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Post-Election Thoughts: One Year Later

This morning, I woke up with hope in my heart, for the first time since November 9, 2016. What a difference a year makes.

In 2017, a transgender woman beat the incumbent conservative who introduced the anti-trans bathroom-bill in Virginia. And she did it by running on a platform of traffic reduction. The boyfriend of a victim of gun violence beat the delegate with an “A” rating from the NRA. A civil rights attorney who sued the police department on behalf of Black Lives Matter became a prosecutor in Pennsylvania.

For more inspirational stories from the 2017 election, see this article from the Washington Post.

I know there is still a huge fight ahead, but I’m ready. My exhaustion and depression are slightly subsiding.

This was my status on November 9th last year. How did I know I was REALLY going to need those stretchy pants? (The “Trump Ten”, it’s a real thing friends.)

So yes, I have had my fair share of ice cream in the past year. Also, wine, cheese, bread, and even the occasional sheet cake – eaten with a fork straight from the box.

There was a trending meme on Twitter yesterday – photos of how we feel pre- and post-election. I couldn’t decide which of these was more me. Depending upon the day, I feel each of these:

Sometimes, I feel ready to fight all day every day, and other days I want to drink wine and hide from the world. Some days, I feel both in the same day, or even the same hour.

For a more accurate representation, here are actual photos of me, pre- and post-election:

*Actual unretouched photos from 11/8/16 and 11/8/17 (Scary, I know)

I think you can see, the year has taken a toll. I swear I’ve aged ten years since November 9, 2016. Every single day since the election, I feel that I must do battle to protect our democracy. Because every SINGLE day, the administration does something to dismantle it.

I also scream from my home, my car, and my social media accounts – “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!” – daily. This is important because I feel we are becoming numb to the undoing of our democratic norms. From the EPA administrator (the vastly unqualified Scott Pruitt) barring scientists from advising the EPA  (This is not normal!), to the President’s threatening nuclear war over Twitter (This is not normal!), to Trump lamenting that “The saddest thing is that because I’m the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI.” (THIS IS REALLY, REALLY NOT NORMAL!!)

Often times, I feel like I’m living in a weird dystopian novel…and I just want it to end.

Many say that taking to social media to talk about politics is a waste of time, but I disagree. I can’t tell you how many times people have reached out to me in the last year via text, email, phone – or even pulled me aside at a party. The conversation usually begins with them saying “I feel like I’m going crazy and I need someone to talk to. I know it’s safe to talk to you.”

There are a lot of people out there struggling and hurting during this presidency – people who you may not even imagine, because they keep their political views under wraps. If I can be a sounding board, I hope that it takes some of the daily burden of living in the post-Trump era off of them. More than that, I hope to encourage people to channel their frustration into action, and be more involved in our political process.

Granted, I have lost friends because of my political activism and transparency. But those who do not like me – because I am outspoken about preserving our democracy, protecting our children from gun violence, and standing up for those most vulnerable in our society – are not really people whose opinions matter much to me.

And I’m not just sitting here on my computer all day, lamenting the downfall of our democracy on social media. I have seriously increased my political activism. I have always been politically active, kept up on the news, and voted (in every election since 1992). In the past year, I’ve taken it to a new level – participating in multiple protests, joining political organizations, contacting my representatives on issues weekly, volunteering to register voters and signing up to be a poll worker in 2018.

The increase in political awareness and social activism across this country is the big upside of the past election. The more women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks that are involved in politics – either by running, contacting representatives, and most importantly, VOTING – the better the future of our country will be.

The election results of 2017 show that this is already happening. I am optimistic about the future now – one where we work together for the common good. My hope is we reject divisive politics and focus on actual issues and solutions (like health care, and infrastructure, and climate change) – instead of arguing about who stood or knelt, or prayed or didn’t, or said Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

I know this past year has been rough friends, but I hope that you are feeling better too. I hope you feel energized to take action. I hope you will join me in putting down the bowl of ice cream and getting to work. The 2018 election will be here before we know it.

 

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Surviving in the Trump Era with Sheet Cake and Cheap Rosé

It’s been months since I blogged, for reasons I don’t totally understand. I’ve been extremely active on social media – you can follow my Facebook page or connect with me on Twitter. I guess I just like the interactive quality of those channels better. I’d love it if you follow me there and we can chat.

This week, post-Charlottesville, was incredibly hard for a lot of us. I think, for me, the hardest of any so far. And that is REALLY saying something.

Even as bad as I thought it would be – and “believe me”, I thought it would be bad – I did not expect our President to be threatening Nuclear War over Twitter and outright supporting neo-Nazi’s and White Supremacists. I feel like we are living in some type dystopian future and I really, really want the book to end.

Nevertheless, we must persist. So I write my representatives, donate to good causes, sign petitions, attend rallies (not sponsored by hate groups), keep up on the news, and share information through social media.

But sometimes, at the end of the week, you just need a good sheet cake (thank you Tina Fey), a glass of rosé, and some YouTube venting…

Here is some related reading I recommend – from people much more articulate than I am:

It’s indefensible for Republicans to stick with Trump

A brief note to my fellow white people on what to do after Charlottesville

A white supremacist pointed a gun at me in Orange County, Calif. They’re in all of our communities

Kellerman: The ugliest reality in America revealed itself again

Nazis can march on my hometown but they can’t win

I voted for Trump and I sorely regret it

 

 

 

Arbonne RE9 Advanced Skin Care Review

Recently, a old friend from high school contacted me about a new product he discovered and thought I might be interested in – Arbonne. I normally run and hide from anything associated with multi-level marketing, but for some reason, I stuck around to listen to his pitch and ultimately decided to give one of Arbonne’s skin care lines a try.

I mean, at this point in my life, what do I have to lose? Well, other than wrinkles, age spots, redness, dry skin – the list goes on and on unfortunately.

I have tried hundreds of skin care products and dozens of lines over the years. I am always trying to balance safety and effectiveness. I want something natural and nontoxic, but also, I am okay with a safe level of chemicals and preservatives, because I want it to actually work. I have used completely natural (food-grade) lines that had me breaking out in a painful skin rash, and used not so natural lines that didn’t do anything to improve my skin. My skin is really dry and super sensitive, so finding good skin care is not easy. I have been fairly disappointed most of the time I try a new skin line.

What I like about Arbonne – and the main reason I decided to try the products – is the transparency of their ingredients. The company’s mission is to develop products that combine the best of nature and leading science. Nature and science –  I am a big fan of both.

Arbonne’s products are safe, nontoxic, and committed to being eco-friendly. They proactively search for the purest, most unadulterated botanical ingredients from natural sources. Arbonne’s formulas are free from animal products or by-products, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, benzene, bisphenol-a, carbon black, formaldehyde-donating preservatives, hydroquinone, mineral oil, parabens, petrolatum, phthalates, sodium laureth sulfates (SLES), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), synthetic dyes, talc, triclosan and triethanolamine (TEA).

For me, being “green” means more than just ingredients, it’s about a company minimizing its environmental footprint as much as possible. On that note, I appreciate that Arbonne uses soy-based inks and FSC-certified renewable resources for paper and printed materials, their shipping boxes are made primarily of recycled material and are recyclable, the majority of their product packaging is recyclable, and shipments are certified carbon neutral.

But, do they actually work? This was the remaining question for me. Here is what I tried and my results …

I purchased the Arbonne RE9 Advanced line and used it regularly for a few months. This line involves a five-step skin care system, which includes: (1) Smoothing Facial Cleanser, (2) Regenerating Toner, (3) Intensive Renewal Serum, (4) Corrective Eye Crème, Night Repair Crème, and (5) Extra Moisture Restorative Day Crème with Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen in the morning or (5) Night Repair Cream at night.

It sounds complicated and time-consuming, but after the first couple of days, I had it down to under five minutes – morning and night. I admit that I skipped some steps if I was rushed in the morning – just did cleansing, eye cream and moisturizer. In the evening, I stuck pretty religiously to the regimen. I usually spend about a half an hour watching TV in the evening before bed, so I  washed my face, then set the rest of the products on my night stand, and did my nightly moisturizing while watching The Daily Show (side note – of course, you can moisturize watching any program you choose. I just found that watching Trevor Noah while moisturizing made my laugh lines increase and frown lines reduce – which has been especially helpful for me over the past few months. 😉 )

For this experiment, I decided to take before and after pictures. Honestly, until I compared them side by side, I was still pretty skeptical. Please note that I did not retouch these photos at all and was wearing no makeup in either (yikes!). Here are the before and after photos I took:

arbonnere9collageYes, the lighting is not exactly the same due to different times of the day (and yes, I blow dried my hair in the after – being horrified by my wet hair in the “before”), but still, I think there are some clearly visible results. Of course, the wrinkles are still there. I mean seriously, nothing short of needles or surgery will do anything about those. However, the main difference I see is in my skin tone, hydration and coloring. I see a significant reduction in redness and discoloration on my skin – particularly in the up close shot.

Recently, I received some complements out of the blue from friends on my skin. I also noticed when using the product my skin was significantly more hydrated and less dry and scaly. But until I saw these photos and compared them side by side, I wasn’t so sure if this really worked for me.

I can honestly say, my skin feels better, more hydrated and more even in tone than it has in a very long time. In spite of the fact that my stress level has been pretty high lately, I don’t feel like it is showing on my face. Yay for good skin care! That, combined with lots and lots of water (I do not go anywhere without my reusable water bottle), seems to have balanced out the lack of sleep and over-indulgence in wine and comfort food since late October.

To order the RE9 line, or any other Arbonne product, you can contact my friend, and all-around good guy, Todd Eising via email, or find his Arbonne catalog here.

(Note: I did not receive any products in exchange for posting this review. I also am not selling Arbonne myself and receive no proceeds from the sale of any of their products. Opinions and reviews on this blog are – as always – unpaid, unbiased and from my personal experience.)

DIY Counter-top Cleaner

Many friends have asked me to share my recipe for homemade counter-top cleaner recently, so I thought this would be a good time to re-post. If you have made a resolution to use safer, more natural cleaning products in the new year, this is a great place to start.

This solution can be used on all types of counter-top surfaces – granite, quartz, ceramic tile. It’s even safe enough for marble.

Granite, marble, and many other types of counter surfaces are porous and require a special type of cleaner. Do not use vinegar or any citrus-based cleaner on your stone counter-tops. Both are too acidic for porous surfaces. Over time, they will dull and scratch your beautiful stone. (Also DO NOT use Windex on granite –  it strips the counter of it’s sealant).

There are plenty of safe, natural counter cleaners available for purchase (Method and Howard’s Naturals are two I like), but I haven’t found a granite cleaner for under $8 anywhere.

I like to clean my counter tops A LOT, so I went looking for something homemade – simple, safe, effective and cheap.

I didn’t create this recipe, but I did revise slightly. I grabbed it from a site called Mama Cheaps. Here is that recipe along with my modifications:

  • 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol or vodka (both natural disinfectants)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 6 drops of dish detergent
  • 4-5 drops of essential oil (to make it smell pretty)

I prefer vodka to rubbing alcohol because it has no odor. Vodka of the Gods from Trader Joe’s is my vodka of choice- it’s TJ’s cheapest brand. One bottle ($9.99) lasts for over a year of cleaning – makes 16 bottles of cleaner! A fraction of the $8-$10 per bottle for store-bought cleaner.

I use a variety of essential oils – peppermint, lavender, orange. These oils are a bit expensive but each bottle lasts for years and years. You can mix and match them to create your own custom scent.

granitecleaning

This recipe, an empty spray bottle (you can even reuse your store-bought bottle) and a soft cloth is all you need to keep your counters sparkling clean and disinfected – at a fraction of the cost!

Cheers to a healthy and happy 2017! And if it can’t be either of those, it can at least be clean, right?

Vlog: More Post Election Thoughts – Where Do I Go From Here?

I’ve been lying low for the past few weeks, both with personal social obligations and social media. I really tried after the election to return to every day life, but try as I might, it just wouldn’t stick.

The light-hearted posts on social media feel hollow and discussion about the weather in every day life, meaningless. It all feels totally inauthentic for me right now.

I made a conscious effort a couple of years ago, to extract “political me”, from “every other part of me”. In an effort to maintain good relations with friends and relatives, and to stop debating with the same Facebook friends over and over again, I contained my political posts to my OC Green Mama Facebook page – taking them off my personal page entirely.

As a result, I haven’t spent much of any time on Facebook, except to check in with a few news sources and share interesting article on my Blog page. Because I almost can not think or talk about much of anything else but this horrible election. I even dream about it – EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. There is literally no escape.

As I mentioned in my last post, this election has changed me profoundly. I can’t seem to describe it as well in written words as I can verbally, so I made a quick video to try to communicate how I’m feeling.

Okay, so it wasn’t as quick as I thought. 😉 Looks like I have quite a bit to say. Even if no one watches, it felt good to get it out there.

If you are struggling too, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, email me, Tweet me, or leave me a Facebook comment or message. We need to listen to and support each other – now more than ever.

Be well friends. Thanks for listening.

Post-Election Thoughts, WTF Do We Do Now?

Friends, I am grieving. And I need a little time. Please do not say that I am exaggerating or need to stop my liberal, poor-loser whining. I know what grieving feels like. I have survived the death of loved ones, 9/11, the loss of a business I was passionate about, and almost lost a marriage. I know what pain is. I have been to quite a bit of therapy. I am well aware of the stages of the grieving process.

Many of us are going through this. If you are too, I recommend this article on post-election grief over at the Huffington Post.

Please do not tell us to just get over it (we can’t), stop our complaining (we won’t), or hope for the best (we don’t). I for one, am pretty low on hope right now. I believe that some of us may get there eventually, but we need time. I’ve moved through shock and anger, and am on to depression. I’m making progress. Yay!

One of the most painful things to me as a mom, was watching the reaction of my kids. My daughter cried herself to sleep on election night while my son was completely shut down and silent. He didn’t need to say anything. I could see the despair in his eyes. I am doing everything I can to support them, give them perspective and hope, and ease their fears – while at the same time, downplaying my own feelings for their sake.

This is not about party or politics. This is about who we are as a country, what we stand for, and the leadership that we show the world. I read a New York Times article this morning, and this quote by its author, Charles M. Blow, sums up my feelings perfectly –

“It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself.”

Right now, I feel lost, unsafe, and scared. And I’m a white woman in suburban Orange County. I can’t even imagine how African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQs, immigrants and people with disabilities are feeling.

This article, entitled “Farewell America” says this better than I can –

“We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.”

This is real friends. Already, there are reports of Muslim and Latino students in California being harassed, an Asian-American woman attacked by a Trump supporter in Minnesota,and a swastika and a message of Make America White Again spray painted on a baseball field in New York. If you can stomach more, see this collection of Twitter posts, “Day 1 in Trump’s America“.

So as much as I want to curl up in the fetal position and drink Cabernet until the pain goes away, I can not. Not for me, not for my children, and not for all of those who are vulnerable and have been marginalized and demonized by the President-elect.

After we move through the stages of grief, exercise some self-care, bury our feelings in too many bowls of ice cream, and hug our families, we have got to take action. It’s time to step it up friends.

This election has changed me. Scarred me permanently. But it has also woken me up to how much work we still have to do in this country. I am now and will forever be an activist – not the previous activist that I thought I was – volunteer-for-some-causes, donate-money-to-some-charities, and try-to-influence-a-few-friends type of activist. Rather I am becoming a no-holds-barred, I-will-shout-from-the-rooftops, I-don’t-care-if-I-lose-friends activist. F*ck this shit! This. Must. Stop.

Here are some of the things I plan to do for now. I hope some of you will consider joining me:

  • Continue to foster a home environment that promotes tolerance, acceptance, understanding and love. I would rather that my children grow up to be kind, than get in to Harvard or make a bunch of money. In our home, we will talk more about our shared values, and how we can love and accept and reach out to those who are not like us. This is a good article to discuss at the post-election dinner table –  “What Do We Tell The Children“.
  • Volunteer in my local community to support causes that matter to me. Not volunteer just around the holidays or when it is convenient. I will find a cause and devote time to it – weekly.
  • Speak out whenever I see (either in person or online) racism, bigotry, misogyny, or hate against any individual or group of people. I believe that now, we must radiate goodness and kindness from the bottom up. I do not see that it will be modeled at the top anytime soon. We must be the change. Now more than ever.
  • Read and reread, and read again this article from Mother Jones, “Don’t Mourn, Fight Like Hell“. From this piece – “Trump appealed to America’s worst impulses. Now it’s on the rest of us to show, to prove, that this is not all that America is. This is a time when we’re called on to do things we may not have done before. To face down bigotry and hate, and to reach beyond our Facebook feeds in trying to do so.”
  • Seek to understand those who feel differently and think differently. I am trying, like really trying. It is hard. I’m not going to lie. But in the end, I strive to understand the pain, the hopelessness, the anger – that makes someone support this man. I will not shame them. I will seek to find common ground. Even if they don’t do the same in return. It’s the only way to get through and out of this mess. This piece was helpful for me, “Stop Shaming Trump Supporters“.
  • Join and donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They do good work to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Their work is more important than ever.
  • Join and donate to Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office.
  • Check out this list of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry organizations.
  • Volunteer and donate to environmental causes. The earth (and all of those who live here) is going to need all the help she can get fighting a president who believes climate change is a “hoax”. I recommend the 350.org, the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club for a start.

Let this election enrage but also motivate us. That is the one and only silver lining I can find.

Let’s do more, fight harder, be louder, and be the change. Most importantly, let us spread love and light and tolerance to all people who we touch. We can be the change. Now more than ever, we must be the difference. It is the only chance we have. I hope you will join me.

So for now, we love, love, and love some more. Not a weak and passive love. A love that is strong – that can move mountains. A love that stands up for Americans – all Americans. In my heart, I truly believe … we are stronger together.

love

 

 

 

We Could All Use More Free Passes

I have wanted to write about this topic for some time, but for some reason, I haven’t yet. It feels like the right time now. With all the negativity in the world, I think we could all use a little more compassion, more understanding, and more forgiveness in our lives. On many days, we all could just use a “free pass”.

The “free pass” is something I created a few years ago, and now I find that I use it all the time.

Here is how it usually works: I run across someone during my day and maybe they are agitated, angry, or even sometimes, downright rude. Now, I’ve never met this person before or don’t know them well. Instead of getting annoyed or making all kinds of horrible assumptions about them, I just issue them a “free pass” and go along with my day.

The thing is, that person may be dealing with something difficult – a fight with a spouse, illness, or problems with their kids. It has nothing to do with me so I can’t take it personally. And their actions may be totally out of character for them, so I can’t make some sweeping judgment about them.

For me, it’s an offshoot of the quote by T.H. Thompson and John Watson, “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” I’m sure most of you have heard this quote before, but it’s a powerful one. I try to think of it often and keep it close to me so I don’t forget its message.

Even if someone is a friend, you may not be aware of or understand that battle. You can issue a free pass to friends and family too – like to a friend who is normally reliable but suddenly flakes out on an obligation, or a family member who is short with you because you caught them in a bad moment.

Of course there are people who eventually run out of free passes. It’s not an endless pass to be a jerk. But those people are really few and far between.

So, the next time someone cuts you off trying to get on the freeway, just give them a free pass and move on. It’s a small gesture but the world would be a better place if we all walked around with a bunch of these in our pocket:

free-pass