Everyday Can Be MLK Day

by Ilinap on January 16, 2017

It’s wonderful to have a national day of service to reflect on the indelible mark Martin Luther King, Jr. left on this country. It’s especially healing to honor him now, in this volatile climate brimming with racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and fear mongering. We need the reminder to be particularly aware now. Gone is the time for reflection. Upon us is the time for action.

There are ways big and small to carry a bit of MLK Day within you every day. It’s simple, really.

Be kind.

Speak up.

Do something.

Think of others.

This doesn’t take signing up for organized volunteer opportunities or committing (which really means over committing) your time. Rake a neighbor’s yard, bring someone dinner, bring coffee to the police station or fire house, send funny postcards to nurses working on the oncology floor, write a note to a teacher, thank your Congressional representatives for something you applaud (Imagine how much negative mail they get. I bet they would be thrilled to hear someone cheering them on.), clean up trash along a nature trail (Just today we walked the family dog 2 miles around a local lake and cleaned up four large garbage bags of trash!).

Living with honor doesn’t mean grand sweeps of nobility. Taking action doesn’t mean a hunger strike. Having character costs nothing but is the true measure of riches.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

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10 Simple Ways to Make 2017 Shine

by Ilinap on December 31, 2016

I’m having chocolate for breakfast. This should tell you all you need to know about 2016.

I’ve pretty much been eating my feelings, especially since November 9. Friends and family have been gifting us sausages from a small, organic butcher in Wisconsin, cheese (also from Wisconsin, natch), and chocolate. I wish I were the kind of woman who exercises or cleans to relieve stress. Alas, I’m not. Elastic has become my friend.

I haven’t even been writing. My poor blog has been neglected. My journal sits blank. Writing, the one thing that I usually find cathartic and healing has eluded me. Writing has been my crutch for many years, yet that crutch has been knocked away and now lies in a corner coated in dust. Lately my brain is swirling with ideas, but I cannot find the words to express them. I sit here at a loss, literally at a loss for words and figuratively at an emotional loss.

2016 has been rough. Every year brings its trials for sure, but 2016 has been palpably different. Every year I am astounded at the celebrity deaths. Admittedly, many times I thought some of those people were already dead. But this year has been different. David Bowie. Prince. Gene Wilder. Carrie Fisher. All icons from my formative years. And there are so many more…

2016 has ushered in what amounts to political disaster. Global conflicts churn in every corner of the world. The planet itself is in crisis, yet legions of lawmakers continue to deny the very science that makes life on earth possible. We’ve seen the ravages of war, but we don’t act. It’s always easier to look away from horror. It’s a western world luxury.

2016 has shown us illness at every turn. Dear friends are suffering. Cancer’s wrath has claimed many friends this year. Some are still fighting. Others are not.

2016 has distracted us from what’s fulfilling and meaningful. We’ve seen hate, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia ripple through our nation and the world. Perhaps the only silver lining is that people are finally noticing that racism is not relegated to the South alone. As a lifelong Southerner, this is somewhat satisfying since I’m tired of defending my home at every turn.

2016 has diminished Democracy. I live in North Carolina. Enough said.

Yet, I have hope.

Mac Daddy will tell you that I am the glass-half-empty one in the family. I tend to harp on the negative and feel other’s pain fiercely. Sometimes my empathy is debilitating. I am easily overwhelmed and feel the weight of the world. But mostly my anguish and anger combine into a wicked cocktail that fuels me. I advocate. I speak out. I fight. There is work to do. I am hopeful that this climate will encourage us to find our voice, to empower us to use our agency to right the wrongs of this world. We start with our very own backyard.

Small steps result in great strides. I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, for I promptly break them. But this year I resolve to be resolute.

Here are 10 simple ways to make 2017 shine.

  1. Smile. All it takes is a smile to stranger when you walk the dog, pass someone in the cereal aisle, or wait to pump gas.
  2. Make eye contact. Look up once in a while. We spend too much time looking down and looking away. Let’s take note of each other.
  3. Compliment a stranger. Everyone stands up a bit straighter when they hear something nice about themselves.
  4. Go to the library. Seriously. The library is a magical place. Sit for a spell. Read. People watch.
  5. Cook. The kitchen is indeed the heart of the home. Everything they say about breaking bread together is true. Make a meal to deliver to a friend while you’re at it.
  6. Volunteer. Share your talents. Use your voice. Donate what you can, be it money, goods, or time.
  7. Write a letter. Hand write a note to someone you care about. Snail mail shouldn’t be reserved for Christmas cards alone.
  8. Share your gratitude. Our family tradition is to hold hands before dinner and share something from the day we are grateful for. Despite tough times, we find something to be thankful for every single day.
  9. Write a letter to the editor. Pick just one issue in your local paper and write a letter to the editor in support or opposition of what you read. It’s empowering to see your name in print. Trust me.
  10. Pay attention. Do you see something that makes you uncomfortable? Do you see injustice? Do you see something marvelous? Do you note anything that makes you laugh? Tell someone.

Let’s work together to look ahead, move forward, and progress. Wonderful things await. I hope this much is true.

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Have a Heart (of Haiti) This Holiday Season

December 19, 2016

Tweet I never imagined some of my favorite Christmas ornaments would come from Haiti. Truth be told, when I was there in October I loaded up on ornaments for gifts, but now I can’t bear to part with them. The metal work is gorgeous, and I am especially enamored with those pieces since I met […]

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What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

December 12, 2016

Tweet For many years when I looked in the mirror, I saw mostly discomfort, awkwardness, and low self-esteem. I didn’t see beauty and I never felt attractive. I felt jumbled on definitions of internal and external beauty. I focused on my scars, my vampire teeth and overbite, and my unibrow. Nothing positive stared back at […]

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Be A Boss (With a Little Help From the Forte Foundation)

November 28, 2016

Tweet I  once had a boss who sent a taxi to her daughter’s elementary school to pick her up when the nurse called saying she was sick. The little girl was ten, just a year younger than my youngest son is now. I was fresh out of college at the time and recall thinking to […]

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Thanksgiving Wishes Redux

November 22, 2016

Tweet I wrote this post originally in 2010. That was six years ago. It resonates still. I’m sharing my Thanksgiving wishes again with a deep sense of sadness in my heart. The world has indeed more or less gone mad.   More loving, less loathing. More helping, less hindering. More giggles, less gloom. More humility, less […]

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Children’s Reactions to a Trump Presidency

November 9, 2016

Tweet  I have never cried at election results. Scratch that. I cried when Obama won in 2008. But those were tears of joy. Last night I cried tears of shame, fear, dread. This isn’t my America. And then I wondered…what will I tell my sons? This election season was a new brand of toxic. I have […]

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Hillary Clinton to Hold Final Midnight Rally in Raleigh

November 7, 2016

Tweet Tonight is Election Eve. In my house the elves are all aflutter trying to get out the vote. The House of Dirt and Noise takes elections very seriously. It’s an especially heated and insane year since we are in a swing state. There’s been a hefty dose of vitriol too, but I’ve done my […]

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Haiti – First Impressions

October 27, 2016

There is a rhythm of Haiti that belies the stereotypical Caribbean steel drum beat. The cadence of a constant hum, a tap tap tap of metal artisans crafting discarded metal drums into fine art, the hammering of nails into corrugated metal that is a constant rhythmic reminder of Hurricane Matthew’s destruction. There are car horns […]

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Thank You for Helping Haiti

October 19, 2016

TweetI should have taken pictures, but the image will be forever etched in my brain, and the corresponding generosity imprinted on my heart. My living room has been the staging zone for donations to Haiti. Friends and neighbors have left packages every day  on my porch.Bird and Deal have been opening boxes and categorizing items. […]

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