My Turn #amwriting


When I was a kid, I used to love the high dive. I don’t mean the “higher” diving board, we had that, too.

I mean that solid, grey-brown block of pounds and pounds and pounds of smooth concrete, with the ladder that reached to God, Himself.

Never look down while climbing up. Walk to the edge and tease yourself with the fall before taking the leap.

The sense of pride after taking that plunge, and resurfacing to happy cheers from encouraging people. The nods of “well done, no fear.”

Thanks! Your turn, dudes.

Well, I’m 43 now, and suck it up routinely to even make it off the side of our public pool. Okay, routinely is a bit of a stretch, because I am a sit-on-the-side-and-push-off-into-the-water kind of gal now. I like the “ease on in” approach. The tummy-tickles from standing and staring down into water that my feet have not yet touched — they aren’t tickles anymore, it’s more likened to fingers of fear squeezing parts of my insides that have never seen light.

I use the same side of pool approach when I hit “submit.” I ease on in with a bit of poetry here, some more poetry there. That’s okay, if people don’t like it, well, I can tell myself that probably not very many people even SAW it. So who cares?

Plus, poetry is abstract. Take what you want from it. It’s obscure and I am safe hiding in those shadows.

So I’ve attempted fiction. I have so many GREAT ideas! Fake names, fake situations, made up this, that, the other. And I totally suck. I’m boooorrrriiiing! I bore myself at about 1,000 words, and it shows on the page. I have almost zero imagination. I am not a fiction writer. It is not real to ME, and so I can’t make it real to anyone else.

And in realizing that, I have realized this: abandoning fiction, and stepping out of the shadows of my poetry is leaving me looking down at a big, fat pool of honesty and truth.

I’ve realized that I’m a scared-ass writer. That pool is a long, long way down from where I am now; safe in my present with my past, my truth, and my honesty far, far down at the bottom of that ladder that stretches to God, Himself.

Can I take that fall, again? Can I find that no fear attitude that used to break free — and plunge the same way I did when I was 11?

Yes, I can. I can bolster myself and find courage by reading of others. In following wonderful blogs and writing of other, braver souls; I have found a deep pool of that very honesty and truth that frightens me.

I’m standing at the top of that ladder, looking at all of these wonderful writers who have plunged before me, sharing their truths every day, and I’m looking at them all looking up at me and they are waiting, encouraging, and edging.

I thank you for that inspiration as I am striding — if not confidently yet, at least with less fear — to the edge of that high dive.

And I say to you: My turn, dudes.

Dear Fellow Poor Families: We Don’t Have To Let Them Win


strongHello. You there: with the benefit card that looks very much like mine. This letter is for you. This letter is for us.

The way we care for our loved ones has been a hot topic lately.

The proposed changes to our country’s budget have the potential to impact many areas of our families’ lives, and it’s looking like it won’t be in a good way. In the wake of these discussions, we’ve heard a very large part of our country say many, many negative things about us as they show their support for these changes. We’ve also heard many important people talk about who we are and tell us what we need to do.

We need to be better parents, raise our children better and teach them to be successful at life. We need to stop being so lazy. We need to stop our drug use. We need to get educated. We need to get jobs. We need to feed our children healthier. We need to stop abusing the system. After all, poverty is only a “state of mind.”

Trump would like to see 6 million of us get full time jobs. Full time jobs we already have, mind you. And a large number of our fellow countrymen and women believe he’s right on the mark, and they view us lacking.

I understand that our president thinks this makes him look good. It makes it seem like he’s going to wave his magic fairy wand and create these jobs for us to fill. It sounds like he’s going to pull wider access to education out of the butts of the American people, and somehow make us more qualified for the “millions” of jobs that are already available. It sounds like affordable childcare, to care for our children while we take on these jobs, is just going to suddenly be there when we need it.

Yet it is we unemployed, underemployed, uneducated, and lazy drains on society- an argument made by Joe Republic that is seen frequently in these discussions- who are already smart enough to know the chances of this happening are slim. How is it even supposed to happen when the other talk is in harming our health, a fate we are routinely saved from by far too narrow a margin. Limiting our access to healthy food, transportation, doctors, mental health/addiction services and birth control is somehow going to help us become better people? It’s going to help us raise better and more productive children? It’s going to help us break our cycle of poverty?

It’s touted as the change that needs to happen to better the lives of all our United States citizens. It’s touted as change that is long overdue. It’s been said that we’ve brought this on ourselves, that our inability or unwillingness to work hard is now reaping what we’ve sowed.

I say that it’s important to not let those attitudes define our families.

These things are not who we are.

We are the farmers who grow nutritious food for our nation. We are the sales clerks who help provide those goods for our neighbors. We are the customer service representatives who give help, guidance, and solutions- with a smile- for our customers. We are the hospital staff who provide care, hope, and clean environments for our patients. We are the caretakers to the elderly. And we are the parents and childcare providers for the future of this country.

We are the armed services men and women who PROTECT this great country. And we are the elders, veterans, and immigrants who have already contributed all those things.

These things are who we really are. These are the things that are important to not forget.

So as you go about your day today, tomorrow, and all of your days in the future, keep these things in mind when you hear how awful you are. Don’t lose sight of who you are and what you contribute. Don’t let them win your self-esteem and your pride.

Yes, right now others who don’t know are deciding our lives and the lives of our families. Right now, people who hold all the power are making all the choices. It’s important to not forget the power WE hold over our lives. The power to continue working to make our best lives. The power to be our best selves and our best workers. To be champions for our children.

We can lean on each other for support. We can lean on our supporters, and not forget that they are there. Just because the people who are in power have louder voices, doesn’t mean that our voices make no sound.

This is a call to arms, so to speak.

A call to open our arms to others, and lend our support. To wrap those arms around one another and lift each other up. A reminder to raise our voices in support of each other, to take every opportunity available to remind us of our worth and to teach our children of theirs.

This is a call to educate the “winners,” and morph the stereotype of families on welfare.

We don’t have to let them win our open hearts and hardworking minds. We don’t have to let them win US.

We are the only ones with that power. We are the families of America, too.

It’s important to remember that we don’t have to let them win.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”—Maya Angelou


Policies of inclusiveness benefit everyone’s pocketbook

     Let’s take a moment here to think outside the box. To do so, first we must take a look at the box we are in currently, and closely examine our walls and our ceilings. Face some facts.
     Donald Trump is our president, and we are all urged to give him a chance. Let’s see what he does, let’s become united to “make America great again.” Regardless of how we voted, he IS our president, and we need to be unified in that understanding. Give him a chance.
     Yet, some things should never be left to chance. Sometimes we just need to make decisions about our lives in an intelligent manner, maybe by looking at past evidence, judging character based on words spoken, and using our brains in analyzing the information presented to us.
     In other words: make informed decisions.
     Decisions such as where we want to live, work, play, and raise our families. As a mother of six, I know those basic life choices are important to me. As the mother of a member of the LGBTQ community; as a sister and sister-in-law, as a cousin, and as a friend—those life choices are important to me. Therein lies the box of many of us.
     But let’s start a conversation about stepping outside our box. Taking a more broad look at things.
     Economically, the above things should be important to everyone, regardless of whether you advocate for basic human rights. Even a lay-person such as myself can see the connection between a healthy local economy and who is contributing to that economy. One thing that ought to be foremost in our minds is: how can we bring more financially independent tax payers into our communities?
     There might be more here than meets the eye. Say, the intangible, unexpected benefits of policies of inclusiveness. Let me share how Utah just lost and New York just gained about $20,000 in annual tax revenue and well over $50,000 in local economic footprint.
     My sister and her wife ended up fleeing Utah last year. Fleeing.
     They had given it a few years, having moved from Texas for a new employment opportunity. Both working near Salt Lake City, they were dismayed to discover that workplace attitudes reflected the deeply rooted beliefs of the state, in both disapproval of same-sex relationships and women in the workplace. Still they persevered, thinking: be the change you want.
     It looked as though it were working. Buoyed by the changing mindset of the American population; validated as real and important, stamped as equal with new laws brought about by the Obama administration and finally able to marry legally, they thought all was well.
     Then, a particularly threatening and terrifying experience one night. Discovering no legal way to protect themselves, they realized the true depth of a narrow view of LGBTQ rights—and packed up and left that same week, taking one job with them and forfeiting the other. Anyone who thinks gay rights are ‘settled law’ needs to realize that people are still forced to make significant sacrifices to ensure something as basic as personal safety.
     And here, the crux of the matter and how New York gained. The changing form of the workforce places few limits on where one must actually live while working, as pointed out by Global Workplace Analytics. Latest data shows that regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005. As technology advances, as Americans strive for that perfect work/life balance, and as our most profitable companies continue to recognize that trend, those numbers are only set to rise.
     My sister and her wife can work from anywhere, as can millions of others; as will millions of others, according to further data in that study.
     The question then becomes where is the best place? Where can they live and work, around like-minded progressive humans? And now that Trump is president, where is most likely to continue to protect their hard-won civil liberties?
     Where will be their best chance for continued freedom and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as defined by our Declaration of Independence, despite a new White House attitude?
     Trump has said he would prefer states rule on civil rights law, and is making good on those words. The people he’s chosen to surround himself with further prove it. It’s all being put in the hands of the individual states to decide.
     So with that in mind, along with knowing how Utah treated them, my sister and her wife also realized that going back to Texas was off the table.  According to the Human Rights Campaign, Texas does not prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community when it comes to workplace practices, bullying in schools, public accommodation, or marriage equality. Even discrimination in something as basic as housing.
     According to the Human Rights Campaign website, neither do many others.
     My sister and her wife’s subsequent visit to my state of New York has now become a permanent move. The kicker? They are mobile workers. And they brought their jobs with them. Politics was the linchpin of their decision.
     New York has long been a front-runner in civil rights, with laws on the books since 2002 that added sexual orientation to its protected classes. A move that our current governor has made clear would not change under the new presidency.
     On November 20th 2016, Governor Cuomo stated that “New York is, and will always be, a place of acceptance, inclusion and a bastion of hope for all people. We will never allow fear and intolerance to tear at the fabric of who we are – New Yorkers are stronger than that, and we are better than that. With these decisive actions, we say to people of all backgrounds and beliefs: New York is your home and refuge, and we will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”
     That’s an example from my state. California, Colorado, New Mexico, Maryland and D.C, among others, are further states that stand to benefit economically from these policies of inclusiveness.
     Far too many other states are shooting themselves and their residents in the foot by not.
     “Safety” is on the minds of many right now. Safety is on the minds of our children, our families, our co-workers, and our communities.
     Economy is as well. Why would we want to discourage such vast amounts of contributing members of society by making them unwelcome in our state? Like Utah did, like Texas does? Like many other states in our country do.
     Even if you care nothing of human rights, if you care nothing of civil liberties, I’m sure you care greatly about the part of “making America great again” that includes your money.
     A 2015 analysis by Witeck Communications found that “The combined buying power of the U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adult population for 2015 is estimated at $917 billion.”
     With more people deciding that telecommuting is the best option, and with more companies making that a viable option, jobs are less likely to be a factor in where discriminated minorities and other vulnerable classes choose to live.
     Let’s start thinking outside our box, ‘Merica.