Saturday, April 8, 2023

Why Infuse Religion in a Progressive + Modern Family?

Headphones on. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is calming my busy thoughts down. Slowing down my breath. If you are able to listen while reading, might I suggest this as a soundtrack?

Come Thou Fount

Why do I feel a connection to old hymns? 

I wasn't raised ultra-religious, but we were a church-attending family. I had been baptized as an infant, received my 3rd grade bible after a weekend retreat, served as an acolyte, and went through 6th grade confirmation, all through the Methodist church. It was a very traditional, very "vanilla" experience. There were no tent revivals or talks of fiery hell. Nobody raised their hands or cried during an acoustic rock set. We sang hymns backed by a church choir and organ or piano. I loved (and still love) when the handbell choir or brass would make an appearance. Other than that, it was pretty boring and uneventful.


Christianity has gotten a bad rap, but to the Methodists' credit, the only messages I ever received about God and Jesus were that of love, forgiveness, inclusivity, and peace. To my parents' credit, they encouraged questioning the messages we heard in church, and supported independent thoughts and opinions. I never feared church, nor felt judged at church. If anything, I felt bored and/or safe at church. It was dependable. Unchanging.

I realize now what a gift that actually was.

Twelve years ago, before becoming a wife, before becoming a mother, I shared some religious reflections after reading a book about The Stages of Religious Development. I enjoyed revisiting that post tonight. I really resonate with Stage 5, where old traditions hold new power.

I am grateful that it is Easter weekend. I'm grateful that when we go to the Easter service as a family on Sunday, we will experience a connection to music that spans generations. We won't be discovering new music or new stories on Easter morning. We will, as a family, and as a local community, hear a message that is ancient, and sing songs that are ancient, and say prayers aloud that are ancient. Why do I feel a connection to old hymns? I have to expand upon the question...

Why do I feel drawn to infuse church + religion into our modern + progressive family? How much is appropriate in 2023? Haven't we evolved past this?

There's something special about being in the physical building. I feel connected to yesterday and tomorrow, at the same time. We live about 45 minutes away, so we don't go in person very often, but when we do, it's a nostalgic experience. I'm grateful I get to return to the same beautiful sanctuary my dad attended as a little boy, where family members were married and baptized, and where Granddad's memorial service was held. I still think I see him there sometimes, even though he passed away years ago. What a gift to get to put my physical body in a specific place, and feel reflective, nostalgic, and inspired. George felt the same way while attending his grandparents' memorial service at their Osage Catholic church in Oklahoma. We both had reverence for that space. When I sing a familiar hymn at church, I feel connected with our family's culture + traditions. My ego dissolves into the collective. 

On the other hand, when I listen to a familiar hymn in my headphones, it's a different experience. I feel like I'm praying, expressing the words to God, and it's just me and God, nobody else. I feel like God and I are communing and we are one. 

I feel something inside me when I hear that verse. I tap into something when I sing that verse. When I pray, or listen to hymns while alone, I feel an intimate connection to a Higher Power, that I can't deny. 

I saw a shooting star last weekend, and felt like that was God's way of saying, "Let me dazzle you." I understand there is a scientific explanation for what a shooting star is and why they occur. I understand God is not an old man in the clouds, saying, "Let me dazzle you." What I mean is...in that moment, seeing that beautiful shooting star, I knew I was filled with awe + wonder, rather than explanations + answers. I was fixed on it. 

In that moment, my heart was pure, my ego was small, and I wanted for God to just take my heart and seal it. Seal my identity as that good person. Not the anxious mom who's scared of what could happen to her kids. Not the nagging wife who is texting her husband about taxes or bills. Not the hurried woman who could've done better, been more patient, or helped more people. The wide-eyed little girl in me that lit up over a shooting star? That's who I am when I'm focused on "God." When I'm at my best, that is who I am. Religion gives us perspective, stories, songs, and prayers that tell us we are not alone when we experience God in this way. "God" (or religion, or your spiritual practice...again, make this work for you, Dear Reader!) makes this available for everyone. That said, I realize it's not helpful for everyone, and what works for me might not for others.

As a teen, I believed God was an idealized fatherly figure (Stage 3, "God The Parent"). As a young adult, I moved through the "Distant God" phase and questioned everything. I'm more comfortable now believing no one religion has all the answers. I like to think I believe in lots of things a little bit, and nothing all the way. Even though I no longer believe The Resurrection literally happened, I still feel uplifted and excited about what it means metaphorically for my life. I feel like the wide-eyed little girl who was in awe of the shooting star. I can sing the hymns, say the prayers, and receive the message that we all fall short, and we are all given grace. Every soul is forgiven. And maybe I can be a little more gracious, and forgiving, since I know how good it feels to be on the receiving end. I still feel like something greater than us exists, and I find solace in connecting with it. 

While finishing our taxes this week, I felt incredibly frustrated and stressed, and when I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air and a moment to reflect, my brain short-circuited to an old memory of a "Wonder Years" episode about taxes. It's called "Faith."

From the POV of middle school narrator, Kevin Arnold, his mom is stressed about having lost the receipts for their taxes. Kevin sees her sneak away to a church (they don't usually show the family as church-goers), light a candle, and pray. He assumes she's praying about the taxes! ***sPOiLeR ALeRT*** She's praying for the Apollo 13 astronauts. I love that we see this through the innocent lens of a child. The ending shows Jack and Norma laughing together while working on taxes, despite the loss of receipts. Kevin thought his dad might strangle his mother over losing those receipts, but he didn't. The episode was a story about grace, and it landed. Unmerited grace.

That's the point I'm trying to get to. That's what I'm tapping into this year for Easter.

I think the Jesus story, this year, to me, means grace when we don't deserve it. We don't have to believe Jesus rose from the dead (or we can). We don't have to believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven (or we can). We don't have to pray to God (or we can). I don't know how much is too much, or not enough, in terms of infusing religion into our family. What I do know is Amazing Grace is a beautiful hymn, and I hope someday, when the girls are grown, it will make the hair on their arms stand up, like it does mine. 

I want to at least lay the foundation for religion and spirituality. What they choose to do with it is up to them. If religion isn't for them, I think I can live with that. But, I don't want to let the loudness of the cynics and the skeptics drown out the call from something Greater, the call to our collective weary soul. The call that reminds us of how small we all are, and how big it all is. 

I hope I can give our girls the gift of hearing an old hymn, alone, and feeling a direct connection with God. I'd love for them to be able to sing that same hymn in church, maybe on Easter, and feel connected with their culture, and our traditions. I'd like them to feel connected with both yesterday and tomorrow. Maybe, if I'm lucky, long after I've died and my soul has moved on to whatever happens next (or doesn't), my grandchildren will think they saw me in church. That wouldn't be so bad. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Roe vs Wade

 Dear Lilah and Everleigh,

Today is Friday, June 24, 2022. You're 9 and 6 1/2 years old. It's been a good and busy day. This morning, Everleigh, you got to go to the splash pad with your friend, Ellie, and play outside. Lilah, you joined your cousin, Landon for a fun outing to Barnes and Noble and frozen yogurt. After my pilates class and grocery shop, we hung out for a bit before doing our usual Friday night pizza and movie at home. 

What I didn't tell you today, was what was consuming my headspace. Today, after more than 50 years, the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, which means abortion is no longer a federally protected right. It is now up to the states. Well, we live in Texas. 

Being 9 and 6 1/2, and not yet knowing about how babies are made exactly, and not being old enough to become pregnant, I thought it was best to just not mention what this means. The two of you are blissfully unaware. When I'm done purging my thoughts on this matter, I'll shower off this hellacious day and snuggle you both and feel much better.

I know you remember the night Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away. It was September 18, 2020. 

Yall were 7 and 5, and while you had heard her name and colored her face in a few coloring books, you didn't know why I was so sad. I was crying in my bed, and yall (and your sweet dad) were so loving and tender toward me. I was crying then, because I knew what was coming today. And I knew what that meant for the two of you, and your future. And, what it means for people in far less fortunate circumstances than ours. And yet, the headline was still so chilling. "Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade"

Yall don't even know what "abortion" means. Abortion is a very loaded word. People who claim to be "Pro Life" truly believe, in their heart of hearts, that abortion means killing babies. People who claim to be "Pro Choice" truly believe, in their heart of hearts, that abortion is a health care decision about a woman's body and future. How can one word mean such drastically different things to so many people?

I hope to raise people who see the world in shades of grey, not black and white. Abortion is not as simple as a "murder," or a "health care procedure." A wise person once said "Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare." In a perfect world, all pregnancies would result in healthy + wanted babies. But the world isn't perfect, and everyone has unique stories. Ultimately, we believe it is a personal decision that a woman and her doctor should make, not some politician who doesn't know her story. Unfortunately, the new law of the land was actually made by a new Supreme Court, one of which is a stolen seat (Gorsuch should have been Merrick Garland, Obama's nominee), 2 of whom have been credibly accused of sexual assault (Kavanaugh and Thomas), and 3 of whom were put into power by a twice-impeached, one-term, president who lost the popular vote, and tried to overthrow a free and fair election.

Aunt Laura is pregnant right now, and we all love feeling Baby Boy kick, and we talk to him and love him. I want to be crystal clear. We would never want to hurt or harm her baby. We love him and are so excited for him to join our family. That is how we have felt about every baby in our family.

I remember the first time I learned about abortion, I immediately felt a repulsion toward it. I instantly felt it was wrong, and why would anybody want to kill a baby? I don't judge myself for feeling that way. I love the innocence in that notion. My opinion has evolved over the years, after hearing so many unique stories. I hope, regardless of your opinion on abortion, you always remain open to listening to other people's stories, and sharing your beautiful stories with trustworthy people.

Abortion means ending a pregnancy. Sometimes that is so early in the pregnancy, nobody even knows the woman is pregnant. Sometimes it naturally occurs, something happens and the baby or mom won't survive, so the doctors have to do a medical procedure to save the mom. Sometimes (rarely) it means a woman doesn't want to be pregnant anymore so she chooses to not be, with the help of her doctor, in a clinic. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a pill, right after a missed period, so the baby never attaches to the uterine lining, to grow and develop. Everyone has a story. Some are scary and tragic. Some are not that big of a deal. I hope to raise people who are brave enough to listen to those stories and offer comfort, not judgment.

I wish I could tell you why I've been staring off into space, or scrolling on my phone so much today. But on the other hand, I want to protect you from knowing how scary today has felt for women. I want you to continue feeling safe + happy as long as I can. I want you to feel safe, and I want you to be safe

To keep you both safe, we will make efforts to make sure you do not become pregnant until you are ready for a baby. I know, I know, you both tell me all the time, "I don't want to have a baby!" The thing is, if you don't want to, you shouldn't have to. However, the elected officials in our state feel differently. They believe if you become pregnant, no matter the health of the baby, no matter how the baby was created (consensually or not), no matter the health of your body, they believe you must be forced to birth the baby. We do not believe that is a "Pro Life" stance, we believe that to be a "Pro Forced Birth" stance. That belief is immoral, in our opinion, and we will continue to protect you from their beliefs being forced upon you.

Even though Clarence Thomas has made a public statement saying he wants to repeal the right to contraception next, for now, we still have access to birth control. Once you get your first period, we will get the birth control rod implanted in your arm that prevents you from having a baby. Is it without risk or perfect? Nope. But when weighing risks/benefits, I feel confident in this decision. I've used this myself, and had good luck with it. I would love to say we will put you on birth control pills, rather than an implant, but the thing is, if you miss a pill, you can still get pregnant. Abstinence is a great idea, and I hope you try it out! But sometimes, you can choose abstinence, and a boy chooses otherwise. And I'm not willing to let you be a victim in that situation. He would walk away with no consequences, and you would have a different fate based on your biology. Birth control levels the playing field.

The best thing that ever happened to me, was the birth of our family. Marrying your dad, becoming parents with Lilah, and completing our family with Everleigh. Yall are the source of my joy and my pride. I can't imagine how the millions of women will feel after today, having babies they don't want. I can't imagine the fear so many millions of women will feel after today, with the government forcing birth, which unfortunately doesn't always go as planned, and sometimes becomes an emergency (also know this from first hand experience). I also worry about the next generation of people, who grow up in a very different home than yall have, knowing they were not wanted, and just forced to be born.

I would feel differently if this country had an adequate formula supply (unfortunately, the Republicans voted against a bill to help with the recent formula shortage crisis), or health care for all (yall's birth was $12, 000 out of pocket, and that's with insurance!!!), or maternity leave (I had none), or universal preschool (yall's was $400-500/month, and only 3 hours/day 2 days/week), or childcare (when we had a nanny it usually cost more than our mortgage), or protection from school shootings, but the thing is, we don't. To bring a baby into this world, one must whole heartedly want to be parents (we did and still do). Being yall's parents is our North Star. We want this world to be better for you, and worry that it won't be. We want to raise decent, kind, helpful and useful people who know how to be good citizens, good friends, good teammates. I worry about the next generation of people who will grow up with resentful mothers who never wanted them.

Please know, above all, how deeply wanted you were. How perhaps you are among the last generation, as of today, who was born into a world where women had the choice to bring them in or not. We chose you. We wanted you. We love you. And God forbid, if you find yourself in a situation where you are pregnant and you don't want to be, let us know. We have your back. We will help you find the healthcare you need and get you there. We are in a fortunate situation where we can travel to where it is legal and take the time away from work to make sure you are healthy and nurtured. We acknowledge this is a privilege, and also feel an obligation to extend a hand out to those who aren't as lucky, and help to make sure nobody is left behind. 

Today changes the course of our nation. In our opinion, and the majority of the country's opinion, this was a tragic ruling with huge ramifications yet to be seen. As always, we do not believe thoughts and prayers are enough, but they do help within our home to keep a peaceful mind and spirit. So, in our home, we will think of those who are struggling today, we will pray for those born into terrible circumstances, and we also know we must do more. We will continue to engage in difficult conversations, showing our neighbors and co-workers that most issues aren't black and white. We will continue to encourage people to vote. We will continue to help those less fortunate by donating our clothes, money, sack lunches, and time. We will continue to help organizations doing the hard work for human rights. 

I am so deeply sorry for what our country has done today. I am so sorry for the people who voted for Trump, and got us this Supreme Court. I am so sorry for the people who didn't vote because they didn't believe it made a difference. I won't stop fighting for you. Your futures will be bright, and I will do everything in my power to make sure you get to live out your dreams, whether that means having a baby or not. Being born a girl doesn't mean you should have to have a baby. While my experience with pregnancy and motherhood as been blissful and the best part of my life, I know it's because I wanted it. I dreamed of it. I hoped for it. MY dreams came true by becoming your mom. I can't imagine having a baby because the government forced it. Most Americans complained about being forced to wear a mask. They wouldn't even consider the government forcing a vaccine-not an option. Too much government control. If only these people knew what an overstep was made today, forcing pregnancy, forcing birth, and forcing parenthood onto people not yet ready for that.

For now, I will shower, and we will watch Bewitched in bed, and snuggle. And I will feel both comfort and grief, in knowing I was among the last of women who has a family she both prayed for, and planned. 

All my love,


Monday, May 3, 2021

When You Find Out the Preschool Teacher is a Trumplican.

Over the past 5 days, I have mulled over how to respond to my 3 year old daughter's preschool teacher's Facebook post of herself in the VIP section of the Trump rally in Dallas last Thursday night.

Why did her being at a Trump rally, and then posting about it publicly, bother me? 

I'm a political junkie, and I think Trump is a terrible President, role model, and person. There is a part of me that admires those of you who don't care about politics. Sometimes I envy you, and sometimes I judge you. I'm working on ditching both. I don't think I'm superior, or know better, just because I have an opinion. I try to have enough self-awareness to check my ego at the door. I can still be respectful and courteous toward somebody who voted for Trump. But I can't hand over my child to be trusted in their care, without some questions.

This is not unlike how I handle gun ownership. Good for you, not for us. If I trust my kid to be in your house, I'm going to ask if you have guns and how they're stored. I don't want to impose my opinion on yours, but I also will always put my child's safety first and foremost, and I think we can all agree, that should always be the case. I'm not saying I think this teacher brings a gun to the classroom, but I am saying I have some questions about her ability to discern good from bad behavior.

Why was I seeing a post on her personal page? 

We are friends on Facebook because she is the admin of a private Facebook group and posts photos of the students with updates on that secure group page. She asked us to add her as a friend at the beginning of the year, so we can stay updated via the group page. I didn't realize she would also be making political posts on her Facebook page. Truly, the best way to avoid this going forward, would be to utilize a third-party app that isn't Facebook. There are options. But that's not why I'm writing this post.

How do we stay connected + maintain professionalism in 2019, with social media?

I avoid discussing politics with patients. I always make the joke that I'm "liberal with numbing cream and conservative with toxins," (I'm a Botox Nurse Injector) and that gets a laugh and avoids awkward conversation. The truth is, I care very deeply about politics, and I don't want to make Trump voters feel uncomfortable in my care. I also don't want to risk a patient finding out my views, and refuse to come to our practice for their treatments. I am aware that some people feel as strongly as I do, on the other side of the aisle, and I still want them to spend their hard-earned money at our practice. I respect my boss and their business enough to take my political junkie hat off when I'm at work, or making social media posts as @BotoxNurseLindsay. This is why I have a work Instagram account, and a personal Instagram account. Unfortunately, Facebook is more of a free-for-all, and I don't love being "friends" with patients or co-workers on Facebook for this reason. It's polarizing. I hope this post can shed some light on this to patients of ours, co-workers of mine, parents of students in my daughter's class, and even Evy's school.

Personally? I vote, I attend rallies, I read books and articles, I listen to podcasts, I research and fact-check, and I volunteer. I am also a mom. I go to parent-teacher conferences, I kiss boo-boos, I plan birthday parties, and I bring the magic during the holidays. I keep the family calendar, I orchestrate our family portraits, and most importantly, I try to model the behavior I want to see in our girls. I would rather our preschool teacher know me as a good mother than know me for my political opinions. I would rather our patients at work think of me as a good nurse rather than a Progressive.

Pandora's Box.

Now that I know how opinionated our preschool teacher is, and what an ardent supporter of the President she is, I know how differently we see the world. Even if I were to have approached her directly, I wouldn't be able to "unsee" that post. Now that I know, I can't un-know. I have to come to terms with this, and decide if I want Evy out of the class, or if I want to give her a chance and make the best of this situation.

I want to give her a chance.
I also want her (and all Trumpers) to be held accountable.
If you voted for Trump, if you wave a "MAGA" or "KAGA" flag or wear the red hat, I want you to read the rest of this article with an open mind.

Our teacher posted a photo of herself at Trump's rally in Dallas, where he said the following statements on October 17, 2019. I imagined our teacher hearing these words, and then posting her support of him. She heard what he said, still supports him, and wants people to know she supports him. Here are his words at the Dallas Rally:

(Source: https://www.rev.com/blog/donald-trump-dallas-rally-speech-transcript-october-17-2019)

  • "The more America achieves, the more hateful and enraged these crazy Democrats become. Crazy. They're crazy. They're crazy."
  • "Crazy Nancy. That crazy Nancy. She is crazy. And shifty Schiff. How about this guy?"
  • "The do nothing Democrats have betrayed our country and that great betrayal is over."
  • "The radical Democrats want to destroy America as we know it. They want to indoctrinate our children and teach them that America is a sinful, wicked nation....What they want to teach your kids, not good."
  • "They want to silence your voices on social media," When I saw this I thought, "nope, I don't want to do that! I've got to do better! I'll just use my voice and try to be more respectful and thoughtful with it."  :) 
  • "...It failed because they had stupid people saying horrible things about us. Stupid, stupid people. They are stupid people and their ratings have dropped like a rocket. I love seeing it. I'm telling you. Love it."
  • "(referring to Beto)....A very dumb Democrat candidate for President, remember the flailing arms? Nobody noticed it, I noticed it, the flailer. He was flailing all over the place."
  • "(referring to Elizabeth Warren)...You know I thought Pocahontas was gone, left in embers."
  • "Sometimes you have to let them fight like two kids in a lot. You got to let them fight and then you pull them apart."
  • "(referring to Mexican immigrants)....Many of them are bad people. You know when countries send them up, they're not sending their finest, okay, use your heads, they're not sending their finest. You've got to see some of the people. But now we send them back, and by the way, ICE is fantastic."

Trump represents all the things I want to shelter my daughter from. Ultimately, I have had to realize her teacher is not Trump, and also I have to teach our daughters how to interact with Trumpers.

What do I want, now?

I want to know that the Trump supporters in my life will call out bad behavior when they see it. I want to know our teacher would tell a child they aren't allowed to speak like the President did.

The last thing I want to do is alienate our daughter, or have a contest of patriotism or moral superiority with this teacher. The last thing I want to do is prove Trumpers right, by looking like a "Liberal Snowflake" who can't have my daughter in her class, or trying to impose my opinion onto others. But I do want to make it clear to all Trump supporters, maybe you ought to think about how your friends/students/neighbors perceive you, when you align yourself with him. And maybe, just maybe, you should go above and beyond to prove to us that you aren't into bullying or name-calling. Prove to us that you're willing to see past this bad behavior in the President, but you'll hold regular citizens (or 3 year olds, in this case) accountable.


I'm friends and family with many Republicans. I am a born and raised Texan, after all.

But this felt different, because 
(a) I didn't really know much about the teacher before this post, and
(b) she is in a position of power and influence with Evy 12 hours a week.

Nobody else in Evy's life has attended a Trump rally, or if they did, they chose not to make it a public post for me to see. I'm just fine with that. This is new for us, and it feels extreme. More than anything, I feel protective of my child. I continue to remind myself, "Evy's teacher is not Donald Trump." I wouldn't trust either of our daughters alone in a room with Trump, so it takes a leap of faith to leave our children in a room with someone who idolizes him.

I think she probably didn't think twice about her post, or if she did, she assumed most Texans share her views. She either thought about it or she didn't. I can't control what other people believe/think/say, but I can control my reaction to it. I tell that to my kids everyday. "You can't always control your environment, but you can always control your reaction to it." I'm choosing to give the benefit of the doubt to this teacher, and I'm telling myself she doesn't realize how polarizing she appears on social media, and how that can be a turn off to people. I'm also trying to remind myself of that, and to maybe keep some of my political opinions closer to the chest when it comes to social media. I realize that might come across as ironic, since this is a political themed post, but I am writing it consciously. I have combed through and re-read this multiple times, and have edited it for days. It's far from perfect, but it is a vulnerable attempt at finding humanity in the other side.

I'm reminding myself of Maya Angelou's words, "When you know better, you do better." Furthermore, I'm considering that maybe I am the only parent in the class, and the only friend on her Facebook friend list, who was disappointed by the post. I doubt that's true, but I considered it. That notion reminded me of a banner in a classroom (when I was a student) that said, "Stand up for what is right, even if you're standing alone."

When you think about President Carter, Bush, Clinton, or Obama, you might disagree about policy, but you still see the President as a role model. However, we actively protect our children from hearing Trump speak. I am in the majority with this opinion"While 90 percent of voters say the president should be a good role model for kids, only 29% say he (Trump) is, while 67% say he is not." I think if the teacher knew her idolization of a bad role model made me wonder about her leadership abilities in the classroom, she would have thought twice about posting a photo of herself at the Trump Rally.

When Evy told me a girl in her class was kissed by a boy on the playground, my first thought was, "I wonder if this teacher let it slide." I don't know, because I only hear about events from a 3 year old's perspective, and I'm sad about that. I hope she has consequences for name-calling, if it happens in the classroom. Basically, I hope she has higher standards for 3 year olds than she does the President of the United States.
The following day, rather than keeping Evy home from school, we sent her to the classroom in an Obama silk-screened T-shirt. We thought it sent a message without being overly confrontational. Hehehe.

I suppose I hold private school teachers to a higher standard than I do other people in my life, because we are paying top-dollar for this academy, and we made the choice for this academy to have influence on our children. In the public schools, we acknowledge + accept the community is more important than the individual. We know public schools offer diversity and know that their teachers might disagree with us politically. The reality is, the world is diverse and we want our children to know themselves and their values, but also we want them to connect with people who are different than them. We want our children to be accepting + engaging + connected with their community, and that means people of different religion/race/gender, and also, political preference. However, our children only attend this academy for 2 years, at age 2 and 3, and their teachers have a monumental influence on their early development.

We are consumers, choosing to pay and send our children to this academy, because we want an influence that is non-religious, nature-appreciating, education-valuing, and filled with warm + kind staff. Those were the top factors in choosing this particular school. It is very hard for me to understand how a Proud Trumper can check all of those boxes, but I will suspend my imagination and give the benefit of the doubt, even though it might not make sense to me. I am aware that I don't have all the information, and I don't know much about this teacher. Currently, I am coming to terms with our last year at this academy being a monumental teaching moment for me. The girls have learned and thrived so well at this school, and maybe now it's time I learn a little bit, too.

Trump divides us. I want unity. Trump name-calls. I want conflict resolution with integrity. Trump bullies. I want kindness and love to prevail. I must keep in mind that everything I want, I have to model. If I want unity, conflict resolution with integrity, and kindness + love to prevail, it starts with me as the mother. After talking it over with my husband, I'm going to get the teacher a gift, and write her a note of kindness, acknowledging and thanking her for the positive things I've seen from her, because I want those to be the traits that are magnified in my own head. The past 4 days all I've thought about is her love of Trump. I have to change my headspace, not her political views. I have to check my ego and remember I'm not in politics, I just have a very strong opinion about politics, and my most important job is to teach tolerance + kindness to my daughters.

I was unpacking Evy's backpack this morning, and sorting through papers from school. Her report card was in there, with a kind note from this teacher. There was also artwork planned by this teacher. There were little Evy accomplishments, supervised by this teacher, that had literally nothing to do with Trump or that stinkin' rally. I know she prepared for the lessons and cleaned up the messes. I'm trying to focus on those good things because they make me feel better.

As Trump himself said, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

Perhaps with this teacher, and through our darling daughter, we can have a renewed sense of hope. I'm working on it, and I hope my musings about this have helped someone else out there, too.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Texan Women.

Whether it's pop culture, business, or the political arena, nobody represents #goals better than Texas women. As an ode to the Texan woman, I'm doing a personal countdown of my top 8.

I didn't know she existed until searching Google for this post. She quickly made my list. I felt like the laziest piece of garbage reading about her life. At the time, nobody in the United States would teach a woman (nor African American, nor Native American) to fly a plane. Being 1/2 Cherokee + 1/2 black, and a woman, she taught herself French, SAILED TO FRANCE, learned to fly planes, and came back the first black woman aviator in the United States at the AGE OF 29. I'm 31, yall. Oh, and she DIED 5 years later when a presumably white male pilot crashes the plane she's a passenger on. I WILL NEVER SAY 'LIFE ISN'T FAIR' AGAIN.


"I refused to take no for an answer."
“The air is the only place free from prejudices.” 
“I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly.”

Though she only exists in my dreams and streaming on Netflix, Tami Taylor is the Texan woman of my dreams and my utmost role model. She perfectly balances the roles of respectful wife, nurturing mother, and sexy firecracker. She stands her ground, is down to earth, loves wine, cusses sometimes, but always comes through for those she loves (including herself).


"I think, as a parent, the best thing you can do is just don't try to fix it, just be there for her, just let her know you love her."
"I just want you to have faith in something. Something that can hold you when I'm not going to be able to hold you anymore."

#6) Tie for Texan First Ladies LADYBIRD JOHNSON & LAURA BUSH
There have been two Texan United States presidents, Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson and Republican George W. Bush. Both presidents were controversial at the time, but their beautiful, smart, classy wives were always popular with the country. One of Ladybird's campaigns was the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. Laura Bush had an approval rating of 82%, making her one of the most popular first ladies in our country's history (Gallup Poll Source). 

FAVORITE Ladybird Johnson QUOTES:

"The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom."
"Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest."


"Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place." (June 17, 2018, in response to Trump's separation of families at the Texan border)

#5) Tie for Politicians, Senator KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Representative BARBARA JORDAN, and Representative WENDY DAVIS

Kay Bailey Hutchison served as a Republican United States Senator from the state of Texas from 1993-2013. In 2001, she was named one of the thirty most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. The first woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, Hutchison also became the first Texas U.S. senator to receive more than four million votes in a single election.

FAVORITE Kay Bailey Hutchison QUOTES:

"We cannot afford to lose the Medicaid funding for low-income women."

"When it comes to dividing Americans on the basis of their gender, I know a little something about the subject."


Raised in Houston’s fifth ward, Barbara Jordan shattered a lot of glass ceilings for her successors. In 1966, Jordan was the first black woman to be elected to the Texas State Senate (and the first African American to be elected after the Civil War Reconstruction Era). In 1972, she was the first black woman to represent Texas in the United States House of Representatives, and upon her death in 1996, was the first black woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery.


"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total, and I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminuation, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution. It is reason and not passion which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision."
Wendy Davis made national news on 6/25/2013, when she held an 11 hour long filibuster protecting Senate Bill 5, in support of women's rights. The filibuster played a major role in Senate Democrats' success in delaying passage of the bill beyond the midnight deadline for the end of the legislative session, though it ultimately passed in a second session. The filibuster brought Davis national attention, leading to speculation about a run for governor. She subsequently ran for governor in 2014, but lost to Greg Abbott. He is our current governor (2018) and up for re-election in November, by another woman, keep your eyes peeled for Lupe Valdez (and consider voting for her! I will be!). 


"I've found that the things worth fighting for are always the hardest....There is meaning in each of these fights, in speaking truth to power and giving voice to unpopular causes. There is value in fighting for something important to you, even when the outcome is not what you hoped it would be. So my advice to you: if you fail, fail big! Fail with flair! Fail trying to do something real, something hard."
Sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Tejano" or the "Mexican Madonna," Selena was an icon who merged cultures in the mainstream. She married her first love, and never let her fame or success go to her head. In July of 1995, "Dreaming of You" became the fastest selling album by a female artist in pop history. Her career was cut short due to her tragic murder at the young age of 24. Governor George W. Bush declared April 16 "Selena Day," and she will be celebrated and remembered forever.


"Although my Spanish is a little week. I feel that I am Mexican. I am very proud of my roots. And since I was little we played Tejano music besides English music and country. It was something natural for us."

I sure do love me some Texas country. My favorite country is that with a progressive message, imagine that. Nobody serves that up better than Texas women. Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks committed career suicide standing up for her convictions, and time has proven she was on the right side of history. 

(in response to the George W. Bush fiasco)

"I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should"

Kacey Musgraves is my favorite solo artist of all time. I love her voice, her aesthetic, her brand, her lyrics, her stances, her presentation, and her down-home Texan roots.

FAVORITE Kacey Musgraves LYRICS:

"I ain't pageant material
I'm always higher than my hair
And it ain't that I don't care about world peace
But I don't see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage
I ain't exactly Ms. Congenial
Sometimes I talk before I think, I try to fake it but I can't
I'd rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain't"

Yall already know this Queen doesn't need a description. We get to claim her as ours. Boom.

"When you lie to me, you lie to yourself. You're only lying to yourself. When you love me, you love yourself. Love God Herself." 

#1) Former Texas Governor ANN RICHARDS
She was the 2nd female governor of Texas. Remember the good ol days (1990-1994), back when our governor was pro-education, pro-minority rights, and pro-government efficiency? She SAVED taxpayers an estimated $6 million. She was born in Texas, grew up in Waco, went to Baylor, and earned her certificate for teaching from UT. She married her high school sweetheart, moved to Austin, and had 4 kids. The oldest is Cecil Richards, the former CEO of Planned Parenthood (and keep your eyes peeled for her future political run!). Her 1988 Democratic National Convention keynote address was listed as #38 in American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century.

    • "I'm delighted to be here with you this evening, because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like."
    • "Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."
    •  "…two women in 160 years is about par for the course. But if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."
    •  "When we pay billions for planes that won't fly, billions for tanks that won't fire, and billions for systems that won't work, that old dog won't hunt. And you don't have to be from Waco to know that when the Pentagon makes crooks rich and doesn't make America strong, that it's a bum deal." 

(in no particular order)
BONNIE PARKER (Bonnie & Clyde)
CARRIE MARCUS (Neiman Marcus)
BETTE GRAHAM (creator of White Out)
DEBBIE REYNOLDS (Will & Grace, Golden Girls)
CARO CRAWFORD BROWN (first Texan and first woman to win Pulitzer Prize in 1955)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Santa and God

Our trip on the Polar Express railroad has me in a deep spiral of introspection.

The parallels.

And how much fun it is to be on the other side of belief.

I rented The Polar Express and watched it several times with both daughters this year. Then, I felt like the ultimate mom, finding tickets to a Polar Express EXPERIENCE! Riding on a real train? Drinking hot cocoa while arriving at the North Pole to see Santa?! I was willing to pay every dollar in our bank account, justifying the importance of experiences over things. The tickets were bought. The trip was booked. I was stoked.

Prior to this trip to the North Pole, my husband questioned the experience, "So we are all in on this lie then? I mean, I'm cool with it, but I'm just confirming, like we're flat out lying to them and pretending to go somewhere that doesn't exist."

"Yup, and we're gonna have so much FUN with it, babe," I reassured him.

He took a half day off work, and I picked up Lilah Grace early from school. I bragged to the registrar, "I'm here to pick up Lilah Grace, we are headed to the North Pole!" The 2 1/2 hour drive as our family of 4 was the perfect chance for the girls to nap, while I excitedly listened to Christmas music, thinking about how much fun we were about to have, and the memories we would create together. Papa G worked diligently on his laptop.

I finally got us to the station, parked the car, and loaded the train. The hostess and "chefs" came dancing down the aisle to a soundtrack of The Polar Express. Hot chocolate and cookies were served, and the book was read aloud. This was honestly the best part...we were huddled up under our warm Pendleton blanket, and the hot chocolate and cookie really were delicious. Better than usual. We attributed it to the North Pole secret delicious recipe. Magical.

After about 30 minutes (maybe? Time warp. Who knows.) of cruising, we made it to the North Pole. I thought we would be parking and playing there, but it was more of a...drive-by. Papa G and I tried to contain our laughter. 

When our 4 1/2 year old daughter saw the elves jumping up and down in front of a painted refrigerator cardboard box, she had a look on her face. My husband and I locked eyes because we both knew that look. It wasn't upset. It was inquisitive. It was one of the first times our daughter felt cynicism. 

"Dad, I have a secret," she said as she leaned in toward him, cupping her mouth over his ear. She told him she thought the "elves are actually just people dressed up as elves."

"I think so, too," my husband responded. "But you know, the real elves are probably busy making toys. This is the busiest time of year for them." She bought it, hook line and sinker.

She's only 4. I want the magic of Santa and the innocence of childhood to last a few more years, at least! But it got me questioning why I was so protective of this myth. To me, the myth symbolizes innocence and joy. I started thinking about what our response will be when we do have that conversation. My hope is that she never felt lied to, and that she will be excited about being "in on the secret," affirming that the Spirit of Christmas and the Spirit of Santa are real, and we get to make magic for others by embodying that Spirit. It's even more fun to be the magic maker behind the scenes, than to be the recipient!

Then, I kept going in my mind. I felt light, and at total peace, when I merged Santa with God.

I have been a Sunday School teacher, a regular Bible Study attendee, an acolyte, and was confirmed after a year of study in the Methodist tradition! I definitely once believed God to be like a "Santa." An old, wise, loving man.

I started to wonder why so many Christians are so afraid to question their idea of God, when they don't seem to struggle explaining the Spirit of Christmas with Santa. Is it fear of hell? Is it fear of "just in case I'm wrong, I don't want to turn my back on God?" Isn't that the definition of superstition?

When people believe in God as an external deity and go to church, tithe, confess sins, and ask for things in prayer, they are really hoping for heaven ((toys)) and avoiding hell ((a lump of coal in your stocking)). Whether it's writing a letter to Santa asking for a toy, or praying to God asking for a miracle, the parallels are uncanny.

So many people will stop reading now. Blasphemous. Sacrilegious. But what good is your faith if you can't question it? What if the most common view on God ((keep in mind I live in the Bible Belt, yall)) is actually a super limited view on God?

I feel called to share this post, because I am on the other side of this, and it's not scary. It's actually very fulfilling and peaceful. I see God in everybody, rather than pretending God is somewhere, and hoping for it to be true.

So, why do we lie to our kids about Santa? Because they are age appropriate for it. Their innocent imaginations pair perfectly with Santa and elves on shelves. It's fun. And honestly, it helps their behavior! I once believed in both Santa and God, and I am grateful for those previous beliefs! I'm glad I had the opportunity to believe in Santa, and now get to be Santa. I once "believed in God," and now connect with God, through my own Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit in others. I think experiencing both Santa and God through a magical lens was once appropriate, and enticed me. Now, I want both to be real, so I insist on being both in my world. 

One thing I know for sure is prayer without action is spiritual laziness. Imagine the disappointment a child would have if they asked for presents from Santa, and nothing came at all, because the parents didn't give a shit. That's heartbreaking! This is a wake-up call. You are both the parent and the child. You are both Santa and God. Ask, and give. Pray, and act.

To me, Santa and God are both the inherent good of everyday people. Divine, Selfless, Unconditional Love. Every single day, God is right there. When you pick up the phone and call your mom, you're talking to God, through your mother. When you hug your spouse, you're hugging God, through the conduit of your spouse. When you gaze into your child's eyes, you're LOOKING at God. My unsolicited advice is to quit thinking about some "North Pole" (("Heaven")) destination that doesn't exist, and for goodness sake, don't pay $150 to fake it on the pretend Polar Express ((or, with the religious metaphor, by attending some of these mega-churches)). Open your eyes and see God, and be God. Know who Jesus was. He would've flipped tables at a mega-church. Christians don't need all those HDTVs and stages with fireworks and confetti. Jesus was a hippy. If you don't know that by now, you literally have not read the New Testament.

The awareness of being that Love, and embodying that Spirit, during this time of year especially, has me on a high. Thank you for making it this far and reading these musings. Thank you for considering this view if you haven't before. Thank you for affirming this view if you feel the same. Thank you in advance for praying for my salvation, if this has freaked you out. I know your heart is in the right place, and I know mine is, too.