Sunday, November 13, 2016


To my conservative loved ones: why I wear a safety pin.

My safety pin isn't a protest against the president elect being chosen for office.  I accept that he is my president, and while I find many things he's said alarming, I will also be open to positive changes if he makes them.  I also take responsibility for holding him accountable for everything he does in office.

My safety pin is not political.  I wear my safety pin to show that I am safe for people who are afraid.

I wear it to show that if you are trans and afraid to hit the bathroom, I will go with you, no questions asked.  If you are being bullied, for any reason, I will stand up for you; I'm not the semi-badass I used to be but I will speak up, and I will object to anyone harassing or abusing you.  This includes women who are breastfeeding, people of every complexion, trans and LGBTQ community, disabled people, elderly people, people wearing hijabs or sikh turbans or kippahs or dreadlocks or Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirts.

And to my conservative friends, it might seem counter intuitive right now, but it would be beautiful if you were to decide to wear one as well.  And there are good reasons for it.

Most people who voted for Trump, as I understand it, did not vote for his hate, but in spite of it.  So you could wear a Trump button AND a safety pin.  It would mean you stand by your decision, but you didn't go along with the hateful rhetoric.  It would probably also start some interesting conversations.

If the numbers I've read are accurate. most people in America believe in reproductive rights, in LGBTQ rights, are not racist, and don't want to see their friends and family or neighbors put on registries or deported or see women being treated disrespectfully.  MOST people.  So if you wear a safety pin, you can still be conservative and stand against people being singled out and made more vulnerable to hate crimes.  To stand against hate could unite us all.

I don't wear my safety pin to oppose your politics.  I wear it to show that I support fairness and kindness.  I know many people who are conservative who support fairness and kindness, too.  If you don't, I am still going to assume that you do.  I make a practice of assumption of good intent.

My intent is not to challenge or degrade you, but to support others.  That's why I'm wearing it.

I want everyone to be safe.

Friday, November 11, 2016

How To Listen To A Story

Listening is a bold adventure.  And it's rigorous.  Prepare.

Stand or sit calmly before the teller of the story.

Check your body.  Are your hands clenched? Unclench them.  Are your shoulders climbing toward your ears?  Let them sink back down.  Is your mouth tight?  Take a deep breath and relax your mouth. If your arms are folded over your chest, let them hang or rest naturally.

Face the teller.  Look into the teller's eyes.

Do not interrupt the teller.  Stick with them until they have finished.

Take another deep breath, and allow your own thoughts to settle.  They will wait; you can come back to them later.  Many thoughts may pop up again while the teller is telling the story; set them aside again.  They will be there later.

Put all of your attention on the teller.  Allow yourself to sink into this attentive state as you would a movie or a book.  Keep your attention on the teller.  Don't look around the room or at your phone or at other people or go to work on your hangnail.  Keep your focus on them and only them.

Watch the teller's expressions and movements as well as hearing the words.  Open your heart as you listen.  Be ready to learn.  Be ready to understand.  Be ready to be transformed.

Listening is not for the faint of heart.  What you come to hear, to empathize with, to understand might change you.  It might make you sad or uncomfortable or angry.  Try to set your reactions aside and keep listening.

Try to see the story from the teller's point of view and experience their experience.  This is the magic of story.  This is how we can live many lives in one life.  This is humanity's great gift.

If you are unclear, ask the teller to clarify or repeat.  If you are overwhelmed after you've heard at least most of the story and are unable to hear anymore, tell them you are feeling overwhelmed and you need to think about what they've said.  If you feel jolted from your center, sad, or otherwise out of sorts, tell them you need time to think about what they've said.

Thank the teller for sharing the story with you.

Take some time to allow the story to sink into your mind and heart.

Then, tell your own.