Thursday, December 1, 2016

You Matter

Story A:
In late October/early November 2016, I was in my new small town speaking German with one of my blond-hair, blue-eyed children. An older white male walking by looked at me and told me that "my kind" was not wanted "here".
I answered, “I am an American citizen.”
He answered that "we" don't need "THAT" kind here.
Two much older ladies spoke up, correcting him, and I moved forward with my children.
The man was not aggressive towards me; he was stating his fact.

My Focus:
What I try to focus on in this story is that TWO people spoke up when they heard exclusion, discrimination, hate. TWO people protected a woman and her child. This event lasted no more than 90 seconds and never got heated because TWO people shut it down.

Story B:
While living in Germany, and in conversation with someone I care deeply for and who had been an active part of the Nazi government throughout the 30s, I got up the courage to ask about that time and, more specifically, the Jews. The answer was (translation):

We did not hate the Jews. We just did not care.

My Focus:
This person was strong, kind, Christian. Like millions of Europeans and Americans right after World War I onwards, this person chose not to speak up, not to stand up, not to make a fuss.

If we look back in X years on the pattern of hate growing and instead of saying “NEVER AGAIN!’ we say, "That wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," it will be because of the ongoing and relentless oversight by the people, for the people.

My Ask:
You matter. You can stand up. You can be the protector.
Speak out and speak up against the discrimination and hate crimes dramatically increasing throughout the United States. At home. At work. At your place of worship. While shopping. While playing goal. While on social media. While living.

If you are faced with open discrimination or sexual & racial comments/’jokes’ stop laughing. It isn’t funny. Instead, try an answer like, “You are speaking with someone who does not agree.”

If you see a face that looks different than yours or hear a voice that sounds different than yours, ask yourself, “I wonder what college he/she went to?”

And if you are not in the United States, please do the same in your corner of the world too. Britain, France, Philippines, Germany are all currently seeing right-leaning patterns that are both concerning and growing. You matter.

My Goal:
THIS time THIS family will be on the RIGHT side of history. With you. 




Thursday, November 10, 2016

Stand Up. Straighten Your Crown. Carry On.

Love did not trump hate. Hate has made a temporary win. We are in for the long haul. I wept. For hours. I expected a tough election. I will be humble and I will admit: I did not expect to lose. Not because a website or a poll told me the chance of Clinton winning was very high. I did not expect to lose because I did not realize the level of disgust, hatred, and fear within American society. I did not accept that a little bit less than half of the voting population support or, in the best case scenario, brush-off sexism, racism, homophobia, and so much more. So I wept. I knew that my son and my daughter would wake up and would ask "who is the big boss?" And I knew I didn't know what to say. So I called out for advice and help on Facebook. This is what I posted: Van Jones on CNN "I'm hearing about a nightmare. It's hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids, "Don't be a bully." You tell your kids, "Don't be a bigot." You tell your kids, "Do your homework and be prepared." And then you have this outcome and you have people putting children to bed tonight and they're afraid of breakfast. They're afraid of "How do I explain this to my children?" I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight saying, "Should I leave this country?" I have families of immigrants who are terrified tonight. This was many things. This was a rebellion against the elites...but it was also about something else." I'm open to suggestions for how to explain - in a way that does not scare him even more - to my 5 year old tomorrow morning that the man who says mean things about mommy and sister and papa and our black and brown friends is now the boss. And to my 3 year old daughter too. If you can. Thank you. So many people answered. This is my public thank you to you. You reached out from all over the world with messages of strength, love, compassion, and support. Your acts of together-ness and caring matter. I took a number of your suggestions. I took the day off of work. I meditated. I drank a quite coffee. I let the tears roll. The Mr. and I agreed on how we would start the conversation; where it would take place; and what we would emphasize. As soon as PJ woke up, we all four of us cuddled onto our bed together. The Mr. and I both took a deep breath and then we told them both that the man who says mean things about mommy, sister, and papa won. My son, like so many adults, couldn't understand why. Mean people don't win and being kind is 'very important'. The Mr. and I were honest and stayed with our messages: - we don't understand it either. - we don't know exactly what this means for our immigrant family. - we won't stop working towards love and kindness for everyone. - we won't stop protecting our friends and our family. - we won't chose hate. - we love them, we love them, we love them, we love them. And then we got pancakes. The US has entered into a trying time and - like many - I am concerned of my place, my foreign-born husband's place, and my dual-citizen children's place. I am devastated by how many people cast their vote against common decency, inclusion, progress. I am disturbed by how many more sat this entire opportunity out. I am shaken by how little we really know of each other and of how surprising the result is for almost the entire world. I am confident, however, that in many years when my children ask what I was doing, where I stood, what actions I took I will answer, "I was on the right side of the history and I was doing everything I could." On November 8, I wore my orange pant suit for both gender equality and gun violence prevention and then I knocked on over 100 more doors. I did so with joy and hope in my heart because I believe in the goodness of humans. The end was heartbreaking and I am proud of the work that I did.




And the work continues. This is the long haul. I won't stop and I won't slow down. I may not be a little girl anymore -- I am raising two little ones instead. I will work so that they "never doubt that [they] are valuable and powerful and deserving of ever chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve [their] own dreams." - Hillary Clinton





Stand Up. Straighten Your Crown. Carry On.

Love did not trump hate. Hate has made a temporary win. We are in for the long haul.
I wept. For hours. I expected a tough election. I will be humble and I will admit: I did not expect to lose. Not because a website or a poll told me the chance of Clinton winning was very high. I did not expect to lose because I did not realize the level of disgust, hatred, and fear within American society. I did not accept that a little bit less than half of the voting population support or, in the best case scenario, brush-off sexism, racism, homophobia, and so much more.
So I wept.
I knew that my son and my daughter would wake up and would ask "who is the big boss?" And I knew I didn't know what to say. So I called out for advice and help on Facebook. This is what I posted:
"I'm hearing about a nightmare. It's hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids, "Don't be a bully." You tell your kids, "Don't be a bigot." You tell your kids, "Do your homework and be prepared." And then you have this outcome and you have people putting children to bed tonight and they're afraid of breakfast. They're afraid of "How do I explain this to my children?" I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight saying, "Should I leave this country?" I have families of immigrants who are terrified tonight. This was many things. This was a rebellion against the elites...but it was also about something else." I'm open to suggestions for how to explain - in a way that does not scare him even more - to my 5 year old tomorrow morning that the man who says mean things about mommy and sister and papa and our black and brown friends is now the boss.
And to my 3 year old daughter too. If you can.
Thank you.
So many people answered. This is my public thank you to you. You reached out from all over the world with messages of strength, love, compassion, and support. Your acts of together-ness and caring matter.
I took a number of your suggestions. I took the day off of work. I meditated. I drank a quite coffee. I let the tears roll. The Mr. and I agreed on how we would start the conversation; where it would take place; and what we would emphasize.
As soon as PJ woke up, we all four of us cuddled onto our bed together. The Mr. and I both took a deep breath and then we told them both that the man who says mean things about mommy, sister, and papa won.
My son, like so many adults, couldn't understand why. Mean people don't win and being kind is 'very important'. The Mr. and I were honest and stayed with our messages:
  • we don't understand it either.
  • we don't know exactly what this means for our immigrant family.
  • we won't stop working towards love and kindness for everyone.
  • we won't stop protecting our friends and our family.
  • we won't chose hate.
  • we love them, we love them, we love them, we love them.
And then we got pancakes.

The US has entered into a trying time and - like many - I am concerned of my place, my foreign-born husband's place, and my dual-citizen children's place. I am devastated by how many people cast their vote against common decency, inclusion, progress. I am disturbed by how many more sat this entire opportunity out. I am shaken by how little we really know of each other and of how surprising the result is for almost the entire world.

I am confident, however, that in many years when my children ask what I was doing, where I stood, what actions I took I will answer, "I was on the right side of the history and I was doing everything I could."

On November 8, I wore my orange pant suit for both gender equality and gun violence prevention and then I knocked on over 100 more doors. I did so with joy and hope in my heart because I believe in the goodness of humans. The end was heartbreaking and I am proud of the work that I did.



And the work continues. This is the long haul. I won't stop and I won't slow down. I may not be a little girl anymore -- I am raising two little ones instead. I will work so that they "never doubt that [they] are valuable and powerful and deserving of ever chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve [their] own dreams." - Hillary Clinton



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Here. Together.

On the eve of the American election cycle -- when we don't yet know if the voters will prove that Love Always Trumps Hate or if we are in it for the even longer haul -- I find myself called to share a small glimpse into my heart. 

I've written about it before: we owe our children safe schools; safe movie theaters; safe places of worship; safe streets. We cannot remove every single danger - and we shouldn't - but we can prevent gun violence. We can take common sense steps to protect our children and ourselves. This is a mountain I am quite literally willing to die on (though I would really, really, really rather not). 

I am dedicated to this cause because I have two children who deserve a chance at a glorious future and unlike far too many parents throughout the United States, I still can help them create those futures.  


We knew that moving to the United States dramatically increased the risk of gun violence impacting our small family directly. We knew the data - though, honestly, we didn't understand it really and we also didn't have the whole picture, like the prevalence of lock down drills in all schools - and we assumed the risk. 
(Side note, isn't it ridiculous that a place like the United States has that type of risk?!) 

I already had three years of experience calling and emailing. I was somewhat excited to hook into the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. So I did. First, I ran a race.


 ...and the entire family wore orange to represent our commitment to gun violence prevention on June 2. 


I even found a hilariously loud pant suit in bright orange. I bought it. I rock it. 


Then, as the election cycle heated up, some very scary trends started to emerge. Like calls for violence and gun-based intimation. Hatred. Fear. 

Also some very scary things took place. On June 12, 49 people dancing in a night club were massacred. On June 13, I attended a memorial at a local club. And we left the orange light of gun violence prevention shine for many nights. 

 


Once again, no change. Well, except that now 42,000 people who identify as LGBTQ and their allies are organized and activated. I remained committed to gun violence prevention and now I had another reason to be so.

I signed up to talk to community members about BeSmart.



Then one of the candidates proudly embraced his NRA endorsement and claimed he could stand in the street and shoot someone and not lose a single vote. He was wrong but still, millions cheered. And the other candidate embraced common sense gun violence prevention policies.

My choice was very clear. Not only is my husband foreign-born; my extended family and circle of friends boasts all sorts of fantastic people with different abilities, sexuality, religions, creeds who are every bit as equal as anyone else; healthcare is a right; and my children deserve to live without the fear of gun violence. 

I went into even greater action because of all that and because I am a Gun Sense Voter. 


I got active on the local as well as national election level. For the first time. Ever. 

Sometimes, the choice was made very easy for me, like fantastic advertisements like this: 


I knocked on doors. Sometimes in groups, most of the time alone. I went to "bad neighborhoods" where people are directly impacted by bad policies on income, health insurance, and gun violence. Areas that are struggling and have an especially difficult time voting. Boy, was I rewarded with hugs and high fives and "thank you" in about five different languages.

So I went again..



and again..




and again...



I went so many times I stopped taking pictures.



I made signs. I carried signs.



I registered voters. I encouraged people to vote. I even started making calls.

Because, here's the deal: I am not alone. There are many of us. Some of us have an awesome sense of humor.
"Run like Trump is trying to grab your pussy"

Others are all fired up.


Some have always been optimistic.





Some are shaking with anxiety and have been running more often than usual (me).


And we are all here. Together.


Hillary Clinton, our gun sense & family leave sense & minimum wage sense & foreign policy sense & health care sense candidate, may not win tomorrow. She may.

Our 200 local candidates that stand up for gun violence prevention may sweep into their new offices. Or they may not. 

 And we will still be here. For our children. For ourselves. We are stronger together.

 



XO

Friday, November 4, 2016

Halloween 2016 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Our first Halloween in the United States was epic. We made jack-o-lanterns together. Bean wanted a happy one; PJ wanted a scary one. Papa delivered on both.




Bean & PJ decided that we would go trick-or-treating as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We were all assigned a personality:

PJ was the blue turtle, Leo, who is the sensitive leader of the pack who appears to deal with (and create) a lot of nonsense. That fits. 

Bean was the red turtle, Raph, who is shown as strong, a bit rough-and-tumble, and doesn't hesitate to enter into battles. That fits too (don't let the blonde hair and cute smile fool you). 

The Mr. was the purple turtle, Donnie, who is suppose to be the book-smart one that likes science and research. That doesn't quite fit. 

I was the orange turtle, Mikey, who is a free-spirited jokester. Worst casting ever. 



We joined up with some new friends (awesome family!) and went trick-or-treating. The two boys adored it, confidently running from house to house, yelling out "trick or treat!". Bean enjoyed the candy and was most interested in the decorations. She tended to move slower.

At one point we were on a wonderfully wickedly decorated porch when suddenly a life-size witch took a step in my direction. I got spooked and screamed like a teenager in a horror movie; Bean waved and called out "Hi Witch!"

The next group of parents walking with their own trick-or-treaters laughed so hard, one guy had to bend over to catch his breath.

So, I guess the casting wasn't THAT bad...






XO

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thank You Open Air

PJ and Bean started in a pre-school just a 30 second walk (literally, I timed it) from our first apartment in Denver. The school is called OpenAir Academy and is based upon the Reggio Emilia approach.  I can't tell you much about the approach other than it appears to be based upon treating children like humans; engaging with them where they are; working on social skills and kindess; and spending a lot of time outside. 

And boy did it work. Especially PJ - who has a pretty awful experience with bullying and negativity in his German school - blossomed. In a very short period of time, he became even more curious, thoughtful, and best of all --> kind. 

Parents are welcome in the school at any time and for any reason. The Mr. and I would pop in at the start just to see how things were going. They were always going very well. Our children were engaged, included, excited. The teachers were helpful, positive, and made an impression they generally cared about their school, their students, and themselves. 

The administrators were always available, always willing to discuss, always personable. And hilarious. Such a wonderful place. 

One day the Mr. and I were invited to PJ's classroom to help make schnitzel. The kids got messy and were so engaged. 






The school does parents-nights-out. We felt so comfortable with the school, the teachers, and our childrens' reactions that we took advantage of it. When we arrived, both were fast asleep. They were the only ones fast asleep. 

Another time the school invited us all to a music-in-the-park day. The teachers played football, rolling around on the grass with the kids, laughing as loud as could be. We had two carry-ins to get to the know the other teachers and each other. Every time it was loud, unscripted, inclusive. Really remarkable. 

But then we decided to move. And the pre-school is too far away. There were tears (mostly from the parents during the decision making). It was brutal to consider that the place that welcomed our children, included them and us from day one, and formed the safe environment for PJ to heal wouldn't remain a part of our lives. 
















Our their last days, we snapped all those pictures. I think they tell the story much better than I ever could.

XO XO 
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