Needle. Thread. Hair.

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Sheena Liam’s embroidery art is my current Instagram obsession.

Women’s Day? Bring it On.

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What’s that you say, it’s Women’s Day? The Women’s March was a mere 6+ weeks ago. How can that be?

If you follow the political news cycle like I do, the Women’s March happened in the Middle Ages. I won’t bore you with all the political nonsense that’s been eating at me in the interim, but I will share that I was invited to be part of a photo documentary book for Planned Parenthood, shot by the immensely talented, Nadine Robbins.

Nadine is a painter, designer, photographer. Her portrait paintings are beyond the beyond. So when Nadine mentioned she was shooting a Diane Arbus-y black and white photo book with a few local women who marched – and I could keep my clothes on (she paints contemporary nudes) – I jumped at the opportunity.

The book is slated to be mostly photos. So I’m not sure if any of this interview will appear in the book. Nevertheless, I persisted to answer Nadine’s questions, and here they are…

Where and why did you march?

Right after the election, my outraged colleagues and I discussed plans to march together at the Women’s March on Washington. I help run a women-led national organization that pulls me deep into the world of politics. I travel to DC often, so Washington would have been the obvious march for me to attend. But as I knitted pussy hats on the train to and from my Hudson Valley home and Washington, my parental heartstrings tugged me towards my children.

My daughter and I had been having almost daily discussions about women’s issues. We worried Planned Parenthood would take a direct hit from this new extreme right-wing administration.

I remembered a time when women fought for reproductive rights, before woman had control of their bodies, before legalized abortion. It was during the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970’s when I discovered that the personal is political.

Defunding Planned Parenthood, an organization my daughter and I had both used and supported, was personal. So I decided to march in Boston in solidarity with her, near her home, against a sexist, anti-women administration that aimed to take basic human rights away from my most cherished loves, my children.

How did the March make you feel?

At the end of the march, I felt high, like I was floating above a dark cloud. I had accomplished something that was bigger than me. I had joined millions of people sending a strong message that women are listening, we’re watching…and if our reproductive rights are taken away, we will regroup and fight.

With the constant barrage of harmful, regressive policies spewing out of this administration and those who condone it, it’s been hard to sustain the enthusiasm. While a part of me would like to crawl under the covers and wait out the nightmare, the radiance of the march still shines hopeful.

What was the best sign?

There was a young guy holding a sign that said, “Mom would have been very proud of you. Love, DAD” He was smiling, but there was a story there that I’m sure would have broken my heart.

What do you plan to do now?

Acting on conviction is our best defense. I’m writing to ensure we don’t normalize this dangerous administration. And I’m working locally and nationally to vote Trump and his cronies out of office.

My hope is that we can harness the energy of the March into launching a movement that goes beyond the current administration. Change happens when people speak out and demand it. Respecting and protecting the notion that equal rights are human rights is always worth fighting for.

Poster: Library of Congress, Women’s Graphics Collective

I’m So Tired

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Is your spirit spinning in a dusty whirlpool of disgusting news? I keep thinking I can walk my way out of it, like after the election.

But this requires marching.

Attempting to write my way out, like after the Newtown shootings, I wrote an uplifting piece that tapped into a story connecting 1967 with 2017 – about my mother, my daughter and me – united in a mission to protect women’s rights. I planned to publish that today.

But the sweetness of the moment got tossed aside by recent events.

Trying hard not to let outrage rule my life, I will organize, resist and march. Because I love this country.

But today, I am dispirited and whirling. It’s going to be a long four years, and I’m already so tired of…

Image via nataliehsc, Etsy

Knit for Women

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I never knit in pink. It’s not my “normal” color to knit with. I knit in neutrals.

I never use the word “pussy.” It’s not a word the men in my life use either.

As I move from sadness to fear to anger to action, when I’m reminded of our president-elect’s vile “locker room” language about how he treats women, it stops any kind of redemptive healing dead in its tracks.

How to overcome the demeaning foulness Trump has brought into women’s lives?

March.

But first knit.

Knit for you. Knit to connect with women. Knit for those who cannot. Knit to transform unkindness.

According to the Pussyhat Project, pink is powerful because it represents caring, compassion and love. According to me, it’s not a  “normal” color to knit with. But then again, welcoming the Trump show’s “new normal” is not what the vast majority signed up for.

The Women’s March on Washington is January 21, 2017. Knit a hat for the movement. Here’s the pattern:
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Photo: Malabrigo Yarn

How to Talk to Children After the Election

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This past week, I’ve walked miles. Walking changes the nature of my thoughts. It helps me make sense of things I don’t understand. And boy, have I needed to walk off this election.

Exactly one week after Election Day, the sky over my upstate New York home opened up and torrential rain fell for hours … raining havoc on my ability to get out and walk.

Like balm for the parched earth (the current drought monitor placed us in a severe drought zone), the pelting rain sank deeply into the ground around my home, as it simultaneously seeped into my basement. This left me cooped up in the house voraciously reading the news, worrying about the president-elect’s questionable team choices, viewing ongoing Facebook arguments, answering “What’s next?” email inquires from climate colleagues … and now having to deal with a flooded basement.

Instead of fishing out towels to sop up a puddle the size of Texas that was becoming uncorralable, I escaped to a warm, dry coffee shop, just as the local children were getting out from school. I watched a stream of moms, dads and school kids duck into the coffee shop for an afterschool treat.

My kids are older now, but I recall how they loved a rainy day pick up and then a fancy hot chocolate at the coffee shop.

A mom and her son slid in next to me on the bench and I overheard him ask, “Mommy, what makes America great?”

“You do, Sweetie. President John F. Kennedy said, ‘Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.’” 

The boy sat straight up and blurted, “One day, I want to be a president like that.”

Pausing to carefully choose her words, the mom says, “Of course you can. Anyone can be president.” 

How ironically true. Anyone can be president.

As many of us struggle to make sense of this fact, it’s our job to protect our children and help them deal with their fearful feelings.

Yet, so many children clearly heard our president-elect talk about sending families back to Mexico. Children saw him mock people with disabilities and demean women. Some listened to parents say they were moving to Canada if he gets in. Many children even stayed up election night to witness history in the making. Instead, they watched emotional CNN reporter, Van Jones, look into the camera and ask, “How do I explain this to my children?”

It’s nearly impossible to keep children out of the noisy news fray.

So what is it about America that makes it great for our kids? And how can we talk about something that we are having trouble sorting out ourselves?

Civics

Politics is emotional, and as Leslie Bushara, a mom, and the deputy director of education at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan says, “This is a time to explain to children that democracy is messy. When you can, talk with your children about what President Obama called, ‘the boisterous diversity of our country.’ Help young children understand that like a family, we won’t always agree as citizens, either.”

Like President Obama said, “We’re all on the same team.” And Americans are allowed to disagree.

Children need to know that citizens are permitted to peacefully gather and protest against things they do not agree with.

Civility

When I was a teacher, my students and I had endless conversations about how to be humble, gracious winners; not sore losers. We talked about bullying, posturing superior behavior and being kind, generous and helpful.

Children need to know their parents still hold tight to virtuous beliefs and values, despite how ill behaved our president-elect acted during the election.

Safety 

You may not feel safe, but children need to feel that they are. They need to know that just because our country will have a new president who may have very different ideas and opinions than ours, their lives will not change. If age appropriate, explain the political process — Congress, bills, voting.

Fearing deportation, loss of health insurance, an increase of hate crimes and sexual abuse are adult subjects.

Children need to know that when politicians say things we think are wrong, just because they said it, doesn’t mean it’s ok.

Science

For our work on climate change and toxic chemicals, we will continue to report and respect sound science. And we will hold those accountable who do not. There are many forces of good in this country. The field of climate science overflows with ethical scientists telling us we must curb polluting fossil fuel emissions and transition to healthy, clean renewable energy.

Children need to know this is a message every parent in this country can love.

The kids are listening, they’re learning by our example. Show them you have a strong voice. 

As I polished off my coffee and watched the mother and son exit the coffee shop into the late day sun, I decided to take a short walk.

Then I headed home to mop the basement.

 https://www.moneyexpert.com/debt-management/ . Lorcaserin