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…

 

 

 

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.