Thoughts on Religion

I often think about Religion, it’s impact on the world and it’s impact on me as an individual. There may not be another subject that I feel so at odds about than this one. This year has exacerbated my angst about Religion as I watch a majority of the evangelical christian community support a man whose character is so at odds with the way Christ framed the way to live and treat others. Once again, like history repeating itself endlessly, religion was used to influence people to make a political choice. Today if you “belong” to certain religious communities in the United States there is incredible pressure to vote and believe along Republican party lines. When politics and religion join hands there are bodies left behind the road they walk. Religion appeals to a deep place inside of us, a sacred space, where our minds and hearts simply obey. The power of linking religion and politics takes this obedience to God and directs it towards a political party or a political figure.

Religion can be used for harm or good. It can be used to influence and pressure people in positive and negative ways. I have seen the positive power in my community where people of Faith come together to help the homeless, the hungry, the disenfranchised. The values of kindness, hope, patience, self control, respect, grace, mercy, forgiveness are ones I believe in. I want to be influenced and reminded of them by clergy and others of Faith.

However, I am deeply opposed to religious leaders and religious people who seek to define what it means to be have Faith in terms of politics. I am opposed to those who through religion speak with a “higher calling” to control others’ lives through legislation and seek to override the freedom of others with their own code of ethics. It is oppression.

*Rome, taken by my husband*

The dance of the living

The shadows are uncovered

I’m not afraid to stare back at where they lived

they don’t frighten me as they once did

their looming shapes and giant mighty waving arms have lost their power

they don’t define me

they won’t confine me

I am dancing down the road in sunlight

Unafraid to reach for what I want

Unapologetic for who I am

This dance is from the sun and rain

the leaves, the stones, the dirt and all living things

It is the dance of the living; the heart beating, the eye blinking, the breath moist, the mind thinking

*Portland, Oregon*

golden chain

there is a time to sit in the pain and let it drain

sit, sit, sit in the pain

then look to the stars and think how infinitesimal your domain

gaze outside again

let the beauty of your world in and rain, rain, rain

open your hands to the blessings that came, came, came

a seed can grow, planted in the pain, watered in the rain

in its season it reaches up it’s mighty arms with leaves verdant to sustain

the soul inside; your golden chain

*Charleston, SC*

Grit and Kindness

The value I most want to grow is kindness

Definition of kindness:

the selfless action of being friendly, generous, considerate to consciously pass along hope and goodwill

The trait I most want to grow is grit

Definition of Grit:

the action of courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience, passion

empower our daughters

I have two daughters. I want them to have equality in their impact on the world and in their careers. Culturally women have been taught to make people feel comfortable and at ease. We can have trouble standing out, speaking up, being ambitious and strong. We can undermine our thoughts and ideas with weak language.

Have you noticed how men and women speak differently? Strong language is more prevalent among men than women. Language signals confidence and authority or can sabotage influence and weaken our effectiveness. One of the most offending words is the word “just”. “I just want to tell you that the customers don’t like the color.” “The customers don’t like the color.” “I just want to tell you that I’m concerned.” “I’m concerned.” Women should strike the word “just” from our language. Language is influence. Strong language is power.

“I would love”, “I feel”, “I believe”, “I’m sorry, but”all can have similar softening effects of our opinions. “I would love to hire Casey.” “I want to hire Casey.” “I feel that this move would increase our product’s desirability.” “I expect this move would increase our product’s desirability.” “I believe that we should be inclusive.” “We should be inclusive.” “I’m sorry, but I disagree.” “I disagree.”

Replace soft words and ideas with, “I’m confident”, “I expect”, “I’m convinced”. “My research shows.” “My experience tells me.”

“Does that make sense?” should be “How does that sound?” “Maybe this is a terrible idea.” should be “My idea is.”

This does not mean we don’t use diplomacy. Thoughtful and kind language is important. Having good emotional intelligence is important. But, let’s end soft posturing and over-flexibility and be courageous about our verbal expressions. Let’s be fearless with what we believe and the way we express it.

Weak language is not taken seriously. Unapologetic, direct communication will get us and our daughters farther in having influence. It begins with us, ladies. Let’s model strong language and not worry how our ideas are taken. They are our ideas. Let’s own them proudly.

*my daughters (and daughter from another mother) and I, Lincoln City, Oregon*

Experience gathering

Experience is the only teacher that brings true, deep nuanced learning. This is true in a career and life.

One can read parenting books, have theories and opinions about parenting, but until you’ve been in the role of a parent, the perspective and deeper learning of parenting is superficial.

I find this especially true in travel. I often have a distinct impression of a city or country prior to visiting. I come away after visiting a place surprised, often by very small things, that color and change my perspective of an area after I experience it. Singing in a local green (small village park) during the Christmas season in England while drinking mulled wine and experiencing the local community through the pub culture (family and community centered) colored my view of the UK and the Brits. When I think of the UK now, I think of the closeness of their community culture expressed in these experiences. When I traveled to the south of France (Cap d’Antibes, Monaco, the small villages of the French Alps) I was surprised at how beautifully dressed the people were; young and old, the attention to detail that I found there both in dress and food. We stopped to eat in a local McDonalds and were served a cold creamy, delicately flavored gazpacho soup that could have graced the finer restaurants of Denver, where I live. Walking through the harbor of Monaco, the expanse of beautiful yachts and expression of wealth in the loveliest of public gardens, through streets steeper than those in San Francisco dripping in flowers from tasteful, yet decadent homes set close together, and manicured Eden-like greenery was a tangible experience of luxury and privilege I could only comprehend through felt experience.

In my work communities, experience has revealed the breadth and depth of knowledge in each sector and profession. My 7 years as a luxury leasing agent and then assistant manager in Houston, Tx taught me more than any book on how to close a sale, the importance of customer service, the critical nature of balancing the books and the nuances of luxury commercial real estate.

My 22 years as a nurse have led to a deep well of knowledge about medicine, how the medical community works, crisis management, a great deal about human behavior and psychology as I work with people in some of the most difficult moments of their lives. One thing that surprised me is how central hope is. When people have hope for themselves or their loved ones it changes everything. Hope gives human beings strength like no other thing. I might have known this from an intellectual level prior to my years in medicine, but I know it in a much deeper way having seen it in the eyes and hearts of countless men and women.

As I pivot now in my career, pursing a MBA, I will begin to gather new experiences. I feel an impending excitement to the truths, knowledge and wisdom that I will learn and apply in the years ahead.

I wish you all enthusiasm and bounty in your own experience gathering!

*St. Johns Neighborhood, Portland, Oregon*