Sunday, February 28, 2010

What Would Happen If We Actually Listened To the Universe?

Jonathan Fields, author of Career Renegade, whom I follow on Twitter, posted about this movie a few days ago. Here's what I love about Jonathan . . . he starts each day by asking the Twitterverse, and by extension, the universe, "who can I help today?". That's so powerful. He's all about giving to others and it comes back to him over and over and over again.

The movie he posted got me to thinking about what would happen if I actually listened to the universe (aka my gut, the voices I randomly hear, etc.) more often? In my life, I like to be in control (yes, I know, no one is surprised), I like to know what is going to happen next, and I'm not really a fan of surprises. Giving up control causes me great amounts of stress. So when I hear the voices or see the signs, I frequently ignore them, thinking I know better. I know what's right for me. Or so I like to think.

But what I have found over the years is that when I stop and listen or pay attention to the signs all around me (some subtle, some that beat me over the head), I usually end up in a better place than I had planned. I'm more successful. I'm happier. I have fun. I sometimes make more money. And often, when I take the time to enjoy it, I actually relax.

Take my whole thing about going to church. Without telling you about each of the signs, they've been all around me for the last month or so like big huge neon flashing signs. Yet, I had the worst anxiety about going. I had planned to go last Sunday, but I let my own fear get in the way. This morning, even though I was up early and enthusiastic about my day, I almost didn't make it. I almost talked myself out of it as I stood in my bathroom sweating while putting on make-up. I doubted my decision the entire 3 mile drive to church. And I was going to the church I grew up in; how crazy was that? This shouldn't have been so stress-inducing. But then I walked in the door and each step got easier. I ran into my childhood piano teacher who I happen to see regularly and she gave me a huge hug. From a distance, I saw my kindergarten and first grade Sunday School teachers and a few old friends of my parents. Then I ran into a client of mine who has been encouraging me to come back to church for a couple of weeks.

With each moment I sat there, it got easier and I just let myself enjoy it. I didn't cry, as I'm known for doing in church. I remembered all the prayers, many of the songs, and the Apostles' Creed. And finally, by the time the service was over, I had let myself relax and enjoy it. I'll probably be back.

Oh, and the preacher's sermon topic? It was on not letting fear paralyze us and finishing the course. Talk about signs.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lent: What a Difference 40 Days and 40 Nights Can Make

Most people know I'm not terribly religious in the sense that I don't go to church on a regular basis, I don't preach about my beliefs, and I don't pray in the traditional sense of the word. Growing up, however, religion was an integral part of my family. I was baptized by my step-grandfather. I went to Sunday School every Sunday from the time I was little until I was in high school. I sang in the choir. I received my first Bible in church. I was confirmed in 8th grade. I take communion.

Today I think of myself as more spiritual than religious. I guess I believe in God and Jesus, although my belief is more that there is some power greater than my own. Whether it is the specific God and Jesus that I have always known, I don't know for sure. I believe that Creationism and Evolution aren't mutually exclusive. I celebrate religious holidays. When pressed, I say I'm Presbyterian because that's how I was brought up, but I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with that label because, although the Presbyterian Church isn't terribly restrictive, I tend to think identifying with any specific religious denomination restricts me.

I believe that Lent, Good Friday, and Easter are sacred and more important than Christmas. I try to give something up each year because I think there's value to it and it reminds me of greater sacrifices that were made by Christ. Each year, my Lent sacrifices are small. One year, it was Diet Coke. Another year, I gave up eating out. I don't recall what I gave up last year. This year, I decided that for Lent, I was done with my mourning. That ended in failure yesterday.

My awesome blog buddy, Fran, of There Will Be Bread, posted the article below on Facebook today. Fran is such an incredible woman of deep faith. She has come to her beliefs through great questioning and thoughtful reflection of what she really believes for herself. She has the most amazing spirit and shares her beliefs, not through fist pounding and shouting, but through thoughtful, non-judgmental conversation that helps lead people to the answers that are right for them. I love that about her. I have incredible respect for that and for her and want to be Fran when I grow up.

After I read the article below, I posted the following comment back to Fran:
Wow. That REALLY speaks to me. What an amazing world we would live in if, for the 40 days of Lent, people bothered to take care of others. Just imagine what would happen to health care reform, to hunger, to poverty, to unemployment, to loneliness & depression, to war, to hate, to racism, to the education gap, etc. 40 days of everyone bothering to love. It would change the world. Thank you for sharing this article Fran.
Personally, I've decided to change my own view of the 40 days of Lent and rather than make a sacrifice, I'm going to care more. Oh, and completely unrelated, I'm going to church tomorrow. Yes, really.

What do you think?

Bothering to Love: One Priest's Modest Proposal for Lent
Rev. James Martin, S.J. in The Huffington Post, February 26, 2010

What have you given up for Lent?

That's what many Christians--from almost every denomination, and especially Roman Catholics--are asking one another this time of year. The most common thing to forego, I would wager, is some kind of food: soda and chocolate seem to be the Most Favored Sacrifices, with cigarettes and liquor running a close third. Each year, in fact, a Jewish friend from my college days calls me on Ash Wednesday to tell me what to give up, since he thinks my deciding on my own is too easy. Last year it was chicken wings, which was harder than you might think. (I'll save the story of how he came to assign my abstinence for another time.)

Fasting originated as a way of saving money on food, so that Christians could give it to the poor. It had a practical end: no meat for you meant more money for those who couldn't afford meat. Giving things up also reminds you that you don't always have to give into your appetites. It reminds you of your ability to exert self-control. And it reminds you of the poor, who go without every day, Lent or not. The Dutch spiritual writer and Catholic priest Henri Nouwen summed it up nicely: "For now, it seems that some fasting is the best way to remind myself of the millions who are hungry and to purify my heart and mind for a decision that does not exclude them."

Some people see Lenten sacrifices as another example of religious masochism. But look at it this way: People diet for physical reasons, so why not for spiritual ones? If you spend hours in the gym for a great body why not do something healthy to free your spirit from what St. Ignatius Loyola, the 16th-century founder of the Jesuit Order, called "disordered affections." Often Christians abstain from unhealthy things they've been unsuccessfully trying to avoid all year--like junk food or too much TV.

But this Lent I'd like to suggest not giving something up, but doing something.

Specifically, bothering.

In the Gospels, when Jesus of Nazareth condemns people, or points out sin, it's usually not people who are trying hard to avoid sinning, it's people who aren't bothering to love. In the famous parable of the Good Samaritan, in the Gospel of Luke, two men pass by a guy lying by the side of the road, who could certainly use some help. They could help the fellow, but they don't. He rightly points out their sin. Jesus doesn't condemn those who are weak and trying hard; but those who are strong and aren't trying at all.

For Jesus, sin is often a failure to bother to love, what theologians used to call a "sin of omission."

But during the weeks before Easter, most Christians during the weeks seem stuck on what they've been trying to avoid for years. A familiar hymn is: "I try to stop smoking every time Ash Wednesday comes around!" But if Jesus were around today (I know that's a dicey few words) he might say, "Don't worry about where you're already trying and keep failing. Look at where you're not even bothering."

So this Lent, instead of fasting, why not bother? Instead of a negative Lent, how about a positive one? Instead of giving up chocolate for the umpteenth year in a row, or trying to kick your smoking habit, why not bother to call a friend who's lonely? Instead of turning off your TV, or going to the gym, bother to donate money to the poor in Haiti. Instead of passing up potato chips, bother to visit a sick relative.

In the Gospels Jesus says, "It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice." Here's a novel idea for Lent: why not take Jesus at his word?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Little Merry Sunshine is on Facebook!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Do You Love Senator Dick Durbin?

I do.

As I was doing some incredibly boring stuff trying to settle Nana's estate and trying not to burn my house down, I caught bits and pieces of the Health Care Summit today.

Late in the day, Senator Durbin said his peace and I stopped what I was doing, stood up, and cheered. Damn. I love him.
DURBIN: Mr. President, I've been biding my time throughout this entire meeting. I thank you for inviting us on the issue of medical malpractice. Before I was elected to Congress, I worked in a courtroom. For years, I defended doctors and hospitals, and for years I sued them on behalf of people who were victims of medical malpractice. So I've sat at both tables in a courtroom. At least many years ago, I think I kind of understood this area of the law better than some.

But I listen time and again as our friends on the other side when they're asked what are the most important things you can do when it comes to our health care system in America. The first thing they say is medical malpractice. It's the first thing they say. Today, it was the first thing that was said.

The point that's been made by the president is if we do believe the Congressional Budget Office, when Orrin Hatch asked them how much will we save if we implement the Republican plan on medical malpractice from the House, they said $54 billion over 10 years; $5.4 billion a year is a lot of money, except in the context of the $2.5
trillion bill that we pay each year for health care. It represents one-fifth of 1 percent of the amount of money we spend each year on health care.

The Congressional Budget Office said something else. They said and as you lose accountability for what the doctors and hospitals are doing, more people will die -- 4,800 a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office's reference to this study.

Now, the Institute of Medicine tells us 98,000 people a year die in America because of medical malpractice. I think there are things that we have put in this bill to change that. Most of you have heard of this Dr. Gawande. We've read him. I've talked to him on the phone. His "Checklist Manifesto" is a very basic approach to reducing medical errors, which is what we should be focused on. And I want to say, Mr. President, I think what you and the secretary have done is the right thing -- incentivizing states to find innovative ways to reduce medical errors and reduce those lawsuits that should not be filed.

But let me tell you what, limiting the recovery for pain and suffering for someone who is entitled -- entitled because they're innocent victims -- to be paid isn't eliminating junk lawsuits. I will tell you that as far as the president is concerned, in his neighborhood there is a great hospital, which I will not name, and at this hospital a woman went in for a simple removal of a mole from her face. And under general anesthesia, the oxygen caught fire, burning her face. She went through repeated surgeries, scars and deformity. Her life will never be the same. And you are saying that this innocent woman is only entitled to $250,000 in pain and suffering.

I don't think it's fair. Our jury system makes that decision, and the states, 30 of them have made a decision on what to do. If you were asked a basic question: Over the last 20 years, has the number of paid malpractice claims in America doubled or been cut in half? If you listen to most people here, you'd say it must have doubled. No. According to the Kaiser Foundation, they've been cut in half. Oh, but how much -- how about the money that's being paid for these malpractice claims? Clearly, that's gone through the roof. No. Between 2003 and 2008, the total amount paid for malpractice claims in America was cut in half from $8 billion to $4 billion.

This is an important issue. I don't dispute it and I think we have treated it as an important issue. But to make it the overriding issue is to, I think, really trivialize some of the other things that should be part of this conversation.

I've been asked to speak about deficit reduction. I will not, other than to say one general thing. When I hear my friend John Boehner say that we have the best health care in the world, I don't dispute it for a moment. If I were sick, this is the country I want to be in, with these doctors, these hospitals, and these medical professionals.

Step back for a second and look at who we are in this room. As was said many years ago, the law in its majestic equality forbids both the wealthy and the poor from sleeping under bridges. When it comes to the wealthy in health care per capita, we're the wealthiest people in America. The Federal Employees Health Benefit Program administered by the federal government, setting minimum standards for the health insurance that we enjoy as individuals and want for our families, is all we're asking for in this bill for families across America.

If you think it's a socialist plot and it's wrong, for goodness sakes drop out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. But if you think it's good enough for your family, shouldn't our health insurance be good enough for the rest of America? That's what it gets down to. Why have this double standard?

Tom Harkin is right. Why do we continue to discriminate against people when we know that each one of us is only one accident or one diagnosis away from being one of those unfortunate few who can't afford or can't find health insurance.

(emphasis mine)

Wanna guess how many of the folks against the health care reform, the public option and/or universal health care ripped up their government-provided health insurance cards?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Two Words: Life Panels

In case you missed it, Keith Olbermann gave a gut wrenching Special Comment tonight on Countdown. I quite literally watched with tears streaming down my face, as I thought about what we went through with Nana and what Keith is going through with his own father, and they have/had outstanding insurance. It pains me to think about all the people in our country who have no insurance because they have "pre-existing conditions" or simply can't afford to pay the exorbitant premiums. When people go to bed every night praying no one gets sick because they can't afford medical care, something is fundamentally wrong with our country.

In the last few weeks, former President Clinton, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Senator Bob Dole were each admitted to the hospital for treatable (and relatively minor in the grand scheme of things) problems. As former elected officials, they have the best of the best insurance and I'm sure they didn't even blink about whether or not they should seek treatment. 43 million people in our country could not have gone to the doctor for those ailments because they have no insurance. Millions more would have worried what the trip to the hospital would do to their insurance and would have skipped it.

It is reprehensible that we treat quality health care as a privilege and not as a right. If you ask me, and since you're reading Little Merry Sunshine, I'm assuming you are, I believe it falls under that pesky "right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" thing we pride ourselves on, but that's just my opinion.

A blogger buddy of mine told me a story yesterday about her sister's sister-in-law who was just diagnosed with a very advanced stage of cancer. They could have caught it sooner, but she and her family didn't have insurance, and when she felt something wrong, she didn't say anything. At this point, they don't think there's anything that can be done for her because the cancer is too advanced. As a result, her young children will probably lose their mother way too soon. Oh, for the record, her husband works in construction. They just couldn't afford insurance.

Demand that our elected officials do the right thing. We not only need health care reform and lower rates, but it simply time provide universal health care for all.

Enjoy Keith.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Video and title from The Political Carnival.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Foresters Blog!

One of the biggest benefits I have received from becoming more involved with my alma mater, Lake Forest College, as a member of the Alumni Board, is meeting and getting back in touch with some of the most talented, interesting, witty, and intelligent people I've ever known. Their interests are varied, but their passions are deep.

And many of them write funny, sassy, smart blogs that are listed in my Forester Friends Blog Roll. They don't all write on a daily basis, but when they do, they always brighten my day.

Barrie Briggs Spang of the Class of 1994, writes a beautiful self-titled blog about her life as an interior designer. She's incredibly talented and has inspired me to tackle a couple of simple projects in my home.

Carticel Patient by Will Pittinos from the Class of 2006, shares the trials and tribulations of Will's knee surgery and subsequent recovery last fall.

Disenchanted Fairytale is written by a thoughtful alumnus, who wishes to remain anonymous, while she finds her footing in the blogsphere. Give her some encouragement and I bet she'll write more.

Gourmet Goddess: (Mis)Adventures in Cooking, written by Heather Brown from the Class of 1996, chronicles many of Heather's adventures in the kitchen and her garden, but is far more than just a foodie blog.

Remembering Frances is my other blog. It has allowed me to share the life of my Nana, while mourning her death last summer. It's not as morbid as it may sound. Really.

Social Climbers is written by Beth (Wilson) Dunn, also from the Class of 1993. Beth's mission is to make the world a little more beautiful one preppy monogram at a time. You'll enjoy her fun blog, named after her book.

Under The Desert Sky is written by Sonya (Iannone) Heilmann from the Class of 1993. Sonya is a talented writer who just entered the blog world. Go show her some love. Trust me, you'll be back.

Velosnaps is written by Associate Dean of Students, Carolyn Golz, a cyclist and novice photographer.

We Sell Winchester, written by Laurie Randazzo from the Class of 1990, is a terrific real estate blog about Winchester, Mass., but with lessons for everyone.

Wooden Table, written by Spectrum editor, Lindsay Beller, tells the tales of a reformed picky eater who has joined a CSA. It's delightful and Lindsay's photography is beautiful. My only question is how do I get an invitation to dinner?

You Must Hear This Album
is written by Associate Dean of Student, Chris Waugh, whose passion for music rings loud and clear.

Do you write or know about a Forester blog that I don't know about? Would you like it listed on the Little Merry Sunshine Forester Friends Blog Roll? Tell me about your blog in the comments and I'll add it to the Blog Roll! Don't forget to give me the link!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Power of Make-Up

Tonight I pampered 33 of the absolutely most beautiful women I've ever seen. Unfortunately, you'll never see them on the catwalk, gracing the pages of fashion magazines, or larger than life in all their celluloid fabulousness.

These women all live at Clearbrook and all have some form of developmental disabilities. Tonight was a special spa night for them. Clearbrook treated them to a dinner of sub sandwiches and then they had their nails, hair, and make-up done. I did the make-up.

Some of the women couldn't wait to see what was in my bags; others were shy and timid.

As I began to set up, a woman named Rochelle walked up, sat down, and proceeded to quiz me. What's your name? Where do you live? Is it nice? Where do you work? What is your religion? What church do you go to? Are you married? How old are your kids? Do you have a cat? What kind? What's his name? Immediately, I was put at ease.

A few minutes later the first group of women walked in and I suddenly got nervous. I teach women how to apply and wear make-up all the time, but they all have advanced motor skills and know something about make-up. For many of these women, this was their first experience with make-up . . . ever.

Immediately, they asked if I was going to do their make-up for them. I don't ever do anyone's make-up. What makes Mary Kay unique is that we teach women how to do it themselves rather than doing it for them, but I was momentarily re-thinking whether this was the right move with these women. Exuding confidence I didn't really have, I told them I was going to teach them how to do their make-up. Some weren't sure they could, but I assured them it would all be all right. The more I said it, the more I believed it.

By the end of the evening and with only one mascara mistake that we quickly corrected, almost 33 women had been pampered, taught a new skill, and had smiles on their faces the size of Texas. They told me about their boyfriends and couldn't wait to show them their new looks. They ooh'd and ahh'd over each other and giggled about lipstick application. Some of them told me about their jobs and helped each other when I didn't have enough hands or couldn't answer all the questions at once. They all had a new confidence about applying and wearing make-up themselves.

After everyone finished, the ladies all clapped for each other, thanked me profusely, and went on to their next stop - hair or nails. I thought I was done and had begun cleaning up, when one last woman walked in alone with one of the staff members. She said she changed her mind and wanted to try some make-up, after all. She had been unsure before because people told her she didn't look good with make-up, but she wanted to try. Without hesistation, I pulled the make-up back out and told her she was the luckiest woman of the evening because we got to work one-on-one and she'd get the most attention. Ten minutes later, her eyes were beaming with pride and we couldn't get the mirror out of her hand. She not only looked beautiful, but she had done it herself, as they all had, and she was overflowing with pride.

As we were finishing, another woman walked back in and wrapped her arms around me to say thank you.

I honestly don't know who was more affected tonight, me or the beautiful women of Clearbrook. They learned a new skill, gained confidence, and were reminded they are beautiful. I re-learned the power of making a woman feel good about herself; that no matter who we are, whether we have disabilities, or are fully able-bodied, and no matter what our skill level, we all want to feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. I fell in love with my job all over again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Today's 21-Year Olds

I was speaking with a good friend this morning and somehow the topic of "things today's 21-year-old has never experienced" came up.

Today's 21-year-olds . . .
  • never made a mix tape off the radio, probably never owned cassettes, and for certain never played records;
  • have never owned a typewriter because they have always had a computer they could use anywhere at anytime, do not know life without the internet and wi-fi and may not know how to write research papers without it;
  • may not have ever been to the drive-in;
  • have never eagerly awaited the premier of Madonna's latest video on Friday Night Videos, adjusting the rabbit ears or the possibilities that exist with less than half a dozen television stations, and have never gotten off the couch to change the channels;
  • may never have met a loved one at the airline gate;
  • will probably never send or receive a love letter in the mail because so few people write them anymore;
  • don't know the frenzy that ensued over the original Super Bowl Shuffle and so may not have gotten just how hideous the remake was in this year's Superbowl;

  • has always had multiple ways to instantly connect via their cell phones, texting, and instant messaging;
  • never relied on Liquid Paper for typo-free term papers;
  • have never let their fingers do the walking in the Yellow Pages;
  • have never waited a week while their photos were being developed;
  • have had their whole lives - the good, bad, and ugly - chronicled on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. and have not experienced the benefits of making mistakes in privacy;
  • have always known who was on the other end before they picked up the phone;
  • know only a life with instant gratification whether it's dinner cooked in a microwave in 3 minutes or broadband internet connection rather than dial-up or no connection at all;
  • have never used payphones or rotary dial phones and have certainly never gotten a busy signal;
  • have never watched a film strip in class;
  • have never eaten a McDLT where the hot side was hot and the cool side stayed cool;

And suddenly we felt really old.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Road to Recovery - Thank You President Obama

Numbers don't lie. No, we haven't recovered yet. We're not done. But fewer job losses each month is a good thing and is a large step in the right direction.

Click on the image to see it in full size.

From Organizing for America:

One year in, the evidence is clear – and growing by the day – that the Recovery Act is working to cushion the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and lay a new foundation for economic growth.

  • According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Recovery Act is already responsible for as many as 2.4 million jobs through the end of 2009
  • As a result, job losses are a fraction of what they were a year ago, before the Recovery Act began

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • Cut taxes for 95 percent of working families through the Making Work Pay tax credit
  • Cut taxes for small businesses
  • Provided loans to over 42,000 small businesses
  • Funded over 12,500 transportation construction projects nationwide, ranging from highway construction to airport improvement projects
  • Made multi-billion dollar investments in innovation, science and technology that are laying the foundation for our 21st century economy
  • Provided critical relief for state governments facing record budget shortfalls, including help to prevent cuts to Medicaid and creating or saving over 300,000 education jobs

Economists on the left and the right have stated that the Recovery Act has helped avert an even worse economic disaster.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Professional Women's Council Luncheon: Double Your Business In 1 Year or Less!

Sarah Victory of The Victory Company (from The Victory Company website)

I mentioned this last month, but I'm the 2010 Chairperson of the Professional Women's Council in the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. We meet monthly at business networking luncheons where we also bring in a speaker on topics that are important to women in business (and also often important to men as well).

One of my personal goals this year is to grow our membership and monthly attendance. In an effort to achieve this goal, I prepared a schedule for the year and have distributed it to all Chamber members. It's my belief that people will make the PWC a priority if they know the topics in advance and if the topics speak to them. I'm also using my blog to promote the PWC.

I'm very excited about our February luncheon. Sarah Victory of The Victory Company was referred to me by Melissa Heisler of It's My Life, Inc. and I simply adore Sarah. She's a professional in every sense of the word and she knows her stuff. Her track record for helping grow businesses is impressive.

I hope you'll join us and learn how to double your business this year!

How To Double Your Business in One Year or Less!
A Presentation by Sarah Victory, The Victory Company

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 from 11:30 AM to 01:30 PM
Held at Yanni's Greek Restaurant 10 E. Algonquin Rd
Arlington Heights, 60005
For further information, please contact
AHCC at 847-253-1703
The fee required for this event is $18.00
Non Member Fee is $18.00

Register online

Where do you start when you need to Double your business in one year or less? Sarah will give you both the motivation and how-to’s to go out and accomplish your entrepreneurial goals. You'll learn The 7 Secrets to Successfully Doubling Your Business Fast, how to say what you do so that people will buy it from you, how to position your company and have a brand like the big guys without a big budget, insider secrets to gaining visibility and recognition fast, how to get the attention of the media, and more! We limit ourselves and our businesses by fear of failure, fear of success, an unfocused vision, and marketing in outdated ways. Let Sarah Victory’s contagious enthusiasm change all that with this exciting, fast paced presentation that gives audiences a radical new path to success in both life and business.
  • How to position your business so you are your customer first choice.
  • Use time instead of money to market through a new intensive form of networking
  • Develop effective, dynamic speaking skills to create instant credibility.
  • How publishing can make you the expert in your industry.
  • Create titles and one-sentence hooks that sell your services or products.
  • How to find the magic in your life. Tap into your real desires, identify what satisfies you most, and focus on moving your life or business to a different level.
Sarah Victory is the author of numerous books and audio programs including How to Double Your Business in One Year or Less! , How to Double Your Sales! and the forthcoming book, Life Victories.

Great Quotes from Great Leaders

It's President's Day and an opportunity for us to reflect on some of the great leadership that made our country strong. We belatedly celebrate the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln and the upcoming birthday of President George Washington, both of whom were great leaders during times of great difficulty for our country.

In honor of these leaders, enjoy this inspirational movie, Great Quotes from Great Leaders.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Simple Truths of Life

My dear friend Sue posted this on Facebook yesterday. In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share it here and let you be inspired too.

Simple Truths of Life Movie

Remember that life isn't about the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.

It's not about whether you have a Valentine this year or not. It's about who you are and whether you love the person you are becoming each day.

Each of you, my readers, are my Valentine and I love each of you.

We Are The World?

I have really mixed feelings posting the We Are The World 25 for Haiti video that debuted tonight during the opening ceremony for the Olympics.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not callus. I fully recognize what a horrible tragedy happened in Haiti a month ago. I know that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and that they don't have the ability to recover from the earthquake on their own. They simply must have help from all around the world. And I am sympathetic to their need and wish I could do something other than just give some money. Suffering anywhere causes me incredible grief.

But what gives me pause is that I look around our country and I see incredible suffering everyday. Not just in the poverty that is so apparent in our inner cities, but also the poverty and suffering that exists in towns all across the nation. When I was on the Urban Studies Program in Chicago one semester during college, I had class inside the Cabrini Green Housing Project, just days after 7-year old Dantrell Davis was shot and killed walking to school with his mother. I spent another day visiting a woman in her home where we couldn't take off our coats because her walls were paper thin and she couldn't afford heat; the poverty she lived in was simply heart breaking. Today we have 46 million people in the United States who have no health insurance and we refuse to do anything to insure they won't end up homeless should they get sick.

Many people believe that to provide help to people in the United States, who are living in unimaginable suffering and poverty, is socialism and that many of them claiming to need that help don't deserve it because they don't pay income taxes. Yet, in an instant, they're perfectly willing to bend over backwards for people in other countries. Why?

I know it's not PC to talk about this, but it causes me great personal strife. I actually lie awake at night thinking about this stuff. I don't understand how so many people who clearly have love in their hearts for mankind, only seem to have that love for the people they never have to see or meet. How can we just ignore the suffering that happens everyday right in our own backyards? Why can't we come together like we have for Haiti and raise money to fix some of the enormous problems we have in the United States?

I don't have any answers for the questions I've posed. I wish I did, but I don't. But I believe that we could come together, leaving politics, egos, lobbyists, and personal agendas at the door, and do what's right for our friends, family, and neighbors in the United States. If only we all believed it was as important to take care of our own as we do to care for the rest of the world. I believe it's our obligation to relieve suffering as best we can and how we do that (or don't) tells us exactly who we are. How can we, as a country, be a world leader if we don't even take care of our own citizens?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why I Love Social Networking

I'll admit it. I love Facebook and Twitter. To a lesser degree, I also love LinkedIn, but not in the same way.

Why do I love these new fangled 21st century social networking websites? I'm glad you asked.

Let me give you some background. I was dragged into social networking kicking and screaming. It started with LinkedIn and I think I have my friend Kelly to blame for that. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site, where you post your resume, or as much of it as you are comfortable with posting, and you use your professional connections to build relationships with other professionals. Facebook came next. Tim is completely responsible getting me sucked into Facebook. And then there's Twitter. For the uninitiated, Twitter is a micro-blogging, text messaging, instant messaging site and I love it. Again, I give Tim the credit (or the blame depending on the day of the week).

What I love about social networking is the connection that it's allowed me to build with people I would have never otherwise known. More specifically, I love that it's allowed me to get to know a side of friends I've known for years that I would never have known otherwise.

Thanks to Facebook and Little Merry Sunshine (although more Facebook than Little Merry Sunshine), I have gotten to know quite a few people I went to high school and/or college with that I didn't know very well at either place.

Take my friend Beth. Although we were classmates and lived across the hall from each other freshman year, we ran in different circles at Lake Forest College. It was a small school and we knew each other, but we didn't really KNOW each other. Almost seventeen years later, we have reunited via Facebook, our blogs, and Beth's book Social Climbers and chat regularly. I've come to discover that we have more in common than just the fact that we both went to Lake Forest College. We both want to make the world better. We both want to be happy and love those around us. And we both despise Mean Girls (actual mean girls, not the movie).

Then there's Sonya. Again, we barely knew each other in college. I remember she was into horses; I remember taking a philosophy class with her; and I seem to recall that she went to a military boarding school. But I didn't know what an amazing mother she would make. I didn't know about her passion for her family and writing. But now, all these years later, thanks to Facebook, we have had an opportunity to get to know each other in a way we never could in College and I know that if we were closer geographically, we'd be good friends. I cherish the comments she leaves on Little Merry Sunshine because, in spite of the fact that we disagree politically, we both know that we agree on far more than separates us.

Barrie is another Forester I barely knew. I was her RA her freshman year in Deerpath, but after that I lost track of her. Until Facebook and now her blog, Barrie Briggs Spang The Designing Life, which recounts tales of her life as an interior designer. I would never have known about her incredible talents and passion for interior design, but for these incredible tools. I love getting to know her better each day.

John and I really became friends in junior high, although we lived a block apart and have known each other since first grade. In junior high, we walked home together, went to Washington DC together, and he even t-p'd my house. Ya, he was there when I fell in love with DC. We didn't hang out as much in high school, even though we only lived a few hundred feet from each other, and until we reconnected on Facebook, it was close to 20 years since we'd last spoken. When we started chatting on Facebook, it felt like it we had spoken just yesterday. When we finally saw each other last August, 20 years were erased in an instant.

Holly, Brian, and Ron were also junior high and high school friends I hadn't seen since high school, but thanks to Facebook, we know that we practically live around the corner from each other and hang out on a fairly regular basis. Holly was also on that incredible Washington DC trip in 8th grade. In fact, we were roommates, but like my friendship with John, our friendship faded a bit in high school (partly because she had moved away for 2 of the 4 years).

My cousins Elesha, Andrea, Alan, Robbie, Anna, Peter and I are in much more regular contact than we were in pre-Facebook days. I've seen Peter's new son, even though they live in New Orleans. I've watched Elesha's kids grow, although they're in Dallas. Most of us didn't grow up together like our parents did, so Facebook allows us to stay close even though we're all over the country.

I could go on all day with lists of friends I wouldn't hang out with now, but for reconnecting with them on Facebook.

But I haven't just reconnected with old friends. I've also made new friends. Susan is the perfect example. We met through Desi (another Forester) on Facebook. She writes the absolutely awesome Kittens Farting Rainbows. I mean, is there a better name for a blog? She is funny and smart and very much like me. We also chat via email and Twitter and Facebook and I know that if she lived in Chicago and not Memphis, I'd be running to her house to borrow a cup of sugar or shot of whiskey from time to time. But for Facebook, we'd never know each other.

I've heard some people say they wouldn't go back and reconnect with old friends because they prefer to remember friends as they were and not see them as they are today. They also worry that their friends are still living the lives of 10 or more years ago. I wholeheartedly disagree. I think that reflects more of a personal insecurity than anything else. Maybe those people aren't afraid their friends haven't evolved, but that they haven't personally grown and changed and don't want to have to look their own failings in the face. Maybe I'm wrong; that's just a theory.

I love learning about how the people who impacted my life so many years ago (and some I was too insecure to really get to know) have grown and changed and even stayed the same. These are the people who shaped my life and whose lives I shaped. We all shared similar experiences whether those experiences were a trip to Washington DC, band camp, the same freshman dorm , or a philosophy class during the time of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Some of them are people I loved and who loved me, whether those words were ever spoken or not.

Without fail, in every single instance, the friends I've reunited with via social networking have proven to be simply incredible people. Some I wish I'd gotten to know better when it was geographically easier, but I'm thrilled to be able to make up for lost time.

So if you're not taking advantage of these 21st century tools, why not? What have you got to lose?

The Hug-E-Gram - The Perfect Gift for Valentine's Day

Are you still looking for the perfect Valentine's Day Gift? I'm sure you know how much is riding on Valentine's Day and there's enormous pressure to get it just right, so you'd better not screw this up.

Not to worry. Little Merry Sunshine (thanks to her college friend Koko) has just the perfect gift for you. The Hug-E-Gram!

Your Valentine will treasure this thoughtful gift for years to come. Whenever you can't be there to wrap your loving arms around her, the "two soft plush cotton arms with cartoon hands . . . create a soft and cuddly hug giving a heartwarming feeling" that will remind her of your undying affection.

But wait! It gets better! You can even whisper sweet nothings in her ear as you "hug" her by recording your own voice in the Hug-E-Gram!

There's even more! Your Hug-E-Gram will even be delivered with a bouquet of wooden roses because nothing smells quite as sweet as . . . wooden roses? On the upside, they won't wilt on Monday.

You must HURRY! You've only got until 1pm ET (that's 12noon for you Midwesterners) to place your order so they can rush your Hug-E-Gram for Saturday delivery. It's just $64.98 with overnight delivery, but your Sweetie is worth that, right?

Just look at how happy and fulfilled this woman seems. She clearly couldn't feel more love if her beloved were right there embracing her himself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Picture from

Some wise-acre in Wyoming, Minnesota has purchased the billboard above. No one knows who paid for the sign, although we can probably narrow it down to someone who is not a fan of President Obama and prefers the ways of George W. Bush, who got us into a large chunk of the mess we're in now.

In response to the question, my answer is NO. No, I don't miss George W. Bush. I don't miss water boarding. I don't miss his "compassionate conservatism" that allowed him to ignore the folks in New Orleans after Katrina. I don't miss his lying about ties between Iraq and Al Qaada. I don't miss his blowing up the budget surplus and creating a huge deficit to pay for two wars. I don't miss the way most of the world didn't like us during his tenure. I don't miss the way he stacked the Supreme Court with even more conservative white guys. I don't miss the way he pretended climate change wasn't real. I don't miss his politics of fear. I don't miss the way he pretended the Constitution didn't apply. I don't miss his fake folksy way.

Thirteen months later, the world isn't perfect. But we're making progress. The world today has serious problems and needs serious people to tackle them. And I'll take people who make serious, thoughtful, carefully debated decisions over people who pretend that intelligence and careful consideration don't matter any day of the week.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Achievement Gap, New Orleans, Teach for America and My Friend Jared

I have a friend named Jared Fox, who like me is a Lake Forest College alum. Jared was a member of the Class of 2009 and when he graduated, he chose to be part of Teach for America in New Orleans because he wanted to help close the achievement gap that so many kids in New Orleans fall into. Jared has a heart of gold and I could write all day about all of his achievements at LFC and the ways in which he made a difference for the student body and the Lake Forest community as a whole. To say I'm proud to know Jared, I'm honored to count him among my friends and that he makes me want to be a better person would be an understatement.

Jared's mission in life is to leave the world a better place by helping others be better than they ever imagined they could be. I have no doubt he achieves his mission on a daily basis.

He posted a note on Facebook tonight asking for some help for his students. I've posted the note along with the video he made below. Can you help or do you know someone who could help?

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Over 2,000 people have met Mr. Fox's students (see below). Now we need your help.

Mr. Fox is trying to start a prize box for his little fox's and we need your help to fill it. See, when students do something amazing, shouldn't they be rewarded? I'm looking to fill a Rubbermaid container with random goodies for my amazing students to pick out of when they exceed my high expectations.

That's where you come in. I need your help to fill it.

Look around your house. Ask your friends. That old t-shirt you got as a promo from Subway? A little figurine? A mousepad? The most random things you can find...I want them.

Maybe you've already done your spring cleaning, so why don't you run to Walmart and pick up some candy bars or bags of Skittles and send them this way?

You can send all contributions to:

Mr. Fox's Classroom
West Jefferson High School
2200 8th Street
Harvey, LA 70058

Goal: One rubbermaid container full by February 23, 2009.

[Note: If you'd like to help out in a especially amazing way, we are also in need of a printer for the classroom. I teach seniors and printing college applications, ACT registrations and scholarship forms can add up!]

We, New Orleans

a poem by Mr. Fox's English III class

hold these truths to be self evident
that New Orleans stands tall
within ourselves
that we all deserve to be happy
that I can be the best boxer that ever lived besides Muhammad Ali
that we didnt land on Plymouth Rock, that Plymouth Rock landed on us
that the Saints are our saviors

Monday, August 29, a day which will live in infamy
a girl named Katrina destroyed my city
New Orleans was attacked, fell off the map, but is back
my house drowned
and Northern birds flew south to sing songs of sorrow

we needed to ask
not what youre your country could do for you
but what
the people of New Orleans
your city
could do for
for a better future
for the U.S.

I have a dream
that my ancestors will be proud
that one day I can help my people
to be president
that being unique and different will be accepted
where our fore fathers
and mothers
can bring forth a new nation
conceived in liberty and dedicated to
my future
bounce music
real equality

think of it
as one small step for
and a giant leap for

I dont know what course others may take
but as for me
Give me a book
or give me a gun
Give me the chance to read
or trap me in a minimum wage job
Im going to do what I have to do

I am happy to join with
my family
New Orleans
Teach for America

ten years from now

in what will go down in history
as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history
of our nation
for every person to get where Im trying to get

the freedom of every child to get a great education
to make something of myself
to change the world
to close the achievement gap

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I've Been Wondering About A Few Things . . .

There are some questions I've been grappling with lately and have been unable to answer for myself. Because you, my faithful readers, are by and large some of the smartest people around (you read Little Merry Sunshine, afterall), I'm tossing these things out to you in hopes that maybe you can help answer my questions.

1. Is it just me or does the fact that former President George W. Bush is out there shilling for Haiti relief leave a bitter taste when looking at it through the lens of how he mishandled New Orleans after Katrina? Don't get me wrong, I think relief for Haiti is an important cause, but is George W. "You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie!" Bush really the best spokesperson?

2. Why didn't Scott Lee Cohen's opponents in the Democratic primary last week bring any of these facts about his prostitute-loving, woman-beating, tax-cheating, child-support-skipping past to light? And why did the Tribune and Sun-Times wait until the day after the election to publish their stories? These are the kinds of stories that the good folks who voted for him (I wasn't one because something about him just rubbed me wrong and it turns out I was right.), might have appreciated knowing the day before the election. They were evidently so easy to find that they hit the papers within hours after his victory and we're now stuck with him, unless he removes himself from the ballot. If any members of the media or one of his opponents had brought this to light prior to Wednesday (say maybe Monday?), we might not be in this mess now. UPDATE: Capitol Fax is reporting that Cohen may be withdrawing from the race at 7:30pm. Update #2 7:17pm: Cohen is out.

3. Why is it that in spite of the fact that I wear socks 2 at a time, whenever I put socks in the wash, I'm always one short when I fold clothes? And why is it that on the rare occasion when I toss in an odd number of socks, the odd sock is never lost and I always get the same number of socks out of the dryer that I put in?

4. Why do the pro-life folks champion women for making the choice to not have an abortion when all they want to do is take that choice away?

I think that's all for today. If anyone has these answers, I'd sure appreciate it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's the Little Things That Make Me Happy

I woke up this morning thinking about all the things that make me happy, which I have to say was a delightful way to wake up and immediately put me in a lovely mood.

Here, in no particular order, is a partial list of what I came up with as I laid in bed:
  • A heated mattress pad. I don't know who invented this, but whomever it is deserves a Nobel Prize in something, maybe humanitarianism or something like that. This creates a wonderful little cocoon that I never want to leave in the morning and has given me better, deeper sleep since I got it in December. Best money I spent in ages.
  • A made bed and a clean bedroom. There's just something incredibly calming about walking down the hall and seeing my room, my oasis, clean and waiting for me. Sometimes when I need an escape in the middle of the day, I just walk into my bedroom and inhale and exhale deeply and I feel calm again. Plus, when I make my bed first thing in the morning, I feel accomplished before I've even brushed my teeth.
  • A full tank of gas. This is especially happiness-inducing in the winter when it's cold and the winter elements are likely to develop at any moment without notice.
  • A purring kitty. Nothing puts a smile on my face faster than when Betsey or Ross are purring so loudly that I can hear it across the room or when they unexpectedly hop onto my lap and just start purring. Pure bliss.
  • Clean and folded laundry. I love the fresh crisp scent of clean laundry.
  • The scents of lavender and vanilla. Together or separately.
  • Dinner on nice dishes. Because I tend to cook a lot and then divide it up into single serving containers that I freeze, I usually just heat that up and eat out of the container. It's more efficient and means I don't have many wash to dishes. But at least one night a week, I make myself set the table, even if it's just for me and eat dinner properly off nice dishes.
  • Seeing the sun any day between November and April. I live in Chicago. Nothing more needs to be said.
  • Reading the newspaper cover-to-cover. The actual newspaper. Not the online version. I don't do this very often, so when I really take the time to hold the real paper in my hands and savor the ink bleeding on my fingers as I read all the stories (and the comics), I just love it.
  • Books. I love to read. I'm currently reading four books. I have books all over my house. My dream is to have a house with a library where I can just retire to browse through my books and write letters.
  • Letters. I love to write letters and receive letters. Good old-fashioned handwritten letters. Emails, text messages, sky writing, smoke signals, etc. are all fine, but nothing quite compares to being able to hold a handwritten letter in my hand. That said, I'm embarrassingly behind with writing letters (mostly thank you notes) at the moment and it's causing me all kinds of stress. I will tackle this this week for certain and then I'll feel better. My favorite letters are saved in a "love notes" file that I visit every now and again. That file is one of about 5 things I'd grab if my house burned down again.
  • Music. I often like to start my day with uplifting music. I lifts my spirit and fills my soul like nothing else. I often use music to energize me when I have to do something I'm not excited about doing.
  • Surprise phone calls for no reason whatsoever from people I love.
  • Long, hot bubble baths with candles.
  • Lazy weekend mornings. Today was not one of them. I was up fairly early because I had things I wanted to accomplish.
There are obviously many things in life that make me happy, but those are the things I thought of first thing this morning.

What simple pleasures in life make you happy?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ads You Won't See During the Superbowl But Should

Here are two ads you won't see during the Superbowl but should.
Planned Parenthood's Response to the Tim Tebow Focus on the Family Anti-Choice ad:

I don't think Planned Parenthood has tried to get their ad aired during the Superbowl, but I also don't imagine that Planned Parenthood thinks spending almost $3 million for a 30-second spot is a good use of their limited resources when those resources could be better used to help provide healthcare for women.

Mancrunch Gay Dating Website ad:

CBS says their Standards and Practices department decided to reject the ad. Sure, this ad is racy, but it is less over-the-top or offensive than some of the previous Superbowl ads we've been subjected to?

Take a look at this homophobic 2009 Snickers Superbowl ad.

GoDaddy is also famous for their racy ads:

Lastly, check out this ad for, a website for people looking to have extramarital affairs. It was banned in most of the U.S., but ran in Texas last year. Personally, I'm so offended by the ad endorsing infidelity that I won't put it on Little Merry Sunshine.

The Superbowl has a history of over-the-top and often offensive ads. It's too bad that they've decided this year to show an ad encouraging women to defy their doctors' advice and possibly risk their lives and have a history of being homophobic, sexual, and encouraging infidelity, while ignoring perfectly legitimate relationships and empowering women.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Focus On the Family's Offensive Superbowl Ad

You've probably heard that Focus on the Family has bought airtime during the Superbowl this weekend to air a commercial featuring University of Florida Quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mom Pam Tebow talking about how Mrs. Tebow chose not to abort her pregnancy in 1987.

According to the stories surrounding the ad, Mrs. Tebow became severly ill during a missionary trip to the Philippines in 1987 and doctors advised her to abort her pregnancy, but she chose not to do so. And, of course, it was the right decision because look at what she would have given up . . . a 2-time national champion and Heisman Trophy winner who will go on to do who knows what in the NFL. Yes, God blessed Mrs. Tebow for making the right choice.

CBS is happily running the obviously slanted ad because it has evidently changed its policy about not airing advocacy ads during the Superbowl. As expected, pro-choice groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood are up in arms and want CBS to reject this ad. Petitions have been widely circulated via email, Twitter, and Facebook. Grannies in South Florida have created a YouTube video opposing CBS and telling us exactly what they think CBS stands for (NSFW). I'm sure boycotts are planned.

Personally, I find this ad offensive. But not for the reason you might think. I don't find it offensive because it espouses a viewpoint I don't share; although to be sure, I find Focus on the Family's decidedly anti-choice, anti-sex ed, anti-birth control, and homophobic agenda highly offensive. In fact, I don't even think CBS should reject it because it's an advocacy ad. I find it offensive because it Focus on the Family and Mrs. Tebow are quite possibly lying.

If, as she's long held, Mrs. Tebow was actually in the Phillipines when she became ill (and there's no reason to believe that's untrue since her son was, in fact, born there), then it's difficult to believe that any doctor recommended that she abort her pregnancy because abortion had been illegal for any reason whatsoever in the Phillipines since 1930. In fact, Articles 256, 258, and 259 specifically require "imprisonment for the woman who undergoes the abortion, as well as for any person who assists in the procedure, even if they be the woman's parents, a physician or midwife." Certainly, as the New York Times reported in 2005, there's a huge network for obtaining abortions and tonics that will induce abortion, but it seems to be highly unregulated, illegal, and causes many women to die. That doesn't surprise me at all. But given the huge influence of the Catholic Church and the Phillipine laws, are we really to believe that any reputable doctor in the Phillipines would risk his career by recommending a woman break the law? I, for one, find that difficult to believe.

That said, I actually think it's okay for CBS to run an advocacy ad. To refuse to air an ad just because it's controversial is a slippery slope and I worry about how it would reek of censorship and be anti-First Amendment. If CBS refuses to air the ad just because it's anti-choice and millions of women are offended, what's the next thing that gets censored? Will it be something that I believe in? Probably. In order to protect the freedom of speech we all hold so dear, it's sometimes necessary to let people say offensive things.

What I wish would happen is that NARAL or Planned Parenthood would buy ad time disputing the facts of the ad. I doubt Focus on the Family is going to tell the millions of people watching the Superbowl that had Mrs. Tebow gotten an abortion in the Phillipines, she and her doctor (and maybe even her husband) would have gone to prison. But why isn't anyone else?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Voters Have Spoken

It appears that today's voter turnout was somewhere near 30%.

You had your choice and you spoke loud and clear. By not voting, approximately 70% of you clearly said you wanted me to become your Supreme Dictator. And I accept. In anticipation that this would be your decision, over the weekend, I hired my Chief of Staff. I just hope he's up for the challenge.

Now that I'm in charge, let's talk about how things will change.

First, since you obviously don't care to have your voices heard, we will still have elections and still be a Democracy, but only in the sense that elections will now all be non-binding until I approve the results (or not).

Second, we will no longer engage in war. It's silly and no one wins, except Halliburton. International disputes will now be settled through a rigorous rock-paper-scissors best 2 out of 3 tournament. If that doesn't work, I will simply decide who wins and that will be that.

Third, professional athletes will no longer be considered "heroes" or "role models" and will no longer be paid more than the gross national product of some foreign countries. Teachers, firefighters, and police officers are now the most revered members of our society and will be paid accordingly.

Fourth, you are free to practice any religion you wish, but please don't run around telling everyone what a good [insert name of religion here] you are. Remember that less is more and let people see your devoutness through your actions, not your words.

Fifth, because I believe quality, affordable health care is a right, not a privilege, everyone will now be eligible for universal health care. We will pay for it through the savings from the elimination of war. Sorry, for-profit health insurance companies, you are dismissed. We've got a nice exit packet here that includes information on job training programs so you can become useful members of society. Oh, and we'll need your id badges back. Thanks.

Sixth, abortion will remain safe and legal, but will become rare because birth control will be free. Women will always know that they, and they alone, maintain control over their bodies. Please don't take this to mean I'm "pro abortion" because I'm not. As I've previously stated, I am not a fan of abortion, so if you don't like abortion, you don't ever need to have one. The bottom line is that I trust women to do what's right for them.

Seventh, our major national holiday will be my birthday. It's June 16th. Fireworks will be involved.

Eighth, DADT and DOMA have been overturned. Finally, everyone shares equal rights. It's about time.

Ninth, there will be an entire tv channel devoted to running The West Wing re-runs 24/7.

Tenth, we will keep the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the rest of the Amendments, although they will be modified to reflect the above changes. Guns, of course, will remain legal, but the cost of ammunition will be taxed higher than cigarettes and alcohol.

Eleventh, in order to keep them in touch with reality and make them more humane, all CEOs will be required to spend 2 weeks each year performing the lowest level jobs in their companies. See Undercover Boss (and here) for more information.

Finally, twelth, there will be absolutely no complaining allowed. Your voice was your vote and you chose not to exercise it.

Thank you again for your trust in me to do what's right for you.

Decisions Are Made By Those Who Show Up*

Do you know how many people in the world don't even have the option of voting or who's votes don't matter because their democracy is a total sham? I don't either, but I'm willing to bet it's far greater than the number of people who vote we the freedoms we take for granted.

We take for granted that we won't be maimed when we go vote. We don't think twice about whether the election is stolen so our votes don't matter anyway (well, after 2000, maybe we do a little, but I digress). As women, we don't consciously think about all the women throughout the world who are denied the franchise simply because they are women and that we've only had this right for a little more than 81 years. We don't worry that changing our government will erupt in violence and war.

Voting is our right. It's a privilege that we were granted in the Constitution, although some of us had to fight a bit harder than others for the right to be added to the Constitution. But it's not just a right, in my mind. Voting is a responsibility.

We owe it to the millions of people around the world who are denied the right to vote. And we owe it to future generations to have cared for our democracy by voting. The decisions made today and in the next 4 years by our government will have ripple effects for generations to come. Simply put, if you're concerned about the future for your children and grandchildren you must vote.

Decisions are made by those who show up.

*President Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing, "What Kind of Day Has It Been," Season 1, Episode 22, originally aired May 17, 2000.