Monthly Archives: January 2017

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Monday Musings: Weeping

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As inauguration day approaches, my body is betraying the fear I am carrying. I wonder if I am faking it well enough in front of my children.

I watched the full video of the press conference with the President-elect on Wednesday and started weeping. I still cannot believe that this person is going to be our President. If you sympathize with me, you don’t need me to enumerate all the concerns. If you don’t agree with me, probably nothing I write is going to sway you to see things from my perspective, so I’m not going to waste my time trying to convince you that the next four years will be nothing short of interesting.

To add to my agita, I have recently felt a call to speak up for legal abortions. Yes, I believe that abortions kill babies. It makes me so sad to think of all the children that were not born. However, I cannot ever advocate for a reversal of Roe vs. Wade because I truly believe that legal abortions save women’s lives. It is hard for me to speak up about my beliefs because I am a Believer. I imagine that God had plans for those children to live or the pregnancies wouldn’t have happened. I know I am alienating good people who had no cause to dislike me up until know, and that makes me incredibly sad. And, I LOVE BIRTH. How could this topic not be difficult for me?

In short, I am a ball of emotions on an incredibly short fuse.

As I sat trying to process everything roiling around inside me this morning, I started with gratitude.  Thankful that despite the turmoil I have felt inside over the last week, Crazy Mama has stayed on vacation. While admittedly, I got a little louder than I like to be), it wasn’t yelling.  I’m chalking that noise up to ovulation and the fact that I am sad that there are no more babies for our home after seeing tons of babies at our class reunions and holiday party.

The gratitude is this: I am doing this Peaceful Mama thing the way I want to. I am filling up my reserves with affirmations every morning. When I feel myself at a boiling point, I close my eyes. I take my deep breaths. It’s not my absolute best, and still I can be thankful for where I am right now.

I am also inspired to action. What can be done? What is one small thing I can do to effect change?

Number one:
Share THIS document I put together when I had the privilege of hearing Jon Kyl speak several years ago. Daddy Bruss and I sure miss this honorable statesman.  Senator Kyl encouraged us that yes, we can make a difference when we gather up a group of friends and encourage them to light up the phones, emails, and fax machines with messages that state our position clearly and succinctly.

Number two:
Instead of saying that I support legal abortion, take the next step and research ways to decrease the need for abortion. As a dear friend suggested, it probably means providing for more services for women who would be inclined to abort due to lack of support. So on my list of things to do is to get more involved with those organizations and do my part by volunteering. If even one life is saved because a mother feels supported enough to carry her pregnancy to term, then it is one small difference for which I can be thankful.

Number three:
Take heart and courage from the brave souls in the front lines of social change – the teachers who are shaping the minds of our future for a few hours a day. While they can’t single-handedly undo any messages of hate and otherness that students are hearing at home, they can create a safe space in their classrooms and speak out with words of love instead of the words of division that we keep hearing when we turn on the news and see the state of our nation and the words of the President elect.

Fingers crossed that I will be granted permission to share some images that one of our students is going to be posting in her high school classroom (red tape: the work is a product of a peer group grant). When she shared the images and the statements of acceptance with me this morning, I started weeping again. In gratitude this time, because I know that she is not alone in feeling like this. There are other people who see people who look like me and empathize with the fear I live with daily for our children and myself, and anyone who looks “Mexican” or “Muslim” or “Gay” or “Disabled” or any “Other”. There are a cadre of teachers who GET THIS and will make their classrooms safe havens for all students, not just the ones who fit the prevailing version of “normal”.

We cannot accept the divisiveness that the President-elect campaigned on as our new normal. Today is not just a day off from school or dealing with the inconvenience that the banks are closed. On Martin Luther King Day (heck, really anytime!), I implore you to take a minute to talk to your children about Civil Rights and why we cannot allow history to repeat itself.

Here are three resources to explore:
Scholastic Lesson Plan https://goo.gl/smjYV2
The Leadership Conference https://goo.gl/U5R2Wa
PBS https://goo.gl/1WFdsd

Here’s hoping that this processing will help my stomach settle down so that I can stop running to the bathroom every hour of the day.  I am going to focus on gratitude – we are not alone. We have allies. We can find a way to bear with the next four years.

Tuesday Tips: How To Lobby Effectively

These are my notes from a presentation Jon Kyl made in Phoenix, Arizona, on February 21, 2009.  This is a great time to review all his advice again – it’s time to light up the wires!

Notes from Jon Kyl’s speech on How to Lobby Effectively – by Krystyna Robles-Bowman
You may share this post with credit back to our blog – thank you!

Always be very well prepared

It is our constitutional right to “petition” our government

Lobbying for a cause you believe in is not the same as being “A Lobbyist”

  1. Lobbying is essential for the good functioning of government

It instructs your “employees”, i.e., elected members of Congress, on your positions

Although you may disagree with them, if you treat them with respect you will get a better response

  1. Elected officials work for you, whether they act like it or not. Some are arrogant; some believe that you are their employer.

 

 

Lobbying has two phases

  1. Planning
  2. Execution

 

Goal:  Effectuate ideas through the political process

More good people will be in politics if you get involved

 

You do not have to make a campaign contribution to be heard

No soliciting/ suggestion of soliciting to your representative on public property

 

If you can get involved, it will help to get your voice heard

 

At the state level, four – five determined people can get a person elected

Best way to get your point of view represented is to get people with your viewpoint elected to office.

 

General ideas for lobbying at the federal and state levels

 

  1. Planning

What is the problem you are dealing with?

What are possible solutions?

What are your goals?  Understand EXACTLY what you want to accomplish

Do you have the right solution for the goal?

What are we really trying to achieve here?

What are likely alternatives for a solution?

 

  1. Execution – New Legislation

Decide on a campaign strategy

Make two lists: Assets/Liabilities & Opportunities/Problems

 

 

 

 

Assets                                                             Liabilities

What will it cost?                                             List the other side’s strengths & weaknesses

How will we raise the money?

Where can we get donors?

How many people do we have?

Who do we know – volunteers/media

Do we have key friends in the legislature?

How will they receive our argument?

 

Understand the lay of the land before you start the campaign

If you have an organization: Who can you use from within?  Who can you ally with?  How do you reach out to media for the outside game?

 

2a. Execution – Lobby a Bill

It’s generally easier to stop than to start a bill

 

Congressional Level                                                    State Level

When is Congressperson home?                                 Understand the rhythm of the body

Who are their key staffers?                                          -What is the schedule?

When are the staffers around?                                     -How do I get to see my rep?

Who do I talk to if I want a personal mtg?

 

For either the national or state rep:

  • Learn who to talk to – sometimes a staffer is better informed since they have specialties
  • Make friends with the assistants who run the schedules

 

Federal Level:

  • See your rep in AZ if at all possible
  • You can see a staff member – they are smart people, too
  • Will meet with people and associations from AZ in DC, but most of the time there is spent doing the business of Congress in meetings most of the day
  • Call office – make appointment with scheduler
  • Tell scheduler you are representing (cause), meet with rep for (time) about (cause), we urge a (vote) on bill (bill you are calling about)
  • Better if you meet with staff first
  • Common sense is your biggest friend when talking to office – BE NICE!
  • Staffers work hard – be nice and take the right approach
  • Be prepared – think about what you want to say in advance
  • Get to the point – assume and act as if you only had five minutes to communicate
  • Have clear reasons, be concise, don’t take more than 20 minutes of their time

 

If you have an opposite viewpoint:

  • If you have an opposite viewpoint than your rep, plan on crafting an argument that is twice as strong – you are trying to change their vote
  • Make it personal
  • Put a face on your position

If you have an opposite viewpoint (con’t):

  • Express your concerns about the bill

 

General rules for lobbying:

  • Be more prepared than the person to whom you are speaking

– Compare notes with other people involved in the issue

– Ask them what they have heard, be aware of what message is already out there

– Adjust your message accordingly

  • Think about and anticipate any objections – MAKE SURE YOU FACT CHECK
  • Be honest about the opposition, “The other side will tell you (x) – here is what we think about that…”
  • Have a very specific “Ask” – what is the outcome you are looking for

 

Always follow up

  • “How soon can we hear from you about (issue/outcome)?
  • Follow up on the answer they give you, “When can I call you about that?”
  • “Is there any other information we can provide?”

 

To lobby a member out of state:

  1. Find someone in that state who is involved in a similar organization
  2. Advocate and generate noise among all state reps – they will go to the member in question and say we can’t stand with you

 

If it’s really important to see the member:

  • The staff is trained to handle it – they will want to do it in member’s place
  • Insist on a meeting: “Well then, when can we meet them?
  • They won’t like it, so do it nicely
  • Be professional and courteous with staff

 

Alternate ways to communicate (if not in person)

  • Can be very effective
  • Keep it short, upbeat and constructive
  • Email: Great for short ideas, individually conveyed thought
  • Phone: Shows momentum and numbers. Light up the phones if it’s something important to you!
  • Fax: Quickest way to deliver a letter. Snail mail takes longer because every piece of mail has to be inspected due to possible eco-terrorist threats, i.e., anthrax.

 

Parting thought

  • Don’t lobby at social/political events. Remember that there are lots of people to visit and see when they are in their home state, be considerate of their time
  • Citizen lobbyist – different rules than registered lobbyist regarding “buying coffee” and where they can meet

 

Bottom line:  Being persuasive is pretty much all the same:  Let common sense prevail, PREPARE, STAY POSITIVE, BE CONSTRUCTIVE

Photo Credit: Tunc Tezel
https://goo.gl/OIB1Ys

Monday Musings: Living

If you have been following along the blog for a while, you know that 2016 was a huge year of shift for us.  We sold our two homes – both of which we loved – in preparation for a possible move across the country.  We also lost many family and friends as they moved on to the next journey after life.

Just when we thought we were through the woods of all this shift, another beloved mother in our circle passed away suddenly in December. I am still not clear if it was a stroke event or a heart attack – what ever it was, it was enough to invite her to move on – and she did, leaving behind a husband and four children.

I am devastated for her child that is Night Owl’s age – she was the surprise baby after their three older children had basically made them empty-nesters.  And also for her three older children that will now go through all their adult “firsts” without their mother, to say nothing of her husband who is now going to have to find his new normal as well. It is so much to process…and yet I realize that they are not alone and someone, somewhere, is holding vigil tonight for a beloved soul that will pass along before all the goodbye’s have been said.

This woman’s passing hit especially close to home since she was the same age as my beloved husband. I came home from her services and told Daddy Bruss that the first order of business in 2017 is for him to have a complete physical and catch up on any tests that he hasn’t had in a while and/or yet that are suggested for people his age.  I also realized that it’s time for me to admit that I am practically in my mid-40’s  and it’s time for me to take me own advice.

Her passing also made me recommit to my intention to Live Life Today.  There are things that are important and things that really don’t matter.  It has made me really motivated to get rid of the junk and clutter that we accumulate because There Is No Time To Waste on Small Stuff.

My new intention for our homeschool day is to only do “things” until noon, and then have lunch and go out and have experiences with our children.  I don’t know if we are going to finish our curriculum as I had planned before I had these revelations, quite frankly I don’t think I care anymore.  As long as the Sweet Peas do math, read, write, make music and dance every day I think we are going to meet the rest of any requirements on field trips.

I watched THIS TED Talk tonight and it is right on point to where I am in my life. Thankfully my revelations arrived through the course of reflection over all the grief we experienced as a family last year, and not a highly stressful experience like this speaker lived through.

Since deciding that my ultimate goal is being the best parent I am capable of being, I have not felt a huge struggle with the yelling.  I close my eyes, I take deep breaths, I remember Lisa Reinhardt’s voice guiding us “to be” at the pace of melting chocolate, and I count until I can open my eyes and answer calmly.

Quite frankly, if I die tomorrow, I have a very clear picture of what I want my children to remember, and it’s not Crazy Mama.  We all sent her on a long vacation.  I hope that the intention to be Peaceful Mama is strong enough this time to leave her there a good, long time.

Peaceful Mama has huge hopes and dreams. I want them to remember a mother who showed up for them.  I want them to remember that my deepest desire is for them is to find their passion in life and pursue it.  I want them to remember that my love for them was deeper than the oceans and I hope they will use it to soar higher than the stars, because I believe in their greatness and ability to do anything with their talents that they set their mind to achieving.  I want them to remember that I am one of their biggest fans and that they are very, very loved.

I want them to know that their father and I conceived them in love, brought them into the world in love, and that they are loved in such a way that nothing can separate them from us.  We will always strive do whatever is in our power to help them learn, grow, explore and invite them to take risks so that they can learn who they are meant to be and what their God-given gift is to use for the benefit of others.  I want them to remember that we made choices in our personal life to facilitate the pursuit of our dreams, and that creativity and helping others is an honorable pursuit.

If the way I live my life in whatever time I have left conveys this to them, then my work on this earth is complete. It’s so easy to take time for granted and put things off because There Are Things To Do.  The bottom line is that there will always be Things To Do.  The time to be in relationship is limited.

I don’t know how much time I have left, so I am doing a lot more snuggling and saying more I love you’s than I used to.  I continue to remind myself of their love languages so that they receive the love in actions as well as in words.  Much of my desire to speak more and do more as it relates to my passion for birth and breastfeeding and the childbearing year has taken a back seat to my desire to be someone they remember fondly and with love.

So now I am signing off to have a late night snuggle with none other than Night Owl.  Good night.  Wishing you all a day full of love <3