Do Something

Stop!  Please don’t scroll past this post in your news feed.

I have something important to say, and I am hoping you will read beyond the headline and look past the picture attached to the post. This is a message to Democrats, Republicans, Independents and those of us who fall somewhere in between.  It is not meant to single out those who don’t agree with me.

img_0254If you know me personally or have read my blog over the years, you should not be surprised to see the Women’s March postcards ready to go in tomorrow’s mail as part of the 10 Actions/100 Days campaign. You already know I am passionate about women’s rights, that I want my daughter to feel empowered, and that I want my son to serve a country for which he is proud.

I understand your opinions and priorities may not match mine.  All I have to do is launch the Facebook app on my phone to understand that everyone is concerned about something and that everyone has an opinion. We are experiencing a turbulent time in American history, and it is being played out on social media, often at the expense of hurt feelings and lost friendships–both real and virtual.

The anonymous nature of social media gives its users a level of bravery they wouldn’t otherwise feel. Freedom of speech is accessible these days, and everyone, it seems, is exercising his and her right. Once the applause has died on that profound statement, I want to ask everyone who shares a meme or tweets a hashtag, to take your words and turn them to action.

One of the most impactful lessons I took from college was the opening and parting words of my professor for the Women and Minorities in the Media course I took as a mass communications major. She opened the course and closed it 15 months later with the same message: you cannot complain about something if you are not willing to do something to change the situation.

She was talking first and foremost about voting and making sure your voice is heard on Election Day. Your actions, however, should not stop once your ballot is cast.

Few of us are lucky enough to be close personal friends with our elected officials. I’m not Facebook friends with my senators. My congressman doesn’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram, and I’m fairly confident none of them read my blog. Unless I specifically tell them I am concerned about how little the presidential cabinet looks like me, they won’t know.

Today, I don’t care if you are pro-life or pro-choice, in favor of gun control or an advocate for the Second Amendment; in favor of immigrant rights or the building of a wall. My bi-partisan plea to everyone is to do something about it. Write to your senators, march in a rally, carry a catch phrase-filled sign, start a viral movement, make a donation. Do something to affect change.

I am choosing to write letters and joining a movement in which I believe.  Although, this will be new for my Ohio representatives, it is not new for me. While a Kentucky resident, I frequently contacted my Senators and Congressman about IBD research and legislation as well as funding for our troops.

After I addressed and stamped my latest letters to my new senators, I read them to my daughter and explained to her what they meant and why I was putting them in the mail.

She actually paused Netflix as she listened, and then she asked with what I think was awe, “You can do that?”

“Yes,” I told her firmly. It is my right to tell my elected representatives what I want. It is my right to tell them my opinions.  If we want change, we have to do something.

So before you log back into Facebook and Twitter to fill my feeds with angry words and stress-inducing sentiments, Do Something. After that, you can post as many memes and hashtags as you want.

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Don’t Let Them Win

I’m sitting here this morning on a sunny Saturday, my coffee steaming beside me, cartoons on the TV in the next room, and I am scared.

prayforparis

#PrayForParis

I am scared for the people of Paris and for the family and friends of the victims of last night’s attacks.

I am scared for the people of France because this will surely get worse before it gets better.

I am scared for the soldiers who will head into battle and the repercussions that will be felt around the world.

I am scared for the mommas–those who lost children last night, those who will send their sons and daughters to defend their country, and those trying to explain it all to the little ones overwhelmed by the violence reported since they sat down to dinner last night.

I am scared this is just the beginning.

I am scared it will be closer to home next time.

I am scared it will be my son entering the fight.

I am scared my daughter will grow up in a world at war.

I am scared if we let them paralyze us with this fear, they will win.

I can’t let that happen. They are terrorists, and their ultimate goal is to spread fear, make us change our ways and hide lest they strike again.

So, I will say a prayer for Paris, then I will brew more coffee…I will sit in the sun…I will let the cartoons roll.

I will not let them win.

And Now for the Main Event…Election Returns!

I VotedI voted! The ballot seemed to go on forever…senator, mayor, sheriff, county clerk and more than 20 judges. It took me a full five minutes, but I made sure I filled in every oval with the little number two pencil tied to the cubicle.

Now, I think I’ll pop some popcorn, pour a glass of wine and watch the election returns.

Next to actually participating in the Democratic process, watching the news anchors guess the outcomes of the races has always been my favorite part of election night.

Not long after I cast my first ballot at the age of 18, I scored an internship at my local newspaper. That spring I fulfilled my dream of being a political reporter.

My first assignment was to cover the election returns for the Presidential primary (among other local races) at the county courthouse.  My editor either had great faith in my journalistic ability or he couldn’t find anyone else on the small paper’s staff who wanted to stay up past midnight on a Tuesday night. I choose to believe he saw my future as a White House press correspondent before anyone else did.

All the local reporters from the county–me and another guy from the paper representing the county seat–crowded into a room filled with election officials and a blackboard. Some of the election officials counted and others wrote the results on the blackboard.

I didn’t make any outlandish predictions. I just added up the numbers and copied them into my brand new reporter’s notebook.

Around 11:59 p.m., someone declared the handwritten numbers on the blackboard official. A few phone calls were made to notify the candidates, and at about 12:07 a.m. everyone went home.

Democracy in a small town in the pre-digital age…it sure wasn’t the political scene from Scandal, but I like to think that for that one night, at the idealistic age of 18, I was a gladiator in a suit!

The polls close in 15 minutes! I need to go pop that popcorn!

Express Yourself

I couldn’t wait to cast my first ballot. As a senior in high school, I believed the greatest civil liberty I had was my right to vote. I wanted to be a part of the thing that makes this country great. I wanted to make a stand and express my opinion.

To my great disappointment, I turned 18 one week AFTER mid-term elections.  My first opportunity to support my candidate was put on hold. My passion for the process didn’t dim, however, and the following May, I stood in line at my polling place as a registered voter and cast my ballot in a Presidential primary.

I walked away feeling empowered and proud to be an American.

While my political views have matured over the year, my passion for the process has not, and on Tuesday, I will take my place behind the curtained cubicle and mark my choices in the 2014 Mid-Term Elections. I will have to rearrange my schedule for the day. I’ll have to take a different route from my office to get to the polls, and I’ll probably have to work through lunch, so I can leave early. This will not be a convenient task at all.

But I will cast my vote, and I’d like to ask you to cast yours too. Our country was founded on the concept of democracy, and democracy will only work for you if you work with it. Cast your ballot. Let your voice be heard. Express yourself.

Use the tool below to learn more about your polling location and your ballot.

My Duty is to Write

The goal of any momma is to see her children happy. My heart aches when my offspring are sad, and my temper flares when injustices make their lives more difficult.

Right now, I am a mad momma…a momma on the war path…a momma on a mission.

The government for which my oldest child has decided to serve is letting him down with its failure to agree. As a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, he is directly affected by the shutdown of the government he has pledged to defend.

FArmy Football

The Older One will be able to take to the gridiron this weekend thanks to the Secretary of Defense.

One of the biggest news stories coming out of the service academies so far has been the uncertainty of Saturday football games. The Older One plays on the offensive line for the Army Black Knights, and in a football household like ours, the cancellation of a game is considered a disaster. The potential of such a rare event sent the Hubs and I on a frantic search of both traditional and social media for answers which finally came Wednesday night when the Secretary of Defense declared all service academy games are on as scheduled.

Yippee! We can watch football this weekend…. But that’s just a game. What about the rest of it?

What about the classes that are cancelled indefinitely because 30% of the teaching staff at West Point is made up of civilians now on unpaid furlough?

Cadet

My Cadet on the first day of class. I’m worried he could have his last day sooner than expected.

What about the assignments that just got more complicated because, while the library remains open, cadets can’t check out books with the facility now severely understaffed?

What about the added stress of keeping appearances up to military standards with the on-post barber shop and dry cleaners closed?

What if this shutdown doesn’t end soon? Will the USMA be forced to close completely like the Merchant Marine Academy already has?

It’s not fair! This is making my child unhappy! It is making me angry!

I want to drive the 13 hour trip to West Point to do his laundry, cut his hair, and teach his class.  No matter how much I want to be there to make this crisis better for him, I am realistic. I know I can’t do those things. It would embarrass him too much, and I’d be too tired by the time I got there any way.

There is one thing I can do, however.

I can write.

I can write to my congressman. I can write to my senators. I can write with a plea for compromise, a request for change, and a demand for common sense.  Keep our government open. Bring back the so-called “non-essential” employees. Stop cutting funding for programs and institutions that directly affect the lives of innocent people. Thank you for the football game, now let’s start talking about the bigger issues and end this dysfunction.

I can write. The Constitution of this great nation says I can express my opinions. I helped put these people in office so they could represent me. It is my duty to tell them how they can best do that, and right now, they can best do that by ending this shutdown.

That would make this momma extremely happy.

How are you affected by the government shutdown? Have you written your government officials?

Five Minute Friday***This post was brought to you today by Five Minute Friday and the word “Write”. After you write your letter to the government, head on over to Lisa-Jo Baker’s site and write about the experience.