Are you ready?

I like to think of myself as always learning. Though I hope not to get the urge to formally go back to school again (sounds fun……until you find yourself juggling school, work, and home life and finals come along!), I do try to find other ways of continuing to learn. One of those ways in 2017 was an increase in the number of podcasts I listen to. I have always enjoyed podcasts, as they are a great addition to my massive library of audiobooks and help make long commutes a bit more manageable. 2017 was a rough year – if you weren’t upset by some of the things that happened in our country last year, then you simply weren’t paying attention. My two favorites to help me learn are listed below if you are looking to add to your repertoire:

Code Switch plays in to something I have been working to make better about myself anyway…….implicit and confirmation bias. I first heard about these biases a couple of years ago, and the basic run down is – we all have a belief system already in place (about people, politics, etc) and then seek to find information that proves what we think about an issue and ignore that information which does not fit in to our beliefs. There is so much great reading that can be done on this topic (just search for “implicit bias confirmation bias” and glance at the types of information on that first page), but this podcast is there to help you change some of those beliefs – if you are willing and able to listen with an open mind (fair warning – that is the downfall to any attempted change to your confirmation bias – if you can’t listen with an open mind, you are not yet ready to try to change those beliefs). They also do some amazing Q&A for those who may not be as “hip” to other cultures as they should be.

Code Switch

The next one comes with a warning – it is VERY left leaning. Run by staff members from the Obama administration (yes, GASP, at least a few who made it this far are now closing this page!), but is helpful for those who, like myself, have never been involved in (or paid attention to) politics, but find that the past year has made them want to do something to at LEAST prevent things from getting worse, but would like to help make our country better.

Pod Save America

Are you ready?

Namaste,
hc

“I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at.”
~Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If only.

Does anyone else feel lately as though the universe is trying her best to send us a message that it is time to do SOMETHING about gun control? I fear that after the NRA worked so hard to “normalize” the slaying of CHILDREN after Sandy Hook, that there may be nothing that can be done to make some positive change. But we have to try – right?

The NRA spends MILLIONS of dollars every year to taint our representatives inside the capital and to brain wash their supporters and convince them that every American having numerous weapons is the safest way to live – to defend ourselves, our country, and all sorts of nonsense. They push hard to convince those people that ANY change to our laws should be viewed as “they’re coming to take our guns away”. They also convince their followers to say things like “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and “I fire my weapon at a range to ensure I know how to use it properly”. What they forget to mention is that NOT EVERYONE who buys a gun is a responsible gun owner. In fact, maybe we could increase that particular sect if we implemented background checks, registration, etc. evenly throughout the country. No more buying numerous guns at various trade shows………so many possibilities that can be explored to try to make this a safer place for all of us to live. If only we could just get people on both sides to talk and to listen to one another.

This will be a hard fought battle – because the more political the NRA becomes, the more money they have to continue to brainwash these people – and to buy the complacency of our representation in the senate and congress. But surely at this point we can agree that SOMETHING must be done. Maybe hunters don’t need assault weapons? Maybe a thorough background check will stop a few sales to killers? Maybe a limit on the number of guns that one person/family should own? Yeah, I actually heard an audible gasp on that one – less than 4% of the American population owns more than half of the guns throughout the country – even though there are almost enough guns in this country for each of the 315M people to have one. That is shocking. And doesn’t make anyone safer. If only we could just get people on both sides to talk and to listen to one another.

If only.

Namaste,
hc

“It’s not a gun control problem; it’s a cultural control problem.”
~Bob Barr

Kindness. Listening. Understanding. Empathy.

I find myself lately wondering how to foster these traits in others. We seem so caught up in hate, in being “right”, in sticking to some fake “party line”, that it is just utterly damaging.

I am listening to some amazing podcasts addressing Confirmation Bias as of late, and while I know it is doing me a lot of good to listen to these and to learn how to recognize and counter balance my own confirmation biases, how can I get others to do the same? My heart aches with every story of racial injustice, the NFL kneeling debacle where SO many people didn’t understand WHY Kap was kneeling (and that he consulted with a veteran before doing so – as a veteran and active service member, I GET it, and feel that we have fought for generations to give people the right to peacefully protest), the complete inability for either side to have a simple DISCUSSION about gun safety (notice how I didn’t say restriction, removal, etc?!). While on one hand I am grateful to know just how much racism and bigotry is around me now, I just keep coming back to WHY? Just why?

Why can’t we be kind? Why can’t we listen to one another without attacking? Why can’t we work together to make things better for everyone? Why can’t we all show some empathy for those who live a very different life than we do? Just why?

Namaste.
hc

“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”
~Thurgood Marshall

T.A.L.

Ok, so I don’t blog much, and I also stay so busy that I don’t get super passionate about things that I have no control over. But this week…….. Whew! I expect to lose at least a couple of my “followers” over this one, but I don’t really care.

This week, I was listening to a fantastic podcast, and was really enjoying the content. Ms. Nikole Hannah-Jones (@nhannajones) works for the New York Times, and is doing amazing work on calling attention to the education system in our country. Hearing her insights in the beginning of the podcast struck a chord within me that just kept resonating as she was talking – I was fired up and already trying to figure out what I could do to help make a difference.

You see, what Ms. Hannah-Jones has a passion for, is the desegregation of our schools to help improve every aspect of education. That’s right, here we are, more than 60 years later, and still facing an issue that truly should not be an issue anymore. Her statistics and insights make nothing but good sense, and it all made me wonder what I can do to help.

My thoughts were all over the place, but with so much excitement: “Such simple changes can affect the lives of countless children?” “Why are we not already doing this simple thing?” “How can I, “just a mom”, help with this initiative?”

Then, all of a sudden, the entire tone changed. The podcast then went to a town hall in the middle of a place where this was about to happen, where things were about to change for the better – and my heart ended up in my throat. The racist bigotry that began pouring through my speakers as I listened to what people were saying in this town hall…….made me so sad for who we are as a society right now. That any human would say the things that these people were saying about another human being – just absolutely baffles my mind. How in the world are we still able to look at another race or creed and see ANYTHING other than another human being? With the same needs and wants, and every right to be considered equal – as a HUMAN? And to say these horrible things with a number of those children they were talking about sitting IN THE SAME PLACE, tied a knot in my stomach. How is it, in this day and age (the town hall was from 2013), is this still SUCH a rampant issue? I am disheartened, but still want to figure out how to help move this important issue forward in our society.

Podcast

ProPublica Spread

Ms. Hannah-Jones’ article in the NY Times

Namaste.
hc
“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.”
~Plato

Almost a year.

Its been almost a year since my last post. A busy year. A crazy year. But a year that found me wanting to blog – just unwilling to take the time. The job is always busy for different reasons, I have gone back to school to work on my Masters degree, Abi is preparing for High School (how did THAT happen?!) and Chris is expanding his creativity with fun projects. We are about a year out from learning whether we will stay here in DC or head back to NH, and I try not to stress about that too much – the pros outweigh the cons with every outcome, so it is easy to take comfort in the fact that, either way, we will be together and make the best of it!

I have found in that year that straying too far from my centering practices – exercise, yoga, meditation, etc – has almost immediate consequences, and I have to focus to ensure I don’t stray too far too often. So I take this moment to remind you……..it doesn’t matter what your religion is, what your passion is, but you have to find it and let it be your driving force to be the best you each and every day.

Namaste.
hc

“There are techniques of Buddhism, such as meditation, that anyone can adopt.”
~Dalai Lama

Bosses

I have had two REALLY GREAT bosses so far in my career. Don’t get me wrong – I have had a LOT more than 2 (if you know anything about the military construct, you know that we can go through bosses like I go through candy corn in October), but of those many bosses, I have had two who were just outstanding and who I consider to be mentors. One is the super funny boss who originally hired me into my last job (with reluctance because of my youth at the time that he constantly told me he was glad I proved him wrong) in NH. The other was my last boss in NH who is oft disliked for his “overly strict” adherence to the rules. Why are they so great? In a career that has been wrought with sexual bias (even 15 years into this, there are still far more men than women in this job), intimidation and often a complete lack of faith from superiors, these two have qualities that just go above and beyond.

Boss 1 – I mentioned he’s funny, and that is an understatement. He has a great sense of humor teamed with an ability to utilize his humor to defuse tense situations – which is SO important in this high paced world. But he has so many other qualities that just make him stand out from the “boss crowd”. He is a great writer – one of those people who you regret seeing move so far up in the ranks, only because you want him to review everything you write, since he can take any nonsense you put together and shine it up in a way that makes you wish you had that natural talent. He is a dedicated family man – even though it often means hours of work once the kids are in bed, he is there for every game, play or concert (as long as he is in town), and better still – ensures that his subordinates do the same. Thank you PS for bringing me to NH and having enough faith in me to let me spread my wings – it was an amazing set of opportunities!

Boss 2 – While also funny, and well able to take a joke, this one has a quality that I simply cannot put in to words. He knows every rule of the job inside out and backwards, and while that occasionally worked against me, it is far more impressive to have someone that dedicated and willing to put themselves on the line for you because they can prove they are right. He has since also been promoted and is working in a great job at a higher level – but I am thankful to have worked with him while we had the opportunity. Thank you GW for teaching me that knowing the rules and enforcing them universally may not always be popular, but is always the higher road.

This all comes just hours short of my one year anniversary of moving to my new job, as I think of them often, and truly appreciate all that I learned from them. I am also, a bit surprisingly at this anniversary, thankful for the numerous “less than awesome” bosses that I have had. Without many of the lessons learned from those difficult bosses, I would have struggled even more than I did this year. It has been a long year, with stresses I never could have envisioned, but I wouldn’t change it. Being a part of something bigger than myself has been rewarding, and fortunately, the family is not entirely miserable either. :)

Namaste,
hc

~”People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” Theodore Roosevelt

Humanity

So, I love this story that is making its way around on social media sites. In trying to find a link to the original story however, I find that it is “unsubstantiated” by several rumor squashing websites. But honestly, who cares? Real or fake, there is an idea inside this story that should be fostered as a society and taught to our children in hopes of a better tomorrow.

The gist of the story is that a pastor decided to pretend he was homeless before being introduced to his new congregation – and the reactions before and after the revelation of his true identity. At the heart of it – is this a story about religion? No. Is it a story about the homeless? No. What I see this story being about is something that we seem to have lost sight of………HUMANITY. At some point, long before our generation and maybe even back to the beginning of man-kind, people stopped looking at other people as HUMAN. There are numerous examples of this throughout our history, but today, with more people on this planet than the poor globe knows how to support, you see it every day and everywhere. It is heart wrenching to see it as globally as religions forgetting that they were founded upon Peace and to also see it as commonly as within your own cubicle row at the office.

We are all human. We all have struggles. Far too many people believe their universe is and should be the center for everyone else’s universe, and have no concept of empathy for what the person next to them may be going through. From the recent widow struggling to find their new identity at an age far too young for many to comprehend, to the parents who just discovered that their blissfully happy family is being tested by a terrifying disease in their only young child – the people around you deserve to be thought of as human and we
ALL deserve one another’s empathy and understanding. Next time you think you are having such an amazingly bad day because an accident on the highway kept you from getting to the grocery store before soccer practice, just take a moment to think that that accident you passed by may have just altered several lives in ways you hope never to comprehend.

Thanks for reading, and be kind to those around you simply because you can.

~hc

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

14 Amazing Years!

Not a day goes by that I don’t look around my life and my home and think “How did I get so lucky?”. Platy and I have been through SO much together, and yet find ourselves just as blissfully happy as we were in that “newlywed” stage that everyone swears will go away. 14 amazing years, and still, not a single business trip do I think “Finally a chance to get away”, and not one instance of “Well, I’m gonna work late to avoid going home”.

Thank you, my love, for our wonderful life, our amazing daughter, and the most
incredible 14 years – with the hope of many many more to come!

~hc

“Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day.” ~Gene Perret

Getting there…..

We have most of our boxes unpacked (and two cars in the garage after our highly productive day yesterday!), Abi is loving her new school and room (complete with her own bathroom!), and Chris is driving and gaining more movement in his hand by the day. I had a bit of trouble adjusting to work (it’s never easy to start over!), but have found too many reasons to be thankful for where I am in life to continue worrying about the inconveniences of “not liking” the new job! A wonderful family, a great location with a very nice house, and a lovely area with endless adventures for the mind, body and palette! Thank you universe for bringing us to where we are, and allowing us to grow together as a family through times that could’ve been destructive, but fortunately served only to make us stronger! :)

~hc

“I am thankful for every moment.” -Al Green

Whew

We have had some seriously crazy times in the past month! A new job with a big move should have been enough, but the universe tossed us a couple of extra bumps to test our resolve. From the historical blizzard that suddenly decided to hit on the day we were supposed to head out, to my complete inability to work at work, it has been tons of fun! I won’t even go in to our biggest hurdle though, as Platy did a lovely job of going over that on his site.

But, here we are. Platy is on the mend, though often frustrated by the limitations imposed by having one usable arm/hand during our unpacking and settling in phase; I am still unable to fully work at work because I am locked out of the network, but I had a glimpse for a short while and am making due; and Abi is loving her new school. I can’t tell you what a relief that last piece is – she has been my main concern this entire time, and from the first day, she has been thrilled with her new school – thank goodness!!

We miss our friends, we miss living on the river and our fireplace, but I think we are going to be all-right. :)

~hc

-”The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter.” ~Author Unknown

-”If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.” ~Robert Fulghum