Right now we are in a season of gratitude and reflection; a time when groups and individuals take time to look back and plan ahead. Gratitude is a social emotional skill that doesn't just come to us, we must cultivate this skill through the entirety of our lives... especially when times are tough. This was a very challenging year for so many people, but there is always something to be thankful for. What are you and your family thankful for?
As we reflect, there were many disappointments that we faced together, but there's a lot that we are thankful for this year. We finally started our podcast and newsletter; we were forced to step away from our insane schedules to prioritize what is most important; we are thankful for our good health and for family. We are not shy about giving thanks. In fact, at one point we even expressed gratitude for dinosaurs! For us, giving thanks is an opportunity to think deeply about our contributions to making our family run, our commitment to each other, and how reciprocity is a form of love and selflessness.
So... we hope that you and your family will join us for the next 30 days to center gratitude and reflection for a few minutes each day until New Year's Eve.
Join the Family Gratitude Jar Challenge!
This exercise should invite everyone in your home to consciously think about one experience or opportunity each day that they’re thankful for. Give each person the space to give thanks.
The struggle is real. We’re in a global pandemic, we’ve experienced a contentious election cycle, and are continuously witnessing injustice and inequity unfold before us every day on our smartphones. It can feel daunting and overwhelming and many parents are struggling to find answers and solutions that work during these unprecedented times.
Recently I contributed to a Harvard Business Review advice column on parenting during COVID-19. Check out Your Questions About Work, Caregiving, and COVID-19, Answered. I think it's beautifully written and the experts' advice meld together for a perfect pick-me-up.
Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about how parents in this era are literally winging it every day, much more than their own parents or grandparents had to. There is no manual for these times. NO MANUAL. And we could all use some relief and great advice… But more and more I’m realizing that parents are experts, we just need the encouragement (and the confidence) to pull out the wisdom that is living deep within. We can do this ya’ll!
Regardless of your political opinion, it’s important that you use your voice to vote in all elections - presidential and midterms. All though, the president is an important part of the democratic puzzle, the other two branches of government are just as important. All three work together in a delicate dance of checks and balances.
Presidents appoint Supreme Court Justices, engage on the international scale, and can sign executive orders, but presidents DO NOT MAKE LAWS that govern the inner workings of your daily life. When you head to the polls remember to pay attention to your local and federal legislators.
470 seats are up for grabs this November. So as you zone in on the executive branch, don’t forget the legislative branch, THEY’RE the people that determine how our funding is administered, which programs are deemed most important, and how our communities are funded and supported. When simplified, it seems as if the president is all-powerful. However, the relationship between the president, the legislative branch, and the judiciary serves as a dance of dueling power and responsibilities. Think of it as the ultimate Rock-Paper-Scissors game, but with laws and government. The president can veto or sign a bill passed by congress; congress must confirm a president’s supreme court nomination; and the supreme court interprets laws and can overturn rulings from lower courts which influence legislation at every level.
When one branch becomes too powerful, the other branches have guidelines that help them to tip the scales back so that government functions in a more balanced way, but that's only if the people elected and appointed to the position in those branches are capable of exercising their rights under the Constitution. That's where you the voter comes in. YOU THE VOTER ARE THE ULTIMATE... TRUMP CARD. You get to fire and hire the people who serve the needs of our communities and our country. Your taxes pay their salaries, their retirement, and their health care. Your taxes support their ideas - ideas they should be getting from your needs and pain points. So if you're not happy, it's time to fire people from their job.
470 seats at the federal level can do far more damage than the 1 seat everyone is hyper-focused on right now. Read up on who has been sitting in your Senate and House seats, failing you or benefitting you. GO VOTE. Once you vote, follow up your vote by holding your elected official accountable, paying attention to how they vote while in session, and which bills they introduce on the floor. There are plenty of nonpartisan resources that can alert you and educate you on which bills are on the floor and how your representative voted... we've shared some of them below! Don't forget to make this a family affair. Get your kids involved by reading together, educating yourself as a family, and having discussions as a group about how policies impact you!
Resources and Reads We Love and Need:
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There’s a growing trend of self-reflection across every sector these days where companies, individuals, and entire fields are doing the work to analyze how white supremacy, racial inequities, and other injustices are perpetuated through historic and contemporary policies that uplift a singular narrative or provide advantages and disadvantages across demographics. This is long overdue work and welcomed from my perspective. In order for us to create a society where all people are truly seen as equals, we must be honest and open to feedback, scrutiny, and engage in the necessary (and sometimes painful) investigative work that analyzes where our systems break down or fail to administer justice.
On September 27th, the LA Times released its equity statement “Our Reckoning with Racism” and it blew me away because it wasn’t like any I’ve seen before. Yes, organizations are releasing statements of acknowledgment that they will embark on the work necessary to listen to black voices, strive for more equitable hiring practices, stand with black and brown communities in the fight for racial justice, or even going as far to explicitly state that Black Lives Matter. This is all fine. But the LA Times' statement was not just your average run-of-the-mill equity statement. It was an admission of their role in supporting, fueling, and participating in a system that upholds and perpetuates harmful narratives about black and brown people. The Twitter thread and subsequent articles explicitly provide examples of where and when the LA Times failed BIPOC* communities in their reporting.
National Voter Registration Day is one of my favorite days of the calendar year. In the time between the 2018 midterm election and these fraught moments leading up to the 2020 election, I have been getting more prepared and even more excited about casting my ballot and making change. There are tons of obstacles ahead but I’m ready. I mean, 20 years ago I voted for the first time in a purple state during the Bush v. Gore election. No AP Gov or AP Comparative Political Systems course could have taught me what I actually learned by participating in that election at 18 years old. In that moment, I was introduced to the intricacies of voter suppression, the confusing importance of the electoral college, and the role that the Supreme Court plays in moments of intense election drama.
This week however, as the sun set on National Voter Registration Day, we all learned that Breonna Taylor’s assailants were charged with a class D felony and not her murder. When I heard the verdict, I cried inconsolably alone into my iPhone screen. Breonna Taylor could be me, a child, a sister, a mother, a cousin, an aunt, a friend. Her unfortunate death means that yet again, the systems that we pay taxes into can fail miserably and produce devastatingly disappointing results which echo messages from the pre-Civil Rights era.
Many of us fighting racism in our own microcosms -protesting in streets and town squares, in meetings with school boards, or within the organizations we work- we know that this is exhausting, labor intensive work. And before the verdict, I could see how the light that was burning so brightly during the summer was beginning to fade. But we can’t give up. We can’t throw away the whole thing even when it hurts so bad. We have to see the large and small opportunities to make change. We can’t be discouraged. We can’t discourage others.
Breonna Taylor’s verdict proved just how important it is for us to vote. To be informed voters. To be anti-racist voters. In this podcast episode, my daughters and I discuss how informed voting can be an act of anti-racism. We discuss how important it is for eligible voters to show up and take their vote seriously and hold their elected officials accountable.
I'm often seen as a person that delivers hope in times of hopelessness, so if you're looking for that kind of post right now, this ain't it... what I can provide is a huge dose of reality... which you might also need. The past two weeks I've felt my life living me like I was riding a horse and it was going 100 miles an hour and I was watching my routine live me in the most routine of ways. Get up. Say prayers of thanksgiving. Coffee. Oatmeal. Yell at kids to get up. Bathroom. OTHER STUFF THAT IS A BLUR. Work some more. Social media. Hug kids. Laugh or cry (depending on the day). social media. Brush teeth. Social media. Wake up next day...
Today, I was stumbling down a click hole on Instagram when I fell off the platform and onto Michael Marczewski's site. And just like that, I felt this short video from 2017 speak to me... These cute little old robots with their big eyes and their determined little movements were a prophetic whisper and nod to my current COVID-19 Routine. I do the same thing every day. In my house. And up until now, it hadn't gotten to me.
In fact, I had judged all of these people who were going stir crazy in April. I was like, "What's wrong with you?! Chill TF out."... Well, I'm no better than those people right now. With school about to start 100% virtually, I keep thinking about how my kids are going to zone out for good grades from 9-3 in front of a screen. We spent the entire summer pursuing their interests to trade all that in for who knows what. Maybe that's my real problem... maybe that's the real root of this feeling. It's not despair or desperation, it's more like, WITAF am I doing.
I don't know WITAF I am doing... We are all doing some robotic ballet through our days. No matter how powerful or powerless we perceive ourselves to be, we're all doing our little dances alongside each other.
The best advice I have right now is that there is no end in sight and that you're going to need to make sure that as you cycle through your routine, that you find some way to enjoy the ride. Don't just let it live you or just nearly escape from it. If that horse is going 100 miles/hour, take off your shirt and wave it around your head for a bit. Get a bit of the thrill because seriously the ending looks inevitable from here.
Recently my daughter and another young woman were featured in a Roblox story by the New York Times. The story was compelling, not just because my daughter was in it (though I might be partial) but the story angle was compelling because it centered the voices of young women in an uplifting way. Both my daughter and the young woman featured in the story, used Roblox to either fight for social justice or for self-empowerment. We rarely hear about the positive experiences women have online. And this story was a shift away from the familiar narrative we hear about games in the media.
Why do most of the stories about games center maleness or whiteness, or both? What is going on in newsrooms where we continue to overlook stories that center the invisible contributors to the gaming industry and movement? And when stories do center girls and women, they often highlight the harassment experienced by women and people of color or they highlight how few people of color, girls, women, and non-binary people are present in the industry. In a field that's so imaginative I find it difficult to keep reading stories about these problems with no solutions or call to action. It is clear that we need stories about the lack of gender and racial diversity in gaming. Can we tell these stories from a non-white male perspective? Can we connect the fact that if we normalized people of color and girls and women in the gaming world and we worked with boys and men and white people on how to exist in a space with women and people of color, we might solve some of the problem? Can we tell stories that get to the root of the problem - human behavior?
What has your district decided for Back to School this fall? No matter what was decided, I’m quite certain that everyone had something to say about it. In fact, in my time reading articles and comments on social media, I’ve learned that this moment is contentious and there’s no way to make everyone happy.
The reality is that school, although not a childcare facility, provides parents the ability to work as schools promise a structured and safe environment for their kids. But our kids can’t be the canaries in the coal mine. As we hear about the demands to jumpstart the economy and the real need for families to earn income, we can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a better, more imaginative way that we aren’t pursuing. In fact, this moment might be pushing us to rethink the purpose of education altogether. What are we doing education for?
This month, we’re releasing a back to school series focused designed to elevate student voice, elevate parent concerns, and highlight educator needs. We discussed our concerns as a family and interviewed a few experts:
We’ve asked our experts questions like:
You can access the episode with kids here and the first of three episodes with parents and educators here.
As we move closer toward the start of school, we want to remember that we are all on the same side. We cannot let our fears lead us.
We must partner.
But most importantly… see our success as tied directly to the success of others
Being an active person was an extremely important part of my identity and playing college sports was a goal of mine since I was a kid. It was really great to have that gift of an opportunity and it’s an experience that I hope at least one of my kids will be able to enjoy. But now that I’m on the sideline, I’m looking for the coaches that are not only interested in building competitive teams that learn together; I’m looking for coaches that are working on their anti-racist journey, to ensure that their team is a safe and welcoming space for my child and every other athlete of color.
Activism is a part of sports, but who gets to protest? We applaud the women's soccer team for standing up against the pay gap but we jeer at athletes who've followed Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem to raise awareness about police brutality. But we cannot ignore, that for decades activism, especially when we center black identity, has always been a part of athletics. Historically and contemporarily, we find many examples of black athletes taking a stand against the injustices against black people. And there are many examples where society was unwilling or even hostile against the voices of black athletes.
How do we better serve black athletes in a time when we're looking closely at structural racism? From the politics of Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics to the dismissal of the racist body shaming of Serena Williams in a cartoon, black athletes experience an intense scrutiny from the media and fans and are often left unprotected. And we look at instances where athletes are told to "shut up and dribble", many have argued that professional sports and collegiate sports are just another form of modern day slavery.
We ask that you take these words into consideration, as you listen to the podcast episode below...
If you Google “Doctors + Racism”, you’ll discover a multitude of research studies, personal accounts, and news stories that highlight how implicit bias, systematic racism, and healthcare inequities manifest in a black person’s healthcare outcomes. After all, doctors are not immune to their own understanding or experiences and opinions on race in America… they are people on a journey just like the rest of us. And we must acknowledge, that our healthcare system is inequitably structured such that the care we receive is based on numerous factors that have long histories tied to the gatekeeping and racist treatment and even experimentation on black people.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.