Monday, January 16, 2017

Buckle Up and Do Something

A million years ago, the summer before I started kindergarten my mom and I were on our way home from the grocery store when a car drove right through a stop sign and into us. I was sitting in the front seat. Neither one of us was had on seat belts (it was way before there were any kind of laws about wearing them). It was bad. My mom suffered from a punctured lung and a bad head injury. I broke my jaw. It was a long recovery, physically and mentally, for both of us. 

A year after the accident my mom was ready to do something. She started going into elementary school classrooms talking to kids about the importance of wearing seat belts. She made t-shirts with a seat belt superhero on it. She brought in seat belts for kids to use to practice "buckling up!." I helped her sometimes. Mostly I listened and watched and learned. I learned the importance of seat belts, and doing something.

My mom didn't lobby our state legislatures but I believe that she helped encourage children, their parents and a few teachers to buckle up. She used her stories for activism. She turned the bad and made it into something useful and good. 

It's more than positive thinking, it's positive action.

Over the years, I've tried to turn the bad into good and always find somewhere I could do something. Sometimes it was a lesson in my living room to my own children about compassion for a child at school or something we saw on the news. Other times it was taking my kids to DC to take part in an environmental protest on the steps of the Capitol. I wanted to show them, like my mom had over 30 years earlier, that we had a voice and a purpose and could do something.

And then Trump was elected and everything feels turned upside down and scary and weird.

I can't do nothing. I can't just watch and shake my head. I can't just panic. I can't. I have got to do something.

Last week, I went to DC with a group that I work with called Moms Clean Air Force, and my daughter Lucy, to meet with Senators and their staff to encourage them to vote no for Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency. 
Heading up to the Hill with our signs, shirts and enthusiasm!

We went to a lot of offices. 

The buildings are marble-y and beautiful with huge doors and high ceilings and important meetings and guards and metal detectors and a lot of old white men in suits and a lot of young people answering phones. Fun fact: Senator Cory Booker's office was the sunniest and the most alive and busy--nice, friendly staffers and phones that would not stop ringing.

Did you know there is a trolley underneath the Capitol that connects the offices? Um, I didn't. I rode it this time. It felt very Hogwart-y or like a fair. I would love a job that I got to go on a ride everyday. 

We met with young staffers and a few senators. We had talking points but mostly they all just wanted to hear stories about our lives. Stories used for activism, just like the seat belts all those years ago. In one office, I even discussed the Netflix show "The Crown" (if you watch then you know I brought up the London smog episode!) with a few men in Senator Stabenow's office. 
Right after we talked about The Crown, we took this picture.

I watched a woman in our group start crying while telling the story of her asthma and her fear for her child. When she stopped and apologized to her the senator from her state, the senator told her to keep going. "Keep telling your story, it's important," she warmly told her.

This is Senator Baldwin from Wisconsin. She and her staff were very welcoming and kind. After we talked they served everyone platters of Kringle (a very tasty Danish-like treat made in Wisconsin).

The press conference was fascinating. Some of my friends from Moms Clean Air Force spoke.

There was press everywhere in the halls of the buildings and outside. There were protests. There were so many old white men in suits. So many. 
This picture is hanging in Senator Debbie Stabenow's office. We need more women and women of color! 

This is my new friend from Michigan. We carried signs and delivered them to Senate offices. Trying to navigate the tunnels and halls of the Senate offices felt like an episode of The Amazing Race. It was fun.

I've been to DC a lot over the years when we had different Presidents--Clinton, Bush, Obama--and have never felt the vibe I felt last week. It's a weird mix of fear and hope; anxiety and electricity. Everywhere I went in my Moms Clean Air Force t-shirt people thanked me for the work I was doing. People asked me how they could get involved. As I walked down the street and through the halls of the Capitol office buildings, I got knowing glances, head nods and even a fist bump full of solidarity from a stranger in the elevator. 

Lucy was next to me the whole time, sometimes helping and hopefully watching and learning the importance of stories and activism and doing something.

We took a short break and took another tour of the Capitol. Here's Lucy in front of the statue of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

I hopeful that is what a lot of people will do.....something. Because it matters. 

Walking around the Capitol and watching the podium being built where Donald Trump will be sworn in made me sad. My truth is that I wish he wasn't going to be our President. I do not support many, if any, of most of the Republicans in DC. I struggle with the hateful rhetoric tossed around online and on camera. I try to, but do not, understand the heated anger from some of Trump's supporters. I feel uncertain and worried and concerned.

BUT I also feel so hopeful. I am hopeful that more people will get involved and call their senators and tell their stories; go to Washington and their state capitols;get organized and vote. I am hopeful that more women will run for office at EVERY LEVEL of government. I am hopeful that there will be more peaceful protests and more living room lessons about compassion and tolerance. I am hopeful that some of the hateful rhetoric will be shut down with positivity. 

It won't work unless we do. Just like my mom told the first grade classroom all those years ago, "let's buckle up." Tell your story, do some good, find the light and turn the panic into positivity.

To learn more about Moms Clean Air Force click here.

Here's some musical, get moving inspiration:

Move by Saint Motel:

Milky Chance's Doing Good:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 A Different Kind of Hope

A couple years ago instead of make a list of resolutions I decided to make a list of hopes. It felt less intimidating. It felt like less of a set up for failure, if I didn't do something on the list I could just keep hoping and protect myself from that awful feeling of failing. I went back and checked my list from 2016 and well I'm still hoping to do more of all of the things on the list. I hope to meditate more, ski more, dance more, manage my ADHD more. 

But 2017 feels different. A passive, dreamy hope isn't where I am. Nope. I am feeling like I want to take charge, take ownership, be bold, be less afraid, be okay with being a little angry, be okay with being different and not being afraid to fail. I mean I will still be all dancey, rainbow-y, messy, happy...that's what I do, that's who I am. BUT 2017 feels different. A passionate, slightly aggressive, empowered, empathetic yet powerful kind of hope is where I am.

Inspired by the empowering kick ass movie.

In the spirit of empowered hope and giving the finger to failure, I am taking a step that will give organized people a panic attack. I am saying good-bye to the wall calendar. Let's be real, me creating this giant chalkboard calendar was ridiculous. It was trying to stick a square peg in a round hole. The only thing I loved about the calendar was the colors and finding the quote at the top. I only updated it once. Once! It has remained the same since June and the last day of school. Because I hate calendars and organizing. 

The only thing that calendar did was serve as a giant, menacing reminder that I suck at time management and I was probably late for something somewhere.  So today, the second day of 2017 I am erasing the fuck out of the calendar. This is the year I reject everyone trying to give me calendars and tips to organize, I'm talking to you Pinterest. I am done. I will go back to my old system--notes scribbled on pieces of paper or receipts, sometimes the calendar in my phone and  relying on my very organized, responsible husband. 

It feels so god damn good to erase the calendar and stand fist raised in front of my mediocre chalkboard art inspired by that know-it-all Pinterest. 
New year, new chalkboard, new attitude.

So yeah, I hope I meditate more, ski more, dance more, run more, read more books, learn French, eat healthier. Yada, yada, yada. I also hope that I stare down failure, work hard to create positive change politically, not care if people unfriend me on social media, walk the walk, talk the talk and live out loud (and hope I don't miss my kids' games because of the no calendar thing). 

2017 let's fucking do this.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016- The Year of Acceptance, GIFs and More

I'd love to say that 2016 was the year that I figured everything out--the whole work life balance, parenthood, marriage, getting everyone everywhere they need to be, streaming and watching all the shows on my "want to watch" list, money, what I want to be when I grow up, how to let my kids grow up,  accepting my aging skin and body, my anxiety, my mother, and how to afford Hamilton tickets. But that's not what happened in 2016. Nope. My anxiety was worse than ever, my candidate lost and I never caught up on Gilmore Girls OR Homeland in time for the new seasons.

BUT I did figure out a little bit this year. I figured out that I will never figure some of this shit out and I think I feel more okay with that than ever before. This year I started accepting the realness of ups and downs and highs and lows and holding onto the joy of the good moments and trying to learn something, anything, from the low moments. 

This year I accepted and kind of embraced the fact that JT's ADHD is directly passed down from me and that mine is getting worse with perimenopausal hormones. Some days that felt paralyzing and other days I felt inspired to embrace new ways of thinking and coping and helping JT, and me.  

This year I accepted football is a part of my life. My boys love football. I want to support them and I did. It felt good.

This year I said yes to opportunities to use my voice. It led me to Washington D.C. and Chicago to speak to Senators and protest near the Capitol and testify in front of the EPA. It was empowering to use my voice and show my kids that we can all be a part of THE process and work to help create change in the world. I got to be a part of a storytellling podcast hosted by my creative mentor/mother-angel and use my voice to hopefully help people suffering or loving someone with mental illness. 

This year I watched my son start high school and become this man-child going to the homecoming dance and being captain of his football team. I also watched him rehab and fight to get stronger from two surgeries on his leg over the last year. He made good choices and stupid ones, he bounced back, he regained trust, he inspired us and challenged us. We talked politics and religion this year more than ever before. We talk about college a lot because um, it's only three years away. Yup, man-child. 

This year I watched Lucy become more teenage girl than tween. I never knew/know where I stand with her. From what I have read, this is normal-ish. We have found a fun way to communicate however...texting each other GIFS. I am not kidding, there is nothing like a Tina Fey 30 Rock eye roll GIF to express how the both of us are feeling. It's been such a breakthrough for us. Thank you technology!

This year Wade, our sweet homebody, became a pretty confident reader and played tackle football. This year, like other years, Tim and I vowed to make more time for each other and go on more dates. We weren't wildly successful but we did try and that's good right?

This year I accepted we would never grow grass in our backyard (where we killed it with a homemade ice rink during the Polar Vortex of 2013). Instead we built a fire pit area with pea gravel. It has provided us with so much joy in all the seasons.

This year we listened and became obsessed with Hamilton. And while I accepted that I may never be able to afford tickets to see the show, it doesn't stop us from LOVING the music and the message.

This year I messed up so many times. I stressed about deadlines. I had a panic attack in public for the first time ever. I was pretty devastated by the election and I worry about what the future will look like. I was one of those people that cried when I found out Prince, David Bowie AND Carrie Fisher died this year. 

BUT this year all the moments full of love and time spent with my family and at back yard bonfires and volunteering and using my voice and meeting new people and memorizing and singing the songs of Hamilton give me so much god damn hope and gratitude. 

2016 was a year full of saying yes, accepting hard truths, embracing new ways of thinking, finding and feeling compassion, GIFs, a shit ton of my kids' games and races and tournaments, all the Hamilton songs on repeat, a couple dates with my husband, renewed interest in politics and running, a new found love of boxing and bonfires.  

Here are a few memories/pictures from our year:

Here's a video recap of our year to a song from Hamilton, of course:

Year in Review 2016 from Jumping With My Fingers Crossed on Vimeo.