Thank you for dropping by!

I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.





Sunday, May 14, 2017

Six Years After My Mother's Day Letter

In 2011, I wrote a letter via my blog to my children.  

Letter of Advice to my Children on Mother's Day

Over the last 6 years as they've transitioned to teenager & tweenager, they've knocked it out of the park.

Dear Skip & Zoey,

You know I haven't been blogging much lately since out of respect for you, I don't want to talk about your lives your lives online.  You also know I've been crazy busy.

I wrote you a letter in 2011 to give you advice, but this year I wanted to thank you for everything I've learned from you during a fairly rough period.

Be kind.
I told you to be kind.  This past year you've seen me get angry.  Angrier than I probably have in the past.  But thank you for reminding me to be kind. 

Skip, during the election, you told me that you were always proud that no matter how successful I had become or how much money I made, I never forgot where I came from and you were proud of ME for helping people less fortunate.  You said you were impressed that I never thought about myself when I voted, but of others.

I didn't tell you this, but that made me cry because at that very moment, I didn't think anyone noticed or cared.  At that moment, everyone seemed to want something else or more from me.  More time.  More money.  More everything.  I was really tired that day.

What you said, gave me the strength to get up and keep going.

Thank you.

Find something to smile about every day.
Zoey, about 2 weeks ago you told me to turn the news off.  You said "All it does is upset you.  Let's just listen to music."

You weren't telling me to put my head in the sand.  You were saying to take a breath and enjoy our time together on the way to school.

You told me I had my funny back last week.  You gave it back to me.  Thank you.

Stand up for what's right.
You both stood up to people who disagreed with you during the election.  You weren't jerks.  You still have friends that are on the "other side of the aisle."   You did it with class.  You didn't waiver.  In fact, we had some great conversations.

I've always told you to have your own opinions- not to parrot mine.  During our conversations, I have no doubt that you believe what you believe because of what you've seen, people you've met, what you believe in.  You are not parrots. 

You can think.  You don't cave in to peer pressure.

This gives me hope.  Thank you.

Show up with your A game when others are depending on you.
Zoey, your dedication to your school projects and working together with your friends has been amazing to see develop.  You take your projects to an entire new level. 

Skip, you decided to take the road less traveled next year for high school rather than take the easy way out.  I know you are nervous, but I know you won't regret pushing yourself.

And when I was struggling this year, you all (including Dad) had my back so I could get a little bit of a breather.  Thank you.

Read.
The last 6 years have been full of reading and talking about books.  You've been reading fiction, non-fiction-- even my favorite-- "MAD Magazine." 

You've gotten me to read new things as well.  Thank you.


Ask a lot of questions.
Thank you for always coming to me when you have a question or a concern.  Whether it's been school work, life question or about what to do with a friend.  You don't take anything for granted. 

Thank you for trusting me and more importantly, trusting yourself.

Participate in life.
Without a doubt, you've both embraced this.  I know that I've struggled to make sure you get to your clubs and practices and rehearsals and have everything you need-- and I know I've lost my cool more than once.

Don't let me discourage you!  Keep it up.  I'm so proud of everything you do.  Thank you.

Fail.
You have both done this so eloquently and not let it slow you down.

You've also let me fail.  And you've never given up on me.  When I've had a bad day, you've both been there to be my cheerleader.  It's meant the world to me this year more than ever.  Thank you.

Be your own boss.
When I was contemplating my professional options this year, it was the two of you that both convinced me that there was no price worth me being an employee.  We all talked about how "Mom" there was to go around.  We all adjusted so that I could spend more fun time with all of you.

Zoey, your exasperation at the thought of me retiring early was hilarious. "What would you do?  You love your business-- that's crazy..." because at the end of the day, you're right.  No matter the price. 

Thank you for helping me stay on track.

Have fun friends.
The last few years, I got rid of a LOT of people.  Most of them didn't even notice.  I love that neither one of you suffer fools.  You taught me that it's important to be polite, but I don't have to be besties with everyone. 

Thank you.

When you get married, make it forever.
What a year we all went through.  All of us.  I am so sorry to drag you through some of it.  You watched Dad and me fight to keep it together.  You both made it clear that you had our backs no matter what.  I'm so sorry you had to go through the uncertainty of this past year.  But I think we all learned so much.  And now that we're back to silly and fun again, I can't thank you enough for hanging in.  A huge THANK YOU on that.

In short, you're both amazing and have made me a better person.

On this Mother's Day, all I can say is thank you!

Love,
Mom

Monday, February 13, 2017

Nevertheless

I had a speech impediment as a child.  People thought I was slow.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I finally was tested, they realized I wasn't slow, they moved me up a grade for certain classes.  I was shy and didn't say much.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I was diagnosed with severe asthma but I decided to play trombone, I was told I might want to look at other instruments.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I was the only girl trombonist at a summer music camp, they immediately gave me the third part to play but realized I was the only one who could play the high notes in the first part.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I decided that I didn't want to be a musician, despite being first chair for three years, I looked into studying economics but I was told that women don't become economists.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I decided to go to an Ivy League school, I was told schools like that weren't for people like me.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I decided to delay attending Cornell University to spend a year in Ecuador, I was told that it was dangerous for young women to travel abroad by themselves.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I decided that I wanted to work at Disney World, I was told that students in my major wouldn't get accepted.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I signed up for a third year computer programming class my senior year in college despite never haven take a programming class, they told me I would fail and it would destroy my GPA.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When my ability to speak Spanish, my programming skills and my experience working at Disney helped me to get multiple jobs offers out of college during a recession, including staying on at the university to do research, I was told it really was because I was pretty and would look good on the annual report cover.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I spent a summer following graduation consulting in Southeast Asia working with my professors, I was told they would never take a 23 year old American girl seriously in Asia.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I declined the job offer to stay in Asia and started a job in NY that I hated, quit and moved to a job in Las Vegas, I was told that I was committing career suicide and would never be taken seriously again.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I realized that I was unhappy in my career field and decided to become a stockbroker when only 15% of licensed brokers were women, I was told that I had a 95% chance of failure.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I started my own practice at 26, with $8.23 to my name and was couch surfing at my friends' homes  because I couldn't afford an apartment, I was told that I needed to grow up and get a real job.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I decided to get married, I was told that it would negatively impact my successful business.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I decided to have a child, I was told that I would never finish my graduate degree.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I decided to have my second child a few years after receiving my master, and I received a a substantial offer to buy out my business and declined it, I was told that I might want to reconsider because I would be more fulfilled staying home.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When I decided to continue to grow my business, I was told my children would suffer.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When my children with whom I am very close came to me because they were upset that their school was canceling activities that they enjoyed- especially the programs for the accelerated students-and I found out it was the principal who didn't want to favor the smarter students and then I found out a whole lot more from teachers and parents, they told me I couldn't get her moved to a new school because they'd been trying for 10 years.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

When the new principal at their school started, I was happy because we had turned down a zone variance and as my daughter's brand new to teaching teacher struggled to maintain classroom control, I took a week off to help her and was told it wouldn't make a difference because the class was out of control and I knew nothing about teaching.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

And each and every time I've been told that I couldn't do something, somehow I persisted.

I was warned.  I was given an explanation. 

In interim, I traveled the world, met fascinating people, learned languages, built a business and have an amazing family.

And the naysayers have sat there and watched and judged and told me all the things I couldn't do.

The funny thing is, I can only see them in my rear view mirror, sitting where they've always been, telling me what it was they couldn't do and trying to convince me I couldn't do it either because I was the same as them.

But I wasn't. I'm not.

Because I persist.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

This is NOT How You Felt When Obama was Elected

Please stop telling me that the world wide protests and denouncements from the Pope and most global leaders are how you felt when Obama was elected.

Either he was a really bad President or your fears were completely misguided.

You thought he was Kenyan and would overthrow the US government.

He was not.  He did not.

You thought he was Muslim and would  close down Christian churches.

He was not.  He did not.

You thought he was secretly working with terrorists and would take away our guns.

He was not.  He did not.

You thought he was a socialist and would force our country into socialism.

He was not.  He did not.

You thought he was racist and would only appointment blacks to run our country.

He was not.  He did not.

What he DID do was work very closely with the prior administration to transition multiple wars and the second worst financial crisis in our nation's history.

What he DID do is sign a bill by Congress to provide voucher health insurance options to more than 20 million people and help states fund their Medicaid programs to help people through the financial crisis.

What he DID do was allow the Congress to write Dodd-Frank to help strengthen our financial system and protect investors.

Was he flawless?  Absolutely not. 

But he was not a Kenyan, socialist Muslim hell bent on destroying Western Civilization.

The current POTUS has yet to disclose the details of his businesses, transfer them to a BLIND trust, provide his tax returns.

In a week he has sparked protests by millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands world wide.

He wants to arbitrarily punish refugees who have been more thoroughly vetted than he has.

He continues to maintain a bizarre relationship with a country that is slowly moving into smaller eastern European countries.

He has betrayed allies and our trading partners.

He has started implement trade policies which could be significantly detrimental to our economy.

President Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. That means he's really, bigly smart about law stuff.

The current guy has no idea of which he speaks.

We already have lawsuits filed against him for violating the Constitution.

So no, under no circumstances is this ANYTHING like electing Obama.

Your fears of Obama were based on alternative facts.  The biggest generated by the man who replaced him.

That means lies.  By a notorious liar.

MY fears are based on what's going on- what he said he would do, what I believed he would do and what he is actually doing.

Give him a chance, you say.

His perpetual Executive Orders being given to him by the real President Bannon are crazy.  He is trying to override the authority of Congress.

Obama's Executive Orders were to not deport people who were brought to this country as children without proper documentation.  He also deported more immigrants than any other prior President. 

He didn't offer to spend BILLIONS of dollars building a wall along a fence that already exists.  Because apparently, there is money for a wall but not for the children covered under the CHIP program that provides them health insurance.  Because Mexican immigrants are rapist and killers- even though there's no evidence to show that's an issue.  And the 9/11 terrorists entered through Canada.

So again, it's not even close to the same.

Your friends were not threatened with deportation in a matter of days after he took office.  There were no benefits stripped away from friends who had critical diseases and may have already hit their lifetime cap.

In fact, your life more than likely got better over the past 8 years but I guess better wasn't good enough and you wanted more.

Or maybe it was because at the end of 8 years, Obama was still black.

Because in 1 week, there has been so much damage done, I'm surprised the Russian tanks aren't already lining up ready to take back their former Soviet States.

Because we would never know.  And based on the bromance, we never will.

I'm all for securing our borders.  I'm for fair trade. I'm not found of our intervention in the middle east.

In fact, in a normal world, I would be a conservative Republican.  But there is nothing conservative or Republican about bullying cities into doing federal work on immigration or adding ridiculous tariffs on products which will only get passed on to consumers, because you think a bigger wall will help.

This isn't a snowball fight.

Regulating women's health products (birth control is once again a thing-- despite Viagra being completely acceptable for public funding) is not conservative.  Telling people which religion they can be isn't conservative either. 

And twittering non-stop-- can you imagine if Obama had done that?  His wife couldn't wear a sleeveless dress without negative commenting.

And we have the leader of the free world writing tweets at 3 am.

Sorry. 

It's really not the same.

If it WERE the same, you would have been out protesting-- and not in groups of 30 or 40- but by the millions like we have been.

Unless you think that's too much work.

Because it is.

So whose the snowflake now?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hey Mama Bean... Do You Mind...

The Washington Post had a great article on the the surge of people calling themselves part of the resistance.

They pointed out, quite politely, that being engaged in politics isn't a hobby, it's our civic duty.

We the people requires that the people be engaged.

All the time.

Not just every 4 years.

When I was at the gym this morning, the lot was pretty much empty and hardly anyone was there.  The Resolutioners as I like to call them had already bailed.

I hope the Revolutioners don't as well.

Not because I want to overthrow the government- let me be clear.

I actually LIKE my government and my party.  I'm not terribly thrilled with what is going on in Washington (that is the biggest understatement you will probably ever read that I've written), but here's the thing.

The POTUS won.

As much as it appears he is trying to get out of it (seriously- who on earth actually WINS and then says there was voter fraud??  I mean Pence is chomping at the bit to take over so if you don't want the gig, quit), the POTUS was elected.  Period.

I'm not a huge fan of the electoral college but I understand why it exists and how it works and I respect the results.

But it doesn't mean I need to sit back.

Because here's the thing- I never HAVE sat back.  I've always been engaged.

Always.

My birthday is Inauguration Day.  On my 7th birthday when Carter was taking the oath I said "Well, there goes the economy..."  and you know what?  I was right.

One of my earliest memories-- no joke-- is Nixon waving as he leaves the White House.  I also remember the people clinging to the helicopters as we pulled people out of Saigon. 

So yes, I've kinda sorta always been engaged.

My job now requires that I stay up on policies that impact the economy. 

My conscious requires that I stay up on everything else.

Because, as I've posted and written so many times, this is OUR government.  If it sucks, it's because we've allowed it to become that way.

Truly.

It's on us.

So throughout my life as people have said "Why do you worry about that stuff?"  "I hate politics."  "This is all so boring." 

And they usually get the face that I give when people say they don't like reading or hate cheese. 

Maybe it's because my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War or maybe it's because others escaped facism in Europe. 

I take pride in my flawed, arrogant, beautiful country.  I've been to nearly every state and our natural resources- wow.  The national parks take my breath away.

And having lived and worked abroad I know how lucky we have it.  No one shot at me today.  No bombs exploded.  There was water ALL day in the tap and it was drinkable.  I was able to attend school even though I'm female.  If I get sick, I run down to CVS and pick something up.

That's not the case in so many parts of the world.  While we aren't perfect, we are doing pretty darn well.

But I know it can change on a dime.  In minutes.  Trust me.  Read history books.  You'll see.  If you think the Romans were any different than us, you are sorely mistaken.  Empires rise and fall.

This election stung.  The fact that my friends worked so hard to turn Nevada blue shows that having an engaged electorate makes a HUGE difference.  We are not a blue state, despite what the news kept reporting.  We are a maroon state.  Red but oddly independent which means supportive of individual civil liberties.  We are not a party-line voter state by any means.  We are western and we are wild.  It's one of the things I love about my state the most, in fact.  I love that everyone has to stay on their toes, be engaged or else they are out.

Love it.

I was very proud that our largely Democratic delegation attended the inauguration.  Because when I was asked MY opinion I said "John Lewis should not go and his close associates should not go.  I support that.  But we should go.  We should be there.  They represent ALL Nevada and nearly half our state supported the POTUS." 

But for me, it's been weird.  Suddenly, everyone has awakened and wants to be involved.

Apparently, I am the conduit for much of the activism.

Except, here's the thing-- I know activists.  I know what they do and how hard they worked.  I help.  They made it their lives. 

And when people are showing up NOW- which is better than never-- there is this part of me that wants to shout: "WHERE WERE YOU?!?!"

It's never too late, of course, but it took THIS to make people get engaged?

And I saw the selfies in the pink hats- and that march was an AMAZING show of solidarity, please don't misunderstand me-- but some of them were from people who were constantly too busy to actually DO anything last year.

Wearing a hat and marching is great- but it's the first step.

Will you be here for the municipal elections?  Do you know what's going on in your neighborhood?  Who are your commissioners?  Who represents you in your statehouse? 

Why aren't YOU running?

Go to the meetings.  Start meeting people. 

And please, stop asking ME.

I have been telling you to get involved.

"Mama Bean, we really need to this..."

"Mama Bean, tell me about that..."

Mama Bean is tired folks.  You're all grown ups.  I'm not going to beg you to be part of something.

I don't have a secret key.  I just show up.  And set up tables.  And bring donuts.  And offer advise.  And empty the trash cans. And every once in awhile I say something that hopefully makes a difference.

This past election felt like a giant group project where a few people got stuck doing most of the work and then when we got a D, the kids that never showed up starting bitching about it.

I felt for my teacher friends who picketed, went to board meetings, did everything they could and returned to schools and had to listen to other teachers bitch and moan.  They FINALLY got a pay raise and everyone was excited but I don't think anyone thanked those that showed up.  They felt the deserved it (they did) but I didn't see a lot of acknowledgement of the people who FOUGHT for it.

Because here's how the world works in the US-- if you are an adult, you have a civic duty to know what is going on in your government.  You are have a moral obligation to care for your community as well.

It's adulting.  It's not supposed to be fun 24/7.

Civic responsibility is on ALL of us.  Not just Mama Bean's Political Posse of Friends.  They are really, really tired.

And with that, it's your responsibility to be able to discern the truth from fiction.  And to learn big words. 

I had a friend share a conversation about all the people the Obama "pardoned" before he left office.

He didn't "pardon" drug lords.  He commuted the sentences of drug offenders who were serving much longer sentences than are being given out today.  They are still considered felons.  They served time.

It's all there, information released from the White House.  You can look up every single felon. 

But spreading falsehoods and denying facts when presented with them-- no.  You're a grown up.  Grow up.

We can argue philosophy and have opinions that differ but if given the facts- acknowledge them.

I'm not trying to convince people to be in either party-- but facts are facts.  Interpret them how you want- but the facts don't change.  The unemployment rate was 4.7%.  We can argue why that's good/why it's bad but it IS 4.7%.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes this.  With the data on discouraged workers, worker participation-- all that.  All available.  For free.

If you want the actual facts, you can get them.  Well, for now, at least.  But seriously, don't rely on outside sources.  Go where they get their data.

Because it's your JOB.

It's your job to be knowledgeable, engaged and involved.

Please.

I've been saying that the current POTUS may end up being my favorite for the sole purpose that he got people off their asses  and into the streets.

But then he tweets something ridiculous...

ANYHOW-

So welcome to the club.  Welcome to Adulthood Civics.

It's not too hard to be involved.

Because in order for our country to work, it needs to be BY the people-- not just the lazy kids pushing the work onto the Dudley Do-Rights.

ALL people.  All of us.

Otherwise, well... let me see what Twitter has going....

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Goodbye, Mary

I loved the TV show "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" more than you could possibly put into words.

Between that and listening to "Free to Be, You and Me", Marlo Thomas and Mary Tyler Moore showed me that brown eyed girls with gumption could take the world on and make it a better place.

Of course, I always joke that while I dreamed of being Mary, I really am far more Rhoda- with my love of plants, out of control curly hair and the strong possibility that there is something stuck in my teeth.

But dream, I did.

The series started when Mary left her groom- a doctor- standing at the altar.  She wasn't ready to get married, she had a life to live.

Hmmm... four cancelled engagements for Mama Bean...


She wanted to make it on her own.  I totally get that.

She went to the big city and took a job in an industry which was filled with men.  (The fact that she was the ONLY one on the staff that called Lou Grant, Mr. Grant, well, that was because she respected him.  At least that's how I'll remember it.)

Hmmm... financial services... first woman hired as a broker in our office in 10 years...


And her apartment.

The first time I had my own place- no roommates-- just mine-- I remember the feeling.  And I immediately flashed back to the show.

At the end of the first episode, she's standing there in her apartment, looking around.  Something didn't seem quite right.  Then she hung up her giant M.  She hammered the nail into the wall.  Adjusted the letter.  Stepped back and smiled.

And there I was in 1996, standing in my apartment, hanging up my L.

Everything in the apartment I had purchased with my own money.  Every hanging on the wall I had put into place.

It is still one of my happiest places I've ever lived.  I remember how fresh it smelled.  How neat it was.  How eclectic the d├ęcor was because most of it came from places I had traveled throughout the world.

It was mine.

Earlier that summer, I had attended a training class at my broker's corporate headquarters in Minneapolis.  Or as I called it Mecca.

I was one of 2 women in our smaller training group.  There were about 10 out of the group of 100 in attendance.

Our smaller group went to the IDS tower and we saw the Mary statue.  I made all the men have a quiet moment with me (the trainers were awesome and indulged me- because I could turn the world on with my smile).  Then I convinced them all to do the Mary Spin and pretend to toss a hat in the air-- like she did at the end of the show titles.  Of course they did- I was young and cute then.  And when we went inside the tower, we all did the Mary Wave-- a big gregarious full arm hello- as we went up the escalators.

So yes, I was a fan.  A huge fan.

"Ordinary People" will always remain on my list of favorite movies.  It was the anti-MTM show.  A woman spends her life being a wife and mother.  A harrowing portrait.

The exact opposite of the inspirational show.

"Ordinary People" was my nightmare.  To be dependent and unappreciated.  There's more to that movie, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

This weekend, I witnessed a revival of women's rights movements.

And of course, there were the "feminists are ruining America" tirades.

First of all, if you think women are treated fairly in the United States, you need to travel more or get higher self esteem.  We are not.

We are not treated as poorly as other countries, most definitely.  Most highly religious countries tend to treat women as property.

But other countries-- they are far beyond us in wage fairness (those 76 cents to the dollar comparisons are ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL-- and trust me, as someone who worked in HR, I can assure you that female engineers were not being paid the same as male engineers 20 years ago-- it's gotten better, but not much), child care options, parental leave (it's not just for women!), violence against women.

Every 7 seconds a woman is beaten in the United States by her partner.  From 2001 to 2012, 6,488 US troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  During that exact same time period 11,766 women were killed by their boyfriends or husbands.

Where is the real war?

I am a proud feminist. I will stand up for all women to be safe, treated fairly- at home and at work, and to live the lives they choose- either as a mother, a career tracker or both.

Looking back on the show, Mary had so many different female friends- Rhoda, constantly looking for a husband; Phyllis, constantly complaining about Lars; Georgette, the dingy girl who adored Ted; and Sue Anne Niven, the older sex pot.

But Mary.  Mary was who I wanted to be.  So together.  So real.  Always with a new date every weekend. With her friends around her.

She didn't judge or care and I think the show did an amazing job representing all women and their choices.

That's what I grew up watching and that's who I became. 

Independent.  Strong.  Surrounded by friends.  With frizzy hair and something in my teeth. A touch of Rhoda.

My husband and family are part of me, but they are not all of me. 

My 40s have been spent watching friends' marriages unravel.  Mine almost came undone, as well.  But for so many of my girlfriends it was because they never had their "Mary Tyler Moore Phase" as I called it.  They never had their own stuff, their M on the wall.  They were a We before they ever became a Me.  And it had caught up to them.  They felt lost and often blamed their husbands-- who had no idea.

And I'm not saying everyone should ditch marriage and have a career.  I got married.  I love being a mother far more than I ever could imagine.

But I would never give up my 20s- my Mary Tyler Moore phase.

It taught me that I could get through anything- on my own.  I didn't need a prince to come save me- I could be my own prince.

Some of my friends that got married young are extremely happy- they grew up together.  That's fantastic. 

I know it wasn't for me, though.

With my birthday just passed, I'm reflective that I most definitely took the best path for me-- with Mary on one shoulder telling me to be strong and Marlo on the other telling me to be kind.

So thank you, Mary, it looks like I'm going to make it after all.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dear Rosetta Stone,

Dear Rosetta Stone,

I've really enjoyed your Italian language program.  Molte grazie.

As you may know, the United States may be ending this Friday.  I am sure you are quite busy with so many Americans trying to learn a new language so they have the option of moving.  

My family and I were perusing your website and trying to decide between ordering the Mandarin Chinese program or the Russian program. 

But after much discussion, we decided that I should write and ask you to consider adding a new language in which we are in desperate need- Trumpanese.

We have tried and tried over the past year to fully understand what our future President and his supporters are saying but we still have not been able to crack the code- or find the Rosetta Stone, so to speak.

I was listening to the senate hearings and I think I may have heard Mrs. De Vos say that schools needed guns to keep out grizzlies.

I'm sure grizzlies must mean something else- like perhaps angry PTA parents- because I cannot in my right mind bring up any data that would support a statement that gun free zones for schools should be overturned by federal law to protect students from bears.  Is this is an issue that the fake news has been hiding?

Also, "fake news"-- I'm confused by this term. Should I believe what I see? I remember quite specifically watching fake news where my future President insisted that President Obama was born in Kenya and was a Muslim.  On the same station which is apparently fair and balanced, they broadcast that many of his supporters were very upset by President Obama's radical minister at his Christian church in Chicago.  Which I guess he attended in between "Muslim church" as they called it?  Or in Trumpanese does Muslim mean something else- like "black man with a funny sounding name?"

Because, once again, I am baffled.

I know the term Muslim is also loosely used with the term terrorist to describe people who shoot people.  Having Muslim friends, again I'm confused.  They are actually peace advocates like Muhammed Ali.  They don't have guns.  I know that toddlers in the US are apparently crazy killers with guns.  Could Muslim also be a synonym for toddler?  Or maybe it's a term to interchange with angry, mentally unstable white males since they are, by far, responsible for more mass shootings than any group.  Even gun toting toddlers.

The use of the term Mexican has confused me, too. I've heard Guatemalans, Puerto Ricans  and Colombians all called Mexican.  I think it might apply to everyone who is brownish with dark hair.  I may be Mexican in Trumpanese. 

The motto of "Make America Great Again" has be completely befuddled.  I can't think of any time in American history to which I would want to return.  Which word is Trumpanese?  Is it "great" which might mean "White Male Dominated" but then "again" wouldn't make any sense because, well, white males still constitute the majority of seats in Congress despite only being 35% of the population and over 90% of the Fortune 500 CEOs.  So does "make" mean "keep"? As in "Keep American White Male Dominated" because that totally makes sense if you don't have any hope and don't want to change things.

As you can see, we are very confused.  Sometimes when the future President speaks it's as if he starts the sentence one way and finishes it another.

If you could ask your linguistics team, do words change meaning in Trumpanese based on the speaker?  If the future President says something it is ALWAYS FACT.  But it doesn't sound like fact.  It sounds like he's making it up as he goes.  When I try to listen, my head hurts.  And I promise you, I tried very hard to listen and to understand.  I can't.

We are desperate to understand what he is saying.

And if you could throw in a math segment.  I know for a fact that unemployment is near full employment and underemployment is at a 10 year low.  GDP is growing.  Yet we are apparently in terrible economic shape?  So is the Bureau of Labor Statistics really just fake news even thought they have reported employment numbers for years and aren't partisan?  Or are numbers not finite in Trumpanese?  For example, 4.7% is really 12?

Another example that I need clarification on is how increasing spending AND lowering taxes creates more money for the government.  We have done that before and it doesn't.  I mean, I think there's quite a bit of research on it.  Does deficit spending mean something different if you are in charge?  I know I heard him and many others when they were very upset with deficit spending. Is it a math or language issue?

I've had some of his supporters tell me their taxes were going DOWN but it would appear they were going UP when deductions are removed to make it "easier."  Does easier mean "rip stupid people off?"I know not everyone is impacted the same way, but their magic math is fascinating- it's like Oprah "Everybody gets a car!"

If there is a special way to calculate that, count me in!  I want a new car, too!

Again, I'm confused.

From what I can gather from the first week in Congress, I'm not the only one.  They are saying one thing- like how important protecting pre-existing conditions for health care coverage is- then doing something completely different.  Or saying "we have a plan" but there isn't.  Maybe the Congress would also benefit from a course in Trumpanese?  I would happily pay.

As you can see, Rosetta Stone, this is a serious issue. With only a few hours to go, I'm going to be forced to listen to this bizarre language for four years.  I'm not going to understand anything that is going on.

If you and your team of experts could whip something up, that would be great.

I know you can.

In the interim, we will focus on learning both Chinese and Russian.


Grazie in anticipo,

Mama Bean

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January 20th

That's my birthday.

I always say it's why I'm involved in politics.  I was born into it.

I started having ridiculous birthday parties in my late 20s.  In December, when I was 28, a few months after I had called off a wedding and had my whole world turned upside down on what was truth and what was lies, I had found a lump in my breast.  My doctor with whom I normally joked was quite serious.  It took a few tests and weeks to determine it was nothing- well, probably- but it started a nearly 20 year journey of annual and semi-annual tests. 

That was the year I decided that I was going to celebrate my birthday for the simple reason that I wasn't dead.

I wasn't going to wait for other people to throw me a party or plan anything.

My birthday, each year, is my celebration of gratitude.  That I get another trip around the planet.  I get the privilege of celebrating among my dear friends who make me laugh and smile.

It is not indulgent or self-serving.

It's my way of telling the universe thank you for my amazing life- let's have a drink.

I started doing themed parties in my 30s because I also like to be silly.

The themes have been Party Like You're in College, Rat Pack Swinging 60s, White Trash, Motown-- we've run the gamut.

This year, the theme was going to be taco trucks. Because I love tacos and mariachi.  And because if Clinton was president, we would (gasp) have a taco truck on every corner.  I thought that sounded fantastic.

We're not doing taco trucks this year.

We're doing a 60s hippie theme.  And, it is also the day that most of my friends- political party aside- will be marching in protest.  I'm glad they moved the time from 6 pm to noon.  I'm going to pretend it was solely so they could still come.

Because this year, I'm not happy about my birthday and that next trip around the sun is looking scary.

And no, this is not how some of you felt when Obama was elected.  The people who were the most fearful thought he was taking away their guns, forcing us to pray to Allah and was Kenyan.  Those people were scared because they believed a bunch of lies.  Others thought we would become socialist.

So here's the thing- my church is still open, I'm still married to a man, we still have our guns and my business grew substantially after nearly having to close my doors in 2008.

The people who were terrified of Obama based their fears on lies.  Pure and simple.  The biggest of those lies being funded and perpetuated by our future president.

In 2004, I was baffled by the re-election of George Bush.  I wasn't thrilled he was elected in 2000 and the whole election that year was questionable, but in 2000, I wasn't any more thrilled at having Gore as President than I was having Bush.  I know their policies are completely different, but neither cried out "leader" to me.  In 2004, after invading a country on false information, I was stunned.  I was worried about the financial situation since the repeal of Glass-Steagal, but that was still on the back burner and I lumped it into "things that keep me awake that probably won't happen."

But this.

This is different.  VERY different.

This isn't about policy.

And to be clear, I am not questioning the validity of the election. 

The Russians spreading false information about Hillary Clinton is one thing.  People believing the ridiculous rumors- she was running a sex-trafficking ring out of the basement of a pizzeria?  Seriously?- that just shows how truly stupid people are.

Yes, stupid.

If you thought she and Bill went to sex clubs on weekends, you're a moron.

I completely and totally believe that people went to the polls and pushed the button, pulled the lever, filled in the box and voted for Trump. 

I think it's crap that Hillary clearly won more votes and still lost, but hey, that's the system.  My vote counted more than my friends in California and New York. Three times more.  Seems messed up but it is what it is.

(If they find the RNC and the Trump campaign were aware of the tampering, assisted in it in any way-- well, that's another story but we know how that goes.  That's Watergate.  Election tampering. 

If we find that were in cahoots with a foreign entity... I'll let the DOJ handle the details on that one.)

Trump still has not disclosed his financial dealings.  He is NOT under audit- the IRS has formally stated that- and yet people believe him.  His assets are not moving into a blind trust.  He is on record of lying consistently about his relationship with Putin- he knows him, he doesn't know him, they've met, they haven't met.  He has lied about his investment relationship with Russia- he has none, they make up the bulk of their portfolio.

That is a very big deal.  This is not a birth certificate issue.  This is not a college transcript issue. 

This is ethics.

He does not specifically have to disclose it or divest.  He doesn't.

But the Constitution is NOT a contract.  It is a governing document that serves as a framework for laws.

It is meant to have loopholes to make it adaptable to changing times.

When it was written, the thought of private equity financing, emails, etc. weren't even fathomable.  There was no IRS.

But at the core of the Constitution is its dependence on morality and ethics.

That rather than looking for ways around it, the good men (because that's all it applied to back then) who were interpreting it would respect the intent.

And most importantly, it assumes that the leader of the United States of America would be a stalwart of ethics.  The best of the best.

When I think of the housing crisis, I think about the people who knowingly lied about their incomes to get houses and the mortgage brokers that encouraged them.  I think about the woman who bought 12 "primary residences" in my neighborhood and walked from all of them.

There isn't a contract that can be written to force ethics.

Mr. Trump is notorious for not honoring contracts.  I have friends who were contractors on his Vegas property.  He didn't pay them but a third of what was promised or agreed to.

That is NOT a smart businessman.

That is a liar.

He never questioned the work.  Never filed a complaint with the contractor board.  He just didn't pay and "nonny nonny so sue me"

That's an enormous character issue.  Or lack of character. 

Trying to get out of things.

We all know those people- the co-worker who milked the Family Medical Leave Act, the couple that doesn't get married because they would lose SNAP or insurance benefits, the fake injuries so they can collect Workers' Compensation benefits, the friend that always forgets his wallet when you go to lunch.

That's who he is.  But he has money.  Sorta.  He actually has a lot of debt.

Which most people in finance knew.  And most people in finance knew he received backing from eastern European equity funds.  And most people in finance know that a portion of the money is probably a little shady in its origination.  It's also not illegal.

But if voters had known that he owned foreign investors billions of dollars, my guess is that people in my hometown in Ohio would have been "hey...."  Or if they knew how many small businesses he decimated simply because he could, they might have said "hey..."  And in fact, during the primaries, my hometown did that and voted for Kasich.

Because Trump isn't Republican.  He isn't conservative.  Trade tariffs?  Trying to tell businesses how they should be run (talk about government intervention into the private sector)?  Building walls?  Refusing to support trade agreements?  He wants to manipulate the Federal Reserve?

How on earth is that about supporting states rights over federal intervention?  What is free market about that?  He has no clue how the Federal Reserve works.  Trust me on that.  His comments are laughable- as in watching financial managers laugh in discussing them.  They are non-sensical.  You can't renegotiate the federal deficit.  That again, is stupid.

He's cheated on every wife.  Yet conservative Christians support him?

He's notoriously screwed over small businesses. Yet the Chambers of Commerce supported him?

He's lied.  He's cheated.  He's done business with organized crime. 

And now he sits in the White House.

Sorta.

He's too good to actually want to live there.  We, the taxpayers now get to pay for security at three homes.

And people were pissed that Obama went on vacation three times a year?

Really?

His cabinet picks he treated like a reality show and he's put the country in a bind by not having them in place by my birthday.

His press conference and the shushing of one of the largest global news organizations was not only childish, but terrifying.

He lied nearly the entire press conference.

Fact check it.

If Marco Rubio or John Kasich had been elected, I would be concerned.  I would.  But I would respect them.  I would respect the office.  If my child's high school band was selected to go, I would say yes but please don't bring me back a souvenir t-shirt.

But I'm not worried- I'm terrified.

I'm terrified that people actually support him.  Still.


The Republicans that I expected to keep him in check seem to be wimping out.

And it's not about him hiring Russian prostitutes to urinate.  Honestly, that's hilarious and I don't doubt it. 

I don't doubt it because he watched teenage girls get dressed at beauty pageants and bragged about it.  THAT is disgusting. 

Peeing hookers... I can't wait for that video to leak.  No pun intended.

I'm not wishing for the pilot to crash the plane that we are on.

I'm not hoping for him to fail.

I am assuming it.

And not in the way I would be if it were Rubio or Kasich. Yes, I'd be complaining and whining about policy but they are honest-- for politicians.

If they were in office, I would not be worried about nuclear war because he has a big mouth, a temper and no sense of consequence.

There was a tiny, tiny, tiny part of me that thought MAYBE he might pull it together.

He isn't.  Not even close.  It's getting worse.

He didn't and doesn't want the job.  It's clear.

He wanted the publicity.

But we all could suffer.

So no, I'm not overreacting.

Maybe if I saw his tax returns and he moved his assets into a blind trust like he said he would, I would trust him.

I don't.  At all.

And not based on false news sites.  Based on his history and what he says.

So this year, I hope I make it around the planet another time.  I hope I don't get any disease that could be considered pre-existing.  I hope my children don't get anything chronic that they will never be able to afford to be treated  because their future insurance won't cover it. I hope my parents can afford the new, proposed voucher system for Medicare. 

Hmmm...maybe Trump IS the president of hope and change- because I certainly hope I can survive 4 years and we change presidents as quickly as possible.







Thursday, January 5, 2017

Momming

This past year I've had some extraordinary moments with my children.

To me, raising my children is perpetually complex.  It's a learn as you go process with each wrong move having an impact not so much on me, but on the future of my child.

I do not aspire to be a perfect mother.

Because that doesn't exist.

Because my children are different.

Because I have to live my life while being a mom and my children have to live their lives while being my child.

When my son was born and the first time we were alone and I was just holding him I looked lovingly into his eyes and said... I kid you not..

"I hope you know I don't know what the fuck I'm doing... oh shit I probably shouldn't swear.. dammit... did it again...

Here's the thing, I really don't have a clue what I'm doing but I promise that I won't drop you on your head."

At that moment, I remembered a guy I had dated years earlier named Louie.  I made a joke about his mom dropping him on his head.  She thought it was hilarious because she HAD actually dropped him on his head when he was a few weeks old.  The had phone rung, it startled her and oops- the baby fell to the floor... and she was a good mother. 

So I amended my promise.

"You know what, I can't actually even promise you that.  But what I will promise you is that I won't ever drop you on your head on purpose.  How does that sound?"

I swear I think I heard him sigh and roll his eyes.

But that, my friends, has been my bar for parenting.  Not intentionally dropping my children on their heads.

With that, I can say I have been an extraordinary mother and surpassed my own expectations.

In fact, one of my favorite compliments was from my grandmother who did not hand them out often.  She said "You're a really good mother." 

I replied, "Wow, thanks, Grandma."

"No seriously, you are.  I wouldn't have expected that."

And we laughed because quite frankly, it was the truth.

So here I am more than 14 years after crapping out my first child and they seem to be going quite well.

And it's getting harder, not easier.

Because each mistake that one of us makes has consequences.

Or as I like to say "They remember shit now.  This is the stuff for the therapist...."

As babies, let's face it, they are more forgiving.  Teens and tweens... it stings.  For all of us.

But my biggest challenge has been how hard to push.

Because I just don't know.

What is the fine line being a pushy stage mom/sports mom who is living vicariously through their child and the coddling mother who doesn't let their child suffer any pain or discomfort?

This past year my daughter had the opportunity to introduce Michelle Kwan, Olympic medalist, world champion skater at a women's event.

I had been scheduled to attend the event and my amazing friend and activist Astrid texted me and asked if Zoey (my blog name for my daughter in case you've forgotten) would like to introduce Michelle.

I was all over it.  My daughter is fairly audacious.  Or was.  At that point in time, she had actually become a little shy.  She had switched schools when we moved and honestly, her little spicy fire had been dampened.

I told Astrid that I would love for her to do it but I needed to check with her.

So I asked Zoey.  Her eyes got HUGE and she said no way.

I asked if she was sure and she said no.

I was crushed because I wanted to meet Michelle Kwan.  I told her "You could have the chance to meet an Olympic medalist- a champion-- are you sure?"

She nodded.

So I texted Astrid no.

Then she texted back that that was too bad.  They wanted someone sporty and spunky and Zoey was the first person that came to mind.

And then it hit me-- Astrid didn't ask her because she was MY daughter- she asked her because she knows Zoey and she thought of Zoey.

In fact, Astrid didn't even know I was going to be at the event.

So I went back to Zoey and I said "You know, you didn't get asked because you're my daughter.  You were asked because you're you. " and I showed her the text.

She sorta hemmed and hawed.

Parenting moment:  Was I pushing her because I wanted to meet Michelle Kwan or because I wanted her to have this opportunity?  Did I want MY daughter to introduce her or did I want my DAUGHTER to introduce her?

Whose opportunity was it?

So I asked- "Do you really not want to do this or are you scared to do it?  Because I can understand if you're scared.  It would be weird if you weren't.  But we can work through scared.  If you don't want to do it, that's a different thing.  If you're scared to do it, I think you should do it."

And then she said she was scared.

So we talked through the event.  It wasn't a huge stadium event.  It would be small.  She would only have to say 1-2 sentences. 

Then we talked about Astrid.  How Astrid risks her life doing what she's doing.  How Astrid really has to fight her fear of public speaking to do what she feels is right. 

She loves Astrid.  She fully understands how important her work is and the impact her work has had.

But she was still nervous.

So then I told her about why I wanted to meet Michelle Kwan and why she is one of my heroes.

I told her about how everyone thought she was going to win the gold medal at the 2002 Olympics.  How she had gotten silver the last time and everyone knew she would win gold this time. 

I told her how she tripped and then she fell.  And how I watched and thought "No... not possible...that poor girl."  But then, amid the gasps, knowing she had lost the gold, she got up and finished. I remember crying and I told my daughter "Because THAT is what a champion is, Zoey.  It's somebody who stands back up and fights off their tears, frustration, anger-- all that- and they do what they need to do.  Not because they are going to win, but because that's what champions do- they push through it- win or lose.  And that could not have been fun.  But she did it.  Because she's a champion.  Just like Astrid.  And I think you would regret the opportunity to meet her and be part of this because you're scared.  Because I know you're a champion, too."  And I told her how some jerk reporter had commented on how she had lost the gold and she told him "No, I won the bronze" and I remembered thinking "Go you" because she had 2 Olympic medals and that guy didn't have any. 

And then we joked about the worst things that could happen- she could fart or burp-- her pants could fall down--

But I knew at that moment it wasn't because I wanted to meet Michelle Kwan and it wasn't even because I wanted my daughter to meet her.

It was because I wanted my daughter to know that if she fell down, with the world watching, she could stand back up, brush herself off and get on with it.  That the only expectations that should matter are the ones you have about yourself.  And she DID want to do this.

If she backed out at 10 years old, she would back out at 11.  And then she wouldn't run for student council.  Or speak up in class.  Or speak up in college.  Or push herself. Or put herself out there.  And her life would be one of woulda, coulda, shoulda and I wasn't going to let that happen.

So she did the intro.  And she was hilarious- wrote her own thing- she made some kind of comment about how Michelle was an Olympic medalist in skating and that's really impressive because she can't even stand up on skates.  And the crowd laughed and my daughter smiled.

And she was back.  Her confidence.  Her zest.  It was like watching the pilot light come back on.

(And... I got to meet Michelle Kwan, too.  Who, I have to say, was better than I could have imagined. I actually avoid meeting celebrities and athletes because I'm usually disappointed.  She kicks ass and radiates a level of confidence and intelligence that I wish every young woman had.)

And tonight, with my son, we had a similar experience.  He is trying to select a high school.  It's a lottery system for the magnet programs so there's no guarantees, but he can pick three options or possibilities.

The school I wanted him to pick for his first choice is challenging.  I help with admissions for my university, so I know the Ivies and the other top schools like this high school.  The curriculum is rigorous.

He is torn between staying with his friends or another school that will not be as academically grueling.

I'm okay with him wanting to stay with his friends.  He has GREAT friends.  But they were also applying to other programs.

Something in my gut told me there was something else.

This school checked everything off his list- a Calc 3 class (one of 2 schools in the district with it), a great band program, a swim team, ROTC- everything he likes. 

He was ambivalent.  "Naw..." Typical teen stuff.

Except my son isn't typical. 

It was something else.

So I pushed.

He was afraid of the work load.  He had heard there were hours and hours of homework.

He does his homework in about 10 minutes in the morning.

He was afraid he couldn't do it.  That he couldn't compete with the other kids that went to the feeder middle school  (also by lottery selection- don't get me started).

He was scared.

So we talked about it.  We talked about where he wants to go to college- a top school.  This is him, not me. 

We talked about what colleges look for- a B in Calc 3 is better than an A in Pre-Calc.  It shows you push yourself.

And I gave my "If You Want to Aspire to Mediocrity I Will Not Stand in Your Way But Don't You Dare Blame Me" speech.

But I said if he was scared, that was the worst reason not to do it because he would regret it.  If he's there for a year and hates it, he can go to his zone school.

We talked about how great the teachers at the open house were- how engaged and inspired they seemed.  How you can't really change that.

And he decided it was worth it to make it his #1 choice.

His decision.  That I helped him make.

But I didn't manipulate him.

I helped him identify what the real issues were and then assess those. 

Get over the fear part- brush it to the side- and analyze the facts.

What's the worst thing that could happen?  He would have a few hours of homework which is what his job is- to be a student.  He may not be the smartest kid in the class- which actually might be a good thing.

But as he went through the process of deciding what to do- I saw a spark.  A twinkle of excitement.  The thrill of pushing himself.  The realization that anything was possible- and he held the keys.

He may not get into the program but I'm happy that fear didn't force him to take the road most traveled or the safe route.

He opted for change and took a risk and pushed himself.

THAT was what I wanted.

Neither of my children are perfect.  They are a reflection of me, no doubt- but my role as a mom isn't to make them do things.  It's to encourage them to do the right things.  To give them a foundation on which to think and be rational.  To not be guided by fear.

I read a parenting article that had the greatest line- my job as a parent isn't to prepare the path for my child, but to prepare my child for the path.

I will not run to the school to take my children a lunch left on the counter.  But they know what to do if that happens and they won't starve.

Their rooms are messy because they clean them themselves.  They sort their laundry.  They can't survive in the wild, but by the time they are off to college, they will know how to manage because they will be confident. 

Because they know they can stand in front of 100 people and introduce someone or go to a school where none of their friends are going because it's a challenge.

Because they will know how to identify when they are scared and when they need to take a risk.

Because 14 1/2 years ago as I held a brand new baby, I was scared.  And every day we move forward.

And every day we make mistakes.

And we stand up, brush it off and finish the program.

Medal or not.