Speaking Up

I watched the movie Hidden Figures this weekend and I was so inspired not only by the intelligence of the women portrayed in the movie, but also by their respectful demeanor in how they stood up for themselves in a way which ultimately benefited others. As we approach the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., his quotes seem to be so relevant now.

My quote for the week on my board at work is:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter.”

I wish this was a time when I could just go with the flow and blend in with the crowd, but it isn’t. For me, standing up and saying that I was going to diverge from the Republican crowd and vote for Hillary Clinton was the start of speaking up and speaking out. It was an easy decision for me not to vote for our President-elect, but it was a harder decision to tell it to my friends and to say why.

As January 20th comes closer, I feel the need to speak up when I don’t agree with something. I hope to be respectful. I hope not to be condescending. I will not go into the night and pull up my big girl panties and be silent because it is what it is. I will make phone calls, send emails, and shout from social media. I want to understand the whys, but at the same time, I think there are some things I might not ever fully understand.

I can’t say that Trump is not my President, because that is not my choice. As an American Citizen, I feel that I need to respect the office. However, I will exercise my first amendment rights to challenge the things I don’t agree with by using my freedom of speech.

Two Sides

As a former volunteer judge for Public Forum Debate, I loved that the kids who were debating had to research and defend both sides of an argument. We are all biased to prefer one side over the other, and even as a judge i had to work to take my biases out of the equation so that I could be an impartial judge in the process. It is a great exercise in understanding and listening. It is also a great exercise in having data and sources to back up your arguments.

Lately I have found myself in a position of advocating for gun safety. I have joined a committee with the League of Women Voters that is working towards making sure there is a balance between gun ownership and gun safety. I for one, am not a fan of guns at all, but I do understand the intent behind the Second Amendment and believe people should have a right to own a gun with some exceptions; a discussion for another day.

Since the Pulse shooting there have been a couple of other shootings in Florida that have received media attention. Most recently, yesterday at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. This shooting comes on the heels of SB 140 which is focused on open carry and extending guns to be allowed on college campuses, airports, and libraries.  I had recently asked my son, who is a great researcher and writer to help me to respond to an email from Senator Stuebe where he defended his position on open carry and college campus guns. My son said he would help, but later sheepishly asked me to consider that he might not be opposed to guns on campus. OUCH!

That conversation ensued in a short discussion about the state of society as we know it and the idea that promoting gun free zones might not be a good idea. I listened and still disagree, but I was happy that he felt comfortable challenging my views so that we could have a healthy discussion, I did see an article this morning on business insider that showed some data that gunmen rarely target gun free zones. I shared it with him.

I say all of this as a reminder to myself that all stories have two sides and it is important to listen and understand, It is also important to continue to seek information to back up our arguments rather than just listening to emotion or platform. I have been proved wrong before, and I am open to learning and understanding all points of view. My one caveat is that it needs to be healthy discussion, not hateful rhetoric.

 

 

 

Finding My Tree

Since around 2000, I have been working on my family tree. It has been challenging and interesting. Along the way there have been roadblocks and revelations. My sister Debbie and I have become unofficial detectives in the process. 

For me, working on my tree is just as much about history as it is connections, but it is really cool when you meet the one right person who can open up an entire branch of the family in one call, email, or Facebook message. 

We have connected with family as far away as Latvia and as close by as Florida. My daughter Adrianna, had an opportunity to meet some of our family in Latvia last year and shared a common bond of blue eyes with that family there. 

Meeting our family in France was really fun too and made the trip even more special. 

DNA testing has made the journey even more fascinating. Looking at connections and trying to place them in the tree can be a real mystery,  but when a clue is followed and it results in the answer it makes it all worthwhile. 

In addition to finding connections, we love to read the history of how family moved from one country to another. It is mind enriching and fun to find the facts. For some family it was fleeing war and oppression, for others it was opportunity. 

We even found some celebrities along the way. 

Some of my favorite sites are AncestryJewishgenGeni, and Gedmatch

Anxiety

I have never really been a chill person. When I get passionate about something I am all in. Sometimes I do get bored or lose interest and I move on, but sometimes it is more like an obsession. I am not sure I should admit that publicly, but if you know me, you already know that. 

Over the past 3 + years, healthcare and health insurance has become really important in my family. I realized as the new year started, this is the first year that we may not hit our out of pocket maximum in 3 years. (Yeah!) I also realize how thankful I am to have healthcare. The first week of 2016, our medical bill would have been over $13,000 for 1 chemo treatment for Eddie. I don’t even know what people without insurance do in that case. 

Obamacare is far from perfect, but we need a system in place for healthcare because we all need it at sometime. In 2009, I had surgery that would have cost over $50,000 without insurance. I could not have afforded that. 

My concern is that congress wants to appeal the law without a suitable replacement. While I am fortunate to have a good plan and insurance is offered at both mine and Eddie’s job, I get nervous about things like pre-existing condition coverage, whether my kids could afford insurance on their own, and talk about capping employer plans. 

The thought of 20 million people losing coverage makes me anxious. Let’s encourage lawmakers to have a solution before they repeal the coverage we have. Unintended consequences make me anxious. 

Eating My Feelings

I just scrolled past a video of a mother and daughter who worked together to lose lots of weight. They planned their meals in advance and exercised together. In the process they documented their weight loss. 

Losing weight isn’t a New Years resolution for me, it is a life resolution. The 2 biggest barriers to success is my love of food (warm bread and sugar of all kinds) and the tendency to eat my feelings. 

This past year has been one of those throw caution to the wind years. It has not worked out well for my waistline or for my health I am sure. Any day now, I will suck it up and get my blood test done to see where all my levels lie… cholesterol is probably up. 

In my teens and 20’s it was never a problem, but now the weight is harder to get off. I have a feeling this is going to be a tough year, but I am going to try really hard to exercise my feelings instead. 

So if you see me pick up a cookie or other bad for me treat, suggest a celery stick instead. Here is to shedding 20… 

Politics and Friendships 

One of my friends recently told me he has enjoyed watching me move to the left over the past year. I am not sure what that means exactly, but I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about how political views can affect relationships. 

Yesterday, I read a book on the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was one of those type of books where I couldn’t put it down because it was so interesting. One of the things I really found to be profound was the friendship between Justice Ginsburg and Justice Scalia. They were so different and had such opposing views on many things, but they shared a love of Opera.  They also spent time reading each other’s opinions. 

As I think about their friendship, I think about my family and friends. I have always been more conservative than most of my family, but we could still have good discussions about politics and in the end agree to disagree. On many points though, because of my slant towards social justice, we agreed. 

This election was ugly and I saw many relationships splinter. It was not as simple as agreeing to disagree as the election got contentious. In many cases, facts were thrown to the wind and people hiding behind social media felt very free to say things that came off as hateful. 

I have to admit that I shared my opinions more than normal and commented on way too many posts. While I don’t feel like I changed anyone’s opinion, I still felt like I needed to stand up for what I believed. I tried to respond respectfully and not put out name calling or mean memes. 

I hope that we can find ways to have civil discussions without name calling. I plan to read a lot, listen a lot, and continue to share my thoughts publicly. I hope others will too. 

Happy New Year

For the past 2 years I have had the same new year’s resolutions. I will keep them again this year as they seem even more relevant: 

To see others in a positive light- everyone has a story, try not to judge.

Be open minded- listen to someone you disagree with and try to understand their point of view.

Be present- listen intently, don’t be in a rush.

Go to places you love- for me, it is the beach, and Europe (updated for 2017)

Be with people you love- and be loving.

FORGIVE others.

Laugh more!

Give back.

Pay it forward.

Be kind to others, even when you don’t want to.

My favorite verse of scripture is Matthew 5:16- 

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Additionally, I strive to take the high road, but to also stand up for what I believe in and to be more involved in making my community a better place. 

Happy New Year! 

Almost The New Year

Usually at this time on Saturday mornings it is really quiet at my house. Today I have all my kids home and I can hear them all stirring around. I am happy to have everyone home and look forward to spending the night at my sister’s house doing our New Years traditions from around the world. 

As I look back at this year, I can say there were lots of positives and good things that happened. Eddie finished chemo, Lexi got promoted, Adrianna graduated, Nathan made the Dean’s list…I have a job I love. We adventured in Europe, and then I became an EU citizen. Lots of good. 

I think for me, this years political fight was really emotionally charged. I decided to vote for Hillary after Donald Trump became the nominee because I could not reconcile his personality and behavior with my values. To me the election was so much more than one issue. Some of my friends decided they needed to stay true to party platform and they did, others just hated Hillary even though she was better qualified for the position. Whatever the reasons, he won and I cried. My hope and prayer is that I am wrong and things will be better than I expect. Whenever he talks, tweets, or nominates I cringe, but again, I hope it is just his desire to have people pay attention. 

I look forward to what 2017 has to offer, but I am cautiously optimistic. My plan is to be more politically active in my community and overall. I will keep fighting for the underdog and keep trying to make the world a better place. 
Happy New Year! 

Scrolling

 Food picture to post in newsfeed for all to see

In my last post I mentioned that I miss writing and planned to start again. Four months have passed and I started wondering how that happened. I realized that while I do actually have the time to write, I just have not had the focus. 

These past few months, I have been so obsessed with social media and news. I have stopped listening to music in my car and listen to one of several news stations. Sometimes multiple stations. I spend my morning coffee time scrolling through Facebook and twitter to see what crazy thing is happening in the world today. I comment and share, but I don’t write. 

I am not sure why I have been so enthralled with politics lately. I think maybe it is my disbelief that this is real life when it comes to putting someone like Donald Trump in office. Many of my friends voted for him. Many did not. I spend time thinking about the rationale of people who voted differently than I did. I wonder about their expectations for the future. I think about mine.

My goal is to write more and scroll less. I know I will not abandon social media. It is an outlet for me and a way to keep in touch. I hope another 4 months doesn’t go by before I write again.

Random Thoughts

I can’t remember when the last time I really sat down to write. Over the past 2 years there has been so much going on in my life and around me that it has been too overwhelming to easily put into words. I just have too many random thoughts in my head that I always think would seem incoherent if I wrote them down. 

I miss writing. I think it is time to start again. 

This week symbolizes another change for me and Eddie. Nathan is headed off to college and when Adrianna leaves the following week we will officially be empty nesters. Alexa is thriving in her job and life in South Florida after going to college and not coming back. For over 23 years, we have had kids in the house. It will certainly be a change and the house all of a sudden seems so big. 

Soon to be empty nesters

I am happy for the kids and very proud of all of them. They have grown up to be kind, caring, amazing human beings who I love with all of my heart. I know they will all do well in life, and for that I am grateful. I pray for them daily and love watching them spread their wings and fly. 

As Eddie and I come up on the anniversary of our first date 28 years ago, I feel so blessed to have him as my partner in life. It is so cool to be with someone who completely gets me and puts up with all of my shenanigans. 💗

As I reflect on this week, I think about all the things I love about being a mother and a wife and how blessed I truly am. 

I know I will have tears in my eyes this weekend as we turn around to drive home after leaving Nathan at college, but they will be just as much tears of joy as tears of sadness knowing I will miss his humor and smile. I will be comforted knowing I still get to spend a few more days with Adrianna. 😄