Posted in audience participation, connections, differences, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, vulnerability

LISTEN—it’s about all of us

It doesn’t feel right to prattle on about the usual things today.

The problem of gun violence is overwhelming.

The problem of black people murdered by police is overwhelming.

The problem of racism is overwhelming.

There are solutions or partial solutions to these, and we rationalize our way around them.

How do we connect when there’s little to no willingness for vulnerability? If you show up for the conversation with your army and I show up with mine, the best possible outcome is a stalemate.

“You go first” “No you go first” has the same result.

We—white people—have so much fear of losing.

Community isn’t a zero-sum game. When the “least” among us does better, everyone does better. (I hate the word “least” because of the value judgment. What if our gold standard was compassion? The “least” among us would be some very different people…and it would be better for everyone.)

We’re all people. We all have some similarities in emotions and wants and needs. But not everyone’s life and experience and motivation is the same as yours. (And it’s often not what you judge it to be, either.)


Especially when you’re triggered or feel dismissive.


It’s not about you.

To my friends of color, to other people of color who I’m not acquainted with… to the mamas…

It’s easy to say “I can’t imagine what you’re going through” and to offer a platitude that way.

I don’t want to offer platitudes. So I took some time, and I sat, and I imagined it, the best that I can.

And I wept.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that this is part of your parenthood. I’m sorry that this is what we offer you. I’m sorry I can’t fix it. I feel like my voice doesn’t matter—because it’s small, because it’s white, because the people who need the lessons aren’t listening—but for whatever audience I have, in a variety of contexts, my voice is all I have.

Posted in about me, audience participation, differences, ebb & flow

Seven pandemic questions

Austin Kleon had written in one of his newsletters his answers to seven pandemic questions. I asked my newsletter people their answers. Here are their responses, my responses, and Rocket Kid’s responses.

Question 1: What’s one thing you made this year?

I asked people to upload a photo, but the few brave enough to answer the questions in the first place didn’t share photos. Which is fine.

  • I’ve made a physically more fit me. I have exercised WAY more this past year than ever before and am in the best shape of my life.
  • I made a classroom of 3rd graders giggle hysterically (by being a guest reader)
  • I made a lot of music
  • I made a board game!
  • I made a table with my dad

Question 2: Did you have any bad ideas this year?

  • Probably! 😂
  • Too many to list, most pointed is not making a plan for self-improvement
  • Eating so much.
  • I think I more just didn’t think of good ideas (or any ideas) when I needed them.
  • I tried to build a catapult and ended up hitting myself because I put it together backwards.

Question 3: What is a moment from this year you’ll always remember?

  • The first glimmers of normal — first time I saw my daughter in marching band again, my other daughter returning to dance, visiting with my parents.
  • Early on family bike rides, family joy in spoils of the garden, camping with my boy
  • The first time we went swimming in our pool
  • Not a moment. Just the new habits we had—baking, doing puzzles.
  • When we got dogs!!

Question 4: What art have you turned to this year?

  • Music, books, the distraction of Netflix depending on what I needed.
  • Music – blues, jazz, reggae, hip-hop, punk
  • Drawing
  • Making music, taking photos, drawing
  • Reading!

Question 5: Did you find a friendship that helped you in this time?

  • It’s not so much one person, but due to circumstances beyond “just” the pandemic, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about who my real friends are.
  • No
  • None that were helpful more than regular times
  • I became friends with someone I knew very casually and it’s been excellent!
  • Friends that I could connect with brightened my day

Question 6: If you’d known you’d be isolated for so long, what would you have done differently?

  • I don’t know that there is much I would change except visited my grandmother more often.
  • Looked for better options to travel – RV, set up office sooner
  • Nothing. I was OK.
  • I might have spent time with different people before shelter in place.

Question 7: What do you want to achieve before things return to normal?

  • Healing from emotional wounds totally unrelated to the pandemic.
  • Ensure clear boundaries with work, improve my relationship with my family, better manage my emotions
  • Figure out what I want my post-pandemic life to look like.
  • Have my book accepted by a publisher

What about you? How would you answer these questions?

Posted in audience participation, connections, socializing, thoughtfulness

Pleasant people plus one

I was in a writing group. We were generally friendly, offered feedback to each other on our work with both give and take on “negative” feedback. (So grateful for that. Can’t get better without constructive criticism, and we, culturally, are extremely averse to it.)

One person in the group was extremely unpleasant. Would talk much longer than anyone wanted to listen, offered advice on things people didn’t want or need advice for. (In my “welcome to the group, tell us about yourself” bit, I mentioned I was a band teacher and was doing bucket drumming with my classes. Upon hearing this—after being acquainted for less than five minutes—he offered me some suggestions for how I could do band instead because it’s really important for the kids to play their instruments. He was not a teacher, not an instrumentalist, had no children, and my classes loved playing the buckets.)

I talked to the facilitator about his abrasiveness, and she agreed that he was difficult and some people had left the group because of him but *shrug*

A similar thing is happening in a different group I’m part of now.

In talking to a friend about the current situation, she told me a parallel story.

Why do we let these people destroy what would be pleasant, productive communities? How many opportunities to connect have we missed out on because one person ruined it for everyone?

And how do we fix it?

“Use your words” comes to mind, but how do you tell someone that they’re socially atrocious? If someone can finesse and deliver the message and the recipient doesn’t reject it, how do they socialize after receiving it without being self-conscious all the time?

There’s a difference between self-conscious and self-aware, and I’m not sure that replacing the vacuum of neither with self-consciousness is great. And I’m also not sure it would solve the problem anyway.

Kick them out? Make it unpleasant for them so they quit? None of these feels good to me, but I’m not sure there’s a solution that does feel good to me…

Have you had a situation like this that was successfully resolved? (For whatever “successfully” means to you?)