This month I turn 40. I completely embrace age. Life offers many wonderful moments that often lead to lessons. Lessons often bring wisdom and wisdom presents limitless possibilities!
“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” Unknown
“The days are long, but the years are short.” Gretchen Rubin
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln
Our local paper wrote a story on my book; I thought I would share it on my blog (source) http://www.eaglebulletin.com/news/2014/jul/23/no-child-left-behind/
“During his more than 20 years of teaching in elementary schools in Brooklyn, Atlanta and Washington DC, Jason Galvez taught many different classes, several subjects and hundreds of students. And during his time working in Washington, DC, only one of his students came from a home with a mother and a father.
Galvez would spend hours searching through the school libraries for books that depicted all different kinds of family dynamics, and usually came up empty handed. “I would either have to lie to my students and change the pronouns, or try to order special books that cover diverse families,” said Galvez, who now resides in Manlius. “And instead of continuing to try to find more, I decided to write one.”
On Feb. 25, Galvez’s first book, titled “I Am Loved Right Where I Am,” was released on Amazon.com and on Barnes & Noble’s website. The book follows a little girl named Sylvia who lives with her grandmother in Washington, DC. She takes the reader on a journey to meet all of her friends, who all come from different family dynamics: children who are raised by foster parents, same-sex parents, stepparents, an older sibling, a single parent and even a family with a mother and father.
“For children not just to survive but to thrive in life, your foundation, which is your home, needs to be relatively solid,” he said. “I remember seeing fellow teachers teaching a lesson on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, and you would see some kids sort of slump in their chair a little because they didn’t feel belonged. And if we’re going to arm our children for success, it needs to start at home and we need to give them a solid foundation [by enforcing the idea that] where they are is precisely where they belong and that they’re loved.”
Galvez, a self-proclaimed psychology enthusiast, said the bare-bones idea for the book came from psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which states that love and belonging are among the basic human fundamental needs in life.
He began writing the book when he was still living in Washington, DC as a way to help students who may not fit the traditional family dynamic feel that they do belong, and for children who come from homes with a mom and dad to realize that the world they live in is much bigger than what they may see or are used to. And he’s noticed a real need for the book – since Galvez began working in public schools 20 years ago, he said it’s becoming more and more common to see children coming from untraditional households.
“Even statistically, if you look at the divorce rate ten years ago compared to now it has changed,” he said. “And family dynamics have changed, and we need our media and books to keep up with those changes if we want our children to survive.”
On the last page of the book, Sylvia asks the reader, “What kind of special family do you have?” Galvez hopes the book will be used as a catalyst for family discussion about family dynamics, a topic that’s as uncomfortable to many parents as sex. A lot of times, for whatever reason, parents don’t want to say, ‘Do you know that so-and-so doesn’t have a dad?’ Or that ‘So-and-so is raised by their sister?’ And I don’t know why that’s such a taboo topic when it’s around us everywhere.”
Proceeds from “I Am Loved Right Where I Am” go directly to charities, Galvez said. Although he wrote the book for a third-grade audience, he’s received emails from parents with toddlers to eighth-graders who have enjoyed the book. To order the book, visit amazon.com/Am-Loved-Right-Where/dp/1630633038. “If I can help one child walk out of their house in the morning feeling a little more confident, my job is done,” he said.”
Please share this post as my book has helped many children and families, and I would love to see it help many more. For a list of all ordering options;
Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/p822wrz
Signed Copy http://jasonj.biz/author.php
Youtube Video http://tinyurl.com/ocupldl
Recently my father turned 63. While celebrating I watched the family interact and socialize. It was one of those “aha” life moments seeing three generations (my father, my siblings, and my children) at one table. It was not too long ago that I was talking with my grandfather who is no longer with us. At some point in our lives we face the realization that we all, even our parents, are just tall children trying to navigate this perplexing and often challenging world the best we/they know with the tools given (or not) in childhood.
Although the relationship with my father growing up was far from ideal, we both have matured and are learning healthy father/son dynamics as adults. I do not necessarily think any parent has bad intentions for their children; we are all simply a product of our childhood – the good and the bad – as are all generations before us. When I view my parents as tall children – who are a product of their own childhood – it helps me understand them, forgive them, and love them.
It won’t be long before my toddler will be playing with his grandchildren. Reminds me of a trip I once took to Arlington cemetery in Washington, DC. Our tour guide stated, “On every gravestone there are two dates – one in which you came in the world, and the other in which you left. Although you have little say on those dates, you have all the say on what happens in between them.” Days may be long but the years short. Are you pleased with the decisions you are making in life? Like it states in James 4 “life is but a vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow.”
This month, the USPS will start offering Harvey Milk postage stamps. Harvey Milk became a national gay rights hero in 1977 when he was elected to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk’s belief that the U.S. Government should represent all areas of American society encouraged and inspired the gay community at a time when discrimination and homophobia was rife. Milk was instrumental in educating the public on the dangers and absurdity of Proposition 6, which would have made firing gay teachers mandatory in the state of California.
Milk was a highly respected civil rights advocate and loved human being. Sadly however, just eleven short months after serving the people of his district, Harvey was murdered (shot point blank in the head) by Dan White – an anti-gay colleague. Mr. White was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter; it was an appalling legal injustice.
What I find ironic is that although some deem our lives worthless, history has shown that we are some of the strongest, most resilient, and courageous people. For centuries we have been imprisoned, beaten, bullied, mocked and murdered. Gay people have been used as science experiments, and regularly regarded as less than human. According to FBI statistics, every four minutes in our nation a crime is reported from a gay person being harassed, bashed, bullied, etc. These reports often include death threats – and these are just the reports on record. Incalculable acts of gay bashing are never reported due to shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and death threats if they are reported. Gay people cannot, to this day, freely walk in their pride parades or get married without hearing insults, slander, and verbal attacks from scores of deluded people with bullhorns. Every day across the U.S., gay couples and their homes are robbed, egged, vandalized, and burned by hate-motivated arsonists. If you open a newspaper or do a quick online search, you will find gays are daily brutally beaten, burned, mobbed, assaulted, bashed, intimidated, even killed as acceptable “punishment” simply for the way they are born. Not too long ago, we suffered excessive and demeaning bar raids, including completely unnecessary and extreme brutality from police officers. We agonized silently, having no legal recourse or protection. As an invisible minority we had no voice and few allies.
Our community encounters countless double standards. I see many young straight couples passionately making-out in shopping malls but if a gay couple holds hands they’re “flaunting their lifestyle.” When anti-gay groups call for nationwide boycotts, it is deemed a righteous use of the free market in order to preserve morality, marriage, family, and the American way. But when the gay community exercises their right to boycott, it is then homofascist intimidation, intolerance, bullying, a stifling of religious liberty, and an attempt to deny others the freedom of speech. Sadly, the examples are many.
Despite these constant travesties to our community, we continue to boldly live in love, forgiveness, and hope. We are a community often fired from our jobs for who we are, yet the first ones to lend an ear to others in need. We are a community disowned by our families, yet first to give a helping hand to others lost. We are a people continually knocked down physically, spiritually, and mentally, but stand tall and proud while dusting ourselves off. Yes, we are that community. You can throw us to the wolves, but rest assured we’ll return leading the pack.
I will share my personal story at another time but in short, I lived on my own at the young age of fourteen, forcing me to leave school and work three low-paying dead end jobs to pay rent and bills. My future was looking miserable at best. I was too young to drive and too poor for public transportation. My seven day work weeks were long and grueling. Life was not easy and I never knew what the next day held, or if my tired legs could endure another day. I guess you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have!
In time I realized that although I had little say about my start, I had all the say about my finish. I went on to serve eight honorable years in the United States Military (four years in the Army and another four in the Air force). I returned to school, eventually graduating with a master’s degree in education (high honors). I moved to NYC and worked on various television and movie sets. I wrote and recorded a CD and performed at many venues, wrote and illustrated a now published children’s book “I Am Loved Right Where I Am” http://www.jasonj.biz/author.php I joined a pop group and toured the nation – one such performance was for the wedding of Shania Twain’s manager. Pictures of the wedding, and our group, were featured in a nation-wide publication. I am happily married for almost twelve years with one child and one on the way. Most significantly, I remain steadfast in my relationship to my heavenly Father, and my daily renewal to follow His examples.
I share some of my life highlights not in any way to boast, or for a pat on the back. I share them simply as an example of how our community repeatedly turns our tests into testaments, and our messes into messages. Despite endeavors and accomplishments, I am habitually surrounded by naysayers. Our community and all our successes are persistently dismissed, debased, and disregarded. How cruel and unfair when others throw you out in the cold and then get upset when you learn how to get warm on your own.
If you are gay, or an ally, know that you are a part of magnificent and exceptional community. I always say gay people are like winning the lottery; one never knows when a winning ticket will emerge from the family. I hope your next post office trip includes a Harvey Milk stamp or two as your support speaks volumes and marks a better tomorrow. When the gay community is strengthened, every community is strengthened!
The great Harvey Milk is unfortunately gone, yet his heroism, fearlessness, and fortitude live on. Decades after his death, Milk is still opening hearts and minds and encouraging all to live authentically. Harvey Milk’s passion for equal rights put his own life in danger, and he knew it. While writing this post, John 15:13 came to mind, “No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends.” There are many scholarly interpretations of this superb verse; however my favorite is from Harvey Milk himself, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet shatter every closet door!”
Twelve years ago, on our first date, Eric and I spoke in length about the importance of our individual spiritual walk, and our wish to eventually have children. Four years later, while in Venice Italy walking side by side underneath an umbrella, Eric stopped to kneel and propose. Three years later (seven years to the day we met) we officially tied the knot in my hometown of Syracuse N.Y. in front of hundreds of cheering friends and family members.
One day while making lunch I felt a small pain in my lower back. Assuming it twisted the wrong way I ignored it. However the pain became increasingly unbearable. I called Eric (who immediately left a meeting) and came home. When Eric walked in and found me pale-white and on the verge of tears he swiftly assisted me to the car and rushed to the nearest emergency room. When we arrived at the hospital I was in the most indescribable pain, and in tears. I could not talk, walk or think. The medical personnel had many questions and asked Eric his relation to me. “My spouse” he uttered as they rushed me into a room and quickly attached an I.V. Although I have a pretty high threshold for pain, it was so intolerable all I could do was scream. All the while Eric stood at my bedside calmly speaking and responding to questions from nurses, doctors and billers.
Countless hours, and many tests later, I was discharged home with powerful pain medication where I would eventually pass my kidney stone. Though my physical pain eventually decreased my emotional pain for the gay community increased. While in the hospital Eric didn’t have to explain that he was my civil-unioned domestic partner lover (or any other grossly misunderstood and watered down term and the countless confusing state laws that vary with them). He simply said, “We are married.” The word “married” is universally understood. I am grateful to live in a state where all citizens are treated equally. My heart bleeds for the many across the U.S. that are not.
When I reflect back on our first date I am almost amazed at what has come to fruition. Here we are with one child and one on the way, happily married and living a very Christ-centered life in a state that respects everyone equally. While enjoying the blessed life that I live I vow to never stop fighting for all of my brother’s and sister’s rights to marry the love of their lives, regardless of where they happen to live.