Monday, May 4, 2009

Difining, Critical & Pivotal: The road less traveled

I'm home today recovering from this intestinal flu, so I thought it might be interesting to do this meme that Steph created from a section of one of Dr. Phil's books. These are going to take some real thought!

10 Defining Moments:
In every person's life, there have been moments, both positive and negative, that have defined and redefined who you are. Those events entered your consciousness with such power that they changed the very core of who and what you thought you were. A part of you was changed by those events, and caused you to define yourself, to some degree by your experience of that event.

1. Growing up in a devoutly religious, evangelical Christian home - Although in many respects this was extremely positive for me, as it forced me to develop a keen spiritual awareness and a deep sense of morality as well as solid spiritual foundations, it had many negative affects upon my self-esteem, my life choices, and my sense of who I really was/am.

2. Discovering my musical talent as a child - From the time I was a small child I can't remember a day when I didn't love music, when it wasn't a part of my life and who I was. I have always believed that it was directly connected to my purpose in this life.

3. My first trip to Europe - When I graduated from high school, I went on a musical tour of Europe with a choir of young people from Oklahoma. We visited the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It expanded my horizons and awakened me to the understanding that people are people no matter their language or customs, no matter what religion they do or don't follow, and no matter where they call home.

4. Going to College - This was another horizon-expanding time in my life when I learned that the world was a much larger and more complicated place than I had been taught to believe. I began to learn that life was not defined in simple black & white terms. I met people who had different life experiences and who challenged my narrow beliefs of what life was about. The most influential and defining course I took was Western Civilization in which I studied the history and literature of Europe from the Medieval period to the modern age. Studying the development of the Catholic Church, the Crusades, and the Reformation began my questioning of the Christian beliefs that I had been taught from infancy, and led to the eventual rejection of those beliefs years later. Education is the key to everything.

5. Studying and experiencing the music of Mozart - Some will probably laugh when they read this and some of my family members, (if they read this), will continue to worry that I have fallen off of the deep end, but from the time I was a small child, the music of Mozart has touched a place in me that I cannot even name. Every time that I have heard, studied, sung and/or experienced Mozart's music, something deep inside of me glows. As a young voice student, the music of Mozart spoke to me and there was a sense of familiarity about it that I couldn't explain. It has remained a constant force throughout my entire life.

6. Living in several different areas of the country - After I was married we moved to Louisville, KY where we lived for a few months before moving to Cincinnati, and then back again to Kentucky. After my husband graduated from seminary, we moved to Florida and lived on both coasts, for a period of time. My three children were born in St. Petersburg, Florida. Then we moved to Montana where we spent three years in the Billings area and Billings proper. Living in various parts of the country, again, expanded my horizons even further--meeting new people, gaining new cultural experiences, opening me up to new and different ideas and beliefs.

7. Being a mother - The experience of motherhood has been one of the most fulfilling, yet terrifying experiences of my life, but through it I have found in me a deep well of wisdom and a loving, caring, compassionate nurturing aspect of my personality that would otherwise not have been developed.

8. Getting a computer and being hooked up on the internet - Talk about your horizon expanding experiences! All of a sudden the entire world was open to me. I could talk to people all over the world! I could comb the web for more information about Mozart or any other subject that I wanted. I could travel the entire span of the globe in a matter of seconds, see pictures, watch videos, hear music that I'd never heard, go places I'd never been, hear languages spoken that I didn't even know existed. It was probably one of the single most important and defining events of my life.

9. Questioning the religious teachings of my youth - As my world expanded, so did my worldview and the old doctrines and dogmas no longer fit my vision and/or concept of my expanding universe and/or god. As painful as it was, I began to separate from the conservative Christian teachings with which I had been raised and in which I was nurtured for my entire life.

10. My divorce - For the first time in my life, I was free to make my own choices, to live my life as I saw fit, and free of the ties that held me back. I had lived my entire life for someone else. I made choices to please others. I said and did all the right things so that everyone else would be happy. Finally I did something for me, for my own personal well-being.

7 Critical Choices:
There are a surprisingly small number of choices that rise to the level of life-changing ones. Critical choices are those that have changed your life, positively or negatively, and are major factors in determining who and what you will become. They are the choices that have affected your life up to today, and have set you on a path.

1. Choosing to marry instead of pursuing a career in music - This choice defined the direction of my life for nearly twenty years and eventually brought me into such despair that after 18 years, I nearly committed suicide. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of my children coming home from school and finding me dead on the floor. I had come to a place in my life where I felt I was good for no one, but I believed that my children were better off with a broken mother than a dead one.

2. Marrying into the ministry - This is one of the choices I made to please others. I did this out of the desperate need for my parents' approval. They were so proud of my missionary brother but always criticized my desires to be a singer/actress as vain and ungodly. I thought if I became a minister's wife that they would be as proud of me as they were my brother.

3. The decision to go to graduate school - When my children were all old enough to be in school on a full time basis, I decided that I wanted to go back to school and get a master's degree in vocal performance and pedagogy. I ran up against the resistance of my husband and the church where he was pastor. It was the beginning of the end of our marriage.

4. Asking for a divorce - I was the one who wanted the divorce despite the fact that no one, not even my family supported me. I had no money, no lawyer, nothing to my name to speak of, but I was at the brink of such desperation that I would have done anything to get out of that marriage. I didn't care at that point where I went. I just wanted out.

5. Falling in love with and living in an open relationship with Steph - Some call this choice courageous, others rebellious, and yet others sinful, but it was one of the best choices of my entire life.

6. Gaining custody of my three children and raising them with my same-sex partner - Talk about a bold choice! A former Southern Baptist minister's wife moves back to her home town in Oklahoma with her lesbian partner and then gets custody of her three children and defiantly raises them in the same town where she grew up and where her parents were active and well-known members of the community! I don't know if that was stupidity or guts.

7. Choosing to be featured in Mozartballs thus coming out about my beliefs in reincarnation and about who I was in a past life - As if things weren't complicated enough by the fact that I left my husband for a woman, left my Christian beliefs altogether, but then I came out about my beliefs of who I was in a previous life. It's a choice I will never regret, however, for the making of the documentary turned out to be a vision quest, a spiritual journey the likes of which I will probably never experience again.

5 Pivotal People:
These are the people who have left indelible impressions on your concept of self, and therefore, the life you live. They may be family members, friends or co-workers, and their influences can be either positive or negative. They are people who can determine whether you live consistently with your authentic self, or instead live a counterfeit life controlled by a fictional self that has crowded out who you really are.

1. My parents - for good or for ill, they tried to mold me into the person they thought I should be.
2. Mary Beth Treat - my sixth grade teacher who saw more potential in me than anyone else.
3. Steve Maison - my high school vocal music teacher who encouraged me to follow my dreams.
4. My brother, Monte, who still loves me despite his fear of the direction in which my life has taken me.
5. Steph, who is the love of my life, my twin soul, and who handed me the keys to unlock my cage.


  1. Wonderful....and I think very gutsy!
    I have always admired you and Steph, two of the nicest people I have never met. :)

    I salute you both.

    Linda Frisina

  2. I love learning more about you. That's one of the great things about loving you... you keep growing and learning.

  3. I tear up every time I think, read, see something about the love that you and Steph have for each other. I have loved you almost my whole life - not as Steph does but as my best friend. I have wished, prayed for your happiness and wondered whether you truly were. God and the Universe never cease to amaze me. Here you are having found your soulmate, and I come back and can witness it and be a part of it. I'd call it a miracle but I don't believe in coincidences. :)

  4. I am so glad that you're here to be a part of it and to be a part of the "happy ending" of our story. Or perhaps I should call it the happy beginning!

  5. Love this post.

    Great women you and Steph are!