bipartisan friendship

it’s an election year and i’m already tired. tired of the name calling. tired of the “he said,” “well, he said” back and forth (how sad is it to have no she’s in that sentence?). tired of the fund raising (should electing a president really be allowed to cost this much?) and, mostly, tired of the assumptions. i’m really tired of the assumptions.
a dear friend of mine was recently sitting at a family event when some of her extended family began disparaging the political party that is not theirs. “it’s impossible to be a [fill in said party name here] and be smart. [put that name here]s are just idiots.”
little did they know that my friend is a member of said “idiot party.” while family, they had no idea of her political leanings and opinions. if they did, they would have known 1) not everyone in the party could realistically be called an idiot (my friend is one bright woman) and 2) it’s best not to make assumptions about the person sitting next to you.
we have so much to learn from the person sitting next to us. and the person who pumps our gas (i live in oregon and don’t get to pump my own). and the baker who’s been up since 3 a.m. in order that we may have a fresh loaf of bread. and the journalist who writes for “that other” publication...the one we hate. and the kid clad in headphones turning the subway sign on the corner. and the person sitting next to us in the pew, or the desk, or the bus seat, or where ever we find ourselves sitting.
when we stop trying to be right we become so much more neighborly. 
think about it: if i am certain, absolutely certain, that my take on things is the only take on things, why in the world do i need to convince you of it? wouldn’t it be more respectful, more kind, more friendly to share in a discussion or engage in an honest back and forth than to try to belittle, shame, or scare you into my way of thinking? if i’m excited and passionate about what i think, wouldn’t it be more logical to simply want to share my passion than to want to discredit yours? why do i need you to be an idiot if you disagree with me? 
i’m undertaking my own mini challenge and it is this: in these next conflictual months i am endeavoring to live in respectful graciousness with my neighbors. if my frustration rises to a boiling point, i will get myself out of the heat and cool off before i speak. if i find myself wanting to call someone else names, i will remind myself that i could easily be called the same. or worse. i will work, with everything in me, to treat you as who you are, more than a partisan party member and, instead, my friend.


the smallest of things

the smallest of things can turn a day. a person following too closely, an indifferent welcome, a honk, a funny look, a smile. 
today my day was turned by $1.50. i had an early morning meeting downtown and hadn’t taken time to eat breakfast or pack a lunch. the day ahead was filled to the brim with scheduled events and the meeting ran late. my only chance at food was going to need to be quick. racing to my car i noticed a single taco truck on a corner and rejoiced to see vegetarian tacos among its offerings. practicing my (very bad) spanish skills i ordered one. two minutes and $1.50 later i unwrapped the warm bundle of beans, lettuce, and pico de gallo held together by a homemade tortilla and slathered it in hot sauce. as i savored it all the way to my car i felt myself melting into a state of unaccounted for gratitude. i felt exceedingly grateful to the man who had treated me kindly and had made my taco. i wanted to run back and tell him how delicious it was and how the warm softness of the tortilla played against the crisp coldness of the lettuce. how the hot sauce made my nose run. i wanted to thank him for putting up with my (terrible) spanish. i felt grateful to a city that supports food carts, to a God who values diversity and built into us tastes that are different from our neighbors’, and to the person whose place i took at the meeting this morning. if she hadn’t needed a replacement i would have missed this opportunity for a $1.50 to wake me up.
i could have done so many things differently. i could have raced to the car, head down, or phone to ear, not looking up and around to notice the option in front of me. i could have hurried off to something more “known.” $1.50 could have gotten me much more than a solo taco at a taco bell drive through and yet spending that there would have done nothing to turn my thoughts to gratitude and my mood to lighthearted. the flavors wouldn’t have woken me up to themselves and my surroundings in nearly the same way. i would have consumed food rather than experienced a moment. i could have sloughed off the feeling of joy since it seemed so ridiculously out of proportion to the actual experience and yet it felt so wonderful to let it live. to let the wonder of that little wrapped taco turn my day around.
there are so many ways to turn a day. my day. your day. the grocery clerk’s day. the customer service rep you interact with on the phone’s day. the person cleaning the bathroom at ikea’s day. the mail carrier’s day. so many ways.
mr. rogers wrote a beautiful and simple song that goes like this: 
there are many ways to say i love you.
there are many ways to say i care about you.
many ways. many ways. many ways to say i love you.
he goes on to add:
there are cooking ways to say i love you...
there are drawing ways to say i love you...
there are playing ways to say i love you...
today i literally felt like a moment loved me and i loved it back. i loved being right where i was and it made me want to love everyone and everything that was there with me. the cart owner, who i’d never met had he not been right there, willing to make me something warm and wonderful. the sunshine that peeked out from behind a cloud. the air that filled my lungs. the hot sauce. all of it. the moment. 
and that’s what a day is. moments. strung together. one after another. and it takes only small ones to turn things. cooking moments, drawing moments, playing moments, so many kind of moments and so many moments to let oneself be loved in.
so, turn things.
in the moment.
to hear mr. rogers’ amazing song go to: http://pbskids.org/rogers/songLyricsManyWays.html  (i promise you...it’s worth it...it’ll stick in your mind for the day and remind you to engage in as many ways of loving as you can!)


murder is not entertainment

whenever there is news of a murder i feel sick. seventeen years ago my sister in law (my husband’s sister) and three nieces were brutally murdered by my brother in law. nothing prepares you for experiences like those that are encountered after the homicide of someone you love. nothing.
with as fast as news travels these days, it would be nearly impossible to not have heard about last night’s mass shooting at a movie theater in colorado. if occurrences like this do not make us feel sick, something is certainly wrong. when murder doesn’t induce sadness and discomfort it seems to me that we have gone sideways as a people.
shortly after my sister in law and nieces’ deaths, i became loosely involved with an awareness raising campaign about media related violence. dubbed “mine” for it’s title “murder is not entertainment,” the campaign fell somewhat flat. it was just too steep a hill to climb, that of the entertainment industry and the american population’s fascination with violence in entertainment. if it was too much for a well organized and publicized organization to turn the tide regarding what we watch, i know, for sure, that it’s too much for me to do alone. here. on a blog.
i can, however, ask a few questions and kindly request that you consider them. i can encourage you to make your entertainment choices with intention and wisdom. i can beg you to spend your entertainment dollars with full awareness of what you are supporting. i can point out that the children in your life are watching you and determining what they will consider movies worth watching. i can remind you to live ridiculously compelling and adventurous lives that fulfill and challenge you and inspire others to do the same. when we do so we rarely need entertainment that raises our heart rates, titillates our senses, or manipulates our emotions.
what i cannot do is be silent.  i cannot ask that you refrain from supporting films which numb you to the impact of violence and murder but i can ask you to be aware of the reality that there are likely families who have known the personal sting of both in the theater with you, living on your street, or sitting in the desk next to yours. i cannot speak with scientific certainty (although plenty of studies exist) but i know that i cannot passively watch murder as entertainment and say that it does not make an impact. if i believe that sesame street can teach children, how can i say that television and movies that contain excessive violence don’t do the same?  
i humbly suggest that we all use today’s news as a motivator to re-consider what we view as entertainment. to think about how our entertainment dollars talks and our actions speak. to determine ways of at least matching the violence we consume with images/words/thoughts/behaviors that are life affirming and grace filled. to not rely on shocking and adrenaline stimulating images as our sole source of emotional stimulation or entertainment. to recognize murder for what it is and to feel appropriately uncomfortable with it. to chose, instead, life.