Sound Bites, Instant Insults, and Double Agents

I have felt weighed down recently. Not necessarily by anything in particular, but by the world in general. Over the last few weeks I have found that it is more difficult to move beyond the negativity that seems to be causing the plague. Instead of shaking it off and moving forward, I find myself stuck in the quicksand. I’m baffled by it really.

It’s no secret that my little family is going through an unprecedented hardship. Justin has been through treatment protocols before, four to be exact, but never one as grandiose, and unpredictable as this. It’s taking a toll, on both of us, but sticking together has kept us both from surrendering to the circumstances. I always give myself a reality check when I find myself falling down the negativity rabbit hole, to identify the root cause. Wallowing in the depression that comes with this kind of medical issue is not productive, I can snap myself back to reality rather quickly. It’s that ability to snap out of it that makes me certain in the fact that the weight I’m feeling has little to do with our current norm.

I watch politics for fun, I engage in social media, I push the status quo in my professional career, the things that I do to find motivation are things that seem to be drowning in negativity.

I am looming near my capacity for the current presidential election. The absurdity of the things we spend our time talking about has reached an all time low. Instead of engaging in a dialog and sharing insight, we are listening to politicians, and I use that term loosely, point fingers at each other in an effort to illustrate who is the lesser of two evils. Pundits no longer have the ability to control their shock. Our legislative and judicial leaders are laying low until November 8th passes. In the age of social media, millennials, and instant gratification it seems an election that had the potential to engage record-breaking numbers of citizens has instead forced people to question if their voice actually matters. Unless, of course, they are able to use it from behind a computer screen and anonymous social media account.

We are constantly in touch with social media. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, people are getting their information in 140 characters or less. Feedback, opinions, and comebacks are instantaneous. Everyone’s an expert, and just like how every kid gets a participation trophy in baseball, everyone has the right to post their opinion on social media. No knowledge or understanding required. We have morphed into a society that fights by typing on keyboards or with our thumbs. We no longer have productive conversations, we yell at each other, in shouty capitals, refusing to accept that someone else may have a differing opinion. We refuse to recognize just how amazingly diverse our society can be. At some point, the constant information, communication, and ignorance becomes exhausting, and unnatural.

I consider myself a logical and strategic person. I have made a career for myself that is built on my ability to look at a situation, see the working pieces, and then articulate how we can use those pieces to build something new. I like to push the status quo, move beyond compliance and expectation, and reach for the next big idea. Sometimes that is a lonely place to operate from. Inevitably, someone will not be willing to look for the next big idea, and instead of embracing a new path, I find that I have to weave my way through the land mines that are created just to spite progress. I struggle with this daily. Not with the idea that some people cannot see the path, but that they refuse to open their eyes to look for it. Something that seems so clear and exciting to me, can be the worst-case scenario for others that don’t see the vision. That’s acceptable, unless an opposing super-secret task force is formed, aimed at blocking progress at every turn. The catch: the super-secret task force, is made up of individuals are also allies that are imperative to the success in finding the new path, I just don’t know it.

Absurd Presidential candidate sound bites, 140 character insults, and double agents. It’s surprising any of us have the energy to process our own lives, the things that actually matter.

every-time-you-are-tempted-to-in-the-same-old-way-ask-if-you-want-to-be-a-prisoner-of-the-past-or-a-pioneer-of-the-future

Gravity has been strong lately. The negativity is pulling me downward and I am trying to keep my head above water, grasping at the little things that help me move forward in positivity, rather than negativity. I strive to share these little things with you, in the hopes that they might help you too, whether you need it or not.

Today’s spark of positivity is brought to you by:

  • Nathan Reich’s album: All Night Pharmacy
  • A newly organized office, stocked with pictures that make me happy
  • A friend that made the last hour of the work day bearable
  • This TED Talk with Adam Grant 
  • The motivation to clean the kitchen, organize the living room, and sit down at the computer to write this post before going to bed.

Exploring Both Sides: The Montreal Pit Bull Ban

exploring-both-sidesI just spent the last six days with Bruno while Justin was out of town. He (Bruno) was recovering from bronchitis/kennel cough and had to stay home instead of spending time with his dog friends. I worked from home for two days, and spent my weekend in the house to monitor him and keep him company. At some point during our extended weekend together, I began reading about the pit bull ban in Montreal. The Montreal city council had passed legislation banning the adoption and breeding of “pit bull type” dogs. Those that already have the dogs would be able to keep them, after completing a registration process, sterilization, increased fees, and muzzling the dogs while they are out in public.

The legislation has now been suspended after an outpouring of concern and outrage from several organizations and citizens. Currently, under the suspension, pit bulls can continue to be adopted, and current owners do not have to abide by the added requirements.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am cuddled up with my 16 month old pit bull puppy as I write this. We are on the couch, he has his head resting on my thigh as he snores himself to sleep. He is part of my family, I worry about him when he’s by himself at home or looks like he might be sad or anxious, I get excited when he’s excited, and I plan my life around taking care of him. As hard as I might try, I cannot be completely unbiased on this topic. I love a pit bull, I recognize his facial features and personality in every picture I see of dogs of a similar breed. I even wrote an entire post about my relationship with this pooch. I can’t imagine my sweet, energetic, happy puppy being forced to be muzzled when out in public or, heaven forbid, being euthanized because it would have been illegal for him to be adopted in the first place. Never the less, I am struggling with defining my position as I empathize and understand several aspects of the issue.

The Montreal legislation was initiated after a woman was attacked by a pit bull, ultimately dying from injuries sustained in the incident. At this point it is unclear as to whether or not the dog was actually a pit bull, the claim has been disputed, not that it changes the fact that someone has died due to an attack.

If you read any of the hundreds of articles on the internet regarding the Montreal legislation, and look through the comment threads, you will find the majority of people blaming the owners of dogs. Not in the most respectful way, and most certainly not in the most grammatically correct way. Ever since adopting Bruno I have understood this logic, it has been my gut reaction – to not blame the dog, but the human that did not take the responsibility of owning the dog seriously. From the moment Justin and I decided to adopt Bruno, we were researching his breeds, strategizing on how we could best support his training, and manage his aggressive nature. I was scared. I had never had a dog before and quite frankly, was nervous about living with one. I automatically, before even meeting him, knew it was my responsibility to make sure Bruno could be a contributing member of dog-society. After a year of working with him and learning more about how dogs function, I am certain that any dog, if treated properly and trained to understand his place in the world, can function without falling into the aggressive stigma.

The human aspect of this issue is impossible to ignore though, you can’t deny that whether or not this dog was trained, it attacked someone. I’ve driven down streets that have dogs roaming aimlessly, seen dogs chained up for hours outside, effectively being ignored by their world. I understand that any dog can become aggressive and potentially dangerous given the right circumstances, and what is there for law makers to do to comfort communities of people that have been affected by such a horrific incident?

I’m not sure what the right or wrong answer is. I am not sure of anything other than I love my American Staffordshire Terrier and take full responsibility to make sure that his sweet demeanor stays that way.

 

A Tuesday Pep Talk

I’m a little down today. Coming off of the high of a good day on Monday, I am feeling a little defeated, like I am working too hard to be positive. It’s taking too much effort to remain in a positive place while going about my day. Today I’m going to be needy, I don’t like to need things, and hate when people put the responsibility on others to fulfill their expectations, but today I am needy. 

Today, I am going to need:

  • Good coffee, possibly with something sweet inside. 
  • Some healthy food. I am feeling like crap lately.
  • Seeing my people face-to-face. Email is not enough today. 
  • Comfy shoes. I am sick of my feet hurting. 
  • Laughs. Lots of laughs. 
  • Spurts of productivity, I want to hammer through my to-do list.
  • Continued confidence in my plan for moving forward with this program. 
  • A win. It can be small, but I need a win. 
  • My hair to not look crazy. 
  • The random aches in my back and thighs to subside. 
  • My ID badge to not strangle me. I hate that thing. 
  • Some inspiration. 
  • And just a pinch of kindness. 

I have control over most of this. Today it is up to me to push through and deliver for myself. Maybe I just need a pep talk, someone to remind me that I can get to the other side of the cloudiness. 

I may not be able to do this for myself today, but if you are in need of a Tuesday Pep Talk, allow me:

You can do this. Whatever you are facing is not permanent. You are strong, you are smart, you are talented. You will bust through walls, and through your tasks for the day. Take a few minutes to breath, to regroup and keep propelling forward. Eat something delicious, but also something healthy. Get the giggles with someone, cry if you need to, smile at someone you might not normally interact with. Set a goal, tackle a problem you’ve been procrastinating on. Today is your day and you are in control. Go do you. 

So what about you? What do you need today in order to feel successful on this Tuesday morning?

Chaos in the RNC

The Corner office (2)Beware, I’m writing on the fly this morning as I watch Morning Joe’s review of the opening night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. I have never seen any coverage for a convention before, unless you count President Bartlet or President Santos in The West Wing, but let’s assume you don’t.

I did not watch more than five minutes of the convention last night, I came in about an hour into it and quite frankly, I didn’t have much interest because I don’t understand the concept or  procedures. I knew it would be the entire focus for my pals on Morning Joe so I waited to get the commentary. What I’m gathering is the Convention was a shit show.

Coverage so far this morning includes interviews with people that were threatened with death for not supporting Trump, hypocritical statements in response to the biggest offense of all: Melania Trump’s speech that included a section that is almost verbatim of a speech that Michelle Obama made in 2008. Watching the video comparing the two speeches, I literally sat, stunned, with my mouth hanging open. It seems, Trump’s philosophy of not using speech writers or political advisors on his team is catching up to him. Today, no one is talking about his words, they are talking about hers (well, Michelle’s) and it’s not good.

Regardless of my feelings for either candidate, especially considering I wrote, just a couple of days ago about who I will be supporting, come November, the lack of political professionalism in this convention is staggering. I can’t imagine this is helping the legitimacy of his candidacy with the GOP. Everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, seem to be appalled by how this happened and that the response they received was that the observers and critics are “absurd”. Yikes.

The larger issue for this campaign, in my amateur opinion, is that Donald Trump continues to insist that he does not have to follow the norms of a presidential campaign. He states that his best advisor is himself, that he doesn’t need speech writers – or speeches for that matter, or traditional campaign structure. His continual dependence on his own skills has started to stall his progress. He got far by speaking directly to the people of our nation, but is now ignoring the other political operatives that he needs to push forward. The same people he will NEED in the event that he becomes President. He cannot lead alone. No one can.

There are three more days of the GOP COnvention, if this was the kick off, I can’t imagine how this will end.

 

We are Broken

Our world is under attack. It has been a heartbreaking first half of 2016 for most of the world, including the United States. For most of the year I have had no, or few, words to describe the unrest, the heartbreak, and the terror that has been taking over across the globe.

For the second Friday in a row, I have woken up to news of an overnight mass casualty attack, first in Dallas and now in Nice, France. Images of people, civilians, running for their lives away from terror have become the standard morning news backdrop. I can’t explain it, I can’t rationalize it, I can’t understand it, I’m scared.

Our country is in the process of beginning the final stages of a Presidential campaign, someone will inherit a new world, one that is continually broken and will be responsible for securing our safety  by creating and mending relationships across the world. The major issues in this impending general election campaign has shifted, foreign policy, national security, and immigration are going to move to the forefront for our two candidates.

For months I have been quiet about this campaign. I was disappointed about the turn that it had taken. While watching Donald Trump in the early stages of his candidacy, almost a year ago, was entertaining, but no one thought he would break through the GOP to the other side and solidify the nomination. No one. For the first time in my adult life, there was no democratic candidate that I was interested in supporting, I was lost and looking for someone I could trust to get things done as the next President of the United States, even if that meant I crossed the aisle to support a Republican. While the sixteen other Republican candidates were being plucked off one by one, Hillary and Bernie fought the good fight and, inevitably, regardless of the growing support for her opponent – Hillary came out on top. The worst case scenario had happened.

Defeated, I remained silent about the direction the race was taking. I continued my morning routine of watching Morning Joe, I stayed as connected as I could on social media so that I could find some relatable or redeeming quality for either of these people that will become our Commander in Chief. In the wake of the Bastille Day attack coverage, MSNBC played two clips, both from last night, each of our candidates responded to the horror that has taken place while most of us were sleeping. Donald Trump, as usual responded with his gut “the world has got to straighten up” – a blunt, but broad statement that, once again, showed he had no answers, no plans, and no idea what it takes to address this kind of tragedy across the world. Hillary responded with information, details on what is happening in Iraq, she helped the viewers understand.

No one will ever understand how or why attacks like these happen. No amount of words will ever rationalize this kind of terrorism or ease the fear in the human race. I can’t expect any candidate to have the solution to that, but I do expect that our next President has the ability to strengthen our relationships around the world to increase security and peace, for all of us. Hillary is the only one that will be able to do that.

For better or worse, these are our options. This morning, both candidates said “This is War” and they’re right. People are dying and there is no longer any time to humor Donald Trump. I may not like everything Hillary stands for, but I will not watch our world continue to fall apart and trust Donald Trump to put the pieces back together with his broad platitudes and stump speech buzzwords.

Starting today, I stand with her.

Throwback Thursday: The Lesser of Evils

Throwback ThursdayMy new morning routine consists of a cup of coffee, my laptop, and Morning Joe. It has been a good two months since I have been paying close attention to what is happening in our race for President. I can tell you, after watching Morning Joe for the last few weeks, nothing has changed. People are just more entrenched in their hatred for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, despite their climbing delegate counts. Pundits are having the same conversations, the same words but with more frustration, disbelief, and disappointment in their voices and faces.

In March I found myself writing about our political climate as I had several times before and ended up with my own personal rant about where this Presidential campaign is headed and, alas, here we are almost three months later and our situation hasn’t changed. We are moving forward with the Lesser of Evils.

Columbine

I have always had a fascination with forensics and crime. I really have no idea why, there’s no deep dark story that contributes to the reasoning behind my interest in understanding what makes people tick and do the things they do. So, when I stumbled across the book Columbine by David Cullen while browsing the aisles of Barnes & Noble last weekend I didn’t hesitate to pick it up.

I was fourteen when the Columbine massacre took place, old enough to remember and comprehend what happened but too young to really understand the impact that had on our country, that community, and how something so unbelievably tragic becomes spoken about in hushed tones for the rest of time. I imagine that even seeing the title of this post evoked some sort of physical or emotional response in you.

-I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People never know how far a little kindness can go.-Once I started reading I got sucked into not only the story, but also thinking about how the storm it created in the media both during and after April 20, 1999. It is a difficult story to read, I’m struggling with the emotional response that comes from reading the details of that day and the frustration that comes with learning about all of it 17 years later when really, nothing much has changed. Did we learn anything? Are we kinder to people that we encounter on a day to day basis? I don’t think so.

I knew as soon as I read the first chapter of Columbine that I would write about it, about the tragedy of it all but as I started looking for more information on the internet I became distracted by the amount of people capitalizing on this unspeakable killing of 13 people, the injury of 24 additional people, and the terrorism of hundreds of students and their families. People have sold t-shirts designed after what the killers had on during the massacre, pinterest boards are dedicated to admiration of the two teenage boys that executed the mass killing of their peers. It disgusted me. But, I suppose I contribute to it by reading a book that outlines every detail of that day and the aftermath that it caused.

As I am in the midst of participating in a challenge that forces me to look for the kindness around me, I can’t help but think that we aren’t kind enough to each other. Our automatic response to judge, to be negative, to poke at insecurities, and make people feel bad about themselves in order to boost our own confidence is weighing us all down. The world seems a little heavier when you think about it. Maybe Rachel Scott was right, maybe if we could show some compassion to those around us, it would start a chain reaction and create a more kind world.