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Category Archives: Politics & Other “off limits” topics

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Fake Patriotism Makes Me Cringe

I have had this fire lit under me lately about the what I call “fake patriotism” and I can’t take it anymore people. Not. One. More. Day – I’m done.

I am so incredibly sick of the “you have to have ten million American flags flying onstage”, “you have to stand and have your hand over your heart at all times when the anthem is playing”, “when I was a kid we said the pledge in school every day” movements I CAN NOT TAKE IT anymore.

First and foremost, let me get this out of the way – KIDS STILL SAY THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE EVERY SINGLE DAY. Yep, every day. At school. The one that says “one nation under God.”  My kids have said it every single day of grade school, junior high, and high school – both public and private schools. EVERY DAY!! So please stop with your “our nation would be saved if only kids said the pledge every day” memes. You know, these ones –

predgeofallegiance

No. It is simply not true that they do not do it for fear of offending someone. This is not a thing. Now, the only difference is that students are not forced to say it. It is optional. But, um, hello, I’m pretty sure that is progress, not a terrifying new world order.

On that note, all public places (schools, government offices, etc.) and all private homes are allowed to fly the flag. Always. So stop with that nonsense too. Just stop. Please.

The latest controversy in this vein, involves my favorite football team, The San Francisco 49ers. And it’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Apparently, he didn’t stand for the national anthem. Oh my! The horror! An American citizen sitting in protest of what he feels is unfair in this country. Can you believe it?!

Specifically, Kaepernick said he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

You can agree or not agree with his statement. You can be a “black lives matter” or an “all lives matter” person. I am not getting into that in this post. It’s too long to cover and for me, beside the point. The thing is, what I love so much about this country, is it affords him the opportunity to make this statement. This is fundamental to our democracy.

It reminds me of this John Kerry quote, which I love –

“We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.”

The HEART AND SOUL OF PATRIOTISM. It’s the ability to speak our minds freely and stand up for what we feel is right – without repercussions.

While he will have no legal repercussions (because thank goodness, we live in the LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE), I am quite certain, that like the Dixie Chicks before him, given his audience, he will have public, and later, financial repercussions.

Here is the NFL’s statement on this matter – “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

Yes, yes and yes. I could not agree more. Patriotism is not defined by flying a million flags, or placing your hand over your heart, or reciting the pledge. For me, patriotism is being educated about American history, being involved in our democratic process, and most importantly – expressing yourself freely without fear of being retaliated against. Oh yes, and VOTING!!

These are not the stories that make me outraged, rather, these are the stories that make me believe more than ever – we live in the GREATEST country in the world.

Now excuse me while I put on my America flag dress and parade down the street, with my hand over my heart, reciting the pledge of allegiance, of course…

an-american-flag-dress

 

 

Yes, Now is the Time

As I dropped my kids off at school today and watched them walk away, I unexpectedly teared up. I have shed many tears over the past few days, but my reaction today took me by surprise.

On the way home, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Yes, it is time.”

I will not listen to the people who say that I’m not honoring the victims of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown by bringing up the issue of sensible gun control. Because for me, I would not be honoring the victims if I did not fight for this issue. Right now, while everyone is dialed in and listening, is exactly the time.

To me, it’s not political. What is political about wanting to protect my own children and, in fact all children, from this happening again?

The issue of violence at this level is incomprehensible, and the solutions complicated. It’s no easy fix. But to ignore the possibility of better, to say “now is not the time” or “we don’t need gun control, we need more guns”, well, I just simply don’t understand it.

Why can’t we look at solutions? Why can’t we expect better? Why must we wait to do these things? I believe this incident leaves us without a choice. We simply must address these issues and do it now.

Nothing is off the table. Let’s look at mental health care. Let’s look at gun control. Let’s look at security in our school systems. Let’s look at educational opportunities. Let’s look at violent videos games.

Notice at no time in this post did I mention a BAN on guns. I just said better gun control, so please don’t start with the second amendment stuff. Yes, I know we have the right to bear arms. But, nowhere does our constitution say we have a right to bear semi-automatic assault weapons. I don’t understand the pro-gun hunting crowd’s stance on this either. I mean, the last time I looked, hunters weren’t using 30-round clips to kill a deer. I would think that most true sportsman would agree that these types of weapons are unnecessary.

We can also do a much better job in regulating who can purchase guns. It should be at least as hard to get a gun as it is to get a driver’s license. Why is this controversial? Who on earth wants guns in the hands of the mentally unstable or those with criminal records?

And stop with the criminals will still get guns thing too. The guns used in most of these recent mass shootings were all purchased legally, not from some underground black market.

Oh, and the, they would just use other weapons thing? Last time I looked, you couldn’t kill 26 people in under a minute with a knife.

Why can’t we just consider the possibility that it should be easier in this country to get mental health care and harder to purchase assault weapons? Why is that a controversial statement?

As mothers, we have to ban together to be the voice of reason. Let’s make our voices louder than those of the NRA. Now is the time and I fear if we don’t do it, no one will. Until the next tradgedy, when everyone argues about it on TV and in social media, and then a bunch of people tell us “it’s not the time”, and then everyone does absolutely NOTHING to fix the problem…until it happens again…then we hit repeat…

I want off this spin cycle. The status quo is not working. It’s time for change.

Instead of just talking about it, I am going to be more active. If you would like to be part of the change too, here are some things that we can do right now:

In addition to better gun control, we also need to look at the inadequate mental health care funding in our country and address the level of security in schools.

But for me, school security must stop way short of armed guards in every school, and teachers carrying concealed weapons, and teaching our children to live in fear. If the level of security at our schools needs to be armed guards to take out shooters wielding semi-automatic assault weapons aimed at our children, then I’m out. I will kick and scream and protest outside our schools before I sign up for that gig.

Most importantly, as moms we can love. Love our children. Love other people’s children. Love people who agree with you. Love people who disagree with you. Love other parents. Extend a hand to those who need help.

Change is in the air, I can feel it. I am hopeful, but beyond just being hopeful, I intend to do something this time. I can no longer stand idly by and let my voice be drowned out. This issue is too important.

I choose love. I choose change. Now.

Dear Facebook, I Give Up

Last night, I posted this status update on Facebook:

I was tired from the day. The kids were in bed and I was alone in an empty house without adult conversation – which happens often when your significant other travels a lot.

I was just trying to spark a little conversation. And not post something like “So glad this day is over. It was a bad one.” I am not a fan of generic stuff like that. You think “Well, why was it bad? What happened?” Or you just don’t care and move on. Either way, what’s the point?

Also, I feel like people are always posting about all the great things that happen, sometimes it’s nice to see the other side. That way, you aren’t always comparing your insides to other people’s outsides. I am a big fan of transparency – the good, the bad, the honest truth.

I thought maybe I would find someone who had a bad day too – and could commiserate – “Yeah, that happened to me too”, or “Let’s chalk it up to a loss and try again tomorrow.”

I was NOT saying that my life is bad. I know I have a great life and I am fortunate in many ways.

I was NOT saying that other people don’t have problems. Everyone has problems – some fewer, some more, some the same, some different.

I was also NOT saying there is something wrong with my kids reading the Bible. Back when I was writing the post, I thought about including a disclaimer: “I’m not saying there is something wrong with the Bible. It just shouldn’t be forced on kids in public school.”

But, I didn’t, thinking that most people would already agree – because groups of men should not be waiting outside of our public schools for ANY reason. And bibles should NOT be handed out to kids in public schools. Both of these things are NOT okay. There is separation of church and state (By the way, if they were passing out the Koran to kids, I’m thinking people would feel differently).

Okay, off my soapbox now…

I have to admit, sometimes I feel like giving up on Facebook. But at the same time, I love it as a way to connect with people near and far, and stay current with what’s happening in their lives. I also love finding new friends, and discovering things we have in common.

Instead of giving up entirely, I’m going to start utilizing Facebook’s “friend list” feature more, which let’s me customize posts for different groups of friends – like school friends, close friends, work friends, family, etc. I’m going to make a list called “people who get me”. I’m not kidding. I’m already working on it now.

So, another lesson learned for me. Wow, they just keep coming, don’t they? Now the next time I want to stir up a little evening conversation, I’ll just post to this group of people who know me, love me, and most of all “get” me. No disclaimers required.

Source: laundryfoam.tumblr.com via Allison on Pinterest