Monday, April 30, 2012

7 years of marriage

I can't believe it has already been seven years. Seven years since Mike and I tied the knot, since I married the love of my life, the man I consider my true and perfect gift from God. It was the best day of my life.

Marriage is not always easy. For me, it's so worth it. And I am totally grateful to be married to Mike.

Our wedding invitation read "We cordially invite you to a loving act of civil disobedience". Our marriage is not legal.  It was a simple ceremony in our church performed by our pastor and celebrated with 160 family and friends.

What Mike and I experienced the day of our wedding is something that has strengthened our marriage and us as individuals: a loving, supportive group of family and friends.

So many religions were represented by folks joining us, as well as atheists, agnostics, and a few pagans. It was a clear picture of the life Mike and I have, and the people in our lives that we love so much and are so grateful for.

Mike and I live in a world where many people believe that we are an abomination. That we are sinners. That we spit in the face of God and that our marriage is a sham. Believe me, we have heard it all.

We obviously disagree. And we have to give a HUGE "thank you" to everyone out there who has supported us along our journey. Your support and your love is priceless to us. Our marriage is incredible and it is made even better by all of those out there who love us as a couple.

While Mike and I celebrate voters in North Carolina are considering whether to ban marriage equality in their state constitution and politicians in Colorado are considering whether to allow gay people to have a legal civil union.

The opinions of those with political power and those who use Jesus to demonize gay people didn't mean anything to Mike and I as we got married. Our church, our pastor, our family, our friends, and a loving God was all that mattered as we promised love to each other for the rest of our lives.

When I looked around the reception watching so many people we love feast on vegan scrumptiousness (we served our favorite dishes), my heart was full and it has been ever since.

To the love of my life, thank you. To all of you who have supported us, thank you.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Volunteering at an animal shelter

Sparks is the cutest little chihuahua currently living at the Max Fund clinic. I have been volunteering at the Max Fund for years and am there almost every week. About a month ago while visiting with one of the staff, she told me about Sparks and how I just had to meet him. The reason: he hates men.

I'm always up for a challenge and after being introduced to Sparks I realized that Heidi was spot on. Sparks wanted nothing to do with me, other than bite me as hard as he could (which he did not).

Yesterday I went and spent time with Sparks again. I try to visit him at least a couple of times a week. Little by little he is becoming more trusting of me and actually lets me kiss him now. He still growls and he still lifts hi lip once ina  while, but he is defintiely coming along. I am so excited because the way he was meant that it would be even more difficult to adopt him.

You might be thinking that this is all great but what about volunteering?

Well, as the title says, volunteering rocks. And no matter where you live, there are opportunites. They can be at your local shelter or at a sanctuary if you live near one. The options are enldess and every moment you spend volunteering honestly makes the world a better place. When I first moved to Denver I liked volunteering at the Max Fund because the training was only an hour and volunteers can just show up to work. That made it easy for me and 11 years later I am still volunteering there.

In those years we have fostered dozens of dogs, cleaned lots of cages, miles and miles of walks, and tons of hours just loving on animals who had never known love or compassion or havdn't felt it in a long time.

Those animals all have changed my life.

And remember, The Gay Vegans are planning a couple free spay and neuter days and we will need lots of volunteers! So keep that in mind if you live in the Denver area!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Overwhelming grief

On January 30th of this year our beloved Shadow passed away. I wrote about her life and had wonderful conversations with our readers about the loss I felt and the amazing gratitude I felt for having had the privilege of being part of her life.

Shadow lived a full 14 years before she met us. When we met her she had suffered neglect, but she was spry and loving. Our original deal was to foster her so I picked her up one day from a temporary situation and drove her to the vet for a checkup.

I will never forget her being in the passenger seat of my truck and once I stopped in the parking lot at the vets she walked onto my lap and gave me a big kiss. I said to her then not to do that as I was only fostering her.

She knew better than that.

Shadow was 18 when she passed away. The sadness was hardcore. I took a half-day off of work, shared with friends and family about my sadness and sense of loss, and moved on.

So I thought.

What I truly love about this blog and the relationship I have built with those who read this blog and support it is that I have always been honest about what I write about and how I truly feel about the topic or the situation.

The grief I have is still incredibly strong. Sure, I smile, I go to work and rock it, I volunteer, I love on our companion animals, I make sure my husband knows how much I love and adore him. Yet in the quiet of the drive home, the still morning in my office before others arrive, reading in bed at night or swinging on the backyard hammock, the grief I feel for the loss of my Shadow is strong and feels like it will never pass.

Some days I still think Shadow is physically here. I hear something in the bedroom and think it is her getting up to come join us. Or I turn the light on in the bedroom and immediately turn it off remembering that she is in there sleeping when in fact she's not. And so on.

I know the hardcore grief will pass. And I am way grateful to all of you for your love, support and stories of those you have lost.  I am also grateful to feel the love for another living being, and feel the pain that goes with not having them in my life anymore. The love I feel for this little 14 pound lovely is truly a gift.

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fundraising is fun

My day job is fundraising for an arts organization in Denver. I have many times said that I have the best job in the world. That is true mainly because I love fundraising.

I'm writing about fundraising after hearing a couple of times in the past week from people with non-profits I support telling me how they hate fundraising. I wanted to give a different perspective.

Every group that we support requires cash to do their mission. Our local animal shelters, national animal rights groups, gay marriage groups, the local food bank, and so on. Without people like you and me making financial gifts to them they would be unable to work towards their mission.

Many of these groups hire development (fundraising) people to work on getting donations and other gifts to support the group. Other groups, usually smaller ones, only depend on the kindness and generosity of their supporters as well as an event or two every year to raise money.

If you work for a small group that needs to raise cash, or if you simply want to support a group by raising money for them, here are a couple of fun ideas:

Have a house party! Invite friends, serve dinner or just nibbles, have someone talk about your cause, and then pass the hat. Make sure people you invite know that the event is a fundraiser. These can not only be fun and can raise some vital funds, they help to build community with people who have similar interests as you do.

Have a bake sale! Friends of ours in the Orlando area had a national vegan bake sale. People donated baked goods that were then auctioned off. Winners received their delish vegan goods a couple days later. Mike and I won cookies for us and treats for the dogs. We loved participating and our friends made good cash for several local causes.

When making a donation to one of your favorite groups, send a note to your email list or a group of close friends telling them that you just mad ea gift and why. I am always wonderfully surprised when our friends and family make a gift to an organization we support just because we told them of our recent gift.

For your birthday or a holiday, ask people to make a gift to one of your favorite groups instead of a gift or card. Email them a link to your group's donation page. This is easy and again, you will be surprised by how many people donate!

I think that's enough for now. Simple ideas that are fun and can create good tings for whatever organization you are fundraising for. And remember that what might seem like a little money to you could make a huge difference for the organization you are fundraising for!

We would love it if you let us know of any fundraising projects you have in mind!

As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A raw, vegan delight

Warning: This post is about a restaurant in Denver and their amazing food. If you are not in Denver please be aware that if this post makes you salivate you might start planning a trip to Denver!

I asked Mike to take me out to dinner last night and we ended up at Linger. We didn't have a reservation but the hostess got us in and we were ecstatic.

If you have read my post about Linger then you know that it is truly one of my all-time favorite restaurants. It's not exclusively veg but they have incredible vegan options on their menu, all marked as vegan so one knows exactly what they can order.

They also have incredible drinks. Since I don't drink I usually stick with water, and last night Mike ordered the Bartender's Choice which he loved.

The treat for last night was when Chef Daniel approached our table with some kind of deliciousness which turned out to be two, not even on the menu yet, raw, vegan appetizers. They were both incredible and I have to say that I am still thinking about the appetizer created in resemblance of a Chesapeake Bay Crab Cake. I still remember how delicious it was, how creative it was, and how much I can't wait to go back and get another one! The flavor of it was simply incredible. (It's officially offered starting today I think)

This is one of the many things I love about Linger: that they are constantly thinking of delicious new items to add to their vegan fare. In other words, they get it. They understand that having delish vegan food is a huge asset to a restaurant. It certainly works for us.

I can't finish writing about Linger without commenting on their friendly, attentive staff. You are treated as a guest, as someone important to them. You are told what is in the food you are being served and your water glass is never empty. I know from listening to many of our readers that good service is hard to find. The staff at Linger sets the standard high!

Bravo, Chef Daniel. Thank you, Linger!

Thanks for reading. We would love to know about restaurants where you live that are not exclusively veg but rock your world with vegan options.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cooking at home

I recently had the honor of speaking with a writer for a national veg magazine about how vegan friendly the Denver-metro are is. By the time I got done telling her about all of my favorite places to eat, I was salivating for a good vegan meal. While walking over to Garbanzo's to get a Laffa filled with hummus and grilled portabello mushrooms, I had other thoughts about the conversation: that none of the places Mike and I go out to eat at are all veg and that as much as we like to go out to eat, we are in bliss when cooking a meal at home just for us or for us and friends.

Although there are a couple of veg-only restaurants in Denver, I haven't been to either one of them in years. Mike and I frequent a couple of places owned by the same guy, Linger and Root Down. I have written about them in the past and they truly serve some of the best vegan food we have ever eaten in an environment that is welcoming and friendly. As we have added other places to our "favorites" list, it's clear to me that when restaurant owners are approached in a friendly manner about the possibility of adding delish vegan food to the menu, great things can happen for you and them.

Mike and I have had success with many restaurant owners in the Lakewood area, a great western suburb of Denver where we live and prefer to dine when going out. Some of them even now have vegan sections of the menus, and others offer mock meats. It's great to watch them get excited about creating new vegan dishes for a clientele that to them did not used to exist.

Yet a perfect meal to both of us is one created in our own home, and enjoyed with just us (and the furries looking on) and other times with friends. Mike loves cooking and I love tasting and together we just have an amazing time. Cooking together or just being together in the kitchen does wonders for a relationship, and a quiet, relaxed meal at home will bring you to a bliss that is not always common in today's busy and rushed world.

If you don't have a few vegan cookbooks to look at for meal choices there are a ton of vegan food blogs that offer incredibly tasty recipes, many of them linked from our blog. Try a meal at home. Relax. Create something tasty and enjoy quiet time with your partner, spouse, friend, or room mate.

And next time you are at a non-veg restaurant and love a dish they serve, chat with the owner or manager about the possibility of a further vegan-friendly menu.

Now I'm hungry again!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another vegan Easter

Spring arrived early in Colorado. We have already been wearing shorts, and I am LOVING it.

Easter always falls around the same time that I begin thinking of spring. This Easter it will be 70 degrees in Lakewood and we will have our annual Easter brunch. Because of the warm weather we'll be able to do it outside! Mike makes his famous vegan quiches, his famous cinnamon rolls, plus a few other vegan delights that already have me super excited. It will be a wonderful time with friends who are part of our family.

Easter to Mike and I is also a very spiritual, contemplative time. Most of you already know that we are a gay, vegan couple, and we are also a Christian couple. (It's OK if you gasp at this point. Regardless of the reason for the gasp, we get it, and you won't be the first. We get that some Christians give the whole of Christianity a bad name, and we know many more who give it an amazing name.) We begin the day at our church, the same church where we met and the same church where we were married. Yet for me, my favorite holy day around Easter is Holy Maundy, the Thursday before Easter. This day is the day the Last Supper was held, and in many spiritual and religious communities they hold ceremonies around the washing of the feet.

Yes, people wash others feet. For me it's an amazing opportunity to let go of judgments, to remember that I want to love all others, and that in the end we all have more in common than not. It reminds me that I want every action I take to be of love and service to all living beings, never to hurt or cause harm. The washing of the feet is to show love to those in your close circle but it is also to show humility and to be of service to those who might be your enemies. I don't have any enemies, but I do have those I have issues with.

And these days, the days of vegan marshmallows, vegan peeps, and vegan chocolate bunny rabbits, Easter is ever more fun. (Thanks Sweet & Sarah!)

So Happy Easter everyone. Mike and I are way grateful to all of you. Your love, comments, feedback, and support are an incredible force in our lives.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A savings account?

This past week Mike had to take our 12 year old Rock into a orthopedic vet to fit him for a cast for his back leg. Rock messed it up some time back and we are trying this as an alternative to surgery. With four dogs, vet bills tend to be a big part of our budget. When the bill was presented, Mike paid the $850.00 from our savings account.

I still can't believe that I am writing this. We are pretty new to the whole idea of a savings account. Yes, we both have retirement savings but this is different. This is an account we use for emergencies, and with companion animals one never knows.

So what is a savings account? It's an account that we have set up at our bank that we put money into the first of every month. It's kind of like the whole saying goes, paying ourselves first. We have been doing this for over a year and it's pretty awesome. And for those who don't do this, we highly recommend it. It doesn't have to be a big amount of money. But think about it. Think about putting $25 or $50 a pay period into an account that you only use for emergencies (and in our case, vacations).

The impetus for this is that we don't want to use credit cards. Our savings account makes this a lot easier. Carrying credit card debt is terrible for any activist or anyone wanting to be a voice for the voiceless. What we pay in interest could be going to support groups making the world a better place for all living beings. Also, we don't have to support companies who support candidates we can't stomach.

Check it out! Go to your credit union or bank and ask them about it. Some places require $100 in your account to get fees waived, so simply take your change jar with you. I personally have found that I get just excited about saving money as I do spending it.

Thanks for reading. I would love your feedback!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The F word

No, I'm not thinking of the curse word.

Or the disgraceful word used for gay men by bigots.

I am thinking of the word that we hear every day. We hear it used by friends and family, by educated people, by compassionate people, and by people who are simply just used to saying it.

The word is fat. And this blog post is all about calling us out on the use of the word (and more specifically on using it as a judgment).

That girl is a fat _____. He is so fat he ___ ___ ______.

I recently saw a photo on Facebook posted by someone I know to be loving and compassionate. The photo was of an overweight person and came from a website of "funny" pictures. The text was nothing to laugh about. I was totally bummed to see the photo, especially knowing the person who posted it.

Our words affect people. Our words hurt people.

I don't ever want anything I say to hurt my voice for the voiceless. People stop listening when the same person speaking about animal rights or human rights also makes fun of or judges people.

And the bottom line for me is that I never want to be a person who puts others down or belittles another person. Ever. I want to be the person who embraces each persons humanness and light.

Now that you have read this, be on the lookout. Do you hear it as much as I do?

Thanks for reading!