Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Only New Year's Resolution I've Ever Kept (And Why You Can Keep This One Too)

Act #365:  Keep it going.

Exactly one year ago, my husband Adam and I were laying in bed in the early morning hours, staring at the ceiling, lazily contemplating the power and lure of the clean, blank slate that was before us.  New Year's Eve:  the one day in the entire year that the world gives us permission to hit the re-set button on life.  Never mind that you just ate half a jam cake eight hours ago, tomorrow the allure of the other half will pale in comparison to your new found willpower.  There may be dirty laundry piled high up to the ceiling, but tomorrow it will all be freshly cleaned, neatly folded and organized along with the rest of your life.  Today, you may feel burned out, yet resigned that the place you spend eight hours every day depletes you to your core.  Tomorrow, however, you will either see that same place in a brand new light, or you will finally have the strength to access an untapped source of motivation....and you will seek out a different kind of place that replenishes your soul.  Over the next 12 hours, we will magically transform from a wandering, indulgent, chaotic species to determined individuals with new found purpose, intention, and focus.  And within a week, the clock will strike midnight again, and the majority of our golden chariots of possibility will turn back into comfortable, ordinary pumpkins of our own habits and routines.  For the last 20 years I have been desperately trying to figure out a way to harness and store the power of possibility that only reveals itself during those precious final hours before the new year begins, in hopes that it might feed me for the next 365 days.  And every year, within a few weeks, sometimes a few months, I find my new stair stepper shoved in a corner, my resume still untouched, my child still staying up past his bedtime. 

But this past year was different. 

My single resolution evolved from despair and grief for a future world that my son would inherit. My single resolution evolved from desperation, helplessness, even fear, that as his mother, the best I could do for my son was to settle....to pass on to him an unkind, unjust world of dissent, discord, and separation.  The best I could do was to continually succumb to the rich, indulgent jam cake and the piles of dirty laundry, day-in, day-out, without even trying to make things better.  And so I resolved to live the next 365 days with intention, and purpose, and focus, but this time, not for myself.  I knew that 365 days later I'd still not be able to fit into that royal blue size 4 dress I ordered from Modcloth a year ago.  But that was OK.  Liberating, actually.  Because for once in my adult life, I had resolved to embrace being myself: you know plain, kinda boring, painfully ordinary.  But instead of fighting tooth and nail to change those things (like I have been for the past 20 years), this time I embraced them.  I accepted them.  I celebrated the fact that there was probably a world of kindred "ordinary" spirits out there who also believed in a kinder, gentler world.

And so on December 31, 2012, I harnessed the energy of New Year's Eve possibility and I became a plain Jane, one who finally decided to believe in her own simple power to make things better.  One who finally stopped spending her life trying to figure out how to save the big, wide, broken world...or her big, wide, broken self.......and who finally saw that it was indeed those small, seemingly insignificant, but intentional every day acts towards others that truly mattered in the large scheme of things:  acknowledging someone's existence, giving voice to someone who lost theirs, speaking out against injustice, protecting those most vulnerable, and returning personal power to every living being.   A year ago, I resolved to be ordinary.  To care.  And to do my little part in making the world a bit kinder, a bit gentler, a bit safer.  Can you imagine what would happen today, if all 7 billion of us resolved to do the same?  Let us ponder that as we indulge in our final piece of cake of the year.


A Personal Note:  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this year-long journey.  For your public comments and dialog, for your private e-mails and messages, for including me in your book chapters, for letting me contribute to your on-line publications, for publishing my op-eds, for believing in me enough to think I should write a book?...or a journal....or to continue this blog.   I am humbled that you have been willing to listen to my simple, ordinary voice.  I see the world differently now that I've discovered that so many of us share the same extraordinarily ordinary voice despite our different journeys, paths, backgrounds, and yes, even political parties.  What next, you ask?  Besides learning to play the guitar and finally trying to fit into that Modcloth dress, I plan to contribute to this blog on a weekly basis, or as I feel so called by the universe.  I'm confident that a year from now, I'll at least be able do an Old McDonald sing-along with my son, and there's at least a 50% chance that I'll be wearing that royal blue dress to a swanky New Year's Eve party.   If not, for the remaining future New Years of my life, I will simply celebrate, the year I became ordinary.  The year I learned to care for something other than myself.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ringing In the New Year By Waiting For Someone To Get Raped

Act #364:  Scope out the party.

Obviously, I'm not hoping that someone will get raped tomorrow night.  In fact, I would give just about anything for every human being to lay safely down in their beds on the last day of the year, without experiencing domestic violence, sexual violence, drunk driving, or any other form of violence.  But the statistics, our records, the anecdotes all challenge this notion...and New Year's Eve has historically been one of the "busiest" work days for those of us who work in rape crisis centers.  Tomorrow night, I join colleagues and volunteers across the nation in staying close to home, in not indulging in a glass of champagne, in keeping our cell phones right in front of us, waiting, praying, hoping that maybe, just maybe this year will be different. 

But it probably won't. 

And while the rest of the world is wearing little festive 2014 party hats, we will most likely be walking somebody through their legal options on our 24-hour crisis line......or sitting in an examination room in our local emergency room......or helping someone breathe during a trigger-induced panic attack.  Unless of course, we all collectively decide we no longer want to live in a world where this is the norm.  So as you countdown, as you toast, as you ring in a blank slate of possibility tomorrow night, go ahead and make sure your one friend gets home safely....and that your other friend doesn't drive home someone who is drunk and vulnerable.  Pick up the phone when your friend with the abusive boyfriend calls you in the middle of the night.  Ask a total stranger if they need help getting a cab. Cut your obnoxious pal off when it's clear that he's reached his alcohol limit.   By all means, have fun tomorrow night, but consider also taking note of your surroundings, and lending a helping hand when needed.  Because unfortunately, there are no holidays or "days off" in our business.  Because more than anything, we'd like to someday join you in ringing in the new year without waiting anxiously by the phone.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I Had Everything In Common With This Guy Until I Noticed His Ron Paul T-Shirt

Act #363:  Walk your own talk.  This one's hard.  Really, really hard.

So there I was at a quaint bed and breakfast miles and miles away from civilization.  My husband and I decided to grab a cup of coffee and sit by the fireplace for a few moments before the 9 a.m. breakfast bell rang.  Almost immediately, a father with a baby carrier and a diaper bag plopped down next to me - no mother in sight.  And I immediately thought to myself, "Great!  A progressive, equally involved dad who isn't afraid to carry around a flowery diaper bag!" We all ooh-ed and ahh-ed over his adorable 4-month old son and began doing the small obligatory chit-chat: Where are you from?  What do you do? What brings you here?  It turns out he and his wife were on a little getaway from Indianapolis.  They also had another 3-year-old who they left at home with grandma.  We quickly commiserated about those early sleepless baby years, shared our love for the Indianapolis Children's Museum and how it was so cool, we'd even go without our kids.  He and my husband started talking about their love affairs with insanely compact, quirky, difficult to maintain European cars.  And then his wife joined us and she was just as delightful.  Like me, she had been to this bed and breakfast before (on a "girl's trip with her mother and daughter) and wanted to share the experience with her husband.    And then the breakfast bell rang and I was actually looking forward to sharing a meal with perfect strangers with whom we seemed to connect so well.  And then my new friend got up and handed his baby to his wife revealing in all its glory, a blue and white Ron Paul 2012 t-shirt. 

Oh.  My.  God. 

I was on the verge of "liking" someone who desired to see the "Godfather of the Tea Party" run our nation.  Someone who believed the U.S. should withdraw from the United Nations, who opposed any kind of immigration reform, universal healthcare, or a woman's right to choose....and who believes that the Civil Rights Act was a federal interference with individual liberty.

I was so devastated with this realization that I could barely enjoy the beautiful gourmet breakfast sitting in front of me.  At that point, everything kind of went south, at least in my mind.  As the biscuits and oatmeal were served, the Ron Paul couple held hands and prayed over their food.   And I thought (aka "judged") to myself, "Of course they are fanatics.  Clearly, we can't invite them to play Cards Against Humanity with us over bourbon and coke later on."  And then I got irate in my own mind because the Ron Paul supporter (that is all I reduced him to at that point) just sat at the head of the table and didn't assist his wife with that baby once.  He just kept eating and eating, while she tried to get a bite of her oatmeal while juggling their 4-month old on her lap. Of course he's one of "those" dads.  If he doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose, why would he believe in shared caregiving responsibilities for their child?  Keep in mind, it was less than five minutes ago that I saw this very same man as a cool and progressive dad.  And just when I was about to completely write them off as "people who couldn't possibly have anything in common with us", the wife did something awesomely unexpected and amazing.  Her baby cried.  And so she whipped out a beautiful scarf......and her left breast - and by golly, she nursed that child right there and then at the breakfast table.....all while smiling and enjoying her farm fresh eggs.  And for the remainder of the breakfast, I managed to reserve judgment long enough to actually enjoy the company of people with whom I had at least one thing in common. Probably not much else, but it was certainly a start.

Photo credit:  cypresskid

Friday, December 27, 2013

What To Do When Someone Calls Your Son A Wimp

Act #361: Redefine masculinity.

Last week I woke up and watched this 3-minute video calling attention to the way we talk to our boys about masculinity.  

A few hours later I found myself among people who are very close to me. And in the course of a one-minute span, a well-meaning man in our lives said these words when playing with my 6-year old son:  Don't be a wimp.  You better man up, boy.  I'll take you home with me to toughen you up. 

At first I was furious at this man.  How dare he talk to my child like that.  Then I went into panic mode.  Sure, we have never used this kind of hyper-masculine, aggressive language with our kid, but there is a whole world out there that probably does.  How will our influence outweigh the influence of the world?  Then I thought about this man, and how that's probably all he knew.  His father probably talked to him exactly like that.  He himself most likely grew up believing that his value as a man was tied directly to his ability to demonstrate his physical strength.  And so I became very sad... for him, for my son, and for every single boy in America.

And so I spoke up.  Heart racing, in the middle of people who I can't really name, but who I probably should have exhibited more self-restraint and respect.  Probably.  And I said, "Jack is not a wimp, and neither are you.  Neither of you need to toughen up.  A real man, or human being rather, is gentle and kind towards others.  Something that Jack already is and we are so proud of him."

And awkward silence fell.  And the playing subsided.  And I felt uneasy for the rest of the night.  But my boy did not leave that room believing that he was a wimp.  And for a few minutes, all the women in the room were given permission to value a different kind of man - a kind they didn't grow up knowing.  And probably for the first time in his life, that man was (reluctantly) given permission to consider valuing himself differently.  The awkward silence was a small price to pay.

Photo credit:  Diary of A Wimpy Kid

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Why I Didn't Post Any Pictures Of My Cute Kid Opening His Christmas Gifts Yesterday

Act #360:  Show grace in elevators (and other places).

Seven years ago I found myself in the elevator of a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I had just landed from the longest 4-hour flight of my life and was on my way to see my father, who had had a heart attack the day before, and who I was told would likely not be alive when I arrived.  I hadn't slept in over a day.  It was a devastating and unexpected blow to face the threat of losing my (then) 57 year-old otherwise healthy father.  And at that precise moment, I remember kind of hating the world.  And then the elevator stopped to let on an adorable pregnant woman and her husband.  They were beaming.  They were laughing.  They were talking about touring the hospital where they would be giving birth to their child.  And I remember kind of hating them.  How could the world continue to revolve, business as usual, when my father was dying?  How lucky that couples like this one had the option to be happy and hopeful and excited about their future, while mine (and my mother's) was about to crumble.  Miraculously my father survived and I almost forgot about that dark day in the elevator....that is until a year or so later, I found myself 9 months pregnant, riding up a hospital elevator, waiting to give birth to my son.  This time, I was the one beaming, and happy, and hopeful about my future.  And just when I was about to ask my husband something about the color of the nursery, or whether or not we had already tested the car seat, a woman and her mother stepped on to the elevator.  And I saw the exhaustion, the strain, the fear, the sheer hopelessness in their eyes.  God knows what kind of sadness, threat, loss they were facing that day. And so my wide obnoxious grin, became a more gentle, more subtle smile.  My conversation about preparing for the arrival of my new son turned into a simple knowing nod and earnest "hello" to the mother-daughter pair.

Yesterday, people asked me what my son got for Christmas, why I didn't post any pictures of him in his jammies, him tearing open gifts, the beautiful brunch and appetizer spread I prepared for my family, the looks of happiness and contentment on our faces as we were fortunate to be celebrating yet another Christmas with my father.  Yesterday I didn't post any of those photos on Facebook, because I just didn't know who would be getting on the elevator with me.  A newly divorced single mother, a man facing his first Christmas without both of his parents, another disowned from his family when he came out a few years ago, a family spending Christmas in the hospital with their terminally ill son, a couple facing years of infertility and yet another Christmas without a child?  Even though I am so very grateful for all that is good in my life right now, I know there are plenty of people on my friends list who are experiencing sadness, hopelessness, and despair - and how particularly difficult it is to be experiencing those things during the holidays.  And I know that one day, when life cycles back around and it is me feeling those things again, I'd probably appreciate a little grace.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

An Athiest And A Seeker Walk Into A Church...

Act #359:  Find your true meaning.

Last night my husband and I attended the midnight candlelight service at our local church.  We are not Christian.  We are an interfaith family that draws from the good and collective beauty of many faiths.  I lit the candle of the retired art professor standing behind me (who always kisses me on my head and makes me feel like an abundantly loved daughter), in the still of the night, in that little chapel, and we sang Silent Night.  And I wept. 

I wept as I was overcome with the sheer acceptance I felt embraced by my little community.  I wept as I imagined weary travelers finding respite in a manger, igniting a flicker of goodness and love still burning in the hearts of humankind thousands of years later.  I wept for the pure hope I felt in my own heart at that precise moment:  That light would always shine on darkness.  That peace would always overcome war.  That love would always transcend hatred.  This must be the true meaning of Christmas that everyone has been talking about.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Act #358:  Receive the message.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Reverend Rachel Small Stokes, Associate Pastor
Union Church, Berea, KY
December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Guide For Liberals: How To Have Anti-Gay Friends

Act #357:  Let their actions speak.

Like most Americans, I have close friends and family members who are gay.  Heck, my son might turn out to be gay one of these days, who really knows.  One thing I do know for sure is that I love them - not despite that they are gay - but because they are gay...and compassionate....and funny....and have shared history with me....and because of all the other characteristics that collectively make them the type of person I want to keep in my life.   I hate it when people say they "don't judge", because over the years I have judged the heck out of all of my friends, gay and straight - when they attempt to drink and drive, when they are tempted to look outside their marriages, when they distance themselves from me over a guy.  I judge, I support, I advise as needed, because that's what friends do.  But I do not judge any of my friends - gay or straight - when they date, break up, fall in love like I do/have.  I do not judge them when they settle down, go to potlucks, think about having kids.  Or when they turn me down for Sunday brunch because they have to go to church (something my close gay friends do to me regularly.)  But this is not about me.  If you read my blog, you already know that I'm an "ally", a word I'm not too keen on either because honestly and selfishly, I'm not some martyr social activist for the LGBT community. I simply just love my friends.  And that's what friends do.

So as I've gotten older, it's gotten increasingly easier for me to  distance myself from people who do not share this mindset with me.  It's really easy to unfriend and stop inviting people over when they have blatant disregard for the people I love.  It's too painful, it's too draining, and quite frankly, it feels like a betrayal to those I care about.  Imagine this:  having a friend who constantly publicly denounces your wife or child as sinners - you know through Facebook posts, boycotts, the frequenting of different retailers just to make a point.  And so I choose not to spend my time around these types of people - and usually that's not hard to do.  But what about those people in your life that you connect with, that have extended kindness to you over the years, that you actually like and even.....respect?  What if they also happen to be evangelical Christians who believe that homosexuality is an abomination?  Here's where I draw the line between cutting (walking away from constant unkind banter for the sake of holding a personal conviction true) and keeping (investing in compassionate complex conversations about love and religion and how the world chooses to interpret both.)

Case in point, I have a dear friend who, while he has never verbalized this to me, probably believes that homosexuality is a sin.  I know this because he has openly shared his faith with me on many occasions.  But while scores of people flocked to Chick Fil-A to support Dan Cathy's position to fund anti-gay causes, he stayed away.  And when the whole Duck Dynasty fiasco ignited a social media firestorm of support, he remained silent.  Now this is a man of deep, deep, conservative Christian faith.  This is also a man who has mentored and supported a gay student when he came out a few years ago.  What gives?  Well, my friend believes in the kind of Christian love that accepts.  The kind of Christianity where homosexuality is irrelevant, because genuine love towards your fellow human overshadows (you know, Christ-like love) any need to be "right".  Because what does "being right" really even matter when you have your door closed to everyone outside your church anyway?  It's way beyond "not judging" or "loving the sinner, but not the sin".  It's seeing everyone as fellow travelers and seekers on our collective journey to be whole, and to have a meaningful connection with a higher power.  And my friend has never acted in a manner - publicly or privately - that would ever make anyone feel unworthy of sharing that journey or seeking that connection.  So he foregoes the occasional juicy chicken tender sandwich at Chick Fil-A, and the camouflage Duck Dynasty stocking.  Because his views on homosexuality don't matter quite as much as his views on the impartial love of Jesus.  And he remains a dear, respected friend despite and because of this.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Take Your Boy To The Ballet

Act #356: Take your boy to the ballet.

Last night at the Lexington Opera House, our 6-year old watched his first Nutcracker ballet performance.  My little boy stood out like a sore thumb in a sea of adorable twirling little girls in red dresses.  But he didn't seem to notice.  He was too enamored with wooden soldiers that came to life, evil mouse kings, beautiful and familiar holiday compositions, dancers who soar in the air, ice queens, sugar fairies, and girls who have to dress up like boys on stage, because not enough parents take their sons to the ballet. 


The Cats Are Back And I'm Not Happy

Act #355:  Open your door (literally) to those in need.

18 years and 3 cats later, my last remaining feline friend, Poe, died this past summer.  Throughout my adult life, my cats have always provided unconditional companionship and free therapy for my soul.  While I loved all three of them greatly, I decided that, given our lifestyle and priorities, we would no longer seek future companionship in the form of cats.  And I feel a little guilty saying this, but I RELISHED in walking barefoot without stepping on rogue pieces of litter, waking up to a house without the fresh scent of cat poop,  and being able to wear black (again) and sit on my own couch.  It was a liberating 6 months.  I relieved the guilt by frequently visiting the tiny tree we planted in our backyard in Poe's honor. 

And then, these two showed up on my front door.  In 20 degree weather. 

So the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of calls to vets, animal shelters, petfinders, and cat rescuers, but as I type this, the black and white one has claimed a spot on my off-white couch and the calico one has knocked at least 3 ornaments off the tree in the last 10 minutes.  And I find these things completely and utterly adorable.  Stop.

Oh, trust me, I have resisted full force.  I deserved a fur-free house.  I deserved to travel without worrying about the survival of needy, furry critters.  By golly, I deserved to wear black again!  But then it occurred to me, that these cats probably deserve not to die in the cold.  They probably deserve not to starve, and maybe a little love and companionship would be nice.  And so here I was, on the verge of re-committing myself to a 20-year relationship of cuteness, purring, litter, hairballs, and a wardrobe void of black.  In other words, taking the good with the bad, and loving something, someONE, not for what they can do for you, but simply because everyone (even a couple of stray kittens) deserves to be loved.

Luckily, someone else figured that out as well.  I'm happy to report that at the end of January, Callie and Ziva will become "first" kittens.  Literally.  They are joining the home of Berea College's President and First Lady.  Nothing, I mean nothing, warms your heart like watching a 6 foot 5 College President talking baby talk, and rubbing the exposed belly of a purring kitten.  And thus, I get to remain self-centered, and fur-free.....as long as no other cold, starving, cute, furry beasts show up on my doorstep.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How I Almost Bullied A Girl Who Wore Pajamas To School The Day Before Pajama Day

Act #354:  Say something kind to the outliers.

Today is the last day of school before the holiday break, also known as pajama day at my son's elementary school.  His first grade class will have a holiday-themed party complete with cookies and hot chocolate.  He has been debating which pajamas to wear for the last three days.  So you can imagine how surprised I was when I dropped him off yesterday, and I saw a little girl, probably about 9 or 10 years old, wearing snuggly one-piece pajamas.  She was the only one in the K-5 assembly who had pajamas on.  She was also substantially larger than most kids in the gym, and she was standing quietly and awkwardly in the back corner away from the classes.  And you know what the initial reaction of this 41 year-old social activist mother was?  The words appalling, embarrassing, despicable come to mind. 

I couldn't wait to get back to my car and post something witty on Facebook like, "Epic fail, kiddo.  Christmas jammies the day before pajama day."   

And then I imagined her face as she stood there shifting her weight back and forth between her left and right feet.  She had this look of anticipation on her face - hoping that maybe someone else might walk into this gym wearing their pajamas too.  But nobody did.   So there I was faced with the perfect Plain Jane opportunity to do something, say something kind and compassionate like, "Cool jammies kiddo!"  Something, anything, more than staring and secretly mocking.  Words that showed her that she wasn't alone, that people get things wrong all the time and it's no big deal.  But instead, I almost used social media to further embarrass her.   The epic fail was all mine.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I'm Tired. You Should Be Too.

Act #353: Give a tired person a hug.  And maybe a little hope.

Today, I'm tired.  When I closed my eyes last night I wanted to wake up to a different world.  But here I am at 5 a.m. on the Thursday before Christmas, the season of love and giving, and everything is still the same.   These are the things that, on a daily basis, drain my very soul.  Most days I'm ready to challenge these notions.  But today, I'm just tired.

I'm tired that's it's up for debate whether or not someone deserves to starve.  If we have enough and others don't, why wouldn't we want to share?  Shouldn't it be that simple? #foodstamps

I'm tired of all the smart, hopeful human beings seeking social change, who somehow come to believe that mud-slinging and attacking other hopeful human beings also seeking social change is the only way to win the game.  I'm tired that efforts to make the world better have essentially become a "game" in the first place.  Wouldn't we make more of an impact working together?  #politicians

I'm tired of watching my wonderful, dear friends living in the sidelines, loving only in their homes, and always walking around vulnerable to socially-endorsed mistreatment....all in the name of God.  #LGBT

I'm tired that I spend every day trying to make a single, one-syllabus word more comfortable for others, so that we can finally begin to collectively address our own deeply ingrained culture of violence.  #rape

I'm tired that when I kiss my son every morning and send him off to school, I pray with every fiber of my being, that he comes home to me safely.  #newtown  #bullying  #childsexabuse

I'm tired that I still get the "she must not be from here" look after living in this town for almost 15 years.  #Appal-Asian

I'm tired that sometimes we selectively choose to forgive grave mistakes because of one's life circumstances....but most of the time we don't.  #affluenza #cycleofpoverty #racism #drunkdriving

I'm tired of the pink aisles and the action aisles, the princess and superheroes, the peace signs and skulls.  Stop compartmentalizing and defining us.  Stop pitting us against each other.   #sexism #cultureofviolence #feminism

I'm tired that we spend our time pointing out contradictions, justifying separation, arguing for what is "right", when we all want the same thing.  When our different Gods all want the same thing.  #interfaith

I'm tired that as I snuggled up in my  cozy warm bed last night, someone else was sleeping in a cardboard box under a bridge.  And that I could still fall asleep knowing this to be true.  #homelessness

I'm tired.  Aren't you?

photo credit:  zedge.net

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 20 Person Holiday Card Challenge

Act #352:  Invest some time and thought in your holiday greetings this year.

Yes, you, I'm talking to you.  The one who fights with your husband every year because he doesn't equally contribute in signing off on the 100-person Christmas card list that you created.  The one who so carefully selected the cutest, most adorable pictures.......never of yourself.....but of your children.  The one who spends either: a.)  a small fortune on shutterfly.com; or b.) an entire pre-holiday weekend away from your family attempting to create those cards yourself.  I have news for you.  Because I was once you.  Stop. It's not that we don't love your children, but if you are going to take the time to update us on your lives, we'd actually like to see your smiling face as well, especially if we haven't had the chance to see  much of you this past year.  And while pre-generated greetings are pleasant (May the season bring you joy and peace), we'd love to receive your "expressions of goodwill" (Merriam-Webster's definition of greetings) in your own words.  Please, consider taking the time to write more than your name.  We already know who you are.  And do so in your own handwriting, so we know you were really thinking of us, imagining our faces at the precise moment that your pen glides on that paper.  If you think it's just impractical to find the time to pen and send authentic, personal greetings, why  not significantly decrease your target Christmas list, to say, about 20?  You can handle 20, right?  That's just 3-4 a day for a week.  Gasp, what about those other 80 people who will be getting the shaft?  What will they think if they don't get a picture of your toddler this year?  Newsflash:  they'll probably be relieved from the pressure of also sending YOU a picture of their toddler.  Also, if you are so overcome with guilt for neglecting to connect with those 80 people, instead of sending them their own special copy of your autograph, why not actually make time this holiday season to connect with them. You know, like in person.  Yes, that would probably mean you saying no to at least 5 other holiday parties of friends of friends, work-related networking receptions, and fundraisers in order to make time to connect with your real friends, but wouldn't that be worth it?  Or would you really rather drink eggnog by a fireplace with semi-strangers at an obligatory holiday party while those nearest and dearest to you, get a glossy computer generated, mass-produced photo of your offspring? 

Last week, I received a wonderful card from someone I've come to know in the last few years, and think very highly of.  We've never hung out socially, but we always seem to run into each other at community events and functions and have developed a mutual respect for one another.  It touched me deeply that someone I don't know very well, but who I clearly have a connection with, took the time to reach out to me in this way.  And the card was one-of-a-kind.  No wreaths or santas in sight.  My kid actually thought it was the coolest Halloween card ever.  And when I was reading the hand-written note, I could actually envision this person saying these words with her charming wit and humor.  And thus, this simple crayon card made by a third-grader at Mayfield Elementary has become one of my all-time favorite holiday cards.  Happy holidays, and if you don't receive a card from me, don't worry - you'll probably be getting a call, or a request for a lunch date real soon.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Who's That Little Asian Girl Bossing Everyone Around?

Act #351:  Imagine me as a white male.  Would my leadership style take on a different meaning?

Oh, actually, that's me.  And yes, I'm just a tad over 5 feet.  And yes, I do carry that "director" title.  I've been a boss for the last 10 years, since my early 30's.  In my first leadership role, I was hired to lead the alumni operations of a small college - to "foster relationships between former students and their alma mater" to be exact.  In my current job, I lead a small non-profit organization and was hired more specifically, to raise funds as well as the profile of my organization. 

You know, when you are an Asian female growing up in the U.S. you kind of get used to the more common stereotypes, so let's just get a few things out of the way, shall we?  No, I'm not really good at math.  I don't only date white guys. I'm "from" Chicago.  I'm not particularly kinky in bed.  And "subservient" would not be a word that my husband would ever use to describe me.   There. Done.  But that's not what I want to talk about today.  While I've learned to navigate the expectations of being an Asian female in my personal life, the truth of the matter is, it's not so easy to do so in my professional life.  And to be honest, I didn't realize that constant, nagging, struggle until some creative Pantene marketing executive in the Philippines laid it all out for me in this commercial:

While being a female at the top in general, can be quite tricky.  Being a female at the top, who is Asian - and who supervises and is surrounded by colleagues who look nothing like you - is a totally different ball game. While I'd like to think that with each leadership role, I was hired for my strategic thinking, my vision, and my organizational management skills, looking back, I wonder if I was hired more so because I was simply.....nice.  You know: pleasant, engaging, collaborative, someone who builds relationships and brings people together.  And thus lies the problem.  You see, one can't run a 1.1 million dollar organization solely on their charm and dynamic personality.  While having a synergetic and cooperative approach can certainly be beneficial in engaging others around a common mission, the truth of the matter is that management can also be messy.  Very, very messy.  And all the "collaboration" in the world is not going to balance budgets during an economic downturn, confront staff underperformance, keep an organization focused on prioritized goals,  or challenge operational effectiveness.  In fact, "being nice" just doesn't cut it when someone (aka "the boss") has to make those hard decisions that so rarely appease 100% of the staff.  While I try to operate with authenticity and kindness even under the most difficult circumstances, I think that perhaps the expectation for me to always play the nice, collaborative, Asian girl makes it that much more challenging. 

This little 5 foot 1 Asian girl has had to fire people.  She has had to get up in front of a board and explain a $50,000 deficit.  She has had to hold her staff accountable for their work and has challenged them to think critically about their effectiveness.  She has insisted on increased productivity, fiscal responsibility, and community impact.  She has had to withstand harsh criticism when she makes mistakes (did I mention that Asians aren't really the model minority?)  She has had to disagree with vice presidents, presidents, and board members.  And during those times it was probably a bit jarring to those who were expecting the nice, engaging, collaborative Asian girl.  So yes, I'm an Asian female.  And yes, I'm generally a pretty nice person.  But I'm also someone capable of leading a challenging and complex organization.....and every once in a while, I'm probably going to blow up that soft-spoken, subservient stereotype that you may not even know you were holding on to.

Monday, December 16, 2013

An Ode To Five Men

Act #350:  Thank a male feminist.

I see how you rearrange your impossible schedule, your donor meetings and business travel, throwing a cheesy t-shirt over your neatly pressed button-down shirt just to walk the hallways of your daughter's elementary school and show the next generation that men do care, that men are indeed present.

I see you, a man with such few words, earnestly and reliably providing safety, and non-judgment, as you, day-in, day-out, bring the broken, the weary, the pained, to our place of healing and support.

I see you, and all the unspoken, seemingly insignificant things that you do.  How you just can't understand the notion of"babysitting" your own child, how you've changed more diapers than she has, how you strap that child on your waist and vacuum the entire house. 

I see you, always the only one in the conference plenary room, surrounded by a sea of female faces, listening right there along with us, to the statistics, the stories of all the hurt and anguish caused by your brothers.  I see you joining in the disbelief, the anger, the commitment to change how we teach our boys to see the world.

I see you, as you unwaveringly teach your boy how to resist battling, commandeering, and controlling, and instead teach him to see the beauty in respect, equality, and compassion.

No matter what the statistics, the tabloids, that man on that television news show, or that one I went to college with says,

I see you. 

WE see you.  And we are grateful to see you bucking the trend, break the stereotype, step out of the expected role.  But most importantly, thank you, for always seeing us too.

(Photo credit:  Geya Art)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

To The Size 2 Mommies of Newborn Infants

Act #349:  Step out of the race.

More power to you for reclaiming your physical self seven days after you give birth to a 7-pound human being.  Yes, we are in awe of your abs and secretly (and  sometimes not so secretly) we are jealous to our core that five years later, we're still carrying that "pregnancy" weight around with us.   But I wanted to come clean and let you in on a secret.  We don't really hate you for looking like a supermodel.  Sure, it makes us feel a bit underaccomplished....OK, maybe a bit like an epic failure, when in comparison to you.  And sure we can't help but ponder what on earth is wrong with us - why can't we get our lazy, fat asses out of bed and to the gym at 6 a.m. every morning like you do.  But we can handle a little self-doubt and low-self esteem.  We've been "handling" it since we got our first Barbie doll for Christmas eons ago.  But when you make such a public ordeal about your "successes" in so quickly shedding those pregnancy pounds, whether it's on your Facebook page, or your Twitter feed, or in your open letters (much like this one) to the tabloids, it's just a bit disheartening.....because once again, you are greatly reducing us to that oversimplified, physically exploited, one-dimensional gender.  Look, I just had a baby and I can fit into these hot pants.  Oh, I also have something important to say about the state of injustice in the world.  See how that's not as compelling?  But perhaps what I find most bothersome is that by publicly touting an immediate post-baby accomplishment such as weight-loss, we are somehow pushing (ok, shoving) each other immediately right back in the female rat race that society has subtly created for us.....and pitted us against each other.

Look, we just experienced the one thing in life that no man will ever be able to experience.  We brought a living human being into the world.  Regardless of our life circumstances, we can't help but become altered by this, be bonded by this, on some level.  Yes, we can and should be empowered by respecting our bodies and caring for them.  But should our "successes" directly after giving birth be defined by our waist sizes and BMI's?  Maybe.  But maybe it would serve us better as women who share an extraordinary common life experience.....to just be still.  To use this one brief window of time to NOT try to define our successes (against each other) at all.  One could argue that we have just achieved great "success" by carrying the future of the world in our bodies for nine entire months.  What if we actually gave ourselves permission to just hit the pause button and truly celebrate the miracle in which we just took part?  What would the world look like if we, as women, gave each other some space and reflective time to figure out how to mold our own existing lives around this notion of what it means to be someone's mother?  Could we be fooling ourselves into thinking we have it all figured out, just because we can instantly fit back into our pre-pregnancy jeans?  Or because we are able to return swiftly to work a week after we get out of the hospital?   Or because we already have our first baby-free date scheduled with our spouses? 

Ladies, the mere fact that we HAD A CHILD is a feat in itself.  Why are we rushing to instantaneously put ourselves back in the position of once again measuring everything we do.....against each other?  Wouldn't it serve us better to just simply high five each other?  You know something along these lines:  You go girl - you just spent 12 hours in labor.  Your battle scar rocks.  Whether you are a size 2 three weeks after giving birth, or still fluctuating between a size 4 and a size 9 six years after you've given birth, does it really matter?   We all had babies, we all have our own journeys, we're all traveling at different paces - why not collectively celebrate that kind of beauty, rather than the kind that can be weighed on a scale.

Why You Should Eat Rice For Breakfast This Morning

Act #348:  There's more to life than Cheerios.

There is a little chain, roadside hotel in Berea, KY (population 13,000) whose complimentary breakfast bar serves up the typical morning fare like waffles, yogurt, an array of pastries and cereal, oatmeal, and of course fresh coffee.  But if you walked up to the breakfast bar of this particular hotel, you might be surprised to find an appliance that looks like this:

A rice cooker! You also might be surprised to find steaming pots of miso soup infused with scallions, tofu, and seaweed.  Quite the unexpected morning experience to many a weary travelers through this sleepy southeastern Kentucky town.  The hotel owners began serving steamed rice and miso soup to the frequent Japanese business professionals in town as part of their work with the local Hitachi Automotive plant, which produces electric drive motors for hybrid and electric vehicles and employs about 1,070 of the local workforce.   In a world of pre-thawed cream cheese danishes and miniature boxes of Frosted Flakes, how did this come to be, you ask?  It all started when a former Japanese hotel employee was working in the breakfast area and noticed the regular Japanese patrons not being too thrilled with the breakfast spread.  So she mentioned it to the owners, who thought it might be a good idea to diversify morning options for these frequent patrons, thus offering up more traditional Japanese breakfast dishes.  How very cool for a gargantuan hotel chain to be willing to mix things up and switch out stale bagels for steamed rice, in response to the likes and tastes of it's customers.  On a practical level, the easily digested complex carbohydrates in the rice, protein in the tofu, and calcium and iron in the seaweed also make for a heartier, more nutritious first-meal-of-the-day.  What's next, green tea and sake happy hours?  Sign me up.

Friday, December 13, 2013

5 Things Straight People Take For Granted During the Holidays

Act #347:  Love:  It's what's for Christmas.

Last weekend my husband, my son, and I spent our annual holiday mini-reunion with some dear friends in a picturesque mountain cabin in a small Western North Carolina town.  There were a total of three families - ours, another family of four, and a same-sex couple.  We spent two blissful days catching up on each other's lives, eating beautiful gourmet crepes, taking in a town Christmas parade, feasting on home-cooked meals, and playing board games in front of a roaring fire place.  There was a moment that I just sat back and took in just how completely happy and content I felt being surrounded by my closest friends and family.  THIS was precisely what the holidays were about. 

And just as the tunes of chestnuts roasting on an open fire came on Pandora, I looked over to my gay friends, hands clasped in front of that roaring fire..... and I felt like an insensitive, holier than thou, privileged idiot.  THIS was what the holidays were about for me - straight, married, with child, and perfectly accepted by society. While the warmth and joy of family and friends during the holiday season is always just naturally bestowed upon me, it occurred to me that maybe those things didn't come so easily to my non-straight friends.  In just one weekend, I came to the grave realization that these are the things that I take for granted every December.

1.  Sharing body heat with your spouse at the town's Christmas parade.  While my friends may have snuggled under a blanket and clasped hands in the privacy of our cabin, they did not do so while standing in the streets of that small town Christmas parade we happened to walk up on.  The temperatures were in the 30's and I wrapped myself as close to my husband as I could.  We even shared a kiss or two as we watched our son make a run for the candy.  My friends stood next to each other but did not share any outward signs of public affection. I've had other gay friends who have told me that it's just not worth the stares and judgment - especially when you are in new environments, you just don't know how accepting those around you might be.

2.  Feeling completely surrounded by love and acceptance at the family Christmas table.  As I complain about herding my family around to fit in all the family Thanksgiving celebrations, at a minimum, I'm always with my husband and son as we visit with his mother and grandmother, and then my parents.  My gay friends split up every Thanksgiving day and Christmas day - because they are not "out" to their mothers.  Because at different points in their lives, directly and indirectly, they've been given clear messages that their moms could never accept the fact they are gay.

3.  Getting into the Christmas spirit by throwing coins in a red kettle.  I have a multitude of options to feed my conscience every holiday season by donating to charitable causes.  My friends however, are faced with the decision on whether or not to give to groups they might actually support, but whose donations are funneled through organizations that publicly denounce them. 

4.  Playing with your six-year old nephew without having to explain your relationship status.  Over the weekend my son couldn't get enough of his favorite uncles.  It was reported to me that at one point he asked them if they were married (they've been together almost 4 years) and when the nature of their relationship was explained to him he said, "I get it.  It's like husbands with no wives."

5.  Re-living the magic of Christmas through the eyes of your children.  My friends want children and are exploring the possibility of becoming foster parents. They have a loving and solid partnership, wonderful jobs, and they have a natural knack with kids (way more than I do).   Like I said, my son LOVES his uncles.  But they can't just go out and start families without pondering how that would impact the fact that they are both not "out" to their mothers.  How could they bring a child into their lives without ever being able to take him/her to grandma's?   And since they are not able to legally marry in our state, how would they protect their family if something were to happen to one of them? 

So over the next few weeks as you take in all the magic and wonder of the holiday season, please also take a moment to reflect on the fact that there are countless others who can't easily and seamlessly share in that joy.  Luckily, my friends, like many of my other gay friends, have been able to form wonderful and warm "chosen" family communities who have loved and embraced them exactly for who they are.  Happy holidays to you, and may love find it's way to the hearts of every mother, every bell ringer, and every small town parade Santa.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dear Principal: Please Suspend My 6-Year Old If He Kisses A Girl (Or Boy) Without Her Permission

Act #346: Kissing is good.  So are boundaries.

The world is outraged by the seemingly harsh punishment handed down this week to an adorable, blond 6-year old boy, for kissing his classmate on the hand.  He was suspended for two days due to "sexual harassment".  Facebook newsfeeds and news comments have been blowing up with things like:  Unbelievable.  Way to blow something out of proportion.  You've got to be kidding me.  That's what 6-year olds do.  They are just kids.  Look at that darling little boy!  He doesn't even know what sex is yet.

What most of the news outlets are not reporting is that this same 6-year old had already received an in-school suspension for kissing the same girl on the cheek.  And that he has done so repeatedly to the point where she felt threatened by him. To the point where her older brother felt the need to keep an eye on her while at school.  And several other kids in the class felt the need to also protect her by telling the teacher because they had witnessed him doing it over and over again.  This same 6-year old boy had also previously been in trouble for "rough-housing" and school administrators had been trying to work with his parents to correct all of this behavior.

So what's a school to do if they've disciplined, tried to work with the parents, and already tried to establish healthy boundaries?  What would you do if you were the principal?  As the mother of a tender-hearted first-grade boy and as the director of a rape crisis center, I've thought long and hard about this.  While it is true that first-graders may not be at a developmentally appropriate age to understand the complexities of sexuality, there's no reason we shouldn't be teaching them about healthy boundaries and how to respect the personal space of others.....with all due seriousness.  As parents, it is indeed our responsibility to teach them these things.  Sure, it's normal for kids to test boundaries and harmless for them to want to mimic their parents' kiss with their friends.  But it's JUST as normal and important for us to teach our kids about consent....and yes, even at the tender innocent age of 6 (and probably younger.)  I remember last year when my son started thinking it was cute to go around tickling all the other kids.  They all seemed to giggle with delight, except for this one shy 5-year old girl who just kind of cringed.  So I took that opportunity to sit my boy down and tell him that he didn't have the right to just go up to anyone and touch them.  That while tickling could be fun, especially if it made people laugh (apparently that was the response he was trying to illicit), some people might not like it - and that he should always, always ask permission before touching anyone. 

It also crossed my mind that this particular 6-year old boy might have other developmental or behavioral issues that have made it challenging for him to understand these sorts of boundaries.  After all, we're not talking about babies or toddlers playing around and kissing here.  We're talking about first-graders.  At his age, he is expected to be able to follow rules and read social cues from his peers.  So maybe if his parents have already tried to work with him, but he's just not capable of understanding, there's something else going on.  Maybe a two-day suspension and an elementary school record aren't even going to come close to changing his behavior.  But then again, maybe harsh consequences are exactly what it will take for him to see the correlation between his behavior and how it impacts someone else.  I wish I had all the answers, but I don't.  One thing I do know for sure though, is that these scenarios are seldom easily reduced to: Unbelievable.  Way to blow something out of proportion.  You've got to be kidding me.  That's what 6-year olds do.  They are just kids.  Look at that darling little boy!  He doesn't even know what sex is yet.

So the question is, if you were the principal, what would you do after already disciplining and working with the boy's parents?  An equally important question that we, as a society are already failing to ask: What's the little girl to do?  Surely not this:  Accept the natural order of the world - that boys will always have the right to kiss her anytime they want to.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What One Small College In Kentucky Is Doing About Rape

Act #345:  Cringe at the statistics and then do something.  Please.

This week, 7 current and former female students are filing a complaint against UConn for failure to respond to rape charges.  Their allegations range from a VP reinstating an expelled perpetrator without informing the victim, a public safety officer blaming the victim, and a campus culture that allows a dimly lit campus path, coined "the rape trail" to exist.  One in four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday.  In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20% of women answered "yes" to the question "In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?" Thus, one in five college women has been raped at some point in her lifetime.  In a typical academic year, 3% of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape. This does not include the summer, when many more rapes occur. (oneinfourusa.org)

One small liberal arts college in southeastern Kentucky is fed up and is doing something about it. This spring, Berea College Women Studies Professor, Peggy Rivage-Seul is opening up her classroom doors to partner with the regional rape crisis center to co-teach a seminar focusing on the practical applications of social justice and feminism.  Professor Rivage-Seul, will be alternating her theory classes on the social construct of sexual violence with real life therapists, advocates, and educators of the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center who will train the students on how to actually respond and offer assistance to someone who has been sexually assaulted.    The goal is for the enrolled students to gain an in-depth knowledge of the complex culture that perpetuates sexual violence, and then learn the practical tools to serve as continued advocates for survivors of sexual violence while they are on campus and beyond.  The semester-long class will also incorporate guest lectures from a campus-based SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) that consists of Student Life staff, Campus Police, the Title IX Coordinator, and the Counseling Center.  Students will also visit the ER staff at the local hospital and meet with the SANE  (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) as well as city law enforcement and human trafficking experts. Upon completion of the class, students will serve as campus-based telephone crisis line counselors and hospital advocates. 
Berea College is already a designated Green Dot (violence prevention) trained campus and two Berea College staff and faculty serve on the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center's board.  The  College also provides private counseling space for the center to meet with victims who wish to remain anonymous and who don't want to see a college counselor. 
Now THAT'S a college serious about changing up those appalling statistics.  Why didn't I go there?  Wait a minute....I did. 

(photo credit:  www.berea.edu)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How To Convert Your House Into A Smart Home With A Bottle of Ketchup

Act #344:  Make your home smarter.

Imagine the lights turning on as you pull into your driveway, your favorite Christmas song playing on your home stereo system to welcome you, and a hot cup of tea brewing in the kitchen.  That's exactly what smart home technology is all about: connecting all the devices and systems in your home so they can communicate with you (by reacting to your voice commands, a remote control, or a computer).  The goal, of course, is to improve one's quality of life.

Typically, smart home technology is reserved for people who have the financial resources to automate their lighting, home security, entertainment, and thermostat.  But what if I told you that this cutting-edge technology was available to you right now for free?  Please allow me to introduce you to the Justice House, located in the East End of Lexington, Kentucky, a wonderfully vibrant, diverse, neighborhood with just a few economic struggles.  As soon as homeowners Tanya and Christian Torp moved in, the 19th century, two-story, brick home instantly became a "smart" home - one that began to connect and communicate not only with them, but with the entire neighborhood. 

All with a bottle of ketchup.

Five days after they moved into their new home, the Torps opened their doors to the surrounding community by holding their first "Heinz Breakfast".  120 people came.  The breakfast was named after the previous homeowners who used to invite their friends over every Saturday for breakfast.  The Torps of course, expanded the menu and tradition by including pancakes, waffles, and fair trade coffee, and have extended the weekly invitation to anyone who wants to attend.

The Justice House (a name given to the Torp residence by one of their regular visitors) is so smart that it magically responds to the needs of the people who fill its rooms.  When one visitor expressed fear and anxiety about his new health care options, the house hosted a workshop on the Affordable Care Act.   When another expressed exhaustion thinking about Christmas shopping, the house began hosting December craft sessions where attendees spend the afternoon making homemade Christmas gifts such as hats, pottery, and handmade Christmas cards.  When a group of immigration reform organizers couldn't afford to rent meeting space, it hosted their retreat.

The house is also open for activists to organize, for communities to gather, for weekly bible studies, and for weary travelers to find respite.  The Torps even partner with a local non-profit organization, Faith Feeds to bring a weekly delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables for their neighbors who don't have enough to eat. 

Upon walking into the Justice House, you will instantaneously be surrounded with love and light.  The energy suddenly becomes warm and welcoming, and people magically begin connecting to each other, to their neighbors, to the world.  You see, smart home technology really is available to anyone at any time.....just as soon as you are ready to enhance the quality of your life, not by connecting to your appliances and your alarm systems, but by connecting with those around you.

The Justice House is so smart, it has its own Facebook page!  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-House/562025010502837

Monday, December 9, 2013

Baby, It May Be Cold Ouside, But Back On Off Me Or I'm Hitting 911 on My Speed Dial

Act #343:  Switch up the boy/girl parts, just for effect.

During yesterday's 4-hour drive home from a blissful weekend mountain getaway, we listened to Pandora's "Indy Holidays" station and a catchy, wispy rendition of the Christmas classic, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" came on.  I have to admit, over the years, this song has kind of given me the creeps - you know with that whole cat-and-mouse-predator-male-trying-to-entice-helpless-vulnerable-female-to stay "with just a half drink more" part.  But wait, something was different about this version covered by She and Him.  Aside from the fact that the "She" in the duo was actress, Zoey Deschanel, the male and female roles were reversed!  See for yourself, the lyrics in red are traditionally covered by a female, but in this version they are covered by the male vocal.  While still a bit creepy, this version (while filling us with that warm holiday spirit) forces us to challenge our perceptions and stereotypes about gender roles....even though I doubt his father will be pacing the floor if he stays just a little longer.

Baby It's Cold Outside

I really can't stay -
Baby it's cold outside
I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside
This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice
My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry
Well maybe just a half a drink more - Put some music on while I pour

The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink - No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no - Mind if I move a little closer
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ahh, but it's cold outside

I've got to go home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your comb - It's up to your knees out there
You've really been grand - Thrilled when you touch my hand
But don't you see - How can you do this thing to me
There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Making my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can't stay - Get over that hold out
Ahh, but it's cold outside

Baby it's cold outside


Why Wait for An Ice Storm?

Act #342: Cuddle on the couch even when you're not snowed in.

Yesterday my hometown awoke to an ice storm, and these are the first six status updates that popped up on my Facebook newsfeed (friends, hope you don't mind me borrowing these - I've kept them anonymous!)

Our weekend plans were definitely derailed by the weather- but we are still in jammies, drinking cocoa with huge marshmallows and eating cream cheese cookies while watching Ella Enchanted.

I so needed a day like this! I'm sad for no church and pageant practice for the kids...but piling on the couch drinking tea and having chocolate chip pancakes is just what this girl needed!

Mountain froze so we got stuck at a friend's house . Thankfully she had all the ingredients so I made biscuits. We have plenty of books and big tales so we are all set.

We're not complaining about being stuck inside with Christmas movies and hot chocolate!

Clean house, clothes in the wash, dogs a'cuddlin', frozen outside elements, a heated blanket, and a great movie.

The world is cancelled and we get to cuddle on the couch!

I was just thinking, what if we didn't have to rely on inclement weather to make these moments happen?  This holiday season, won't you join me and cancel all of your plans one day, just to do this.....

Saturday, December 7, 2013

This Blog Is Only For Men

Act #341:  Ask yourself.

This video first hit my newsfeed last week.  Since then, I've seen it shared by 11 of my Facebook friends.....who all happen to be women.  The problem is, this video was made by a man FOR men, yet  I haven't seen any of my male Facebook friends share it.  Here's your chance, guys.   This one's for you.  And thank you for taking a moment.  For caring.  We're counting on you.


Friday, December 6, 2013