Tuesday, April 25, 2017

No still means NO but you have to ask the question to know that

I finished watching "13 Reasons Why" with my almost 13 year old son and it was one of the most powerful things we have ever seen together.    I know he is mature enough to handle the content but he is also still in a formative phase understanding who he is and his growing place in the world.   He is also navigating the world of middle school and soon high school, with it's puberty, posturing, bullying, popularity contests and all those other things we as adults can look back at and wonder why we let them take such an important role in our lives.

The main theme is about bullying and the consequences of that, of how lost some kids might feel but the underlying theme is about sexual assault and the way we as a society still treat our girls and women.   Think about it the names alone are only for women - slut, whore, skank, easy.   Boys and men don't get that they get a high five for getting sex, maybe their downside is the need to lie about how much sex they may have had.   We still hear the despised term "good girl" to imply it somehow makes a girl a better person if she doesn't have sex.   We vilify girls for wondering about how to embrace how they look, to show off a curve or two and then give them clothes choices that play into that objectification as a sexual being who really shouldn't like sex to begin with.

Who made up this shit???  Women, girl, boys, men should enjoy sex -- it doesn't make you a better person if you choose to not have it nor does it make you worse it makes you a person who decided to make a choice with your body.  It is about being old enough to handle the choice.

This bizarre ritual of making girls into "less than" because of sex, into objects to treated as parts and then mistreated based on what they do with or is done to those parts, paired with the use of power that men are given has continued to lead to the sexual abuse we see.

I know of no woman that I am friends or even casual friends with that has not experienced some form of sexual abuse in their life.   Let's do this again I KNOW OF NO WOMAN and I know hundreds of them who I have had discussions with that does not have at least one story.

They range from being touched in public places on our asses, rubbed against in public spaces while we try and move just enough to not make a scene,  to kissing a bit longer while we keep pushing away from a boy that didn't actually move away from us, to just not being asked.  There are the cases of course where it went much further than that - where the girls were raped.   No one forgets any of these, these moments are burned into your brain long after they have faded from the feeling on your body.   The too many times that we all can talk about the times that "No one even asked if it was ok to kiss you - to touch you".    It did not stop even when you said no.   It was someone you liked and you felt you had to because otherwise you may lose them and then you lost yourself when that person betrayed you by telling everyone that it was just a piece of pussy.  A piece - just a piece of ... that is all you are reduced to.  A piece of inconsequential nothingness that you take with you for the rest of your life.   As for the men who do this they do it because they can.  This is not about sex - this is about power, they have it, they can do what they want.

We need to watch "13 Reasons Why" and we need to watch it with our male children because we cannot allow the girls to be asked how much they had to drink, what they were wearing, how come they said yes at first and then no, how come they didn't fight back, how come????  We need to ask how come anyone thinks it is ok to have sex with someone who is passed out ?  How come you feel that you can touch a girl as you want but you wouldn't sit on the hood of your friend's brand new car for fear of damaging it?  How come we do not start with asking the girls if they know it is not their fault that someone took away their ability to say NO, with drugs, with drinks, with just not giving a shit if they said it.

I worked as a rape and domestic violence crisis counselor for 10 years, taught others to be volunteers, and the one thing we learned was that survivors just want to get some control back over their bodies and to have someone tell them it was not their fault.  It is never their fault - even if they are buck naked and drunk and begged for it, when they say no it is NO, when they are not in a state of mind to make a decision oh yeah it is NO.   Men are better than that excuse too many abusers use "I couldn't stop"  - they can stop they choose not to.

It is uncomfortable to watch the show - to have your son ask why would someone do that - to deal with sex questions but if we don't who do we think will?

Sexual assault lives with the survivor forever, I see this from the way the pain still flashes across the faces of anyone who tells their story.   I feel it in my voice when I share my own instances.

We cannot let powerful men get away with harassment and rape because they have money just like we cannot let powerful men get away with these things because they are poor or they rape a religion's core beliefs to say women are theirs for the taking.

No means NO always and we owe it to all to understand that but we have to teach our youngsters that they need to ask even if it seems obvious.  We also need to stop using labels on women that tell them they do not control their own sexuality - like slut, whore, easy - they are not ok to use because they enable the culture of woman having to appear reluctant to not be shamed about it which predators use.  It is time we all said NO to sexual assault.

Monday, April 17, 2017

13 and 1 Reasons Why

They, you know "they" who know everything and who are never wrong, say you should try and eat most meals with your kids as this is a good way to connect with them and to establish a way to have conversations about their day.  I grew up in a house where my family could not always eat together, as both my parents worked, but I always ate with at least one of my parents.  It was like that up and down the streets of my neighborhood - you went home to eat dinner.

Now sometimes these dinners could be horrible in my house, as in many others, where conversation could be at the whim of my father's mood.  I saw a few homes where it was silent.  I saw a few where everyone talked over everyone else and the mood was energetic.  I sat with my mom and dad and had some of the most interesting discussions on everything from geography to art to science.  My dad was an autodidact who either knew something about most things or loved to help me find out about it. Our dinners were never silent.    I do not know if these were the "conversations" they talk about but I do believe there is something to sharing a meal, with family, kids, friends that is bonding.  It is why I have never insisted on my kids eating things they do not like and have made many a two different meal dinners.  I want it to be our time and laughter not about a fight on the merits of eating asparagus.

Yet one meal a day is really not enough even if it is a good start.  I want to be part of my kids lives in a way that they know they can come to me with anything, and while I may not have a positive reaction I will have a fair one and help them.   I do this through texts, notes, calls and letting them talk.  I mean they talk a lot and sometimes the subject is one that makes me want to sort of run, I do not want to hear how to beat level x in any video game, I don't book I listen and try and ask questions that keep them talking.  It is the connection and frankly we expect kids to listen and absorb what we think is important shouldn't we model this by doing it for what they think is important to them ?

The other thing that seems to work for me with a 10 and an almost 13 year old boys is finding time to watch tv shows with them.  Yes I said TV shows, yes screen time.   The way it works is that we find something we all like, or one child and I like. Each has shows we all 3 watch and each has shows that they watch only with me.  The balance of mothering 2 children is done with military precision - the perception of not getting same amount of anything from water in a glass to time with mom is monitored better than any drone by my two.  They do not begrudge the other's time they expect the equivalent.

So with my 2 we watch "Stranger Things" - I say it often but whoever started streaming services is a hero of mine.  I like it because it is well written and the kid actors are amazing, the storyline is spooky without being too crazed for me and I admit I like the whole time frame it is set in.  It has taken me back to my own teenage years lived in the early 80s, Le Sports Sac anyone??  It gets them talking about school, being a kid and of course the fascination of asking me "did you do that?" for some scenes.   No I did not have the adventure of finding an "upside down" world but I would have loved it.  

With my 2 I also watch "Death in Paradise" which is a strange show for kids their age to like - but it is a murder mystery Brit show that takes place on a gorgeous island and I think they like the detective solving skills of the main character who is just slightly goofy yet brilliant.   It transports us to a warm place and has us debating who done it.

My younger son and I tend to gravitate toward shows that are British detective shows - no clue why but they tend to be our genre of choice.

My older son and I watch "13 Reasons Why" together.   We decided to do this because it seemed really relevant to his almost teen self.   If you do not know what this is, the show is about a girl who commits suicide after a series of bullying incidents and bad choices with social media on the part of her peers that spiral out of control.  This has been a difficult watch because it happens, it happens more than we might think and it has increasingly dire consequences.  It has led to discussions with my son about his responsibility as a male to not demean girls.  It has led to disagreements on the main character's reaction to certain situations, he "oh it wasn't that bad this time and she gets so crazy" me "because it is constant and to her it was another big deal in a series of them".  It for sure has led us to discuss what he would do in certain situations.

The two of them also tend to like watch "Scorpion" with me - nothing like geeks who are sort of cool saving the world.

To me time with kids is fleeting and while at times it seems overwhelming and that they take up every moment of your time, the reality is that it goes as fast as the cliche states.   They watched little kids shows with me and asked those great questions about why, though for a while I thought the word "why" was my nemesis and non-stop, things were a color or a shape.  They watch different shows now and still ask why but the questions are harder sometimes to answer.  We do as a family still practice my father's curiosity seeking "look it up" with so much more information and easier to find via Google.  

I find the time we spend is not only about the shows but about the time they have to feel that we can talk about things that are on their mind, they still like a good snuggle and I alternate between laughing with them to a slightly wistful smile tied to my knowledge that they are getting taller, older and most of all heading toward the point where I will not be their first choice for snuggles and tv shows.




Monday, April 10, 2017

What would Jesus do ?

As an atheist many people think I am anti-religion but really it just means I do not believe in deity worship or organized religion.  I can easily see other life in other planets, other universes but the idea of a singular, or even multi, "higher being" and all the rules that man makes to justify how this, or these, deities need to be worshiped that just doesn't mean anything to me.    I find no comfort or need for that kind of being in my own life.  The other thing people think when they hear I am atheist, is that it means I do not believe in having scruples.  Actually it is my deep conviction that we should treat one another and our planet, and the other parts of space, with respect and kindness and worry about continuously improving life not only as we have it but for those long after we have been gone that was part of how I came to be an atheist.  I found no doctrine that did that even though they all claim to.   There are a few more clarifications that I feel as an atheist that I need to get out there as there seems to be lots of confusion.

First of all you do not have to whisper or ask me to whisper that I am an ATHEIST.   It is not an admission that I have ritual slayings in my house -- the irony of having ritual anything is not lost on me.  I am not a satanist either, I know but really I have gotten asked, I do believe people choose either through conscious decision or mental illness to do things we can all agree to call evil (genocide, anything to do with harming living children, serial killers, torture -- yeah we are on same page).  I do not hate religions, I just cannot agree with the many ways they are used to negatively judge others for things that some man at some point in time decreed he did not agree with or worse to justify those things I deemed evil before.   I understand their purpose and if you get comfort from them or find the need to connect with your heritage with them well then that is what you need - doesn't make it wrong or right it makes it your opinion.

Of the many historical religious figures,  after much research, I find that Jesus is my favorite. Oddly enough not because I believe he was the son of a god but because I believe he wasn't.   It is almost easier to be a better than the average person if you are a deity.   It is hard to be a leader and ask that all people are treated well if you are not.

Jesus who all religions acknowledge lived was a simple man who asked of all those who followed him to be kind to others, to give to those in need if you have more than you need.  He was able to treat Mary Magdalene with the same respect by all counts that he treated Judas, and we know who betrayed him.   Yet he did not judge Judas either.

I find myself wondering as many around the world celebrate the holiday that really defines them as Christians, the horrific torture and death of a man who until the end chose not give up his hopes for the better in humanity even when they displayed the worst, how do so many use his name as justification to be more like those who nailed him to a cross?  

Jesus - what would Jesus do when laws are made that disempower those who had very little to begin with ?  what would Jesus do when women are treated as there for the taking by men or told to cover up because they inherently are too sexually powerful and men cannot "help" themselves? what would Jesus do when the planet he thought a higher being created is not treated with the care and polluted at will?  what would Jesus do when people are discriminated against for just being themselves (note to all things like the fact that we look different, homosexuality all came before the whole religion thing)?

I do not know what he would do but based on all that is written about him, and there is loads, I would like to think that this atheist understands he would be more about forgiving and accepting than brandishing hate.   I would like to think that as I always cry seeing him and the others carrying their crosses, being whipped, being tortured that we learned from that not that it is acceptable to have others crucified but that in what appear to be his final words the word "forgiveness" is prominent with acceptance.

For all the religions out there one person seems to be woven into all of them, some who believe will see this as divine connection, for others like me it will reaffirm my belief in people.  That most of us are good and that is why the one man who spoke of this appears in all of them.

What would Jesus do ?  Probably just ask us to stop and think of that in terms of doing right by others.

Happy Spring

Monday, March 27, 2017

When you can finally exhale



As the end of March is upon us it seemed a good time for a blog about women as it is Women's History Month in the US.   

I try and look at the positive in life as a rule, look at the gains, learn from mistakes and hope we are all moving forward as a people.   However, when I start to look at the way that women have been treated and still continue to be so from pretty much the beginning of recorded history it takes a lot to hold on to the optimism and not let anger replace it. 

There are periods of time where women were not only equal to men but actually in charge, history rarely looks at their accomplishment without having to add some sort of terrible character flaw to them though.  Their strength described often negatively and do not get me started on the sexuality part. Women and sex - they should provide it but they should not enjoy it seems to be short version.  

Though even in this day and age women's rights are tentative still and we still discuss things like "when it is acceptable" to beat your wife -- short answer NEVER - in places far (Russia just passed a law that first offenders are not going to be harshly treated for beating their wives) and near (Mississippi on March 2017 voted down a measure to have domestic violence as one of the grounds for divorce - you read that right 2017, March Women's History month).  

Let's not even get started on the vile comments about rape and the fact that women have to debate what they can do with their own bodies.  

What can we do?  We can support other women, we can support men who see us as partners, we can collectively say a big get the hell out of here to anyone who doesn't, we can ask those who claim in the name of religion that women are inferior to look at how that is in direct conflict with the tenets of all religions to be good to your fellow people,.   We can raise women who understand their worth and we can raise men who appreciate those same women, who add to their self-confidence instead of trying to control it.  

In the spirit of supporting other women I wanted to use this blog to highlight someone who I am humbled to call a friend.

My friend Amy works with an organization called Exhale to Inhale.  They provide yoga and meditation services to survivors of partner and sexual abuse.   Yoga - the practice of respecting your body's limits and acknowledging your strength.  These survivors are taking back their bodies and their minds. The organization  "Exhale to Inhale was founded in 2013 by Zoë LePage, while a senior at Barnard College. Zoë named her initiative Exhale to Inhale, the idea being that sometimes we need to let go of that which is holding us back in order to open ourselves up to new possibilities. We need to exhale to inhale. Zoë’s vision: bring the healing power of yoga to survivors of intimate partner violence, especially those who would most benefit from the practice, yet might not otherwise have access to it. "

In an ideal world we would not need places like Exhale to Inhale because it should be as simple and instinctual as breathing - sexual assault and partner violence are not natural and should never be "normalized".   .   

We do not live in an ideal world but we do live by our ideals. We cannot stop it all but we can help in many ways heal those who experience this.  

I will not give you recognition by giving names or publicity to those who seek to harm us through laws or doctrine but instead I will hope to shine the light on those who do heal and selfishly do for others. 

If you want to get more information, donate time, donate money, donate your good will to share this information and just say it is NOT OK ever then you are already doing more than you give yourself credit for.  



How Can You Get Involved?
 Help Exhale to Inhale win $40,000 in the NO MORE Challenge!
Because of the money we were able to raise in 2016, we are now reaching more survivors than ever before. We are on track to more than double the number of people we were able to reach last year. Join us in bringing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault one step closer to experiencing the power of choice and possibility! http://www.crowdrise.com/exhale-to-inhale-nomorechallenge


Join the MOVEMENT for MEANING

Did you know that every 98 seconds someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted? April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we are taking this opportunity to help draw national attention to this human rights issue, and to the Exhale to Inhale mission. Join the movement whether you Om, Spin, Box, Dance or Zumba! Ask your home studio to donate the proceeds from a regularly scheduled class, or schedule a special class to benefit Exhale to Inhale. Sign up on our website at http://exhaletoinhale.org/move-for-meaning-in-april

To learn more watch  5 minute documentary


Monday, March 20, 2017

Purple Bags

In the purple plastic bags that I could not see the contents of
Held by small hands with big bright smiles
Was the nourishment of the body that allowed the soul to not feel empty
Inside the purple plastic bags were the screams of hunger being silenced
The smiles on the children holding them made by possible by the
Hope that they held in those purple bags
That someone cared about them and the endless possibility of who they will be
When they are not hungry for food but only for knowledge

That is what went through my mind as I saw kids in my district, the district of Teslas and second hand cars in the parking lot of the school, who qualify for free lunch last week as they carried these plastic purple bags at the end of the day on a Friday.  I was to learn this is food for those kids because sometimes these are the only meals they get so they get it to take for the weekends ... so they DO NOT GO HUNGRY.

Yes in my, rated most expensive and highest taxed suburb in America, there are towns like mine which are a melting pot of native born citizens, immigrants, mixed parental lineage, heterosexual, homosexual parents.   Our kids play together, play sports on the same teams, they encourage each other at events and overall they do not always know who among their friends are anything other than well their friends.

We are a perfect example how this mix is successful in a school and in creating a community.  Yet as I watched those kids on Friday I cried before I returned to my son's class.  To the many parents who were there like me, taking time off from work or from taking care of their homes, to be there for our kids.  We may not speak the same language but we understood each other through smiles and our commitment to our children.  This on the same day that a cruel budget was put out by the current administration.  It is a not a deficit reduction, not a balanced budget it is just a series of cruel budget that cuts things like free lunches for many, after and before school programs, clean environment, the arts, PBS where many who cannot afford the fancy pre-school classes are getting their preparation and many other things.   Things that make us a great society.

We do not need more bombs, we need to treat our veterans well and make sure that our soldiers are well equipped.

So this is not going to be a long anti anything blog.   It is about what we as individuals define as important and what we want to show our kids as important.   To that end we can all change our world in small ways to make it better and in big ways through our activism with our elected officials.

I am going to do that with small actions.  I am not a wealthy woman but I will be helping those kids with small donations to cover the things in school like pizza parties that maybe their parents do not have $4 to give.

Those purple bags broke my heart but renewed my spirit.   We are not a budget or budget cuts as individuals we are who we choose to be and I choose to be kind.


"...for purple mountains majesty above the fruited plains.. America, America God shed his grace on thee and crown thy hood with brotherhood from sea to shining sea".... America The Beautiful

Monday, March 13, 2017

Adventures in exercising

Image result for dislike exercise I am totally inspired by a friend of mine who wrote of her experience doing yoga to write a blog to all of us who have tried different forms of exercise.  I was inspired to write mind you not to exercise like her .. just to clarify and set some expectations here. 

Now my friend who tried yoga is athletic - I mean like really good shape, runner, biker, cross fitter - yeah you get the picture.  She is fit.  She is tight.  She is really nice so I will not hold that against her.  She like most of my friends who do it regularly actually look forward to work outs that challenge them, I like them so I will not hold that against them either. 

I have never really liked exercise - or what I think of as organized exercise.  I can walk for miles, and I mean miles, particularly in cities at NYC pace which is of course where the whole "power walk" comes from, should just be known as plain old how to get from point A to point B walk for us NYC natives.

We don't just walk, we aggressively walk, we leave people who meander behind.  It took me like 10 blocks once to realize my boyfriend, now my husband, was no longer next to me.  I was talking to myself and of course it's NY no one noticed.  He missed some brilliant conversation during that time, he is not a fast walker.  Not like me who learned to walk at that pace at age 8 when I first got to the States.

Exercise - this is the girl who told her teachers in high school that she had asthma, could not afford a doctor (partially true my parents did not have the coveted Blue Cross Blue Shield that was the insurance at the time - I do not know if there were others), and bought a Primatene mist inhaler to get out of gym.  Worked well for a long time.  What don't judge??? They wanted me to change, do you know what changing is like from panty hose and then getting a possible run into sweaty legs.  Ewww.  Also they wanted me do things like learn the uneven bars and balance beam - listen my fellow Romanian Nadia did enough for that sport so that the rest of us do not need to.

I mean I really did not like it - maybe the square dancing was tolerable - the rest not so much.  This is also the girl that had friends, ok so they were not productive friends but they were fun, from another school miss said school and wait for her in a car to complete the President's Fitness Assessment which meant walking around the outside my high school (big hill -- this is not an exaggeration) timed, in this crappy gym uniform - no thanks.  Go to bottom of hill, get ride, wait a bit 'cause we all know I could not cross finish line in top 10%.   It was all strategic planning - my brain exercised.  Now multi mile walk to hang out with same friends - that I did with no complaint. 

I was not fat then - I thought I was and I look at pictures and realize not so much - but exercise and I were not on friendly terms.

As I got older I tried aerobics, home and in classes.  I am not meant for classes - the other participants always seem to know which side the instructor is referring to and I always seem to go the other way.   I do not want to sweat and get red faced with other people.  I also do not particularly feel anything other than an annoyance for the bouncy haired instructors who are yelling at me with a smile on their face.  Please if you want to be the drill sergeant from Platoon do it without the perky boobs, hair and with some sweat looking like you enjoy being the sadistic control freak you are.   I tried doing it at home - Tae Bo anyone ?  That lasted a whopping month at which point I realized I could leave the VHS tape in my VCR and get exercise when I had to switch it out to a Blockbuster movie rental.

I tried belly dancing - ok so you would think the aerobics directionally challenged experience would have taught me that this would not be a good idea, but hey I figured I had the belly for this.  Finally my less than bounce a quarter off my abs section was good for -- well not sure what it was good for but I looked a bit like I had a disorder or a muscle condition which released my arms in spasms and I tripped over the veiled skirt they gave me.  I lied to all and said I loved it -- I stopped going when they put bells on my waist and even those were out of sync w rest of class.

Yoga was next - I mean really yoga - every one freaking loves yoga right?  I liked it most of the time but I never took to it as much as my friends.  I wanted to but when my favorite part was the nap at the end and I realized that they were pointing out to me that I did not breathe correctly, seriously I am pretty sure I can breathe otherwise I would have not made it to write this blog so much for yoga not being judgmental.   I just never got past the point where I was not judging myself against the people in my classes who seemed to look like the positions were named - locust, downward dog -- they did not have wobbly woman as one of them, I would have rocked it.

I went back to walking and pretty soon I had this brilliant idea that I could run.  Like run in my 40s. My knees laughed, then groaned and then reminded me with their friend the heel spur that yeah if you did not run all of your life then chances are you are not a runner.   I also saw that I did not even like it, my favorite activity to do in the fresh air (ok not so fresh in NYC is really my favorite) walking was not pleasurable anymore when it turned to running and breathing after a while felt like stabbing and knees wanted you to bend them and just sit my ass down.  No -- not a runner, except when I am walking in the 'burbs or near woods.  I pick up speed because I am more likely to be afraid and freaked out there than anywhere in a city, I know how to navigate a city, woods and unpopulated areas - yeah those are in horror films for a reason.   I mean you never see Jason or Freddy chasing down subway riders now do you ?  If you do it is a shitty as sequel done by someone pissed off that it really only happens in the 'burbs or rural areas. 

I tried weights and I always like them for like a month, then I get some delusion that I am bulking up too much (I am not) and then I stop based on that reason, I stop because I do not enjoy it, but hey that sounds lame even to me.

I will not try spin - do I need to fall off a bike to know I will not do it well ?  -- or Crossfit, I am not jumping on box unless it is to get a glimpse of Idris Elba in his pool in the buff.  I will not Spartan race, mud on my face is for facials at best, or I can go back to Astoria to get in touch with my inner ancient civilization collective unconsciousness via a frappe or a good souvlaki. 

I know it is good for you and I battle weight so it is really not just good but needed for me.  However, I loved dancing in clubs when I was younger and that is not something I could replicate though it helped with weight (the limited funds that made me choose booze/cigarettes or real meal am sure were part of it).

About 2 1/2 years ago I decided I wanted to try tennis, a friend of mine told me he also started much older did not mention at the time that he was a natural athlete all his life. My family's reaction, polite smile and asking me if I was going to mention my relationship with them at the gym as it may not be a good idea for their reputation.  I liked the outfits.

I went to a beginner clinic - that is what it said Beginner Tennis Clinic.  My reading skills are fine, far outpace my exercise ability, but apparently the people who signed up with me took beginner to mean far advanced and need a cheaper option than individual lessons.

I did not know how to hold a racket, though in typical me fashion I had purchased a lovely tennis skirt and the little socks (so far BEST exercise outfit of anything I had ever tried - those skirts are soo awesome).   I borrowed a tennis racket and at the end the instructor politely took me aside and told me that he would find a class for my level.  That was code for holy cow you do not even know how to hold a racket level.

The club did just that and I spent a few months learning things like how to hold a racket (trust me there is way to do it so you do not get hurt), how to stand, how to return a ball and not hit it like a home run.  This sport looks much easier and like it requires less coordination on TV than it actually does.

I have not only stuck to it but have looked to play more and more.  I never thought I would say this but I actually miss it when I am not playing.   My family now is pretty happy to say I play and they ask me for pointers - they do not play - because they have seen me and they are more than mildly shocked that I am playing as well as I do. 

Exercising is not a competitive sport - yet it is treated as such.  It is meant to find whatever you like and do it and when you do, you will actually seek time to pursue it.   It is meant to challenge you not break you.

Now it is time to be off to play in my weekly league, my 2nd year, last year the ladies I played with told me I was the most improved player they had seen (nice way of saying we were not sure when we first saw you but guess you proved us wrong).   I want to get better and yes I still love the outfits.   I seek my friend's advice on technique and still take clinics.  I am pretty sure Venus nor Serena would ever play with me but if they did -- well I would lose but one return and this girl would be over the moon.

Here is my friend's blog on her yoga experience - trying things is not only about finding the fit it is also about eliminating the things you do not want to do.
http://hamptonpaperdesignsblog.com/BLOG/2017/03/12/yoga-simple-easy/


Monday, February 27, 2017

We are not a nation of OR we are a nation of AND - Uniting the United States

Related imageThese days in the US it is near impossible not to be aware of and have an opinion on the current political climate. 

It is actually difficult these days to find ways to not be angry or dismayed on both sides of the aisle when you see how divided the country is.  

There is no blame in that statement for there are ways we can all do better to reach across the aisle and then there are people we have to let go of because longevity does not make a friendship if there is no shared moral compass, no shared vision of any kind, no shared goals.   

What I will not give up on though is my belief that we are a country as the US that is not made of "or" but we are made of "and".

We are the wealthiest nation on the planet by many standards.  We are the nation who was created by  people who left someplace to seek a better future or were dragged here via vile means and still believed that there is a place here for them.  A nation whose contributions and innovative spirit is oddly optimistic and has driven our success.  A nation that can be breached by the very thing it invented, technology, and saved by the thing that makes all feel the greatest parts of our humanity.  A nation that needs to rebuild or damns and walls and roads - without needing to damn ourselves with walls on the road to hate.  We are nation that has the right to secure our borders and ask for immigrants to bring with them their culture while asking them to accept the one we have built.  We are nation that can be mighty and fair.   We can ask for great trade deals and offer them in return without forgetting that our success and the success of nations who work with us are not two separate things.  We are nation that should help our hungry and lead to end world hunger. 

We have money to help veterans AND refugees.  We can screen people who apply to come to our nation for a visit, for residence, for a new life AND still welcome them to add to the fabric of this nation.

We have money to have a good military AND still have a lot of money to help our civilian population - isn't that what we protect and fight for?  We can fund social programs, healthcare benefits, arts AND expect that funding to be handled effectively and not squandered through bureaucracy. 

We have the ability to allow people to worship whatever deity they choose AND we do not have to pick one as better.  We do not have to pick a religion at all AND we can still work toward humanitarian goals of charity, kindness, caring, lawfulness.  

We can love and love and love and make that love legal AND we can choose who that is for ourselves because the OR to love is hate.  

We can teach all of our children in public schools AND demand those schools are funded and brought up to the standards all of our children deserve not just those in a certain zip code.  We can have private schools AND still improve our public ones. 

We can establish laws and jails AND make sure that is not to create a business for those who run the prisons instead of a place to truly protect us from those who mean to do all harm. 

We can have religious instruction in religious institutions AND we can laws made in courts and government offices.   Our laws mean you can practice your religion without fear AND we can practice our personal beliefs without imposing them on one another. 

We can have rules and laws that keep industries in line to protect our environment AND those companies can still make A LOT of profit.  OR they can choose to make it seem not so AND we can choose to not believe their greed. 

We can have people who hunt or want to own guns AND have common sense regulations that at least match those we ask of people to get a driving license.

We can rely on science and it's results AND we can say it is hard for us to understand scientists without saying we don't believe because of that. 

We can use birth control AND we can opt not to.  We can have an abortion AND we can choose not to.  We can adopt children AND we can choose place children up for adoption.

We can have equal rights for all AND embrace the differences in people.  

We have enough money for conflicts AND we should have enough for rebuilding in a Marshall plan way because without an after plan we will just have more conflicts.

We can streamline government and regulations that are redundant AND still have government and regulations. 

We can dislike a person AND not be prejudiced against the ethnicity, race, religion, sex, orientation they identify with. 

We can have voted for someone AND acknowledge what they do poorly just as easily as the things they do well without having to become oddly cultish about it the people we vote for.  

We can pee next to one another in different stalls in the same bathroom AND still enforce laws if anyone breaks them and tries to harm someone in those places. 

We can protest AND be patriotic. 

We can believe in each other and not hold our politicians accountable AND we do not have to like the same politicians to do so. 

We are a nation of ANDs - not ORs.  We want a better future for ourselves AND our children, we want fair play for ourselves AND others, we are fallible and flawed AND we balance each other and make those flaws into opportunities. 

If you are not on board with wanting all of these things AND more for each of us who are Americans by choice or by birth then really you have to decide if you are just not willing to imagine such greatness OR that you have embraced your prejudices instead of your possibilities. 

We really a small blue dot of a planet AND across it we all hope for these things regardless of where we live or what language we say it in.   The people who want to do us harm, who choose to make us feel divided, who foster hate can only win if we allow them to OR we could just stop listening to them AND start listening to each other.