Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Phoenix Pride 2016

Written by:  Jared Johnson
There is something special about being a straight, active Mormon participating in a Pride parade and giving out hugs at a Pride festival.  It is the best example I can think of about something that illustrates the concept of the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.  I don't like parades, festivals, crowds, difficult parking, arriving early only to have to wait, etc, etc, etc.  Basically, every element of what it takes to 'do' pride is something I usually try very hard to avoid.  What I know from doing it for the past 3 years is that the experience is wonderful and personally life changing.  I am so grateful that the Pride-going masses have allowed me to even be there.  For the most part, they are a very inclusive group and very willing to understand and forgive.  

                         
Sometimes being a Mormon at Pride can be uncomfortable.  Looking like a Mormon is easy - it is who I am and I am never embarrassed or ashamed of that fact.  Dressing the part is easy - I have spent many years wearing a white shirt and tie to both church and work.  I am much more comfortable (and myself) in a long sleeve shirt and slacks than I would ever be in shorts and sandals, for example.  What can be uncomfortable is when someone knows I am a Mormon and they are angry at the church so they are angry with me.  It can be hard to stand there and listen patiently while someone gets their feelings out.  Sometimes a hug feels like a very silly thing to be offering.  But I am not there to just give out hugs.  I am not there to show people what a Mormon looks like.  I am there to try in my own small way to build a bridge.  To let people know that they are loved and that no matter what they may think, there are members of the LDS church who love them and accept them exactly as they are.  I love it when I coax someone in to receiving a free hug and then they give me a look of pleasant amazement when I give them a sticker that informs them they were just hugged by a Mormon!  Sometimes they walk away with a smile, sometimes a wonderful conversation gets started.  It is in those moments that I feel like bridges are being built. 

This year a young lady wanted to buy us all a lemonade or something to "bless us".  She wanted to give something back to the people of the hugging booth.  I asked her why.  She told us that two years ago she came to a Pride festival after 'coming out' just a few weeks earlier.  She was scared, confused and ready to take her own life.  She came to the festival and to our booth where she received a hug.  A long, meaningful hug from a mother of a gay child.  A mother who held her and let her cry and let her know that she was loved for who she was.  Many more stories like that are out there as a result of this simple act of being at a hugging booth in the middle of a Pride festival.  It is worth all of the work and potential discomfort.  It is worth feeling like a fish out of water for a couple of days.  I don't really want to blend in - I don't think I could even if I tried.  I am so white, straight, old and Mormon that not wearing a tie or other church clothes makes no difference.  To my fellow active LDS church brothers and sisters I say step out of your comfort zone and join me in this outreach.  Not by changing who you are or how you dress, but by following the Savior's admonition to love one another.  To my beloved brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ / SSA community I say thank you for your love, acceptance and patience.  I love you and I am better for knowing some of you and learning your stories.

                   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Remembering Mom Johnson


One year ago Jared and I drove to Utah all night and surprised his mom with a visit.  That was one of the best decisions we ever made and it was the last time we saw her in mortal frame.

Margie was a spitfire of a person, what she lacked in size she made up for in personality and energy.  I learned many things from her in 25 years of being her daughter.  I like to think that I am a better mother in law because of the way she treated me.  There was absolutely no end to the amount of love she had to give.

One of the things she always said "Be grateful in ALL things."  Sometimes, I didn't like to hear that but, she of course was right on.
So mom, whatever fun and exciting project you have going on up there in heaven stop for just a minute and know I learned this valuable lesson in gratitude from you and I LOVE you for it.

Mom, know that we think about and fondly speak of you day by day.  You are an important part of what our family is and we are so thrilled that we get to be a part of your forever. Just last week I said something and all three kids at the table started laughing and Stephan said, "Well hello grandma Johnson, when did you get here!"

 I know you were there with me that terrifying night on the highway and that you were whispering for me to hold still, and I am grateful because just like you, I have lots of work still to do.

  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Showing Up

October 2013

It has been a long week with many physical challenges.

When I went back to the gym, for the first time after the accident, everything hurt and I was so limited.  That day I met a lovely woman, her name is Sherilynn.  Sherilynn asked me if it was my first time at the gym?  I had to smile because, she had recognized how difficult movement was for me and although I had been practicing yoga for nearly 20 years, that day I was a beginner.  She was kind and shared with me some of the experiences and struggles she had been through.  I told her that I had noticed her before in class and in fact, as I struggled to decide I could go back to yoga even though I knew I would be severely limited, I remembered seeing her.  I remembered that sometimes she did her own thing and not what the class was doing, and that had given me the motivation to go to class knowing I would have to modify my level of activity.  Sherilynn said something I will never forget, "It's about showing up."  

So, for almost two months now I have been learning what "Showing Up," means to me.  Two weeks ago, I was so strong and feeling the best I had felt since the accident.  Then I began a different focus in Physical Therapy.  I am a beginner again, I am still stronger and I can rely on lessons I have learned over the last two months, but this has been a very painful week and I have more to learn.  I think before the accident back in June, this would have been the kind of week I would have hung the do not disturb sign on my bedroom door.  I am so blessed to have learned the powerful lesson of Showing UP, without it I would have missed out on lots of  joy and blessings this week.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Fun

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday night we were at the Mesa Arts Center in downtown where we attended the closing performance of Actor's Youth Theater's production of Les Miserables School Edition.  Mollie had the experience of her young life spending her summer with this amazing dedicated group of people learning and growing.

Brandon (Javert), Nicholas, Mollie, Brett (Marius), and Dale (Gavroche)

Mollie, Hannah (Mme Thenardier)

These kids were all really and truly amazing.  What an experience to have been a part of this show at such a young age.

We are so PROUD of you Mollie!

The show finished just in time for the downtown Mesa 2nd annual 4th of July celebration fireworks show.  The fireworks were launched right off of the Theater and parking structure where we were so we (the entire theater full) of people were able to walk out and stand right under them for the show.  I don't know if our camera phone photos will be able to give any perspective to how close we were to these fireworks.  Let me just say WOW!!  The mortar casings were landing all around us and on us, it was amazing. 



Tonight we will get together with all of our kids and go out to the desert (if I get my way) to launch our own fireworks.  Jared and the boys did the launching in our backyard on New Year's and I was a downer because no matter how much fun we were having I was frightened about doing it in the neighborhood.  I am most excited to enjoy the sparklers with Isaac.  Sparklers have always been my favorite.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Love it

I want to own this
I want it on my wall
Love It

 found here      


This print is just fun I find it inspiring I want to look at it everyday and remember the possibilities.






Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jared's Birthday

For his birthday I took him away.
Away from the pressures of everyday life.
We didn't go very far
or do anything spectacular.
Mostly we hung out in pjs,
ate snacks, watched tennis,
and drank Perrier water {lemon and lime flavored}.
I love you Jared
I am so very blessed to have had 24 birthdays
of yours to celebrate with you.
Here's to an eternity of birthdays!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Like a baby

Some thoughts...
anyone who knows me at all
knows that pretty much my favorite
person is Isaac.
Little people are just special and when you happen
to be the grandparent well 
that is where it's at.
So, the other day when he was over and took a late afternoon
swim with Aunt Mollie he came in shivering, 
teeth chattering, and wanting to be wrapped up in a blanket.
I had him all wrapped up and we were sitting together
cuddling {my favorite},
when he says "hold me like a baby."
Well how sweet is that, 
for as long as I can remember he has said,
"don't hold me like a baby."
I guess that is the secret,
get him shivering cold and then...
he will let me hold him
~like a baby~