Sunday, November 27, 2016

With precise clarity

It’s only when you have a chance to stop and focus that you can truly see what is around you. It’s looking at your son, sitting on your husband’s lap, and noticing anew that their eyes are so much alike. It’s looking each of them in the face every time they speak to you with nothing else to hold you back from zooming in with precise clarity. It’s moving through the real world free and unencumbered of the fog that surrounds you with work and everyday responsibilities.

You see the sweet kiss your husband bestows on your son’s temple, and the look in his eyes when he gives it.

You step out of bed and the first thing you think to do is look out the windows to see how many wild turkey and deer are grazing and not how many email messages have clogged up your inbox once again.

Your brain is cleared of clutter. It is reset with optimism and hope and the dark cloud lifts away.

You look forward to going home again to your own bed; and yet, try to retain some piece of that peace.

When you lie down next to your son to sleep, you inhale and recognize a hint of baby sweetness at the back of his neck. And instead of wishing for him to fall asleep faster and thinking about what you will do next, you are thinking about right now. At this very moment, you are here. And you know that this is the best time of your life.

The time to be mired in the mud is past. The time to create a plan and take action to help others in the community is here. The time to read and lead by example is now. Go. 

Monday, November 21, 2016


I'm having trouble finding my words this last week or two, so I'm going to just leave these four beautiful things right here.

Love, Kristin

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What you can do

If you're frustrated or afraid of upset this week, perhaps you're wondering what you can do, productively. I don't know all the answers. But here are a few ideas:
  • Reach out to your friends of other colors, religions, and cultures and tell them you support them. Hear their concerns.

  • Actively denounce hate. Don't let anyone get away with the kind of hateful language and behavior I have seen happening in the last couple of days. Speak up.

  • Talk to the principal and/or counselors at your school about hate speech. Here's what I sent to our principal and counselors today:

"Hello --,
Could you please share with me what we are doing for students to ensure that post-election hatred - for example, students chanting "white power" at a high school in Pennsylvania and telling students of color to go back to their own country - does not take root at our school? And how can I help?
My son and some of his friends are worried about their friends of color. The mother of a boy with brown skin had tears in her eyes yesterday at dropoff. A classmate of my son said that she was afraid Trump was going to kill her and her family because she's an immigrant.
It would give me comfort to know that we are actively taking steps to ensure our students don't engage in this language. There are people who are using the N word in our community when they don't think others are listening.
Thank you for your leadership."

My friend Lee wrote this, and I love the ending. Hope and love, baby. Hope and love.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We are the role models. US. Not them.

Yesterday, my son and his first-grade class had a field trip to the nature center near his school to learn more about bats. Austin is the home to the single-largest Mexican free tail bat colony in the country, in case you didn’t know. After the educational sessions, the class was free to roam through the park and view the rescued, injured birds on site. 

One little boy in the class is clearly agitated and occasionally shouts out and makes noises. He can’t stay still for a moment, and one of the teachers keeps her eye on him constantly, gently shepherding him back to the fold. I tell her she must be exhausted at the end of the day. This must be the boy my son tells me is often loud in class. I know that he is a boy with special needs, and I keep my eye on him too.

At the large owl enclosure, I stopped and kneeled next to the little boy and he sat down on my knee, taking my hair in his hands. He twirled my rained-on corkscrew curls and tuned into the texture and the softness and the warmth I was giving to him. For a moment, he was still. And I saw him as a sweet little boy he is instead of the bundle of tiring energy who requires eyes on him at all times, and diversion and direction and endless patience. 

As the little boy skipped away to the next exhibit, one of his classmates – a tall girl with light-brown pigtails and large hazel eyes – took his hand and stayed by his side, leading him from place to place. Another classmate took her place as his watcher, and they ensured that he was where he was supposed to be. 
I caught the teacher’s eye, and I told her that I loved the way the children took care of this little boy who needed them. 

“They are all so nurturing,” she said. “See, in this neighborhood, these kids have everything they need. They have plenty of food, shelter, and support. Their parents read to them and teach them. They are loved. But the empathy, that is what sets them apart. That is what will keep them from being takers.” 

I remembered this as the election results rolled in and I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face. I’m an independent voter, and chose the candidate I thought was the best one to represent my beliefs. The man who was elected represents misogyny and racial divide to me, and I cried not for the other party, but for myself, as a woman, and for my friends who are Muslim, LGBTQ, Latinx, or Black. I grieved the hope for the first woman president in 250 years of presidents. 

My husband held me in his arms for comfort. I asked him how we were supposed to tell our son that it’s not ok to be a bully and mistreat women when our president, our role model, does it?

“Our president is not a role model,” he said. “He’s a politician. He is someone we hire to prematurely age for us to do a job." I laughed through my tears at this.

"Politicians are never role models," he said, with conviction. "That honor goes to our fathers, our grandfathers, and good men in our community. We are going to raise our son the way we know he will become a good man.” 

He's right: politicians are not role models. They are politicians. Athletes are not role models. They are athletes. 

*I* am the role model. *YOU* are the role model. 

I’m finished being sad and I’m mobilized to ensure that the hate that has been stirred up can be tamped down. That the white supremacists find no more power. That the anti-Semites are quieted. That my son and his generation will be taught to see women as equals and treat them as such. 

I have hope for the next generation, if we can figure out better ways to come together. Through fire we will come through, and I am going to be standing up for everyone who needs me. With love. And fierce determination to do what's right. 

That empathy my son is practicing in school won’t go to waste. It’s going to help us going forward.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day playlist

Sometimes, you just need to say something in the form of music.

So here is my election night playlist, with some fun choices for your listening pleasure.

Election Night Playlist 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

Number 45

I was only 5 when Jimmy Carter was elected; somehow I remember feeling disappointed, because I wanted Ford to win. That must have been who my parents were voting for. Or maybe since I am a car fanatic, I liked Ford's name. I remember learning that Carter was a peanut farmer and I remember the Iran hostage crisis.

In 1981, I was in the hospital for my yearly stay for asthma complications when President Reagan was shot. I was wearing the hospital-issued blue gown and my mother was braiding my long, dark hair when the news flash popped on the TV - probably in the middle of some soap opera.

My friend Michelle and I were walking down the street in Indianapolis when a young man asked us if we wanted tickets to see presidential candidate Barack Obama at a rally. We shrugged our shoulders and said yes. And then we stood in the rain and swayed to Stevie Wonder and watched history in action.

Tomorrow is election day for our 45th president. It's exciting, it's scary, it's America. Above all, I hope we love each other. I hope we all want a better future for our children. I hope we can come together and find the best in the situation.

Love, Kristin

Day 7
NaBloPoMo November 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The rainbow

It was gloomy and gray all day; the rain came down in spits and starts. When it began to pour in earnest, the sun emerged for a short period before it began to set; it was perfect weather for a rainbow.

I slipped into my sneakers and my son grabbed his Crocs and we went outside in the rain. Sure enough, there was a gorgeous arc of a rainbow stretched across the sky. A few minutes later, a faint echo of that first rainbow appeared above, and we stopped and stared for awhile, forgetting about everything else in the world.

What's your rainbow? What makes you stop and think, wow, this world is amazing and beautiful. Find it. See it. Gaze at it and grip that feeling with both hands.

* * *

I have had this song in my head all day, for some reason, and found this a capella version from some women at Princeton, covering the Meat Loaf song "Hot Summer Nights (You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth"). This version is fun, even if it doesn't quite capture the same feeling I have for the original.

Day 6
NaBloPoMo November 2016
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