Stand free 

Stand free they say from their Ivory Tower. 

Speak louder, 

but not too loud. 

We will tell you what volume is acceptable. 

Do you speak Mexican? 

Your skirt is so short, you must want some attention? 

Words spoken from a plantation mansion, 

still echo in the current White House it seems. 

Ignorance and privilege wrapped in a navy blue business suit. 

Knowing what is best for people who are different from their bland white bread. 

And yet never tasting the flavors of chipotle, 

saffron 

and cumin. 

Just salt and pepper please, 

but really, 

just salt. 

Why are you raising your voice? 

Does my intelligence upset you? 

Will you educate, placate, dominate and subjucate until I’m too weary to stand? 

No. 

You won’t. 

Why? 

Because I am a woman, 

a mother, 

an ally 

and a friend. 

While you are golfing, I am reading. 

While your wine chills, we are organizing. 

While you are playing the stock market, 

we are  lifting up difference – 

because it is beautiful. 

So, no thank you for your patriarchal oppression, 

your judgement and your hate. 

Your cages no longer apply to me, 

because I am a woman. 

A loud, 

educated, 

cooking with all of the spices, 

mama, 

and I am standing free. 

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Where do you want to go? 

It’s a regular Tuesday morning, time to get up and bustle kids to school. 

Facebook says the United States is still in a mess of arrogant power and injustice, with a side of hope by a growing group of truth speakers. People are protesting, marching and speaking up for truth. 

All of this can be discouraging today the least.

The question in my mind today is, “where do you want to go?” In this day, in life, on a walk. 

It can be so easy to feel stuck or just stop moving forward when outside concerns feel out of our control. 

And yet, we have the power to choose our own reaction to whatever life brings us. We can put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in the direction of our dreams.

Today, I choose to walk in the direction of love. I choose to bring peace with me into this day and pick up some joy and an extra helping of laughter along the way. 

I choose kindness and empowerment of my fellow walkers. I choose health for me, my family and the world. 

As I walk into this day, I am clear and focused on where I want to go. I will not be detoured or distracted by stress or injustice. I will stand in my power as a woman, daughter, and mother. I will walk with love. That is where I want to go today. 

Where do you want to go? 

You will not break me 

Today was a day full of challenges.

Rude privilege,

Entitlement, 

Disengagement.

Clouds,

Mishaps,

And traffic jams.

On top of all of it, 

After hours of work,  

And piles of paper, 

And messages from loves of  the past, 

I came home,

Made dinner for my three kids, 

And said gratitudes. 

I walked into the bathroom 

To put on my well earned pajamas,

Flushed the gift someone left in the toilet, 

And it overflowed, 

Everywhere. 

I have dealt with this before, 

But today, 

It 

Will. Not. Unclog.

Not after 15 minutes 

Or 30 minutes. 

In my half work and half pajamas, 

I fall on my bed,

In exhaustion and despair.

Where is someone, 

A partner,

When you need them? 

And then, I remembered, 

I have been through harder things. 

This sucks, 

And… 

It will not break me. 

I am made of tougher stuff than this. 

I am made of stardust, rose petals and laughter.

I come from generations of fierce warrior women.  

I will never allow, 

Anything, 

To break me. 

I imagine

I imagine

a world at peace.

Where people love and value each other.

Where we appreciate and embrace each other’s differences.

Where hope and kindness are commodities,

instead of hatred and fear.

Our country is grieving,

from the loss of innocent lives.

People targeted because of the color of their skin

or their choice of who they love.

How is that anyone’s business?

How is it that children are raised to hate instead of love?

In my life I will love openly,

and teach my children the same.

I will not cower in fear,

I will stand tall in love.

I will embrace openly,

expand in learning,

and build up,

not break down.

Join me,

open your heart,

wider than you imagine you can.

Imagine with me,

a world of love,

let’s create it,

together.

 

Fire in my Belly

Do you ever feel like there is just something you were born to do? Some issue, or problem to solve and that you are the one who was meant work on it?

Well I do. I am fired up about making the world a better place, for everyone. About creating a world with equity for all that builds our communities up and brings people together.

I wake up in the morning with this fire in my belly and it burns all day long. I am passionate and committed. I am creating a revolution, a caring movement that will bring people together in solidarity and kindness as we navigate this world called life.

I get that some people can be electricians, bankers and doctors and that is their calling. My mission is that of revolutionary kindness, of hope, and strength.

This sense is so powerful and strong that it is hard to slow down and relax sometimes. I feel like there is a lot to do and no time to waste. How do people go see movies, or drink beer when there are 1.2 billion people without water, countless domestic violence acts each day, and families living out of their cars. How can we rest when our neighbors, our brothers and sisters are aching?

I have work to do, to make this world a better place. We all do, some feel more strongly about it than others. Me? I’m fired up. 

I will walk in strength, surround myself with powerful advocates and live true to my values. So that someday when long gray hair waves down my back and my grandkids ask me if I lived a good life and made a difference in the world I can say, “Absolutely. And you can too.”

What are you passionate about?

A Day to Shine, Commencement 2016 

The day approached. Garment bags, unused since last year, unzipped and dusted off.  Regalia placed on the shoulders of the leaders of the institution. Tassels and hoods to honor achievement in academic excellence arrive in a rainbow of colors. We, the teachers and administrators, gathered in our finery to reminisce about a long, yet successful academic year. Bubbles flew skyward, umbrellas shielded us from the liquid sunshine of the moment.   

And then, we saw them approaching. The 1,700 students who will be receiving degrees on this commencement day. The 1,700 reasons we all do this work. Royal blue from head to toe, with honors cords and diversity scarves they walk, a little taller today.  

The bagpipes begin, in two lines we process on the field, find our places to stand on either sides of the aisle, the welcoming group to the class of 2016.  Led by our Dean of Student Engagement, the students walk onto the field to take their rightful place as graduates after many a long journey to this place.    

We are seated as our College President takes the stage. He announced the important people and speakers and then he paused. The week before in Orlando there was a mass shooting of 50 Latinx people at a LGBTQ nightclub. The President, member of that community felt this pain deeply. He read a poem he wrote the night before entitled “Feel our Pulse”. There was not a dry eye among us. As he finished speaking and the Bagpipes began to play Amazing Grace to honor the lives lost in this tragedy, the sun shone through the clouds for the first time. In fact, the clouds started to dissapate, and a rainbow appeared. It did not rain another drop all evening. 

Next, our student speaker was invited to the stage. This remarkable young man started as a running start/high school student in spite of his high school counselor telling him he shouldn’t go to college, the military was the right choice for him. Once at SPSCC, he became a peer mentor to help other students, he started the Black Student Union and coordinated many service projects to help out community. This compassionate young man is going pre-med. He wants to be a doctor for two reasons, 1 to show other African American youth that you can succeed in the medical field. And 2, he has watched his mother struggle with health issues his whole life, and he wants to be the one to cure her incurable disease. He spoke words of strength and wisdom to the crowd, an inspiration to us all and a friend to so many, this young man is our future. 

After his speech, the announcement of degrees started. Dental, business, nursing, humanities, art, welding, automotive, culinary and the list goes on. We are a community college, women carried their babies across the stage, at one point I heard a little girl say, “that’s my Grampa graduating”. We are the goregous rainbow of society and today was a day to see us shine.

As the last student walked across the stage, the class of 2016 was announced. The graduates, families and friends rejoiced. Hugs and bouquets of flowers filled field. As I watched the celebrations, I thought to myself Congratulations class of 2016, this is your day, from this moment you can do anything, spread your wings and FLY

  

The longest day in the world and the wall of love

I had seen this day coming on the calendar but I didn’t realize how full it was going to be.It started with attending a breakfast with 850 people and one former Seahawks player. I saw so many people I know and talked about all kinds of projects I am working on with them. I moved forward a trails project, a scholarship, a microloan fund and all before scrambled eggs, just by being in the same place at the same time with so many community members. photo: my coworker and I with Marcus Truphant

Because I left the house at 6:45am and didn’t sleep well the night before, I drove home and feel asleep for a 30 min powernap, it was genius. I called my mom on my way to the office, she was on her way to Chemotherapy and in good spirits, I told her how much my love surrounded her on this day and everyday. She is a fierce warrior on this journey called cancer, I am amazed by her strength and sense of victory, everyday.

I went to office, talked about scholarships and the amount we spend as an institution on diversity – $84,000 last year and a $30,000 increase from the previous year. Not bad but we have more to do to serve our underserved populations.

For lunch, my coworker and I went to a community partner lunch hosted by one of our local credit unions, they supports many community organizations. We sat with our friends from the YWCA, and GRUB and visited with Community Youth Services, United Way and many others. At lunch, the Executive Director for a local youth empowerment via gardening nonprofit and I drummed up plans for a veterans community garden on our property. This would both support our community by providing fresh food to our local food bank as well as supporting our veterans population in skillbuilding and therapy for PTSD. I can’t wait to see where that project goes!  photo: my coworker and I with credit union partners

The afternoon held meeting with one of my favorite tribal elders to create a project to support STEM learning and Native youth. This was followed by an interview for an open position on my team.

Right before the interview, I got a call from the school principal…. oh dear. It appears my sweet child got into an argument with a friend that turned into a pushing match, which turned into 2 days of suspension. My sweet son is a sensitive little guy, the world sometimes feels big and loud to my introverted dude. Should he push a friend because he was overwhelmed? No way.  I have never seen anything like this from him and it shows that we have some work to do to create new tools for his life toolbox. Needless to say, I was pretty shaken up.

Next we set up for our final Artist and Lecture Series VIP reception with 50 women community leaders. We drank wine, enjoyed North Indian cuisine provided by our culinary department and talked about the future for students and how we can make a strong pathway for their success.

 photo: another coworker and I at the VIP reception

I walked into my house around 8pm, tired and worried about my son. How was I going to talk to him about this, what if I didn’t do it right? I prayed for guidance. I turned the corner in my house and bam!! My friend and her husband had created a wall of love. There in front of my eyes were pictures of the kids and I all over the wall. Baby pictures, adventures, pictures of my mom and dad, it blew me away. I just stood there speechless with tears streaming down my eyes for what seemed like an eternity.Unbelievable.
 photo: the wall of love

As I went to sleep that night, I thanked God for the day and for the kind people that fill my life. Sometimes on days like this, I feel like I just give and give, and I love that don’t get me wrong. But this day, I got the feeling like good things do happen to those who pour their heart into loving the world.

I am so grateful for the longest day ever. The multi-faceted, community filled, overcoming challenges, and wall of love longest day ever. Thank you.

This day 

What is today meant for?

Is it laughter and giggles,

with small sweet people.

Is it music

that moves

your soul to dance.

Is it moving

through sorrow

one moment at a time.

Is it carrying that rock

a bit further up the hill.

Is it building

something new

or being there

for a friend.

Is it a restful day

or not.

Whatever it turns out to be,

may this day

hold you,

and may you know

that you are loved.

Love More, Fear Less 

Today I woke up annoyed. This doesn’t usually happen to me, I usually wake up grateful for the day and the blessings in my life.

Today I woke up so frustrated by another shooting in our country. This pattern is the craziest thing. If we had a disease that was killing people weekly across the county, we would be up in arms and funding research to solve the problem. Hello congress, we are at that point. 2,000 doctors told you yesterday that they need the ban on gun violence research lifted, do it. How does that harm anything? I guess it could piss off those who believe in the right to bare arms but at some point, regardless of political party, their constituents are going to demand that their neighbors stop getting killed.

Oh, that we could make decisions from a place of love instead of fear. If I could give congress a big blanket of love and say, “you’ve got this, protect our society, make decisions out of love”, I certainly would. I know it’s simplistic and silly but seriously, something has to change so that my kids have to do less active shooter drills. So that I don’t need to know what run, hide, fight means and need to promote that to my staff.

It seems like it boils down to this…

More love, less fear. Support for those that need it. Solutions so fewer people need support.

What will you do today to “be love” and be part of the solution?

Gratitude – Day 18 – Education

  

Today was “Education Day” for the Leadership Thurston County group I am fortunate to be part of. Each month, for a year, we tour different sectors of the community and learn how the operate. 

Now, I work in education so I thought I knew the landscape pretty well, I turns out I learned a ton on education day. 

We started at a college and then boarded a school bus (I haven’t done THAT in awhile) to visit the New Market Skills Center. New Market was amazing. It’s an alternative high school where you can focus getting your diploma and on a the trades such as, culinary, automotive, construction, etc. These students found traditional educational environments challenging or boring and at New Market they are excelling. 

From there we visited the robotics,  aeronautics, orchestra and community schools areas of a local high school. We met with the school’s student leadership, and inspiring group of young people.

Next we came back to our college, enjoyed an incredible lunch provided by our culinary staff/students and toured the campus. We visited out Diverity and Equity Center, Career Services, and Running Start programs, followed by a panel of college presidents who spoke about leadership and the challenges in education today. 

As I listened about the need for access to education for all, low income, underrepresented students, I was reminded why I do this work and why I love it. As a foundation director, I am doing just that, working on increasing access for students. Because truly, education is a bridge to prosperity and doing work what is meaningful, that you love and that pays a living wage. As I walked out after this marathon day, I felt reenergized and grateful to work in education. 

Today I am grateful for education, the doors it opens for everyone, the community of educators from early learning to college level who are passionate and committed to students and supporting them as they thrive.