Feb 212018
 

A week ago I was writing about Valentine’s day. Maybe it makes sense, then, that today I’m trying to make sense of the heartbreak known as “another school shooting.” It is crazy that our students are no longer safe in their schools and that our country seems so polarized about this issue. I’ve tried to write about it before and always come up short so today I’m sharing some of my questions about school shootings.

  • How is this “not a gun problem?” Yes, I know there is a 2nd Amendment. Yes, I know the country is full of responsible gun owners: I grew up around them and have had some firearms training. I was married to a USMC sharpshooter. I am not a “snowflake” who thinks we should collect all the guns. But flatly stating “it’s not a gun problem” closes off discussion and begs another important question: why does any civilian need an automatic (or semi-automatic) weapon? And while I respect those who describe a weapon as a tool, I wonder if our students, teachers, concert, and movie-goers would fare better against other “tools?”
  • And what about the two words that are supposed to explain everything? “Mental health.” Sane and rational people do not commit mass murder; the vast majority of people with mental illness do not commit heinous crimes. There are few resources for people (especially kids) with complex, hard to manage issues. Despite all of the political talking heads squawking “mental health” they continue to cut budgets for services. At the same time, most private health insurance is expensive and restrictive.
How is this 'not a gun problem?' I was married to a USMC sharpshooter... Click To Tweet

 

  • How is a good guy with a gun supposed to overcome the heavily-armed lunatic we’ve thought about in the previous two questions? Weren’t there highly trained (and armed) capital police present when the senators’ baseball team members were shot?
  • Isn’t this discussion too political? There was a time in the not-so-distant past when “political” did not mean “anyone who disagrees with you is an enemy to be destroyed.” Besides, doesn’t everything have a political component?
  • Here’s one that really bugs me. “Why wasn’t it reported?” As in Parkland, FL the shooters’ bizarre behavior and violent threats HAVE been reported. Frequently they are known to local law enforcement officials. If they haven’t been arrested it’s simply because their behavior had not yet met a criminal level. A number of our elected officials have seen fit to blast the FBI for this latest tragedy. But speaking of the Constitution? I’m fairly certain that even the feds can’t arrest someone before they commit a crime.

I don’t have answers; I know the solution is not simple. But I can’t help believe that consistent, small actions are better for our culture than believing there is nothing at all we can do.

  • The Parkland students and their activism is inspiring. Full of sorrow and rage, many of them are old enough to vote and they are motivated to make a difference. Their leadership and courage is an important piece of the puzzle. While there are many trying to silence them, we can share and amplify their message.
  • We can send messages of love and support to students who lived through the MSD shooting. Here’s the address:

Stoneman Douglas High School
5901 Pine Island Road
Parkland, Florida 33076

  • Any of us can contact our state and federal representatives and let them know it is past time to make sure our students are safe in schools. We can urge them to regain some of their objectivity by returning any monies they’ve accepted from the gun lobby.

  • We can support students who are #MarchingForOurLives. Let’s not take over, organize, or attempt to speak for them but instead, use these events to hear our kids’ concerns about their safety and their futures.

Let’s not take over, organize, or attempt to speak for our kids but use #marchforourlives to hear their worries about safety and the future. Click To Tweet

  • How about finding out what sort of mental health resources are available in your community and finding out how to help someone access them? Are they available to people without private insurance? Is there a waiting list? Is there more intensive treatment available if necessary?
  • Finally, please learn about the relationship between domestic violence and gun deaths. The #Parkland shooter had reportedly been violent with his former girlfriend. He is not the first mass shooter with this sort of history yet when victims of domestic violence go public with their stories far too many of them are not believed or supported. Many domestic violence programs need volunteers, supplies, and money. Any one of those is welcome, I’m sure.

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 February 21, 2018  Posted by  Special Topics, Thinking 5 Responses »
Feb 142018
 

The most wonderful thing just showed up on one of my social media feeds. According to the photo, St. Valentine was the patron saint of beekeepers. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to this patron saint thing, but I love the idea of St. Valentine looking over the bees and the beekeepers, today and every day. Oddly enough, I had started this post before reading that and, one of the first things on my list? Beekeepers. Hearts and flowers don’t happen without those who nurture and protect our precious pollinators.

I love the idea of St. Valentine looking out for bees and their keepers. Click To Tweet

I’m feeling a lot of extra love for emergency responders who gently and efficiently delivered one of my closest friends to the ER just last week. Once there, her path was crossed by a neurologist who pointed the emergency room doctor toward the zebra (aka rare condition) that could have cost her life. And while today we are focused on gratitude?  Friends, first responders, and zebras are pretty high on my list most days.

While I’m thinking of thankless jobs, let’s all send a little love to domestic violence, sexual assault, and child protection advocates. Do you know many of them are in as much danger from the systems in which they work than the violence they face when walking into strangers’ homes? Our politicians talk a lot about valuing children and families but the people who do this important work are poorly paid, often with few or no benefits. You would also be surprised at the number of supervisors (and high-ranking officials) who insist these workers make visits to the homes of people who have threatened their lives.  I’m sure most people aren’t aware. I need to believe you wouldn’t tolerate this sort of treatment of those who intervene on behalf of our most vulnerable. It’s past time to hold our elected officials accountable for creating and maintaining a system that doesn’t work.

#Politicians talk about valuing children and families; it's past time to hold them accountable for creating and maintaining systems that don't work. Click To Tweet

Oops. I’m getting a bit too soap-boxy here so how about a loving shoutout to the friends who help me laugh at myself when I do stupid things? (I keep them busy. You’re welcome.) And the people in the neighborhood who have come up with unusual and beautiful color schemes for their houses? And the ones who pick up after their dogs?

Favorite Husband and I are not people who perform romance on demand. Frankly, neither of us cares much for anything “on demand.” With 364 other days of the year to declare our undying love, we have consciously stepped away from gag-inducing commercialism, over-priced flowers, and impossible dinner reservations. And if any of those are meaningful to you? Wonderful. Enjoy. We’ve got something fun planned with friends a little later in the day — after I get to put in some time working with a wonderful teammate on a favorite project. Writing this paragraph gives me a glow reminiscent of ET’s heart light. Perfect days often do.

We have consciously stepped away from gag-inducing commercialism, over-priced flowers, and impossible dinner reservations. Click To Tweet

I shamelessly adore teachers and librarians but probably none more so than those in Philadelphia who stopped waiting for city officials to address the opioid crisis and took it upon themselves to learn how to save lives with Narcan. Remember The 5 Love Languages? I think these folks define love in action.

Artists. All of them– especially my college roommate who celebrates Gal-entine’s Day. That’s a tradition I think I’d like to adopt. Let’s not forget the writers ranging from old-school journalists who tirelessly chase down leads to bring important stories to our attention, those who take time from their own work to read others’ work, and those who pretend not to pull out their hair while organizing multi-authored projects. (And the one who remembers to bring the goodies to help turn even mundane meetings into some sort of celebration.)

And without a lot of explanation, I’m going to ask you to send some love to the people in supermarket parking lots who leave their grocery carts *beside* the cart corral. They’re probably thoughtless and inconsiderate in other parts of their lives and might need our love lights most of all.

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 February 14, 2018  Posted by  Happiness, Special Topics 14 Responses »
Jan 312018
 

“What’s happening with  the LGBTQIA+ kids in the foster care system here?” My question landed with a thud. “Crickets,” as they say.

I have no idea how the mic made its way to my hand or how I ended up on my feet in front of a group of about fifty strangers and a few friends. My husband and I were at a community conversation about the LGBTQIA+ community in our town and my intention had been simply to be a good ally. To vote with my feet. To show up. To, as my friend Dr. Debra Reble says,  listen with love. After all, one of the first things a good ally learns is that events like these are not about me. Our job is to support our family members and friends in delivering their message.

What's happening for LGBTQIA+ kids in the foster care system here? Click To Tweet

And deliver it they did. A local business owner. A handful of retired mental health providers. A civil rights worker. A sprinkling of pastors.

We had attended another community conversation the week before. It was about economic disparity and it, too, was sobering. And powerful. But this one had me in tears. While I knew about discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community, some of the statistics hit me right between the eyes. Did you know that, nationally, the suicide rate in that community is three to four times higher than in the general population? And for transgender individuals, that figure rises to TEN TIMES higher.

No fair housing. No fair and equal employment. No guarantee of safe bathrooms. Click To Tweet

We were reminded of the fact that in more than half the country, discrimination against LGBTQIA+ folks is perfectly legal. No fair housing. No safe and equal workplace. No accommodation in schools. No guarantee of access to medical care. Or safe bathrooms. Or wedding cakes. We heard about couples in the room who don’t feel safe holding hands on our main street.

And, sadly, of course, there were stories of kids being thrown away by their parents. Despite years of working closely with the foster care system in another community, this still fries my brain. When gay kids are thrown away in your community, where do they go?  I, for one, intend to find out.

 January 31, 2018  Posted by  Parenting, Special Topics, Thinking 9 Responses »
Jan 242018
 

This morning I woke to a colorful sunrise, my wonderful partner (known in these parts as “Favorite Husband”) and birds singing like madwomen. Alex the boxer, and well-known class clown, has positioned himself as a warm backrest while I clack away on the computer. The author services project has taken some enormous leaps forward and I don’t need to go to physical therapy today. That’s a lot to be happy about. And grateful.

But a long time ago I learned that gratitude was not contingent on things going well. I was taught to be grateful for things I might take for granted like the senses I have to appreciate the world around me.

Here are some others’ thoughts on gratitude.

 

” ‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” Alice Walker

This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before. Maya Angelou Click To Tweet

 

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. Doris Day Click To Tweet

What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude. Brené Brown

 

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”  Lionel Hampton

Where does gratitude fit in your life? How do you acknowledge it? Do you have a favorite gratitude quote or practice to share in the comments?

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 January 24, 2018  Posted by  Happiness, Thinking 18 Responses »
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