Moving Forward

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#safetypin

My heart is full. I can’t begin to convey how supported I feel by all of you following the aftermath of Tuesday’s US elections. Thank you for joining the conversation, and for helping me feel less alone.

While I continue to avoid the radio, TV, and print news, I have received a few emails of note. Tomorrow evening I’m attending an “organizing and solidarity” meeting at Sacred Heart Community Services.

From the executive director “We must organize a plan to protect our community now. If you want to consider the implications of the election and find out how to be an ally to those families under threat, join us on Tues, Nov. 15th at 6pm at Sacred Heart’s Learning Center. Learn how to get involved. Bilingual in English and Spanish.”

I’ve invited a couple of friends to join me as well.

Louise Benson founded Sacred Heart Community Service in 1964 to feed hungry families in her neighborhood.

Today, they provide essential services to individuals and families in. The organization has evolved into a respected and innovative provider of programs that assist families with achieving lifelong economic self-sufficiency and a grassroots organizing network that addresses the root causes and consequences of poverty. Sacred Heart strives to meet basic human rights such as food, clothing, and housing assistance, while at the same time offering the tools for self-sufficiency, including employment assistance, family mentoring, and adult and youth education programs. In 2008, Sacred Heart was selected by the California to be the Community Action Agency for Santa Clara County. This designation formalized Sacred Heart’s role as a regional leader and conveys a responsibility for developing countywide solutions to poverty.

I will let you know where it leads.

I also wanted to share the following excerpt from San Jose’s Mayor, Sam Liccardo entitled “We’ve Got Your Back”.

Dear Friends,

Recent events have left many thousands of our San José residents — about forty percent of whom were born in a foreign country — in fear. Some of our neighbors, friends, and family fear changes in immigration rules or enforcement that could separate their families. Others voice concerns about proposed federal “registries” of community members of the Muslim faith. Still others point to the nationwide spike in “hate crimes” in recent days.

I have sought — through Spanish-language television, social media, and in public demonstrations — to convey a simple message to our wonderfully diverse community: “We’ve got your back.”

What do I mean by that, “We’ve got your back?” We cannot control the events in Washington, D.C., but we can do much to care for each other here at home:

  • We will Not Tolerate “Hate Crimes” in San José
  • We Will Not Allow Our Police To Be Used for Federal Immigration Enforcement
  • We Will Protect the Constitutional Rights of San José Residents
  • We Will Support Our Community Through Our Office of Immigrant Affairs

As French resistance leader Andre Malraux urged, “Instead of lamenting the absurdity of the world, let us try to transform the corner of it into which we were born.” We’ve got much work to do to take care of each other, and to transform San José’s corner of the world. We’ve got your back.

You can read the full text here.

How are you doing this week?

Dashed Hopes

mercury-news-front-pageI don’t know how we got it so wrong.

On Tuesday things seemed full of hope and promise. I was enthusiastic and upbeat.  We were about to elect our first female president in America. Finally, we could erase that smug and self-satisfied look off of Trump’s face. Instead I went to bed with just a glimmer of hope that the numbers could be wrong.

I woke up in a fog, feeling like someone had died. I woke up to the news that Donald Trump had enough electoral votes to put him in office. What so many of us viewed as a terrible joke was our new reality.

Karen, of The Unassuming Hiker said this:

Today we woke up to the realization that the following things are true:

  • Bullies win
  • Racism is alive and well in America
  • Women don’t matter
  • Black lives don’t matter
  • There is no global warming (or science for that matter)
  • The more outrageous you are, the better chance you have that the 24 hour news media will give you full coverage and help you get elected.
  • And, the Donald was correct when he said “I could shoot someone on 5th Ave and still get elected.”

He won by promising to make “your” life better!  The only life he is concerned with is his own.

You can read the rest of her post here.

All the “positive” spin says don’t give up hope. We have to work even harder. Stand up and protect those who have so much to lose. The list is long: Latinos, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community, the disabled, the disenfranchised and women who make up over half of the population.

Maybe I’m not doing enough. I vote. I volunteer. I show up, stand up, give money, support causes, sign petitions but when I rolled out of bed this morning, our president-elect is the same guy we all saw on the Access Hollywood hot mic clip.

My 16-year-old son volunteered election night at the Registrar of Voters. He came home at midnight, sad and disappointed and vowed to wear black to school the following day. He left for school Wednesday morning dressed in black from head to toe. My older son, away at college, assured me he would be okay, but that he is “just not reading the news anymore.”

I need to grieve, regroup, and figure out my own “what now?” I hardly know where to start.

Election Day in America

At long last, election day is here.

It’s been a long, contentious, embarrassing campaign. The stakes are incredibly high. But today, with my head held high, I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton.

Our garage is a polling place once again. A line formed shortly before 7:00 and we’ve had a steady stream of voters ever since. It’s 8:20 am as I write this. Our polls close at 8:00 pm, and since we live in California, we are one of the last states to vote other than Hawaii.

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Our garage, ready for voters

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According to Google Maps, I have to travel 1 foot to my polling place. 🙂

I’ve been a bundle of nerves for days, but today I feel a sense of calm. We all get one vote and all votes count. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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These signs represent the diversity in our community

I wish my mom were alive to see it. She was a staunch defender of women’s rights and supported early candidates such as Shirley Chisholm. Mom died in 2008, a few weeks after we elected Barack Obama, but she’d slipped into dementia at that stage of her life so she never knew.

Shirley Chisholm said:

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “It’s a girl.

and…

Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.

and..

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.

She was a remarkable woman, ahead of her time.

Here are a few posts from fellow bloggers that I think you’ll enjoy.

America Votes! by Stacy P. Fischer of Visual Venturing

Loving Hands and Nasty Women by KerryCan of Love Those Hands at Home

And to tickle your funny bone, assuming you share my sense of humor, here are several clips from Randy Rainbow:10 Times Randy Rainbow Slayed the Election.  His beautiful voice and dead-on parodies have helped keep me sane.

Finally, why women are wearing white on election day.
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Voting with my Votes for Women pin (thank you Laurie) while wearing a white dress

Let’s shatter this glass ceiling once and for all. Tomorrow can’t get here soon enough.

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He’s wearing his white pant suit, but he’s not quite ready to face the day.

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An Ominous Autumn Beginning

These last few days have been surreal. We’ve been under a heat advisory since Thursday, the first day of autumn here in San Jose.  Temperatures climbed into the high 90’s F (34C) and have remained high for five days. It’s been months since we’ve had any significant rain, leaving our state brown and dry as we face year five of the California drought.

Wildfires are always a concern this time of year, but the elevated temps and the drought-produced fuel created a tipping point.  As I drove to my son’s school Monday afternoon I saw this:

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Loma Fire by day as view from my son’s high school

My heart sank. These are the beloved Santa Cruz mountains, part of what surrounds San Jose, creating our iconic Silicon Valley.

When I got home, I checked in with friends that live “over the hill” and all were safe. Cal Fire crews descended on the steep terrain from around the state and we are obsessively checking for updates.

Two hours after the start of this fire, we sat down to watch the presidential debates. An estimated 800,000 viewers tuned in for the first of four televised presidential candidate debates.  Between the fire, the heat and the bombastic Republican nominee spewing nonsensical pablum on the stage, I needed a break.

We turned off the TV and went for a walk around the block. Still out of sorts, we decided to go for a rare evening drive.

One of the most frightening aspects of wildfires is their unpredictability. They rage out of control, change directions without notice and leave damage in their wake. It’s a metaphor for the US presidential election, still an agonizing 40 days away. I’m desperate for it to be over, fearful of the possible outcome, and more than ready to see that bombastic blowhard lose.

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Loma Fire at night, Loma Prieta, California

This morning I received the following email alert:

[the fire]  is now burning upwards of 1,500 acres. Three shelters have been opened for evacuated residents; Soquel HS in Santa Cruz, Morgan Hill Presbyterian Church, and The Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos are all receiving evacuees. San Jose Fire Department still has multiple units on scene including our SJFD PIO and Chief Officers. We are still on high alert for possible evacuations here on the San Jose side. As you know high temperatures and low fuel moisture along with difficult terrain make this fire particularly dangerous.

This is a good day to remind myself to practice self-care. I’m engaging my Tantra breathing, drinking lots of cool, fresh water and sticking to my meal plan.

How do you manage your stress, when things are out of your control?

Loma Fire Day One

Another Busy Wildfire Season

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Dark Times in America

Canada, here I come.

For the second time in two months, I’m off to Canada for some rest and relaxation. I took Mike to see Victoria for the first time in mid-June.

Next week I’ll visit Edmonton, a trip planned nearly a year ago. I’m visiting my “Boomdee Bestie”, a dear, dear friend whom I met through blogging. We laugh when we’re together, and everything seems right with the world. I’m counting the days.

kelly and alys in chinatown 2014

What I planned as a vacation, a holiday away from the mundane, now feels like an escape. These are dark times in America. Current events have laid me low.

Our parents raised us to be tolerant and fair-minded, kind and sincere. My Canadian mother and British father met on a blind date in the mid-fifties in Ontario, Canada. They moved our family to California when we were still in grade school.

All these years later, I still  long for the safety of home. Home was a place where nobody cared about a second-amendment right to bear arms. The idea of owning a gun was absurd. In a 2013 survey of 80 countries by the World Values Survey, Canada ranked among the most racially tolerant societies in the world.

Conversely, the States seem mired in racism and gun violence, with little if any progress toward a cure. One of our major presidential candidates wear’s his hateful, misogynist, xenophobic opinions proudly. When he says “Let’s make America great again” it has nothing to do with tolerance. He talks of building walls along the Mexican border,  profiling Muslims, punishing women’s right to choose and a myriad of other aberrant stances that could set this country back a hundred years if he wins.

This past week, police officers shot and killed two men of color with both incidents caught on camera. A four-year-old girl sat in the back seat of the car, miraculously unharmed. The video ends with her tiny voice comforting her distraught mother. “It’s okay, mommy, I’m here.” I sat alone in my car, listening to her small voice while her mother sobbed and I wept along with her.

A day later, as I tossed and turned in bed, further gun violence unfolded. A lone gunman shot a dozen police officers standing watch over a peaceful protest rally. When the long, terrible night was over, five officers were dead, several more wounded including two civilians.

I’m weary and sick and frightened, too. There must be a better way forward.

“Everyone has a right to peaceful coexistence, the basic personal freedoms, the alleviation of suffering, and the opportunity to lead a productive life.” – Jimmy Carter

“Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.” – Dalai Lama

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa

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You might also enjoy: Seeking Solace by Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

Waging Peace: The Carter Center, The Old Globe and an Extraordinary Day in San Diego

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The Old Globe Camp David Program

Jimmy Carter is one of my heroes.

Theater has long been my passion.

So when an invitation arrived to attend a west coast premiere of Camp David at The Old Globe theatre in San Diego, I pounced. The program exceeded my expectations and left me feeling hopeful for our troubled world.

The Carter Center

Founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter,  the Atlanta-based Carter Center has helped to improve the quality of life for people in more than 70 countries. The Center, in partnership with Emory University, is committed to advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering.

Our Weekend

We gathered at The Old Globe for a luncheon and a presentation by Hrair Balian. Balian is the Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center.

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Hrair Balian, The Carter Center

I could have listened to him speak all day. His presentation was brief, but informative, touching on many subjects that I would like to learn more about.  I was able to appreciate all of the Center’s efforts towards peace. In conversations about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), The Carter Center involvement includes:

  • Relations with all, across multiple divides
  • Involvement of women, siting UN Security Council Resolution 1325
  • Factual conflict analysis
  • Coordination with the UN
  • Peaceful transition for Syria

and more. We were able to chat with Mr. Balian before lunch and sat with him during the play, which we loved.

The Old Globe, San Diego

Waiting for the start of Camp David at The Old Globe

Camp David received a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd. Playwright Lawrence Wright is also an awarding winning journalist. His thorough research, including access to the Carters, led him to add Rosalynn Carter as the fourth character in the play. Rosalynn Carter is a powerful force in her own right, advocating for mental health care around the globe.

Conversations with Playwright Larry Wright

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, author and playwright Lawrence Wright wrote the play, Camp David, and a follow-up book called Thirteen Days in September Days. It chronicles the thirteen days at Camp David that led to a peace accord between Israel and Egypt, facilitated by the President Carter. Peace between those two countries remains thirty years later.

Wright spoke with us after the play, and we joined in a question and answer session; also far too brief. What a fascinating man. They hope to bring Camp David to Broadway in the near future.

Special thanks to Seema Shams and Marian Dickson of The Carter Center

If you’re interested in learning more, here are a few links:

Here are a few snapshots from the rest of our weekend. We walked along the Shelter Island harbor, ate dinner near Balboa Park, and enjoyed an outdoor breakfast at our hotel.

A Restorative Weekend at Carmel-by-the-Sea

We’ve just returned from a relaxing and restorative weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Getting away like this is rare for us. We’ve focused on raising our boys who are now teens. Once a year we do an overnight stay at a local hotel for our anniversary, but otherwise we’re close to home.  With our oldest son away at college and the younger one away for the weekend with friends, we pounced on the opportunity to get away.

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Enjoying the weekend with my sweetie. On the coast, enjoying an iced tea at Basil’s, posing with gardenerd, wrapped up against the wind

The city website describes Carmel as

A city in the forest. A one-mile long pure white sandy beach.
A cultural mecca for the performing and visual arts.  Superb dining and shopping experiences. A storybook setting!

We stayed at La Playa Carmel, a boutique hotel originally built as a mansion by an artist as a gift to his wife. Most of the talented artists I know can only dream of making that kind of money.

When I shared holiday photos on Facebook, I learned that one of my friends honeymooned there 35 years ago. Another couple we know married at La Playa Carmel. I’m tickled to no end by this. Mike made all the arrangements, so I had no idea that we were staying at this charming place.

[Click on individual photos in the gallery to enlarge]

We enjoyed lunch and dinner in the historic city center, visited the cute little shops, and admired the beautiful landscape nestled among the Monterey Pines. Flowers bloomed in front of every home and shop in the area. It’s a gardener’s dream.

 

Sunday we awoke to a musical downpour. It cleared after breakfast, allowing us to go for a long walk. As we walked the beach trail we imagined ourselves living in one of the beach-side homes to our left as the waves crashed against the rocks to our right. They build these homes for maximum viewing of the sea. The average list price of a home in Carmel is north of $3 million dollars US. Gulp. It’s fun to dream, though, right?

It started raining again while we lunched at a fabulous Green-certified restaurant called Basil.

carmel the last straw

This gave us the chance to walk arm in arm under our new umbrella for one last stroll before heading home.

Ahhhhhhh….