Sometimes, we have an overwhelming desire to be somewhere else or our life circumstances make it impossible to stay where we are. This week, three organizations/people addressed that need in ways that deserved more than a quick social media share. Therefore, I have chosen to highlight them today.
A Randy Pausch Quote
Every issue of SmartBrief ends with a quote. The featured quote in many of the January 19 issues came from Randy Pausch.
What this quote has to do with “being elsewhere”:
The first time my husband heard “The Last Lecture,” he said “you’ve got to listen to this.” That was a good call. I wouldn’t go on to decide to leave the job I had held for well over a decade for seven more years, but Randy Pausch planted the seed. I listened to the lecture online, bought DVDs of it to share with friends, purchased the book.
As a person who has hesitated far too often to ask “why?” “how?” and “why not?” for fear of being told “no,” “that’s stupid,” or “who exactly do you think you are?,” Randy Pausch’s lecture reminded me that being reluctant to ask the hard and adventurous questions only hurts me and leads to someone else getting to go on the thrilling adventure.
“Princess Pigtails (PP)” was three when placed into Shannon’s care as a foster child, and almost four when she was placed back with her biological grandmother. Because I have been so absent from working out at the fitness student Shannon owns, I never met PP, but I felt like I knew her through the stories Shannon shared on social media (many of which comprise the Tampa Bay piece).
For her own protection, PP needed to “be elsewhere,” at least temporarily. As you’ll see from the story, our state’s laws, system and philosophy about what is best for foster children are imperfect at best. The placement may have been temporary, but PP made a permanent difference on many hearts (and I believe the experience may lead to positive changes for other children in foster care). Thank you, Shannon, for taking the risk to love this child even though it split your heart open when she moved on, and thank you PP for being a gift to so many of us.
Editor’s Note: Click here for a Tallahassee Democrat account of Shannon’s time with Princess Pigtails and foster care in general.
The people who are “elsewhere” (elsewhere from the United States, or from elsewhere and living in the United States but on the verge of being forcibly returned to “elsewhere”) often deal with the life inequities that come with what Steve (and many others) refer to as “the birth draw.”
I am so grateful to have spent time in Guatemala and El Salvador (that’s Guatemala City in the image I shared). It wasn’t long enough (two weeks in total) and it didn’t go deep enough (although I am grateful to have gone, for sure!). Both times, because I was traveling with Unbound, we were treated as royalty (literally …… flower-petal paths, extravagant (for the area) meals, and deference). They were beautiful, educational trips, but we didn’t deserve the deference — if anyone did, it was the people who work so hard to support their families in the face of indescribable difficulties, violence and educational deficits.
What can you do this week to find your own “elsewhere” (if that’s what you need) or to help another person whose “elsewhere” has become untenable?
It’s no secret at all that my candidate did not win the US Presidency. The election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency makes me sad, angry, and terrified for the impact his policy choices will have on my fellow Americans, on me, and on the world at large.
But he did win, he is being inaugurated on January 20, and I have a choice to make regarding how I respond.
Although One20 is focusing on January 20 to begin with, I anticipate that start will create ripple effects long into the future. One20 has inspired the structure of this post: 20 things I, as ONE single person, can do and say in response to the establishment of the Trump Administration.
1. I am not using the #NotMyPresident hashtag.
The day after the election, my daughter and I were discussing the election’s outcome and the reactions of people around us. “Is it that bad?” was her question. While I do believe it is, indeed, that bad, I am choosing not to use the #NotMyPresident hashtag.
I am choosing not to use the #NotMyPresident hashtag because, like it or not, he is what I am getting. However, in the same way that I went to the Grads Made Good breakfast at Florida State year after year and refused to clap for Dr. Stephen Winters (RIP) who groped me in Dodd Hall when I was a freshman, the professor a higher-up administrator basically looked the other way about when I shared the information, I will not be applauding our new President.
2. An Addition to My White House Selfies
Every time I go to DC, I take the obligatory “here I am in front of the White House picture,” like this one from last September.
When I go to the Shot at Life Champions Summit next month, though, the picture may still have a green pen in it (I mean, that’s the norm now, right?) BUT I will also feature a safety pin prominently in the picture. I have seen so many individuals and groups deeply hurt by the reinvigorated spirit of hatred and divisiveness in our country, it is imperative to me that people know I, like @IBexWeBex, am a safe place.
3. I will participate in the Tallahassee Women’s March on January 21.
Organized by the Florida Planned Parenthood Alliance, the event is “a 100% inclusive event and all genders, races, ages, religions, sexual orientations – everyone! – is invited to participate.”
4. Involvement in local, state, and federal politics.
I will redouble my efforts to be personally familiar with the choices my local, state, and federal leaders are making, and to make my positions clear with them.
5. My Profile Picture on January 20
I am not changing my profile picture to one of President Obama on January 20, as many people I know are planning. This relates to the fact that I am not using the #notmypresident hashtag. I am beyond grateful to President Obama and his family. He has been a singularly outstanding President, and I am so excited about how he can apply his intellect and passions once he no longer has the constraints of the Presidency.
6. Helping Homeless Women With Personal Hygiene Needs
In keeping with the idea that we can collectively make big impacts when many people do small things, I am adding feminine products to the non perishables I purchase for local food drives. For more on this topic, visit Bustle.
7. Making an Impact in Person, not just Online
I read a great post on Facebook about how we should attend to seeing how we can positively impact the people within five feet of us. I can’t find the initial post, but the concept is true. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our virtual communities that we forget what we can do for the people right next to us. Let’s do it.
9. I am refusing to stay silent in the face of racist, anti-semitic, or other hate jokes.
When a national rental car company picked me up to take me to pick up a car right after the election, the driver, commenting on how safe my neighborhood appeared, went on to remark, “be glad you’re not in California where those Muslims are lying down in the streets.” When I responded that they had something to say, he went on to explain how we can never get along with “them,” and how I would “figure that out someday.”
I doubt my attempt to defend Muslims registered with him AT ALL, but maybe, just maybe, he will think in the future before spouting his hatred. It mattered to try.
10. I am not moving to Costa Rica, Canada, or anywhere off of US soil.*
I am not going to let this President and his administration run me off. I love my country, think it is great already, and plan to stay put.
11. Voting Matters Now More Than Ever*
I will support efforts to get out the vote, to encourage people to register to vote, and to make it easy for my fellow citizens to vote.
12. Supporting Equity and Safety for Black Students
I am grateful to have met Kelly Wickham-Hurst, creator of Being Black at School. I have made a donation and will continue to support her work advocating for equity and safety for Black students.*
13. Kindness > Sarcasm
Inspired by Caitie Whelan’s Lightning Notes about The Kindness Impulse, I will strengthen my kindness impulse so it is stronger than my sarcasm impulse. For the record, it would probably be easier to move to Canada!
14. You’re Never Too Young to Learn to Make a Difference
I will believe in the capacity of the youngest among us to embrace diversity, to make a difference, and to positively influence their peers. A great place to start is by sharing one of the books featured in this #MomsReading blog from Moms Rising.
15. None of Us Can Afford to Be Single Issue Voters
I will continue to educate myself about issues that affect my fellow women and Americans, even if they don’t directly affect me. It started with We Won’t Wait 2016 and will only grow in the face of closed-mindedness and hatred from our newly elected leaders.
16. I will support the LGBTQIA+ Community
I joined Equality Florida in order to stay informed about issues important to Florida’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community (as well as Floridians at large) including Discrimination, Adoption, Family Recognition, Safe and Healthy Schools, Hate Crimes, Voter Mobilization, Marriage, Transaction, and Gun Violence Prevention.
17. I Will Advocate Tirelessly for Banned Books
I will continue to advocate passionately against censorship and other types of limitations to the freedom to read. Learn more about Banned Books Week.
18. Climate Change Is Bigger To Me Now
Although it has not been one of my “top” issues, I will redouble my efforts to track climate change issues and make a personal impact (ten good ideas in this article).
19. The World Beyond Our National Borders Deserves My Support
I will continue to be involved in international issues and in the lives of individuals in other countries for whom my access to freedom, resources, and security can be a help, such as the three children we sponsor in Guatemala and El Salvador through Unbound.
20. I Will Respect The Lessons of History
At the wise recommendation of Steve Schale, I read Rep. John Lewis’s letter of forgiveness to Governor George Wallace today. In one passage, he said, “Much of the bloodshed in Alabama occurred on Governor Wallace’s watch. Although he never pulled a trigger or threw a bomb, he created the climate of fear and intimidation in which those acts were deemed acceptable.” In the letter, Rep. Lewis forgave Governor Wallace, who in his view “grew to see that we as human beings are joined by a common bond.”
President Elect Trump will probably never pull a trigger or throw a bomb himself, but until he is proven otherwise, I stand ready to be one of the many Americans doing my part to mitigate the climate of fear and intimidation I see infiltrating the 2017 version of America which should know so much better by now.
We tell people who we are with every breath we breathe. (Source Unknown)
Mary’s unknown source is so right.
I can’t change who is going to be sworn in on January 20, but I can be a part of keeping America great …. for all Americans … until I run out of breath.
*Items with asterisks were inspired by “my commitments to protecting our democracy,” a reflection on President Obama’s farewell address by Leah Jones. Thank you, Leah, for helping me fill out my list of 20 actions/observations in such a substantive way.
More Ideas For How To Continue Advocacy Beyond 1/20/17
This week, Kat of Mama’s Losin’ It encouraged us to write to this prompt: 10 things you have learned about politics from Facebook.
ONE: Zero Minds have Ever Been Changed Because of a Facebook Share
There have been many opinions and information pieces shared on Facebook which did change my mind or at least inform me. I’ve learned about the intensely stressful emotional, financial, and physical price of invisible illnesses. I’ve learned about laudable causes to support, inspirational athletes to encourage, great recipes. I’ve read nothing that, by itself, reversed how I felt about an issue or candidate (especially a Presidential candidate).
TWO: Private Messaging Has the Potential to Change My Mind And Is Appreciated
Our primary is August 30 (I voted early (hooray!)). A few days ago, a good friend sent me a private message in which she shared her support of a candidate for a local race and why she felt that way. I am sure it was cut and pasted; it wasn’t composed exclusively for me. However, since she took the time to choose me rather than throwing the message out to the universe and hoping it would stick, I did take notice and thank her, sincerely.
THREE: It Matters When Candidates Interact Directly
I know this is a bit of a hypothetical. I don’t expect national or statewide candidates to interact directly. Again, staying with the “wouldn’t it be nice,” when I think about how much I love it when authors interact with me directly via social media, it strikes me how much it would matter if a candidate responded directly to me on social media.
FOUR: You Learn A Lot About Each Other
Have you ever seen a friend post their support for a candidate on social media and been shocked because their post seemed so incongruous with what you know about them? Me too. My choice in that situation is typically to file that piece of knowledge away rather than fire a volley across the tennis court of social media discourse (See Number One).
FIVE: Facebook Live Gives Us Access We Wouldn’t Otherwise Have
I have found it useful that the Tallahassee Democrat has provided access to their candidate forums via Facebook Live. Doing so makes it more possible for potential voters who can’t attend a rally or forum in person to hear where the candidates stand on various issues.
Six: Your “Friend” Count Is Likely to Fluctuate In Correlation to Your Politics
I don’t post much political material on Facebook. The main candidate I post frequently about is someone I can’t even vote for (DeeDee Rasmussen, candidate for School Board District 4). Otherwise, Rule Number 1 frequently compels me not to even waste the keystrokes. This may be keeping my friend count on an even keel, but I know Facebook friendships have been lost and gained this election season.
SEVEN: Every Vote Matters
I suppose this isn’t exactly a lesson learned from Facebook, but it is one that is reinforced. I may disagree with you, I may scroll past your diatribe, I may “like” your post because I agree. I may privately shake my head and wonder how you can believe that individual will make America great again or I may privately rejoice that you, like me, are #WithHer. What I will NOT do is be sad that you plan to vote. It’s so fundamental. In the most divisive of times I will still give you a ride to the poll or do what it takes to get you there. People in some countries have given their lives for the same privilege.
Eight: There ARE Some Trustworthy Experts Out There, And Facebook Gives You Access to Them
Case in point: Steve Schale. Although I usually pick him up on Facebook, you can also find him on Twitter here.
Second example: Nicholas Kristof. One reader’s sentiment echoed mine: Thank God for your passionate journalism. Sometimes I don’t agree with you but I always respect you. Never stop doing what you do. It SO matters.
If I could think of others, I would share them. But I can’t. That’s how rare it is to find a trustworthy political expert on Facebook.
Nine: Facebook is Woefully Inadequate as a Source of Political Information
Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to be a part of a candidates’ forum at WFSU sponsored by the League of Women Voters. I am happy I got to hear so many candidates, even if they each only had two minutes. I saw such a broad array of this county’s candidates. Even the ones I could not vote for or disagreed with I gained a new respect for. Even if I had watched something like that on Facebook Live, nothing would have equaled the electricity in the room or the very American sensation of knowing that everyone who had qualified to run and accepted the invitation was getting an opportunity to put themselves out there.
Ten: Personal Action on Issues Matters
A few weeks ago, I learned from a Facebook (and real life) friend of a September opportunity that she was not going to be able to pursue, that might interest me. I quickly researched the opportunity, applied, and was accepted to be part of the Moms Rising contingent at We Won’t Wait 2016, a gathering where 1,000 community leaders and organizers from around the country will elevate the voices of women of color and low-income women and call for a comprehensive women’s economic agenda that will advance the lives of working women and families across the country.
I’m so excited to hear these women’s stories and be a part of making our nation better and more equitable for working women and families.
Given Rule #1 (above), you can bet I’ll be sharing about what I learn other places in addition to Facebook!
How about you? Has your mind ever been changed about something political by a Facebook post?