Activist, Who Me?


 

Activist = campaigner, protester, objector, militant, advocate; forward looking, advanced, innovative, ahead of its time, avant-garde

On Facebook this week I received an invitation to join #Pantsuitnation (more info here). Although I’d heard about it prior to election day and knew it was meant as a visual way to support the first woman candidate for President and her particular fashion style; I assumed it would have gone by the wayside after election day. Clearly it has not, so I did some homework.

Activist movements have almost always been initiated because one person  wanted to start small to meet a need for themselves and a few others in their circle. Then, word gets out; and, as the commercial for a popular shampoo goes…”they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on…” A flicker of an idea turns into flames! Clearly #Pantsuitnation has caught fire, with chapters popping up in every state!

Now that the votes are in, it appears that the focus of this grassroots effort is now a place for women who are concerned (worried, fearful, angry, called to action) about the impact the election’s outcome will have on us, as well as many other marginalized groups in this country, to join forces. It’s a place to come together to share concerns and ideas; to organize. Not to organize against the election’s outcome per se (though many will do that), but to move forward in a way that ensures members or our citizenry who are the most at risk of suffering the potential consequences of this election, will either not suffer or suffer less.

There’s an organizing meeting tomorrow, I may go check it out. Is this the route for me to somehow impact my immediate world I live in a meaningful, long-lasting way? I’ve often considered myself to be a better “behind the scenes” type, not the public face of anything. Maybe in #Pantsuitnation there’s a way for me to do that, to help to strengthen local leadership opportunities and networks for women.

Today, I am grateful for the women who lead the way for me to be where I am today; to be in a position where I can publicly even consider joining a group like #Pantsuitnation.

Bloggers’ Flames:

 

In the After…


So much pain, fear, and for some–absolute agony and despair. Surprisingly, I’m almost glad that I am not trying to raise children in an environment that’s become so fraught with divisive and negative language and actions. Years and years of watching news reports about political violence following elections in other countries, I could not have imagined it might happen in the United States. Yet, here I am watching the news reports from around the U.S., of peaceful protests turned on a dime because its participants are consumed, in a moment, by that very fear, pain, and agony from the last few days.

I can’t see in my mind’s eye, participating in such a protest; or being so angry at the result of an election that I would resort to violating someone else’s rights or space. Is it because I don’t have children whose future hangs in the balance of decisions made by the current grown-ups of the world? What do we tell them? How can we explain, if possible, to the bi-racial, special needs, and Jewish children in our family that everything will be okay, when we’re so unsure about the future?  I don’t know if I would have the words.

Earlier this week one of my sisters forwarded to me the email sent out from the rabbis at the temple where her two beautiful boys are growing their faith. It is one of very few pieces I’ve read this week that spoke to me in a very personal way. And while I didn’t seek their permission to include this here, I hope they’ll be okay that I have. I am grateful today for the faith leaders in our communities who provide us with the support and guidance to get through difficult times.

Lastly, as we take next steps forward towards an uncertain future….a word of prayer…..
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O Guardian of life and liberty,
may our nation always merit blessing.
Teach us to give thanks for what we have
by sharing it with those who are in need.
Keep open our eyes to the wonders of creation,
and alert to the care of the earth.
May we never be lazy in the work of peace;
may we honor those who have died in defense of our ideals.
Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance.
May they govern with justice and compassion.
Help us to appreciate one another,
and to respect the many ways the people serve You.
May our homes be safe from affliction and strife,
and our country be sound in body and spirit.  Amen.

Warmly and with Shalom,

Jay & Todd

Temple Beth Shalom, Needham MA

Other Bloggers’ Thoughts:

 

Now What?


Throughout this entire, long, drawn-out, nasty campaign for the Presidency of the United States I have kept opinions to myself. I would not engage in ANY political discussions with anyone: family, friend, coworker or stranger in line at the grocery store. I even kept my mouth shut watching the third presidential debate with my husband beside me on the couch, knowing we were each biting our individual tongues so as not to insult each other — you could say our political leanings differ.

My belief has always been that the decisions we make in the voting booths are ours to use as we see fit. We all do our homework, or not, on the issues and candidates from local, to state, to federal levels of government and then cast our votes accordingly. And although we may do the intellectual homework, I believe when it comes down to the actual flipping of the lever or filling in the bubble sheet, we actually vote from an emotional perspective including those who say they “vote for the most qualified candidates regardless of party affiliation.” It’s all emotional.

We have beliefs and thoughts we hold dear to our hearts, grounded in our life experiences, good, bad or otherwise. The day before the election I re-posted the meme below, and although this morning I am having a tremendously difficult time not being despondent, I’ve decided to revive my daily gratitude blog. My hope is that by acknowledging the day-to-day things for which I am grateful, I will find my way through the next four years with grace, understanding and respect for beliefs, decisions, and opinions that are different that my own.

My “thank you” today is for this platform on which I can share my words and hope that readers will find what they need here.

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Bloggers with thoughts:

 

 

Lucille (weekly photo challenge)


This week’s photo challenge (Rare) got me thinking about how rare it is for me to have an elderly person in my life.  Last week we took our friend and former neighbor, Lucille, out for her birthday–her 89th birthday!  been in assisted living now for 3 years; since her third, and last, fall in her home.

She does not have much family and  no one really visits her with any regularity, except for me and my husband.  That’s not to say though, that she stays cooped up in her room all day.  Not Lucille!  She takes advantage of every road trip, bingo session, sing-a-long, or any other activity that’s offered at her residence.  Either my husband or I take her shopping at least once a month and stop to visit when we are in her neighborhood.

Lucille has let us know, often, that we’re “her people”. I’m grateful today that I’ve had the chance to get to know her and call her a friend.

Lucille

Do You Know How To Polka?


girl scout uniform

Isn’t that a great word: polka?!  Today’s writing prompt is about words that sound like the thing they describe (personal favorites: puffin; bulbous; fidgeting). The prompt conveniently fits with my theme for next couple of days. As I come to the close of my year of thanks, I’m reposting the first 7 blogs I wrote–this was my fourth.  And it thanks the woman who taught me to Polka!

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There are so many people, who, if we’re really lucky, take an interest in our lives.  Sure our parents do, and brothers and sisters, and other family members.  There are others though, other grownups who spend their time with us in one form or other: coaches, Scout leaders, church leaders, mentors.

One of the adults I remember most from my childhood is my Girl Scout leader, Mrs. Mears.  As a Junior scout, I think it was 4th, 5th and 6th grade, we had several assistant troop leaders along the way, my Mom included.  Our Troop Leader though was Mrs. Mears, a women who, to me, seemed larger than life.  From where I stood as a 4th grader she knew how to do everything.  Camping, cooking, dancing; we did it all to get our sashes filled with merit badges.

I remember one meeting in particular when we were working on a badge to understand other cultures, we had to learn the polka!  Mrs. Mears took time with each of us to get the steps right and the timing perfect.  I still remember how to do the dance and someday it will come in handy.

Thanks, Mrs. Mears!

P.S. It was Troop 239, Warwick, RI and our Troop crest was Lily of the Valley…and I still have my sash full of badges (packed away somewhere).

Check Out Stories from These Girl Scouts!

Timmy’s Family Restaurant


outside timmysMy husband and I were on a ride around town this afternoon, driving slow and taking in the sites.  Sometimes when I’m driving and another car is following, the husband will get a little antsy and ask me to pull over to let the car pass.  Even though I’m doing the speed limit and it doesn’t bother me if another driver is tailgating.  I continue about my business and if the car decides to pass me, so be it.  But today when I realized it was really bothering my husband, I pulled into the next parking lot.  Here’s what we found:  Timmy’s Family Restaurant!

On a nice summer Saturday afternoon the lot was empty and when we walked in we were the only customers in the place.  We sat in one of the many empty booths, grabbed the menus from behind the salt and pepper inside timmysshakers, and settled in.  Gayle, our waitress was quite lovely and could not say enough about the place–the freshness of everything, the commitment of the owner; she was gushing.  She’d been working there for 35 years and really didn’t look a day over 45 herself.  We asked if the fish ‘n chips would be a good choice–they were the best we’ve ever had, ever!

The owner Timmy, was there cooking, as he is every day from what we learned.  When we asked what kind of fish he used for our meal, Gayle turned to where Timmy stood behind the counter and said, “Timmy, scrod?”  He answered with a quick, “Yup!”  What happened after that is what will keep us coming back.

Timmy gave us the history of the restaurant and the four he’d opened, for himself and others, since he was 18.  He told us that the restaurant will be closed for two weeks, beginning next week, so he can travel with his father and children back to Greece where he was born.  Between his and Gayle’s stories of the community of customers and history, it felt like a place we could where we could become regulars.

Today’s thanks goes out to the driver who tailgated me so I’d pull into the parking lot, to Gayle for her terrific service, and to Timmy for not going on vacation until next week so we had the chance to find him today!

 Fish ‘N Chips Blogs:

Vietnam War Memorial, Never Forget


In honor of Memorial Day 2014

When I was in college we had different speakers come to our dorms in the evening to talk with us.  An effort to extend the learning outside the classroom and a chance for faculty members to “connect” with students differently, we would listen to professors or staff who had something interesting to share.  Sometimes interesting, sometimes…not so much.  There is one though, that I will never forget.

Dedicated in 1983 in Sharon Vermont, this is widely known as the first state sanctioned Vietnam Veterans memorial.
Dedicated in 1983 in Sharon Vermont, this is widely known as the first state sanctioned Vietnam Veterans memorial.

It was the early 1980’s so the after-effects of the Vietnam War were still very present in hearts and minds of the faculty and staff who either served in the war or who themselves, were in college at the time. Everyone in the dorm wanted to hear what the three of four “presenters” had to say about their experience.  They were infantrymen, on the front line–fighting.  To the rooms full of college kids, the stories were vivid, enthralling and scary.

One of the men who shared his experience was the dean of students.  During a session in my senior year he’d recommended that if we wanted to get an in-depth, personal look at the war, we should read a book:  Home Before Morning:  The Story of An Army Nurse in Vietnam.  I read hb4morningit the summer after I graduated.  Never had I read a book that made me cry; sob, in fact.  I’d stay up at night reading until my eyes simply could no longer stay open.  It took me a few days to finish it, and I slept with the light on in my bedroom for days after I was done.  By far it continues, almost thirty years later, to be the only book that has moved me to tears.  If you have the chance to, read it!

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On the left, Nurse Van Devanter.

No one in my immediate family has ever served on active duty, deployed to a war zone, or died while in service to this country.  I am an anomaly, I know. And like so many in this country, on Memorial Day, I thank all those who have given so much to ensure my freedom.

Memorial Day 2014  in particular, I’d like to thank the faculty and staff members who willingly shared their stories with us so that we would know what price is paid for the freedoms we enjoy.