electing a new president and lessons learned.

In a matter of days our country will have elected a new President. Well, at least that is what is supposed to happen and with this election year, it is difficult to rely on “what is supposed to happen” as a guarantee.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. It’s not just this election that has made me weary, it’s the political discourse over the last many years in our country that has made me so. Do we not live in a country that values democracy? At its core, doesn’t that mean that we value the ideal that there are many ways to look at the world and that, ultimately, our goal is to work together despite our differences? I’ve had enough of this at each other’s throats, blame game nonsense and I’d rather see images of our President spontaneously jogging through the White House with his/her dog than making angry faces on TV.

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Here’s your moment of bliss, in this election season.

It seems that many of us are overwhelmed by it all and it is hard to escape. I was intrigued by a recent article in the LA Times. They went to “The Happiest Place on Earth” yes, Disneyland, to see how the election was affecting people. The idea was that
there, people would be a little more optimistic. What they found was interesting – even the happiest place on earth can’t squelch the madness.
A few weeks ago, I posted something on my Facebook page that got a good bit of response, not actually on my page, but in private conversations, texts, emails, messages. Time and again, people wanted to talk about what we can learn from all of this and how we can change ourselves and the world for the better.screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-11-01-40-am

Now while I’m not claiming to be the best at these things, I do think there are some things that we can learn  – and do better at in life. So here you go, just some simple thoughts about what we can learn from this election season…

  1. Learn to apologize – not an “If you were offended by…” or “If I made a mistake…” but a simple, “I’m sorry and I’ll try hard to do better next time.” It’s quite liberating really.
  1. Realize your best intentions may not be how others see it. You know the old saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That.
  1. Someone else’s shortcomings are not an excuse for your own. Period. So, let’s put on our big kid pants and move on.
  1. Remember that simple lesson we learned in kindergarten? Wait your turn and don’t interrupt. If you must, stand there jumping up and down with your hand in the air, but please, for the love of Tina Turner, wait your turn.
  1. There are at least two sides to every story, as right as you think your story is. And its corollary, it’s very easy to take a side when you only know one of them. In a nut shell, educating ourselves on things we don’t know about is a good thing. Like the Dos Equis guy says, “stay thirsty* my friends.” *thirsty for knowledge, though a cold beer and good conversation makes for profound learning.
  1. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. So, if you are in a debate about something, know your facts (verifiable ones, please). And along those lines,  how about we turn the burner down from boil to a nice simmer. I say we revive the days when people could sit and have civil discourse on, well, civics. Break out the School House Rock videos and make a party of it.
  1. Comparison is the thief of joy. I’ve realized this in parenting, but it is true in all arenas of life. Sure, you can compare apples to oranges, but isn’t it tastier to just make the dang fruit salad and enjoy it?
  1. As tragically humorous as some of this is and all the great punch lines for jokes and SNL skits it generates, this is real stuff that matters because it’s ultimately about people – not just us as individuals, but We the People (you remember that phrase, right?).
  1. Play well with others. In the end, we are all going to have to play well together or we will all be sitting on the bench during recess and that is no fun. [cue the pouty face.]

And perhaps the most important lesson of them all…

  1. If you loved someone before this whole thing started, you should still love them once it is all over. Don’t let your relationships be based on sound bites and Facebook posts (and do us all a favor – don’t let your vote be based on them either).

So, friends, there you have it. I would love to hear what you are learning…

 

 

 

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In my mind’s eye…

Y’all, I get grief from all sorts of people about having my phone with me almost everywhere I go. (Let’s be honest, I do have my limits so not EVERYWHERE, but we will leave it at that!) I love my iPhone. I’ll admit it. I have a sacred attachment to it. And it’s not for the reasons that you may think.  Yes, I like a regular social media fix and it is both a blessing and a curse to be able to check my email any time from anywhere, but that’s not why my iPhone is my trusted companion. I love my iPhone because it has the ability to be my mind’s eye.

Notice something online that I want to remember? Grab a screen shot. See something in a magazine I want to make note of? Snap a photo. That delicious meal that was plated so perfectly? Capture it before I devour it. I’ve read somewhere that iPhones are ruining our ability to remember on our own. That makes me giggle. I don’t need to blame a phone for that, I can take care of that just fine on my own thank you very much.

img_1946It’s more than all of that – and more than the 12,000 pictures I currently have on my phone (yep, you read that right) – though it has everything to do with memories.

Last summer while working to plant trees on a mountainside in Guatemala with AIR Guatemala, the wind began to blow and I was overwhelmed by the sound.  It was as if the trees erupted in magnificent applause. At the last second, I pulled out my phone and immediately hit “video record” without even knowing or caring what video was being captured – I simply yearned to remember the sound.

A child blowing out the candles on her birthday cake just yesterday has become a moment none of us will forget and, not only will we not forget, we can share that moment with others.img_0984

Or when I was out for a run and passed a honeysuckle bush and immediately thought of sitting on the back porch of my grandma’s house.  I knew that I needed to take a picture to keep that treasured memory alive.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

img_3954I know, I know. Feel free to roll your eyes. Feel free to remind me that sometimes the memory of something is enough. And I know all too well that a photo or video can’t truly capture the beauty of every moment. But there are times, times when my mind’s eye draws a blank and I remember that I have a back up.

So, if you see me pulling out my phone at times that seem odd or if you wonder what I’m attempting to photograph, just know that there is a moment that I desire to remember and that you just might be a part of it.

 

 

 

What would Dory do?

Another Disney-loving blogger invited me to be a part of A Month of Finding Dory to celebrate the release of Disney’s Finding Dory – so be sure to check out everything from fun activities for your guppies to how to Disney Bound as Dory – right HERE!fdaf489687

Now, I don’t know about you, but Dory is an amazing hero. I mean the girl can’t remember what she is doing from one minute to the next, but she somehow doesn’t stop. She musters up her courage and her posse and she gets it done. Whatever “it” is.  Dory believes in her own courage even when she can’t remember what she is actually up against. This speaks to me.

I want to be that person. The one who can deal with things on my own terms. When things get rough, I want to feel like I have what it takes to handle it. And I want a group of people around me who know all my issues and who cheer me on anyway.  Nothing standing between me Continue reading

The days are long…

7811_10151515238697149_1930052226_nMy Facebook and Instagram feeds are overflowing with proud faces, all basking in the glow of cap and gown, pomp and circumstance, diploma and accolade that come with graduation. Pre-K graduation. Yes, those little 4 and 5 year olds are about to embark on the real world and take the place by storm.

It won’t be long before those little ones are smelling up the house with their pre-pubescent funk – of the physical and emotional variety. And then the next thing you know, Continue reading

When did this happen?

There are people who know you better than you know yourself. You know those people, right? A best friend, a longtime co-worker, a spouse or other family member. You know who your people are.

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These nuts are a few of “my people.”

I have just begun to realize that my daughters have become two of “my people.” I knew it was bound to happen. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. And I didn’t think they would realize it was happening before I did.

I’m one of those people to my mom. Or at least I think I am. I remember riding in the car with her on the way to drivers ed. It was before school, early enough for her to drive me on her way to work which was a rarity. Maybe that’s why it sticks in my memory or maybe it was the conversation. My mom is a saint and she never gives herself enough credit for being the amazingly strong person that she is.

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Me & my Mom at Disneyland. My love of Disney comes honestly.

So, in this conversation that dark morning, my mom said something like, “I should have done…” It was an expression of regret about something. I don’t remember what that something was, I just remember that she thought she “should have” done something else. And, in the wisdom of a snotty nosed 14 year-old, I remember almost yelling at her, “Shoulda, woulda, coulda, whatever! Just do it!” Seriously, I was so smart wasn’t I? But somehow I knew that my mom was capable of much more than she thought she was.

Though I was a complete jerk at the time, it is that conversation that has helped me as an adult to understand my mom better than she understands herself. It took me a long time to realize that I had insight to her that she didn’t even have of herself – that she should be more forgiving of herself, for one thing. I wish I’d realized this before I hit adulthood because I’m pretty sure that would have made me a better person – at least a better daughter.

Fast forward to my own girls. There is nothing like traveling together to help you get to know someone better. My oldest and I have had the privilege of doing that a lot lately. And I realize that she knows a lot about me – the good, bad and ugly. And she usually smiles about it when she points it out. For instance, she knows what will set off my tactile defensiveness and she seems to be completely intrigued by this crazy part of me. She knows that I have a bizarre fascination with how things work and why people do what they do.

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One of my favorites. Warms a momma’s heart.

And my younger daughter, well she shows serious signs of getting me, too. Just yesterday, she turned to someone and said she “needed a Dr. Pepper” and that she realizes why I “need” one when I do and she said it in such a way that it warmed my heart.  She understands why I go nuts when someone does a bad parking job. And this girl understands exactly how to make me run faster at the end of a race.

And yes, they both know what makes me use curse words – which is probably not the reasons you may be thinking. They know that I could easily cry at the drop of a hat and I’m pretty sure they know why I usually don’t succumb to the urge to do so. They are beginning to get me better than I get myself – and most days I need that kind of understanding from people in my life. Who doesn’t? 

When did this happen? I’ll admit it is a bit sobering because it means that they are growing up. And I guess that it also means that we will figure out this whole “adulting” thing together.  I thought they would have to drag me kicking and screaming to this season of life, yet I think I’m ok with it. So, let’s do this…but let’s take our time, shall we?

Deciding who wins.

Our family has always held travel – everywhere from other parts of our state, to developing countries, to the “great sites” of the world – as one of our core values. Travel may seem like an elitist thing to value. And maybe it is. We don’t take for granted that we have the resources and opportunity to travel that11885325_10153195094177149_4024024933767817571_n not everyone has. Yet, seeing how the rest of the world lives, meeting people from around the globe, and debunking the “ugly American” stereotype (or at least we try our best to do so!) are ways that we can make a difference in the world.  Again, I hear it. There is some sense of pretentiousness to it.

Our hope is that, through travel, our daughters will grow to have a different view of the world than they would otherwise. Though the world seems small the moment a pop up on our cell phones notifies us of explosions in Brussels just minutes after they happen, the reality is we inhabit a world full of variety, disparity, and vastness. It may sound trite but it’s a big world and it is difficult to understand this big world and its people if we stay in our cocoon and never spread our wings to explore it.

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve read and listened to conversations about the risk of international travel. I’ve had friends who have asked if we want our daughter who is studying abroad to hurry up and come home or if our younger daughter is still making her trip to Europe next week. I’ve been asked if I am worried. Yes, I am. But not so much for my daughters’ safety. I’m worried about us. All of us. I’m worried that we will give in to fear and in so doing, we decide who and what wins. And it isn’t us.

Here’s the deal. Yesterday morning, just as news of the second explosion in Brussels came in, I was boarding a flight to Paris on my way back to the US after visiting our daughter who is studying abroad. At the same time I was boarding my flight, I learned that my husband was involved in a road rage incident that involved a man waving a gun at him and at someone in another car –  less than a mile from our home in our little suburban neighborhood. Terror can strike anywhere and in many forms.

Both of these incidents are incongruent with our view of how the world should be. These events fly in the face of all that we hope to teach our girls through travel.  It seems we have been confronted with the need to make an unwelcomed choice.  And so, though we are not risk takers, we have made the decision to do our best to not live in fear and to not let terror – at home or abroad – have the final say. I don’t know. Maybe we are foolish, but something tells me this is about more than our personal safety.

Of course, we all have to make our own decisions about where we have to draw our own boundaries and we must respect and encourage one another in the process. But make no mistake about it – we get to decide who wins. My hope is that we can all be bold enough to help each other be brave in the midst of all that world might hurl at us. I feel like we owe it to our children and to the world.