On Giving

by Ilinap on November 25, 2015

photo 3

We are entering the holiday season full throttle. Never mind that Christmas decorations have graced store shelves since August. There is no grace in consumerizing even more of the American way. It’s painful to see the melange of Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving turkey crafts, and Christmas ornaments all fighting for shelf space. Could we please focus on one holiday at a time? When did America become ADD over holidays? The “war on Christmas” is not waged by non-Christians. It is waged by retailers and credit card companies. No one is removing “Christ” from Christmas. In fact, we as a society are simply annotating it to read “Christ-How-Did-My-Credit-Card-Bill-Get-So-Big-Mas.”

One more thing before I start baking some pies…

It’s cliche to scramble to volunteer this time of year. Our community needs us year round. The real lesson in giving comes at times there is no credit given, no fanfare, no crossing it off the holiday to-do list. Instead, volunteer all year long without making a big to do of it.

The homeless are still seeking shelter in January.

The hungry still yearning in February.

The veterans still reeling in March.

The abused still hurting in April.

The refugees still fleeing in May.

The shelter animals still longing in June.

The sick still straining in July.

The lonely still hoping in August.

The migrant laborers still toiling in September.

The teachers still nurturing in October.

The students still stressing in November.

The disenfranchised still struggling in December.

There are myriad ways to use your time, talents, and voice throughout the year. Look around to see ways big and small to make a difference. Instead of gifts, we can give more of ourselves. The word “gift” in German means “poison.” Seems fitting as we commercialize all that is sacred.




Xenophobia is more than a vocabulary word.

by Ilinap on November 19, 2015

When I was around 10 years old my language arts teacher asked us to draw a letter from a hat. Our task was to study and present a vocabulary word that started with the letter we picked. I picked X. My classmates simultaneously groaned in empathy and sighed with relief. I pored through the dictionary, determined to choose a really big word that would be foreign to my classmates’ ears.

Little did I know that 37 years later I would see this word peppered in the media and sear the souls of (mostly) Republican “leaders” across the country. Little did I know I had discovered the word and sentiment that underscored much of my formative years.

My word was XENOPHOBIA.


“intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries”

In the years since 9/11 I’ve been told on more than one occasion to “go home” or “go back where I came from,” to which I cheekily answered, “You mean Virginia?” My family recounts similar stories. An aunt who was born in America, in the Heartland no less, faced insults hurled at her family too. American educated, brand name colleges, impressive curricula vitae, it matters not. These xenophobes see our brown skin alone. Never mind our Southern twang, American accent, Southern vernacular. Never mind our western clothing. Never mind the white friends that surround us. As if all that makes a difference anyway. As if we lob those trappings to prove our worth and Americanness.

Let me tell you why I’m both hurt and pissed about the anti-refugee mentality that Trump-loving wall builders are waxing on about. I know these people, these refugees who are to you, just faceless freeloaders in a sea of brown skin. You spit on these fellow human beings for being different, instead valuing the perceived safety of white, Christian faces. You spew the words “refugee” and “immigrant” with a snarl, your fear and judgement palpable. Yet you pay no mind to the data, the facts, the white men wielding weapons terrorizing fellow Americans in our own country. Your ilk reeks of hypocrisy.

I’ve sat next to refugees in language classes, and my mother opened our home to them. We shared birthday parties and holidays. We broke bread and learned about each other’s cultures. I know their stories. I know what they sacrificed, what they left behind. They are human, like us. They have experienced the unimaginable and have no concept of the comfortable life you are so quick to judge from. You point your manicured fingers while they work theirs to the nub trying to eke out a new life on foreign soil, alone. Many refugees are educated, productive members of society; they are not parasites. Teachers. Doctors. Nurses. Professors. Lawyers. Mothers and Fathers. And there’s Kareem, the engineer.

My 10-year old son just completed a rather clever homework assignment. His teacher asked parents to randomly yell that it’s time to evacuate. Students were instructed to grab their backpacks and had four minutes to fill them with necessities as if they were a Jewish child fleeing their home during WWII. My son packed a few items of clothing, first aid kit, jacket, notebook, toothbrush, blanket, and a book. The lesson was about the Holocaust and WWII, but it applies to the plight of refugees today too. Our dinner conversation naturally turned to the parallels of both experiences. Even my son gets it. You might say he has the benefit of childhood innocence. I say he has the benefit of a heart.

Refugees are fleeing a world so oppressive and violent that our only inkling of what they face is Hollywoodized. And even that seemingly hyperbolic end of times depicted on the screen pales to what their reality is. I have been jeered at and assaulted because people thought I, as a brown skinned foreigner, had no place in their country. I know, if just a tiny bit, of what refugees face and fear. You’re spewing hateful xenophobia with every judgement and taunt. You claim to care for the welfare of our citizens, yet you cut funding for Medicaid and education whilst remaining loyally beholden to the NRA. Where exactly do your actions demonstrate caring about our welfare? I’m talking to you, Pat McCrory.

We accomplish more with love than hate. Fear spirals us down, while generosity lifts us up. We sit on the precipice of history. America, let’s be on the right side here. Be human. Be compassionate.Celebrate your good fortune by being kind, open minded, gracious, and generous. This is what peace means in all religions.


Working Girl

November 9, 2015

There it is, the first day of work photo. Hey, these milestones aren’t just for kids. It’s been over 12 years since I had a “first day of work.” Cue the new girl jitters. I’ve had my own marketing and branding consulting business for the last 12 years. It’s been both feast and famine. And […]

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Beauty in Rain

November 3, 2015

Confession: I don’t mind the rain. There’s a certain melancholy about it that’s comforting. These few days of pesky rain forces me to stop and relish the moments. I slow down to a healthy pace. The drizzle washes away all symptoms of fear of missing out. The rain soothes me. Normally an extrovert of epic […]

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Victim Blaming – When an Officer is Not a Gentleman

October 28, 2015

I imagine the same people who blame the 16-year-old student in South Carolina for her behavior before Officer Fields brutally yanked her from her desk also believe women are raped because of what they wear. Those folks love to blame the victim, even better when said victim is a woman (rather, girl, in this case) […]

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Sit a Spell and Disconnect

October 27, 2015

I sat for just to spell without my phone in hand. It’s nice to be untethered to an electronic appendage. The weekend provided glorious proof that Mother Nature favors North Carolina. Nothing beats our autumn. Mother Nature flaunted her fall colors as a peacock might in mating season. There was the warmth of the sun […]

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A Friendship of Firsts

October 19, 2015

Ours is a friendship of firsts. Crush Breaking curfew Kiss Cigarette Heartbreak Car Taste of liquor Car accident (not related to the liquor) School dance Fashion experiments Job Apartment Roommate nightmare Social mishap Hair color F Boyfriend Marriage (for one of us) Job Baby She knew me when my parents were married. She’s known me […]

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Write On

October 15, 2015

I love handwriting. I love looking at handwriting and I love the act of writing by hand. I also admittedly love school supplies and go gaga in the pen aisle. I have cups of pens scattered throughout the house. I’m that mom who hid away my favorite pens to stash them away from my sons. […]

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It’s Not Her Fault You’re Distracted By Her Outfit

October 8, 2015

Early in my professional career I experienced what it was to be sexualized in the workplace. The term “micro transgression” wasn’t in our vernacular then. It was the days of business suits and dress pumps. I dressed pretty conservatively since I worked in the financial sector. I worked in corporate training and without fail, after […]

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My Sons Wrote to Their Senators About Gun Control

October 5, 2015

Every so often my sons and I write to our elected officials. We voice our concerns over all sorts of things – standardized testing, military benefits, global vaccines, healthcare. Bird and Deal are 12 and 10 respectively and are keenly astute when it comes to social and political issues. You might say our family dinner […]

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