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The Social Distancing Experiment Continues: St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Scavenger Hunt

Ok, all – we are mid-way through our first week of social distancing.  Full disclosure – this eLearning experiment is painful when both parents are also trying to work full time from home at the same time.  I feel more torn at times now that they are home with me, rather than less.

Yet, there are so many bright spots. Social media has many faults, but when you are isolating in your home, the connections through FB messenger, Messenger Kids, etc. allow us to laugh, cry, scream, and make wonderfully sarcastic comments about everything that is happening.

The beauty with yesterday – St. Patrick’s Day – is that the creative genius of other parents made the rounds, and my kids were able to have some bright moments in a time that they are trying to find stability in an unbalanced world. It started with a shared post on Facebook:

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A stranger started it, possibly from another stranger, and over the course of 48 hours thanks to social media, 1000s of families,  maybe more created Shamrocks and “hid” them in their windows. On a sunny but cold day, families isolated while walking together trying to find the shamrocks in windows for “recess.”

As I shared the story with a someone on my team, who is 23 and single, he started getting excited, sharing that he kept seeing families in his neighborhood walking around looking at windows.  He looked out (15 miles away from me) and saw shamrocks and laughed. We hung up as he started desperately looking for some type of coloring device in his apartment with the intent of making a shamrock.

The beauty of all of this: A small simple act unified people even while separation was key.  Social media can be a curse, but in the coming weeks, it can also be a blessing. And while we separate to protect ourselves from “the virus,” going “viral” may actually help us stay together.

Stay strong, stay healthy, and try something fun or new today.  Maybe your small, simple act can change the world tomorrow…

The Social Networking Experiment: WTF – Day 4? 5? 6?

It’s 3:35am CST, and I am up. I woke up at 2:30, walked down the stairs, and am now prepping for my day. I am confident that I’m not alone.

As most of us (unless you’re an idiot on a Florida beach trying to Spring Break right now) start to prepare for what will likely be a weeks-long lock down/shelter-in-place situation, the last few days have been almost surreal. The “what-ifs” float through your head, the fear for family that you cannot see because they are elsewhere on your mind, the realization that the world we will emerge in to after this is all over will be changed forever.

I am a mother with three children, learning how to “home-school,” while being semi-trapped (slightly joking) with a husband who is a social butterfly, and in these first few days, still trying to manage a new, more than full-time job remotely at a company that is in transition, while my husband learns how to be a remote worker for the first time.  Oh – and I’m a natural introvert who plays extrovert for work, so all I want is an hour of alone time in my own home.

What does that all mean… It means that I’m up at 3:47 am (now) getting my thoughts out of my head so I don’t cry, about to work on a deck that an oblivious account manager over-committed to the client on, while thinking through how to lay out the schedule for the kids and figure out what to feed 5 people for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

This is a moment of weakness, and I know lots of us will have them in the coming days. Forgive my moment of negativity.  At the end of the day, we are all in this together – even while isolating. And after my first cup of coffee, all will be good again!

Our COVID 19/Social Distancing Family Experiment – The Beginning

Today is the first Sunday of my life that I woke up and didn’t feel guilty about thinking about skipping church…or possibly, just possibly skipping church.

Today, I will go to the grocery store for the third day in a row before 8:30am to try and beat the crowds as I try to determine how to ensure my family is fully stocked on necessities while also trying to figure out what I can buy to donate to other families who don’t have the same luxury of stocking up.

Today, I am confident our family will camp out in front of the TV at some point to play video games, watch movies, and figure out what the heck to do with a day in which we can’t rely on other things: people, activities, items to occupy my kids.

Today, I will IM with multiple other moms, friends, family and work colleagues as we prep for what tomorrow will bring.

Tomorrow is when shit gets real, and I really start to understand what the heck the new world looks like. Working at home full-time indefinitely, helping coordinate eLearning for my children, finding ways to keep the ship of our live sailing while keeping the people I love most – both in my home and outside of it – safe and healthy.

Three things a know as I look at the beginning of an unprecedented time in my life – but also in the life of the five generations of my family alive today.

  1. Things will be…: I know that I will be afraid at times over the coming weeks. I will be overwhelmed. I have family all over the country from a sister who is a nurse in Seattle to parents in South Texas (including one with emphysema), to a brother in Boston.  I have friends that I can’t help, even as some are dealing with real-life possibilities of supporting their families while possibly being sick and just waiting for a f’in test to be available.  I have neighbors who may need me, or I may need them, whether it is for supplies or for sanity checks.

The truth is the next few weeks will likely be the ultimate four-letter word of feelings, but we will get through it.

  1. This could be the most amazing opportunity for my family: Over the last decade, life happened. I’ve been navigating an interesting professional journey, working my ass off, as I desperately try to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  In the interim, my three kids have grown up.  No longer do I have the snuggle monsters that love unconditionally. I have a teenager who is surly and struggling, a pre-teen girl who is sad more than she is happy because girl-drama absolute sucks, and a 6-year old who is my lovable but clearly the last child.  I have a husband that I love more than life itself, but we have started to lose each other as we try to figure out at early-40+ who we are as individuals and as parents. When you have known each other since you were kids, it’s fascinating how easy it is to accidentally grow apart as you grow up together.

Yet, for the first time in my life, I’m going to be forced to find a way to focus on what matters most.  If I don’t walk out my front door when this is over and know my kids just a little more or understand my husband just a little bit better, then I’ve missed an opportunity.  What that means in the long term, only time will determine.  But I’ve been given a chance, one way or another, to reconnect to the people who are the Suns in my life. My orbit sometimes feels like it has been weakening, and I pray I can strengthen the bonds.

  1. We are not alone: Not one of us is alone, even when we are alone. Billions of people, across the globe, are in this with us. Pandemics don’t care about gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.  In moments like these, we will might see the worst of human nature, but the best of being human will always shine even brighter.  The beauty of timing here is that technology allows us to see each other, hear each other, and be with each other in a way that was never possible before.  If you feel lost and alone, if you are struggling, reach out – even if you can’t do so physically.  While walls may separate us temporarily, the beautiful videos of Italian communities singing together reinforces that we can always find a way to find the good in the middle of the bad together.

As you begin your Sunday journey, remember we are all in this together. And when things feel bad, listen for the music…

Italian Singing

 and remember:

Gloria Gaynor I will survive

  

When Silence is Deadly

Texas welcome center in Denton, TX

For many Texas-Mexicans (Tejanos), it’s the silence of our friends and our neighbors that are Trump supporters that is killing us.  Tragically, until last Saturday, it was figurative – how can they stay silent? How can they believe this bullshit? Then, everything changed in a moment, when a white man drove 11 hours from North Texas to murder people just like us in El Paso.  He felt empowered to murder us in cold blood in our cars, while fundraising for our children’s’ soccer teams, and simply grocery shopping, because we were brown.

My question to you – to the people I love that are Trump supporters – is when will you use your power to push back on the ugliness that comes out of our President’s mouth?  When will you force him to be a President for all American citizens, not just his base.

The Beauty of South Texas

South Texas is magical. It is and will always be my home, even when I don’t live there. It is where my family lives, where I grew up, where my heart is.

What makes South Texas so special has so much to do with its people. It is and I hope always will be one of those special places where people of different backgrounds, different cultures, and different races came together and proved that it is our diversity that makes us stronger.

As you travel from El Paso to Corpus Christi, along the Rio Grande and up the Gulf Coast, you have community after community of majority Tejano communities, but with Irish and German families all brought together. The Irish, German, Polish and Czech families settled in the region after the war with Mexico and became absorbed into the fabric of life in south Texas to create a culture that is uniquely different. From the Tex-Mex cuisine, to Tejano music (which is a fusion of classical Mexican music fused with Polka,) to the Texas-Spanish dialect, not English, not Spanish, but something in between.

South Texas is where I grew up side-by-side with neighbors, white and brown, that even when we disagreed with each other on fundamentally important issues, we found a way to be friends.

And then Trump happened…

In 2015, as Trump’s momentum grew, Mexican-Americans throughout the country, along with many, many others, were horrified with the language that Trump used to speak about minorities and immigrants. It was clear that he had racist tendencies, and it was also becoming clear that the people that believed in the rhetoric he was screaming about was allowing some of the worst in America to rise up.

For many of Tejanos in South Texas, his language around Mexicans and migrants hit home.  The migrant workers he berated were our aunts and uncles, our friends and family. The “rapists and criminals” he decried – were they US? Who were they?

Yet, we watched as some of friends, our family, started to embrace Trump. They rationalized his language as strong but accurate. Maybe he could say it in a better way but in your minds it was true. Some of you agreed with his economic policies. Some of you just like his style – loud, brash, angry.

Over the last four years, in a community in which color never mattered before, I started to see a divide – driven by a single polarizing figure.  And it hurt. It hurt because you could not understand the angst and the fear that we felt.  You could not understand that we are less then a full generation away from Jim Crow laws being repealed.  The scars of institutionalized racism still sit on the shoulders of my father, my aunts and uncles, even if they don’t talk about what it meant to be marginalized and segregated.

We saw something ugly and terrifying starting to build, supported by Trump’s words and actions, and had no idea what it could mean.

Now we see what could be

So, here we are.  The country mourns three mass shootings in less than a week. El Paso was clearly a hate crime, focused on the brown people that Trump has spent the last four years targeting.  As the shooter targeted the Mexican invasion at a border town, it did not matter if the brown person he shot was an American citizen or not. It didn’t matter if his victim’s families had been here for generations or were literally just visiting for the day. All that mattered to him was the color of their skin, and he felt justified thanks to the words of his President.

Trump has proven over and over and over again that he is not here to be an American president. He is here for his base, and candidly, whether they admit it or not, those that he is appealing have a problem with minorities.  They are the people who cheer “send her back.” They are the ones that believe in this “Mexican invasion” fallacy – which simple statistics (real DATA) clearly disproves.  That is a real fact, versus Trump’s alternative facts.

However, there are many who support Trump because you support the larger Republican platform.  He needs you to get elected too, yet you aren’t his base.  You know his language is wrong. You know his lying is immoral. You recognize his divisiveness is hurting this country. How far will you let it go before you take a stand?

My plea to my Republican friends and family

Speak up! Give your elected leaders the courage to stand up to Trump.  Stand up for your friends, your family, that he has put in danger with his inflammatory language.

My Republican friends hate the connection that non-Trump supporters make between the American president today and Hitler.  But, look to history to understand why the comparison matters.

My grandmother grew up in Nazi Germany. She lived through the war as a child. And she is scared. She is also a Republican who watches Fox News.  Her take as our country has changed in the last few years is simple.

It was the silence of the German majority that allowed Hitler’s power to grow until it was too late. Then, no one could speak up.

Trump does not care about those that don’t support him. My voice in his mind is silenced already. But your voice could matter.  Take a stand, force him to be accountable, push him to be the President that you thought he might be able to be originally.

Speak up!  Stand up!  

 

Dear Alabama: Vote Your Conscience

Dear Alabama,

The eyes of the world will be on you on Tuesday.  Not just the US, but the world.  You have a choice to make that will illustrate to citizens in the US and beyond what “real Americans” truly feel is important – party or people.

I am not writing this to judge you. Many of you will never read this. I am writing this for me. Because I’m incredibly disturbed and saddened that your special election has captured the headlines in the US and internationally.

I will disclose from the beginning that I’m a democrat. Many of you will consider me a ridiculous liberal. And for some of you, because I know it may matter, I am half Mexican-American. If anything the last two years has shown me, one or all of those three things will make you dismiss me entirely.

For those still reading, I am also come from a mixed-party family. I can name many people who I love that voted for Trump, and though I don’t agree with them, I love them and respect them for sticking to what they believe.

I will not get in to the logistics of your election. You know the candidates better than me. You know what they stand for, and you know whether they are people who you can be proud are representing you and your state to the country, and maybe to the world.

What I ask you is this: 

If you are a Republican and you can’t vote for Roy Moore, then DON’T! Learn from the 2016 election. Republicans AND Democrats walked to the polls and wrote in who they believed should be there. Some didn’t show up.  Ultimately, people couldn’t vote for Hillary OR Trump, and they used their voice in a different way.

I am not writing this as a Democrat or a Republican. I am writing this as a proud American. I am writing this as the sister and the daughter and the niece and the cousin and the friend of service members. I am writing this as woman and as a mother.

Vote your conscience, and answer the very simple question. Does party matter more than people?

You are the first state of many in the coming year that will have to show if “Make America Great” means “America has lost its moral compass.”