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For Better or For Worse

3 reasons people tie the knot — in 1950, and today

My parents are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this month!

There are not very many statistics on how many couples reach their 70th wedding anniversary but it seems clear, not very many do. At eighteen years old, my mother looked at my dad and made him the happiest man on earth by saying, I do.

My parents married in 1950, a new decade of hope on the horizon with a rising US economy following WWII.

For better or for worse

Her options in 1950 were limited by today’s standards. My mother once spoke about either joining a convent or working as a nurse or secretary. Both jobs were considered ‘suitable’ for a woman. Until she married.

Today, I look at my 18-year-old daughter and see the whole world in front of her. School. Education. Travel. Friends. Career. Marriage is far, far down the list. Not only in my mind but in hers.

If my daughter came to me tomorrow announcing plans to marry, I would consider it a foolish move. Throwing her life away.

In 1950, the day my mom wed my dad, her life began.

At eighteen years old, my mother and my daughter are literally worlds apart.

So, how did our view of marriage change?

A Mother First and Gay Rights Activist Second

The story of Jeanne Manford and the baton she passed to me.

I sit at the far end of the semi-circle of tables and chairs. We are gathered in a small meeting room at the back of a pizzeria. The room doubles as a space for both group gatherings and birthday party bashes. As I take my seat, I smell the faint waft of red marinara sauce mixed with mozzarella cheese. Unmistakingly the aroma of pizza.

The man on my right is enjoying a lovely amber ale and the woman on my left greets me with a very warm smile. She is holding a stuffed turtle in her hand. As always in these new situations, I am feeling awkward and momentarily consider bolting for the door.

But then the meeting begins. The seats around the table fill up. The woman next to me holds up the turtle, using it as a talking stick item as she opens the meeting. Whoever is holding the turtle is the one who gets to speak.

Eventually, the turtle makes its way around the room and finds me. I hold it for a second feeling the plush fabric nervously with my fingers before I say, Hello, my name is MaryRose. I use the she/her pronouns. My reasons for being here are my kids. My son is transgender and my daughter identifies as Bi. I am here to find community and to deepen my learning.

I feel a hand on my left arm. I turn to the woman sitting next to me who is not just warmly smiling but beaming! Oh, you are doubly blessed, she says, looking me in the eyes. Welcome to PFLAG.

What is PFLAG?

The Day I Picked up His Banner and Walked With Him

The beginning of one mother’s journey as her son came out as transgender.

My son is twenty-three this year. Five years ago, at the age of seventeen, he came out as transgender.


It was on a rainy, Northwest day my teenage child, then known as my oldest daughter, drove off in the old Toyota. A family car no longer used. My child was setting off for a new college experience. Flying the nest.

The back seat and trunk stuffed full of boxes and belongings obscured my view of my oldest heading down the road and away from me. I worried about the visibility out the back window. I silently worried over the three hours of driving between our home and this new school.

Of course, I also mused; Would my child fit in and make friends at this new school? Will my child be happy there?

I never worried about gender. The idea of transgender, my oldest daughter truly being my son, never entered my mind.

At least not then.

Finding out via Facebook.

It was several hours later and I arrived home from a long day at work. I had not received a phone call so I decided to check Facebook. I flipped open my laptop and after waiting for the familiar screen to flash on, I began to scroll.

There it was. My child’s Facebook page and profile picture looking back at me. Only not my child’s name attached. There before me was a new name! Jace. I leaned back from the computer, confused but still staring at it.

My go-to action was to ask my younger daughter if she had seen this new name and what it might mean? Her reply, I think you better call Jace. Upon which she returned her attention to her Algebra book.

Alone in my bedroom, I dialed my child’s number. Anxiety and nerves built up with each consecutive ring. I don’t know what I anticipated but my body viscerally signaled me something was up because of the pit forming in my stomach and the clamminess to my palms growing into full-fledged sweat.

Going Wild at Cafe Wylde

P stands for Plant-based

Plant-based. What is it?

“We offer local, vegan, and organic food straight from the earth”, reads the sign of Café Wylde in Everett, WA. It is a late February day and uncommonly dry for the Pacific Northwest. I stand on the sidewalk and wait for my friend to arrive for our late afternoon dinner. Both of us just had birthdays and this is our celebration together. Knowing I am vegetarian, she suggested a “plant-based” restaurant. This may conjure a picture of tie-dyed hippies with long hair and Birkenstocks serving behind the counter but today “plant-based” diets reach across many demographics.

There are several derivations for the term, “plant-based”, encompassing diets which exclude red meat to the more commonly associated vegan diet. It is the latter which most people may think of when seeing this description on a menu. Wikipedia says it this way, “a diet consisting mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, and with few or no animal products.”

People may choose “plant-based” diet for a variety of reasons. Ethical, environmental, and health are usually the most common reasons leading someone to alter their food habits.

At Café Wylde, they encourage that extra leap of health by using locally sourced, organic ingredients. Keeping it local reduces the carbon footprint as well as ensures the highest nutrient value because the produce is picked daily, from the field to your table.

Along with creative and delicious main dishes, there are a variety of healthy teas, smoothies, and fresh juices all prepared in house and on the spot at Café Wylde.  The women who dreamed this vision also incorporate gratitude as their motivation behind the scenes.  Gratitude for the planet, its abundance, but most of all for the support of customers celebrating their birthdays.

Self-Love and Body Curves

Looking in the mirror and being happy in my own skin

It started young, hating my body. Typically, I could be found with my nose in a book rather than kicking a ball on a soccer field. In fact, often I was the last one picked for a sports team at school.

There was one place I felt elegant and beautiful. At ballet class when I was dancing. It began around the age of 10 or 11. I, a rather slender and compact but not skinny pre-teen who came up short on height, stood at the barre with my feet in first position behind a row of other pre-teen girls. Our instructor for that evening class walked up and down the line calling out the sequence of pliés and relevés.

She glances at me as the music stops and makes one comment, You probably will not be tall but I certainly hope you do not get curvy!

Curvy!

Another word for chubby, womanly, and fat.

In the years to come, as my body filled out, those words stuck with me. In my soul as well as my memory.

A few years later, I landed a lead role in the upcoming ballet production. Ecstatic to be noticed, I worked really hard at my part, dancing even harder to make sure I left a good impression.

Then it happened again…..

The End of the World as We Know It

And do I feel fine?

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. So goes the lyric from the alternative rock band, REM’s song by the same name.

This song hit the music charts in 1987 with it’s frenetic, fast-paced syncopated lyrics referencing everything from Soviet ruler Leonid Brezhnev to biblical rapture to comedic lines of Lenny Bruce. It sifted out everything strangely wrong with the world and weirdly juxtaposed. Is it any wonder it has become an anthem to our current situation during the coronavirus pandemic?

The feeling of loss for a life previously lived.

It is common to feel a loss and grieve after we lose someone from our lives, be it due to a death, a divorce, or maybe a moving away and losing touch. When this happens, we sometimes characterize our lives as life before, with that person, and life after. The void we feel can seem like the end of the world as we know it. And it kind of is.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

What lies ahead of us, on the other side of our grief, is a new life. One without the person, activity, and things we were used to doing.

During this time of Covid-19 so many people have lost beloved spouses, parents, siblings, and friends. Their lives are certainly changed and their grieving real.

But what if we are grieving our way of life before Covid-19?

Six Degrees From the Stonewall Riots

A look back at the inception of PRIDE to see the way forward

Right now, most of us concur we are living through times of uncertainty and civil unrest. A global pandemic with a rising death toll, riots, demonstrations, police brutality, the sinking economy, and the list goes on.

But it’s not the first time our society has felt this type of shakedown.

A similar situation brewed throughout the 1960s with one sector boiling over during the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. This boiling point became known as the Stonewall Riots, and it was here the inception of the gay rights movement began.


In 1969, I turned one year old. My family lived on the West Coast, far from Greenwich Village, Manhattan, or New York and an uprising later to be termed The Stonewall Riots. For obvious reasons, I was unaware of the growing unrest in our country during the late ’60s and early ’70s.

My parents did not openly protest to my knowledge. Preferring to use their voices at the ballot boxes or campaign on initiatives for reform. They saw their voices being heard through the political process and that is okay. It was also a different time.

There was always a news broadcast playing in my home, either on the radio or the evening news on the television. I do not recall my parents speaking on issues of the day such as racism, riots, or drag queens. Perhaps they spoke amongst themselves. Perhaps they felt a child’s childhood should be left to play kick-the-can and savor their wishes to Santa Claus. Perhaps they felt I was too young to be touched by the burdens of the world.

Whatever their reasons, it was those burdening events; the Vietnam war, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Stonewall Riots which would ultimately shape the world I grew up in.

In 1969 the Stonewall Riots became a tipping point for the LGBTQ movement. A banner for equality I would pick up a few decades later when my son came out to me as transgender.

Of course, I knew the word but up until that moment that is all it was for me, a word. At that moment, with my son, it became personal. I had no context for the breadth of its meaning. Contrary to my son’s belief that his liberal-minded, progressive mom knew everything, when in fact I did not.

Where did I begin? I began at what I knew to be the beginning.

Today, I Would Rather Pull the Covers Over My Head

How to move forward when your heart is not in it

Today I would rather pull the covers over my head and wait out my funk. I don’t know why I woke up feeling this way. There is no clear-cut reason to point at and say,

That, that is the cause of my gloom, my sadness, grief, despair, or what-have-you.

Perhaps it is the pandemic news, maybe it is menopause hormones, overall I feel overwhelmed.

I give myself some grace to ponder these questions as I lounge in bed. Yes, under the covers.

I give up on trying to decipher a reason for my melancholy. It is what it is.

Sliding my feet out from the tangle of covers, I plant them on the floor. I do not jump out of bed but allow myself to rise slowly, letting that be my pace for the day.

There are many hours ahead of me before I lay my head back down on my pillow and pull my covers up. Here is how I faced them.

Exploring Deception Pass – The Bowman Bay/Rosario Beach Trail

Photo by Deception Pass Bridge; by Author

One of the more accessible hikes and a favorite of mine is the Bowman Bay/Rosario Beach Trail. This is where we headed on a beautiful spring afternoon with water bottles in our backpacks and a picnic lunch packed for our return.

Heading west, we followed Hwy 20 until just before the Deception Pass bridge where there is a road going off to the right with signs directing you down Rosario Beach Road and to the park. This park is a popular spot with camping as well as hiking and has many day use features including picnic areas and public washrooms. It is here where the Maiden of Deception Pass (Ko-kwahl-alwoot) totem pole stands holding a salmon above her head, keeping watch over the Salish sea.

With camera and binoculars in hand we begin our trek heading south on the Rosario Beach trail. The path meanders through wooded areas providing some nice shade on warmer days, up some small inclines and around Bowman Bay. This leg of our day hike is just over 1 mile.

Walking Rosario Beach Trail Photo by Author

Re-opening My Massage Practice During the Pandemic

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Two weeks back to work and how life is now.

A fair amount of my focus over the past two weeks has been spent on sending out new Covid-19 questionnaires to screen clients in my private practice and explaining the new protocols to them. There are temperature checks to take before they get on the table and both of us wear masks.

Three months ago, I shuttered my massage practice, pressing the pause button for what we thought would only be a few weeks. The world seemed as if it was coming to a screeching halt. My newsfeed lit up with the latest information, and many times misinformation, on the growing coronavirus pandemic.

I felt numb by it all. The uncertainty the world was experiencing exhausted me. In some ways, I welcomed a sabbatical from the frenzy of everyday life. My introverted self certainly did not mind staying home for a wee bit.

At that time, mid-March, there was much we did not understand about this novel virus……