Dillan DiGiovanni

coach | writer | speaker

Two-For Recipe Awesomeness -PART II Vegetable Biryani

RecipesDillan DiGiovanniComment

Is this a holiday-themed recipe? No.

It's the second installment of a two-recipe post I started earlier this month. Yeah, it's the week before Christmas. That doesn't mean I can't finish my previous post. Why? Because I give myself that permission. ;) Besides, who says you can't make this for the holidays? Live outside the lines for more health and happiness.

Here's the Vegetable Biryani to pair with the Indian Chickpeas dish from last newsletter.

ENJOY and Happy Holidays!

Vegetable Biryani

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white basmati rice (recipe called for white, I used brown)* 2 1/2 cups water 1 teaspoon sea salt pinch of saffron threads 2 tablespoons ghee of vegetable oil 1/2 small onion, medium diced 1 tablespoon minced ginger 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 1 teaspoon turmeric 1 small carrot, small diced 3/4 cup frozen peas 1/2 cup raisins 1/2 cup whole cashews fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions

1) Rinse and drain the rice*. Combine the rice, water, salt and saffron in a 4 or 5 quart pot with a fitted lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for a few minutes before fluffing with a fork.

2) Heat the ghee or oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and saute until softened, 5-8 minutes. Add the turmeric and carrots and saute for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat, add peas and raisins, and set aside.

3) Uncover the rice and fluff gently with a fork. Add the carrot mixture and cashews, and gently combine. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Natural Moisturizers for Winter Skin

Health and WellnessDillan DiGiovanni2 Comments

Winter is here! We all know how that bitter winter wind dries our skin out. Naturally, we slather on facial moisturizer and body lotions, most of which contain any number of toxic chemicals and additives. Our skin in our largest organ. Check the labels on your products. Can you pronounce them? Do you know what they are? If not, rethink where those chemicals are going and what they may be doing on the inside, once they are absorbed. Fear, not. The natural products industry is here to help. According to the Organic Consumers Association:

"Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine's 2010 Market Overview reports healthy growth for the natural and organic products industry. With more than $81 billion in total revenue last year, the industry grew 7 percent over 2009, showing that consumers are spending again and that the natural products industry is healthy and growing."
 

Cool. The word is out. It might have something to do with this amazingly handy video: The Story of Cosmetics created by The Story of Stuff Project. If you want to know more about what's in that bottle of yours on the shelf, I recommend you check it out:

Know that not all health/body care products labeled "natural" are good for you. The Organic Consumers Association exists for that very reason, to make sure natural body care and health foods are what they claim to be--natural and healthy alternatives to mainstream products. Unfortunately, according to the OCA: "many brands market their products as "organic," but they don't have enough organic ingredients to be USDA certified, and they use ingredients that would never be allowed in USDA certified products." Again, all hope is not lost. The OCA homepage provides a VERY long list of companies known for making high-quality and legitimately natural products, many of which can be found in local stores within walking distance from you. See something you want on that list? Consider asking your local retailer to carry it, or special order it for you. Having worked in a few local stores in Somerville and Cambridge, I am willing to bet your request would be happily granted. In the meantime, while you're waiting for your luxurious new moisturizer to arrive, consider three very healthy, very natural and extremely affordable and versatile moisturizers provided by the mother of natural beauty, Mother Nature herself. WATER: Some clients of mine are surprised when I tell them to amp up their water consumption during the winter. They assume the summer months are the best time to chug-a-lug nature's top shelf beverage and they aren't wrong. The summer is hot. We perspire. We need to replace that lost moisture with more water. It makes sense. However, the arid, cold air of winter and overconsumption of sugar can wreak havoc on our skin. Drink plenty of fresh water (half your body weight in ounces) each day for well-hydrated, glowing skin all year. EAT YOUR FATS: Cooking with olive or sesame oil and eating avocadoes and/or real butter* are excellent ways to hydrate your skin from the inside-out. Or pull up a chair beside the ol' Nutcracker during the holidays because the nuts found in your standard mixed nut assortment (still in their shells) all contain the healthy fats needed for perfect nutrition for your body, skin and your brain. With all we have going on at the time of year, who can't use a brain boost?!

COCONUT OIL: Derived from coconuts, this oil is truly a miracle in my house. Some folks are still on the fence about its health benefits, but I'm sold on it. We cook* with it, add it to smoothies in the morning and slather it directly on our skin post-shower. A little goes a long way both internally and topically, and you can't get more natural than this oil right out of the jar. Why buy coconut-fragranced lotions packed with questionable chemical ingredients when I can use the real thing?! *As with anything in life, be sure to ingest these foods in moderation, being mindful of quantities and the quality of what you're consuming. It's true that coconut oil and butter contain saturated fat and too much of that isn't good for anyone, but many alternatives (low-fat or oil-based butters) contain chemicals or additives far more dangerous to your health. If you're not sure how much is too much, or not enough, ask your health care professional or let me know if I can support you.

Two-For Recipe Awesomeness - Indian Chickpeas (from Kripalu!)

RecipesDillan DiGiovanni4 Comments

That's right, my dears! Two recipes split into two blog posts--you will have to stay tuned for PART II.

I am posting these together because, quite frankly, they go really well together. Biryani is a delicious spin on plain old rice and chickpeas with spices in coconut milk? Heck, yeah!

These recipes were in the Kripalu 2010 fall season cookbook so they aren't 'Dillan originals' but that's just fine by me. I am happy to share this amazingness with you. I made little to no moderations because Kripalu cooks and serves food exactly the way I like to eat it!

P.S. you can make these vegan by using vegetable oil in place of ghee (boo, in my opinion becaue ghee freakin' rocks) and coconut milk in place of heavy cream (yay, in my opinion because coconut has more health benefits than cow's milk and no mucus-building action like milk does).

Read on, pals.

Indian Chickpeas

Ingredients

2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas 1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil 1/2 Spanish onion 1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 2 cups crushed tomatoes 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or 1 cup coconut milk 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

1) Heat the ghee or oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and saute until softened, 5-8 minutes. Add the spices and saute for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add tomatoes and salt and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

2) Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture right in the pot or transfer it to a blender and puree until smooth. (Use caution while pureeing the hot liquid; keep blades of an immersion blender submerged and if using a blender, work in batches, filling the blender jar only halfway and hold a cloth over the lid while pureeing). Return the puree to the pan and add the chickpeas and heavy cream or coconut milk. Over medium heat, simmer until heated through, 5-8 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

ENJOY!!!!!

Stay Tuned for next edition where I'll publish the recipe for homemade Vegetable Biryani (the lovely yellow rice dish under the chickpeas...)

An Open Letter to Myself circa 2006 -- "Being Transgender is a Process, Not a Finish Line"

Dillan DiGiovanni1 Comment

Hey there.I am writing this because you will get it. You will understand now. Because you're older and wiser and your Buddhist practice has helped you come to fully understand the concept of karma. Many people understand/misinterpret it as "punishment" but you get it is more how energy sent is energy returned.

I know there was a lot going on back when you moved to Boston in 2006. Even before that, there was a lot going on. There always has been in your life because, well, it was a long climb to where you are. And not an easy climb, at that. For many years.

But here's the thing: you know you judged people. You still do. You do it because you have your own insecurities to work out, still. I get it. But back in the day, when people around you were coming out at transgender--you weren't as kind or understanding as you could have (should have) been.

And now it's you in their shoes. And now you get it.

You Really Get It Now.

You get that being transgender is a process---not an elitist race with an agreed-upon finish line. 

You get that making decisions to change your name, inject yourself with hormones and spend thousands of dollars on surgeries--or not to ever do any of these things--is an extremely difficult and complex process. I mean, damn, how many years has it taken you to get this far? And you've been dressing in men's clothes since you were able to choose what to wear so where was the mystery? You remember how bad Catholic school was-the boys were really mean because you were stronger than them and more concerned with kicking their asses than kissing them at recess. Or because you loved their green polyester ties and would have given your left arm to wear one to school everyday instead of your plaid skirt. But the skirt it was.

You get that burying your identity has been easier than giving it room and air to breathe all these years.

You get that calling yourself gender queer was your way of hiding/stalling another few years--but it's ok, because it felt right at the time.

You get that transgender looks lots of different ways for as many different people and everyone who is brave enough to even mention identifying as transgender deserves a lot of space and patience as they make the decisions they want to make to become or just be.

You get all this because...now it's you.

It's cool that it took you walking in others' shoes to become more compassionate. That's a good thing. It's cool that you can reflect on ways you could have been gentler on people who were doing their best during their own process of coming out to themselves and others.

It's cool----because internalized transphobia is a difficult thing to overcome. It's no easy task to be honest with yourself about who you are so you can be honest and compassionate and in turn, an advocate, for others.

Especially when that honesty means you living it out loud, exposed to the opinions, judgments and assumptions of other people every single day.

No shame. No blame. Just name.

Here's what I'm going to do, because now the ball's in my court.

I'm going to do the best I can to be the best ally possible. I am going to create and advocate for safe spaces for anyone based on who they are---not who they were or aren't yet. Transgender is a delicate, vulnerable place to live in---so I will do my best to make sure (not matter where I am on my own journey) that each person I meet is treated with the respect, patience and compassion you weren't able to summon when your repression was an enormously powerful force.

No matter what comes next on the path, I promise that the journey won't be forgotten and I won't judge people based on their progress toward a self-determined destination. I won't play gender police and have a sign ready when people are "male enough" or "female enough" because maybe the gender binary is not their goal. If or when I pass for male, I won't succumb to heterosexist behavior because I'll remember that passing privilege doesn't erase my past.

I will create spaces and make room where there isn't yet space for people who are brave enough to live out loud outside the boxes that our country and the world have created for the bodies that house our precious, love-filled souls. A soul doesn't know a box. It only does once it's told the box it belongs in.

Some of us feel we got the wrong box, like mail that comes to the wrong postal address. Or a salad when we ordered a burger.

I'll make space where you drew boundaries.

I'll speak up for the times you were silent.

I'll ask for the times you assumed.

I'll do what a lot of trangender people forgot once the privilege to physically evolve became no longer intangible. Even though the past is always present in the mirror and within.

I'll remember that being transgender is a process, not a finish line.

I'll do this because the scars of this process run deeper than those from my acne and tattoos.

I'll do this because you couldn't.

But I can.

A Very Special Thanksgiving-With Our Family of Intention

Health and Wellness, InspirationDillan DiGiovanni2 Comments

For many, Thanksgiving is a time of year where people head to the homes of their childhoods and celebrate with their families of origin. Turkey, sweet potatoes and stuffing await. And, of course, leftovers. For many people, this simply isn't their reality. Or if it is, it certainly isn't the experience depicted in the famous Norman Rockwell painting.

For many folks, especially those in the LGBTQ community, the holidays are a time when they gather a family of intention around them--because they aren't welcome at "home" due to their sexual or gender orientation or because of the way they live their lives. Political, religious and lifestyle habits can make family gatherings difficult at best, so many folks choose to avoid the situation entirely, and the discomfort that can come with it. Endless years of being singled-out as the lone vegetarian at the table (despite the fact that the only thing I wasn't eating was the turkey, itself) or chastised because I was the lone liberal-minded queer convinced me that making the long trek home wasn't worth the hassle. Forget about asking if the turkey was grass-fed and organic.

Then there are folks who can't afford to fly long-distances several times in a couple of months to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones or aren't able to for job-related reasons. Where are those folks supposed to go? What are folks to do when faced with the reality of an orphan holiday?

JOIN FORCES, OF COURSE!

This Thanksgiving, I found myself seated around a table enjoying one of the best meals I've ever eaten. Why? Because it was food that I felt 100% good about and I was sharing it with people I felt 100% comfortable to be around. My partner and I shopped for ingredients that were either locally-sourced or organic (ok, except for the marshmallows) and we prepared meals based on these values. We knew our guests share our intentionality when it comes to food (and most other things), so we prepared ourselves for their incredible contributions!

Canned cranberry sauce (jellied?) that is about 76% sugar? Why not spread cranberry jelly on your turkey?
Stuffing made with bread that only makes you feel stuffed from all the wheat flour halfway through your meal? No thanks. We made ours with quinoa, mushrooms, diced apricots, apples and herbs!
What about greens? How many American households had a homemade green salad made with shredded Brussels sprouts and red kale? Not too many, we're pretty sure. ;)
 
 

And our friends. We invited some hetero folks who recently moved to Boston and weren't able to fly to the Midwest for the holidays this year. What a bummer! Imagine moving to a new city and having no one to chill with for Thanksgiving?! No way! We scooped up those pals as well as another friend who wasn't flying to the West coast for the holiday and we all successfully made our way through 6 bottles of wine.

Talk about holiday cheer!

If we said it once, we said it 1,000 times---"this is the best Thanksgiving I've ever had--the food is so good for us, tastes amazing, and you can't beat the company". It was unanimous. We were truly so very grateful to be fed by a dinner of natural foods and surrounded by kindred company and conversation.

We felt blessed and grateful that we broke the mold and created a very special Thanksgiving--with a new family of intention.

PS if you want any of these recipes--hit me up! You can rock out next year! ;)

Sweet Squash Soup*

RecipesDillan DiGiovanniComment

Serve this sucker at Thanksgiving on Thursday. It's:

1) easy 2) seasonal 3) delicious

That's what I always promise, yes?  ;)

SWEET SQUASH SOUP*

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter 1 small Spanish onion, medium diced 1 teaspoon cinnamon 3/4 teaspoon sea salt 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into large cubes 4 cups vegetable stock 2 tablespoon maple syrup (optional---but recommended by me)

Instructions

1) Heat the butter in a large thick-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until it begins to brown, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and salt. Add the squash and saute for 5 minutes. Add the stock and increase the heat to high. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer gently until the squash is soft, 15-20 minutes.

2) Use an immersion blender  to puree the soup right in the pot or transfer the mixture to a blender (or your Vitamix like we will, holla!!) and puree until smooth. (Use caution while pureeing hot liquid; keep blades of an immersion blender submerged and if using a blender, work in batches, filling the blender jar only halfway and hold cloth over the lid while pureeing.) If using maple syrup, add it to the squash while pureeing. Return the pureed soup to the pot and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until hot. Serve hot.

 

 

*this recipe comes from the seasonal menu cookbook from Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA. They titled it vegan and used Smart Balance in place of butter. As a holistic health coach, I use whole foods over processed ones as often as possible so I suggest using butter. I prefer to use real foods from sources where I know the animals were treated humanely. I make that decision over using chemically-created/processed alternatives for my own health. Do some research about these "alternative foods" and make the choice that feels right for you.

Which Wolf Do You Feed?

InspirationDillan DiGiovanni1 Comment

If this blog is all about eating---let's talk about feeding feelings. There's a story attributed to the Cherokee (but I don't know it actually came from that tribe*) that goes something like this: A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
 
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
 
 
Super true. I have read this story many times during the past few years, but it really hit home last week. 
September was a good month full of lots of changes--one of which was the good but hard choice to give up my business office for two reasons: 
 
1)There were other people occupying the space and they had a culture going there, a lot of which involved loud conversations and often some vulgar language. Hey, I am all about some vulgar language from time to time. It has its place in life and when I was working independently in the office, it never bothered me--but not when I had clients in my office to talk about their personal lives and health concerns.
 
Uh-uh. Not okay.
 
2) There was also the issue of the dog. The landlord owns an enormous dog that is both friendly and possibly intimidating, depending on your comfort level with dogs. The dog liked to sleep in the open space outside my office and, because I didn't know each client's fondness of large animals, I took care before each scheduled appointment to ask that the dog was moved behind a closed door so he didn't greet my clients upon their arrival. More than once, the dog wasn't put away before a client arrived. Each time, I became more angry, really resenting this animal and the folks who weren't being conscientious about my needs.
 
I decided enough was enough and asked to end my lease early, per an earlier verbal agreement with my landlord.
 
October came and almost ended and here I was with the 31st approaching and no idea how or when to return my keys and get my security deposit back. I did the next logical thing and emailed him to set up a time and date to meet up. 
 
No reply.
 
The following day, I called and left a voicemail reiterating the email from the day prior.
 
No reply.
 
That evening, as I made my way Downtown to chaperone a Halloween dance for LGBTQ youth, I was feeling pretty angry. The nasty wolf was really starting to eat me up inside. I really could feel all those negative feelings building--and then the thoughts followed:
 
"it's because I'm queer"
"I won't get my security deposit back now"
"I played by the rules and this isn't fair"
"things like this always happen to me"
"if I call again, I will get the answer I want--in fact, I'll call until I GET WHAT I WANT!"
 
Yeah, no.
 
Becoming more aggressive wasn't going to work with this guy. He's Italian. I'm Italian. If I got angrier and demanding, I was signing up for a fight, which wasn't what I wanted. I realized the problem: I had expectations for his behavior and I was suffering because he wasn't complying. 
 
Guess who was in control of changing that?
 
Me.
 
I took a deep breath and didn't call. I didn't yell and scream via voicemail. I didn't write a strongly worded email.  I didn't feed the angry wolf. 
 
I just did nothing. I fed the one of compassion, love and patience. Compassion for whatever was going on in his life that I didn't know about, love for myself and those kids Downtown who needed a fun, mature chaperone and patience so I could become closer to the person I want to be. Someone who doesn't take things so personally and reacts less and is generally someone I would admire. I have lived a life full of the screaming, the crying, the ranting and the arguing. Too many hours, too many tears, too many times where I ended up asking myself---"why is this happening to me?" These things don't happen to us. We make them happen with our choices. What we experience is our responsibility.
 
I chose to feed that calm, patient wolf lots of loving words, and some frustrated ones---but I shared them with someone I trust--my partner. And I wrote in my journal a bit. I let the feelings out but I didn't lash out.
 
The next morning I received a very nice email from my landlord stating that my check would be waiting for me on Monday morning when I returned my key. He wished me the best in my future endeavors and apologized for the space not working out for my business.
 
 
Yep. 
 

The one that wins is the one you feed.

Update from Emily and Jillian, Lesley University Rockstar Interns!

InspirationDillan DiGiovanni2 Comments
Emily Scolaro: My update: the only word that can I use to describe this experience this far is unreal.  I choose unreal because it is exactly that.  How many people get the opportunity to intern and learn from such an amazing person in their undergrad?  Not many!
Throughout this journey I have learned skills and gained knowledge that I could not have gotten from just reading a book, or going to a class.  Working with Dillan on a weekly basis has opened my eyes to a variety of opportunities. Engaging in a professional environment has made me become more self-aware.  I have learned how to place limits in certain aspects of my life, which has helped with my overall health; mentally, emotionally, and physically. The constant feedback of positive affirmation and constructive criticism from Dillan has driven me to be more passionate about everything I’m learning. I can see my future more clearly now and I’m hoping that one day I will be in a job where I feel so inspired and self motivated.

Dillan encouraged Jillian and I to attend a talk that was held by the Integrative Health Collaborative of Boston. They were hosting “an evening of networking with integrative health colleagues and a presentation from Dr. Darshan Mehta.” He talked about mindfulness as a tool for healing and staying healthy and how practitioners at the Benson-Henry Institute use and teach mindfulness as a treatment strategy.  After seeing his presentation I was in awe, mostly because I could not understand a good portion of the words he was saying.  Aside from that, the networking and knowledge I gained was amazing.  Jillian and I were probably the youngest people there, but we were treated as if we were just as equal as everyone else (whether one was a doctor, medical student, pharmacist, cook, health coach, etc.).  I felt honored to be at this amazing place, with a breathtaking view of Boston, and have remarkable people with common interests around me.  The networking aspect of the whole journey was probably the most beneficial.  I saw how Dillan advocated for herself and for her business, listened to others and what they had to offer, and could gage where to place her energy and focused attention.  This is one of the moments that I will look back at this internship and remember the impact it had on me.
I plan on continuing my internship in the spring so that we can proceed with some amazing ideas that we are developing.

Jillian Clarke:

Holistic psychology has always been a passion of mine, even before I knew it actually had a name. As a sophomore I have dove deeper into the field of holistic psychology and holistic living has become such an important part of my life.  Interning with Dillan has been one of the major catalysts for this love and passion.  This semester with Dillan has not only been an amazing work experience, but has also been changing my life for the better.
Working with Dillan has most definitely added to the primary foods of my life, particularly in the aspects of my career, relationships and spirituality.  Each week that we meet I have learned more and more about myself (I feel blessed to be able to do so much self-care at an internship!).  One of the experiences with Savor Your Existence that has helped my self-care progression was teaching a class at Lesley College with Dillan and Emily.  I spoke about the daily hardship of cravings and the correlation to primary food.  Being able to share my personal experiences with my peers was such a liberating feeling for me.  I was able to share my hardships and teach my peers how to cope with theirs as well.  I learned a lot about myself that day; the most important lesson was that I learned how well I was actually doing in my own life.   Learning about issues such as cravings, holistically, has strengthened my self-awareness and mindfulness.
I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity to work with Dillan this semester.  I am planning to keep working with this extraordinary person and keep broadening my horizons.

 

Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Cabbage Stir-Fry

Dillan DiGiovanni4 Comments

It's Sunday night--maybe 4:45pm. You had a busy weekend, you're tired, you're hungry.

"What's for dinner?"

Take-out options: sushi, pizza, Thai, Italian.

Meh.

It's moments like this where I fully realize and appreciate how different my life is, from just a few years ago.

Now, instead of calling and ordering take-out, I stand up from the table, rummage around my kitchen and make things like this instead:

Why spend my hard-earned money on dishes made by other people when I have the ingredients and know-how?

Why not take time out from working and rushing around and spend an hour preparing a wholesome meal for myself and my partner?

This is how I think now, as a health coach. loved this comment from a pal the other day, "making this tonight, thanks for the inspiration."

SWEET POTATO, BROCCOLI & CABBAGE STIR-FRY

Ingredients

two large sweet potatoes, sliced or diced. Your choice. four crowns of broccoli, chopped into small pieces 2 cups cabbage, shredded or finely chopped 1 cup onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tbs sesame oil 2 cups quinoa or brown rice, cooked powdered ginger, dash of cinnamon, soy sauce, rice vinegar to taste

Instructions

1) In a pan, add the oil and onions. Cook them down over med. heat until they begin to soften

2) add the sweet potatoes and broccoli. Dense veggies need more time to cook, so add them first, then the cabbage.

3) Stir over medium heat.

4) when the veggies are softened to your liking, add the garlic and seasonings. Toss and serve over rice or quinoa.

EASY!!!!

Even better?

Storing leftovers in glass containers in the fridge and adding these simple ingredients to stretch them out and change them up a bit a few days later:

  • 1 1/2 cups tofu, diced
  • 1 package frozen mixed veggies

Just Married! (just kidding!)

LGBTQDillan DiGiovanniComment

After only 72 days of marriage, Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are getting divorced. Britney Spears' marriage to Jason Alexander (not the one from Seinfeld) ended after just 55 hours.

( Don't even get me started on older folks who "should" know better...Larry King, Liza Minelli, etc. etc.)

To many people, this is just soap opera, tabloid fodder.

To many LGBTQ people, it's insulting, preposterous and it pisses us off. It's yet another way we struggle to live happy, healthy lives---when magazine covers make fun of something we always see as a dangling carrot--just out of arm's reach.

As a child of divorced parents, I'm not against ending things if it isn't working out. What I struggle with is this truth: LGBTQ people don't even get the option.

It feels really unfair (I know, who said life is fair?) that straight people like these folks above can play around with "the sacred institution of marriage" like a light switch. It's on! It's off! On again! Off again!

With the exception of 7 states and D.C., LGBTQ folks who have been in committed partnerships for 5, 10, 15 and 40+ years aren't given the opportunity to marry based solely on their sexual orientation.

You can read more details of what states do and don't provide same-sex couples by checking out the National Conference of State Legislature's website right here.

Here are a couple things (among a long list) you want to ponder:

1) "gay marriage" is an important issue to resolve for the health and happiness of LGBTQ folks living in America.

2) "gay marriage", while important, is one of many important issues that LGBTQ want to see changed or improved in America. Know that many folks are also equally concerned with employment non-discrimination (many trans people face profound discrimination finding and securing employment--current stats are 70% below the poverty level*) and other issues outlined here: Findings of the NATIONAL TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION SURVEY by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force