popular culture

Election Aftermath

In the election this week, the popular vote was split down the middle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

 

We have seen Trump supporters cheering and Hillary supporters crying.

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Photo courtesy Getty Images

 

I have friends and family who are Trump supporters. I know them to be good people and they truly believe that he is the answer to get this country back on track.

 

I also have friends and family who are Hillary supporters. They are also good people who feel the country is on the right track and they believe Donald Trump will derail it.

 

Our country is truly divided right now but it’s not the first time.

 

According to Ron Chernow’s book, Hamilton, this has been the case in America since its inception. Even the founding fathers didn’t agree on everything.

 

That’s what makes our country great.

 

Photo courtesy of Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Photo courtesy of Matt Rourke/AP Photo

We are allowed the freedom to debate our beliefs and ideas.

 

But who’s right and who’s wrong? They are both right and wrong.

 

No one person or group has the right to push their ideology on others. I know I get angry and resentful the minute someone tells me how I should be living my life.

 

All of us, not just our representatives, need to start listening to each other. We need to stop talking, get our anger in check and start trying to understand our fellow human beings. Especially those whose opinions are different than ours.

 

I believe we are more alike than we are different.

 

Most of us want to make a decent living, have access to affordable healthcare, raise our families in a safe environment, and enjoy the freedoms that this country was founded on.

 

And, each side has a different idea of how to get there.

 

The founders of this country knew that compromise needed to be part of the solution. The art of compromise is that neither party walks away totally happy but they are each able to live with the deal at hand.

 

Hamilton the musical is based on Ron Chernow's book by the same name

Hamilton the musical is based on Ron Chernow’s book

 

One of those deals is what landed our capitol in Washington DC.

 

Try this today, stop talking and be curious about someone who is different than you. Ask questions and listen, really listen.

 

Practice looking for common ground and for a way to create a win-win.

 

This is how we make our relationships, work places and nation great!

Stopping The Violence

Photo credit beatricebiologist.com

Photo credit beatricebiologist.com

With the rash of shootings and violence going on in the Rochester area, our country and around the world, it’s hard not to be scared these days.

 

Living in a small town, it’s easy to turn off the TV and say “I don’t want to think about this because it doesn’t effect me.”

 

Or “I’ll just ignore it and it will go away.”

 

Or even, “I don’t want to think about this because there is nothing I can do.”

 

However, I know I need to do something, but what?

 

According to an expert on peace and nonviolence, Arun Gandhi, “The world is what we have made it. If we change ourselves we can change the world, and changing ourselves begins with changing our language and methods of communication.”

 

Arun learned from his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, that violence occurs everywhere. We may think we live in a world where violence can’t touch us if we only focus on physical violence. I know I feel pretty safe in my neighborhood and in most places I travel.

 

Photo credit frombulliedtobrilliant.com

Photo credit frombulliedtobrilliant.com

 

However, Arun Gandhi states in Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, that there is a more insidious form of violence, “passive” violence.

 

This takes the form of speaking to or treating others disrespectfully, name calling, bullying, even eye rolling.

 

Any act where it causes an emotional hurt is an act of “passive” violence.

 

For example, a nasty or hurtful Tweet or post. Mocking someone’s appearance. Rolling your eyes when someone says something stupid.

 

I remember being picked on as kid and complaining to my mom. Her advice was to just ignore it and the kids will stop. She was right but it took a while. I can still feel the anger and frustration I felt sitting in silence on the bus as some boys told me how fat and ugly I was.

 

And it doesn’t just happen to us as kids. Fast forward 35 years and there I am again, sitting in a boardroom having insults thrown at me by a superior.

 

The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is BS!

 

Gandhi explained that “passive violence ultimately generated anger in the victim who, as an individual or as a member of a collective, responded violently. In other words, it is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence.”

 

With all of the hate speech and negativity being thrown around in the political arena, there has been plenty of fuel being added to the fire lately.

 

Could it be helping to create the homegrown violence in our country? I believe 100% YES!

 

We all need to get: Words are powerful.

 

What we are doing is NOT working. The answer is not more police. The answer is not meeting violence with violence.

 

“Be dominated by love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion, and concern for others rather than the self-centered and selfish, greedy, hateful, prejudiced, suspicious, and aggressive attitudes that dominate our thinking.”  Arun Gandhi

 

It is not our job to try and fix what everyone else is doing. It is our job to be sure WE are doing the right thing.

 

What can you do to stop passive violence?
~ Stop, take a breath and think before you speak, act or respond to someone.
~ Ask yourself, “How can I respond with kindness and respect?” (Sometimes the best response is no response)
~ Give yourself permission to take a time out, if needed. Step away, collect yourself and then go back to “How can I respond with kindness and respect?”

 

In my case, I had to leave the toxic situation I was in. Fortunately, I had the love and support of my family and friends and a great therapist to help me sort through the anger, hurt and betrayal I felt. Not everyone has the support or tools to handle those difficult feelings.

 

Courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Photo credit keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

 

Imagine what would be possible if we all practiced treating others with kindness and respect.

 

I try and meet each person with kindness and respect because I know how it feels when met with the opposite. And most times, people return the favor.

 

Kindness and respect creates connection and makes for a much more peaceful and productive world.

 

When it is not returned, I give myself permission to take myself out of the toxic space.  I practice choosing to “go high when others go low” (Thank you Michelle Obama!).

 

We will only stop the out of control violence in our world by knowing that what we say and how we treat others matters just as much as physically injuring someone.

 

We CAN make a difference. As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

 

Go to MK Gandhi Center for Nonviolence for more information.

Also read Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, to learn more about nonviolent communication.

Changing The World One Step At A Time

 

12166771_10153666178446552_356617224_n

This week I am inspired by women who are following their bliss and making a real difference in the world and am grateful to be a contributor to the Fall Issue of Get Real magazine​.

Changing The World One Step At A Time, tells my experience of the first time I went into the Monroe County Jail as a volunteer with the Step By Step program. It is not only a tribute to the organization but to the work of Sally Kohler, the workshop facilitator, who tirelessly works to lift up women who have fallen.

Click this link Get Real Magazine Fall 2015 and download to read my article and be inspired by all the amazing articles and photos.

Thank you to Brenda Steffon​, Melissa Pletscher-Nizinsky and Julia Kracke for creating such a beautiful, inspiring magazine. You and your staff have created excellence on these pages and I am honored to be a small part.

Who are the women that inspire you? Now go and let them know the difference they have made in your life. #liveinspired

 

Unexpectedly Feminist

11000619_10153404350926509_90509081951186581_n

I am not a feminist. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and came to believe that a feminist was an angry, bra-burning woman who hated men.

I love men.  Some of my favorite people in the world are men; my husband, son, dad and brothers are at the top of the list.  So I decided long ago that I was not a feminist.

But what is feminism really?

The definition is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

This brings me to Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech.  She said:

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Feminism is not about women being angry and demanding our due.

Patricia Arquette is talking about advocating for ourselves just as vigorously as we do for our loved ones and the causes that we feel so passionately about.  It is about us knowing our worth and working toward receiving the same treatment and pay as men.

We have, for too long, gone quietly about our business take caring of everyone else, giving ourselves what’s left, only to find there is nothing left.

It is time to stop being stingy with our compassion and acceptance when it comes to ourselves.

We must give ourselves permission to ask for what we want but first we must know what we want.

It is time we speak up and let our voices be heard without judging ourselves as arrogant or self-centered.

It is time we help lift each other up and stop calling women who assert themselves a bitch.

Go for that thing that may seem out of reach.  Celebrate yourself if you get it. Heap yourself with the same compassion you give others if you don’t.  Then go out and try again.

If we live our lives modeling feminism then not only will our daughters learn to do the same but our sons will grow up to be feminists too.  We owe it to ourselves to do this, we owe it to future generations.

 

Keeping Up With Somebody

I recently heard an interview with Tim McGraw where he said something that made me angry. He said he always knew he wanted to be somebody.

Does that mean that there are people who aren’t somebody? What does that make them? Nobody?

Chances are we’ve all said or heard this saying and I’m sure Mr. McGraw didn’t set out to tick me off. But I was curious about what got me all riled up.

I notice that I feel the same way when I watch TV shows like the Real Housewives of Wherever and the Kardashians.

Why do we care so much about these people?

It seems to me we are a society obsessed with fame and trying to be somebody.

If fame can’t be achieved by getting on a reality show, then some people try getting on TV by leaking a sex tape, doing some idiotic stunt or, heaven forbid, an act of violence. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

We wonder why so many people in this country have mounting debt. We’re all just trying to keep up with the Kardashians.

As an adult with half a brain, I realize that these shows are anything but reality and are on the air because they make the networks money.

However, children and teens can fall victim to thinking they are a nobody because they cannot live the same lifestyle as the people they watch on TV.

As a volunteer with women in jail, the majority come from abuse and addiction. A lot of them don’t know how to live (or parent their children) because they were never parented.

Are these women somebody? According to Tim McGraw and I dare say our society, I would guess no. It’s too easy to dismiss and forget about those who are struggling to live; the homeless, the mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts.

What is missing from our society and culture that is creating this?

I believe it is because we have forgotten our inherent worthiness. What does that mean?

It means that just by our mere presence on this planet, we are somebody.

Worthiness is something that is born in each of us. It cannot be taken away but we can forget that it is our birthright.

We think that if we are famous and have adoring fans, then we will feel and, therefore be, worthy. Then we will be happy right?

But what if those fans never come? Or what if they come and then go away? This is a set up for disaster.

How many stars have turned to drugs or alcohol when they found themselves no longer relevant?

If we know our true worth, then it doesn’t matter how many followers we have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Even if we lose them all, we will know that we are still somebody.

How do you measure your self-worth? What can we do as parents and a society to help our children cultivate a healthy self-worth?

What do you need to do to be somebody in your own life?

Facebook Frustration

I am sick of Facebook. I can’t go on without getting frustrated and annoyed.

My annoyance is so bad at times that I won’t go on Facebook for weeks at a time. Then I feel like a schmuck because I find out my elderly aunt has been sick and I didn’t see my cousin’s post.

When it seems like someone else is MAKING me feel a certain way, I know I have to take a look at myself. I have a choice to be a victim or be responsible for my interpretation of the situation.

These are my interpretations that are making me crazy!

I feel like everyone on Facebook has life figured out. They have the perfect job, the perfect family and are taking the perfect vacations. Everything in their life is perfect!

I know for a fact that some of the people coming across as perfect are far from it. They are choosing to put on a mask of perfection for whatever reason. Pride, vanity, to avoid shame and embarrassment if they admitted the truth?

I also get sick of those who are constantly complaining about their boss, their job, their friend, their co-worker, whoever has done them wrong. This sort of post seems to get responses from those who want to get the scoop and pass on the gossip and those who want to console the one who’s been “wronged.”

Of course, this is all done keeping the perpetrator’s identity anonymous, but you know who you are. And so does everyone else. And if you can’t figure it out just message them and they’ll tell you. DRAMA!

Ok, now it’s time for me to be a grown up.

Have you heard the one where if we can’t be with something in another person then that’s a part of us we can’t be with? In other words, if I look on my side of the street, I will see where I am doing those very things that really irk the heck out of me.

Am I guilty of putting on the mask of perfection? It hurts to admit it but yes. Yup, nothing to see here, I’ve got it all handled. A big LOL here!

I post about my wonderful kids and husband and they are wonderful, and imperfect. My husband and I have been together for 30 years now and I would be lying if I said we had it all figured out. We are still working on how to communicate on a deeper level other than what happened at work, on the golf course or at the grocery store.

I love both my kids and there are times I say “really?” when my daughter shows up with yet another hair color or mumble “dumb ass” under my breath when my son recounts his antics with his buddies.

And what about the drama? Even though I have been trying hard not to complain to others, there are times that complaints are just bouncing around in my head.

Debbie Ford said, “what we resist, persists.” When I try not to verbally complain and push away any mental complaints it just makes them stronger.

Then when I go on Facebook and see someone complaining, the floodgates burst. I begin complaining about the complainers!

What do I do with all of this? On Facebook, I can and have unfriended people who are constantly complaining and seeming to want to pick fights.

But what do I do about me? I can’t unfriend myself.

First, I choose where I’m going to complain. I have a few select friends whom I can go to and say, “I just need to complain about this.” They let me be victim until I get it out. Then if they hear me complaining after that, they remind me to be responsible.

Second, there’s really nothing else to do but accept and be me. Accept my mistakes, my feelings, my foibles and my imperfection. Sounds easy right?

It would be easy if there was something I could do like run around the house 5 times and poof! Suddenly I am no longer bothered by complainers or people pretending to be perfect. No such luck.

But, as soon as I practice authenticity, I become more accepting and compassionate not only of myself but with everyone else around me. Think I’ll try that next time I’m on Facebook.