Busted. 

Thinking out loud on a Monday mornin’…

From where I sit, this old political narrative that has us choosing from just two “lists”…is totally off rails right now. Top if off with how we’ve woven shame and judgment into the mix…I mean come on…who really wants to be a part of that?

I believe there is another way. A way that has us intentionally set aside the time and the place to sit down at the same table, clear it completely…and begin with the question…”What are your dreams and hopes and desires for the children?” 

And build from there. 

It’s like we’ve forgotten why we do all this in the first place. Drives me totally crazy. I ain’t gonna lie. 😁

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Want to Do Better. 

This right here is what’s happening.

I remember when Helen was only 11, she overheard me making fun of someone I didn’t know very well. (I was on the phone.)

She hollered at me from the other room. “Remember mom what you taught me in Girls on the Run? Your words are like toothpaste. Once they leave the tube, you can’t put ’em back in. What kind of example are you setting for me right now?” (I’m pretty sure she took great delight in catching me in my own hypocrisy…and that’s a whole other challenge. 😇)

Yeah…our kids are listening.
Disagreeing with someone: Totally Cool. 

Name calling and bullying…totally not cool. 

It’s so hard right now, not to get pulled into “the making fun of” and bullying, but I want to do better…be better…speak better…for them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is It. 

Fourteen people in a circle. 

One of those is Tom. He is just out of jail. Jan is gay. Sally’s a millionaire. Osman is a Syrian refugee. Patrick loves Trump. Rick is a police officer. Bob is in the NRA and Jasmine is in Black Lives Matter. 

Of course, they don’t know this about each other. They signed up for The Red Boot Challenge because something about the current state of the world is negatively impacting their lives…their relationships, their peace of mind. 

This is their second hour together and they are answering some questions…one of those is “Why do you matter?”

After some awkward silence, the responses begin. 

“I matter because my children rely on me.”

“I matter because I keep people safe.”

“I matter because I exist.”

“I matter because I am a child of God.”

For ten more weeks, this group will meet, share, listen to each other. 

Rick, our police officer, has seen a change in how he does his work. “Red Boot has taught me the power of listening first; to empathize with the anger in our black neighborhoods rather than resist it…to get outside of my uniform and see the pain there. Red Boot is, from my perspective, saving lives.”

Osman shares, “I’ve learned to listen to those who fear me because of my Muslim Faith. Listening builds trust and over time friendships.”

Jan also shares. “I’ve struggled with being excluded from my family because I’m gay. Red Boot has shown me that I do matter…that in fact I am beautiful just the way I am. 

We have only a few spots left for our first ever 12-week Red Boot Challenge in Charlotte. We kick it off February 13th. (We will be offering it again in the fall.) (our other cities will have the opportunity to begin offering this fall.)

Please sign up at http://www.theredbootcoalition.org/red-boot-challenge.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Change A’Comin’

His voice was loud and sheer and terrifying. “Why’d you shoot him? Why’d you kill him? This keeps happening and what do you get? You get vacation time. Nice life. You kill a brother and you get a few days off! How would you feel if all your brothers and fathers were lying dead in the streets at the hands of cops?”  

The officer stood there, with eyes open, his hands resting gently by his side. His heart open. 

There is a pause. 

“It is heartbreaking. It’s heart breaking. It would be traumatizing. I am here too and want the killing to stop.”

There is another pause. 

The officer hands the angry young man his card…”I think we can do something about that. Let’s have coffee or a meal together.”

The young man takes the card. And joins back up with his friends at the protest. 

Last night, Ann Davant Crehore, Julia Dorn and I (as part of The Red Boot Coalition) had the honor (and when I say honor…I mean honor) of leading and participating in a 7 hour workshop with 25 CMPD officers on the power of listening, empathy and compassion. 

Those of you who are prone to cynicism, I get it. I can be cynical too. But as I sat in that opening circle and heard one officer after another, share deeply and passionately about his/her work and the death and dying happening throughout the country, I realized that we were in for a powerful night. 

Major Mike Campagna is a game-changer and creator of the Constructive Conversations Team. There is no other initiative like it in the country. Forty-five police officers have volunteered to be on the CCT…they will be deployed into neighborhoods, hot situations and crime scenes to suspend their own judgements and agendas and listen instead…listen to the anger, fear and frustration of those most impacted by the institutional “isms” in the justice system. 

Mike shared why this matters to him. “Really listening builds bridges and opens the door for future impact. It might not happen right away. But overtime…listening builds trust and trust opens people to connection…something that as dramatic as it may sound…literally saves lives.”

For nearly three and a half hours, community members hurled their anger, frustration and fear at the officers in a series of exercises designed to challenge them into utilizing their listening skills to get to the root of all that swirling and painful anger. 

“I hear your anger. I want to understand. Tell me more.”

It wasn’t all unicorns and glitter. Some officers were noticeably upset; and the energy it took for the community members to bring forth their frustration and anger over and over for the different scenes was definitely exhausting. 

But at the end when everyone…the officers, the community members, the observers (Elaine Cohoon Miller and Holly Adkisson were there to help evaluate the officer’s response) came together to debrief the experience, I realized that the experience alone had changed things. 

We saw each other as human beings. Greg Jackson and Antuan Smith, co-founders of the Charlotte Community Coalition were there. Greg met Major Campagna during the protests. These guys are angry and joyful and ready to move the needle forward. We plan to meet up next week. I fell madly in love with their passion, vision and willingness to “overcome by coming over.”

There is a lot of unrest and division throughout our country…today in particular marks a changing of the guard…and while there is much to consider and yes much to fear…this woman, the one who writes you now…has a heart full of hope and wonder and belief in the good…because last night I saw it with my own two eyes, heard it with my own two ears, and felt it with my heart. 

There is a change a’coming and I plan to be a part of it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Getting My Hair Did

Hair. 

I have this thing about my hair. I am 56 and I have really long hair. 

When I had my daughter Helen, I went through some kind of hormonal short circuit and cut it all off. 

My mom, at least in my lifetime, always kept her hair short. She was chic and flowy….a new age flair with an outward bound grittiness. 

Yesterday I got my hair “did.” I tried a year or so to stop dying it (highlighting it for those who prefer the euphemism) but I just wasn’t ready. 

This is a picture of Mary Rizzardi-Henderson. She’s been “did-ing” my hair since 2004 (or thereabouts.) Her dad did my hair before that. 

Yesterday we got to talking, as we always do, and I realize that Mary knows more about me than just about anybody. We talk about everything. Politics, music, children, sex. Yes even that…😜

Lately I’ve been taking note of the hard working people who surround me everyday that keep this universe-train moving. Mary is one of those. If she doesn’t work, she doesn’t get paid. Vacation? Sick days? Doesn’t matter. No work, no pay. 

But there’s something special about Mary. We have a relationship that spans longer than just about any I’ve ever had. We’ve gone through medical issues, children issues, work issues, relationship issues, parents dying, and every time I talk, Mary listens. I think Mary is about the best listener I know. 

And so 8 or so years ago I invited Mary to a Girls on the Run 5k. Mary, at the time, was waify-like. Beautiful, tall and slender without an OUNCE of interest In working out, running or exercise. 

But, after years of listening to me (even when I sat in her Dad’s chair) talk about connection and love and running, she decided to give it a go. 

Since then, Mary has become a full-blown exercise expert. She is vegetarian, works out five days a week with a trainer and loves it. She is strong (like a beast I tell you) confident and one of the most empowered women I know. 

I share all this with you to say…Mary and I are friends. Sure, I pay her to “did” my hair but we don’t limit our friendship to a purely financial-transactional one. 

Nope. Not me and Mary. We get real with it. Mary taught me how to listen and I taught her how to run. 

I think hairdressers are some of the most amazing people in the universe and provide a service that for many like me…goes way beyond the surface. 

And so today I want to give a shout out to Mary and all the other amazing hairdressing, people-listening, beauty-making, comfort-giving humans in the universe. 

(That’s Mary with a photo of her dad behind her. He passed a way a few years ago.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mamas Gotta Support

I believe in celebrating the good. So when I see it I like to shout it out. 

And so this morning I wanna tell y’all about THIS woman. 

Right before the holidays I was in a pretty bad car bang-up. Four cars were involved. I was third in the pile up. 

No one was hurt (significantly), air bags deployed in a couple of the cars and I won’t ever forget the comment of one of the police officers. “Why this is the nicest and kindest group of people I have ever seen in a car wreck together. When are y’all going to have coffee?”  

Now THAT didn’t happen, but what did happen was…my (used-when-I-bought-it) car was totaled.

Because the holidays were approaching it’s taken a little while to manage all the paperwork, insurance and compensation for my old nondescript and extremely functional car. 

So yesterday when I walked onto the lot of one of the largest used car dealers in the universe I had just hoped to look at cars. 

But then I met HER….Vickie Wingler Hartman. 

Now I know a good salesperson when I see them. And she was one of those. But she was good, not because she tried to hard-sell me or push me or persuade me to buy this or that car…it’s because she was kind and nice and in no rush…basically helpful with no agenda. 

In her words, “Buying a car is , second to buying a house, one of the biggest deals in a person’s life. I want to be sure I’m helpful in that process, honest and kind. I mean…what’s there to gain by being anything other than yourself?”

And here’s what I love. We got to know each other. We’re both single, hard working people, two kids…kids that we have provided for the best we could…we’ve struggled (like zillions of other women) with negative body-talk and basically seen life as a constant roller coaster of joy and sorrow. It’s not always been easy but it’s been worth it. 

And so from one single mama to another…I want to give a shout out…because mamas need to support each other, because mamas got mouths to feed and babies to raise. 

So seriously…call this a shameless pitch if you wish but I just call it kindness and karma and supporting the hard workers of the world…the next time you are in the market for a car call my new friend Vickie…you can find her at CarMax…CarMax to be exact. 

She’s the bomb diggity bomb.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

And…

Today is the day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Therefore, I think it fitting to share that I’ve decided to attend the Women’s March in Washington on the 21st. I’ve also decided to attend some of the Inaugural Events on the 20th. (Timing is a bit of a challenge with travel, so am going to do what I can in this realm.)

I realize that for many, this will appear to be a conflict of interest. 

But there are a few things I’ve learned in the last couple of years. 

Listening to people doesn’t mean I agree with them. It means I’m curious, open and willing. Listening builds trust. Trust builds connection. 

Change begins with me. 

I can be for you and also be for me. 

My truth is to stand up for and with love, no matter where I am.

My work is not about politics…it is about people. 

I would rather be for something than against it. 

I believe, at the deepest level of my being, these words from the amazing Martin Luther King, Jr himself, “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

There will be those who consider my attendance at both of these events…not taking a stand. 

But here is what I know and have experienced time and time again. 

Taking a stand can happen anywhere. It can happen in the line of a convenience store, traffic, my workplace, on a run, in the gym…wherever there is injustice there is an opportunity to take a stand…and wherever I go…there is also an opportunity for love. 

The question for me always…is how to be both within that same moment. 

I do not have an answer. I just know that until I am willing to put myself in the position to find out…I will never know. 

Happy Martin Luther King Day friends!!!!

#theredbootcoalition

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment