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.

One of those days 

When someone says I’m having “one of those days” it seems like such a downer. I make an effort not to say it. I might think ” I’m having a moment” but it’s rare that it carries throughout the day. 

Today I woke up super tired. Yes, it was self inflicted because I stayed up to watch an episode of “Outlander”. I never have time for TV but for some reason last night I decided it was a great plan which led to 6 hours of sleep for a gal who needs 8+.

I woke up after the kids, the cream for my coffee was old, there where no more corn tortillas, so I had black coffee and spinach with eggs for breakfast.

I took all three kids to the dentist. I talked on the phone to several members of my team as the kids were getting their teeth brushed, “please cancel this meeting” and “please get that done by end of day”. The kids teeth looked great, they told us to keep up the flossing, which we don’t do but don’t tell anybody… 

I dropped off kid 1 with her bike, and kids 2 & 3 across town. I called my Dad on the road because he has a broken hand and I wanted to check in on him.

I pulled into a parking spot at the hospital and manuvered out of the passenger seat. Did I mention my driver’s side door stopped working? Anyways, it did. I grabbed my bag and locked the car. I walked away and realized that with the driver’s side door not working, even though I had the key, I couldn’t get back in. I was locked out. 

I walked to the surgical waiting room to wait for my mom’s procedure to be done. I visited with my step-dad and shed a few tears. The doctor came out and said she did great, he couldn’t really see where the Cancer was, but it was a good procedure. 

Mom was tired but in good spirits when I saw her. Being a blessing to the nurses as usual. We visited as she went in and out of sleep in recovery. When we thought we were done she was wheeled out, but it was too soon and we needed to go back and rest more until after awhile she went home to rest. 

I waited for the locksmith, nice guy, got in to my car, drove to the auto shop, and got a shuttle ride to the office.

I had a staff meeting, realized how behind I was, and worked until the shuttle came to get me and take me spend $400 to get my car fixed. 

I picked up a kid from choir, took him to baseball, met a colleague at baseball where she asked me questions for her interview this week. I ate cold scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast (not bad actually) while watching baseball. 

We drove home singing, got gas, cleaned out the car, packed for the overnight trip I forgot we had to pack for.

We opened our package from The Hunger Site, and delighted in our new “be the change” bracelets. We love the idea that when we buy something from them it helps feed those in need. I think we sent something like 200 cups of rice to families in need, so awesome.

So, I tucked in kids, did secret handshakes, called to check on my mom and now I’m ready for a much deserved rest. 

Some might say this was one of those days but honestly, it was just a day with many beautiful parts and a couple of bumps. 

As I go to sleep I can honestly say this was a full day, well lived and a day that holds much to be grateful for. Sweet dreams. 

The workout 

 Somedays in the life are just a workout. Today for example, I got three kids up, made breakfast, and took my daughter to school with her mountain bike in the van. Let me tell you, removing a bicycle from the inside of a minivan in heels is not the easiest thing ever.

I made it to work with oatmeal, coffee and oh yeah, that yogurt I forgot to eat. I was the first in the office and successfully opened the doors with hands full of breakfast, go me!

I went into a leadership meeting from 8:30 to 10:30, followed by an executive cabinet meeting with the president until noon. We walked to lunch, shared fries and salad with a coworker, stopped in on the Mardi Gras party.

Next, a meeting with veterans about scholarships, followed by a visit with the city manager about our new brewing and distilling project. Right before the board of trustees meeting, I got a call from school saying my kid had pushed another kid. Good times. 

The trustee meeting was 3 hours long with reports on diversity, student achievement, faculty and student leadership updates. I only saw 2 deans sleeping. 

As we finished, one of the trustees asked me to stay and talk with her. She sat me down and said she had heard about the illness my family member was dealing with. I was caught off guard, I didn’t tell her, who did? I have been trying to keep my work and personal life separate, so this reminded me that I need to clarify to the coworkers not to share that information.

I composed myself, drove home, and called my mom. When I walked in the house, chaos was an understatement. The boys were wrestling, my daughter was “trying” to do homework, our nanny had made bean burritos (thank goodness). We sat down at dinner and talked about our days. I got cool reports of an artist that visited today, the play and Spanish class. 

After dinner, I spent an hour talking to my son about using his words instead of pushing. We worked on the “when you… I feel… ” language, worked through feelings and talked about tools for success. When I was done with him, I talked to the other 2 individually. Good, family building, caring connections with these amazing growing human beings.

We listened to music, and then at bedtime I tucked them in, gave backrubs and told them each how much I love them. 

The thing is, this life of mine is a workout. I’m exhausted at the end of the day. But it’s a good exhausted, because I know  I helped kids grow today. I know I worked hard for a mission I believe in, loved boldly and sent love from my heart to those too far away to see. 

While I didn’t make it to the gym, I had a great workout today. I’m exhausted on a variety of levels and yet grateful to be a blessing in this day. 

Tomorrow I will wake up, enjoy my workout, and be very grateful for the opportunity. 

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?

Creating a healthy community. Let’s work together, right now. 

Today was “Goverment Day” for our Leadership Thurston County group. We were visited my mayors, commissioners and other elected officials. We toured the State Capitol via a personal tour by a state representative. It was inspiring to hear from these committed, passionate leaders – all working to make our community a better place.

The wheels in my brain were turning all day. We have this many inspiring people working on better social services, climate change and afforable housing, and that is tremendous. And… I wonder what would happen if we had more people helping or we all focused our efforts on one issue?

I’ve read studies on “collective impact” where exactly that happens, the community comes together and actually “solves” a community problem. As a lifetime social service worker, “solving” a problem is a mind-blowing concept. Examples of this do actually exist like the Road Map Project out of South King County and Changing the Odds Salt Lake City. I want to know how.

In our community, we have a number of initiatives attempting to bring the community together like Thurston Thrives as well as many jurisdictions and organizations striving to improve community conditions. And that is awesome, and complicated and…not fast enough. Not fast enough for the homeless veteran sleeping in a doorway, the domestic violence victim who doesn’t have a place to stay in our town, or the young person who is moving to the next foster home. It’s just not enough.

I don’t know how people can go to Black Friday and care about sporting events when one of us, in our community is out in the cold tonight.

Someone called me a passionate nerd tonight and I guess they are right. I am passionate about our community. Every religion I am aware of says we should care for others, the sick, the poor. How are we doing with that America?

Imagine what would happen if we put down the remote control, big mac or beer and instead spend that time or money on something that helps the world. Guess what, in an age when antidepressants are doled out like candy and we “connect” via social media, helping others is exactly the medicine our society needs.

So what’s the hold up? Why aren’t there more people outraged by the living conditions of our homeless families? Is it because we are so desensitized by the media, or cable TV? Is it because there is a “that’s their problem” mentality? Or are we just so overwhelmed by the pace of our society that we just don’t have the capacity to help another human being?

I don’t know. But you can bet I will keep asking the question until I do. And keep working on a solution until there are enough warm homes, adequate food and hope on ther hearts of our community. That is the vision I hold, share this vision with me.

Gratitude- Day 20 – Giving Back 

Our family has a tradition of volunteering in a variety of ways throughout the year. Some times we are bell ringers for The Salvation Army, other times we pull ivy at a local park. 

One of my favorite traditions is volunteering at the food bank the week before Thanksgiving. 

Today, we were all really tired from a long week. We defrosted the car anyways and went to volunteer. It turns out there are 600 volunteers in two locations today making 500 Thanksgiving boxes so that everyone can have a Happy Thanksgiving. 

We made an assembly line of green beans, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin and more. The kids jumped right in and got to work. As we filled the boxes, at one point my 13 year old daughter said, this is fun! 

We were done in record time because of all of the helping hands. 

On the way there and on the way home, we talked about how fortunate we are and that with that, we have a responsibly to give back. 

Today I am thankful for volunteers who pour their heart into giving back. And for this little slice of love shared from my family to others.

May everyone have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Gratitude – Day 19 – Faith

Today was one of those days. A day where at one point  I surrendered and asked for help.

It started with three tired kids and a tired mom. We were out late last night at a basketball practice and choir concert. 

All three of the kids had meltdowns about different things, leading me to braid hair, choose clothes for the day, find missing socks, etc. 

My daughter had volleyball after school and wanted to ride the city bus with her friends, so we navigated that. My boys were arguing in the way to school so we navigated that, and then got hot chocolate together to build some good positive time together. 

After I dropped everyone off, I ran from one meeting to the next while walking and responding to work emails and one from a teacher who had one of my kids crying at recess. I sat down to have lunch with some coworkers when the school called and my kid wasn’t feeling well. 

I picked up my lunch, grabbed my stuff, picked up my kid, canceled my 1pm meeting, drove across town, checked him out, tucked him in, made him 2 grilled cheese sandwiches, while calling my parents to ask if the could pick up the other kids because our babysitter texted that they have the stomach flu. 

I talked to our accountant while I snuggled my kiddo, preparing for the finance committee meeting in the afternoon and revisions of the operating budget. 

My kiddo was feeling better so I snuggled him in on the couch with books until Grama and sister got home and went back to work. 

As I drove away, my stomach was hurting, no doubt from stress. I bought a coffee and sipped it slowly as I drove to work. 

I parked the car and I just sat. I let the world, responsibilities, stress, challenges, etc all fade away for a moment and I said, “Dear God, I could use your help.”

I walked into work, had several meetings including the finance committee meeting with our investment company from Seattle, and they went beautifully. Great conversations, about complicated subjects and no stomach hurting. 

As I sent a couple of emails before I went home, my Dad texted and offered to bring over takeout, I said yes!

As I tuck myself into bed tonight, I am grateful for the miracle of today. I have no idea how it all worked out, but somehow it did. I am grateful for faith, and for knowing that grace is available to me anytime, I just have to remember to ask. Seriously, I am grateful for faith. 

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.