Lift Ev’ry Voice and Shout: 150th Juneteenth

JuneteenthLearn so you can act with conviction, knowledge, passion, confidence, and positivity. Please leave more positive links about Juneteenth in comments.

History of Juneteenth via Texas State Historical Association.

More history of Juneteenth via Talking Points Memo.

An idea of how to honor Juneteenth this year via Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic.

Celebration via PBS: Each year, JUNETEENTH JAMBOREE highlights local vignettes that resonate with the idea of freedom.

Inspiration from a young entrepreneur via Financial Juneteenth.

Importance of remembering Juneteenth via Thrive Detroit.

More reasons why we should all celebrate Juneteenth via Jamelle Bouie at Slate.

Why one Texan won’t be celebrating Juneteenth this year via Chantel L. Jones at The Texas Observer.

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Asking the impossible: respond with anger, hope, justice — Love

635702127807678895-APTOPIX-Charleston-Sh-KellThe only emotion I refuse to feel in reference to the horrific murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC is hopelessness. I refuse to give up and give in. Hopelessness would be an affront to the nine people killed with bullets of hate in their house of worship. It would be allowing that hate to win. I’ll allow a moment of helplessness, but no hopelessness.

And that’s so very difficult. It’s so very difficult when we see scenes like last night’s tragedy replayed with minor variation, when our society and our legislators and our culture refuse to respond with conviction and care for our lives, when we listen to our President say, again, “I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.”

It’s completely natural and necessary to ask WHY, which can lead to assumptions and conclusions and beliefs fueled by both best intentions and the worst prejudices. Some have pointed out the obvious race hatred and supremacist philosophy the murderer displayed in various venues. Others have mentioned that State Senator Pinckney, also a Reverend at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, had recently introduced gun reform legislation just weeks ago.

But there is also the HOW, which is usually easier to comprehend than the WHY. The gun that was (presumably) used in this tragic massacre was a recent birthday gift. Despite having an arrest record for drug-related charges and trespassing, the murderer could have purchased a gun in South Carolina without a permit, license, or training. And apparently, his father thought it was a good idea to give his son (with an arrest record and overtly racist enthusiasm) a .45 caliber handgun. There’s the HOW of getting the gun.

In the aftermath of tragedies like this, I try to remain quiet so I can listen. I listen with the consciousness that I have the privilege and space to be able to remain quiet for a time and listen.

I listen to hear the sounds of Hope. The sounds of a forward quest for Justice. I listen for the sounds of Love. Because without them, Anger, despite its initial release, will only create more Anger and Violence and Hate. Anger can only be fruitful when guided by Love and Hope and Justice.

This time, in the midst of many other thoughtful and hopeful responses, I came across the Charleston response statement from King Center CEO Bernice A. King. Please read it in its entirety here.

“We must interrupt business as usual and change the trajectory of our nation. And, as my father shared in his eulogy for the four little girls killed in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, “…We must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.

We must choose to be concerned about the system, the way of life and the philosophy which produced the Charleston gunman. It is critical that we are concerned, for our concern reflects our attention to our ultimate choice between “nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.” We must choose Nonviolence 365.”

How each of us responds is a choice. And it will be different for everyone in our own time. But we must all respond in some way. Don’t ignore it because it doesn’t directly affect you. Don’t dismiss it because it happens so often. Don’t turn away because the problem is too big. Get Angry. Get more Angry. Scream for Justice. Whisper for Justice. Educate for Justice.  Search for Hope. Reach for Love. Wrap it up in a motivation that begins and ends and thrives with Love.

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Glad I Saw It: New Jersey’s State House


If you haven’t been since a 4th grade class trip, or ever, try to make a visit. Trenton could use the love. This photo is of part of the rotunda, filled with portraits of New Jersey leaders I still need to learn about.

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For Parents: judging each other is totally in our hands and heads

eleanor-roosevelt-no-one-can-make-you-feel-inferior-without-your-consentIt’s that time of year again. It’s time to judge each other as parents! Actually, it seems like it’s always that time of year.

But the end of the school year is especially tough for parents because it’s been a long year of rushed mornings and rushed homework and unexpected sick days and drama-filled tales from the playground and PTA requests and calls home and conflict about dress codes and testing and standards and on and on. Much of this is out of our control and we are left to react or respond after-the-fact. Some of it is larger than our children or our school or our town. But the whole judging each other thing is totally in our hands and heads.

Other people may say mean things or roll their eyes or condemn your parenting choices. And that’s on them. I could go into all the reasons others may feel obliged to publicly comment on others’ parenting choices, but there’s no need. What you and I have control over is how we respond and how much we allow in.

So when a parent who hates crafting makes fun of the cute treats and trinkets you created for the class, smile and know the kids think they are amazing. When another parent raises an eyebrow because you showed up late (or couldn’t make it) to the class play, know that your child will love telling you all about what you missed — complete with elaborate detail.

When you say YES every time the PTA asks for your time and someone rolls her eyes and calls you a busy-body, shrug and know that the we all really, really appreciate your willingness. When you say NO every time the PTA asks for your time and someone smirks and sighs, know that we all really, really understand that it’s not what everyone can or wants to do.

And when the parent who is doing everything you wish you could or would or wanted to looks up and smiles, just smile back. And if that parent looks up and grimaces or looks about to burst into tears, smile back.

Know that we are all just doing the best we can — and that might change from day to day. Other people’s judgement (real or perceived) can’t hurt you unless you let it in. Be kind to others and be kind to yourself.


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Social Collisions Solved

The source of many misunderstandings: Shy and socially awkward people think no one else is. Outgoing and gregarious people think everyone else is. 

little miss shyAs someone who considers herself shy and socially awkward (despite few people ever believing me), I’ve become hyper aware of how brief public interactions can be perceived. Where to rest a gaze while walking through town, how loud (or quiet) to make a greeting, how wide to smile in passing without seeming creepy, how invisible I was the last time I met you — and so on — all obsess those of us further along on the shyness scale. To help me remember it’s not all about me, I came up with the gem bolded above. Let me know if you agree, and the next time we pass, please remember that I’m not trying to seem (overly) creepy, I’m just working on my social graces.

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Your life, trying to be remembered

A friend posted this today — April 28th — and it expresses part of the complexity that is mourning. Life goes on, and as time passes, we start to live in moments and hours and even days when those we’ve lost figure less and less in our thoughts. And then we think of Chirashi or hands held or promises made as the end drew near, and the grief comes flooding back.



Happy Birthday, Opa!

I’ve been telling my kids that we should remember the silly and fun moments with Opa, and they tell me okay. And then we all realize that there won’t be new silly and fun moments to add to that collection of memories filed under Opa. And then we are sad together.

And that’s still okay. Because life goes on and grows and builds itself around the past.

And that’s as it should be.

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Inspiration at {verdigreen}


The display windows are always carefully and beautifully put together from scratch.

When I say “inspiration” it means vicariously soaking in other people’s artistic or creative projects with paints and craft items. And that’s where it ends: I feel inspired. I love to look, imagine, be tempted to distress furniture and wonder about cutting paper into whimsical patterns to waft from invisible hooks. Imagining doing all these things and living among them is a little like taking a long weekend into fantasy land.

That’s why I like to stop in to {verdigreen} once in a while. Wandering around the store and workshop has all the inspiration I need with none of the pressure to actually create. Although, it’s good to know that if I get the urge, the shop is there with everything I need to get crafty and creative. Those with more confidence in their abilities and more desire to create rather than admire can find inspiration at {verdigreen} as well as all the tools necessary to help it come to life.

Wrapping paper that's gorgeous enough to frame.

Wrapping paper that’s gorgeous enough to frame.

Azie, the owner and artistic force at the shop, told me that craft-curious people can bring in a small project and try out different Annie Sloan products and the various tools {verdigreen} has to figure out if committing to a purchase of paint, wax, and brushes will bring joy or regret. For those who like or need more guidance, there are also workshops in various techniques. Azie also said that she or one of her super-knowledgable staff make sure to consult and advise customers about color, use, and amount of product needed for a particular project. Check out the website to check for workshops, and maybe I’ll see you there if I’m inspired. In NYC? Manhattan has a brand new {verdigreen} shop in the East Village!

Check out the brand new space here.

Either way, I’ll be wandering the store soaking in the funky vibe and creative details.

Stencils: Art even I can do!

Stencils: Art even I can do!

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Guilty Pleasures: Television Edition

I like television. I watch more than I should. But it’s so good! One of my guilty pleasures for a while now — okay for over four seasons now — has been Once Upon A Time. I’ve made peace with the Disney connection, accepted that it’s more soap opera than fairy tale, and kept up with the drama and characters as they enrage, disappoint, and make me crazy.


My favorite character is Regina, the once (and perhaps future) Evil Queen. Her character is deeper and more “human” than most. Her flays are relatable. And her character has taken the most twists and turns without become a flat version of any stereotype.

So there. That’s my guilty pleasure on the TeeVee. What’s yours?

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S.O.F.I.A. Celebrates Five Years of Service

You know someone in an abusive relationship. Yes, you do. We all do. And as Mr. Rogers always told us in times of despair, “Look for the Helpers.” One of the organizations that has been a “Helper” for the last five years is Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates. And in May, S.O.F.I.A. will be celebrating its five years of advocacy by honoring three people who represent three different aspects of its work.

SOFIA galaAssemblyman Thomas Giblin is being honored for his profound and passionate support of S.O.F.I.A.’s programs and events to empower survivors of domestic violence. Ms. Joanne Paul, whose daughter Monica was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend, is being honored as a representative of family members and friends who resolve to move forward while reaching out to others who have lost loved ones to domestic violence. Mrs. Karla Wheeler-Suliman is being honored as the face of domestic violence survival and an active volunteer and supporter of S.O.F.I.A.

Please consider joining us on May 14th, 2015 at the Richfield Regency in Verona for dinner, community, and helping to raise funds toward the S.O.F.I.A. Safe House and the continuation of our programs. Sponsorship opportunities are also available!

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Women’s History X

X is for Women Whose Names We Don't Know

Congratulations, Stephanie! You (or the recipient of your shout out) will receive a copy of Rad American Women!

A friend (Thanks, Amy!) recently posted a link to this post on Dangerous Minds about an ABC book called Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries.

I love the look of it. I love the highlighted women. I love that it used the Oxford Comma the way I do. I love the graphics. Sloppy, happy love all around.

I especially love the X page. We all know women (and men, yes I know! but this is March for one day more) who remain in the shadows — either by choice or otherwise — and show amazing strength, creativity, care, and just plain stellar power in ways that don’t make them (in)famous for their 15 minutes or longer of fame.

I’m going to ask anyone who knows a woman like that to shout her out in comments. I’ll pick one comment randomly, and that person will receive a copy of this AMAZING book! This is not sponsored, no one else is paying for it or asking me to post this. I just really love it. (Don’t believe me? Re-read the second paragraph.)

If you want to go ahead and buy the book on your own, please do so at a local bookstore and not on Amazon. Please? Pretty please?

Comment away!

Continental USA only, please

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