Tag Archives: friends

a renewed faith in marriage

11 Mar
Toni and Christopher at our wedding...little did we know they really meant it!

Toni and Christopher at our wedding…little did we know they really meant it!

(Note: I asked Christopher to write something about his recent engagement after a lovely conversation we had. The true partnership between Christopher and Toni really is a beautiful thing, and the way they support and fuel each other creatively is especially heartening for other artists to witness. Toni has this to add: “I’m sitting here with a smile on my face and congratulating myself for asking you out in the first place!”)

I was very proud to have been asked to read a poem at the recent wedding of Kelly Keigwin and Sam MacKenzie. I am thrilled that these two amazing artists, who are so obviously devoted to one another, are now able to be legally married. I admire them for being proactive rather than waiting for the state to grant them what should legally be theirs: both women were very involved in the campaign to pass R-74.

I’m not a huge fan of marriage. As a happily divorced father, I know from experience that sometimes marriage can nearly destroy a person. In some cases, divorce is the best possible thing that can happen to all concerned, especially if there are children involved. The institution of marriage, which some have felt compelled to protect from those whom their religion instructs them to view as unnatural, is in shambles. However, recently I have come to change my mind about marriage.

Lesbian couples I know, such as my friends Sam and Kelly, and my cousin Jeannie and her wife, Steph, have been showing us straight couples what lifelong commitment is really all about. My fiancée, Toni, and I have been a couple for five and a half years. During that time, we have referred to each other as “partners.” We did this for two reasons: 1. We have endeavored to practice true partnership, which means that neither person dominates the other, emotionally, physically, or financially. 2. We wanted to show our solidarity with our queer brothers and sisters here in Vancouver and around the world.

Toni taught me that the form of love that I always dreamed of is indeed possible. Together we have built a strong partnership in which we remain in the moment, and discuss any issues that arise right away, before resentment can begin to build. Both of us have suffered in marriages in which our feelings were ignored or disregarded, and this is what allowed us to appreciate finally finding another person who values and appreciates us. In fact, I think that regularly expressing gratitude is one of the greatest secrets to a lasting relationship.

One of the greatest gifts that Toni has given me is to accept me as I am, with all my flaws. In fact, when one of us is down, or struggling, the other sees it as an opportunity to demonstrate support. I am very fortunate to have someone in my life who praises me when I accomplish one of my goals, and is willing to let me know when I have fallen short of being the kind of man I can be. Toni does both of these in the most loving and nurturing way that I can imagine. We share a trust that our partner has our best interests at heart. I end my very busy days knowing that she has my back, and that whatever happens, I can count on her to stand by me.

I wish Sam and Kelly, and all other newly married couples, many years of happiness and discovery. I thank my gay brothers and sisters everywhere for showing us how it’s done, and for making marriage cool again.

why (he)art bombing is rad

7 Feb

7318heart-on-fence

We know folks enjoy our blog and the photos we post. We appreciate all of our readers – and thanks to the magic of the internet, we know you are all over the world. It’s awesome.

We’ve had a great time planning and carrying out (he)art bombings and documenting them, and we have more plans up our sleeves for future (he)art bombings, both big and small.

But, given the limitations of two people working in real life versus the reach of the internet, very few of you out there have the opportunity to join us when we do a (he)art bombing event – you’re probably many many miles away or have a busy schedule or, you know, there’s lots of reasons. It’s cool, that’s life. But we still really want folks to participate in the project by purchasing their own hearts and planning their own (he)art bombing in their corner of the world.

I’m sure lots of you think that sounds like a great idea, but maybe you don’t know just how great it is. I mean, seriously, doing a (he)art bombing ends up being way more gratifying than you ever expect it to be. This can happen in two ways – let me share them.

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1. You get to enjoy your work over and over again.

I can’t tell you how delighted I am when I see that hearts we have hung months ago are still around. It’s so simple, yet there’s a real satisfaction in knowing that you’ve added beauty and a positive message to a space where potentially thousands of people have seen it.

Recently I got savvy enough to check out what kinds of Google searches were leading folks to our blog. One of them was “what are the hearts around the olympia capitol building.” That means that we sparked someone’s curiosity with our art. If you know anything about being an artist, you know that it can be very hard to get someone’s attention with what you make/do, let alone get them to invest any time into learning more.*

All this is to say, with a public (he)art bombing, you get to create something lovely and lasting that really does have an impact. Which leads me to…..

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2. You really do make a difference in others’ lives.

This can happen in two (or maybe more) ways. As mentioned above, if you do a public (he)art bombing, people will see it. They will notice. They will react.

We have had the privilege of receiving some lovely private messages from folks who were truly touched by our hearts. I would like to share a few excerpts:

“…it made my heart sing…”

“I hope that you receive something beautifully unusual & inspired out-of-the-blue soon, too!”

“I came across one of your ‘installations’ and felt the universe was sending me a love note…”

You can see other kind notes from folks in the comments on this blog and on our Facebook page. We appreciate hearing from every one of you – it’s incredibly encouraging to know that we’ve had a positive impact on someone somewhere. We look forward to creating more of these moments in the future.

But there are some (he)art bombings that are more private – or at least meant for a chosen person/family, not just for the world at large. There a great example of this in our post about Maria’s (he)art bombing at a friend’s house last fall. Another example happened recently when someone bought some hearts from us and hung them around Olympia specifically in honor of two friends getting married.

Kelly and I did a (he)art bombing a while ago that we haven’t really talked about and I’ll just share the basics here. A friend died of cancer not too long ago at a tragically young age, leaving behind a wife, young kids, family, and many friends. When it was clear that he didn’t have much time left, we (he)art bombed his house as a symbol of our love and support. And really, what else can you do in that kind of a situation, besides show your love?

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All this is to say, you might be surprised by just how good it feels to do a (he)art bombing. We are continually surprised, in a delightfully pleasant way.

*If all of this is interesting to you – the idea of making an impact in your community through art – we encourage you to look up “street art” as an entry point to learning about other ways people are making art within the public sphere. A specific example of art made to directly affect a community that you may want to read about is Carrie Mae Weems’ project Operation:Activate.

dear beloveds

29 Jan

Franciszka, a poet friend of mine, recently unveiled a really cool project she’s been working on call dear beloveds. She’s got a great explanation of its origins on the site. An excerpt:

“once upon a time i wrote a poem to every human in the world entitled dear beloveds (inspired by juliana spahr’s this connection of everyone with lungs). in summer, 2012, i turned this poem into a zine and then took it on tour. while it was delightful to share the poem in different places, it was even more delightful to pass notecards out to the audience afterwards and ask them to contribute their own sentence, phrase or paragraph addressed to every human in the world (suggested by the phrase dear beloveds).”

What I think is really great about this project is how inclusive and human it is. I also think it’s a beautiful companion to the ideas behind Love is a Radical Act. The submissions on dear beloveds express many ideas, but a lot of them are about love* and compassion – or at least the desire for more love and compassion, perhaps through healing or self-love.

I encourage you to check it out and please consider submitting you own message to every human in the world.

*Check out all the great components of love that are mentioned on the different submissions: love, trust, communication, listening, reassurance, connection, generosity, support, and all sorts of positive and encouraging words.

 

 

weddings in olympia

26 Dec

After reading about the upcoming December 15 weddings in Olympia in the capitol rotunda, we decided we had to make a day trip up to Olympia to be part of history and congratulate the happy couples.

The weather outside was very cold and crummy, we arrived a bit late, and we didn’t know what to expect – but inside the capitol it was warm, welcoming, and busy with happy people.

the capitol rotunda

the capitol rotunda

card-front

program for the day

program for the day

Every so often we’d hear cheers from one of the balconies, signaling another couple finally getting their wish to legally marry. We hopped from floor to floor taking photos and passing out hearts, but there was no way to catch everything that was happening. And, in a way, it’s pretty cool to get to say that there was so much going on that there was no way to see all of it.

(Note: the lighting in the building is, shall we say, rather subdued, so we also had a hard time getting really good photos of what was going on. We regret we don’t have more to share, but we did find one nice album online and a few photos with an article in The Olympian, and would love to share any others we come across.)

near the end of a Native American ceremony - these ladies also provided the amazing cakes at the reception!

near the end of a Native American ceremony – these ladies also provided the amazing cakes at the reception!

another view of the rotunda

another view of the rotunda

the 0:00 wedding of ten couples

the 1:30 wedding of ten couples

onlookers as another couple gets married

onlookers as another couple gets married

a beautiful couple and their family and friends

a beautiful couple and their family and friends

a generous and delicious assortment of cakes at the reception

a generous and delicious assortment of cakes at the reception

It was a lovely afternoon where the spirit of love and community, even amongst those who had never met before, was clearly felt and expressed. One newlywed couple even invited us to their wedding dinner!

On our way out, we did a little replacement (he)art bombing since our hearts from October had disappeared one way or another. This time we were able to hang them in an act of celebration.

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hearts: from jan & jan

17 Dec

Good friends Jan and Jan went to the Oregon Coast on what turned out to be the first stormy weekend of the fall (note the high wind in pretty much all of the photos). We sent along some hearts, and they were kind enough to brave the weather in order to hang them.

hanging a heart in Tillamook

hanging a heart in Tillamook

 

along Highway 101

along Highway 101

 

near Rockaway

near Rockaway

 

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

 

Seaside

Seaside

 

 

 

 

our hearts

16 Dec

s&k

We just wanted to share a photo of the porcelain hearts we made as favors for our wedding. We love how they turned out!

hearts: from gina

16 Dec

gina

Last month we had the pleasure of (he)art bombing at a friend’s book reading (it’s a romance novel, after all). Her friend Gina was in attendance, and she sent us these lovely photos of herself and her cat Rosie with their heart. Thanks, Gina!

rosie

christopher’s poem

11 Dec

This poem was read by our friend Christopher Luna just before we cut our lovely wedding cake. We appreciate the ways that our creative friends helped to make our wedding beautiful, personal, and unique.

Christopher_weddingpoem

jenney’s poem

11 Dec

I did not come to you perfect.

Perhaps I was born perfect

as all children are thought to be,

but I was not destined to stay

complete in my innocence,

secure in my fragile,

sublime, and

undisturbed  youth.

Like you, I was picked

Up from the riverbed,

Smooth and pure

And gleaming,

and

Chosen for something

Other than a lifetime

Of soft experiences

And mild exchanges.

I was perfect but I

Was reimagined as

A plaything and

Hurled without

Warning into a

Brutal and extensive

Reckoning with the

world’s  dark teachers:

Bigotry and Ignorance,

Intolerance and Hate.

I wanted to stay perfect.

Pink and mewling,

Tender and untested,

The milk of love

fed to me

In a sweet

And unremitting

Stream.

Instead, I was cracked

Against the rocks and

Shell-scattered,

Bloody and pulsing,

Twisting in the ache

Of my soul’s deep and

Unrequited needs.

I wanted to be perfect,

But I couldn’t be perfect.

Damaged and betrayed,

Bitter and haunted,

I had to struggle onward

And gather my wreckage

And recreate a place within

Myself where I could construct

A stable and gentle pathway to

A greater identity and peace.

I did not come to you perfect.

And you did not want me perfect.

You wanted me bold in all my

Mess and glory, unapologetic

And unashamed, secure in my own

Worthiness , brave and unafraid.

You wanted the warm and rhythmic

beat of me,  the rich and fragrant

earth of me, the full and unchecked

power of all my intensity and heat.

You did not want me perfect,

You wanted me attentive and listening,

Able to hear your words and carry

Them, unresisting to their weight.

You wanted me decent and forgiving,

Fully present and awake,

released from self-defeating memories

of vindictiveness and blame.

You did not want me perfect,

You wanted me consistent in my

Kindness and unreserved in my regard,

Able to see your beauty clearly

And be at ease with your mistakes.

You wanted me to cherish the inner

Child of you but respect the inner

Warrior, to rejoice in my day to day

Life with you but forgive my moments

of restlessness and fear. You did not want

me perfect, you wanted me whole and flawed and

healing, able to look back and recognize my

story as the fuel  for my integrity and

strength.  You wanted me relaxed and amused

and laughing, able to look at this sometimes strange

and unjust  world as a playground of

delight.  You wanted me

treasured and connected,

guiltless and accepted,

sheltered in the care of you,

confident in the truth of you,

empowered by my trust of you,

dancing to the music of my

fierce and boundless pride of you.

You did not want me perfect.

You wanted me safe and loved and protected.

You wanted me as I wanted you…

As you are.

 

– Jenney Pauer

vows

10 Dec

wedding

[We wanted to share what was read at our wedding. So many people in attendance commented on how much they enjoyed it, and we think others will enjoy reading these words as well. As you may notice, our friend who officiated drew much inspiration from what we have done so far with Love is a Radical Act.]

Friends, family and community, if you would take your seats, make sure your cell phones are turned off and take a minute to really sink into this moment.

Be here and nowhere else–this is the only moment that matters, this present, this, right now.

Please allow yourself to feel deeply the love that is here today with us. If you want to laugh, please laugh out loud, if you feel the need to cry let the tears come, and if you want to applaud please do so with spirit.

Feel free to do what ever you need today to break the old rules of weddings. For we are breaking tradition here today. And we are, together, creating the wedding of Kelly and Sam.

*Processional*

“Love is a radical act. Taking the time to actually love someone, to truly value who they are rather than force them to be someone else, is a radical act. To value acts of love more than things is a radical act. It goes against what we are taught by society.”

Love is a radical act…true and real love shakes us to our very roots and changes our lives and our world in miraculous and incredible ways.

Today we come together to celebrate such a true, real and radical love, as we share in the wedding celebration of Kelly and Sam. A wedding that, in the old, traditional world of just last month could not have happened because it was unlawful.

But now, thanks to Kelly and Sam and thousands of other people– gay, straight, black, white, married, single–who fought for marriage equality in the courts, in the streets, and at the ballot box, gay people can now embrace all the protections, promises and problems that we straight people have always taken for granted. I’m excited to live in a time when marriage equality has become the law in our fine state. And as Washington goes…soon so goes the world!

Kelly and Sam are you ready to get married? (YES!)

Please join hands as Jenney reads her poem that your love inspired.

*Jenney reads*

Please join both hands and face each other:

Kelly, do you promise Sam to be her wife and partner in all senses of the word? To be loving, kind, dependable, supportive, fun, understanding and unconditionally accepting of who she really is?

(Kelly: I do)

Sam, do you promise Kelly to be her wife and partner in all senses of the word? To be loving, kind, dependable, supportive, fun, understanding and unconditionally accepting of who she really is?

(Sam: I do)

By your words it is made real. Through your pledge of marriage today, you make these promises, willing that they are just and true and lifelong.

Here are the rings that are an outward symbol of your inner commitment to each other. We choose rings because they symbolize a complete circle, never ending, just as your love will never end. Your rings were specially created of the platinum given to you by Jan, Sam’s mother. The red line that encircles them is a reminder of the love that entwines your hearts.

Kelly put this ring on Sam’s finger and repeat after me.
“I Kelly, take you, Sam, to be my wife.”

Sam put this ring on Kelly’s finger and repeat after me.
“I Sam take you Kelly to be my wife.”

Now that you have complicated your union with government, we have some paperwork. Let’s sign that marriage license.

*Signing of the marriage license*

Creating a loving marriage is a choice we make in every moment, of each and every day, to open our hearts more fully to love.

To connect to our partner with body, mind, heart and soul.

To realize that our differences make us stronger and more flexible to weather life’s storms and celebrate life’s gifts.

To choose to dig down deep to find the tiny sprouts and sparks of creation, to conceive together the supports we need to grow.

Marriage is facing the critic across the breakfast table, and reminding yourself that the challenges between you are creating a deeper commitment.

Creating a marriage is a fine piece of art which can only be made real if you both get your hands dirty.

Marriage is a shared bond with a greater community of souls.

It is continuing to open our hearts, which expands everyone’s capacity to grow.

Marriage is the completion of the circle of love, that leads you forward, again and again, to recreate your selves and the universe, every day, in every moment.

Marriage is a radical act that moves us and shakes us until our egos lie shattered in pieces and our hearts are free to soar together.

Your marriage is your greatest work of art and it requires the courage of a warrior, the curiosity of a child, the compassion of a saint, and the gratitude of a beggar.

By your exchange of promises today, the giving and receiving of rings, and them governmental papers, you have become wives for life.

With the power given me by the creative spirit, I do proclaim you lawfully married.

You may now kiss your wife.

Friends, family and community I present to you the happy couple–Kelly and Sam.