Friday, July 17, 2015

Removing Racism - 3 Things We Can Do RIGHT NOW

the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

Three easy things we - each and all of us - can do right now to address if not remove racism in ourselves: 

1. When encountering 'other' in your everyday life, smile and say hello as you pass by, just as you would a friend. You may make a new one. 

2. Embrace 'curiosity' (non-judgment) about 'other'.  See, hear and feel what's similar or recognizable and what's entirely new or maybe totally or only kind of different from you.

3. Read a book, see a film, listen to music by and/or about 'other'. Share your thoughts with others and invite them to do the same.

And, rather than generalize from an individual encounter, regard each as a unique window into an individual 'other' versus the definitive way that every 'other' is. One female, one Caucasian, one gay man, one pierced, tattooed teen... is not all females, all Caucasians, all gay men or all pierced, tattooed teens. You are your unique you, I am my unique me. 

Curiously engaging 'other' one by one is racism's greatest enemy. 
And our greatest potential for understanding and connection. 

Let 'doing' initiate 'being' which will further promote 'doing' and 'being' and so on!

What else can we do? Please share your ideas and experiences below.

Opening the eyes of each and all of us,


p.s.  I was inspired to write a blog today after reading this article in the online HuffPost:  After Charleston, Americans Increasingly Concerned About Racism

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence - the From, To and With of It All

Freedom from tyranny. Freedom to choose. Freedom to marry. Freedom to exercise our rights. Freedom to say yes. Freedom to say no. Today we celebrate those who gave and continue to offer their all, many with their lives, in order to create a place where we can freely be and become our best selves. Today I also celebrate what it takes to gain, preserve and enhance such freedoms: courage, vision, grit, resilience. It's not only these qualities, however. 

Independence requires what may at first sound counter-intuitive. Independence requires connection. Connection with our deepest values and beliefs, connection with teachers and mentors, family and friends, those who support us (and we support) in myriad ways. So today, though we may be separated by time and space, I celebrate my freedom to be connected with each of you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fueling Up (Way) Beyond the Tank

The other day I left my house but my wallet didn't. I didn't realize its absence until I reached in my purse for it to pay for parking. My heart skipped a beat. Hey, what an unusual break. Somehow, my checkbook, which I only use at home, was lying in the bottom of my purse. Like settling into a difficult yoga pose, I paid and left the lot with a smile of relief across my face. It wasn't long, however, let's say two seconds, that my calm breathing stopped short. Ahh, I had exactly 11 miles before my tank would run dry. How was I going to get home -- 20 miles away-- including a long bridge crossing? What gas station takes a check, especially without ID? 

No money. No cards. No fuel. But I had to give it a try. I pulled into the closest and what I'm sure is the most expensive gas station in San Francisco, put on a hopeful face and asked if they'd help me out by accepting a check, and if not that, I'd memorized my VISA number, so certainly that would work? Receiving a flat no, I went back to my car and rummaging through the center console, discovered six quarters, enough to buy .3 gallons of gas. Out went the money and in went the dribble of gas. I turned on the car and presto, What? It registered 7 miles until empty? How could that be? That's what I'd entered with. I left the station and began looking for station number two, hoping for better luck.

"Sorry, we can't take checks or a credit card without swiping it," said the friendly young Latina behind the counter. Continuing she asked, "How much gas would you like? I'll pay for it," she offered picking up her wallet. "Really?" I thought, incredulous, and said to her. "I'll write you a check." "That's OK," she said, "you can pay me back sometime when you're back in this neighborhood." "I'll write you a check now and thank you, you're an angel," I insisted as I wrote out $5.00 and handed it to her. Certainly my hybrid would get me home on 1.5 gallons given its 20+ miles per gallon. Again, my yoga calm returned, multiplied by the generosity of this stranger.  I jumped in my car, turned it on and as I pulled into the street... What?! The gage still registered 7 miles to empty. How could this be? Should I trust the gage, chancing it that I could make it home? All I could picture was being parked on the thin shoulder of the bridge, awaiting a tow truck. Ahhh! I'd have to refuel again.

I drove through town and a growing rush of late afternoon traffic to the only other gas station I knew, one perched at the top of the hill just before the entrance to the bridge. I stepped up to the window, revealed my plight, and again received a flat and definitive, "We can't do that." With five miles now registered on my gage, I had to try a different tack. I leaned against the outside of the station window and waited. As a 20-something guy came ambling up to the window from his truck I shyly inquired, "I know this is an unusual request, but my car's out of gas and my wallet is at home. May I give you a personal check for $10 so that I have enough gas to get home, please?" He looked at me and without hesitation replied, "Let me just buy your gas and we'll call it a day." What?! Angel #2?! He then peered into the window of the station and said, "I was hoping to buy a power cord for my phone, it's totally dead as is my iPad and I don't have directions to make a delivery." What?! "I have one for you!" I almost shouted. He leaned against the counter and said to the attendant, "$15 for pump #7." My pump. When I got in my car and turned it on, it registered 123 miles to empty. 

Empty; I was anything but that. I was fueled. Fueled by being listened toAcknowledgedMet where I was. And fueled by not one but two fellow humans, two strangers. who gave freely without hesitation or expectation so that I could move forward free of worry and fear. 

Fueled up, way beyond the tank.