Planting seeds

They are always watching. 

Are we planting seeds of compassion and kindness? Of patience and perseverance? Of confidence and work ethic? Of love and inclusion? 

They will grow into what they’re surrounded by and nurtured with now. We’re doing our best to model love and light. And not mess them up too badly. 

I hope they get my love of books and their Dad’s dance skills. I hope they look for beauty but also learn to sit with sadness. I hope they’re quick to share a laugh. I hope they chase whatever makes them happy and are kind along the way. I hope they always know our family is home, that there will always be a place for them, and that they are deeply, irrevocably, and unconditionally loved.

Gratitude

We’ve had a lot of snow, wind, rain, and general grayness going on in Northeast Ohio the past two weeks.

I’m impatient for the weather to turn. For the sun to stay and the breeze to shift from cold to warm.

When we’ve had a warm day pop up during the stay-at-home order, we’ve taken long walks through the neighborhood, gone on “nature walks” in the yard (the kids each carry a bucket and fill it with whatever they come across), played with chalk, rode bikes and cozy coupes, kicked a ball, dug for worms… we have filled hours of our day being outside. And we were all happier for it.

As the weather has kept us inside in addition to being at home, it’s been an active effort to shift to gratitude.

When you can’t control the circumstances of your life, it’s easy to focus on what is not going the you want it to: work is different, school won’t resume, you can’t go out to eat, to the library, to browse at a store, to meet a friend for coffee, to the gym… really, the goings-on of life have been put on hold and there are no distractions at the ready. We’re being forced to sit with these circumstances.

And in doing so, it is easier to feel trapped than thankful, to look at what’s wrong instead of what’s right, and to look inward at our unhappiness instead of outward with gratitude.

Make the effort. Look outward. Claim small victories. It may be cold, and snowing, and gray outside—you can’t control that. But, you can control where you shift your gaze, what you let your thoughts rest on. Choose the things that are going right.

Shout-out to a decent guy who picked up these tulips with an antibiotic prescription earlier this week. Gratitude.

Shelved


Last month I had an op-ed featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.


Three weeks ago, I finished writing a new op-ed. 


Today, that document continues to sit on my desktop. 


I haven’t submitted it anywhere. And while I know the subject is important and needs to be discussed, it is no longer a priority. 


The world has turned upside down. In jarring ways, perspectives have been opened. 
Routines, careers, passions, relationships and ideas have been put on hold. Shelved, to shift energies and efforts toward survival. Rightfully so. 


But that does not mean those routines, careers, passions, relationships and ideas are not meaningful, worthwhile or valuable. 


I hope, dearly, that we can see it through to the other side of this unthinkable with as little loss of life as possible. 


That is priority number one. 


And I also hope that the routines, careers, passions, relationships and ideas that have been paused can re-emerge more thoughtful and powerful than before.

I’m a mom, feminist, and fan of J. Lo and Shakira’s Super Bowl halftime show

The Super Bowl is broadcast in over 130 countries in 30 languages. Viewership estimates for the 2020 game range between 99.9 and 102 million, making it the tenth most watched game in Super Bowl history. With that many people tuning in around the globe and so many brands using it as a platform to promote their products and services, it is undeniably a cultural touchpoint.

Fox reports that 103 million tuned in for the 2020 halftime show—over a million more than actually watched the game.

My husband and I recorded the game with plans to start watching as soon as we got our two-year-old and three-year-old to bed for the night. We finally turned it on around 8 p.m. but by 9 p.m. I was so tired, I went to bed. 

When I woke up the next day I immediately saw online chatter of the halftime show and as the morning went on I heard more from parents in our community. 

Parents who watched with their kids or hosted watch parties for their children and their friends were left flabbergasted during the performance. Do we turn it off? Let it play? Valid questions for any parent to have, especially if children other than their own were in the house.

I finally got a chance late Monday afternoon to watch the show. Initial takeaway? I liked it. As the day and week went on, I read articles pushing for a parental warning for future halftime shows, listened to Alt.Latino radio unpack the show, and discussed it with friends and family. 

While a warning or rating can, of course, help a parent decide whether or not to let their children watch the halftime show in their own home, it won’t prevent school-aged kids from hearing about it the next morning at school, at a practice the next afternoon, or seeing it on YouTube or news loops for the next week. With 103 million people seeing the show in real time, it’s going to be talked about. 

When Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” occurred in 2004 I remember it being the talk of the high school halls the next day. I did not watch the halftime show that year (I’d, once again, gone to bed early). But, in 2004 our high school selves didn’t even have our Motorola Razrs yet (they didn’t hit the market until the third quarter of that year). So, the wardrobe malfunction was largely contained. It wasn’t at our fingertips to search, pull up, and watch and discuss among our peers. Today, the average age at which a child receives their first internet-enabled cell phone is 10. Even if your child does not have a cell phone, they likely have a peer in a class or practice who does. The halftime show is accessible long after the game is over and when parents won’t be there to police it.

As a parent, I would rather have my children watch the halftime show with me. Where I can guide the conversation, provide context, and answer questions they might have.

Sure, there were elements of the show I wouldn’t have chosen to have performed exactly as-is, but it wasn’t my show to choreograph. And that is a lesson in and of itself: the artist gets to decide the scope of a performance, not the audience. 

Ultimately, J.Lo and Shakira’s halftime show was a performance of empowerment. It was a celebration of culture and women. A championing of career. A call to be who you are, unapologetically.

Songs from across their decades-long careers were included in the mash-up and cultural nods were peppered throughout the performance. Shakira’s widely-memed tongue-flicking is an act of celebration in Lebanese culture called zaghrouta. Their clothing and dancing echoed carnival celebrations throughout Latin America (also already seen by and introduced to any kid who has watched the animated children’s movie Rio). This attire also was not new or atypical for Shakira and J. Lo performances. A concerned parent can do a quick search on announced performers and see previous shows. And as far as a “family-friendly” expectation for the Super Bowl goes, I’d be curious as to know whether parents are discussing the rap sheets of some of the athletes competing in the NFL (past and present). And bottom-line? Women can wear what they want. 

Shakira and J. Lo are two of the most-recognized Latinas in the U.S. and yet xenophobic Americans still only want to view them through a specific lens—a belief that J. Lo and Shakira should only perform in ways that Americans deem to be “appropriate” or “acceptable.”

When J. Lo brought her daughter on stage, started with Springsteen’s Born in the USA, and launched into Let’s Get Loud, I got chills. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s performance is ushering in the next-generation of Americans to a more accepting society. A place where what you wear, where you come from, and what your gender or sexuality is, does not dictate what you accomplish or who you become. 

This was a performance about being you–with pride, of not forcing yourself to fit into someone else’s prescribed notions or expectations for their comfort. All things I want to teach my children (along with discussing the elements of the show I could’ve done without) when they’re old enough to stay up for the halftime show, and I can stay awake long enough for it too.

So, yes. Let’s get loud. 

Not now doesn’t mean not ever

Raising a two-year-old and three-year-old, we talk a lot about patience in our house. Usually hourly. They want a juice box, the toy the other one is playing with, to watch a show. It’s not the commonplace things they have trouble waiting for, but those that are special, exciting. A treat.  

We talk about waiting our turn: “you will get it, but not yet.” We talk about asking nicely and not whining. And we expect that one day this will all click and we will no longer need to have these conversations. 

But last night I realized I probably need to be having these conversations with myself. 

Why do we expect toddlers to wait patiently when we still haven’t seemed to have mastered this skill as adults?

Sure, by the time we’re adults we’ve learned to wait for our food at restaurants, for our turn in line at the BMV, and even for the weekend–all of which are commonplace things. But what about the bigger items? Those that are special, exciting. A treat.

An essay I wrote was accepted for publication last month. Which was exciting at first but the longer I’ve had to wait to see it in print, the more restless I’ve become.  

This kind of impatience isn’t just contained to career. Some of us could be waiting on friendships, test results, perceived milestones for ourselves or our children, a home. 

In the face of rejection and silence it can be easy to believe that this is how it will always be—especially when the disappointments stack up. We forget, just because something isn’t happening right now, doesn’t mean it will never happen.

It’s usually the things that are special, the ones we want the most, that are the hardest to wait for. 

So, when the weight of another let down, missed opportunity, or heartbreak hits, do not be fooled. This is not how it will always be. Not now doesn’t mean not ever. There are more tomorrows ahead. Plenty will be filled with disappointments and rejections but plenty will also be filled with victories. 

Our turn is coming. It may not look how we initially thought it would, it may not come when we want it to. But it will come. We just have to be patient.