Author Archives: helenvanpattersonpatton

About helenvanpattersonpatton

While some posts may be musings, I hope that some will generate insight and inspire dialogue on topics I find very relevant in all of our daily lives. Some may be funny, some serious, some educational... but all will have a purpose... in my opinion.

So let me get this straight… reality, perspectives, more reality

You know how you can read something that draws you in, you find yourself taking a little mental side trip, and then suddenly somebody smacks the reality right back at ya?  Here’s how it went for me today… While taking a break and checking out Facebook on my phone I came across a posting that caused me to take that mental side trip.  It read, “So, let me get this straight…Charlie Sheen can make a “porn family,” Kelsey Grammer can end a 15-year marriage over the phone, Larry King can be on divorce #9, Britney Spears had a 55-hour marriage, Jesse James and Tiger Woods, while married, were having sex with EVERYONE. Yet, the idea of same-sex marriage is going to destroy the institution of marriage?”  When I read it I sort of chuckled because of what I perceived to be the simple, and almost absurdly obvious, point it made.   I was so wishing that I had an internet connection to copy and paste it onto my page but I didn’t. So reminding myself to do just that later, I returned to the mission at hand and stepped back up to the station I was manning. 

As I was reflecting on the post, and greeting passers-by, I thought about the fact that next week we will celebrate our 25th anniversary. That is no small accomplishment in our circles. It hasn’t always been perfect, but we’ve endured and continue to grow ever stronger with time.  There is so much to celebrate in that, but it also comes with the reminder that our relationship holds less privilege, value, and credibility than even those in the quote.  The implication is that I somehow am partly responsible for all that is evil/dangerous in the world.  Now, rest assured that I don’t hold that opinion, so I left that train of thought and went back to thinking about our anniversary.  I was thinking about all that had changed over the last 25 years, how our families and friends have embraced our life, how much social support I have felt when the issue of marriage or unions has come up, and that even though we still couldn’t legalize our partnership we were living our lives as though it didn’t matter. 

And that is when it happened… a middle-aged man was scanning the information on my table.  I greeted him enthusiastically, but his response was less than affirming about anything that I stood for.  He was never hostile in tone, but he was certainly hostile in heart.  He started by telling me that he would never support an organization like ours… that we were not sharing the right values, our Christian roots, and were “remnants of those feminist times”… he managed to get in “welfare” (of course he did), Obama (go figure), fatherless children with welfare moms and how his taxes were paying for healthcare, etc., and that nobody felt they had to be responsible about anything.  And THEN, he even got around to saying that the revenue from the “American Girl” dolls supported NOW and “the homosexuals.”  Are you kidding??? I’m giving you the short version, cause he went on and on…  What was most frightening to me was that he mentioned that he mentors young African-American men in this community.   What was most bizarre was that before he finally stepped away he shook my hand and gave me his card and then he said that he had “an expansive resume of topics he could speak or teach on” if I was ever interested…  Again I say, REALLY???  John Woods (yep, his name) was not ranting or threatening, but his arrogance was clear.

So there you go… it DOES matter.   I am comforted by my family and community (as I define it) and affirmed by my faith, but it is actually a pretty insular comfort.  It ALL matters.  John Woods can NOT define me or affect who I am, but he (and others like him) will only continue to breed malice and hate in others.  We can’t let that happen.  We have to hold firm that we are not asking to be more than… only equal to!  I KNOW that I am worthy but apparently my government has forgotten. 

Thanks for taking this ride with me.  I’ll look forward to doing it again soon!  For now, I’ve got an anniversary to prepare for!


Justice, politics, and the status quo

I’ve been so out of my own loop lately that I haven’t sat down long enough to write all the many gems that are in my head just waiting to blow out.  This morning I was reading a blog written by someone that I met this week at a book signing at the ywca.  Sylvia Clute is a local collaborative lawyer, author, blogger, and all-round interesting woman.  With the upcoming elections, and all of the annoying propaganda that goes with them, I thought she gave a great perspective and wanted to share.  Her link is below.  I think it is a good read!


This was among the entries for a “forgiveness post card” contest.  I thought it was incredibly powerful and could mean so much for so many.  We are all silenced at times… intentional or not… what silences you?  Do you now fly?  Is there anything I can do?

Virginia is for Lovers… well, not necessarily…

Recently an article was written by (see link) about a lesbian couple, and their daughter, being denied a family membership at the American Family Fitness Center on Brook Road in Richmond.  Oddly, the couple had already held a “family membership” at AFF for some time but it had lapsed.  When they wanted to renew their membership and include their daughter the staff’s excitement over their return quickly became dismissive and rigid.  “It is policy.”  “We only allow family memberships to those who meet the Virginia definition of family – a man and a woman…”  Really??  This family that they rejected is a good friend of ours.  Anyone who knows them will tell you that they exemplify the best of parenting. They are family focused, faith-centered, and driven by their hearts – for the betterment of all.  The AFF staff’s solution was to offer one woman with the child a family membership and the other parent to sign up as a single adult.  Oh sure, that makes perfect sense.  No problem.   Although the storyline infuriated me, I had to laugh out loud when I saw Wikipedia’s description of American Family Fitness.   from Wikipedia >> AFF’s mission is centered around providing a positive fitness experience for the entire family except for gay and lesbian families 

What I have to wonder now is: will AFF ultimately lose memberships, on principal, because of their policy and exclusionary practices (and if they do, will anybody know about it); or, will AFF become the fitness center of choice for hardline right “families” who don’t want to mix with the unenlightened – guilt by association.   I’m sure there is a less black and white response to that question – and I won’t presume that membership with AFF implies support of their policy – but I’m wondering … can’t help but wonder…

No fear – burn the paper tigers

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.  Amelia Earhart

Take it to heart. Enjoy the journey.

Complex and contradictory

Sometimes I think we are probably all a little schizophrenic.  But that is really neither here nor there.  I had one of those convoluted millisecond thought sequences earlier today that risked causing my brain to explode.  The point comes later, but here’s how it went… I was headed to a funeral, second one for this family in a week. Very sad, but only for those left behind.  Peaceful for those whose lives were no longer their own. But faith and the words of well-intended mourners tell us that we will all be together again in the future (a momentary flash of “the rapture” and a chuckle about everyone disappearing at the same time).  Those now anticipated reunions are supposed to give comfort, and most of the time they do, to some degree.  But one of the most comforting things is the thought that those departed are never really gone, we are not alone – their sick bodies become whole, they are reunited with those that went before, they live in infinite bliss, are all-knowing and become guardian angels. 

Okay, here’s the point… or the question… What good does it do to spend our lives living the way we think someone else wants us to live and justify our actions (or lack of actions) by saying that we can’t/won’t “do” something until after “add name/relationship here” is dead? We don’t want to disappoint, etc. So… someone dear passes on and the next thing you know you’ve got a tattoo (well, that’s what I did – you get the idea)  … The contradiction – we talk about the comfort of knowing they are still with us… We give them omnipresent and omnipotent powers after death.  So do we think that our guardian angels just don’t care anymore (more questions…)? Do we think that because they’re in heaven, and everything is perfect, that somehow they are protected from the things that would have upset them on earth? Or do we decide that we don’t have to feel guilty if we don’t have to see the look in their eyes or hear the disappointment in their voice?

Well, I know that I said “the point” would come, but apparently I was wrong.  Perhaps the philosophical voice inside my head just got carried away – again.  It only served to remind me that we are complex beings, living in a complex world, and that we are all fodder for a study of contradictions.

Am I the only one who thinks this…

Here’s the thing, the “booty pop” is just wrong on so many levels! Why do we continue to imprint our younger women with the message that who they are is just “not enough”? How young are we starting the message? How long does that memory last? I think that we could fairly say that the memory of that message lasts a long time – considering the number of young & adult women who are apparently buying things like booty pop. Of course, the booty pop is just one of the most recent body changers I’ve seen advertised, but it stands out (literally) among many.  From stuffing your bra (although THAT was never my problem) to wearing whatever everyone else was wearing regardless of size or body shape, season, color, etc. –  you tried to make it work.  BUT, there comes a point when those things should lose priority and you move on, letting your inner pride scream. You recognize the lack of logic and how at the most practical level the obsession becomes almost ridiculous.  For those that haven’t had that “A-Ha” moment… it’s not too late.

And here’s the other thing I don’t get… if you’ve ever been a teenager you have memories of being the laughER as well as the laughEE!  We laugh hysterically at the memories of girls pulling rolls of toilet paper out of their bras in the back seat of somebody’s daddy’s car… What’s wrong with this picture (and I can’t wait to see the movie with this scene)??? “Hey baby, bring that firm round butt over here… …now …… drop those draws and show me that flat a** you got hiding under there?????” What are we thinking??  Insanity, I tell you.