does character even count anymore

In the current news cycle we have witnessed the character of men in positions of power and respect that almost compels us to shield our kids’ eyes and cover their ears. Someone tell me please, when did it ever become okay for a potential Member of Congress to grab someone by the throat and body slam them to the ground because they are tired of being asked questions? Is this really acceptable behavior, as some Greg Gianforte supporters stated today while exiting the polls in Montana? They want a Congressman who will react with violence? Members of Congress too? Paul Ryan and others stated today to the public that the gentleman did a bad thing and should apologize but they still support his run for office.

Nearly just as concerning is Gianforte’s aide Shane Scanlon’s statement of what happened; which certainly does not sync with the actual audio tape or the account of the Fox News reporter who was in the room when it happened. In other words, it was FALSE. This is okay?

Today we watched the man who is the current President behave so boorishly at the NATO summit that he proved to be not only a national embarrassment, but an international one as well. Mr. Trump represented our nation today as The Ugly American in Chief. Can someone please stop his European adventure now? Ivanka? Please? Liz Gumbinner is right – kids, don’t grow up to be like this.

This last week, I witnessed first hand questionable character in some that, well, disgusted me. Daniel’s graduation day was fast approaching and we found ourselves short just one ticket for Daniel’s sisters and parents. Just one ticket – how hard could it be to find one more ticket? Hard! After asking classmates and teachers with no success, I took to local social media and the results really surprised me: just forge a ticket, it’s no big dealsneak in either by lying or waiting until after ceremony has started. I was also lectured about my family’s size and the over-population of the planet. Daniel, upon hearing some of this offered that this is not who we are. It isn’t. Of course, there was much kindness, encouragement and support from friends, a member of the PTA, a former teacher and Daniel’s principal. We managed to find one ticket more and yes, Daniel’s dad, myself and his four sisters all got to be in that auditorium as he graduated from Middle School.

A very good thing because Daniel, his parents and his four sisters all were very pleasantly surprised as he was called forward for a special award recognizing his character.

Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness. Yes, we all cried a little because this is the young man that is our son and our brother. It really was a Wonder moment right out of the book. Character DOES count!

Watching Daniel and his classmates up on that stage, hearing some of them speak and their teachers speak, I believe that the kids will be better – so much better.

Meanwhile, we must continue to persist and hold on. Hurry up kids!

most honorable

So much heartbreak happened last night and in the light of day today in Manchester, UK and pretty much everywhere around the globe. Personally I recalled concerts past of bubblegum pop stars I might never include in my own personal playlist; but I would go to with my own children because there really is nothing better than making memories with your kids and music and dancing and singing together with your child and several thousand of your now close friends. I’m not a super fan of Ariana Grande – sorry, none of her hits are in any of my playlists – but I can imagine the magic and joy shared last night in Manchester followed by the unimaginable that I try so hard to push away while holding on to my own as tight as I can.

I’m not alone in this as we all try to process again terror; terror that targeted mostly children and young teens with their families as I have read so many heartfelt, emotional thoughts on my social media timeline. Jessica Gottleib’s on Facebook this morning struck a chord with me:

And the sharing began of the most honorable – teachers, bosses, mentors, priests, children and more – all which accomplished just what Jessica wanted. It warmed my heart, made me smile and feel gratitude because there are honorable people out there in the world, in my world:

  • a doctor who often breaks that therapeutic bubble that is the doctor-patient relationship taking the time to be on a first name basis with his patients’ families understanding that on some of the worst days of their lives a little bit of warm familiarity can be just as healing as the medications and treatments he prescribes.
  • a dance teacher patiently teaching a small group of children on the autism spectrum hip hop; patiently accepting where each and every one of her students is at on that spectrum because not one of them is the same. Her kindness, sensitivity and PATIENCE made it fun for that small class and for the audience who would watch them.
  • that Target lady, the one with the warmest smile and the kindest eyes framed by snow white hair that practically glows like a halo. Retail work can and is often a thankless job but she is one who does her job with so much kindness and gratitude and care that customers like me will gladly stand in what is often a long line just to bask in her genuine care and service.
  • a friend, recently retired pastor, who radiates so much kind positivity in his music, his thoughts on fractious current events and who on occasion will use his wide influence on social media to try and find just one more graduation ticket so a family can celebrate their son and brother’s day.
  • that one co-worker who is so much more than a skilled, kick-ass, rockstar NICU nurse because they make it look so easy and fun even when it is not. No, my colleagues, I am not going to name them. Just imagine that it is you, because it likely is. I do work with some of the most amazing people.
  • that one son of mine, who has shown us all a resilient strength that has been well-documented in this juggling adventure of mine. Truly the most kind, patient, fair, honest, honorable human being I have ever known is a young man who calls me Mom.

Tonight our hearts still break thinking of so many families in Manchester right now who are living the unimaginable; but at the same time, at least for me, I know that there is still good and it is so good and warm and bright.

a mom, like me

I met a lovely woman last night in my neighborhood Starbucks. She, killing time while her kids were at swim practice. Me, waiting for a meeting at my neighborhood Starbucks. I smiled at her when our eyes met because since November, I have resolved to reach out with a kind smile.

She smiled back and more. Her name, she tells me is Fatma. She’s Muslim, she tells me; not that I could not have guessed by the hijab she wore. We talked of many things in a very short period of time – our families, our hometowns, the election and life now after the election.

Is it a political meeting you are here for, she asks me. Yes, I answer and I invite her to sit with me until it was time for her to pick up her kids.

So she did. She sat down next me. The two of us…moms…women.

I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying — trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.

~ Roxanne Gay

onward

No sense wasting words on the sense of foreboding that 2017 seems to have. Looking back at my Big Top life this past year has convinced me that we will continue to grow together and have a good life doing what we must do.

Bring it 2017!

ONWARD!!!

The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

2017, hope, and the next generation

There is something troubling to hear in the news of the sudden, but peaceful death of a pop music icon of your own generation when he is around the same age as you…because he died peacefully can be a little bit disconcerting especially when the news reports add that George Michael was only 53. Sorry, but only 53 conjures up the assumption that most 50-something people are NOT facing very soon the inevitable end of their lives because only 53 suggests that there might be a few more years left to live.

Meanwhile…

WTF 2016?!!

I’m not the only one who has been saying that literally all year long. Just hurry up and end already! Please!

Perhaps that is why the AP is feeling like their New Year’s poll of 1,007 people surveyed online accurately portrays the tone of Americans right now. Optimistic as we face 2017? We have a president-elect gas-lighting nations, Congress, media, Saturday Night Live and corporations alike on Twitter; and when he actually tries to act presidential reaching out to include all Americans, his Trumpers freak out.

Sorry, imagining the potential with this kind of, er, leadership, I’m just not feeling all warm and fuzzy about the near future. I’m trying. Really, I am trying. But I just can’t. I just can’t even. I, and a number of other people I know (regardless of our politics), seem to be thinking more in line with what Michele Obama said recently.

We feel the difference now. See, now, we are feeling what not having hope feels like. Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept and Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. He and I and so many believe that — what else do you have if you don’t have hope. What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?

It’s true. What can I offer my young adult children, my teenaged son, my grand daughters if I can’t even begin to feel hopeful about the next four years…dear god please not eight years!!! It’s hard to imagine America while not having a grownup in the White House. Nailed it, Michele!

But thank you, Mr. President. Thanks Obama as you remind us of that generation right behind us, and I believe each successive generation, as long as we’re doing our job of being good models for it, they’re going to move this country forward in a better direction.

There is hope. Hope is right here. I’m willing to wait for it.