I SAID I was SORRY

There are not many things that are awkward per se about being a gardener. But there is one. Sometimes I overhear things happening in my neighbor’s yard that I maybe should not.

Like one fine spring day when my neighbor’s front door SLAMMED and their really quite adorable teenager turned round on the front stoop and screamed back at the closed door “I SAID I was SORRY!” Car tires squealed. Calm settled back.

I know it’s not funny, but I said I was sorry – big emphasis on SAID and SORRY – has since become part of the vernacular in our house. When we do something stupid and apologize but the other won’t let it go I SAID I was SORRY can sometimes break the spell of an argument that is going nowhere.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

I’ve been thinking about apologizing and making amends more than usual lately. I mean, I’ve thought about it a lot over the years related to my work. How batterers and sex offenders can apologize and make amends for the terrible things they have done to their loved ones and others.

And is that even possible?

And yes it is.

But now, every day, I’m watching the much bigger picture of our nation coming to terms. Watching as the scabs and scars covering our many national shames split open and bleed.

For instance, this New York Times article: A public apology for the inconceivably wicked crime of the lynching of 16-year-old Austin Callaway, taken from a jail cell and murdered on September 4, 1940 in LaGrange, Georgia.

Ernest Ward, right, the N.A.A.C.P. president in Troup County, Ga., said he had “a newfound respect” for Louis M. Dekmar, the police chief in LaGrange. I am in awe of the people in LaGrange. Those with the courage to stand up. To face the past and to face the present. To be together. To struggle even as it gets messier and messier.

It is incumbent on me, on all of us to be together. In person. To lean in toward one another and whisper in each others ears “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” To bust wide open and tell one another our stories and see where that takes us.

There’s still time to make 2016 better

Are we there yet?The year is almost at a close, and boy, what a year it’s been. There were good things, there were bad things (I’ll spare you the top list for this one), and then there was the election.

On election night I was one of those shocked white people that couldn’t believe what I was watching unfold. I went to bed thinking, “how could this happen?” I woke the next morning feeling numb and in disbelief (obviously, my white privilege had taken over, so that’s something I’ve had to work on). I’ve had moments of denial, disbelief, and just plain being scared. In a way I felt paralyzed, like I no longer had any control or say in what the next four years would bring.

But no matter how discouraging and dark it may seem, now more than ever we need to get up and take action. So before 2017 hits, here are some things you can do to make 2016 a little better.

  1. Don’t argue, talk: A few years ago I wrote a blog post about the arguments my father and I used to get in and how we figured out a way to have respectful conversations by putting our relationship first and our differences second.
  1. Organize: Join organized resistance like the Injustice Boycott.
  1. Try to understand: There is a lot of interesting analysis out there on why people voted the way they did. It’s helped me understand the state of our country and where people are coming from. It doesn’t make me feel better, but at least it puts some of the puzzle pieces together. After all, if we don’t understand the whole problem, it’s hard to find a solution.
  1. Register for Advocacy Day: Talk with your legislators about local issues that impact survivors. It’s more important now than ever!
  1. Pay attention to people: In a time when things feel so divisive, take a moment and ask people how their hearts are doing. Slow down, really listen, and find common ground.

The art of blessing the day

This morning, I woke up thinking of lines from Marge Piercy’s poem, The Art of Blessing the Day.

This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let’s not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.

Last Friday, I drafted a blog post about how to support the water protectors at Standing Rock. I tried to keep up with the most urgent calls to action, as the situation on the ground shifted by the hour.

standing rockThousands of people from around the world have gathered to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s peaceful opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The proposed route for the pipeline threatens the Tribe’s water and sacred land. Police action against the water protectors has recently erupted into violence. Hundreds of unarmed people have been injured by water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and percussive grenades. The threat to the water protectors escalated as the Army Corps of Engineers set a December 5th deadline to leave the area, and the North Dakota governor ordered immediate evacuation.

So much is at stake. The waters of the Missouri River and the well-being of tens of thousands who depend on it. The right of sovereign tribal nations to protect its citizens. Native women and children who are the targets when oil industry “man camps” bring a massive influx of sexual violence. The fate of the planet, as oil consumption fuels environmental devastation.

Then Sunday night, a surprising victory. The Army Corps announced it would deny the pipeline project permission to tunnel under the river.

The celebration reminded me of another sweet moment, nearly four years ago, when Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. That victory came after a long standoff, 500 days of negotiation. It was a triumph of unprecedented solidarity among advocates, and the courageous leadership of Native women.

The victory was not complete, but it was real. After the win, it took another kind of grit to insist on celebrating it. The next threat loomed. The inevitable strategic failures immediately came into focus with 20/20 hindsight.

But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not hurt.

By yesterday morning, the oil companies made it clear they would continue construction of the pipeline despite the government’s decision. It is hard to imagine the little relief that has come from the Obama administration will last once Donald Trump is in the White House. For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the fight is not over. Meanwhile, the next battles are already happening.

What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.

Here is what you can do right now:

  • Call or email your Congressional Representatives. Ask them to do everything they can to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Give money to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Help cover legal costs and equip water protectors for the harsh winter.

Celebrate. Get ready. Fight. Repeat.

Light it up

Like many of you I am worried about our country’s future. It’s all-consuming. In an attempt to be informed and not retreat to the places where my privilege protects me, I’m digesting as much as I can about the coming changes. IT’S SO HARD. I realize that I have to give myself some space to feel sad and scared as well as mad and ready to fight for all the people that are being threatened by the new proposed federal policies.

We often encourage advocates who are working with survivors to remember to take care of themselves. To do the things they need to do to come back the next day with renewed energy and focus to help others. I am realizing that I must do the same now if I’m to be any use at all to the work ahead. And there is quite a lot of work ahead.

I’m not a religious person, but I confess to LOVE the Christmas holidays. I love houses covered with twinkling lights, puffy fake snow in store windows, and giant trees filled with glittery ornaments. I’ve decided one way I can stay energized to pay attention and act for justice is to dive into the holiday season early. Christmas carols are going to fill the house and head’s up neighbors―my yard is about to get lit. And I’ve found the perfect thing.

This. Holiday. Dragon.

blow-up holiday dragon

Isn’t she amazing? So if you are feeling like I am, take care of yourselves so that you have the energy to stay tuned in and to show up. Holiday Dragon, bring us joy and light our path.

Metamorfosis (Metamorphosis)

Hay un mañana, siempre hay un mañana. Y será uno mejor, uno que podamos construir juntos, uno que represente los valores de amor y bondad. Yo creo eso. Quiero creerlo y elijo creerlo.

Hoy, después de las elecciones, yo y todos los que me rodean están tristes, exhaustos, enojados, cansados. Es como si hubiéramos sido derrotados, pero no lo estamos. No lo estamos. Los tiempos están cambiando: estamos siendo testigos de un proceso de transformación en nuestra sociedad, en nuestro país.

Soy parte de un movimiento que cree en ser proactivo no reactivo, que trabaja en la comunidad como un todo y crea los cambios necesarios para un mundo donde nuestros hijos puedan vivir en entornos saludables y alcanzar su pleno potencial rodeados de amor y oportunidades para ser mejores. Bueno, hoy, muchos de los valores que creo y enseño a mi hijo todos los días no se reflejan en el presidente electo. Muchos de los valores y sentimientos que hay por ahí son el total opuesto a los  míos. No es un momento feliz; sin embargo, representa una oportunidad, una oportunidad para transformarnos.

Ves, cuando queremos transformarnos necesitamos profundizar en el núcleo de lo que necesita ser cambiado―necesitamos una metamorfosis. ¿Sabías que cuando la oruga se está transformando en una mariposa, se licúa dentro del capullo? ¡Lo sé! Es un proceso asombroso, y no importa que se disuelva completamente porque su ADN sabe transformarse en una hermosa mariposa.

stars in the skyBueno, nuestro país está en estado líquido ahora mismo. Nos sentimos vulnerables, rotos, tristes, enojados, sin sentido de la rectitud o con brillo, pero es necesario estar en ese estado. Es necesario estar en esa oscuridad. He oído decir que “sólo cuando es lo suficientemente oscuro se pueden ver las estrellas.” Así que soltemos y transformémonos―vamos a confiar en que nuestro ADN nos llevará a ese estado final donde hay luz y esperanza y está rodeado de amor y de los valores en los que creemos. Somos fuertes. Podemos hacerlo. Este momento de nuestras vidas es una oportunidad para profundizar nuestro trabajo y reflexionar sobre nuestros valores a cada paso del camino.

Si eres padre/madre, no tengas miedo hoy, no estás solo. Habla con tus hijos, sé honesto con ellos y guíalos desde un lugar de esperanza y amor. Vamos a mostrarles a nuestros niños que nuestros valores son importantes y que esos valores van a ser los que guían nuestras comunidades y transforman nuestro país. Es un momento decisivo para todos nosotros, para nuestro país, y no vamos a sentarnos como observadores, no vamos a llorar ni a escondernos. Vamos a unirnos para actuar, movernos hacia adelante y transformarnos juntos.

 

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There is tomorrow, there is always tomorrow. And it will be a better one, a one that we can build together, one that represents the values of love and kindness. I believe that. I want to believe it and I choose to believe it.

Today, in the aftermath of the election, I and everyone around me is sad, drained, angry, tired. It is like we were defeated, but we are not. We are not. Times are changing―we are witnessing a transformative process in our society, in our country.

I am part of a movement that believes in being proactive not reactive, that works in community as a whole and creates the necessary changes for a world where our children can live in healthy environments and reach their full potential surrounded by love and opportunities to be better. Well today, many of the values that I believe and teach to my son every day are not reflected in the elected president. Many of the values and feelings that are out there are the total opposite of mine. It is not a happy moment; however, it represents an opportunity, an opportunity for transformation.

You see, when we want to transform we need to go deep into the core of what needs to change―we need a metamorphosis. Did you know that when the caterpillar is transforming to a butterfly, it liquefies inside the cocoon? I know! It is an amazing process, and it doesn’t matter that it completely dissolves because its DNA knows how to transform into a beautiful butterfly.

stars in the skyWell, our country is in a liquefied state right now. We feel vulnerable, broken, sad, angry, without sense of rightness or a brightness, but it is necessary to be in that state. It is necessary to be in that darkness. I’ve heard it said that “only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” So let go and transform―let’s trust that our DNA will bring us to that ultimate state where it is bright and hopeful and surrounded by love and the values we believe in. We are strong. We can do it. This moment in our lives is an opportunity to deepen our work and reflect on our values every step of the way.

If you are a parent, do not be afraid today, you are not alone. Talk to your children, be honest with them and guide them from a place of hope and love. Let’s show our kids that our values are important and that those values are going to be the ones that lead our communities and transform our country. It is a decisive moment for all of us, for our country, and we are not going to sit and watch, we are not going to cry or hide. We are going to come together to act and move and transform together.

Silent no more

It is 3:00pm on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. In a few minutes I will go home for a solitary (and introvert nerd) evening of channel surfing through the election returns. I must confess that I will be relieved when it is over, although we cannot be certain of when, exactly, it will be over.

audre lordeFor the past several weeks, I have been pondering and, sometimes haunted by, the words of the late great writer activist, Audre Lorde: “your silence will not protect you.” In the early days of our movement, this was a mantra among survivors―survivors of gender-based violence, racial injustice, and myriad forms of oppression and hate. The phrase continues to surface during times of struggle, protest, and bold creativity. And lately, I have been practically choking on them.

How could it be that I―as someone who craves a better path forward and wants desperately to practice the beloved community we whisper/speak/shout about―have been so silent about the vitriolic atmosphere that enveloped all of us during this election season? I have been anxious and agitated, painfully aware of my leadership of a 501(c)3 that is prohibited from endorsing (or rejecting) or seeming to endorse (or reject) candidates for elected office. There have been daily cautions about what we can and cannot say, and fear about appearing to be partisan. Through it all, I have felt that I compromised my own commitment to speak the truth, to confront misogyny and racism, and to stand with immigrants, people with disabilities, and communities of all faiths. My silence does not protect them. It does not protect you. And it does not protect me.

The presidential campaign brought me to the edge of tolerance. The spin, the analysis, the polling. The recordings, debates, interviews, videos. And all the while, Audre’s voice in my head: “your silence will not protect you.”

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 9, 2016, I will go to the office. I hope (read that as BIG HOPE) that we can put the election fatigue behind us. I hope we can celebrate a historic moment for what it is. Silent no more. Forward we go.

Ser Pro-activo (Be Proactive)

pro-activo-buttonEstamos a punto de terminar el mes de acción en contra de la violencia doméstica pero creo que deberíamos seguir siendo proactivos durante todo el año, no sólo en octubre. Para ser proactivo, hay muchas cosas que puedes hacer en este momento, y el votar es una de ellas. Votar es muy importante sobre todo porque éste es un año de elecciones presidenciales. Es cierto que el gobierno por sí solo no va a solucionar o resolver el problema tan fuerte de violencia doméstica y sexual en nuestra sociedad. Sin embargo, la administración que sea elegida tendrá un impacto sobre el financiamiento de los servicios que están disponibles para los sobrevivientes de violencia doméstica y sexual. Tu voto cuenta. Tu voto tendrá un impacto y puede hacer la diferencia.

Al final, sea quien sea el ganador de esta elección, nosotros continuáremos trabajando para hacer de este mundo un mundo mejor. Estamos en esto juntos. Vamos todos a asumir al 100% nuestra responsabilidad de poner fin a la violencia doméstica y así crear una comunidad de amor para todos nosotros.

Para hacer tu parte, puedes:

  1. Registrarte para votar―si ya lo has hecho, ¡genial! Entonces ofrécete como voluntario y ayuda a otros a registrarse.
  1. Reta a tus amigos, familiares y a ti mismo―cada vez que escuches algo que no está bien, llámalo por su nombre. Por ejemplo, cuando un niño golpea a una niña en el parque y la excusa es “es niño” o “son niños”, se proactivo y di “Eso no está bien. Esa es una conducta abusiva”. O cuando una estudiante es atacada sexualmente y todo el mundo se centra en lo alcoholizada que estaba, de nuevo, se proactivo y di ” Eso no está bien. Alcoholizada o no, ella tiene el derecho a ser tratada con respeto”. Todos los días escuchamos este tipo de comentarios, por lo que hay muchas oportunidades para iniciar estas conversaciones.
  1. con tus hijos―los niños son muy inteligentes y por lo general están escuchando todo lo que está sucediendo alrededor de ellos así que toma un momento para hablar con ellos, pregúntales sobre lo que escuchan y así sabrás lo que están entendiendo. Luego ten una conversación con ellos sobre el respeto y el consentimiento. Es importante que los niños comprendan que hay ciertos comentarios que no son aceptables. Nuestros niños están siendo influenciados por el medio ambiente. Depende completamente de nosotros si queremos que ellos estén bien informados y conscientes.
  1. Infórmate―La información es poder, la ignorancia es peligrosa.
  1. Ve y vota el 8 de noviembre

 

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proactive-buttonWe are about to end Domestic Violence Action Month but I believe we should continue to be proactive all year long, not just in October. To be proactive, there are many things that you can do right now, and voting is an important one especially since this is a presidential election year. It is true that the government by itself is not going to fix or resolve the pervasive issue of domestic and sexual violence in our society. However, the administration that is elected will have an impact on funding services that are available for domestic and sexual violence survivors. Your vote counts. Your vote will have an impact and it will make a difference.

In the end, whoever the winner for this election is, we will continue working to make this world a better one. We are in this together. Let’s all take on the responsibility of ending domestic violence and creating a beloved community for all of us.

To do your part, you can:

  1. Register to vote―if you have done that, great! Then volunteer and help others to get registered.
  1. Challenge yourself, your friends, and family―every time you hear something that is not accurate, call it out by its name. For example, when a boy hits a girl in the playground and the excuse of “boys will be boys” is used, say “That’s not OK. That is abusive behavior.” Or when a girl is sexually assaulted and everyone focuses on how drunk she was, again say “That’s not OK. Drunk or not drunk, she has the right to be treated with respect.” Every day we hear these kinds of comments, so there are plenty of opportunities to initiate these conversations.
  1. Have conversations with your kids―kids are pretty smart and they are usually listening to everything that is happening around them so take a moment and talk to them, ask them what they are understanding. Then have a conversation with them about respect and consent. It is important for children to understand that there are certain comments that are not acceptable. Our children are being influenced by the environment even if we do not want it. If we want them to be well informed and aware, that is up to us.
  1. Inform yourself―Information is power, ignorance is dangerous.
  1. Go and vote on November 8th.

 

 

 

 

Will you run?

I have a confession. I love snark so so much. (This feminist killjoy needs something to fuel my rage and humor at the same time!) And so when I heard about the new snarky website that asks, “Bruh, can you not?” I just had to check it out. Underneath the snark was some important wisdom and social commentary: Perhaps well-meaning white bros should support diverse candidates that share their views rather than running for office themselves.

At our annual conference last year, one of our amazing speakers mentioned that on average a woman has to be asked to run for office seven times before she actually will. Not so for men.

There is a lot to unpack here, but ultimately the thing that matters to me is that if we want to see change―at local, state, and national levels―we need to do things differently. And maybe the change is having more women, and people of color, run for office and win.

sheshouldruninfographic

After the Anita Hill catastrophe, there were a record number of women elected to Congress in 1992. We knew that in order to challenge sexual harassment and rampant sexism, women needed to be at the table.

We still need that. We need a diverse group of people weighing in on sentences for convicted rapists. We need a diverse group of people passing laws that enable welfare recipients to get their support without wasteful, costly, and inhumane drug testing. We need a diverse group of people fighting for reproductive freedom. And we need a diverse group of people challenging institutional racism, homophobia, and transphobia.

So, I am asking. Maybe this is the first time you’ve been asked or maybe (even better!) it’s the seventh. Will you run? Will you ask someone else to? We need you, we really do.

Opinión vs. acción (Opinion vs. action)

Estamos en año de elecciones, inevitable no hablar de esto. Hoy más que nunca es necesario ser responsables de nuestros actos e involucrarnos como ciudadanos, es un deber y un derecho que tenemos para poner nuestro granito de arena y ser parte del cambio en nuestras comunidades, en nuestro país, y elegir juntos un buen liderazgo.

Escucho cientos de comentarios diarios sobre el ambiente político de hoy en día, en los medios de comunicación, en el trabajo, con mis amistades, en casa, en fin, y va a incrementarse conforme se acerquen las elecciones. Pero ¿qué tanto estamos siendo responsables? ¿Qué tanto estamos haciendo nuestra parte? Es sumamente sencillo hacer comentarios, enojarnos, y tener una opinión pero eso no es suficiente.

Tu Voto Es Tu VozSi realmente queremos que nuestra opinión tenga un impacto, y queremos que haya cambios sociales, justicia, avance, que se tome en consideración a todos y cada una de las personas, si queremos que realmente se refleje lo que este país es y puede ofrecer, entonces involucrémonos, informémonos, y si tienes el derecho de votar, hazlo. Tu opinión cuenta pero tu acción crea un impacto y genera cambio.

Alguna vez leí algo sobre reglas básicas de convivencia y recuerdo que iban algo así: ¿llegas? Saluda, ¿te vas? Despídete, ¿recibes un favor? Agradece, ¿prometes? Cumple, ¿ofendes? Discúlpate, ¿no entiendes? Pregunta, ¿tienes? Comparte, etc. Simples ¿verdad?, muy sencillo. ¿Quieres un líder que refleje tus valores? entonces haz algo al respecto.

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We are in an election year, it is impossible not to talk about it. Today more than ever we need to be responsible for our actions and engage as citizens. It is our duty and our right. We need to practice it and be a part of the change in our communities, in our country, and together choose good leadership.

Every day I hear hundreds of comments on the political atmosphere in social media, at work, with my friends, at home, and it will increase as the elections approach. But how responsible are we being? Are we doing our part? It is extremely easy to comment, get angry, and have an opinion, but that is not enough.

If we really want to make an impact, create social change, have justice, make progress; if we want everyone to be taken into consideration;; if we want  leadership that truly reflects what this country is and what we can offer; then commit, get involved, get informed, and if you have the right to vote, do it. Your opinion is important but your action creates an impact and generates change.

I once read something about the basic rules of coexistence and they go like this: if you arrive somewhere, say hi; if are you leaving, say goodbye; if you receive a favor, say thank you; if you make a promise, fulfill it; if you offend someone, apologize; if you do not understand, ask; if you have, share, etc. Simple, isn’t it? So if you want a leader who reflects your values, then do something about it.

My oh my!

In the words of Seattle Mariners late broadcaster, Dave Niehaus, “I DON’T BELIEVE IT!”

I don’t believe it. That statement is alive and well right now. From the mundane (the color of my son’s hair―spoiler alert: brown dyed blonde turned orange) to the amazing (have you noticed that our Mariners AND the Chicago Cubs sit atop their respective divisions?) to the state of the union (hey, this is my country too!). It’s a lot to take in, and nearly impossible to make sense of.

I’m in the business of sense-making. I prefer to observe and listen and think before I proclaim my sense of any given situation or issue. And the truth is that, while people often expect me to come forth with a radical sense, where I almost always land is in the realm of common sense. I’m a linear, practical gal, and there is way too much going on―in this time, in this country―that violates common sense.

I can live with my son’s orange hair, because it is attached deep down to his good heart. And this really could be the year of a Mariners-Cubs World Series. I can definitely live with that. But what of the state of our union? The volatility, extremism, political machinations, and hate? These are hard for me because they don’t make sense.

2016 is an important year. We need all eyes on North Carolina, all ears in electoral and ballot debates, and all hands on deck. We must emerge with a common sense. That’s all I ask.

For my son and all children:

For my Mariners and all fans:

For my people and our world: