Being Me. 

There was this weird moment when I figured out that all the boxes I had tried so hard to fit into with absolute perfection…the girl box, the wife box, the leader box, the mom box…were all just imaginary. 

And that being myself in each moment…my messy, broken, whole, beautiful, gifted, complete self…was enough. 

I have a hard time seeing the boxes anymore. Even the ones you think exist.

(There’s so much to love about the man in this photo. I relate to him. 💙💜❤️)

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An American Dream Do Over

I’m not often pissed. But I am today. I’ve felt it bubbling up for a while now.

So I’m warning you…I’m ranting. (And for those of you attending Red Boot I am definitely not using our Red Boot sharing “rules.” I acknowledge that and am owning it.)

I’m pissed because I think the current version of the American Dream…is used to keep things as is. It allows those in power to stay in “power” because it’s using a definition based on how they got their power. It’s so messed up and so insidious in our everyday lives.

That’s right…graduate high school and college, get a job, get married, get a house, get, get, get and then you’ll be happy. No wonder adolescence is a time of turmoil. At that age we’re all being slowly brainwashed. (Harsh I know.)

It’s a big fat lie that keeps the “system” fueling itself.

Think about it. Our American educational system is based on this dream (basing the success of our kids and their teachers on grades and graduation rates.) Our definitions of success are based on this dream. Our mattering “MORE” than other people is based on this dream. Our pay scale is based on this system. Where we live is based on this system.

Get a degree, get a better job, get more money, get happy.

Hank and I were talking and I want to disrupt that system because he and I both think it sucks.

What if being accepted as you were was the American Dream?

What if…when a kid said, “Hey I’m not cut out for school” we asked them, “What ARE you cut out for?” and then did everything we could to help them achieve that?

What if we stopped wanting more things? Think about all that time we’d have on our hands!

What if we quit measuring hsit by the amount of dollars it produced or the numbers of people who graduated or passed or PRODUCED THINGS…hell just quit even feeling like we needed to measure things.

What if we stopped working hard because “that’s the way it is” and started working because we felt valued, needed, important no matter our job?

What if instead of trying to fix people or change people to fit the system, we created programs and systems that fit the needs of the people?

This whole American Dream thing…has people feeling less than (and better than and more than) for completely made up reasons.

Even our political system is based on this notion..

Maybe I’m tired or maybe I’m pissed…whatever it is…I’m feeling extremely frustrated by it all.

I want a new American Dream. One that isn’t based on stuff and measured things

I want an American Dream do-over.

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Feeling Safe

“To me, it’s being in a place where they can be themselves.”  

That’s my good friend Sil Ganzó…and nope…she is not talking about Girls on the Run…(but she could be right?)

She’s talking about Our Bridge an organization she heads up that provides after school and life skills training for immigrant kids. 

I’ve known of her work for years, but with the recent happenings throughout our country, I’ve decided it’s important for me REALLY know her so I can better serve her and her “kids.”

We went to lunch a couple of weeks ago and I have to say, my heart is breaking. Her immigrant parents are afraid to leave their homes and come pick up their kids because of the random stops and questioning. 

“In one instance,” she shares, “a van of four was pulled over and one of the guys did indeed have a warrant, but ICE detained all of them. That’s somebody’s dad.”

I think about my own children and how hard it was in middle school to just get along and I can’t imagine, being in a different place with a different language wondering if my mom or dad might end up being detained. 

Seriously, I can’t imagine living with that kind of anxiety. 

If you have a minute check out Sil and check out her organization. They can use funding and lots of love. 

Sil has two kids of her own. “I try not to let the fear of what’s happening trickle down into my home life, but I also have to be honest. I’m an immigrant too.”

Y’all…Statistics are not people. They are numbers on a piece of paper and sure…I know the issue is complicated; but I’m also pretty sure there’s a way to tackle any issue without taking away the humanity of our brothers and sisters. 

We have a number of immigrants involved in the Red Boot Challenge and our mission pretty much says it all…”We create brave places for compassionate listening and honest sharing…safe places for people to go beneath the labels and truly see each other as human beings.”

Sil, I see you and the amazing Love you bring to people’s lives and I want you to know that I am grateful you are on this planet.

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Yulonda

I think I’ve found my new church. And it’s not what you think. (Lol)

It’s holy because Yulonda works there and the food? It warms my soul. The table cloths are plastic and checkered; and the ketchup’s in squeezie bottles…and when the ketchup gets low…the noise it makes? Well…it reminds me of my weekly dates with my dad when I was a little kid…and he would intentionally embarrass the heck out of me with bottles just like that at Suber’s Town House Restaurant. 

Maybe that’s why I like “Dish” so much. 

Or maybe it’s because of Yulonda. (She’s on the left and that’s Red Boot Intern Julia, on the right.)

I want y’all to take a look at her. She’s about the most charismatic human I’ve ever known. And I’m not being dramatic. I mean it. Go and see. Ask for her and tell her I sent ya. 

Last night I took our Red Boot “Wonder-Intern” there for dinner, because I think everybody can learn something from Yulonda. 

I told her I wanted to write about her and asked “Do you have anything in particular you want me to say.” 

Her message was simple. 
“I love my job. I find purpose here. It’s not about being a waitress. It’s about loving people. I love everybody who walks through that door. People have asked me why I don’t get a “better” job. And I wonder what they mean by that. I’m happy. I make enough money and I love people.”

Boo-yah. 

Preach sister. Preach.

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REDioactive

This is what someone looks like after they’ve attended four Red Boot Meetings in three days and about to hit my fifth!

I just left the grocery store and in less than three minutes at the check out…made three new friends…Treasure, Shandra and Maria. 

We decided that everyone in the world needs to wear a name tag so we can all say hi to each other. 

I told them I would start handing them out. 

This is the effect of Red Boot and I’m not even kidding. It’s radioactive. 

Open-hearted-minded-souled-eyed-eared-touched-moved!

#oldwaysbegone #redbootisheretostay

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I am Homicide. 

Let’s talk for a minute about tenderness, kindness and connection. 

Yesterday I was having lunch with my good friend Garry McFadden. For those of you don’t know him…he’s kinda a big deal. (Although he is too humble to EVER admit it. ❤️)

Garry is a retired CMPD homicide detective who continues to do some contract work for the city. He has worked over 800 cases in his many years of service and can remember nearly all of them. 

He is beloved by many. 

This past year, he was discovered by A & E and has since been the subject of a series called “I am Homicide.” (I have to admit…I get a chuckle out of watching this particular clip. Garry, from my perspective is a real Teddy Bear.)
I Am Homicide: Veteran Charlotte Detective Featured in New True Crime Series
Case in point…

Yesterday, we are sitting at our regular meeting spot, the Midnight Diner. The man can’t go five minutes without somebody coming up to give him a hug. 

Our waitress is taking our order, when she pauses, pen and paper in hand. She looks at him. Really looks at him. 

“Are you Detective McFadden?”

He immediately makes eye contact with her. 

“Yep, that’s me.”

“You worked the case that involved my child’s father. He was murdered, stabbed.”

Garry and this beautiful young woman chatted a bit more. They discussed the details of when and where. 

Garry asked with as much heart as anybody can imagine, “So how you doing now?”

She responded. “I’m okay. But my six year old daughter. She needs to vent. It’s only been a year or so and she just can’t figure out how to express her fear and anger. She’s a little straight-A student, but I am really worried about her.”

Garry, without skipping a beat, hands her his card. “You call me. I will help her work through some of this. Ya know i’ve had experience with so many kids who have been through what she’s been through and sometimes they just need someone who won’t sugarcoat it with them. Someone to let them scream and shout and get real with it. You promise me now…you will call me.”

She smiled a bright smile and took his card. 

I got to witness that and I am so grateful 

#theredbootcoalition

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Freedom 

True story. 

It is a Tuesday night and fourteen people have gathered to learn about the Red Boot Coalition. We are in a circle. 

All are white, wealthy and executives in my city’s top firms. 

It is our first time together and we are pondering the question that goes with The Red Boot Coalition’s first Core Principle. 

“Why do you matter?”

For four long and uncomfortable minutes, folks try to wrap their minds around that simple but powerful question. Finally someone responds. 

——————–
It is the same week and it is Thursday afternoon. 

Fourteen people have gathered to learn about the Red Boot Coalition. We are in a circle. 

Most are black or Hispanic, poor and all are in jail. 

It is our first time together and we are pondering the question that goes with The Red Boot Coalition’s first Core Principle. 

“Why do you matter?”

In less than ten seconds someone responds. 

This morning, as I share this with you, I think about liberation and fear…and wonder who is truly free. 

I feel my heart expand a little.

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