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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

Perfect Your Power with Satic Technology

I am all about reducing energy use in our home. From installing solar panels, using energy-efficient CFL and LED lighting, switching to more energy-efficient appliances, and driving an electric car, I try to do as much as I can to reduce my family’s use of fossil fuels. The problem now is that I am running out of changes to make in our home. So when I was approached by Power Perfect Place, a distributor of Satic Technology Products to test out some of their new energy-saving technology, I was totally on board.

Satic USA offers products to increase electrical efficiency in your home, resulting in a lower monthly electric bill. Their technology is designed to raise the power efficiency of your home (the amount of the power that comes into your home that is put to use rather than wasted), while reducing electro magnetic fields (EMF) exposure.

EMFs are invisible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation, that are associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of man-made lighting.

Satic’s products reduce energy use and lower EMF radiation by correcting the electrical waves in a home or office system – reducing heat, lowering amperage, and lessening the harmful effects of “electric noise” & negative harmonics that are found in many electrical systems. Here’s more detailed and technical information on how their technology works.

Satic offers an array of products to optimize energy use in your home or office, including:

Power Perfect Box – Satic’s Power Perfect Box is its flagship product for filtering and conditioning power to provide cleaner energy. A wire-in solution that you install directly at the electrical panel, it provides surge protection, voltage regulation, line conditioning, EMF reduction, harmonics reduction, and energy savings. Cleaner, more efficient power going in to your home or office results in reduced energy consumption and increased equipment longevity.

EMF Eliminator – Modern electronics introduce EMF radiation into the electrical circuits in our homes. The result is sometimes referred to as “dirty power” – which results in high EMF levels, electrical inefficiencies and electrical spikes that are potentially damaging to sensitive electronics. The EMF Eliminator is a simple solution that plugs into a standard outlet and filters out harmonics in your electrical circuit to provide cleaner power and reduced EMF radiation. Just two EMF Eliminators (appropriately installed) can produce a healthier and more efficient electrical system for homes and small businesses.

This video demonstrates how the EMF Eliminator works.

 

Satic Pulse Light Bulbs – Satic applied their wave-form technology to high quality, energy-efficient lighting. The result is a full spectrum, flicker free light that uses very little electricity and lasts for years – reducing landfill waste and saving money for consumers. The lights come in multiple shapes, colors and sizes, look better, operate cooler, and last for years.

Satic Shield – Satic Shield is a radiant barrier insulation that is light weight and easy to install. It is manufactured using a polyethylene foam core with reinforced double sided aluminum facings. It outperforms standard fiberglass insulation to keep things warm in winter and cool in summer – significantly reducing heating and cooling costs in the home or office.

I decided that the EMF eliminator boxes were the easiest of the Satic products to install and begin using immediately, so I started with those. I installed as directed by Satic – by simply plugging one in an outlet linked to the “A phase” of my electrical panel, and one in a “B phase” outlet. This is much easier than it sounds, believe me.

To demonstrate how the Eliminator Boxes works to reduce EMFs, I used this Green Wave device to measure the EMF levels on my outlets before and after plugging in the EMF eliminators. Here are the results:

SaticMeasurements

As you can see, there was a significant reduction in EMF radiation – it was cut almost in half. And while the research on EMF exposure and our health is ongoing (present mainstream science rests on the side of “not a threat to human health”), I figure, hey, reducing EMF exposure is certainly not going to cause harm to our family and may be a step worth considering.

In addition to lowering EMF levels, I did notice a slight reduction in my electric bills. A year-to-year comparison of the past two months shows my electrical use down between 5-10%. While I can’t say with 100% certainty that this is directly related to using these boxes, I will say that I have made no other major changes in our electrical use since the same period last year.

Now that I’ve seen some results from this technology, I would consider the Power Perfect Box as the next product in my energy-saving arsenal.

You can purchase Satic products and get more information online at Power Perfect Place. You can also follow Power Perfect Place on Facebook.

Watching my electric bill go down is an ongoing goal. Reducing my carbon footprint, and saving money – it’s a winning combination.

 

What’s in My Bag: The OC Green Mama Edition

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You know how you turn to that feature of Us Magazine called “What’s in My Bag?” and you think “yeah, like I really care what’s in Mel B’s bag.” Then, somehow, you find yourself reading the entire article. No, just me?

I think we all (well atleast I do) have some curiosity to see inside people’s homes, purses, cars, etc. It’s like a peak into their lives.

So, I had this idea to empty out my bag and over-share. Not because I think I’m as interesting as say, Nicki Minaj (thankfully I’m not), but because it helps highlight some of the great green products that I rely on daily. Products that help me live a little more eco-friendly on a daily basis (and none of which I received for free or in exchange for a blog post – just products I love).

OCGreenMama_MyPurseHere are some of the highlights:

OCGreenMama_PurseCollage

Organic hand sanitizing spray – Right now, I’m using the Dr. Bronner’s Lavender spray. It’s organic, fair trade, free from harsh and problematic anti-bacterial chemicals, and helps alleviate my OCD hand washing tendencies.

Mineral Fusion Powder – this all-in-one mineral powder gives you a daily touch up – especially good for hot sweaty summer days – and provides SPF protection. Its color is subtle enough that I can use it on the whole family, and great to have stored in my purse for those times I realize we headed out to the OC Fair all day without sunscreen (true story). And, it’s free from gluten, parabens, SLS, phthalates, artificial colors and synthetic fragrances. 100% vegetarian and never tested on animals.

To-Go Ware – I carry this bamboo utensil set in my bag (which includes a knife, fork, spoon and chopsticks) to avoid single-use plastic utensils. You can see in the photo, I have accidentally thrown away (or others have tossed for me) a few of my bamboo utensils, but I just replaced them with some sturdy plastic ones that I wash and reuse again and again. Bonus: the RePeat carrying case is made from recycled PET plastic.

Chico bag – This is saying a lot but seriously, the Chico bag is the single most useful green product I have ever purchased. It is in my purse at all times, so I’m always prepared with my own bag. Not only has it saved me literally hundreds of shopping bags, but it’s also hauled sunscreen and magazines to the beach, sandwiches to a picnic, and even brought home wet swimsuits after a day at the pool. It is durable and super easy to clean – just toss in the washing machine and air dry.

Bag of Lip Products – I can’t stand searching in the bottom of my purse for my lip balm, so I keep all these products in a little bag within a bag. Among my favorites are Kiss My Face lip balmBurt’s Bees Lip gloss, and Vapour Organic Beauty lipstick. With these three products I can go from no color, to subtle color, to night-time color, using safe, all-natural ingredients.

Other purse items: My Prius key, iPhone, Coach wallet (which I’ve had for fifteen years and counting), EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce; Bowl of Heaven punch card; Dry Soda coupon; random things like a salt packet from the movies that I didn’t want to throw away and a cork from a champagne bottle opened at a restaurant (which I brought home in my purse to add to my cork collection); a purse hook (no purses on the floor – gross!); sun-glass-cleaning cloth; and hair bands and bobby pins (which every good dance mom carries at all times).

So there’s a look into my not-Us-Magazine-worthy purse. I mean it’s no $3000 Louis Vuitton bag filled with over-priced makeup – just a $100 straw purse full of eco-friendly products I use and love – those that make a green, OCD-tendencied mama’s life easier on a daily basis.

The Problem with Your Kids Following You on Instagram

Our after-school conversation today:

My daughter: “Mom, did you know that you posted a picture of eggs on Instagram?”

Me: “Yes! It’s the new packaging of the organic Costco eggs! It’s recycled plastic now instead of styrofoam. Isn’t that cool? I’m so excited. I have written to Costco, and tweeted them, and I kept asking them to change it and the finally did!”

Radio silence and blank stares

My son: “But why did you have to take a picture of it?”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, was that wrong? Okay, then tomorrow I’ll just post a bunch of selfies instead of posting about green things. How about that? Does that work for you?”

Cue synchronized eye roll.

Me: “Okay then, glad we had this conversation. Next time I need your advice on what to post on Instagram, I’ll ask.”

The controversial photo that caused childhood embarrassment –

IMG_2256

And that, among many, is my problem with my kids being on Instagram. I’ve previously been told that I post too many photos of food, my writing is too “formal”, and generally, I’m just kind of a dork.

It really is amazing that I have made it this far in life without them. I mean, how did I do it?

All of which reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: “Unsolicited advice….always welcome.”

Who Moved my “Ness”?

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your “ness”? You know, that twinkle in your eye, that spark inside, that thing that makes you, well you.

“Ness” is something I borrowed from the movie “You, Me and Dupree”, which is surprisingly touching for a critically-panned comedy. Personally, I love this movie. Owen Wilson is awesome. Here’s the clip where he introduces “ness”.

I was talking to my husband the other night, and I told him that I felt like somewhere along the way of life’s ups and downs, my “Allison-ness” got lost.

The next day, I read (and then shared) this quote on Facebook:

“You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.” ― Eckhart Tolle

And I’ve been mulling it over in my head ever since.

I really want this to be true. If it is, it means my “ness” is in there somewhere, just waiting to be brought back up to the surface – so others can see it’s light.

For me, part of my “ness” was this feeling:

Maybe it was the naivety of youth, but I really did feel that if I worked hard enough, was a good enough person, and had fabulous shoes :), I could do just about anything I put my mind to.

But then, things happened on the path of life – it didn’t go according to plans. Over the course of just a few years, life got hard, and sometimes ugly, and sad. Rather than putting on my cape and fighting the good fight, I found myself tired, distrustful, and overwhelmed much of the time. On too many days, I climbed into my little protective shell and didn’t want to come out. My “ness” climbed in with me, into the safety of the shell.

By posting the quote on Facebook, I sparked an enlightening discussion with a good friend. This friend, Randy, was paralyzed in an accident years ago. He offered a different perspective. His accident, he said, caused a loss of not only something that he had, but also something that he was.

He lost something that most of us take for granted every day – the sensation of sand between our toes – of being physically and spiritually connected to the earth.  Although he has accepted it and built a wonderful life, he said that the loss will always be there. “It’s like a kind of death when you wake-up one day and you realize you can no longer remember what you were born with. It changes you.”

The discussion was much longer. We messaged back and forth most of the day. It was enlightening, affirming, and a snap-back-to-reality moment for me.

Our discussion also made me see this Eckhart Tolle quote in a whole new light. I think it is possible (through the aches, pains, and tragedies of life), to lose something that you are. You can lose it physically, which can lead to a more spiritual loss; or emotionally – like loss of innocence, loss of identity, loss of relentless optimism.

Randy’s insight on all of this was invaluable. I am so grateful to him. This the very best thing about Facebook – the ability to connect with some of my favorite people who I no longer get to see regularly.

One other piece of wisdom Randy shared is a recent interview he read with Neil Peart (for all the women reading this – he’s the lyricist/drummer from the the band Rush) about evolution in his philosophical viewpoint. Here’s one of the things Neil had to say:

“Wish Them Well [offers] a very mature response to the world that it took me a long time to learn. In a lot of our early stuff, my lyrical inspiration was anger, for sure. [laughs] There’s still a lot I’m angry about, a lot of human behavior that’s appalling and despicable, but you choose what you can fight against. I always thought if I could just put something in words perfectly enough, people would get the idea and it would change things. That’s a harmless conceit. With people too, you constantly think, “If I’m nice to people and treat them well, they’ll appreciate it and behave better. They won’t, but it’s still not a bad way to live.”

So maybe the answer is that your “ness” is still there. It’s just that, like all of us, it grows up. It doesn’t go away, but rather, changes and adapts to your circumstances and challenges.

I think the important thing is that even though it evolves, you must work to keep it shiny and bright, not let it get dulled by pain and loss. That way, your “ness” is a light coming out of you, rather than a darkness sucking in.

So I am climbing out of that shell, pulling my grown up “Allison-ness” along with me. It’s needs some buffing. It’s not very shiny yet, but I’m working on it.

If your “ness” has been lost along the way as well, I encourage you to find it inside, pull it up, and buff it out. Imagine lots of shiny, positive “nesses” out in the world. Would be an awesome thing.

And I will still be trying to inspire change – but maybe instead of the world, the grown-up Allison will settle on inspiring change within a circle of friends.

As my wise friend Randy said,

“If it’s true that life is about the journey and not the destination, then our peace and happiness must be found in the effort and not the result.”

Remembering September 11th

I had planned to share a post about recycling today, but on the anniversary of September 11th, it’s hard to focus on writing about much else.

The funny thing is that today was just a normal day filled with the regular activities of school and work – nothing out of the ordinary. And unlike last year (when I watched non-stop TV and cried almost the entire day), I didn’t really do much to commemorate the anniversary.

The thing that is remarkable to me is that this day was completely unremarkable. Back on this day in 2001, I didn’t think that would ever be the case. After the events of that day, I wasn’t sure if life would ever get back to any sense of normal again.

I remember watching TV while nursing my three-month old son. I looked down at his innocent face and thought “My God. What kind of world did I bring you into?” And I just started to sob, and sob, and sob. I felt so sad, so hopeless, so scared. I felt like life as I knew it would never be the same.

But then, something remarkable happened. In the days and weeks following that terrible day, we became united. We pulled together in a way that I have never seen before. We picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and started to rebuild…together.

All that working together – it actually worked. We did go back to work. We went back to school. We went back to life.

And my little baby is now an eleven-year-old boy with a normal, happy life. He feels safe and secure at home, at school, and traveling around this country. He has visited New York City and The Memorial Museum. Although he will never truly understand what that day meant to those who lived through it, he understands the kind of destruction that hate and intolerance can cause.

Which gives me hope for his generation, hope for his future, hope for the country.

President Obama said today during September 11th Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial “The true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before.”

I truly hope that is the case. Although at times it does not feel like that, in the long run, I do believe that it will be. For me, September 11th is a day when we should focus on the UNITED part of the United States of America and look to see how we can strengthen that in our own lives and communities.

We will not ever (nor should we) agree – on things like religion, politics, or even which fast food restaurant we will frequent. But in spite of the disagreements, I hope that we still respect, still listen, still love.

We can focus on our common goals – healthy children; stable jobs; clean air and water; and a democracy that really does work by and for the people. I want all of these things for me, for you, but most of all for these two. They deserve it, and so do we.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.