Tuesday, April 12, 2022

It's All Different. But the Same.

It is April 2022. The last few years have been... something.

4 years of a Trump presidency that has forced open wide the divide between people in this country - and around the world. There are a lot of ignorant, hateful, easy to brainwash people out there.

Year 3 of the covid pandemic. 

There is a war (Russian invasion) in Ukraine that threatens a potential WW3. 

And yet...

Here I sit in Indiana, sipping my morning coffee, watching the sun slowly creep up, burning off a springtime fog. My 2 teenagers are getting ready for school. One is in the shower - it's been at least 30 mins so far - and the other keeps popping in to tell me bits from her day yesterday. My husband is downstairs, having already started his work day. 

All very normal. But also different. 

I should clarify that my kids both go to school in person full time. Over the past 2 years, school has sometimes been virtual (doing lessons from home), hybrid (teachers teaching via Zoom), synchronous and asynchronous learning have become normal terms. For the last 2 years, in person school has also meant wearing a mask all day - and there have been tense school board meetings about mask wearing.

I should clarify that the pandemic led to my husband and I both working from home - full time for me and majority of time for him. Huge culture shift in my corporate world as we adjust to this new way of working. Remarkably, my work group is now 50% not-corporate-local so we are truly a remote work group, even as co-workers choose to spend time back in the office. 

For me, life is normal. But it's all a new normal. A new way of doing things and moving through all these different spaces. 

Until next time,

Monday, June 21, 2021

Does Anyone Read Blogs Anymore?

A memory came up on Facebook of a blog post I wrote. 

In 2019.

I started online writing in 2007. Initially to keep far away loved ones connected as we started our family and our kids were growing. 

And I came to a full stop in 2019. 

I have kept up with other forms of social media - Facebook, Insta, Twitter, even TikTok.

Is there still a place for blogs? Do people still read blogs? 

I am approaching my 47th birthday. 
I strive daily to share love with people around me - in person and online. 
I've spent a lot of time recently processing my childhood trauma through a new lens. 
I am a work in progress of anti-racism, allyship, and being inclusive, accepting, and nurturing of all other people.
I continue to be a person of faith - and am watching as my faith forms and changes, just as I do.
I love Disney World and the mountains and a cabin in the woods.
I appreciate learning about and experiencing other cultures, especially through language and food.
I'm a mom, wife, sister, daughter, employee, church leader, dog lover, free hugger.
I believe in science.
I'm vaccinated. 

Is there a place in the "blogosphere" still? 

Until next time,

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Has Anyone Seen My Patriotism?

Tomorrow is the 4th of July.

And I'm really struggling to love my country. It's almost like a crisis of faith. The things that I have long believed about America don't feel true anymore. I believed in the ideals of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I believed that All (men) Are Created Equal. I believed in a government with checks and balances. I believed in representational government, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, the right to bear arms, that our judicial system is designed to be fair and balanced, that being born in the US makes you a citizen of the US, the power of our voting system, and so on.

I don't see our country's values these days. I don't see our country's values in the past few decades, really. But it is worse right now. It is glaring and ugly. The things happening are in stark contrast to what we are supposed to stand for in the world.

I don't find myself feeling proud of my country or our flag or our anthem or our pledge or any of those hallmarks of patriotism these days.

And it breaks my heart.

Back in high school, I was deeply moved by the war of my generation - the Gulf War. I read accounts of soldiers in People magazine. I dated a Navy man. I took up a collection at school to send care packages to those in the Gulf. I was deeply impacted by the sacrifice that those who were in the military made. I still have deep respect for our military - veterans and those currently serving.

I have always stood and sung the National Anthem at sporting events. I've even been known to shed a tear. Well, I used to, anyway.

I vote in every election. I protect my rights and the rights of others.

I swear to you that I love my country. Or at least the idea of the country I was raised to believe in.

Not a country where we treat humans as if they were no better than unwanted animals. Which we have done in the past and have continued to do and now are doing again. Slavery, racism, immigrants in "detention centers."

Not a country where the treatment of women is so unimportant that our judicial system works to protect rapists rather than provide justice for those who have been raped.

Not a country where black and brown people continue to be treated inequitably because we aren't doing anything to fix the education system, the government lines, the resources that continue racism rather than stop it.

Not a country that looks the other way at the mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community.

The things I see all sound like they should be atrocities happening in some other country that I could then shake my fist at and hold my hear high because my United States of America would NEVER...

Except these United States most certainly do.


This Fourth of July, I'm going to focus on Lady Liberty.

A gift from France to the USA to celebrate and honor our 100th birthday, our democracy, our relationship with France, the abolition of slavery, etc.

She's a woman.

The rays of her crown represent the continents of the Earth - reminding us that Liberty isn't just about our country.

Broken chains and shackles at her feet - breaking tyranny and oppression, a symbol of fought for freedom.

Her torch shining as a beacon to those seeking light.

She isn't standing still - her foot is forward, showing us that she will lead us. She will guide our way to Liberty.

Her official title is "The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World."

She is the Mother of Exiles.

Related image

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus
November 2, 1883

Friday, June 21, 2019

Rainfall in the Hills

Thunder rolling in the distance
Birds calling, making their plans
Green leaves glow as the air becomes grey

A cool breeze
A drip
A breath

Breathe in

Listen.          Watch.          Wait.

In my heart, names and faces fill 
in between each heart beat

Love out. 
          Love in.

Thunder rolls.
                      Rain falls.

I am renewed.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Overwhelming Beauty

Do you ever find yourself feeling totally overwhelmed by the beauty in the world?

Just sitting in my living room, I can find myself in awe of the darkening of the sky as a storm rolls in and how it seems to make the green leaves on the tree outside my window so much brighter. I watch someone walk by, picking up their pace to get the dog home before the rain starts. I think about that person and their dog and wonder what their life is like, what good is happening for them, what pain they may be experiencing. I scroll through social media and see videos of kids in a talent show, being brave and sharing their voices. I see posts about how people fell in love or how people seek to see beauty in themselves.

And I will suddenly find tears in my eyes. Because as much as I can be overwhelmed by the darkness in the world - I can also be overwhelmed by the beauty.

By the light.
The love.
The bravery.
The courage.
The connections.
The growth.
The supporting and lifting and saving.

And I need to remember these moments. Because the dark days can feel so heavy. So much in the world that I do not understand, that I work hard to keep myself and my loved ones protected from - people who seek to cause harm, people who don't know the harm they cause, people who don't care if they cause harm.

My faith keeps me tethered to hope. Keeps showing me light. Whispers in my ear to focus on the pinpoint of love and stay focused on it until the darkness is pushed aside, even if just for a moment.

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How I Experience Anxiety

It starts in my chest. It's a slight squeeze or pressure feeling, but also kind of tingling or buzzing. Then my brain goes into hyper aware mode and is hyper analyzing, hyper listening. Sometimes, I feel it in my fingers next. Kind of that tingling sensation. 

I generally feel both ready to jump out of my skin and ready for my space to implode.

My brain starts to speed up. It focuses on all the things that I need to do. Every single work task and unanswered email. Every report I need to run. Every problem I need to solve. I start to feel paranoid about friendships, relationships, and what people really think of me. I question every wording choice. When I listen to my brain, my chest gets tighter and I feel like I can't really breathe.

Which also means I need to breathe. Deeply. Purposefully.

I also need to move my arms because I tend to clamp my upper arms to my sides when this hits. Because I want to contract everything inward. I also can't keep my foot from shaking or my legging from twitching. I want to contain everything but also have to send some energy out somehow.

In, 2, 3, 4.
Out, 2, 3, 4.

I close my eyes and imagine my breath flowing into my lungs and spilling warm relaxation throughout my body.

I open my eyes and go back to answering an email.

Soon, it hits again. Because something doesn't work. Or an email comes from someone who is upset. Or I make the mistake of looking at social media and get overwhelmed by all the bad things happening in the world, in government, in people's lives.

Overwhelmed. It seems to all boil down to what I can't do on my own. Or what I perceive I can't do all at once, anyway.

So I make a list of the things at work that I need to get done. I prioritize to make sure I'm focusing on the right things.

I stay off social media. Partially so I don't continue to pile on with the overwhelmed feelings but also so I don't say things I don't really mean.

I take 10 minutes to walk outside. Fresh air and sunshine often help.

I breathe and count. I use some mantras or do some yoga poses to focus on just the present moment.

I will either be able to help this anxiety pass or I will need to use medication to prevent it from continuing or getting worse.

Here is what I know does not help - ignoring it, drinking alcohol, distraction. I can't just numb it or mute it. I have to work through it or medicate it. 95% of the time, I am able to work through it.

in... 2... 3... 4...
out... 2... 3... 4....

Until next time,

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dear School Board

I live in Fishers, IN. My kids attend Hamilton Southeastern Schools. We've made national news in the past few weeks as a fight that has been ongoing for years boiled over.

Our school district didn't have a non-discrimination policy. There was a loose statement implemented 19 years ago but not actual policy. In the past year, a school board member has been bringing up the need for this policy as part of the work being done in our district towards equity and inclusion. In November, election season, things heated up when a school board member made derogatory comments on social media about transgender people and then also had inappropriate and harmful conversation with parents of trans kids. Finally, in April, a reading of a proposed policy occurred. The outcome wasn't good.

We became famous for having a school board member say things like - being trans is a mental illness and being gay is a trend and it's almost unpopular to be straight now.

If you want all the details, you can Google it.

Last night, the final school board meeting took place for the school year. When things had been left back in April, the wording was as soft and unhelpful as Indiana's new hate crimes bill. On Monday, 2 days prior to the meeting, new verbiage was posted that would be reviewed at the meeting. It listed protected classes but still had some language issues (like saying "gender nonconforming" instead of "gender identity"). Finally, hours before the meeting, language was posted that was most acceptable and least problematic for those fighting for an inclusive, specific policy.

The school board meeting started at 7:00 and this was the 2nd agenda item. It was close to 2 hours of statements and conversation. I didn't keep track of how many people spoke - but students, parents, community leaders, president of the teachers' union, faith leaders, doctors and social workers stood and shared why they supported a strong non-discrimination policy. A few spoke up to dissent. And there was an attempt at adding a conscience clause (meaning you can use personal values or religion as a reason to discriminate). In the end, the non-discrimination policy passed in a 5-2 vote.

That's the top view of what happened. But let's talk about the really important moments. The people moments. The hearts that opened. The eyes that shed tears. The nervous hands that shook at the podium.

Students who stood and spoke of school being their safe place because home isn't once they came out. A business leader who spoke on the importance of teaching kids how to thrive in a diverse workplace. A faith leader who said we are all created in God's image and should be loved and protected as we are. A 5th grader who spoke of her 2 dads. A dad who spoke of his trans nephew. A poli sci teacher who spoke of government and law and his own trans child. A straight ally student. A previous student of color who called out the racism she experienced, starting as young as 3rd grade.

That was just last night.

In the last 2 weeks, groups have formed on Facebook and met in coffee shops and living rooms. One on one conversations have started. Questions are being asked. People are standing up and saying - we see this problem and it isn't ok.

Conversation this morning is celebratory but also aware that we aren't done. That we have to stick together and continue to be involved.

I also have thought - if I had signed up to speak at the meeting, what would I have said?

I am a straight, cisgender, white female. I live the typical suburban life. I've been married to my straight, cisgender, white male husband for almost 16 years. We have 2 kids - both seem to be straight, cisgender and are clearly white. We own a home here in Fishers. We both work full time. We attend a Christian church every Sunday and are heavily involved there. We love superhero movies and Disney. We are incredibly typical and pretty basic.

My family doesn't need a non-discrimination policy. I could stay home and not even know that this issue was happening and it would have no impact on me or my kids. That's privilege. I could easily follow the line of some board members by saying we should just all be kind and respectful to everyone and leave it at that.

But the way I see it, a non-discrimination policy is a way of acknowledging that some groups of people are automatically put below the minimum standard of treatment. It's a way of saying - we see you and want to make things equitable. We want to create a school system that sees the inequities and wants to help lift you to the same playing field as everyone else.

This doesn't take away from those of us who fit the majority. This doesn't reduce protection of the majority. See, my white skin protects me. My being a female who looks female and feels female protects me. My attraction to the opposite sex protects me. While I am female and can face discrimination based solely on my sex, for the most part, I am part of the majority and don't need to be protected.

Finally, I'd just like to say that when we learn to embrace diversity, when we learn to listen and believe those who have different experiences from our own, when we want to embrace the ideals of diversity, safety, justice, excellence - it ends up benefiting everyone. I wasn't taught to be the person I am today in the church of my childhood or by my parents. I found my way here through my faith and my relationships and my life experience, I have come to see and be fully part of a world full of beautiful and diverse people.

I'd like to close with the words of Maya Angelou - Do the  best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

If we have listened and believed to all that has been shared, it's time to do better.

Until next time,