Please note before reading…
- I share some very personal information (at a very high level) because it is my experience and truth. It informs my perspectives on many things. Please do not pity me or ask me for details or anything else at this time. Thanks
- This is MY experience, MY perspective filled with so much of what is in my heart and soul as I move through everyday.
- I’m asking questions in the hope that it may lead people into seeing and learning from multiple perspectives. From a place of observation and/or neutrality.
- I didn’t edit thoroughly….so grammar and misspellings…yeah that is a thing when you are writing in the midst of 10 other things happening. I’m intentionally posting quickly in the hopes folks will read this before voting tomorrow. Not because it will change their vote…only in the hopes that it will provide an opportunity to ponder their choices.
Last year I was so diligent about and created space in my day to write first thing every morning. This past week has taught me that my resolve or abilities aren’t quite as ferociously strong as I would prefer. I’m reflecting on the fact that I have allowed my work to, once again, rule what I prioritize. I wonder if I will ever learn. I wonder if the need to make a $ to support my people will ever be something I can release. When your entire life is about surviving and you know nothing else, how could you ever make a different choice. As I write that sentence, I hear the answer. You make a different choice simply by choosing. Then walking that path. Changing that habit, the one that has burrowed a path in your soul is difficult though. Choosing is one thing…doing is another. My father left us for another woman when I was 2. My parents were divorced when I was 4. Many court battles for custody ensued over the years that followed. My father fighting my mother for custody. I just wanted to be with my mother. My father married the anti-Christ when I was 9. My grandfather tried to molest me around the same time, I freaked, and he failed. My mother married the anti-Christ’s doppelganger when I was 12. I was raped at 13 by a family friend in South Africa. My step-grandfather tried to molest me around the age of 14. At 15 I told both of my parents I was done with them arguing through me and at 17 my mother died in my arms. My step-monster kicked me out of the house 1.5 months later and kept every possession I had in the world. My car, my clothes, my retainers for my teeth, my toothbrush. I had him arrested so I could try to get some of my things back. My mother left him everything with the agreement he would take care of ensuring I got my degree and was setup to create the rest of my life. He was a psycho fucker and that didn’t happen. My father disowned me at 19 and then I was homeless and living out of my car. I worked three jobs to make ends meet when I was 20 and I just kept making it work. At 23, when visiting South Africa, my 3 uncles talked my father into paying for my tuition so I could finish my degree. They were told I was difficult and disrespectful, then my one uncle realized I wasn’t at all what they said I was. At 24 I found out I was pregnant. I was freaked out. The gene donor told me within 15 min of hearing I was pregnant that he didn’t want me to have the baby. I finally was back in school and getting some financial support for my education. My Christian and Muslim families were not going to be pleased in any way. Thank god for my survival instinct, for my stubbornness and my tenacity. For knowing the universe would meet me in my highest good and guide me. The responses to my pregnancy were not all horrible but things like “we never expected that from you” felt devastating on so many emotional levels. The story goes on, but I won’t do it all here.
Life. Survival. Minutes. Hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Years.
They go by. They form us. We don’t even know that it is happening. We struggle, we stroll, we strive and we keep walking.
The past few weeks I’ve been trying to volunteer some time to support my chosen presidential candidate in the current election cycle. It has felt like a roller coaster ride considering the time of year. Saturday marked the 2 years since Mikaela was admitted to the ER. Those days were petrifying and filled with inexplicable emotions for us all. Something inside of me keeps pushing me, in a way I cannot ignore. Trust me, I would LOVE to ignore it and do nothing but hide away at home and write while listening to music or just binge watch TV. Yet this voice, her voice, is so loud it doesn’t quiet unless I’m doing what it is urging. What it asks of me is something that is super uncomfortable, can be very unpleasant and at times very rewarding. I always want to honor others beliefs and choices. I’ve had enough of others beliefs forced on me in this lifetime that it feels disingenuous to start forcing my beliefs on others at this juncture. So for days…well the past few weeks I have sat with this pit in my stomach. This confusion in my head. This pain in my heart. Honestly, more than anything, I am also walking with a huge fear of what the future will hold. Not for me but for my son. For his friends and their futures and the futures of their children and theirs, if they exist, beyond that. I’m clear there is no simple, promised path to get us out of this mess as a country and planet. I also don’t believe there is an either or choice that we need to make. I always try to remember that we can insert an ‘and’ because we all have choice. Choice to stand up, speak up, fight, be quiet, listen, be.
I’m blown away by the responses I have received from so many when talking about this election cycle and the candidates. The differences in opinion between people my age and older vs. the young crowd. Mind you, there are folks in both those generations that also share similar beliefs to me. It brings me to ponder the backgrounds of the people I’m talking with. What have their lives been like? What is their current financial situation? What has the world brought to their doorstep to mold their beliefs. This is why I shared what I did at the start of this story. I’m a survivor. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck almost my entire life and I will be the first to tell you I’m blessed to make a decent living these days. I’m definitely the most ‘comfortable’ I have ever been financially, and I am deeply grateful for this. It has also been a long, hard fight and at any moment, as a consultant, this can be taken away from me and I could plunge back into the challenges of not enough to cover the basics. I don’t have savings put away and very little in my retirement plan. It wasn’t due to poor planning or some failing on my side to be frugal and not think about how to put away money. It was due to choices we made and the job and income I was able to earn. We chose for Sean to stay home vs. go out and get a job. A job would pay enough for daycare and barely much more so why wouldn’t we invest our time in our children vs. a job to pay someone else to raise our kids. We chose clean food to ensure our children’s bodies were not fed a mass amount of chemicals and processed garbage. That all costs more. We invested in their primary school education and other programs to help bring them a well rounded education and a sweet childhood that honored them in being children. We made those choices and did without many other things because those were OUR priorities for OUR people.
What am I getting at you are likely wondering?
How and why do people believe what they do? One woman, when I was making phone calls for my candidate, literally heard his name and yelled OH NO and hung up. Many door knocks and phone calls were met with “I’m not interested.” Pray tell…what are you not interested in? Then others were very kind to share their chosen candidate and if it wasn’t the one, I was calling about, I simply thanked them for voting and wished them a wonderful rest of their day. Civilized, respectful, thank you for your time. How hard was that? As I talked to the ‘big kids’ last night after our phone canvassing, I reminded them, and myself, that how we show up with kindness and decency is a reflection of ourselves and the person we are supporting. If we are to truly be our best selves, we must show up in that way regardless of who others throw our way. In life, there are people who act nobly and others who act atrociously. It doesn’t matter who you are supporting, that is human nature in my opinion. So when one candidate bashes the supporters of another candidate, as grandma always said, my dear there are still three fingers pointing back at you. It isn’t about…because you support this person…your propensity for poor behavior is higher and it is all your candidates’ fault. Seriously, the people running, besides the orange clown, are doing a job that they chose to step into. One fraught with challenges and issues due to the allowance of corporate and billionaire money being allowed to flow with abundance into our political system.
I digress. Here is what I wonder. Simple yes or no questions for you to answer for yourself.
- Do you want the earth to survive in a way that it can continue to sustain human life?
- Do you believe that all people in this country should have access to healthcare regardless of whether they can afford it or not? Medical needs met? Mental health? Dental health? Eyecare?
- Do you want our children to be able to partake in higher education without coming out of school with a mountain of debt? Behind the eight ball and slave to ‘the man’ before they have even launched their lives.
- Do you want fair wages for all?
- Are you okay with the fact that so many people are unable to support themselves and their families even if they work 2 or 3 jobs?
- Is it okay for large corporations to not pay taxes while they don’t even provide basic benefits for their workers. The likes of Wal-Mart and Amazon having employees that are on welfare?
- Is it okay for non-white’s to be discriminated against for their color? Should a black or brown person have to fear for their lives in more situations than we can count? Women? LGBTQIA?
- Are we okay with the extreme wealth disparity in this country? That there is a dwindling middle class (almost non-existent) and the number of poor keeps growing and growing?
- Is it okay to detain immigrants in conditions that are worse than our prisons? Many of these people are here trying to escape far worse fates in their home country.
- Is it okay for corporations to profit from the detention of human beings?
- Is it okay for the government to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body?
- Is it okay that corporations and billionaires are running our elections & our government officials?
So where do we go from here?
You may read this and see me as someone who is fighting you because I don’t support your candidate. I’m not fighting you. I’m choosing the person who I feel, through extensive reading and research, could do the best job of tackling these issues. The person that I see who has unwaveringly stood by the same issues year over year. When their stand has changed, they have answered the question directly vs. blocking and tackling to another answer. My gut, the one most of society tells us not to listen to, in addition to the knowledge I have gathered…that is what makes me choose this person again. Like my child and I did in 2016.
That is all. That is everything. I’m watching the mass media storylines. All media we experience in the ’mainstream’ is owned by a couple of conglomerates, a few people. I’m reading books and articles (noting the sources of the writing in each case) and looking at the plans and information. I’m looking at the history. I’m following the money. You can run a search on details around concentration of media ownership and find a few items that make for interesting reading. Be warned, this type of reading is DRY and feels very defeating at times. Here is a pretty picture to make the point.
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I hear these arguments/responses…
- My vote doesn’t matter, or I do not agree with the system so I won’t vote.
- I won’t vote because I have to check a box for a party, even if that doesn’t mark you in any system as being affiliated with said party.
- I’m going to vote for the person who will beat the clown.
- (I’m with you and I also want to vote on issues that help the betterment of the earth, humans and the space and place I call home)
- I’m going to vote for who the party supports.
- I won’t vote for a communist/socialist/’insert label meant as derogatory here’.
- So and so cannot make a difference, how will they enact change with the opposite party holding majority in the Senate? Or They won’t be able to get anything done.
- This person is too far left and will not be able to get anything done.
- This person is too old. (Ha I haven’t heard that one in the past two weeks at least)
- I don’t like the way this person speaks and rants in their speeches. (Maybe it is passion)
- I’m a lifelong Democrat and will only vote with my party.
- I’m a moderate so won’t support a candidate who is left. (Left, Right and moderate seem has shifted over the decades. Please share what moderate means to you)
- I want to see a woman in office. (btw so do I)
- I’ll support anyone who gets the democratic party nomination. This person isn’t my choice to vote for in the primary.
- They don’t have a plan.
What I rarely hear are the arguments against the issues that I asked earlier in this article. When we do dig into those topics? When do simply focus on what we care most about and how we work together to make those things a reality? More of us want to see these major issues addressed than not. So why are we still so divided. Why does the bad behavior always get pointed out by the few, on all sides, that act like idiots? Why can’t we sit down, see and discuss our commonalities. What we want for our future and more importantly the future of our children and the younger generation? My neighbor and a person I consider a dear friend who has been a precious support these past two years…he belongs to a party I have never supported. I’ve always been a registered independent. I’d say I’m pretty darn liberal and he is more conservative. Yet, we have the most AWESOME discussions about politics. Maybe because he is a really good listener…lol…but he has also pushed back on me. I have answers and opinions. That isn’t the point. The point is we TALK. Funny enough, we agree on more than we don’t. Had we come into it with the labels, we may have never gotten to this point where I treasure his opinions and thoughts and consider him a teacher on so many levels.
The media divides us. This is how the rich few (aka Billionaires and Corporations) manage the masses. By turning us against each other, they can rule and manage us. By giving us subpar education, the majority hasn’t been taught to critically think and question. That way we don’t dig deep into the verbiage used in the news. We miss the subtleties of bias masquerading as news. Not just on TV but also in our major newspapers. We are so distracted that we don’t have time to dig deep. Dig beyond the sound bites and headlines. We are so busy trying to survive and take care of our people, the elections become noise in the background. Until something major strikes. Until our world is turned upside down. Even then, do we pick our heads up and look around and really SEE the world around us?
Common human values. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In reviewing this again, it seems like A LOT of people are stuck in the ‘safety’ part of this pyramid. To get to self-actualization these days seems like a luxury few have the opportunity to reach.
The people most challenged in moving up this pyramid is the minority population. As I write that, I realize, I am referencing non-white individuals. Yet there are so many white poor too, so many across all races, religions, genders, etc. challenged. So many people who have very little if any time to dig into the details and facts. There are a million reasons for it. I have been one of those people who didn’t pay attention or dig in up until the 2016 election. The truth, I saw Mikaela’s passion and we had so many discussions, that I couldn’t stay at the high level surface of it all any longer.
The 2008 bubble bursting coincided with me realizing, in the depth of my being, that the American dream no longer exists. The goals and dreams were all a big bust. My mother stayed in this country to give me a better life. I’m grateful to her for that because the struggles would have looked different had we gone back to South Africa. At the same time, I was always taught you can do and be anything you put your mind to. Your mind and sheer will alone doesn’t change the huge hurdles that exist around every corner. First you are simply trying to keep your people fed and safe. Then, if you work hard enough you may ‘make enough’ to buy a home to help ensure you keep a roof over your family’s head. We lived in our 32 foot Airstream for two years so I could pay down my college debt enough to try and purchase a home. (I cannot begin to get into the comments and snarky perspectives that were shared with me at work about my chosen living situation…that is another post for another day) That is where shit went south for us. We bought a house, signed the papers just as the bubble was bursting. Then the interest rate on CC’s went sky high. Then the crappy mortgage we were sold required that we begin paying back the interest, oh and those rates went up too because we carried a first and second mortgage with interest only for the first 5 years. The income that was finally covering everything…got sucked away by the banks. The same bank my tax dollars helped to bail out. The same banks that lobbied to repeal parts of the Glass-Steagall Act (which was part of the Banking Act of 1933 put in place to help prevent bank failures after the first years of the Great Depression) and was supported by Bill Clinton. This is my #1 reason for hating the Clintons. There are other reasons but for this writing we will leave it here. We were forced to short sell our home. We couldn’t afford it anymore. The first and only home we had ever bought. Part of achieving my ‘American dream.’ The kicker of this situation was that I felt deep shame. Like I had done something wrong. If I told people, they would judge ME for making a bad decision. How messed up is that?!?!?
This is only one of many examples of how the system is not setup for the majority. This is one of many reasons I am writing this post.
I was also a recipient of social welfare programs when I was in college. I was a single mother and though my father paid for my college tuition for short while eventually he asked me to take out loans and pay for my own school. He sent me enough money for 1 person to live a very lean life (rent in low income housing and required sundry items). I took out student loans to cover school and living expenses of raising a baby as a single parent. Thankfully due to my lack of income, I qualified for food stamps and the low-income housing. I will never forget when I had to buy a newer reliable car (I drove an hour each way to school 3-5 days a week) the car’s worth put me over the limit to qualify for food stamps. Mind you this was a USED car and wasn’t that nice…it was just reliable. I freaked out because I needed the food stamps to feed us. My social worker (a black woman) was amazing and explained that her daughter was in the same position. She was going to help me get through it and ensure I still had food, etc. She helped bend the rules a bit so I could keep getting the support I needed.
At this point someone is reading this and saying, well you chose to have a child so that is your issue. Yup. You are right. It was my issue and it was my choice. If you have ever read anything that I have written previously, you will know that Mikaela saved my life. After my mother died, I was circling the drain and getting pregnant with her is what drove me to turn my life around. Between 1994-2000 it was the sole driver for me to create a life and strive to become a positive contributor to society. The social programs in place were what helped me along with my amazing grandparents. They endless flow of love and support carried me in those times, well really for the majority of my life.
Social Security and Medicare are also social programs. According to the History.com site, the Social Security Act was signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as a ‘federal safety net for elderly, unemployed and disadvantage Americans.” In 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law as a health insurance program for elderly Americans. “Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress.”
Without Social Security and Medicare, my grandparents could not have survived in the years that followed my grandfather’s early retirement. It was a simple and lean life supported by their youngest daughter primarily and the rest of the family as everyone was able. I wonder what would have happened to them had it not been for these programs? Would my children have ever met two out of three of the most precious human beings in my life?
As I watch my 17-year-old son step closer to his high school graduation I am left pondering and planning again. Knowing that, through my deep belief for a solid foundation in primary school education, I have already spent a 4-year college education amount of money on both my children. Mikaela was at a Waldorf school for 6 years. Thankfully due to my lower income we qualified for some amount of scholarship and I had some family assistance. Primarily I sold my company stock (part of my yearly compensation) to cover tuition each year. For Keenaan, it was 3 years of middle school, full tuition that totaled over 60k when he graduated from 8th grade. Again, thanks to stock and some family assistance…he was setup with the foundation that I see serving him daily. I have been deeply blessed to be able to have the opportunity to make this choice for my children and their education.
When Mikaela was accepted to UW she was concerned about how we would cover her tuition yearly. I promised her that I would do all I could, taking on as much extra work as possible, to cover the majority of her tuition costs. She would still need to work to cover her basic expenses, but I would cover the lions share along with whatever scholarships she could get. For law school, we would have to work together to take out loans and find options to help her manage the costs. I wish I was still helping her with this because the alternate option has been horrible. What I wouldn’t give to work those hours again if it meant she was here and still in school, focused on making this world a better place for those less fortunate than her.
For Keenaan the challenge is our environment and the expectations of living in a place where there is A LOT of wealth all around us. Where few have to worry about what college tuition costs look like anywhere the child chooses to go and gets accepted. Bless those families and people but they are not the majority in this country. Now my job as a parent is to help kindly, lovingly, strongly remind my son of what we come from, where I stand financially and what I can do to help him ensure the best education possible without him graduating with so much debt he may not be able to cover his basic needs (the first 2 levels of Maslow’s hierarchy). It will depend on what he studies. He may not be able to follow the things he is most passionate about because the huge disparity between the cost to get that education and what he can make to payback those loans will be diametrically opposed. Breaks my heart. That security and happiness have so many dependencies on money.
I’ve heard people joke that if you choose a job that helps other but doesn’t make you enough to cover the basics, you just need to try and marry rich. I realize it is a joke, I’m hoping as you read this you can see why that isn’t funny.
I learned so much from my years working in a big corporation. It was the best education and bonus, I got paid to receive it. It was also broke me down over and over again. That education required me to keep digging into my soul and unearthing my true self. I met amazing people and horrible people and everything in between. I also learned I could never ‘do enough’ and every time I felt like I was ‘on top’ of all the work that I had to complete, someone higher up than me was piling on more. The 50-hour weeks (regardless of my efficiency in getting things done) slowly creeped to be more. 40 hours of meetings and then an extra 20+ a week just to try and do the work. All of that robbed me of time with my family. Time I felt I had to take away from them to make a living to support them. It reduced the time I had with Mikaela, never thinking that I would be here and she would no longer be in this world. I didn’t know. I thought I was, once again, doing all I could to provide for my people and give them the best life possible. Meeting their physiological and safety needs. I also tried to do all I could to ensure the top three categories in the hierarchy were covered. Love/Belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Perhaps my strong personality allowed for me to drive some of those pieces home faster. Who knows? I can tell you I totally and completely regret all those hours away from my babies. In return for working my butt off daily for over 17 years, the heinous, denigrating and outright mean emotional abuse of a male manager drove me to a nervous breakdown. I’m thankful to know he no longer is at the company but it just allows him to go elsewhere and be poorly behaved in other places. I don’t believe there is any such thing as a work/life balance for a full time working mother, the primary provider, still wanting to be fully present as a mother for her children. The only way balance might be possible is if you have the money to pay someone to do all the little and medium sized tasks.
Today I hear people talk about their workload (in their corporate jobs) and I’m floored. I see the stress; I feel the anxiety and angst. I also get to experience the crap that rolls down hill from their management to them and so on. This is not unique to one company. This is the story I hear repeatedly from so many people. The never enough, not good enough, always more paradigm. If a person wants to be successful, the priority must be work. So few work to live and so many live to work. It adds another layer of misery and exhaustion to the equation. It keeps so many of us distracted from looking below the surface of the noise all around us via news, social media, etc.
Are you happy?
Are the people you love happy?
How high up the hierarchy of needs are you? How about those that you love?
If you are in the Millennial or Gen Z generations, how do you feel about your future?
If you are in the Baby Boomer or Gen X generations, do you think those younger generations are setup for success? What do you think their lives will look like?
Are you talking to your neighbors and to others in your community, not just in your immediate comfort zone of family and friends? Are you engaging in the harder conversations?
Are you listening?
Are you critically questioning and seeking the answers in facts and data?
They are all questions to ponder. Questions to dig deep within ourselves? To reflect on and learn. To reflect on our own lives and learn.
I’m an immigrant that was brought to this country by my mother when I was 2 months old. I was naturalized at 7. I love this country because it is my home. I have known no other, even though I went to South Africa every two years growing up. I hate that this country is no longer a bastion of hope and potential for so many who choose to uproot their entire lives to come here (if they can even get in). If you are not the indigenous people of this land, at some point in your history (far or near) you or one of your previous people traveled to this land and settled. You are descendent from immigrants. Less you forget.
The American dream is dead and has been for many decades. That racism and hate run rampant at all levels and layers. I hate that equal education is not available to everyone and if a person is sick most cannot afford to go to the doctor. I hate that most people in this country are not even able to meet their most basic physiological and safety needs. In the richest country in the history of this world, children starve, women are still sub-class citizens with a slow erosion of laws that remove our choices, that white privilege is still met with anger by almost every white man I meet (not all…but most have a visceral reaction regardless of how awesome they are), that a huge number of our population cannot afford to go to the doctor (even if they have healthcare), recent immigrants are treated as sub-par individuals in our society as are people of color and those who do not have means. I hate most of all that I fear for my brown child. That if this election doesn’t change the leadership of this country, it will be time for us to leave because we won’t be safe. I’m not be an extremist or even anything close to that. History tells a tale that we must heed. We must look, listen and learn to see the quiet parallels that nobody is drawing attention to. We must talk. We must listen. We must seek our commonalities…our shared human values.
I’m not texting or calling or knocking on doors because it is fun and I LOVE doing it. I don’t. I’m doing it because I want to be part of the solution. I want to be active in this privilege that so many take for granted. I want to fight for the people who are being marginalized and can’t even submit their vote because the higher powers creating structures to allow voter suppression. It won’t change if we stand quietly by. It can’t change if we all just wait to see what happens. If people don’t cast their vote and ensure they are educated well in what they are voting for. Not listening to a lot of people’s opinions which simply mimic the few billionaires who manage the talk track.
The time is upon us, we are the ones the world has been waiting for. We must know our neighbors, talk and listen and learn. Teach and share and try. It won’t work with everyone. I get that. The solutions are not EITHER/OR…there is and can be an AND in the statements. I have fought like hell and busted my ass to get where I am. I’m imperfect in a million ways but I try and I love fiercely.
If I can do this. Against so many odds, I know people who are living this life against even bigger odds. They inspire me. They remind me of all I have to be grateful for. They teach me that we are all worth rising up and fighting for.
May you cast your vote focusing on the issues that can help us all. Not just the few.
May you smile at all the people you meet and give a little hello.
May the light of your soul be lit up by the beauty around you even when it is weary from the ugliness that is flying around.
Give yourself the day off or even just the afternoon. Meet with a person who you respect and adore. Ask them the hard questions. Practice and it will get easier.
I love you. I send you kindness and grace and light as you walk through these days. I think you for reading this and taking time to ponder.
I dedicate this to my children and the children of my soul families that I love so….
My girl, my boy, my adopted girl A.G., Tahan and Farah, my teenage and adult nieces and nephews, sweet little Valenza, Margo, Ned and Wilf, my children’s friends who are such a gift in my life, Bob and so many others who I have had the honor of watching grow or just starting down that path.
I want to thank my elders for their teachings from the past and today. Blessings to my dear friend Pat who listens to me patiently and with such loving kindness as I bounce all over the place in my verbal processing.