spikes and I start feeling unsafe.

So I was telling Brad my doctor hadn't let up in strongly recommending I go talk to a counselor. Except this time he pushed the issue stronger than usual. This time I agreed to see someone for one session and then decide whether to continue after that. He asked me if I would be willing to make it three sessions, because you can't tell a whole lot after just one session, so I agreed to three sessions. But I'm waiting until after the first of the year to begin.

I've always resisted, not only because I can be über-stubborn, but mainly because I fear opening things up will make matters worse. 

When Brad got home I told him I had agreed to see a counselor for three sessions and then decide whether to continue beyond that. We sat down on the sofa and he asked me how I felt about that. After hesitating for a moment I looked down and said, "It's a big step and it makes me very, very anxious."

He reached over and put his arm around me and pulled me in. All he said was, "It is a big step." I then said, "You know I'm really anxious about this, right?"

He shifted us around so we were completely facing each other and asked me to look at him. When I faced him, he was looking directly at me, I mean looking in my eyes without looking away. I felt like he could see everything inside me. And in this quiet voice he just said, "Yes. I know you are."

When he speaks, he looks in my eyes and sees me. Really sees me. When I speak to him, he hears me. I mean, nothing gets in the way when he's looking at me. He has this amazing ability to be completely there for me.

He has this thing about him that takes away any fear I might have, no matter what it is. "Yes. I know you are." And in that exact moment I felt so deeply understood, he didn't even need to say anything more.

So what's the specific memory I hold on to that means so much to me? Is it the memory of the look on his face when he sees -- really sees -- me? Is it the memory of those four simple words ("I know you are") that reassures me?

I think the memory I hold on to every single day with all my might is what those specific things mean. They all say, You matter to me. I care about you. All of you. The good times... the hard times... the big things... the little things. It all matters.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A random memory: My big little kid

The other night Matty and I spent a little time sharing some memories we had of each other. In the Spring of 2011, we took a road trip to Maine for the weekend. We pulled off the interstate highway to have lunch at one of those fast-food joints. I summarized my memory briefly to Matty but I'm so glad I had written down what happened. This memory sticks in my mind because it might have been the first time I got to see this sweet and intuitively creative side of Matty's ability to give a little 5 or 6 year old boy a memory he might still have to this day.

We got our lunch and found a booth and there's this family sitting directly across from us. Looked like a mom, a dad and their son who was maybe all of 5 or 6 years old. When we sat down, the little boy (who looked like he was a bundle of energy) looked over and stuck his tongue out at us! We both just smiled back at him and started eating.

Well, the boy wasn't finished with us! He made this really funny face, you know, kinda sticking his tongue out, making bug-eyes and puckering his lips at us. Then he took a bite of food, started chewing it and then opened his mouth so we could see inside!! Well, we both just cracked up laughing and his parents looked horrified!!

The parents scolded him (nothing dramatic...I think they just wanted him to chill and didn't want everybody in the restaurant looking their way), but did Matt cooperate with their efforts to calm him down? Okay, let's all say it in unison: "NO!"

Matt just smiled and made a really funny face back at him. I thought I was going to have to tell Matt to chill or the parents would have two kids to control! Well, the little boy just cracked up and an instant friendship was made!

So, both of them started making funny faces to see who could outdo the other. The parents watched the whole thing and I think they were relieved that their son was not making loud noises because Matt was putting his index finger to his lips in that universal gesture of saying, "Shhhhhhhhh," and the boy was minding him!

The parents looked so relieved and actually struck up a conversation with us. We talked a little more and then got up to leave. Well, the little boy got upset we were leaving and started crying. So, after emptying our food tray, Matt went over to the souvenir counter and bought a pair of children's sunglasses and took it over to him.

You should have seen the boy's face light up. Matt told him they were special sunglasses that helped little boys mind their parents. The boy just looked at Matt and had that look that said, Are you serious? Then he broke out in this huge smile and his parents had to remind him to say thank you. As we were leaving, the boy and Matt were waving goodbye to each other.

When we got back to the car, I just looked at Matt and said, "You know, you are really sweet. I didn't know you were that good with kids." He just smiled back and said, "Well, guess I'm just a big kid myself."


Matty -- My big little kid!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A week of random memories

Well, that time has come. The dreaded Final Exam Week. We both feel were in pretty good shape, but there's still the usual anxiety that goes along with it. But overall we're managing it pretty well.

So Matty and I thought of something that might be fun for us to do this week as a way to balance the stress of sitting for exams. The other evening we were sitting around after dinner and somehow we started reminiscing about little small things we remember one of us said or did for the other in the past.

It really turned into something fun and sweet because when I shared a little memory I had, Matty either didn't realize it had an impact on me, or he had completely forgotten it had happened. And the same with me. When he recalled something I said or did, I had no idea it stuck with him and affected him like it did.

So we thought we'd each take a day this week and share with you a few of those brief memories. Each post will be relatively short, even though the memory of it still lives inside each of us. 

It was such a sweet evening when we took turns telling the other, "I remember when you..."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sundays with Sam: A joyful elf

Hi every one! It's Sam-I-Am-Joyful today! I've been feeling a lot of Joy lately, just like that sign you see. Except my Joy is inside my Heart and the really cool thing about it seems to be that it is showing on my face all the time because that's what people tell me! And the first time RICK (my BOYFRIEND) pointed this out, it sort of embarrassed me a little bit because I can get real self conscious about things like that, but really, what is there to be self conscious about? Right?

I'm having so much fun decorating the house and at first I thought I was going a little over board with things because the guys I live with said I could be in total charge of the decorations. But every time I add a new decoration they seem to like it, so I just keep going!!

RICK and I went and picked out a BIG Christmas tree for the living room where I live. The room is pretty big any way, and since this is the first year I have ever had a tree, I wanted to get a big one mainly so there would be plenty of room for lots of decorations and lots of lights. And we found the perfect one and I swear it is the most beautiful tree I have ever seen.

I had no idea what a Christmas tree would cost but I really didn't care. This is one time I decided to go all out and pay what ever it cost because I knew it would make me happy. When we got it home, I couldn't wait to put it up and get it all decorated, but then I started feeling a little sad or some thing because I realized that if I got it decorated too fast, then I wouldn't be able to enjoy that part of it. I also bought so many decorations you wouldn't believe it. And spent more money, but again I didn't care.

My house mates voluntary asked how much the tree cost, not because they were being nosy, but they said it was only fair that all of us share the cost, which I thought was extremely thoughtful of them and I appreciated that. So I thanked them and explained that if they didn't mind, I would like for the tree and the decorations to be my treat. They looked at me kind of funny but I decided to open up a little more and explain why I wanted to do this.

They were shocked that I had never, ever had a Christmas tree before and asked me some questions about it, so I went into just a little detail about my family and how they never got into holidays at all. That part sort of made me a little sad because it made me remember how they never celebrated Thanksgiving or even my birthday or any other thing similar to that. But I thought it would make them understand why getting a big tree and decorating it was exciting for me this this year and I wanted it to be a gift to them that all of us could enjoy.

I worried they might take offense or get their feelings hurt because maybe they would think I was being selfish and didn't want them to be a part of it, but thank goodness they understood and even appreciated this was my gift to them for being so kind and accepting to me this year.

Well, I explained to RICK that I wanted to get it decorated the minute we got it in the door, but how I also wanted to stretch it out and make it last as long as I could. So he helped me get it in the tree stand which has a bowl-like thing where you can keep water there for it to drink and it won't dry out as quickly, which I thought was a genius idea. I had never heard of such a thing before! Now I feel better about having a real tree because at least it won't get thirsty. I had never heard of this kind of tree stand before but RICK gets credit for showing me one when we went shopping for decorations. Such a cool idea to keep the tree from getting thirsty!

So after we got the tree in it's watering stand, I filled it to the brim, I almost started crying because I was so excited. It was like my head was filled with all this Joy. I needed to sit down for a while and just look at the tree, and RICK was so excited, too. He asked me if I wanted to turn the tree a little bit to see if another side would look better, and I never even thought of doing this. His family has a Christmas tree every year so I consider him my personal Christmas Tree Expert! HA!

So I sat on the sofa and he got up and turned it around to some different sides but since I had filled the stand bowl completely full of water, some of it spilled out. I can't believe my reaction to that because I got this scared feeling inside for just a quick second. And then I realized that scared feeling was because it was almost like I was expecting my parents to yell at me for making a mess. And my parents were not even there! But I guess I am so use to being yelled at that maybe it takes time for me to get over stuff like that.

Oh, the other thing I wanted to do was see if I could position the tree so I could see it while I was in my bedroom, and could enjoy looking at it when I was in my bed. And guess what? My bedroom is in the perfect location that let's me see it!! Yay!

So RICK helped me slow down and take my time decorating, and that was the perfect approach to take because it made the decorating all that more enjoyable. And guess what else I did? You may chuckle at this one, but I have a Christmas tree in every room of the house!! How about that? Well, that is not exactly true because I didn't put a tree in my housemates bedrooms!! HA! But I have these small tiny ones all over the house. One in the kitchen, the bathroom, the laundry room, on a little table in the hall way close to the front door! So that way I can go in any room and see a Christmas tree!!

And while RICK and I were getting ready to put the string of lights on the main tree in the living room, guess what one of the guys I live with did? Give up? He told us to stand close together facing each other and then he wrapped the string of lights around us from head to feet, and then turned the lights on and took a picture of us!!!!! I was a little embarrassed at first but you know what? You will be so proud of me for saying this: I am getting over my embarrassment and just enjoying this kind of thing!! Cool, huh? I think so! :)

Two more things real quick: I woke up one night at about 2:00 a.m. and decided to go in the living room and turn on the tree lights and just enjoy looking at it. Well, for some reason I decided to get my pillow and a blanket and lay down on the floor on my back and scoot under the tree so I could look up at things from that angle. And OMG it was so interesting! I was so happy and just filled with all kinds of Joy that I almost started crying! It was beautiful!

About 2:30 a.m. one of my house mates got up to go to the bathroom and saw the tree lights on but he didn't see me laying on my back under the tree because the only thing visible was my legs sticking out! HA! He went over to turn the tree lights off and then saw my legs and said, "Sam?" I said, "Hi!" He said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Looking at the tree lights." He didn't say any thing to that other than, "Okay" and went on to the bathroom. On the way back to his bedroom, he said, "Remember to turn the lights off when you come to bed." I said, "Okay."

The last thing I want to tell you is this: Remember from what I wrote last year about that Christmas party RICK and I went to at Brad and Matty's house? Remember I brought that small sprig of plastic mistletoe with me to surprise RICK so I could get me some kisses? (RICK called them "Kisses-on-demand"! HA!) Well, I still have that little sprig of plastic mistletoe and guess what? After a year later, IT STILL WORKS! See, if I had gotten a real sprig last year, I'd have to go and buy another one for this year, so I saved me a little money!! And I am glad to report that plastic mistletoe works just as good as the real thing! HAHA!

Anyway, that's all for this Sunday. Hope every one has a nice day and week!

Love, Sam-I-Am-A-Joyful-ELF!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Trying my best ... will I measure up?

I haven't been in the best shape lately. Emotionally. Psychologically. However you want to categorize it. I haven't been at my best for quite a while now and it's really taking a toll on me.

I haven't felt like posting much in quite a while. I've put up a few short, semi-humorous posts here and there, but not a whole lot with much depth. Brad's been doing most of the posting and keeping things running here. It's been almost two months since I really wrote something that I put a lot of thought into. And that bothers me. A lot.

The title of my post ("Trying my best ... will I measure up?") I think captures where I am right now. I've always taken a lot of pride in doing the best I can in whatever I commit myself to do. Trying my best. That's been drilled into me since childhood, so I guess it might be considered one of my core values. So when I start doubting myself, it bugs me in a major way.

School - This semester in school has been the hardest yet. I thought when I started out as a Freshman I was in way over my head. That there was no way I'd ever be able to succeed. But I proved that wrong. I found ways to compensate for my hyperactivity and distractibility. 

This semester I thought an Independent Study would be a breeze. I could develop something that would fit my particular needs. I would be in charge of designing everything, so that should work nicely, right? And the focus would be on all that's involved in writing a children's book for kids with ADHD. And the end result of the course would be (hopefully) a published book, or at least one that had some potential to be published at some point.

I was so very excited about doing this. Being in charge of developing a business model for creating my "product" (the book), would be a piece of cake. But the Business School has specific guidelines for how all this has to be done. And I now faced the challenge of fitting my own personal work and study process into their academic format. 

Little did I know about all the extensive research involved. Oh, and doing a "needs assessment" of the market. And organizing a "focus group" of children's authors to "test" the "product." And developing a marketing plan and strategy within the model. And that other little, tiny thing: Actually writing the book.

But see, the thing is this. I really did get myself in way over my head. When I've presented my status updates in the Seminar, a lot of it has been my frustrations with how complicated and complex and multilayered this process has been for me. 

The feedback I've now gotten from my Seminar-mates and my academic advisor is I have two choices: (1) - Scale things back and make the "model" I develop my end-product, or, (2) extend the Independent Study into another semester so I can do everything involved to make the end-product a published book, or a manuscript that has a high potential of being published at some point.

So I decided the best thing for me is to take the second option. I don't want to just end up with a "model" at the end of all this work. I really, really am committed to writing a children's book for kids with ADHD. Sure, I could postpone this project for some future date in my life. But I know how my mind works, and I want to see this thing to some kind of completion at this point in my life. Option 1 is easily doable, but I'm not satisfied with that. I'm stubborn that way. 

Final exams for this semester begin next week. The semester will be over next Friday. I'm extending my Independent Study into next semester, and I'm so at peace with that decision.

So I'm trying my best. Will I measure up? All I can say is I haven't lost my passion, and that comes from my heart. And I keep hearing the feedback I got from Ann Marie back in early September: 

I don't think you'll lose your passion. Every endeavor seems to have aspects that are unpleasant. You might feel bogged down now and again. (I felt the same way in grad school with certain projects and exams.) But those times won't steal your passion - they'll just provide hurdles you need to jump in order to fulfill your passion. You'll learn a lot along the way too. You'll do great. :)

I am so determined not to let any doubts, any frustrations, any barriers, any discouragements "steal my passion." That passion is mine, and it comes from my heart. And I'll protect it with every ounce of fight I have. You just wait and see.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Accepting the challenge

It's taken me close to two years, but I finally accepted the challenge Edmond Manning gave me when I wrote this post. If you haven't read that post, you might want to click the link and look it over. This post today will make a lot more sense if you do. It's a fairly short post and shouldn't take much time.

This is the challenge Edmond made:

Thank you for giving voice to those thoughts that are so difficult to give voice to. Very brave, buddy. Now. Here's a challenge for you: can you also give voice to the thoughts about how you're AMAZING without censoring those? An equally difficult task...

Edmond


1. Becoming a professional chef is very important to me. I love the fact that I am already thinking about ways to use my talents and skills to contribute something meaningful to the world. I feel strongly that I would like to provide restaurant training to people coming out of prison, or teaching nutrition and basic cooking to people transitioning from homeless shelters to independent living, or some other venues like these.

2. I am very proud of myself for having the courage and strength to reach out to my dad to see if we can begin repairing our estranged relationship. This was hard and I give myself credit for being a man of hope.

3. I am incredibly proud of myself for owning and embracing and celebrating all that is femme about me. I don't know where all the shame I use to feel went, but good riddance. 

4. I accept, and am in awe, that I am fully capable of excelling in two major areas of my life: my college studies, and making a name for myself in my work at the restaurant

5. I am so very much worthy of being loved and cared for by Matty, the love of my life. Instead of doubting that I am worthy, I love knowing that I'm an incredible catch. 

==========

I originally listed 10 items that were mostly pretty negative. I don't know if any of you have ever done a list like the one I did today, but it's incredibly difficult (at least to me) to come up with an equally long list of thoughts about how I'm amazing. I know there are more things I can list. Even though it's hard, it's actually kind of fun to keep going. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Turning things around

Hi every one! It's Sam-I-Am. I'm just going to post some thing short today because I haven't had much time to sit down and think up my usual wit and wisdom today to share! HA!

I hope every one can survive with out it this week! LOL! I know it might be hard, but I promise to make up for it next week.

But I did want to share the quote you see up there because it makes so much sense to me.

You see that first part of the quote? People have told me I turned out "okay" despite the crappy things I went through in my childhood. I think maybe there is a little truth in that, at least now that I have been getting some help dealing with every thing. I know I am basically a good person but one of the things I have to work on is all the negative feelings I have about my parents.

See, I actually have a lot of anger inside about that and my counselor said some times people turn their anger "inward" and get depressed and think about not even living.

But I have the opportunity now to get my focus off them and on to my self and work really hard to "turn out okay."

And then I was thinking a lot about the last part of that quote. I want to turn it around so it applies to me and this is what I came up with: "I want to be some one who turns out extraordinary because of my childhood."

I hope that make some kind of sense. But the main idea behind this is about how can I turn all the bad stuff around and make those things into my strength?

For example, I was taught that all gay people should be hated, so I am turning that around into a strength. The way I do it is this: It makes me question what I was taught. It makes me look deep inside to see if what I was taught is true or false or some where in between. So even though it is a horrible belief, I am trying to use it to make me think deeper, and to think for my self.

And using this as another example, I grew up hating my self because I knew I was gay. And believe me I have suffered the consequences of that in so many ways. So now I am working hard to turn that belief around and say, "Hey, does being gay mean I should hate my self?" And it makes me talk to other gay people and get their opinion, and it makes me come up with a list of things about being gay that are positive. And the end result is that I can now honestly say "I like being gay." Some times I even think "It's the coolest thing in the whole world to be gay. I wish every body could get the chance to be gay!" LOL! Just kidding about that. I really and truly believe every body should just be who ever they are, Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Trans, Bi, Questioning, and all the other versions of sexual orientation there are.

Anyway, that's all I got for today. This may be the shortest post I've ever written, but maybe some one got a little some thing out of it.

Hope every one has a great Sunday and week. See ya next Sunday!

Love and Hugs, Sam

Thursday, December 4, 2014

All my love

This is something my dad sent me the day after Thanksgiving. 

I can't stop crying. I try, but I can't stop. 

This week I've been recovering from what I thought was a head cold. After a while it started moving down into my chest and I've missed work because I've been so fatigued. I'm now on antibiotics so I'm starting to feel a lot better.

But after getting this from my dad, I can't stop crying. I don't know. Maybe it's just because of this congestion in my chest and not being able to sleep well at night. When I get sick like this I always get really emotional and I've been a little lightheaded.

I've had to force myself to eat and stay on top of taking care of myself. Matty has been a dream come true in taking care of me. He made a big batch of homemade soup from a recipe I have, and that's done wonders. And he's kept the bathtub clean and each evening he fills it with the most soothing warm/hot water so I can soak in a bubble bath to take my aches away.

I wish I felt better now so I could tell you all about Thanksgiving Dinner. Once I feel a little better I want to share some of the things that happened. Until then, I wanted to share this with you: 

About 30 minutes before Dinner, Matty's dad pulled him aside and asked him to say the blessing before we ate. Neither of our families are highly religious, but this is a tradition with his family for Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner. Usually his dad says the blessing and, according to Matty, it's usually one of those perfunctory prayers that are kind of "standard" ones you say.

Matty said his dad didn't give any guidelines or suggestions on how to do it or what to say. It was just, "Son, I'd like you to give the blessing before we eat tonight. Would you?" Matty said he was a little shocked because this is a tradition only his dad has done, but he said, "Sure. I can do that. I'd like to write it out first, okay?" His dad said that was perfectly okay but they were planning to sit down to eat in about 30 minutes.

So Matty went into his old bedroom and closed the door and wrote out a short prayer. Neither I nor anyone else knew what was going on. So it was a complete surprise when we were all seated at the table and his dad stood up and said, "Before we begin enjoying this wonderful meal prepared by [Matty's mom's name] and [my mom's name], I'd like to ask Matty to offer the blessing."

Everybody got really quiet, we all bowed our heads, and Matty stood up and said this short and sweet prayer about being thankful that our two families were gathering together to remember what we had to be thankful for. And then there was that one line I shared in my last post: 

"...And even though we are an 'imperfect' family, we discover our humanness in our imperfections. But it is our love for each other that we find the path to heal those imperfections and become whole..."

I think I froze when he said those words because he read them kind of slowly, maybe to let the words really sink in. And boy did they sink in. I got teary because they went right to my heart.

My dad was sitting next to me and he reached over and took my hand under the table and held it and gave it a little squeeze. My dad is not what you would call a "touchy feely" person. He's never, ever done anything like this before. This is way out of character for him.

When Matty's short prayer was over, I was tearing. I knew not to look at my dad because I knew I would lose it and break down. I know my dad was probably uncomfortable holding my hand and most likely didn't want to make me uncomfortable, so he just released my hand and we started passing the food around and normal conversation started.

Matty's words and my dad holding my hand meant the world to me. I still haven't been able to take it all in, but both Matty's words and my dad holding my hand were real and true and went straight to my heart where it's been ever since.

And then my dad custom-made that little note you see at the top of my post and sent it to me the next day.

I still can't stop crying when I read it. I try, but I can't stop. 

And look how he signed it: 

All my love, Dad.

I guess Matty is right about it being "...our love for each other that we find the path to heal those imperfections and become whole..."

I love you, Matty. 

I love you, too, Dad. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

What a day!

I'm a little under the weather today. I think I'm at the beginning (or mid part) of a head cold, but I wanted to say a little about Thanksgiving and to share some pics people took of the pie they made from the recipe I posted last week.

I tried to talk Matty into writing up what happened but I think he's too modest (Yep. Imagine that, huh?! LOL). The reason he's being modest is because his dad asked him to say the Thanksgiving blessing before we ate and he included something that was so profound and meaningful that there was total silence after he sat down. 

He had to write out the prayer before he spoke it and this is the part that was so amazing:

"...And even though we are an 'imperfect' family, we discover our humanness in our imperfections. But it is our love for each other that we find the path to heal those imperfections and become whole..."

My dad was sitting next to me, and right after Matty said those words, he reached over and took my hand and gave me a squeeze. I had no idea what Matty planned to say for the blessing before he stood up before our two families, but those two sentences really touched my dad and I. It's like we both recognized ourselves in what he was saying.

I'll write up a few more things that have happened since then, but for now, I want to say Thank You to everyone who sent me a pic of the pies you made from the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake recipe. Several other people took pics but had some trouble uploading them, but I'll pass those along, too, if I get them.

I asked for, and got permission, to use the pics and to use their names:
From Wade Kelly, before it went in the oven.
From Wade, after it came out of the oven.
From Kari Higa, who used the recipe to make cupcakes. 
  
From Jay M.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Happy dancing

Hi there! And welcome again to Sundays with Sam. Sam-I-Am, that is! Just pull up a chair and make your self comfortable. I am so happy you could stop by!

Don't you love the sign up there? I appreciate Kris G. sending it to me. She sent it to Matty and he emailed it over to me. I was trying to find the perfect sign to use for my post today and every one I came across just didn't say what I wanted it to say, and then about 15 minutes later I got an email from Matty with this one from Kris and it was so perfect. 

The reason this sign is so perfect is because I wanted to tell you a little bit about my Thanksgiving this year because I have always wanted to have a real Thanksgiving dinner. Last year Rick (you remember him, right? My BOYFRIEND!! LOL) and I were invited to Brad and Matty's house and we had such a wonderful time. And this year I had Thanksgiving dinner at Rick's house with all his family there. So I have now had TWO Thanksgiving Dinners in my life and it makes me feel so happy.

And the other reason this sign is so perfect is because of what I wrote about last week about wanting to have my very first Christmas tree this year. And I talked to my house mates at our last House Meeting and asked them if it would be okay if I could be in charge of the tree this year and they were all happy I wanted to do this! I tried not to sound too excited when I brought this up at the Meeting because I am sure every one there was probably use to having a Christmas tree and I was thinking it might not be such a big deal for them, but it is a Huge Deal to me. I worry some times that I might come across as too excited over certain things that are more routine for most people. So I played it down just a little bit there, but now that I am writing this post I can say how I really feel. Ready? Okay, here goes:
HA HA! How do you like my Happy Dance? And that's a BIG smile on my face because I am so proud of my self and happy that I am doing some things in my life now that mean a lot to me. And the really awesome thing is that some of the things I'm doing are for the very first time.

I have a BOYFRIEND for the very first time in my life (and I plan for it to be the ONLY boyfriend I ever have, too)! I now get to have a REAL Thanksgiving Dinner (well, last year was the first one), and now I am going to have my very first CHRISTMAS TREE this year!

That is why I am doing that Happy Dance you see up there! You should feel special because I don't show my Happy Dance to just any body. RICK has seen it and now you get to see it because RICK took that pic of me! HA! Just kidding about that. But that happy smile and bright eyes you see in that happy cat look just like mine when I do my Happy Dance. Oh, and RICK said the way the cat seems to be dancing looks just like I do when I did my Happy Dance for him! HA!

But the one thing you have to remember about doing the Happy Dance in front of the person you love is that they get super happy, too! And then they start tickling you to make you do all kinds of different dance moves which then turns into a Ridiculous-Looking Happy Dance! LOL!! And then that Ridiculous-Looking Happy Dance sort of turns into some thing else and before you know it, you are doing all kinds of Happy Things! HA HA! Well, I won't describe the details of that but maybe you can just imagine what that one looks like! HA HA!

So I had a wonderful time at the Thanksgiving Dinner at RICK'S house. There were so many people there including little kids running all over the place which was so much fun to watch. And it was SO COOL to see their parents not getting the least bit upset because the kids were laughing and making all kinds of beautiful little-kid noise! I almost started crying because when I looked over to their parents, they seemed to enjoy the fact that their kids were happy and enjoying them selves. That was one of the coolest things about Thanksgiving for me. In my opinion, that is the way it ought to be. Kids just playing and being kids, and Parents enjoying watching their kids have a great time.

The other cool thing was that people really made me feel welcomed. I had already met some of them, but not every body. Even the ones I had met before actually remembered my name!!! Can you even believe that? That sort of blew me away because it's not like I spend time with them normally. And they remembered my name!!! I'm thinking about that right now while I am typing this and want to cry happy tears AND do the Happy Dance all at the same time. Wouldn't that be a sight to see? HA!

RICK has an uncle he is very close to and when he arrived at the house, he saw me sitting on the floor playing with some of the little kids and he came over there and plopped right down on the floor next to me!!!! and put his arm around me and gave me the BIGGEST hug you can imagine. And he said to me, "You remember me, don't you?" I laughed and said, "Of course. How could I forget you?" And he had the biggest laugh you can imagine!

And then all the little kids jumped in his lap and he started horsing around with them and every body was giggling and having the best time. It was so much fun to see. And no body was bothered that the kids were laughing and having a good time and that this uncle was stirring them all up. I almost started crying with happy tears. For a minute it actually took my breath away because it was so beautiful to watch.

I also felt so proud that RICK seemed like he was wanting to show me off! He took me around and introduced me to some of his family I had not met and they were so kind to me. And if that was not enough, RICK referred to me as his BOYFRIEND and had his arm around me while he was introducing me!! And I am so proud of my self for not getting over-whelmed and self-conscious with him doing that. And I didn't even feel like I was going to faint! I admit all this is still very new to me, but I handled it really good.

I did have to go outside for a break two times because I am not use to being around this much happiness and I guess I just needed a few minutes of quiet time. RICK went with me for those two breaks which made me so happy and stayed by my side, and he didn't seem to mind one single bit, and even, get this, took advantage of me! That's right. He use those two times to hug and KISS ME! I had a hard time not jumping up and doing a Happy Dance right there, but I restrained my self! HA!

Well, that's it for this week. Thank you for taking the time to read this LONG post. I swear I needed a place to show off my Happy Dance, and I couldn't think of a better place to show it off than here with all of you. Well, second only to showing it to RICK! HA! But I think you understand!

Well, I have to stay with the theme of the sign up there, the one that Kris sent me. Now that Thanksgiving is over, I have to start planning the next thing I have always wanted to do. And I have been looking at tons of pictures of Christmas Trees to get some good ideas of decorations I want.

I already know I'm getting a Sam-I-Am Tree Ornament. Isn't that the cutest thing you ever saw? Almost makes me want to do the Happy Dance. Hmmmmm. I think that's what I'll do right now! HA! Have a great week every one!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us

From all of us, to all of you:
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
 
From Matty: I'm thankful for all of you who encourage me to be my best. When I decided this year to use my writing skills and draw on my own experience with ADHD to write a children's book, I was inspired by your confidence in me. I now know I can do this even though I sometimes get overwhelmed with everything involved in the entire process. YOUR belief in me and my passion has made me more determined to make a difference, and I thank all of you for the confidence you have in me.
 
From Bradley: When I first started thinking this year about whether I was ready to trust my ability and my dad's ability to see if we could repair our estranged relationship, I have to be honest and say I was initially skeptical. And anxious. All of you gave me important insight and support and encouragement and I'm so glad I have all of you on my side. I've grown up a lot this year, and I sincerely appreciate your part in my growth. You guys are the best. Thank you.
 
From Sam: Hi every one! Wow. What a year this has been for me. I feel so humbled and grateful to be able to come here each Sunday and share some different things happening in my life. There are two main things I'm so thankful for this year: Number One is having RICK, my beautiful BOYFRIEND, in my life. I feel so cared for, honey, and I honestly can not think what my life would be like with out you. And Number Two is having all of you to be excited for me and to give me such good advice and encouragement and support. And all those HUGS you send me each week mean the world to me! Thank you for helping me realize I don't have to live in a Small World any more. You have helped make my world a lot larger. I am so happy you are a part of that. Thank you.
 
From RICK: Hi all. (Sam told me I had to put my name in CAPS, so there it is! LOL) I know I've only written one post, but I just want to say I read every single thing Sam writes each week, and I appreciate the love and support all of you have given him. It always warms my heart, too, when you include me in your greetings. Sam and I sometimes talk about different comments you leave him and all I can say is that you have given us some good things to think about and I believe our relationship is a lot stronger because of you. And SAMMY? I hope you know without any doubt whatsoever. . . YOU, MY SAMMY, are my Heart. Love you. Always.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thus speaketh Bradley

Just wanted to throw out a few random thoughts for this Monday morning:

-- I loved Sam's post yesterday. It got me to thinking about several things, and I wanted to mention them here.

It made me go back and remember some of my early experiences when I came out at 15. I remember quite vividly worrying about what other people might think when I did come out and start to free myself from what Sam called the "box" we get put in about how guys are suppose to be. 

And then there's that whole other layer of how you internalize everything you're told about what it means if you decide to come out of that box and just be yourself. That you should hate yourself -- That you should live in fear -- That you should live your life in doubt.

And how it takes strong courage to know who you really are inside and then live your life being true to yourself. And Sam? Your post yesterday inspired me to continue my determination to refuse to live in any box other people might insist I live in. I love how you're discovering that your soul is too beautiful to be imprisoned in a box, and I feel so lucky to get to see it up close.

-- I'm really excited again this year about Thanksgiving. As I mentioned before, we're doing a new family celebration this year as Matty's family and my family join together to celebrate this season and enjoy a wonderful meal (and desserts!) together. 

My pie-baking begins in earnest on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I am SO HAPPY they have given me those two days off from work. Our Thanksgiving Recess from school begins Wednesday and goes through December 1, so not only do I get more time to bake, but I'll have more time with my honey at home in the evenings!

My dad and I are still working on the musical entertainment. He's a lot further along in his guitar skills since he's been playing for so long, and he's being so patient with me as I try and catch up. And, OMG, I am discovering that maybe -- just maybe -- I have a half-decent singing voice! Who knew? He pointed it out, which made me a little self-conscious at first, but -- maybe if I can get over some of my shyness, and in particular my social shyness, maybe I might (softly) add my voice to some of the lyrics!

Okay, those are my two random thoughts for today. Thus speaketh Bradley! Carry on! LOL

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sundays with Sam: A real test

Hi every one! It's that time of the week again. Time for your Sunday host (that's me, Sam-I-Am, in case you forgot who posts on Sundays! LOL) to give you a little to think about.

I will probably be saying more about this a little later on, but for now I felt this strongly enough to at least mention it now. I almost decided not to write about this but I am learning that when I keep thinking about some thing over and over, then I need to figure out what it means. Plus this is about some thing I keep hidden deep inside me and they say in my counseling program that when you keep important things like this hidden inside, then it might mean you are ashamed of it, and I am so tired of feeling shame over every little thing.

So here's the deal. We have a House Meeting once a month where I live now and it's when all the House Mates can bring up any thing bothering us, or we can make suggestions about how to improve things, and we always go over chore rotation to make sure every body agrees to what we're suppose to do. That kind of thing. So at the last House Meeting I said I wanted to put up a few Thanksgiving decorations, you know, just some of those little adorable tiny pumpkins you see at the grocery store and maybe some cut-out cardboard turkeys and stuff like that.

Well, every body thought that was a fine idea and I agreed to be in charge of arranging that for Thanksgiving. I thought it would make things around the house look a little festive and I've never had the opportunity to do some thing like this before, so I'm kind of excited to do this. When I lived with my parents I use to put up a small cardboard turkey in my room and I would always look at it and think about it Thanksgiving and what other families would be doing when they got together.

But here's what I was referring to at the beginning of my post, that thing I keep thinking and thinking about and probably feel some shame about. Okay, I'm just going to say it even though I hesitate because maybe it is not politically correct or some thing, so I don't mean any offense to any one. I am seriously just trying to be honest and get at the bottom of this thing that keeps bothering me inside.

When it comes time for Christmas, I want to go all out in decorating the house with lots and lots of Christmas decorations. And I want to have a Christmas tree that is loaded down with tons of decorations, like those blinking lights you see sometimes on TV and tinsel and an angel on the top and some of those bright shiny ornament balls and maybe a popcorn string going round and round the tree and maybe a Sam-I-Am ornament, and all kinds of stuff like that.

I want to go all out and make every thing look pretty and beautiful and fun. But see, the thing that is deep inside me and makes me feel some kind of shame, or what ever the feeling is, is feeling like this is not what a guy is suppose to be doing. Before you judge me, just hear me out, please.

I have never had a Christmas tree before. This will be the first time in my life I have a chance to have a Christmas tree and decorate it like I want. But the shame thing deep inside me is that I have spent almost my entire life trying to hide being gay. Kids in school (especially the guys) always got ridiculed and bullied any time they acted like they might be gay. You were suppose to be all macho and stuff and act a certain way and not step outside that box.

So, I have spent almost all my life trying to "act" straight and macho and "manly" and stuff like that. So the thing that did the most damage to me was trying to pretend I was straight and hide who I really am. You were not suppose to "act like a girl" if you were a guy or there would be Hell to pay. Well, I am trying to over come all that and not even think about which "Box" I am suppose to be in. I'm sick of trying to live in some body else's Box, you know? I have the right to go from one Box to the other Box, or to even stay out of Boxes all together!

So if I want to go out and find my very first Christmas tree and then decorate it all frilly and shiny and with tinsel and all those blinking lights you see and cute ornaments and a popcorn string going round and round, then I DO NOT want to feel bad about it. I DO NOT want to feel ashamed to be a GUY and enjoy getting into this.

And Screw being "macho" and all that. If I want to be "macho," then I will. And if I want to be "frilly" and decorate things with cute decorations, then I want to do that without feeling bad because "guys are not suppose to get into that kind of thing." Screw That! Sorry for being so intense about it, but I am trying to just be my Self. In a certain way, I guess this feels like a "test" for me. Am I going to keep pretending to be what other people want me to be, or am I going to just be my Self?

Man, I didn't expect this post to turn out so intense. I've been holding all this in for so long, it feels good to get some of it out. So for this year at Christmas, in addition to having RICK, my BOYFRIEND, by my side, and Brad and Matty and all of you beside me, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want my very first Christmas tree!

Imagine that. My very first Christmas tree ever. And I look forward to decorating. Exactly like I want. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie recipe

Hi everyone! As promised, here's the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie recipe I promised.

The recipe was handed down to me from my mom and I guess I always assumed she got it from her mom. I know my grandmother was a great cook and always shared her recipes. I told my mom I was going to share it and she said she didn't think it was one that came from my grandmother. So I did a search of "Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese" recipes and it looks like this one is a pretty standard one you can find on a lot of food sites.

And how do you like the adorable recipe graphic? Kari designed it and gave it to me as a gift! I absolutely LOVE what she did, so THANK YOU, Kari! It's actually a little uncanny how close it resembles how I actually look! I had to do a double-take when I first saw it! And don'tcha just love my chef hat and my chef coat! And, OMG, my CHEF POSE! Don't I look adorable? {{{Kari ♥}}}