Thursday, July 20, 2017

Things That Make My Sports Loving Bi (Leaning Gay) Heart Feel Glorious

"Glorious"  David Archuleta
There are times when you might feel aimless, and can't see the places where you belong.
But you will find that there is a purpose it's been there within you all along.
And when you're near it you can almost hear it.

And you will know how to let it ring out, as you discover who you are.
Others around you will start to wake up to the sounds that are in their hearts.
It's so amazing what we're all creating

It's like a symphony, just keep listening, and pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part.
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies in each one of us.
Oohhh it's glorious

Many times I have heard people say that "Representation matters."  It does, but that phrase doesn't explain anything. Seeing pieces of yourself, seeing your dreams and hopes for yourself  reflected in the world around you both fictional and real can create hope, inspiration, and spark life changes of monumental proportions.  Its  like something that you had no idea how badly you needed until you get a taste of it, and then its like your favorite highly nutritious food. Every part of you feels better because it exists, and you realize you really needed that and you will keep needing it.

And I guess that's something I experienced again today when Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm said she was dating Megan Rapinoe of the Seattle Reign.  And it wasn't just being open about being gay, or who she was dating, it was the pieces of her public journey that she shared, the times she had considered saying something, but the time wasn't right for her yet. There is something about this that I related to, and it sparked a hope for me at a time when I need it. Hope in love, in relationships, in continuing to try, and continuing to connect. 

  A power couple, isn't just two powerful people, two famous people getting together. A true power couple are such people that individually inspire and raise other people up, who get together and create a power explosion for the world, or at least some corner of it.  Today I felt that kind of emotional explosion and it still brings me to tears.  

So what I desire to share today, are some of the people, fictional and real  that took an aimless Mandi, Struggling to find where I belong and just by their being themselves helped me "start to wake up to the sounds that are in (my) heart", that showed me a place, I could exist as my full amazing self,   with a purpose that had "been there within (me) all along"  Just by being near it, I could hear it and I did figure out my part.  ok enough quoting song lyrics, here are some of the power couples, individuals, and works that make me feel glorious (in no particular order).

1) Ellen DeGeneres.  I've written about this before, but even before Ellen came out,  her sitcom characters fashion style was one of the few I felt I could connect to as a young teen. When she came out, it was so powerful that I was both grateful and terrified by it.

2) All the people from my high school that have come out since we graduated, and the one that came out before.  Knowing that I was surrounded by you in my youth, and had no idea, has made adult Mandi  feel a lot better about my struggles as a youth. I remember running into one such Alum at Provo Pride, and she said to me "Can you imagine if we had all known and been there for each other in High School?"  Wow! yeah. I have been imagining it. It would have been less lonely, and it might have been life changing, but it is life changing enough for me to know that you exist now, and it is good enough for me to have you and not be alone now.  Many times you gave me great courage.

3) My friends and family that have been unconditionally there for me. I know I don't need to fear life because of you, and you continue to bring the greatest meaning to my life. especially you girlfriends ;) (you know who you are).

4) Sara Ramierez.    Sara Ramierez , both as the character Callie Torres, and as herself has been such a great inspiration in not hiding your bisexual self, no matter where you fit on that spectrum of bisexuality.  and one of my favorite moments of all was this video she did with Mary Lambert, whos music has also been a great source of inspiration.

5) also Mary Lambert.

6) This Music Video from Miike Snow. Like. I love this so much!

7) Halsey.   Her latest album, and her choice to knowingly alternate pronouns of the love interests of many of her songs, and then this duet to top it all off.

8) Selena Gomez' video for Bad Liar. I watched it 20 times bisexual (as opposed to 20 times straight)

9) Krashlyn. By Krashlyn I mean Ashlyn Harris individually, or with Ali Krieger, or even the strong possibility of that being a thing,  and mostly by Krashlyn I also mean that time Ashlyn went on Kyle Kriegers youtube channel and also Kyle Krieger, because every combination of  any of those three together or alone is at minimum entertaining, if not educational and or inspiring to me. 

10) My Abby Wambach poster.  I mean. I also find Abby Wambach inspiring, but my best friend gave me a poster, and I talk to it every day, and ask it questions like "Dear Abby, what is the meaning of my life? why am I up at 5 am"  She always has an answer for me, from the depths of my own head. Also, the real Abby Wambach wrote a really great book and played some mad soccer.

11) Haley Kopmeyer.  Because that woman can Goalie. And she is the funniest, coolest, nicest person ever and regularly makes my day either on twitter, at games, or on her Stops With Kop

12) This guy, because he is my best friend and is always there for me. ALWAYS.

13) Megan Rapinoe  individually, as well as Sue Bird individually, but also collectively. I don't need to explain this further.

14) BritAnna. If you haven't seen Glee. Go watch.  but I love these two especially.

15) Eve Muirhead.  She's just a super inspiring athlete, and her curling abilities sparked a lot of change in my life, and determination to go for things and stop saying "I can't" .

16) Xena Warrior princess, Ghostbusters (especially Kate McKinnon), the L Word, Glee,  Wonder Woman, and the fact that two of these will soon be getting a TV reboot!!!

17) Johanna Lohman (Amazing soccer player with awesome hair), the ladies of Backline soccer, and especially Jackie Porter, one of my favorite people on twitter, the Seattle Reign and my friends at the Royal Guard.

Not all these people, or characters are gay or bi, many are. Some of them are just athletes, some of them have done music videos and things that bring my soul joy because they  included gay/bi characters. some of them are just inspirations in my life that some how struck me in a very inspiring personal way.  Some of them inspire me with their fashions, or their talent.  Everyone on this list and many more have made me feel connection to life that drives me forward to keep finding my voice. And that is why I have chosen to put them here today. 

To celebrities like Sue Bird, that  do things like she did today, that share those pieces of themselves with the world, even though that's not really their thing, I just have to say I'm really grateful because sometimes life is hard, and that gives me energy to keep going, to keep putting myself out there, and to keep- well, putting myself out there and going on dates and meeting new people. which can be quite scary. I may have a date this Saturday, unless she ghosts on me. But If I do, I'm terrified that it might go horribly, because I am really hoping she doesn't and it doesn't.  But after everything I've been through its hard to believe that it wont go horribly, and its hard to keep putting myself out there. But if I can see others, my friends, or complete stranger celebrities then I can start to imagine success for myself, and it becomes a little more likely to happen.

because "It's like a symphony, just keep listening, and pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part.
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies in each one of us.
Oohhh it's glorious"

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Or Are We Dancers?

I will be the first to admit that I am best at enjoying things in the moment. After the moment passes, the second I start to get tired, I hate everything and I feel a bit depressed and I swear I'm gonna stop doing things that bring me joy in the moment.

Then I get some sleep, some alone time. I introvert, and then I'm right back at it.

After a long day of Volunteering and Soccering, I came home as tantrum throwing as any two year old, and completely miserable, because I'm completely exhausted. And then I caught myself, and I realized I was just tired. It was a pretty incredible and awesome day.

This morning I got up and started getting ready for the game. I couldn't decide what jersey to wear, so I jumped in the shower. When I got out, my mom had called. I called her back and we had a surprisingly long chat that started with soccer. She sent me a BYU shirt to have Ashley Hatch sign for her when they Reign play North Carolina.

It was a wonderful moment because my mom and I always shared a passion for sports, and we haven't really found that connection a whole lot for  few years now, but we talked for about 15 minutes about our superstitiousness with sports.  She tried to help me solve my jersey delima, a very superstitious problem.

And then it was time to go. I left a ferry early to get to the stadium on time. I was going to go to Mod  Pizza before volunteering, since they helped save my friend a month or two ago after a 5k. But when I got there I wasn't hungry, and the line was insane. I decided to go spend my hour before volunteering over by the fountain. It plays music and shoots water, and it's designed for people to play in, and it was a beautiful day.

As I selected my seat on the edge of the fountain. It was crowded, but it didn't take long for a bunch of possibly 16 year old guys to catch my attention.

One of them stood in third position (something I also randomly do when standing) on the edge waiting for the fountain to spray, and then he would run. I noticed his friends, their posture, the arch in their backs, and that butt thing that only happens with male figure skaters and ballet dancers. I recognized something about these kids that was familiar to me, and it brought me deep joy.

Soon they began to almost dance with the fountain, running to it, and from it doing the most extraordinary things with their feet.

The time came, and I had to leave. But before I went, I approached one of them and asked if they were dancers. He said yes, and I said 'I knew  it! I could  tell by your posture, I used to be a figure skater.'

Him and his friends got really excited about that, they had mad respect for figure skaters. It was really cool talking to these young men, who also thought my 10+ year old sun glasses were the coolest thing ever.

I left on a high, then I went and worked hard moving metal gates, and putting up soccer flags with my volunteer friends.

Eventually the game started, and it was a decent game even though the balls struggled to hit the back of the net. I've found that the thing I love most about a soccer game, is the same thing I loved about those boys at the fountain.

The most beautiful part of soccer for me is when it turns into a dance with a player (or two), a ball, and an opposing player (or two).

It happens every single game. One moment, sometimes twenty. It's like watching one of the most beautiful things on earth to see someone do things like that with their feet.

My favorite thing in figure skating to do was always jumps, but my favorite thing to watch is mad footwork. And I enjoyed doing a few mad footwork moves on ice as well. It was just so much work to get it, and harder to fall out of without getting hurt.

Thinking of all of this, I just think that the Killers asked the right question. Are we human? Or are we dancers?

To be human, is to dance. In whatever mode you employ it. Dance is human. Dance connects us. Dance elevates us. Dance brings out the most beautiful moments.

To rember to dance, to remember to see the dance, that is how I rember to see beauty when I am tired.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Pardon Me While I Fan Girl

Good evening my lovelies. I am writing you from the Bainbridge ferry. I have an hour and a half still until I am home for the night, and about 30 mins until we disembark this vessel.

Tonight I have decided that this stupid perma grin  on my face means it's time for me to share a very sacred experience with you all. I've been meaning for a while to blog about my days volunteering for the reign games. I've met the most amazing people, and had the most extraordinary experiences. But it's hard to share them because well...

I've been thinking a lot lately about it.  Ooo. Time out, this is perfect, someone is playing the sweetest violin  music on the ferry, while a camera flash lights up the blackness of the Sound before me.

Some of my friends have noticed my missionary like zeal for Reign games. What can I say, I am a former Mormon return missionary turned humanist that has always found life's deepest inspiration in sports. In Mormon terms, it's always where I have most "felt the spirit."

As my best friend has said, post Mormons are pretty much the same as their pre Mormon Selfs just they have to find a new way to direct their previous zeal and energy.

I always loved doing service projects, anything meaningful that put back into the community. I didn't necessarily love missionary work, but I did love when there was something meaningful to me that I could include someone else in, and they could appreciate and enjoy it with me.

That's the piece of me that hasn't change. I have season tickets, so I don't need to volunteer to go to these games. I do it, because I have found something deeply meaningful and inspiring to me in women's soccer. Strange that, for a former figure skater, I thought it would be curling.

But here we are, deeply in love with soccer, which has no intoxicating crisp ice smell. And since I have found, sort of this new "church" if you will, more a place to fill my empty energy bucket and find hope in humanity at regular intervals, naturally I'm gonna want to some how be a part of contributing my energy to that, in as many diverse ways as possible. So I volunteer. And I love it. And I share that love, and offer the opportunity to any of my friends that want to join in and experience a game with me. For it is something far better experienced together, shared.

Well, I think I'd better get on to tonight. Today I volunteered before the game. It was an excellent experience that I enjoyed as much as ever.  It included a small surprise, when Megan Rapinoes twin showed up next to the Reign retail shop where I was setting up, to set up her shop for the match. She was there for a good 20 mins talking to us and stuff.

I've had practice with this, keeping my fan girling internal when I volunteered for US nationals and sat next to Michelle Kwans family, before I patched Ice for Michelle Kwan. Or during the 2002 Olympics, when I took care of accreditation for Wayne Gretzki, Brooks and Dunn, etc.

I kept my fan girling inside. Head down focus on your work. Done. No problem.

Then my shift was over, my friends came and I was released to enjoy the match with them. They have a young daughter who is just getting in to soccer. My goal for the night was to make sure she had a great experience, and her parents, and that I cheered and we beat the thorns. All of that happened. It was great.

But also, because we were playing the thorns, I decided to do my hair into the Reign lady crown, and hair chalk the center silver, and the outside blue. And I did my war paint make up.

So at the end of the night,  I went down to the fan zone 100% focused on making sure that girl got a good spot for autographs, and helping them out. I stood three people back, and was just taking on an advisory roll. I was content with that tonight. Then Haley Kopmyer noticed me and my crazy hair, and shot a fist bump my way.

And then she walked away, and I lost my sh!t.  I've been fan girling ever since. Like... do I have a bucket list? I don't think that was on it, but you can cross out 10 other things for that one.

I usually keep my cool, but it's all gone tonight. I'm like... um... giddy. Weird.

Kops  is awesome, and fun, and inspiring. And I'm pretty please. And I was not even expecting that at all. I was in my this is my home, you are my guest, let me take care of you mode, and then I became the honored guest.

And words fail me, but that fuel is gonna go with me on a memorial hike tomorrow for a friend that died last year, and it's going to go with me  on all the stupid political crapy that comes out for weeks, and moving house, and all life's nonsense. My bucket is good and filled. Humanity, is alright. There is crap  in the world, but we will change it. Slowly, but steadily. It's all gonna be alright.