March 3, 2015 § Leave a comment
Two times this week I’ve talked to dear friends, pregnant, it feels like all our friends are pregnant – about what it’s like to live through the anniversaries of last year. This week is THE week. The week we found out for sure that Wright was a girl, that her chromosomal design was terminal, and that we didn’t know how long she’d make it. 23 weeks is what the answer turned out to be. As every pregnant woman around me marches happily along I tick through my pregnancy at those weeks. 17 weeks, felt her flutter, 22 weeks felt her slow down…
Sometimes you don’t need an ap to hop back to an exact moment. Sometimes you can’t stop yourself. Even when you wish you could.
March 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
Stealers Wheel wrote the song, Stuck In the Middle With You, – a parody of Bob Dylan – about actually being stuck in the middle of their record label and producer.
For the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the loss of the middle – or more precisely – the moderate. As the rhetoric amped up regarding the potential shutdown of Homeland Security, the impending speech of Netanyahu before congress, and of course the meeting of CPAC – one gets the sense that there is only a right or a left. There might even be a temptation to believe that there is mostly a far right and a far left.
However, when I sit among my friends and family my intuition screams to me the truth – the American people are stuck in the middle. Politicians and their rhetoric may be extreme, but for the MOST part, my intuition tells me that most Americans remain as they have always been. Fairly moderate. This is not an empirical judgement.
This semester I have not been in the numbers, and it has been a welcome relief from the statistics and data of politics. It has left me with the ability to step back and breathe and think a bit.
What do I think?
I think people are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I think people need jobs.
I think people have radically different values financially, spiritually, and morally – and for the most part they don’t feel that their neighbor is constitutionally bound to hold their values.
I think people want a break in the gridlock.
I think people want more bang for their buck in city hall, at the state capital, and in Washington.
I think people are patriots, I think people are afraid of terror, I think people are willing to pay a certain cost for safety, but I don’t think people are willing take Soma for safety. We are not looking to move to a Brave New World.
I think the American voter has campaign fatigue. We realize that we cannot trust media, politicians, the lobby, the military-industrial-complex, or big business to represent our interest. We’ve been left stuck in the middle – clowns to left of us, jokers on the right…
I heard an interview this morning with the creator of the show House of Cards. He explained that the show is not about politics, instead, it is about power – that what’s happening in Washington is a subset of power.
My friends, in a representative Republic the power is in the hands of the voter. We will be reminded again and again over the next two years that the power is in our hands to place people in power that represent our values, diverse though they may be, I believe we are still moderate at heart. I encourage each and every one of you to begin to consider if your interests are truly being represented. If not vote the jokers and the clowns out. Similarly, it is in our power not to give power to vitriol, lobbying firms, and media power sources that perpetuates & keeps political polarization and misinformation in play. There is absolutely a way to disagree with civility. I do so with many lifelong, soul & spirit friends on an almost continual basis. Being right is not the stuff progress is made of, critical thinking, civility, & justice is.
If you’re sick of politics. Vote.
If you’re sick of the options. Get involved at the local level. If you’ve done that – it’s time to get engaged in state politics. If you’re past that, then national level participation is available a million and one ways. Run for office if you need to.
If you don’t think it will change anything – set out to change it personally or with an action committee.
But don’t sit around and get cynical. We’ve got plenty of that on the left and the right and we’re already here stuck in the middle – sick of it.
February 26, 2015 § 2 Comments
I’m a girl who loves birthdays. I’ve been known to celebrate birthday months. Since we arrived in New York birthdays have become another day, but we couldn’t let that happen to C. Thankfully, Columbia issues midterms two weeks after the term starts – and I’ve lightened my course load significantly. We’re also at this very clear spot in my project at work. What I’m trying to say, is it’s as if the birthday gods were looking down on us as we prepared to celebrate our first birthday with C – and his third birthday.
All he asked for was balloons.
Justin and I took about a week carefully considering how we wanted to celebrate, what would be public, what would be private, and what kinds of traditions we wanted to have. Would we have a party? What kind? C is a SUPER extroverted child – so there cannot be enough people for him… We talked to him about some of this. For those of you that spend time with him, he’s an incredibly verbal child, due – no doubt to the high levels of Theraplay, mindfulness interaction, and concerted effort we make to speak to him with absolutely no baby talk.
He had cake for breakfast dessert. He referred to the cake as his birthday. All day he talked about how he would share a LITTLE piece with GBey when she got here tonight – until I tried to send her a video of him talking about it – and then he decided he wanted to share a big piece with Daddy and HayHay.
I had dreams of a magical day of all of his favorite things. He was so amped up that he asked to take a nap at 10 and was asleep by 10:15 and he slept until 1:30.
When he got up he was so overstimulated by the toys and stuff that he probably had to have 5 times more time-ins than normal… Enough that we were 20 minutes late leaving for dinner.
Also. Not just today, but many – so so many days – navigating the relational web of a familial adoption ends up taking exponentially more time than I plan for.
What am I proud of? Despite the fact that my dreams of a perfect day proved to be – characteristically – unrealistic, the day was perfect for him. He loved every minute of it. He loved the over the top encouragement. He loved the different than normal schedule, balloons, the cake, the cheese cheese cheese, the presents, the über, the surprises… He expects for the boundaries to be held. He looks at me expectantly when he crosses a line.
As for Justin and me, we loved stopping – taking stock – celebrating him. He was a banshee, but we laughed, and soaked him in and felt thankful for the ridiculousness of it all. We also reminded ourselves that you reap what you sow – we were likely the exact same child at three.
I also want to share a picture/post that Haley & Jordan posted on Instagram. I was deeply moved, encouraged, & challenged. Justin & I have been digging deep emotionally lately – doing some back to the foundation work. It’s a little like spring cleaning. It often feels like it’s getting worse before it gets better. These extravagant words of encouragement were water for a sun scorched soul. They were also a perfectly timed reminder. Ken and Marla rescued me and nursed me back to health. Were it not for them, my definition of family would be different. My courage might be less, perhaps we might not have said yes despite everything to C. It was a reminder that the 5 of us have each other. And we know that no matter how hard it gets we can make it through anything. Jordan couldn’t have known how timely the reminder was. Also, I love this picture. It captures us. This love is so deep and so real. I’m so proud of what’s happening here. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.
Happy birthday baby. The only thing I can promise you is that we’re going to get it wrong a thousand times a thousand. Let’s just never give up on trying harder. You have our whole hearts.
January 30, 2015 § 1 Comment
One of the powerful things I learned in Italy was how differently people see the exact same ‘fact.’
Recently I saw this photo in relation to the ongoing conversation regarding rape culture on campuses:
Often two people describe the same experience in entirely different ways. This is one of the most complicated things about communication. (The new show The Affair is apparently a perfect example of this.)
I learned early in my life as a leader that it was key to ask how people defined a term they were using. To meet with a team of people and have three people say they prefer early meetings is not enough. Early means what? To a single male that loves to get up and work out daily, this might mean 8 am. To a young couple with a gaggle of children this might mean 6 am. To a retired senior that prefers to read the Times before coming in for a meeting this might mean 9 am. And meeting – what does this comprise of – something led by a single person with an agenda and not a lot of input from attendees with minutes emailed out afterward? A touchpoint for all team members to communicate freely, lasting any amount of time, not to be recorded. A directive where vision is cast and concerns are lodged – for no more than 20 minutes?
If even words as simple as early and meeting require clarification – imagine how complicated words loaded with emotion or values can become. When emotion and values words are not defined the same way, when people are not accustomed to clarifying expectations, or are averse to conflict – what should be simple and obvious can become complicated, murky, and even incredibly painful or relationally harmful communication.
Something Justin and I learned very early in our marriage was that we came from opposite communication & conflict backgrounds. I was raised in a very communicative family that believes conflict CAN (though does not always) breed intimacy. Alternately, Justin comes from a family that deals with conflict in a very different way, and initially found my style of communication very abrasive – until he realized it was my deep desire to know him more and have nothing blocking us in our relationship – I wanted everything on the table – no matter how difficult or painful the communication. I definitely had to adjust my approach, to create more understanding between us. After all, the definition of communication is creating understanding.
In conflict studies, one of the keys is to communication is creating understanding.
Recently, I heard someone say that they believed 100% of conflict was rooted in the desire for control. While I agree that the desire to control things is a driving force in humanity, I believe an even stronger force is the one to be understood. That the greatest desire of mankind is to be loved, followed almost immediately by the desire to be understood. Conflict arises when we are working so hard to make sure that our own love & understanding needs are met, that people see our point, stop and acknowledge us, and make us feel heard – that we forget that others likely have their own perspective and driving need to be heard. The deeper we dig our heals in, the greater our need feels and a vicious cycle of demand becomes entrenched in our communication almost eliminating any possibility to experience or believe empathy or love exists, existed, or could exist.
I once heard a teaching about humility that said a truly humble person hears/reads something and immediately applies it to themselves – they ask themselves what they could learn from it, how they can be changed by it, how it could transform them – instead of immediately making a list of people they wish they could send it to… They aren’t thinking of the person that could really use the lesson they personally have clearly already learned.
Many of us likely fall into the latter category of people – wishing to teach lessons to the world – when there’s a solid chance that what the world needs is a lot less of people pointing out the problem – or people’s problems, and a lot more people seeking to be the solution to the problem.
Today I’m taking a deep breath and renewing my commitment to be one who seeks to understand. As I recently read a friend say, “We’re never too far behind to begin again.” I’m going to work on being the change, instead of sitting around and waiting for the world to change.
January 23, 2015 § 1 Comment
Justin and I are Christians.
We are democrats.
We lost a baby in May after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy.
We recently adopted.
We are pro-choice.
We saw our tiny baby’s little heart beat at 7 weeks.
And if you had told us at 20+ weeks that she was terminally ill and we had to carry her to term and watch her suffer and die because to terminate her life would have been murder – I would have questioned your sanity… She died, and was still born, and we were not forced to make that decision but we might have been. This is not to say that we disagree with the MANY dear, dear friends we have that are entirely PRO-LIFE under any and ALL circumstances – we simply are not. And we HAVE been faced with some potentially horrific decisions.
Similarly, Cal is a miracle. His mom had previously had multiple miscarriages and then carried him to term. Despite not being married she wanted him, had him, and VERY much wanted to be able to care for him – she simply couldn’t. We are incredibly grateful that they both are in our lives.
What it comes down to for us is the constitutional promise that the biblical law is not applicable to state law and they must be kept separate legally. I believe that for the protection of the state and the church that the two MUST be mutually exclusive and the treaty of Tripoli assures that this nation was not founded as a Christian nation – though its founders may have been of a Christian background – a critical distinction.
If you have a deep moral conviction regarding anything it is the belief of the founding fathers that you have the power to influence to law with your majority vote – this is the beauty of the Madisonian Model. Do not rely on the influence of pork, the monied lobby, or back door deals – instead trust majority rule and checks and balances. We should also be grateful to live in a nation that has a constitution that’s slow to change – that is not quickly amended and that relies on precedent. I frequently resent the patriarchal, white male dominated, and seemingly impossible to change nature of the law – but in many ways I appreciate that it requires the vested interest of the voting public for change. Especially when in comes to women’s rights – we have very few – and those that we have came very recently and we suffered greatly for them.
January 14, 2015 § 2 Comments
Everybody has their own relationship with technology.
There are people who lecture about it while looking at it.
My husband works for a firm that develops the back end technology for medical apps.
I do digital strategy for social media.
We get it.
We also believe that facing reality is better than living in denial. If you think you’re not on your phone that much – “especially in comparison to…” Insert person you feel superior to because you judged them for their actions – then I challenge you to do what we did. Take stock.
Moment is like calorie counting for your phone. You’re never going to “look at it less” if you don’t know how much you look at it in the fist place.