Not One More

It is all over the Internet, on social media, and the center of conversation this past week due to the terrible shooting tragedy in Oregon. Guns. Should guns be banned? I am not one to get into politics on this blog and I respect all (or most opinions) but it is starting to feel like there is not a place in the US that is actually safe. As a 7 month pregnant woman, I think about these things differently now.

What will it be like for my little boy to go to elementary, middle, high school and college? Even separate from that I think about it in grocery stores, movie theaters, malls, and almost any public area. Whatever the conversation is about banning guns, focusing on mental health, making more laws about having licenses and permits, or classes and training — something has to change. I am not going to get into solutions or politics. Whatever the solution (there has to be one) that can mean that Americans can still feel free. That is what concerns me the most — the fear of going about your daily life when shootings continue to increase. How is that freedom? Whether it is a shooter that kills one person or a shooter that kills many, the act of shooting a human with a gun does not equal freedom for the innocent victims and their families.

Among quite a few organizations that are trying to raise awareness for gun conversations, I came across “Not One More.” It is an organization that shares the stories of those who have lost loved ones through gun violence. Not One More is fighting for safer communities. Who does not want that? Who does not want to feel safe and free? Regardless of our political views we should all want the same end goal. Freedom and safety for ourselves and our loved ones.

Is that too much to ask for?

Possibility contagious

I love being around people who have a fire inside and want to be in the world. Whether that is in the smallest of ways of impacting those around them, or in the largest of ways of wanting to change the world. Maybe that is through small acts of kindness, politics, your child’s school, at work, it does not matter. The positive energy inside that exudes into the world is what I love seeing come forth. I recently came across this quote from Marianne Williamson and thought, ah so true:

“When a woman rises up in glory, her energy is magnetic and her sense of possibility contagious.”

This can happen every day, every moment. Each time we do not get pulled down by the crap that surrounds us — the nay-sayers, the ones trying to push us down, we are contagious. In a good way.

I have posted blogs quite a few times about how I want to suck the life out of every day. I like to do everything I possibly can each day. Find the opportunities and go into each moment knowing that almost anything is possible. So often we get sucked into the energy around us (and yes it happens to me too). Someone can be complaining about their day, their weekend, or their life and so easily we get pulled into that toxic energy. Instead of getting sucked in, we need to change our thought and keep it focused on energy that allows us to thrive and shift the thought of others. Just maybe your energy will bring those toxic people into the world of possibility.

Here is to having contagious energy and an openness that makes others know anything is possible.

“It was never a dress”

Why does the women’s bathroom sign have to have the woman wearing a dress? Why is there not another way to show the difference between a man and a woman? Which is why I love this campaign: “It was never a dress.” The campaign has been making its way around Facebook, but I had to see it show up a few times before anyone gave actual credit to the website and the company behind the campaign. Axosoft, a software company launched the site — this is an excerpt from the About page on their website:

“It Was Never a Dress is an invitation to shift perceptions and assumptions about women and the audacious, sensitive, and powerful gestures they make every single day. In science, technology, arts, mathematics, politics, houses of worship, on the streets, and in our homes, insightful women are often uninvited, overlooked, or just plain dismissed. Through storytelling, community building, innovation and creative disruptions, It Was Never a Dress will foster necessary conversations, vital voices, and images from around the world that honor ALL women. When we see women differently… we see the world differently!”

This campaign is about seeing different ideas about women in new ways. How simple and yet impactful an image could be to turn a dress into a cape. For someone who grew up loving her Wonder Woman Underoos, I am just the kind of girl who sees the cape and not the dress. Of course, I am a summer dress wearing fiend. I will try to suck every possible moment of warmth out of the summer to wear a dress and sandals, or flip flops, but I am a cape flying girl first and foremost. With so few superheros for girls growing up, you latch on to one quickly, and mine had a cape!

Take a moment to explore the website. Click on the page for “Disruptions” and create your own version of “It was Never A Dress.” And, if you are feeling inspired share your story. They even have stickers and t-shirts and the proceeds go to “STEAM fields” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Please share “It Was Never A Dress” with others.

A little burgundy, a lot of voting…

Unlike Ron Burgundy aka Will Ferrell (see below video), I will not do anything for you so you will go and vote. Why? Because you should go vote because it is a freedom and privilege. (Sorry in advance for those of you that are not in the United States. This is an important and timely topic in the US.)

As many of you may know, I do not like writing about politics. I dislike the separation it causes among friends and family. So I usually keep my mouth shut. However, there is one thing I cannot stay quiet about: voting. You MUST vote on Tuesday. No matter what your political party, or who you are going to vote for (although I do have an opinion on who you should vote for – I will keep that to myself). Today I just want to emphatically ask you to go and vote. Speak up, and cast your vote. And now a message from Will Ferrell himself:

A little comedy goes a long way. What I love about his video is that his message is mostly (until the last few seconds) just about going and voting. There are still countries where both men and women are not allowed to vote. Think of voting as speaking your mind and sharing your voice. We have the freedom to vote that others in the world do not have. So, we should all take advantage of our right to vote. We should not take it for granted. We should use this right to make a difference.

If you do not vote, you cannot be upset anytime in the next four years if you do not like the outcome. You cannot have an opinion about the direction of education, taxes, our economy, etc. if you do not go and VOTE.

Please, please, please go and cast your ballot on Tuesday!

How My Government Helped Me

So I really dislike talking about politics. Not because I am not passionate about them, but more because I do not like alienating others through my beliefs. I prefer to discuss topics that can bring folks together, and I find that often with politics people have a very extreme opinion and are not always open to listening, hearing differing opinions, or even learning about a different viewpoint. So if I feel the conversation is negative, aggressive, and just not fun, I often make a choice to shut my mouth or walk away.

Last night, however, we were watching the Democratic National Convention. Bill Clinton somehow moved some emotions inside of me. I got teary at one moment and it made me go back to my childhood.

I grew up poor in the Midwest. My father was a contractor, and self-employed. My mother was a teacher (and had a master’s degree). From what I can remember my parents were Republicans. Most likely because of my father. He believed in as little government as possible. He almost was to the edge of conspiracy theory, and always felt someone was watching his every move. Back then when you paid for purchases with checks (when you actually had to have the money in the bank to pay for your purchases) the cashier would often ask for his social security number or driver’s license number. My dad would get aggressive and revolt telling the cashier those numbers were not their business. Sometimes walking out of the store without his purchase. I do not necessarily disagree with his logic. I am hardcore about the security of my personal information, have gone through identify theft (not an easy thing to fix), and am just overall very careful, as many are about their personal information. I am just not hardcore for the same reasons as my father.

I digress. I did not really want to talk about security or my father’s fear of big government. I really wanted to share my appreciation and nostalgia for what my country has done for me. Mind you I am not very old. My mother became ill and bedridden when I was 12. My parents were just divorced. My father was not paying for child support, and due to my mom’s condition we would have not survived without the support of government social service programs. My mom was not what many think of someone on government support. She was not a drug addict, or uneducated. She was not in any way trying to live off the system. She had one child that had turned 18 and left for college, one that was 12, and another that was 16. She had no income, and health care costs that continued to increase as her condition worsened.

You might ask: “Why are you grateful for all that depressing stuff, Tami?” I am not grateful to have been in that situation. What brings tears to my eyes is that we were given aid. We were given a specific dollar amount of food stamps each month. Our house had been foreclosed on, and we were able to move into government housing (as gross and depressing as it was, we were not living on the street). My mom’s medical costs were mostly covered by Medicaid. Since my mom had two children under the age of 18, she was given a small stipend (Aid for Dependent Children) for living expenses, which mostly covered the rent for the government housing. It was not fun. It was not ideal. However, looking back we could have been living on the street or at a shelter, yet we were taken care of by our government. Yes, you could say my parents paid into it with the taxes they paid over the years, and this is true. Yet, it could have been different.

What concerns me the most is if these types of programs are pulled! What other families might be in a similar situation and for whatever reason are not granted help? What if Medicaid goes away, or food stamps, or other government assistance programs? I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out without the assistance we received. Yes, there are more details to the story. My mom eventually passed on. I eventually turned 18. Life moved forward.

I hope that in the realm of politics, we can move forward as a country. We can remove the hatred between political parties. We can move towards change. We need to continue to take care of our neighbors, regardless of race, income, sex, or religion. I hope regardless of political passions, that we embrace the programs that support those going through a hardship. If we can just get away from the mentality of more, more, more and take care of each other. If we can do that, we will be as fierce and strong as ever.