Gay Rights: My First Time To Unfollow

As I look up this morning at the top of my post, I see the rainbow that WP has added. It makes me smile ­čÖé

As I read through the blogs I follow, I also smiled. Until one. My first time to “unfollow” and it hurt. It made me sad. It made me mad. And after a long walk, I probably need another one.

I have brown hair. No choice.

I have long legs. No choice.

I have curly hair that refuses to behave. No choice.

I have white skin that burns. No choice.

I am straight. No choice.

I am married. My choice.

You have (insert colour) skin. No choice.

You are born in (insert country). No choice.

You were raised by (insert any kind of family scenario or lack thereof). No choice.

You are (insert gender). No choice.

You are (insert sexual orientation). No choice.

Is this person any different from me? NO.

This person and every other living being is equal to me and deserves the law to recognize that fact.

Everyone should have the choice to be who they are and we, as loving people, should honour and accept this.

To be distraught, to feel a pit in your stomach, to feel a tightness in your jaw because of a decision that makes us all equal makes me just sad.

And off I go for another walk to focus on the positive this time. My glass is back to being half full… almost full… as I celebrate with my daughters these steps taken to be a more equitable and fair society, the one I want myself and my family to live in.

(In light of the potential for a variety of responses, I have the right to publicize the comments that I wish to have on my blog. Just as the other blogger had the right to share his/her opinions and I had the right to follow or unfollow.)

Teaching: Why I Love It

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. – Lily Tomlin

This quote jumped off the page and dove straight into my heart. As a teacher, this is the sole reason why I love to teach. I don’t teach because I love fractions; I teach to open my students’ eyes to the world around them.

Each year my class and I decide on an organization we would like to support through fundraising (CHAT House, Free The Children, World Vision, and Safe Passage/Camino Seguro are some we have chosen.) We have helped build a school, bought tools, seeds and mosquito nets, and supported a child in Uganda and in Guatemala to go to school. In doing so, we work together to host an event called Chili for Children. My students sell tickets, make place mats, advertise, and serve the chili made with ingredients that they have brought in. As they participate, I observe them as they shine in the knowledge that they are making a difference.

Despite being a tad stressful, this has always been my favourite day of the school year.

Then something happened. One year, after the fundraising was “done”, some students came to show me bracelets they were making. They wanted to sell them to raise even more money. This was their idea. This was their work. This was completely their plan.

I just beamed.

This was now my favourite day.

This is why I teach.

(A special thank you to My Spanglish Familia who nominated me to do this quote challenge. Her blog is refreshing, inspiring and humourous. Be sure to check it out.)

From Garbage Dump To School In Guatemala

Vultures circling above, garbage trucks roaring in, our 12-year-old daughter’s eyes were opened. Concerned, she watched┬áas men, women and sometimes children chased each┬átruck into the Guatemala City garbage dump to claim the trash inside. Rifling through the rubbish, the people begin their daily routine of sorting, lifting, guarding and selling trash so it may be recycled and they, in turn, can eat. Years ago, more children worked and fewer went to school. Today, more go to school and fewer work. Thanks to one woman, Hanley Denning, an American who made a difference.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Hanley was first introduced to the slums adjacent to this garbage dump during a tourist visit to Guatemala. Upset and determined to support the families and children working in the dump, she sold her car and her computer to begin Safe Passage (Camino Seguro). Today 600 children and 100 mothers receive educational and social services support to improve their living and working conditions. Sadly, Hanley was killed in a traffic accident but her dreams and goals continue today as Safe Passage continues to grow.

This half day tour was the best part of our family trip to Guatemala. After visiting the garbage dump and driving in the impoverished surrounding area, you arrive at Safe Passage where both children and their parents receive classes and training so they can rely less and less on a life involving the garbage dump. After touring the facilities and eating a lunch of tortillas and beans with the students in their cafeteria, we left Safe Passage feeling a little lighter, happier and more optimistic about the world around us.

This experience will remain with you long after you return from Guatemala. Much longer than any other sightseeing endeavor.

Conflicted, Once Again

Travel fills my heart

I love exploring newness

Until I see you

Sitting there with your palms out

Conflicted, I look away.

(I wrote this poem after seeing people begging in downtown Toronto and Ottawa this weekend. Some people give food. Some give money. Some even provide work. Some support organizations who work directly with those in need. But even when I have done some of those things, I don’t do them all the time for each and every person in need. I feel ashamed and guilty when I choose not to and ask myself why not this time? Conflicted, I whisper a soft sorry as I hurry to escape both my discomfort and their’s.)

I have pondered this for years. And I suppose, I will continue to do so. How do you respond to begging?