10.19.13 

As you may have heard, I got married on 10/19/13. It was a day we had planned for over year and while I expected it to be full of love, fun, and a day to remember, I could have never expected what that day actually turned out to be; truly mind-blowingly amazing. It’s so very rare to have that many people you love and appreciate in one room (weddings and funerals, sadly?) but when those moments of pure joy are experienced, they are overwhelming.

I cried more than I wanted to on my wedding day but not one of those tears was anything short of unadulterated happiness. Seeing everyone I love smiling at me as I walked down the aisle to the man I would be saying “I do” to in mere minutes will be a memory that will last with me forever. Dancing to John Legend’s “All Of Me” for our first dance made us feel like we were the only people in the room and I couldn’t contain my happy tears. Listening to the speeches our fathers made, both of which were so touching and heartfelt, made us relive almost every day of our nearly five years together and further reminded us why we are so good together. Hearing our best friends talk about our love and being there to celebrate with us as we danced to “Take Back Night” by Justin Timberlake and eating In N Out with us at midnight, slightly drunk and definitely tired, was a moment I will cherish forever.

I don’t want to bombard you all with wedding pictures for the next year ;) so I decided it was best to repost a link to our wedding photographer’s website where she blogged about our special day. It’s a lot of pictures but it’s an inside look at our wedding and because I love being able to share in most things with all of you, I thought I would give you this glimpse inside the most magical day of my life, to date. But we know there are only more to come. Thank you. :)

http://apicturelife.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/college-sweethearts-danielle-and-tim/

The Right Book at the Right Time

On June 26th, 2013, SCOTUS determined that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. SCOTUS also determined that Proposition 8, the prop that made same-sex marriages illegal and unrecognized in the state of California, was unconstitutional and that same-sex marriage licenses should be made available almost immediately (the ruling was made on a Wednesday and that following Friday, same-sex marriage licenses were available.)

I am a supporter of equal rights. It is the only thing that matters to me in this “debate.” I don’t even care that same-sex marriages literally take absolutely nothing away from me. Even if it did, if I had to give up something (which in this case, heterosexual couples are, literally, giving nothing up) in order to ensure that homosexual couples had the same marital rights that heterosexual couples have, I would do so. Willingly and happily. I do believe that Love is Love.

So I tweeted that sentiment. On June 26th, I tweeted, “Wonderful day. #loveislove”

Many of you agreed and you re-tweeted my comment. Many of you responded to my tweet with your own words of joy, happiness, and celebration. And one of you said, “ignorant. What does the bible say?”

This comment bothered me. Not because it called me ignorant or implied a different opinion than my own. I appreciate the opinions of others, even if I have no intention of ever agreeing with them. We are all entitled to our beliefs.

What bothered me about it is that I didn’t know the answer. I am not a religious person. I don’t actually know what the bible says about homosexuality. Sure, I know that the bible says certain things that some Christians have used to illustrate their point that homosexuality is a sin but I don’t know exactly what those words are. With that said, I also don’t really care. As I said, I am not religious and I do not live my life by what the bible says. That doesn’t mean you have to feel the same way. I have absolutely zero problems with people who are religious and live life by the word of the bible. I respect those beliefs. I would never try to take them away from anyone or try to convince someone that they are wrong for their beliefs.

I also know that there are a great number of Christian people who are religious and do live life by the word of the bible and also support equal rights. People like Pauley Perrette, who goes to church regularly and has a strong faith in God. She has also been an equal rights activist for decades and has fought hard for the day when same-sex couples could be recognized and acknowledged the same way heterosexual couples so easily can. People like Kristin Chenoweth who has said, “Make no mistake — I am a Christian and I believe in God and I don’t believe he makes mistakes, so I believe that being gay is not a sin and in fact it’s how you’re made.”  And people like the Christians from the United Church of Christ, who gathered for a marriage equality rally outside the Long Beach Convention Center on June 28th, 2013.

When I received the tweet, “ignorant. What does the bible say?” I desperately wished I had been able to respond with an educated answer. If I were going to decided today to be religious and read the bible, I would want to find the same messages of love, equality, and acceptance that Pauley, Kristin, and the people of the United Church of Christ have found. Then, I started reading.

No, not the bible. I had a book on my nightstand that was given to me recently and I hadn’t started reading it yet. Mainly because, I knew absolutely nothing about this book. I didn’t know of the author, I didn’t know what the topic of the book was, and I didn’t know if I wanted to commit myself to reading over 250 pages of a book that I may not even enjoy. You see, once I start a book, I MUST finish it. Even if I don’t like it from page 1.

I have had this book for over a month and a half and I started reading it on June 26th, 2013. I don’t know why I was compelled to make *that* day the day I began *this* book, but then it clicked.

The book is called Carry On, Warrior Thoughts on Life Unarmed written by Glennon Doyle Melton. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I cried through a large majority of it. The author is a Christian woman, a wife and mother, and an author, among many other things. After reading her book, I think she is extraordinary. She is also the creator of the website momastery.com.

Although I enjoyed the whole book, there was one chapter that touched me particularly deeply. The chapter is called “A Mountain I’m Willing To Die On” and it contains a letter that the author and her husband wrote for her young son, Chase. I was able to find this letter on the momastery.com website and I would like to share this portion of that chapter with you here:

Dear Chase,

Whoever you are, whoever you become, you are loved. You are a miracle. You are our dream come true.

Chase, here is what would happen in our home if one day you were to tell your father and me that you are gay.

Our eyes would open wide.

Then we would grab you and hold you tighter than you would be able to bear. And while we were holding you, we would say a silent prayer that as little time as possible passed between the moment you knew you were gay and the moment you told us. And we would love you and ask you one million questions, and then we would love you some more and finally, I would rush out to buy some rainbow T-shirts, honey, because you know Mama likes to have an appropriate outfit for every occasion.

And I don’t mean, Chase, that we would be tolerant of you and your sexuality. If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, Chase, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated. Every person is Divine. And so there would be celebrating. Celebrating that you had stepped closer to matching your outsides with your insides—to being who you are. And there would be a teeny part of my heart that would leap at the realization that I would forever be the most important woman in your life. Then we would tell everyone. We would not concern ourselves too much with their reactions. There will always be party poopers, baby.

Honey, we’ve worried that since we are Christians, and since we love the Bible so much, there might come a day when you feel unclear about our feelings about this, since there are parts in the Bible that appear to discuss homosexuality as a sin. Let us be clear about how we feel, because we have spent years of research and prayer and discussion deciding.

Chase, we don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin. The Bible was inspired by God, but it was written, translated, and interpreted by imperfect people just like us. This means that the passing of this sacred scripture from generation to generation and from culture to culture has been a bit like the “telephone game” you play at school. After thousands of years, it’s impossible to judge the original spirit of some scripture. We believe that when in doubt, mercy triumphs judgment. So your parents are Christians who study and pray and then carefully choose what we follow in the Bible, based on whether or not it matches our understanding of Jesus’s overall message. Certainly we make mistakes. Everyone does. But it’s our duty to try. We must each work out our own faith with fear and trembling. It’s the most important thing we’ll ever do. Even so, some folks will tell you that our approach to Christianity is scandalous and blasphemous. But honey, the only thing that’s scandalous about this approach is admitting it out loud. The truth is that every Christian is a Christian who chooses what he follows in the Bible.

Recently there was some talk in my Bible study about homosexuality being sinful. I quoted Mother Teresa and said, “When we judge people we have no time to love them.” I was immediately reprimanded for my blasphemy by a woman who reminded me of 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. But I was confused because this woman was speaking. In church. And she was also wearing a necklace. And I could see her hair, baby. She had no head covering. All of which are sooooo totally against the New Testament Bible Rules. And so I assumed that she had decided not to follow the parts of the Bible that limited her particular freedoms, but to hold fast to the parts that limit the freedoms of others. I didn’t point this out at the time, because she wasn’t a bad person. People are doing the best they can, mostly. It’s best not to embarrass anyone.

Much of the Bible is confusing, but the most important parts aren’t. Sometimes I wonder if folks keep arguing about the confusing parts so they don’t have to get started doing the simple parts. So a long time ago, your father and I decided that if a certain scripture turns our judgment outward instead of inward, if it requires us to worry about changing others instead of ourselves, if it doesn’t help us become better lovers of God and life and others, if it distracts us from what we are supposed to be doing down here—finding God in everyone, feeding hungry people, comforting the sick and the sad, giving whatever we have to give, and laying down our lives for our friends—then we assume we don’t understand it yet, and we get back to what we do understand. Chase, what we do understand is that we are reborn. And here is what I believe it means to be reborn:

The first time you’re born, you identify the people in the room as your family. The second time you’re born, you identify the whole world as your family. Christianity is not about joining a particular club; it’s about waking up to the fact that we are all in the same club. Every last one of us. So avoid discussions about who’s in and who’s out at all costs. Everybody’s in, baby. That’s what makes it beautiful. And hard. If working out your faith is not beautiful and hard, find a new one to work out. And if spiritual teachers are encouraging you to fear anyone, watch them closely, honey. Raise your eyebrow and then your hand. Because the phrase repeated most often in that Bible they quote is Do Not Be Afraid. So when they tell you that gay people are a threat to marriage, honey, think hard.

I can only speak from my personal experience, but I’ve been married for ten years and barely any gay people have tried to break up my marriage. I say barely any because that Nate Berkus is a little shady. I am defenseless against his cuteness and eye for accessories. He is always convincing me to buy beautiful trinkets with our grocery money, and this drives your sweet father a bit nuts. So you might want to keep your eye on Berkus. But with the exception of him, I’m fairly certain that the only threats to your father’s and my marriage are our pride, insecurity, anger, and wanderlust. Do not be afraid of people who seem different from you, baby. Different always turns out to be an illusion. Look hard.

Chase, God gave you the Bible, and he also gave you your heart and your mind, and I believe he’d like you to use all three. It’s a good system of checks and balances he designed. Prioritizing can still be hard, though. Jesus predicted that. So he gave us this story: A man approached Jesus and said that he was very confused by all of God’s laws and directions and asked Jesus to break it down for him. He asked, “What are the most important laws?” And Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love others as yourself.” He added that every other scripture hangs on this one. So use that ultimate command as a lens to examine all other scripture. And make damn sure that you are offering others the same rights and respect that you expect for yourself. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.

Chase, you are okay. You are a child of God. As is everyone else. There is nothing that you have done or will do that will make God love you any more or any less. Nothing that you already are or will become is a surprise to God. Tomorrow has already been approved.

And so, baby, your father and I have only one expectation of you. And that is that you celebrate others the way we celebrate you. That you remember, every day, every minute, that there is no one on God’s Green Earth who deserves more or less respect than you do, My Love.

“He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”—Mica 6:8

Love, Mama

PS. We thought we should mention, honey, that if you’re straight, that’s okay too. I mean, it’d be a little anticlimactic now, honestly. But your father and I will deal.

PPS. As Daddy read this, I watched his gorgeous face intensify. He teared up a little. Then he slammed the letter down on the kitchen table and said emphatically and without a touch of irony, “DAMN STRAIGHT.” Which, when you think about it, is really the funniest thing Daddy could have said.

-         Taken from Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (and www.momastery.com)

It may be more than 140 characters ;) but in my opinion, this is a perfect response to the tweet “ignorant. What does the bible say?” in regard to same-sex marriages.

I highly recommend you read Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.

XOXO

Danielle

 

 

 

 

My Little Girl

I got Anna when I was 18.  I had just moved out of my parents’ house and on the outside I was a strong, independent, and ready to take on the world woman.  On the inside, I was a little scared, lonely, and unprepared to handle all of the decisions one has to make when suddenly given so much freedom.  I bought Anna at a pet store before I knew that most pet store dogs come from puppy mills and that rescuing an animal was a much better alternative.  I went into a back room with five little dogs.  A couple Yorkies, two Maltese pups, and one Chihuahua.  The other four dogs didn’t seem to care that I was there.  One went and peed in the corner, another did circles chasing its tail, and two others just barked at people walking by.  Anna, on the other hand, walked her tiny 1.5 pound body over to my lap.  I put my hand under her butt and she walked up my chest and over to my neck.  She curled into a little ball and fell asleep with my hand under her body.  She chose me and I promised to give her a life filled with cuddles, toys, good food, and a warm bed.

What I couldn’t have possibly known at that time was how much Anna would give back to me. 

She came to work with me even though pets weren’t allowed on the lot. Kindly, most security guards turned a blind eye to us.  Ridiculously, she went to movie premiers with me where she’d go potty on a pee pad I brought for her.  She was a natural model.  She loved to have her picture taken and we did several photo shoots together.  When she was full-grown she weighed 8 pounds but when Anna looked in the mirror she saw a lioness. She was tough, resilient, always energetic, and not super girly.  She didn’t like it when I put bows in her hair so I didn’t do it.  She refused to stay clean after a bath and opted to roll in dirty grass almost immediately.  Begrudgingly, I always let her.  She heard all of my deepest secrets and saw all of my mistakes and never hesitated to love me anyway.  She had horrible breath.  I’m going to miss waking up to the smell of garbage, only to realize it was just Anna’s warm breath on my cheek. 

When she was 8 she developed kidney disease.  We put her on medicine and she was healthy.  With medicine, her kidney levels were within normal range for 4 years.  Then she went into kidney failure and she needed a few more medicines. Five, to be exact.  She took them all like a champ and if she had a day where her dog food didn’t seem appetizing, I could always rely on cheese to get the meds down.  I’ve never known anyone to love cheese as much as Anna.  She would come running from anywhere in the house at the sound of a Kraft single wrapper.

A few weeks ago, on December 22nd, Anna had a mini-stroke.  We unknowingly watched it happen.  One second she was going potty on the grass and the next second she had rolled over onto her hip and kept peeing.  We didn’t think too much of it and brought her in to rest.  When she woke up from a nap about an hour later, she couldn’t hold herself up.  I took her to the emergency room and they told us that her left side had lost mobility but hopefully she would get it back.  Not surprisingly, my resilient baby girl was able to start walking a bit by the end of the day.  She couldn’t jump onto the couch, or into my lap, anymore but she could still get around well.  We put rugs down all over the house so she wouldn’t lose her balance on our hard floors and we picked her up to sleep on her favorite spot in the house; on a blanket at the very top of the couch.  I could only let her sit there if I sat in front of her because we worried she might fall.  Her mobility was decent but her brain didn’t recover as well.  She seemed dazed and her beloved walks outside became challenging.  She didn’t know what she was supposed to do out there. She just stared awkwardly at neighbors’ homes and never wanted to go back inside.  We made quite a few trips to the emergency room, the neurologist, and our regular vet’s office.  Monday, January 7th was the last time she ate.  Dog food, chicken, beef, eggs, peanut butter, and even cheese repulsed her. She started vomiting in the morning.  We checked her kidney values and they had skyrocketed since September.  We hospitalized her hoping that an IV with fluids and medicine might flush her kidneys out and give her the strength she needed to bounce back.  She never did.  My lioness’ body was shutting down and after all she had given to me, my final gift to her was relieving her of any pain.  I held my angel in my arms last night and put her down.  We were at home.  She was wrapped in a blanket and all of my love.  She was calm and at peace.  She was ready to see me walk this world as an adult without her.  I cannot imagine life without my little girl.

Anna, thank you for holding my hand for the last 13.5 years.  We grew up together and became adults together.  You taught me responsibility, selflessness, and so much more.  I already miss your garbage breath, your incessant need for belly scratches, your impossibly soft fur, the sound of your collar as you walk across the room, your bark, your kisses, your snoring, and most of all, staring into your eyes and telling you “I love you,” over and over again.  Your blanket will remain at the top of the couch and the left side of the bed will always be yours.  Life will never be the same without you but you’ve prepared me well.  I will go forward and be a lioness, just as you would have wanted.

xo

Photo credit: Ashley Concolino. A Picture Life Photography.

 

Education

I am officially a college graduate!  I took my last two undergraduate finals today and I am so happy, relieved, and proud.  Yeah, I’m super proud of myself. :)

I went back to school 4 years ago at 27 years old.  I had attempted to go a couple times before then, even going so far as to take my placement exams and sign up for classes, but I could never follow through and actually go.  I was too afraid of being the old lady in class, of being whispered about, and especially of not remembering how to do simple math equations.  After my 27th birthday, I made the decision to stop letting fear be a factor in fulfilling my dreams and living the life I wanted, so with a little encouragement from friends and family, I enrolled. And I went. I went every day and took copious notes and studied my little old lady heart out.  Yes, I was sometimes the oldest person in class, I was whispered about many times, and I did forget how to do a few math equations.  But I persevered and sometimes I wasn’t the oldest person in class, some of the whisperers became good friends, and I did so well in math, I even became a tutor. And that is how I met my fiancé. :)

I am a very fortunate person and have been lucky to do many exciting things and to fulfill so many of my dreams but graduating from college is easily among my proudest achievements in life.  I hope that if any of you are in school or thinking about going to school, or have wanted to go to school for a long time but just keep finding reasons to put it off, you will listen to me when I tell you…go. Go for yourself.  You CAN do it.  I know you have to work…I had to work too. For the last 7 months I worked 35 hours a week and took 8 units in summer school and 12 units in fall.  For the 3 years before that, I was hosting The Dish and could only take Monday/Wednesday classes.  My fiancé took 12 units every semester and worked full time for 2 and ½ years.  YOU CAN DO IT.  Yes, it will be difficult, very difficult.  You will lose a lot of social time (shout outs to all my friends I’ve barely seen in the last 4 years!) and you will wonder why you decided to do this whole school thing again.  But you will gain so much more in the long run.  Stick it out.  Persevere.  You’ll be so thankful you did.  I know I am.

xoxo

Fans

Fan.  I hate that word.  The word fan originally came from the word “fanatic” and I don’t like thinking of anyone that way. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate those of you who support me and have given me words of encouragement and stories about how I may have impacted your life. But I don’t think of you as “fans.”  I think of you as friends I haven’t met who have incredible taste. ;) 

With that said, I would like to ask you all a favor. If and when you ever see me in person, please come up and say hello. By all means, ask to take a picture with me.  I have said no to people on two occasions; I was leaving a funeral or I was coming home from a 4:30am workout. Otherwise, I have ALWAYS taken a picture with someone. I like doing it. It makes me happy to make you happy and I love seeing where you post our picture online and what you say about our encounter. I am a nice person but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a bitchy side. Trust me, I have one. If you ever want to see my bitchy side, see me out in public and try to take a picture of me, without asking, with your cell phone…preferably while I’m eating wings. 

That’s what happened last night (and many times before then). I don’t know why people don’t realize that I know cell phones have cameras or why people don’t think I can tell when they are awkwardly holding their phone in my direction, but they do. In my opinion, there are few things more rude than trying to take a picture of someone without their knowledge. Especially when they are eating!

Last night I went to a restaurant/bar with my fiancé and we ordered delicious wings. Just when I was fully invested in them and had sauce all over my face and fingers, the guy sitting in front of us held up his camera and tried to take a picture of himself with me behind him (reverse camera view). I started ducking behind my fiancé so I could clean the effing chicken sauce off my face but he didn’t stop. He was waving his camera around like a mad man trying to find my face. When I had successfully cleaned my mug off, I went over to him and said “would you like to take a picture? I’d rather we do it now so that you can stop trying to take my picture without me knowing.” His response? “No. I didn’t want to take your picture.  I just wanted to know if it was you but didn’t want to be rude and keep turning around to look.” Riiiiiiiiiight. I don’t know about you but I call B.S. on that story.  Anyway, his friend wanted to take a pic so we did.  His curious friend was the one who took it.

There will be some people who call me ungrateful for this post. “You should just be happy people want to take your picture at all.” There really isn’t anything I can say to that because most people think that people wanting your autograph or picture must be the BEST feeling in the world. Truthfully, it might be right near the top.  But being treated like a respected human being, not a monkey in a cage at the zoo, feels ten times better. Moral of the story is that I will almost ALWAYS take a picture with you if you ask me. If you don’t ask me, I may call you out and complain about you on Tumblr someday. Either way, I still appreciate you.

 

Love,

 

Danielle

Girl Meets World

First of all, let me say that you, the fans of Boy Meets World, have been awesome.  That word is often used incorrectly by people, including myself, on a daily basis but you have truly been awe inspiring.  You, yes, even YOU, are the reason that Girl Meets World WILL BE MADE. J

 

I do not know how many BMW cast members will be returning for GMW, or how often they may appear if and/or when they do appear.  I am going to do my best to not speak for others with this open post.    But because I have known Michael Jacobs, Ben Savage, Rider Strong, Will Friedle, and Bill Daniels for 19 years, I know we share many of the same feelings regarding the 7 wonderful years we spent making BMW. Those years were among the most warm, hilarious, insightful, educational years of my life and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  Another thing I wouldn’t trade for anything is the integrity and the heart with which BMW was made.  I promise with the entirety of my heart that we will make GMW with the same honesty, innocence, and intelligence that you learned to expect from BMW.

 

I say this because making the decision to do the show involved more conversations than you can possible imagine.  These conversations were with the same people I mentioned above because they were all instrumental in creating and maintaining the heart of BMW.  The first comment out of every person’s mouth was, “Let’s only do it if we think we can create something as special as we did with BMW.”  When the news leaked that GMW was in the making, literally days after I first heard about the project myself, Michael Jacobs and I had a conversation and we talked about how we were both so blown away by the reactions from all of you.  We felt honored. We felt nostalgic. We felt touched by the excitement in your comments, tweets, Tumblr, and Facebook posts.  But most of all, we felt inspired.  We felt inspired to bring these characters back to life and to tell you more of their stories. Michael said to me, “Danielle, when I read what people say BMW meant to them it makes me so very proud of all of us.  I think it is important for us, for as long as we are fortunate enough to have this opportunity to do GMW, that we all look each other in the eyes every so often and make sure we know we have something of value to offer the audience.”  I think we have that with GMW.

 

I say that so that I can say this: GMW is a new show.  It isn’t BMW brought back to life but in current day.  It will have familiar faces, familiar themes, and familiar messages.  It will also have new faces, new themes, and new messages. BMW never spoke down to the audience and we are going to do our best to never do that with GMW.  But please keep in mind that this there will be episode 1, of season 1, of a brand new show.  We started at the same place with BMW but we evolved and we evolved quickly.  For those of you who knew and loved BMW, please allow this show to evolve as well.  Stick with us. Give us a chance.

 

In the meantime, a sincere thank you to every one of you for all of your tweets (I read them all, every day. It killed me not to be able to talk about it!), even those of you who asked us not to do it.  There were only a few of you but I know why you don’t want GMW to happen and I appreciate that BMW meant enough to you that you don’t want to see its legacy tarnished. I can assure you, we don’t want that either. Your love, dedication, and appreciation means more to us than you could ever know and it will be the driving force behind our passion to make the best show we can possibly make. Thank you for giving us the chance to do it again.

Love,

Danielle