Are You Afraid of Losing Your Power? I Am.

Would you be happy to be treated the same way as a black person in America today? I wouldn’t.

White privilege has it’s perks: Not being followed around a store because the sales person thinks I”m a thief. Assuming I’m safe if I’m stopped by a cop. Having the edge in job interviews.

But if I acknowledge that I don’t want to be treated like black peeps are, I’m admitting ” [I] know what’s happening, [I] know I don’t want it for myself. So why am I allowing it to happen to others.”  Quote/paraphrase: Anti-Racist white activist Jane Elliott

And that brings up the reason many of us aren’t “spending our privilege,” we’re afraid. (Spending Privilege-using your power as part of the dominant group to advocate for/uplift those from a subdominant group.)

Afraid to lose our jobs, afraid we’ll offend, afraid we’ll lose our power. And let’s face it, being the privileged dominant group has its appeal.

I’m afraid. When a lit agent will only read submissions from  marginalized voices for a whole month, a part of me is frustrated/afraid. Does this mean being white will be held against me when it comes to getting my book published? Making it even harder for me to achieve my dream, which is already hard enough? 

Then I think, “Welcome to racism. This is a tiny taste of what it’s like to have your skin color used against you. Sucks, huh?”

So I push through my initial fear/anger and remind myself that it’s persistence that will get me to my goal. As Harrison Ford said when asked why he made it when many of his peers didn’t: “I never gave up.” And that marginalized voices having been largely ignored all these years deserve to be heard in a big way. Which then reminds me of my main purpose in life. To leave this planet better than I found it. That includes being a good ally to all subdominant groups. (*dominant/subdominant groups are a less emotional and more encompassing way to explain our social hierarchy per Audre Lorde.)

Being a good ally means not giving into the fear we all have around loss of power. Means opening up to the possibility that there’s enough power to go around. Life doesn’t have to be a zero sum game, though it feels like it at times.

How do you be a good ally? Call in (calling someone out BUT in private) your boss/colleague if they don’t treat your black colleague the same way as you. (I’m hoping that ‘calling them in’ will result in us keeping our jobs.) 

Listen to black folks when they’re sharing what it’s like to be black in America. Listen to their stories, however uncomfortable they may be. Use what they taught you to intervene the next time someone is treating a black person unfairly for no reason.

If you’re an educator/parent/caregiver, talk to kids about race at a much earlier age than you think you should. (By 4 or 5, they already notice differences like skin color.) A great picture book for younger kids about what’s happening now is NOT MY IDEA.

You get the picture, right?

Why am I telling you all this? Because I keep hearing over and over again that the best thing I can do as a white person is to talk to other white people about spending our privilege. About making changes in our spheres of influence every day. Baby steps turn into a thousand steps over time. And if each of us do baby steps? That’s a lotta miles covered! 🙂

P.S. Youtube vid on the way. Because talking to each other about racism is such an important and sensitive topic, we are still working on this week’s offering regarding how to deal with one’s fear around losing power etc.

If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you want to fear LESS and LAUGH more.

 Questions, comments, suggestions can  reach me via replying to this letter, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel.

 
#SlayFear

Weekly Rad Resource From The Library: Please borrow either digitally, or in person if preferred and allowed, this terrific book that helped me understand what’s going on between blacks and whites. Note: I still have a looong way to go in my understanding.


Posted in Books, Diversity, Empowerment, Fear, Inclusion, Rad Resource, Thinking Outside The Box, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , by with no comments yet.

Activities That Bring Joy Into Your Life

I don’t know about you, but this isolation thing is starting to get to me. I MISS PEOPLE! So I was ecstatic when a few friends of mine asked me to beckon lovely with them.

Simply put, Beckoning Lovely was started on 8/8/08 at 8:08p CDT by late author Amy Krouse Rosenthal. (And continued for 3 years after.) Her point? To bring more joy and wonder into the world by doing/creating random acts of silliness and kindness.

For ex, that first year she gave a bunch of flowers to someone who showed up to the ‘Bean,’ someone she’d never met before, and asked him to give a flower to various strangers who passed by. The surprise and joy on the faces of the recipients was priceless. To get more background and understanding about Beckoning Lovely, watch Amy’s Ted talk.

In light of the pandemic, one of my friends suggested we beckon lovely via Zoom last week. Though not a substitute for real life, it added laughter and love to our lives, and we hope to yours if you decide to watch our playful party.

We came up with 10 activities to share with each other, and if you want to do them along with us while watching the vid, please have the following stuff handy:
-A small bowl of popcorn, M&M’s or other small, tasty food item
-A candle of any size Matches or a lighter
-A small serving of a food you really love to eat
-As many of your favorite books as you can hold up in front of a video camera
-A poem or part of a poem to share—and yes, your own poems are eagerly welcomed!
-A danceable song cued up on your computer or smart phone to play loudly
-A handwritten message of thanks, hope, or encouragement you’d like to send out to the world
-A special item that brings you beautiful memories of someone or something special to you.

No pressure! Do some or all or none. Watch what we did and then create your own Beckoning Lovely event with those you are sheltering in place with, or on Zoom. And if you do beckon lovely, please reply to this email, or comment on our Youtube video and tell me all about it. We can always use more ideas for the next time we add more joy to the world. Hopefully in person!

Weekly Rad Resource From The Library: Did you know most public libraries offer access to free digital magazines and even some newspapers like the New York Times? Go to your public library digital resources page and see what’s there. This is from Chicago Public Library Online Resources page.


Posted in Creativity, Empowerment, Fear, PLAY, Rad Resource, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , by with no comments yet.

WHAT I LEARNED AT THE LIBRARY

Lucky am I to have been hired as a Youth Services Library Associate at Winnetka Library! If you live in the area, you’ll know where to find me. That is when the library re-opens. For now, here I am.

Libraries have gone way beyond their original purpose, and now often serve as the community centers for their patrons. For ex. did you know you can borrow ebooks from libraries at any time? Just download FREE apps like hoopla using your library card number. Also, some libraries feed kids after school snacks, register voters, host seminars on biz topics, provide hours of entertaining, educational enrichment for little and big kids alike…ALL FOR FREE! (My library even gives out STEAM kits.)

I’m getting access to all kinds of neat library resources. So when I learn or do something new, I’m gonna share it here with all of you.

For my first share, I’d like to give you all the tools to create ‘STORYTIME’ at home with your kids. (If you are ‘big kids,’ take what I’ve shared here and make a DIY book club kit. I’ll be doing those for older kids later on.) The idea is to get off your screens for a while, and do something in real life. (Though some of the offerings do require a screen.) All of the suggestions here are either free or very inexpensive.

So without further ado, here’s my first Storytime kit using the picture book, I’M BORED by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Seemed like a timely book for these times. 🙂

DIY STORYTIME KIT

I’M BORED is a fun, clever story about a little girl rediscovering the power of imagination once she’s called boring by a potato. Yep, a potato. The bold, emotional illustrations bring the text to the next level, while giving kids ideas of what to do next so they’re not bored even after the story ends.

  1. WATCH: Michael Ian Black read the story, and then Debbie Ridpath Ohi (illustrator) offers an art demo and creative challenge at timestamp 5:17.
  2. Other book related activities to extend your learning:

READ: The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Available on Hoopla) This LOL picture book uses the feeling of boredom as a doorway into an engaging and enriching experience.

-PRINT READY ACTIVITY SHEETS, including how to make finger puppets and coloring pages

https://www.debbieohi.com/im-bored-activity-pages/

-MAKE POTATO ART

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children/potato-craft-ideas-for-kids.htm

https://www.fun-stuff-to-do.com/easy-crafts-for-kids-8.html

Potato Sprout People

https://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-and-experiments/potato-sprout-people

Potato Book Characters:

http://fourcheekymonkeys.com/play-love-learn/read-play-learn-potato-book-characters/

-DANCE AND SING while learning about Flamingos, do they fly, where do they live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsUWR9hkT5M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhNrC0VjzMU

ENCOURAGE IMAGINATIVE PLAY

https://www.horizoneducationcenters.org/blog/5-easy-ways-to-encourage-imaginative-play

Make an Imagination Prop Box:

-Consider creating a prop box or corner filled with objects to spark your child’s fantasy world. You might include:

Large plastic crates, cardboard blocks, or a large, empty box for creating a “home”

  • Old clothes, shoes, backpacks, hats
  • Old telephones, phone books, magazines
  • Cooking utensils, dishes, plastic food containers, table napkins, silk flowers
  • Stuffed animals and dolls of all sizes
  • Fabric pieces, blankets, or old sheets for making costumes or a fort
  • Theme-appropriate materials such as postcards, used plane tickets, foreign coins, and photos for a pretend vacation trip
  • Writing materials for taking phone messages, leaving notes, and making shopping lists

IF YOU’VE GOT MORE TIME:

Teacher Guide for kids 5-10 yrs old using book to teach ideas in most subjects including: Math, English, Science, Art etc.

http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/605335/24139138/1388670294790/IM+BORED+Guide-v2.pdf?token=bt%2F%2FYt4wh9tTG%2FcXxwEYyMJVfeI%3D

Don’t forget to have fun!


Posted in Creativity, Inspired Creativity, PLAY, Rad Resource, Thinking Outside The Box, Uncategorized and tagged , , , by with no comments yet.

Hidden Figures, How a Woman’s Creativity Saved NASA

KatherineJohnsonQuote

Hidden Figures is hands down the best movie I saw in 2016!

It’s the story of how one woman’s creativity saved not only a man’s life, but also the entire NASA program itself.

Katherine Johnson was one of a handful of African-American women who worked at NASA in the ‘50s. She referred to herself and her female colleagues as ‘virtual computers who wore skirts.’

Katherine says that she was pulled from the ‘colored computer pool’ to work on flight research because she always asked a lot of questions, while the rest of the women just did as they were told.

But it was Katherine’s creative use of geometry that made the all white male division “[forget] to return me to the pool.”

In 1962 John Glenn was slated to become the first American to orbit the earth. Right before launch, Katherine’s supervisor discovered that the fancy new IBM computer had turned our conflicting return longitudes and latitudes. When he shared this info with Glenn, Glenn refused to go up until Katherine had verified which of the computer’s numbers for launch and landing were correct.

Once in orbit Glenn’s heat shield started to fail.  Again Glenn and a panicked NASA supervisor turned to Katherine. She reassured them that her ‘return window’ numbers would get Glenn safely back to earth.

If Katherine’s geometry had been wrong, Glenn would’ve been incinerated upon re-entry.  In addition, his death would’ve most likely given Congress the reason they needed to stop funding NASA.

Fortunately for Glenn, Katherine’s numbers were spot on as usual.

Once Glenn survived, NASA had its eye on the moon, but had no idea how to get there. Katherine was told that she’d have to invent math that didn’t exist yet in order to make it happen. She did just that.

Lest you think I’ve given the whole movie away, I haven’t.  The story is powerful because it’s really about race, sexism, and the few folks on both sides that decided that they were going to move beyond their prejudices and make history.

So please read the book Hidden Figures, or go see the movie, or both. You’ll come out of it encouraged, empowered and ready to create something of your own. And who knows? Your creation just might be the thing that takes us to Mars, or saves an endangered species in the ocean, or adds beauty to the wall of a museum.
 
Would love to know what you thought of the movie/book. Please let me know by replying to this letter, or post your comments on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

#CreativityEmpowers

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Thank God Katherine is better at math than I am!

purplemath


Posted in Creativity, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Inspired Creativity, Thinking Outside The Box, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

HOW TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH IN SPACE & WRITE A POEM ABOUT IT

saturn

Saturn prances around
Like he’s the only game in town
 
His rings on display
Make girls swoon in his wake
 
Ladies beware
This boy is full of hot air
 
So just walk on by
This peacock’s not worth your time
–Anny Rusk
 
There’s a new poetry book out about space and aliens called Watcher of the Skies. (Published by the small British company The Emma Press.) It’s for kids aged 8-108.
 
Inside its pages poets muse about all aspects of space such as how astronauts brush their teeth (You don’t want morning breath if an alien drops by for tea.), how planets talk, and how to make a cosmic cupcake. (Recipe included.)
 
At the back of the book editor Rachel Piercey encourages readers to write their own space poems using prompts and examples from the anthology. My poem was inspired by the How Planets Talk prompt.
 
Example: “Write your own cosmic recipe for another kind of food, for example Star Stew or Moon Muffins. Try to include some relevant ingredients – so if it’s Star Stew, you might have hydrogen, helium and mouldy old light.
Where will you serve your food, on what, and to whom? Let your imagination run riot!”
 
Please, please write a space poem and share it with me by leaving it in a comment below, or post it on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 
 
Creativity Can Encourage & Empower Us All!
 
FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Of course the cool astronauts brush their teeth with purple toothpaste!

purpletoothpaste


Posted in Creativity, Imagination, Inspired Creativity, Uncategorized, World Building-Fictional Lands by with no comments yet.

Using Creativity to Encourage Grrl Power

a-mighty-girl-logo

All of the stories I’m working on have one thing in common: they feature strong female protagonists. My aim is to empower girls, and the guys around them (Think #HeForShe ) of all ages through my writing.

My first finished project is my fictional, science-based graphic novel story for tweens, Hidden Heroes. Think the movie Inside Out starring Estrogen as a superhero, and Samantha, the girl Estrogen has to turn into a woman. Think a story, not a textbook, on the beginning stages of female puberty.

Facts I had to learn about graphic novels before I could attempt to write one:

–GNs are comics, but usually much longer, and don’t have tons of issues. They can be a series though—think Zita Spacrgirl, a trilogy, or Hereville, trilogy.

–Graphic novel text is written for the illustrator, NOT the reader.

–The text is written in script form. From Hidden Heroes:

PAGE 1
SPLASH PAGE: (This means only one panel for the whole page.)
Estrogen and Antibody come around the bend in a vein, cruising on the blood stream. Estrogen is in an inner tube. Antibody is swimming. Estrogen is wearing a one-piece bathing suit. Antibody resembles a friendly Mammalian sea creature. (This is the panel description that the illustrator needs, but won’t end up in the published book. BTW: Things like captions and dialogue do end up in book.)

Caption: Inside Samanthaland, Estrogen and Antibody are riding the blood slide around Ovarian Island.
Estrogen: Wheeeeee!
Antibody: Owamp!

–A typical graphic novel as 4-7 panels per page.
This is an example page from Zita Spacegirl (6 panels):

zita-page

–Because a picture tells a 1000 words, your words can’t repeat what’s going on in the panel illustration, but rather, need to show what’s not going on…think dialogue, sound effects etc.

–GNs ask readers to engage with its story on two levels: Language and pictures. This means kids are using two parts of their brains to comprehend what they are reading. Schools are noticing a significant increase in test scores when kids can study complex topics, like the Constitution, using a graphic novel instead of a regular textbook. (Check out my buds at: The Comics Education Offensive to learn more about it!)

This is the advantage of doing a science-based story as a graphic novel…accessibility and deeper comprehension.

If you haven’t read a graphic novel yet, try one out. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.

Some suggestions of fictional graphic novels with strong female characters for tweens:
Zita Spacegirl
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Princeless
Lumberjanes
Find these and other suggestions at the A Mighty Girl site.

A list of posts on  graphic novels for older girls, aka women, can be found in this Huff Post page.

Which graphic novels have you enjoyed and why? Send me your answer by replying to this letter, or post it on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Batgirl costume

purplebatgirlcostume

 


Posted in Creativity, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Girls, Inspired Creativity, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

What Do You Expect?

when-i-let-go

In my case letting go of myself meant releasing my huge aspirations. Aspirations that I thought were my way in…into connection, into being loved. They were my lifelines. How would I survive without them?

But once I saw what my aspirations had become, I knew I had to let them go. They’d morphed into paralyzing expectations that seemed to move me further from my dream rather than closer to it. And in addition, they prevented me from enjoying the journey.

Letting go also means I have to float in the present, and allow the future to unfold on its own. To accept that I might not become a best-selling author who starts a foundation to serve kids’ needs. That I may give on a smaller scale like George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) rather than on a J. K. Rowling scale. And that that’s okay.

I’m still struggling with this, but I can acknowledge that there’s a certain freedom and relief in casting off expectations in all areas, not just my career.

Lack of expectation makes room for acceptance, for amazing surprises to happen, and removes the possibility of resentment. For we all fall short of our own, as well as others’, expectations at times.

17mqagd77sswwjpg

Deenie, the heroine of Judy Blume’s book by the same name, knows all about failing to meet another’s expectations. The popular girl in school, whose mother expects her to become a model, falls from grace when she’s forced to wear a body brace due to her severe scoliosis. Freed from the expectations of her classmates as well as her mother, Deenie eventually discovers who she can become.

I loved the book when I read it as a kid. Perhaps it’s time to read it again.

Have you let go of a dream, or expectation recently? How has it changed your life? Where/how did you find the courage to let go? Please share your stories in the comments section below, or on my Facebook page.

FYI: PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH ANYONE YOU THINK WOULD ENJOY IT.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Floating in the purple present

floating-in-purple-sea

 

 

 

 


Posted in Empowerment, Self-Acceptance, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Listening To My Internal GPS

One day while working in the State Department I had a vision. I say vision because I was wide awake.

An old woman in a gorgeous canopy bed just appeared.  She was sobbing. When I approached her, she pleaded with me to not let fear, or anything else stop me from pursuing my goals. That I would succeed if only I jumped in with both feet. When I asked why she cared, she told me she was giving me a second chance to rewrite my past. (Turns out she was me.) The experience gave me the courage to go to LA and pursue acting and music.

At the time it seemed like what I needed to hear.

But now I think my older self was misguided.

unaimed arrow

Maybe using our internal GPS is the best way to approach life goals. You have destinations in mind, and are open to getting re-routed along the way. In addition, if the weather at a certain spot makes it impossible to get there, you change your destination altogether.

Flexibility allows you to swerve around the potholes, while softening the blow if you have to drive over them.

If I have a chance to go back to my younger self again, this is the advice I’d share.

As I embark upon a new journey to published writerland, I’m asking myself to stay open to detours, or new destinations, along the way.

For a good example of flexibility in action, check out The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz.

NightFAiry

Born a night fairy, Flory’s life takes a drastic turn when she loses her wings. Forced to live on the ground, Flory must learn new skills in order to survive. These include fighting off predators using a thorn sword, and finding food on foot. Ultimately, she decides to change her very nature into that of a day fairy.

Ultimately Flory succeeds because she accepts her new situation, rather than trying to get back to her old life.

Though the book is targeted for younger readers, aged 6-9, I think all of us could learn a thing or two from Flory.

Have you changed course lately? Tell me about it–what you’ve discovered, where you’re headed etc. by replying to this letter, or post your stories on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

purple arrow


Posted in Empowerment, Self-Acceptance, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Mother Nature Lets Loose

Do you think Mother Nature feels our pain? I do.

No one can deny it’s been a tumultuous year so far.

Last Sunday night Mother Nature let her own frustration loose. (Her fury arrived between conventions, which I take to mean she’s not telling which way she’s voting.) 🙂 We had heavy rain, hail, and winds gusting up to 50 mph.

She blew down man made stuff like this stoplight, amazingly it still worked, and her own creations-think trees big and small.

fallenStoplight

I wondered whether she was trying to tell us something. Be kind to each other and me or else? Perhaps she was just venting. Spitting the negative energy she’d absorbed from us back out. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just ask her?

In the fantasy/mystery tale Gaia Girls Enter The Earth, 10-yr-old Elizabeth gets to do just that. She meets Gaia, the spirit of the earth, who resides in the body of a cute otter. Gaia explains how everything is connected, and thus why hurting the environment damages us all.

Elizabeth also has powers. She can control soil, and the trees and creatures that live in it. (Wish I could’ve controlled the wind the other day. Watching trees fly around was scary.) This comes in handy when she wants to save her family farm from being swallowed up by a corporate farming outfit.

Since I haven’t met Gaia yet, I can only guess that she wants what I want… to be treated with loving kindness and respect.

Maybe if we continue to change our ways we’ll see more of these:
doubleRainbow

Shot from my deck a few weeks ago.

If you have any cool storm or rainbow pics, please share them with me here on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Chicago storm captured by David Mayhew.

DavidMayhew stormPic


Posted in Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Lyrics For Gonna Get Mine

Gonna Get Mine, By Anny Rusk

 

They strapped her in

blood drained from her face

She tried to smile

I tried not to faint

Each tick of the clock

sounded like a blast

They put in her I.V.

said she’d go real fast

 

I saw the poison spread

like ink in a water glass

Before she went cold she said

 

CHORUS:

They say when you die

you’ll find peace of mind

Well I hope they’re right, I hope they’re right

They say when a bell rings

an angel gets wings

and tonight when the last bell chimes

I’m gonna get mine

 

Used to believe

an eye for an eye

You cut someone down

you become the sacrifice

Not so cut and dried

when before your eyes

You watch her writhe

as death breathes in her life

 

What point has been made

through this retribution

Any souls saved, anything changed…she prayed

 

CHORUS

 

If it could bring back

just one little lamb

I could wash her blood from my hands

She looked like an angel, peace on her lips

She had flown, flown away, gotten her wings…..

 

The victim’s family

said a swift amen

Thought their hearts would heal

thru an act of revenge

 

The poison spread

like ink in a water glass

Before she went cold she said

 

CHORUS

 


Posted in Self-Acceptance, Uncategorized, World Building-Fictional Lands by with no comments yet.