More about the new book at

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stay Awhile

Come tonight. Stay awhile. We'll tuck in the stars then watch the morning light chase the horizon. If this night becomes tomorrow, if tomorrow becomes forever, I am ready.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

If I Had One More Minute.

For Roger Williams. 

If I had one more minute I’d tell you what it has meant these past five years to have you in my days. I’d tell you all the ways I’ve learned from you. You showed me that someone can actually live their legacy.

If I had one more minute I’d thank you for the children. You simply never retired. Because you believed in our children you fought for their education. You never stopped working to create quality education. I trust your footprints can be seen from heaven.

If I had one more minute I’d tell you how much I loved your strength and how feisty you could get. I loved how you pushed back. Man, we could get each other going. I loved that more than I ever told you. That’s why I wanted you by my side.  That’s why I immediately asked you, the first day we met, if you would help me. 

I loved the way you thought. The way you cared. The way you knew what mattered most. I loved that your family came up in every conversation - your Nancy, your girls, your grandbabies. 

It was such a gift to be around you as you made your difference. You woke up each morning knowing your purpose and everyone that knew you could feel it.  Along with your tan and your golf clubs you carried the contentment we all crave.

You were living the life you loved.

Sure, once a week, you’d tell me you were going to work a little less but you never stepped away.

You stepped in. You dug in. You kept building.

It didn’t matter what got in the way - you kept building for our children.  You gave and gave and gave.

A couple days before you left for New Mexico you stopped by. Normally we’d talk about the last fundraiser or the one coming up; or a donor you had your heart on, or the next endowment we should open.

But, not this last time.

This last time you handed me a letter about legacies and said, “Lex, this is what’s next”.  You told me why you thought things needed to change and what you wanted it to look like. Then you said goodbye and told me you would be home soon.

I didn’t know then that you meant you were going home.

If I had one more minute I’d tell you how truly grateful I am to have spent the last years of your life getting to know you. I feel so lucky I knew you for this part.

You were the good in the world.

In a town far away from my own - you were part of my family here. I miss you already.

I miss all the building we had left to do. I wanted you there.   But, since you created a life that made a difference, since you lived out your legacy everyday, I promise you I will do my best to keep it alive.

I know we all will. 

Monday, October 11, 2010


I need a label like the moon need label the night
or the sun her light.
I need a label like the ocean need label the water
need my parents label me
their daughter.
I just am.
It just is. 
an exception
not for your acceptance
or rejection.
Simply because to be yourself
in our world
is still not safe
for our children.
So I'll take the labels.
I'll find the words.
I am gay.
Just as I am human.
Just as I need love
and oxygen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

As You Are

Might you come to me and reveal in that instant all that arises. If you were to change form a thousand times within that moment, might you sense my understanding. If your sharing came only in silence then quiet we will be. For even now, within our unclear evolution, my prayer is to hold you as you are not as who I imagine.

A Choice

I will choose love every day. One day i will awake and she will have chosen me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Life Prevails

At the bottom of the world there is water; there is sunshine; there is life. I wouldn't have believed it myself had I not gone there and found a tiny flower pushing through a crack in the sidewalk.

Take With Me

I will take with me the sun for light and the pearly white moon for romance. The planet will provide the rest - lest I offend her by packing.


When there is nothing left to pull you from the darkness - travel. Travel is the compass back to self. Travel is the path to our greatest parts. Travel longs for us when we are gone and accepts us completely upon our return, saying only, "What took you so long, dear friend?"


The tears were not from sadness. It was the sheer magnitude of newness that forced little drops of salt water to the corners of her eyes.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Is it not better to risk losing everything for love than to hold onto certainty and lose thyself?


Tonight I escaped my uncertainty and wrapped my heart in a blanket of your love.

Inside that Moment

The very first time the sun rose above the ocean's crust and revealed light upon the earth, inside that moment, our love was born.


Alas, I understand why it is called falling.

Another Form

How comforting it was to fall asleep last night and find you keeping minutes with my thoughts. Perhaps this love, at first controllable, now has a hold of me. You are my days and nights. You are my quiet moments and brilliant storms.

To Awake by Love

To be pulled awake 
in the middle of the night 
by a single thought of you
reminded that love does not sleep 
nor does it surrender to my fears. 
You may never know
my sweet darling
how deeply I love you 
but my dreams 
won't let me forget. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


So many days and nights have come without words. I honor the muse. I pay homage to ritual and discipline, yet inspiration lands on the porch next door. My porch left empty save the leaves that arrived with the evening's breeze and residue from last night's dreams. I sit quietly in prayer. I find strength to ask for another day. I know that somewhere behind the wind my inspiration rests. She will arrive. She will return and I will welcome her gently. The way you kiss your lover after a long night apart.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rocking Chairs

It's more than wanting you or needing you. It's more than craving the taste of your body against my tongue or your chest against my back at dawn.  It's more than any obligation yesterday could bare.  It's about waking up each sunrise as if for the first time with a choice. And, in that moment choosing you. Knowing that if that choice takes us to matching rocking chairs on a porch when we are old and gray,  thousands of mornings from our first day, that I was a choice for you too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Listen Closely I Am Whispering

For MaryAnn Lazzarini

Listen closely
I am whispering
I am the stillness of the breeze
I am the trees
I am everything.

I am the warmth of the sun
the serenity of night
I am the light
I am everything.

I slow dance with the moon
rock the mountains to sleep
I do not weep
I am in everything.

I am the eagle's wings
I am the sandy shore
I hurt no more
I am everything.

I soar, I dance, I sing,
I am everything.

Listen closely for
I am only whispering.

Monday, August 9, 2010


If I cannot keep you as I wish -
I will keep you as my sun and my moon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What's In a Name?

By, Alexa Leigh Valavanis

Judge Vaughn Walker doesn't know my name. I've never written him a letter or rang his smart phone. We're not colleagues or acquaintances or even Facebook "friends". In fact, there's a strong possibility the judge and I would defy the theory of "six degrees of separation". We simply don't know each other and probably never will.

Which is a long way of saying the Chief Judge of the US District Court in California, nominated by George H.W. Bush, doesn't know anything about me. He doesn't know I value my family and faith above all else. He doesn't know how deeply I cherish being an American, and the individual rights and freedoms both of my grandfathers fought for.

If Judge Vaughn Walker doesn't know those things, he couldn't possibly know that I would be a wonderful wife and a good mother. The kind of wife who will listen and be patient. The kind of mom who will lift her children up to reach life's joys or hold them closely when life hurts. He couldn't know that I'll teach them to trust, to be generous, and to see the good in things. Nor could he know I'll do my best to love them unconditionally just as my mother and father have loved me. How could he know I'll be the grandmother with warm cookies always waiting?

But, Judge Walker doesn't need to know about me. There is no reason for him to know my name. Nor do the thousands of people who have fought for marriage equality in the United States need to know me. They know something far more important. They know the rights of American citizens are not determined by a majority vote. They know that under our states and federal laws citizens are equal regardless of our leaders, our majorities or our minorities preferences. Our internal and external differences do not dictate our civil rights in America.

Today, I want to make this pledge to Judge Walker and all those who have fought for marriage equality. I am not making it because they've asked or even want me to. It's not because I think it is their business or anyone else's business who I love or create a family with. I make this pledge simply because it is the best way I can think of to say, THANK YOU.

I pledge:

To be a loving and loyal wife.
To be a wonderful mother.
To be a kind grandmother.
To value above all else my faith and my family.

History has shown us that this battle for equal rights will be won. However painful, however long, there will be a time when being gay or straight no longer has a baring on the state and federal rights bestowed on American citizens.

If I am here to see that day I will crawl back into my mind to these darker times and remember the thousands of gay and straight people, of every color and faith and political view, who fought to insure that in our great nation separate would never again be considered equal.

I will pull the hot chocolate chip cookies out of the oven and share with my grandchildren a story about an America that didn't always get it right at first but did not stop until it was so.

Then, I will tell them Judge Vaughn Walker's name and make them promise to remember.

Originally Published at

Rise Again

Breaking through the center
of the planet's womb
the sun beats down on me
with tender rays of warmth
and safety

Soaking up
my doubts and insecurities
allowing me to see the light
when my world
is so dark

Alas, at least I know
the sun will rise again.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I surrender now
as the sun does with the night
to open all that was closed
and lay down all that was held
in fear, doubt and uncertainty
so that I might dissolve completely
into my lover's arms.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Am

Jealous of the dark that holds you all night long.
Jealous of the thoughts that wake you at dawn.
Jealous of the stars that hear your wishes.
Jealous of the woman that holds your eyes.
Jealous of the light and the love,
that hold you deep inside.

Friday, July 9, 2010


As the rain hits the earth outside my window I can't help but wonder if the drops fall willingly from the heavens or grasp for more time with the clouds. Do the drops cling to the skies? Are they ready for the quickly approaching earth or scared of the certain collision. I can't help but imagine the peace that would accompany an absolute surrender to letting go. The calm that would embody willingly falling.
Today the rain acts as a brilliant reminder to let go.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

After All These Sunsets

How can it be
after all of these years
you continue to surprise me
you continue to remind me
that loves expands 
it changes form
and reinvents itself
again and again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


 I feel the thought of you press against my chest, from the inside out, causing my breath to tighten. As I fight the urge to run to you, collapse somewhere near your skin, so that I might breathe again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

By the River

I have tried to tell you
again and again
it is not who I am
but who I wish to become
that is important.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Power of Value

Alexa Valavanis

Our values are our greatest resource. They act as a compass in determining where we spend our time, money and energy. That is not to suggest that everything we give our resources to is valuable. It is simply to note the awesome power of our values.
My clients often share a list including: faith, family, financial security and freedom. Some share the value they place on health, happiness and goodwill - even love. Our values are unique and illustrate our beliefs, cultures and influences.

Recently, I heard the story of the doorman at the World Trade Center who calmly escorted people outside of the building, after the plane crashed into it, only to perish when the building collapsed. He had placed the value of saving others’ lives above even the value of his own. We call these people heroes, which they undoubtedly are, but what if they have figured out how to consciously and vigilantly move in accordance with their values?

We also have shared values or that which we lend our resources to as a community, as a region and as a state. We have the shared values we honor as a nation and as residents of this planet. We can identify those simply by looking at what receives our money and attention (or what does not).

In January, when the earth cracked open in Port-au-Prince our world sent a message to the people of Haiti that we valued their lives. With our collective voice we said, “If there is something we can do to save your lives or stop your suffering there is no distance too far and no mountain too high. We value your lives.”
As American citizens we offered hundreds of millions in federal aid; but even more, we found ways to pull $10, $50, $100 out of our pockets to make sure the Haitians knew they were not alone. In addition to our currency we offered countless thoughts and prayers.

As a human race we demonstrated our shared value for life by immediately transcending geography, religious beliefs, and political systems to help. Perhaps, it was most evident when we saw the search and rescue teams made up of people from every corner of the earth.

That’s the power I want to talk about. By moving in accordance with our values and using our resources accordingly we can have a massive impact.

As the CEO of the North Valley Community Foundation I work with more than 10,000 donors and close to 500 local and international nonprofits. I know we understand the correlation between what we value and how we use our resources. But, do we understand the power we could wield as a community if we had consensus regarding our shared values and prioritized our resources accordingly?

Here is the point.

The time is now, to prepare for a post-recession economy, a post-recession community, and a post-recession world.

Our resources are more limited than ever before yet the demand for them has never been greater. The nonprofits and agencies I work with represent the national and international reality that we need to do more with less and less. This is true in our personal lives as well as in the public sector.

So, what can we do to ensure the quality of our own lives and the protection of the “quality of life” in our community?

Let’s consider two things.

If we express our values by how we spend our resources, including everything from how much time we give to our families to where we give our greenbacks than imagine what increased mindfulness would yield.

If every time we used a dollar we used it as an opportunity to align with our values, social and/or personal, what would change? Is what we’re buying, where we’re shopping, and the charities we’re giving to aligned with our values? Is that also true with how we spend our time, our energy, even our thoughts?

The second thing is to develop a public – philanthropic partnership, a partnership that could identify and prioritize our shared values, with a mechanism to glean everyone’s input. One sector simply cannot solve these challenges alone.
For example, if we decided that keeping local control of the Chico Unified School District was a shared value, tell me, what distance would be too far, what mountain would be too high?

If we value having excellent educational institutions, thriving local businesses, safe streets to walk along, clean parks, quality health-care and we were willing to align our personal and public resources to achieve those ends - what could stop us?
It simply does not take the earth to break open or the towers to collapse in order for us to move in sync with our values. It takes understanding the power of our time, energy and money when we align it with our values.


[Originally Published in the Enterprise Record 2010]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why Marriage Equality Matters

By Alexa Valavanis

I know we have pressing matters to tend to. Our homeless need shelter, our sick need care, our schools need resources, and our children need to be left a world they can thrive in; a world with clean water and air, with art and innovation, with religious freedom and equality. In fact, these are the very objects of my affection and what I’ve dedicated my life’s work to insuring.

So, I understand busy. Each one of us is occupied in various and numerous ways. We have our “urgents” and our “importants” battling for every minute of our days. There is only so much we can get involved in. Perhaps, our gay friends and their fight for marriage equality will have to wait a bit longer for our attention? I say this and I am gay.

So, I can only imagine where this issue ranks in your to-do list. But, the truth is, marriage equality is no more a gay issue than slavery was a black issue. In 2010, hundreds of thousands of Americans are being treated as partial citizens. The very men and women we trust to fight our wars, protect our streets, teach our children and heal our sick can’t get married.

I can’t get married. I am an American citizen, living under the same constitution as you, abiding by the same tax laws as you, yet without the same rights as you. Doesn’t that matter?

Marriage matters. It matters in our society. It matters in our laws. It matters in our hearts. Equal rights and equality protection under the law - matters. For as long as we allow discrimination in our laws it will remain in our hearts.

I recently heard the story of a Missouri state trooper, Dennis Engelhard, who was killed on Christmas day. He was helping a motorist when a car driving past lost control, hitting and killing the 49-year old trooper.

Dennis was gay. He had committed his life to his partner of fifteen years. After his tragic death, the state denied the normal pension benefits that would have been given to any other spouse. In Missouri there is no legal way for same-sex couples to marry. They are not protected under the very laws that Dennis fought to defend day in and day out. Marriage matters.

There are countless stories like that of Dennis Engelhard being told in a small courtroom in Sacramento, during the Proposition 8 trials. If you haven’t read the arguments for both sides of this issue yet, please spend a few minutes at

Within the testimonies of each witness and expert one fact prevails. There are societal, psychological, emotional, and economic ramifications linked to marriage. Denying marriage to an entire class of people has negative consequences which extend beyond those individuals, and impact their families, their friends and their communities. Moreover, denying same-sex couples the right to marry has a negative impact our economy as a whole. Oppression is oppression no matter what way you look at it and is harmful to society.

I’m writing this editorial as a friend of this community and a firm believer in the values we built our nation’s democracy on. I also believe there is no greater foundation than that of our family, friends and faith. It is that foundation which led me to public service, and has provided the compass needed to negotiate the difficult waters I’ve faced. It is not easy to be gay in America.

But, I am not writing this as a victim. I’m not writing this to stand on a soup-box or run for office. It simply occurred to me that maybe no one has asked you yet; asked you to get involved. If that was the case, I wanted to be the first.

It will take all of us to abolish institutionalized discrimination from our state and federal laws. Only then will we have a nation worthy of our children.


[Published on, February 15, 2010; Republished in Upstate Business Journal Feb. 2010; Republished on Feb. 2010]