Read What I Write

2015 Year in Review (Renaissance Year #2)

2015 Was a Good Year

Last year, I decided to take a more structured approach at evaluating each year as it comes to a close, as well as setting some more purposeful and measurable goals for the coming year. (I’ll write about that next.)

Here’s my look back at 2015. Overall, I was very happy with this year. I had some good successes, some wonderful experiences, and I am surrounded by a wonderful husband, a nice home, many good friends, and I have enjoyable, rewarding activities to participate in.

I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do – not by a long shot. Maybe the goals I set for this year were too ambitious. But I accomplished a lot, and most important, I enjoyed my life.

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Why Are Some Same-Sex Couples Not Getting Married?

The Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015, which made same-sex marriage legal everywhere in the United States, was a huge, monumental win for fairness and equality. The decision made it clear that same-sex couples would be legally married anywhere they live or travel in the U.S., and it put an end to court cases and appeals that were still in process.

By the beginning of 2015, marriage equality had already come to 36 states, the District of Columbia, and numerous Indian reservations, covering roughly three-fourths of the population. That means that in all these jurisdictions, couples have already had anywhere from six months to ten years in which to get legally married. Many have, but many have not.

Marriage equality arrived in my home state of Arizona over eight months ago, on October 17, 2014. Shortly after that, I became an ordained minister and went into business as a wedding officiant. As of this date (June 28), I have officiated 54 weddings; 49 of which were for same-sex couples.

Yet, I’m surprised by how many long-term couples in my network of friends and acquaintances have not yet legalized their union, and apparently have no plans to do so.

Why?

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Should I ever refuse to marry a couple?

I am a wedding officiant.  I’ve only been doing this for about half a year, but I’ve married about 40 couples so far and I have 15 scheduled in the coming months.

It’s immensely rewarding.  It’s wonderful to be part of one of the most significant moments of a couple’s life and see them smile and get overtaken with emotion as they say their vows.

Most of the couples I’ve been marrying are same-sex couples who, in most cases, have waited many years to finally be able to get married.  Some of them didn’t think that day would ever come in their lifetime.  For couples who have already been together for 10, 20, 30, and even 44 years (my record to date), there’s little doubt that their marriage will work out just fine.

It’s fun to observe the special dynamic that exists between the two partners.  It’s a little different for each couple, but it’s there.  I can see it in the way they joke with each other, make decisions with each other, and even gently push each other’s buttons.  In every couple I’ve been privileged to marry so far, I’ve had no doubt whatsoever that they belong together.

But recently, I have encountered a situation that has forced me to ask myself a difficult question:  are there any circumstances under which I should refuse to marry a couple?

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I’m getting noticed as a wedding officiant!

Yesterday, I received this 13-page diatribe from some right-wing religious fanatic in Canoga Park, CA. In barely-literate scrawl which I imagine is typical of letters of this nature, he warned me that if I continue to marry same-sex couples, I could receive possible punishments of “cancer, sickness, uneasiness, depress, out of control, always angry, car accidents, physical injury, loss income, law suits, bad health, always in danger, family deaths, and worst, your future death.”

These were photocopied forms, with blanks throughout the pages for my name and my city.  This tells me that he is sending this love packet to many officiants.  I’m now listed on five LGBT-oriented wedding resource web sites, including GayWeddings.com, which is a subsidiary domain of WeddingWire.com.  Of course, he could have just found me using a search engine.  I have no way of knowing how he found me, but it doesn’t really matter.

At first, I laughed this off, and mused on Facebook, “How kind of him to spend time writing my name and city into blanks on photocopied forms and spend almost $1.50 in postage to rescue me!”

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A friend’s early passing provides an opportunity for reflection

A friend of ours passed away a couple days ago.  He wasn’t a close friend, he was more of an acquaintance whom we always enjoyed seeing whenever we would run into each other at parties.  We were Facebook friends, so at least we had a spectator view of each other’s lives.

He was diagnosed with advanced cancer last July, and as it turned out, he lived only six months longer.  But he made the most of those six months.  While I’m sure he had private times of anger and grief, on the outside he was always cheerful, happy, and full of love for others.  He seemed to accept his situation with remarkable calmness and grace.  Perhaps he valued life more because he knew he had only a finite amount of it left.

My friend’s passing has hit rather close to home.  He was about the same age as Jeff and me.  While I have every reason to believe that we’re both in good health and will continue to live for a long time, of course life has no guarantees and that could change at any time, for any of us.

This event has caused me to think more about how I’m living my life on a day-to-day basis.

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2015 is Going to be a Great Year of Focus, Discipline and Accomplishment

Wow, we’re already three weeks into 2015.  I had hoped that this post would follow my last post by only a couple days, but of course so many other things got in the way.  This, however, illustrates what I am going to focus most on changing in 2015.

Before we go any farther, I will warn you that this post is all about me, and things that are specific to my life.  If you’re not interested, fine.  Most of my future posts will not be so self-focused.  But I’m sharing this today for two reasons.  First, if I write down my goals and desired changes for 2015 and put them out for the universe to see, perhaps I’ll be more diligent about achieving them.  Second, it may set an example for you.  Maybe you will benefit from writing down a similar list of goals for 2015, even if you don’t share them publicly.

Last year was my first year in retirement.  To decompress from 34 years of work, I wanted to not set an alarm clock, get up when I felt like it, and do whatever I felt like doing each day.  I had plenty of activities and commitments taking up spots on my calendar, but aside from those, my time would be mine!  After all, isn’t that what retirement is supposed to be like?

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So Long, 2014! It was a year of transition and growth

Like many people, I make some New Year’s Resolutions.  They’re always well-intentioned and improvement-oriented (lose weight, do more of this, stop doing that), and I’m usually moderately successful with them, at best.  Of course, that’s because I don’t put much effort into concrete goal setting and creating action plans to really ensure that these things will happen.

This year will be different.  Following the example of Chris Guillebeau (who I discovered and started following this year), I am taking more time to do a review of 2014 and create more solid, actionable goals and plans for 2015.  More about 2015 in my next post.

Chris Guillebeau’s annual look-back consists mainly of asking two questions:

  1. What went well in 2014?
  2. What did not go so well in 2014?

Yesterday, I sat down and answered these questions.  Here’s what I came up with for me.

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