Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bloom Colorado Women!

I recently had a conversation with someone who told me he has not voted since the 1980’s because there really is no point.   I once heard somewhere that in reality there is no such thing as not voting – you either vote by voting or you vote by staying home.  When you vote by staying home you double the value of someone else’s vote.  That really stuck with me.

Local issues directly affect us more than presidential elections so why do we pay more attention to them?  Ballot measures in every election are important.  These measures can include amendments to your state constitution, bonds, levies and mayoral, school board and city council elections as well as many other issues.
Local elections determine the quality of life in our communities, schools and the safety of our neighborhoods.  Local elections are where the most relevant policy decisions of any government are made.  It is quite ironic that there is lower voter turnout in local elections when those are the elections where voters have the greatest say in who represents them.

I’ll be honest.  I did not realize how important local politics are.  As with state and federal governments, your tax dollars are being used and you have the right to know what they are being used for.  Of course, I knew that but I hadn’t really considered that I might have more of an impact on how those funds are appropriated within my community.

Today I talked with several people in the hopes that I could get a better handle on how to figure this whole local side to politics out without having to go to city council meetings.  Who has time for that? Interestingly, I found that most people are only really zeroed in on a limited number of issues and often times only one.  That doesn’t paint a complete picture for me.

One of the gals I spoke with brought up my last article that called for us to start talking politics.  As we explored that notion further she had an idea of forming casual groups to get together once a month to talk about the issues in a more social and relaxed setting where there’s no expectation of foreknowledge of the who’s who in Colorado politics or even the current issues at hand to learn while connecting with other women who are interested in seeking the truth so they can make up their own minds… a sort of Kitchen Table Talk.

Historically, we have seen that women can accomplish great things.  Back in our homeschooling days we hosted a Great American Women Masquerade where the girls in our homeschool support group came dressed up as their favorite Great American Woman and then presented why they picked the woman that they did.  I spoke about Laura Ingalls Wilder and how she didn’t start writing until she was 60 years old. She simply wrote about the life she had already lived.  I then gave each of the girls a flower explaining that we all bloom at different times because each of the women that had been chosen were of varying ages.

Is it possible that there is an untapped reservoir of wisdom and strength within the women of Colorado?  What if we came together with all our various experience and points of view to discuss this community that we share?  Maybe, just maybe… it is time for Colorado women to bloom! 

Published in Common Sense News October 2013 

Break the Rules! Talk Politics!

How many of us have been taught to never talk about religion or politics?  Well, unless you know the people you are talking to are of the same opinion as you are.  For a people pleaser and someone who doesn’t like to rock the boat, this can be a real problem.

Gun control, abortion and gay marriage are definitely topics that can cause some pretty explosive reactions.  Then there is the war in Afghanistan, healthcare, the economy, taxes and immigration.  What about education, government spending, social security, national security and the environment?  There is no doubt that the issues facing this nation are many.

What are the chances you will find candidates that agree with you on every one of these issues?  Slim and none I’m guessing.  Is it any wonder that many of us just don’t want to deal with thinking about these things?
Voting is a privilege we have in this country, true?  Doesn’t privilege go hand in hand with responsibility?  The percentage of people that vote is pretty low and there is always a great push to get citizens registered and at the polls.  This is important but it is also important that those voting know what they are voting for and why.
We’ve been given a wonderful opportunity with our system of government.  Let’s not squander it through casting uniformed votes.  We are free to have different opinions and to vote the way we see fit.  We need to protect that right even for those that don’t hold the same views.

For me, I’ve had to spend some time really thinking about what is important to me and why.  I’ve had to look at the different issues separately.  The Pollyanna in me would like to vote only according to my world view and values.  The other side of me sees this as a game on the grandest scale.  You’ve got to understand the rules, the players and the different strategies being played.  It is a real dilemma.
When your life is already too busy the thought of spending time figuring out something as complicated as local, state and national politics is overwhelming, especially local politics.  Short of going to city council meetings it is virtually impossible to get information on what is going on.  Also, during elections many of those running are first time candidates with no record. 

We are bombarded with ads during election seasons.  These sound bites make it into our minds whether we want them to or not.  Where can we get accurate information?  There is network news, cable news, Talk radio, the internet, and let’s not forget Saturday Night Live and the late night shows.  I recall seeing a disturbing statistic several years ago that stated an alarming number of people made their voting decisions based off of late night monologues and comedy skits.

How do we sift through all of the information that is out there?  It stands to reason that people have grown apathetic.  But, the stakes are just too high! We’ve got children and future grandchildren that are going to have to sift through the ashes of what is left of our country if we don’t stand up and see that we as individuals are part of a whole and that our one vote means something.  We have got to stop seeing it as a privilege and start seeing it as an obligation, a responsibility to be taken very seriously. 

The first step is figuring out what is important to you and why.  Then, start breaking some rules.  Start asking some questions and talk politics!

Published in Common Sense News September 2013

Just a Mom

I don’t know about you but I find politics to be, well… boring.  Just saying.

Who am I?  My favorite answer to that question is that I am “just a mom.”  In November my husband and I will have been married 25 years and we have three children.  When our middle child was getting ready to go to college she was lamenting about the fact that she didn’t know what she wanted to major in and told me she didn’t want to be “just a mom” like me.  Of course, that statement felt like a sucker punch to the belly and caused me to wonder if we made the right choices while raising our family… including our 9 year stint homeschooling.  Our trial and error parenting style would probably most accurately be summed up by handing out I SURVIVED buttons to all involved!

Back to politics…  I have to admit that I am guilty of voter apathy and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.  I’m not going to lie.  For me, keeping up with the who’s who and issues is not fun.  It’s a lot of work!  I go to the trouble every four years during the presidential elections but...  the rest of the time, no.  If you were to liken me to someone running a race I would not be the person that trained for it… I’d be the person on the side of the road requiring the attention of paramedics. As with any discipline there needs to be consistency and I am consistently inconsistent.  When I hear someone say their vote doesn’t matter so they don’t bother I always say that isn’t true.  But, do my actions back that up?

How many times has a law been passed or a candidate been voted into office and you asked yourself how that could have possibly happened?  It’s easy for things to slide through when people are not paying attention.  On a local level I am often unaware.  I know it is important to cast your vote wisely so a lot of times I have just skipped voting for those issues and candidates I didn’t feel I had enough knowledge of rather than risk making a mistake.  I’ve also asked my husband who he thought I should vote for and why.  The Lazy Lady way to feel like I’m doing my civic duty and get my I Voted flag sticker to proudly display on my chest the day I visit the polls.

I am concerned about the direction our country is headed in.  I don’t want my children and future grandchildren to lose the freedoms that we’ve known.  It seems like people are lying down and unwilling to fight for what is right in a reluctant acceptance of what they see as the inevitable.  But, what can I do?  I’m “just a mom.”

When I look in the mirror I don’t want to see the appearance of someone who is a good citizen.  I want to see someone who truly lives out her convictions.  My vote matters and I need to value that vote.  Those big elections every four years are a reflection of the many battles fought and won across our nation during the years in between.  I’m waking up and I smell coffee!

Oh, and that daughter I was telling you about?  She’s married now and working on her Masters of Education… and talking about the day when she can become a mom.  I hope when she holds her baby for the first time she changes her mind and decides to be “just a mom” like me.

Published in Common Sense News August 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Resurrection of a Blog

It's been a long time.

I have thought about deleting this blog.  I haven't written on it regularly in years.  Yet, each time I held the mouse over the button I just couldn't do it...

Blogging was a way to pass the time during a hard time in my life.  I had lost my voice and was without hope that it would ever return.  Five years does not seem so long now.  At the time it felt like an eternity.  The first three years were a struggle with times of improvement.  The last two were the darkest.  Through writing I found a voice.  Then, when I regained my ability to speak, I slowly stopped writing.

This blog developed into something I hadn't quite envisioned when I started.  Communicating with people from different backgrounds and view points inspired me to learn more and helped to solidify what I believed and why. Unfortunately, where politics are concerned, everything is subject to change and you really have to be paying attention to keep up.  I stopped paying attention.

I am now writing for a new monthly newspaper here in Colorado, Common Sense News.  The fourth edition is being printed and will hit the stands this week containing the third article I have written for them.  This time we've added a link to this blog.  I wanted to have a place where people have access to information that I gather and to, hopefully, revive the spirit of dialog between people that don't necessarily share the same views but are seeking to understand and to be understood.

I intended to go through and clean things up before the paper went out.  This blog is not what anyone would call professional.  But, you know what?  I've decided to leave it as is.

Things have changed.  Our two daughters are now married and our son is a junior in college.

My goal is to post here at least once a week.

Common Sense News is a free publication that can be picked up in many locations across Colorado.  You can also read the paper online.