Lessons Learned & Random Ramblings

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Ann Coulter January 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 9:33 pm

I have to tell you that I thought about it for quite a while before deciding to blog about Ann Coulter. My indecision stemmed from my overwhelming desire to not give her any more attention than she has already received and not wanting to share her bitter rants with anyone who has been lucky enough not to witness them already. However, that desire was beat out by my need to respond in some way to her ignorance and bitterness.

For anyone who didn’t see it – Ann Coulter was a guest on “The View” this week. In her brief segment (approximately 12 minutes – the first half of which she wasn’t at the table, her book was being discussed by the hosts), she managed to insult single mothers, celebrities of mixed race, President-Elect Barack Obama and nearly all of the co-hosts of “The View” – particularly Barbara Walters who she accused of reading her book like Mien Kampf.

I have a huge problem with the things Ann writes and says. Her ignorance, lack of compassion and the brutality with which she attacks groups of people and individuals that are different from her are just the beginning of why I can’t stand her. However, my biggest problem with her is that she spews her venom without ever trying to work towards a solution for the problems she rants about. Instead, she chooses to be a part of the problem. By choosing to simply continue to make attacks and spew hatred at people (her favorite group to attack seems to be single mothers) as opposed to working towards change, she willingly embraces her role as part of the problem, not a proponent for a solution.

Personally, I would prefer she take a few classes in empathy and compassion. I’d like her to follow the rules: “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and “treat others as you would like to be treated”.

Ann Coulter isn’t going away anytime soon – she loves to create drama and attack people simply because she can and because conservative, right-wingers buy into her crap. Much as I wish she would disappear from public view, I know that isn’t likely since, sadly, there are a lot of people that agree with her hateful words and opinions.

However, what I wish for more is that hopeful, compassionate, open-minded people read her words and take the time to see for themselves how inaccurate and hurtful they are. I wish that those of us that disagree with her and see how venomous she is will discuss her ignorance with others and help to educate. Most importantly, I wish that from her ignorance we can all become more aware, more empathetic and more committed to positive social change and acceptance of each other despite our differences.

 

Underestimating Impact January 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 10:26 pm
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams
Two things happened recently that reminded me how easy it is to underestimate our impact on others AND how incredible it is to be reminded that you are important to someone. I seem to always have jobs that put me in a position to have an impact on others – I mentor, I run youth programs, I teach. In each of these parts of my life, I try to learn from others too. I wouldn’t necessarily define myself as a “leader”- I tend to feel more like part of a team in which everyone contributes. However, I am very happy to buy into the above definition of “leader” – mostly because it allows me the opportunity to inspire others to figure out how to be the best they can be instead of telling them how I think they should be the best they can be.
Back to my experiences over the weekend:
On Saturday night I had a conversation with one of my best girlfriends about meaningful friendships. We were talking about how there is a big difference between having dozens of friends you can hang out with and a few really good friends that you can call for anything – even at 3am! Both of us agreed that the latter was more important – that knowing who you can count on is more important than having tons of people to socialize with. This got me thinking that I am a very fortunate girl – I have several best girlfriends that I could call on at 3am and I have no doubt that they would be there for me, just as I would be there for them.
I also received a very special surprise from two of my teen girls over the weekend. One of them sent me an email with the link to a YouTube video and asked me to check it out. Turns out, it was a video they made for me complete with pictures of the three of us and the two of them singing along to “True Friends” by Hannah Montana. I couldn’t believe how thoughtful these two thirteen year old girls were to take the time to put together such a touching gift. It made me realize the impact I have had on them and how much they inspire me in return.
If by being a leader, I continue to promote relationships that emphasize the kind of respect, compassion, and love that my best girlfriends and my girls have shown me, then it is a role I happily embrace. By recognizing and taking advantage of the opportunities we get to have impact as individuals, we can make incredible changes for others. Sometimes, when we least expect it, our kindness results in an unforgettable thank you.
 

How can you want to ban books? January 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 4:13 pm

There was a very interesting column on MSN encarta yesterday by Martha Brockenbrough entitled “Have You Read a Banned Book?”.

When I was in elementary school I remember there being a national uproar that our teacher discussed with us about banning books for young readers. The books in question included “A Day No Pigs Would Die”, “Where the Red Fern Grows”, “Bridge to Terabithia” and several others. It was one of the first times that I remember getting extremely passionate about a topic. There were about 10 books included on the “list” and I had read them all. Even at that age, I could not comprehend why someone felt they should be able to tell me I shouldn’t have read the books in question, or that I couldn’t read them again in the future. I even wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. My father still has the copy of the letter proudly laminated – a memento of his daughter’s first real attempt at social change.

Last year, during the presidential election, the debate over banning books became a bit issue again when it was reported that Sarah Palin had wanted books banned from her local library in Alaska. Again I was completely amazed by the idea that anyone should have the power to dictate my right to choose books for myself, my book club, my friends and family, my future children, etc. Once again, I had read many of the books that Palin had supposedly objected to including the Harry Potter series which is a personal favorite.

The quote by Noam Chomsky included in Brockenbrough’s column is very powerful: If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.

I will be the first to admit that I hate thinking about the number of books that have been published that are ignorant, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-feminist, anti-gay, etc. I hate that people (esp. children) may pick up a book at the local library and have their brains filled with this hatred and cruelty. However, I would hate it more if the books weren’t available at all because it would mean that there was an equal chance that books about the Civil Rights Movement, Feminism, The Holocaust, etc. would be left out. At least by providing books that discuss the multiples sides of these issue we open the doors for dialogue, learning and understanding.

Yesterdays column was so interesting to me because it reminded me that I am, in many ways, the same idealistic girl I was 20 years ago – committed to learning, to social change and to having a voice.

 

Making big dreams come true… January 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 7:26 pm

So, I’ve decided that officially this is the year that I make writing a serious priority. For several years now I have talked about it, worked on it sporadically, longingly dreamed of finding success, etc. What I haven’t done is make it a high priority in my life and that is going to change.

It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of life and forget that we create our destiny – we make ourselves happy, we dictate we do and don’t do, we ultimately pick ourselves up when we fall down.

I am not a huge believer in New Year’s Resolutions – perhaps because I have a hard time keeping them. Every year I say that I will lose weight, be healthier, spend more quality time with friends and loved ones, write more, learn to meditate….I always have the very best of intentions. Then, as the days turn into months a year goes by and I haven’t managed to get out of my own way.

The last sentence I typed is the key to the problem – I get in my own way. Sure, I could blame work – too many hours spent on things that truly could wait until tomorrow. I could blame the crowded gym or the cold temperatures in the room that holds my exercise bike. I could blame the endless papers I grade during the semester or the invitations to social and networking events that I can’t make myself avoid. However, blame is not really all that healthy so I’ll stop doing it. I need to get out of my own way and the best way I can think of to make that happen is to set priorities instead of resolutions and use those to help me stick to the things I want to accomplish.

So, here are my three priorities for 2009…

1. Take good care of me.

The goal of this one is to incorporate all the things that I previously mentioned and couldn’t accomplish in past years because they didn’t motivate me. Taking care of myself does motivate me and a natural extension of making myself a top priority is being healthier, spending time with the people that matter to me, creating a balance between life & work, etc.

2. Write it down.

I can’t even count how many nights I come up with great ideas while falling asleep or think of a great idea in the shower or while on the drive to work. Some of these ideas could be blogs, some could be class lecture topics, some could probably even be short story or book ideas. Each time I think, “I should write that down!” and I never make the follow-up a priority. By telling myself that the simple act of writing it down should be a priority, I hope that it sparks my passion and I keep at it. To start, I’ll be carrying a notebook at all times and putting one at my bedside table — sounds simple but it is a start!

3. Be financially healthy.

Over the last few years I have worked very hard to pay off college debt, paid off my car, followed a budget, etc. By March of 2009, I should have paid off the last of my college credit card debt and opened an IRA. All very adult things to do now that I am 30! Between my full time job and teaching I should finally make enough over the next 6 months (assuming I stick to my budget!)to do some serious evaluating of my life goals, educational goals, savings goals, etc. and feel confident that if I desire to make changes I am financially healthy enough to do so.

So, those are my priorities for 2009. They illustrate my attempt to turn my big giant long term wishes (ie. publish a book) in to smaller, accomplishable, short term goals & steps that will hopefully put me on the path to making my big giant dreams come true.

Whatever your priorities & goals are for 2009, I wish you the very best of luck in achieving them!