Why Don’t We Talk Nice?

Donald Trump has been the target of a host of vicious humor for years, even before his inauguration.  Now, as he blunders through a disastrous presidency he might as well have just painted a big ol’ bullseye on the middle of that wide, wide necktie.

Trump was the featured guest at a couple of roasts where he was skewered by an enthusiastic mob of celebs, who said things as quoted on Vulture.com:

“And Donald, I’m not even sure if you’re aware of this, but the only difference between you and Michael Douglas from the movie Wall Street is that no one’s going to be sad when you get cancer.”

What?!

“And now you’re going to run for president. Don’t you think that’s a really cool idea, you guys? You’ll keep them honest. You’ll keep them honest, Donald. Personally I hope you win because I can’t wait for the assassi… I mean inauguration.”

Even if part of me agrees, I am not amused.

“You put up more useless hotels than an autistic kid playing Monopoly.”

Yeah, let’s bring kids with autism into it. That’s cool.

The remarks are so cutting that witnesses would be inclined to feel sorry for the candidate.

For a minute.

Seriously, though, our culture has gone overboard with the slams. Is this who we’ve become?

When it comes to verbal repartee, I’ve never been that quick on my feet. The cutting banter so popular in our era was at its peak around the dinner table when I was a kid. The insults flew faster than dialogue in an episode of Roseanne.  My sibs were really good at it.

It was hard to keep up, but the real reason was probably because I was just usually too soft-hearted to go there. For the most part, I can’t even fling insults at my dogs. (Who, by the way, would understand every word.)

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Call it lame. I’m not sorry.

This type of humor is boosted to new heights by sitcoms where smart-mouthed kids talk back to their parents and people rarely have a thoughtful word to say to each other. This has enabled the mentality of hatred becoming a standard for our society.

Trump is a figurehead in this slapstick, angry type of humor, the kind that makes us laugh but makes us feel a little awful at the same time. We’ve become addicted to the surge of emotion released by these venomous triggers.

Ellen DeGenerous has set a good example of turning toward an alternative of kindness. She is hilarious without having to simultaneously destroy someone. She can dish out good natured kidding without gutting a person.

I want to see a new Policy of Kindness.

I challenge our community of writers to find that sweet spot, a joke so artful that it makes the audience weep tears of hilarity, not of pain.

In the anti-Trump movement, maybe we are already experiencing an enthusiastic turnaround in the nation’s mentality. He is an example of how NOT to behave. He is our wakeup call. Our world needs a new view of what’s funny.

Perhaps the current pres is like a zit. He can be the figurative swelling, painful pimple that we bust, bleed out and then heal.

…Was I too mean just then?

 

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National Random Acts of Kindness Day

The quote, “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” by author Anne Herbert has become a catch phrase. But I didn’t know it was an actual Day! When did this happen?

I love the idea of a day like this. Sure, we all want to practice random acts of kindness on a daily basis, but this way, it becomes a Thing.

Today I asked some of my Facebook friends what they did to commemorate Random Acts of Kindness. Here is what I learned:

  • Sarah cut her hair and donated 12.5 inches’ worth of blonde tresses to Wigs for Kids.
  • Tori called the campus police today to tell them someone’s lights had been left on.
  • Karen paid for another person’s order at a drive thru.
  • Shannon loaned a coworker the money for parking this morning.
  • Jill bought chicken feed for her sister in law, cat food for her friends, and gave away some of her farm eggs.

A couple of these kindness acts were actually gestures for me!

  • Jennifer bought me lunch.
  • Matt ordered a painting for a friend whose dog had just died.
  • I received a greeting card, hand-decorated in bright colors, and a bag of ginger peach tea from Mary Beth.

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The list went on throughout the day.

  • Allison saw an older homeless man near a place where she was buying dinner. She bought him dinner, and stopped and gave it to him on her way out.
  • Mary wrote: “Found a five dollar bill in Walmart parking lot. No way to give it to whoever dropped it, but I vowed not to spend it on myself. We went to a get-together of fellow high-school grads, that evening. We all ended up being the last people to leave, although we didn’t eat the entire evening, just a small meal. Most of us left tips, and I left that five dollar bill for the waitress.”
  • Mary Beth picked up a friend’s 92 year old Mom, and took her and her brother to dinner at the social club. Mary Beth’s friend lives in California. She picks up her Mom whenever she can, to go to the monthly dinners.

With the exception of Sarah’s hair sacrifice, most of these acts are likely a regular thing. Brenda said that when she and her family are out on the lake, any time they see someone stranded in a boat, they always stop to help.

Lisa said she wasn’t telling what her random act of kindness was. The attention, she explained, should be on the act, not on who did it.

I admire her principles, mainly because I know firsthand that Lisa is a person who walks the walk. She will go out of her way to be helpful, so much so that she hunts down the need. You don’t even have to ask her.

I think most of the people on my list would have carried these acts out and said nothing. They just gave me the bits of information because I wanted to write about them.

But this is why the Day is important. We need these bits of encouragement. These little stories, glimmers of the human spirit, help us. Hearing about an act of kindness, even when it doesn’t happen to you, can give you a good shot of endorphins. People love the act of helping. We are communal, interactive, interdependent by nature.

It’s especially uplifting to have a day like this, following an extremely unsettling month. But even in the Random Acts the state of society did not go untouched. As his act of kindness, Daryn said, “I made a comment on a pro-Trump post. Then I deleted it.”

Lynn retorted that her act of kindness would be to not comment on that!

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Nevertheless, She Persisted

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I received a Valentine’s Day card today from my sister Amanda.

Amanda has Down syndrome. She is 46 years old and, following the death of our Dad in 2013, she went to live with our older brother in Arizona. He was assigned guardianship following a dispute with our eldest sister.

At that hearing, Amanda was allowed her First Amendment rights. She went into a private meeting with the judge and made her request.

I didn’t know it at the time, but she was asking to live with me.

Had I understood that she would do this, I would have thrown my hat in the ring and prepared some kind of proposal. But the judge denied this request. Since I was Dad and Amanda’s primary caretaker, his death rendered me homeless. His home was immediately seized and ransacked by siblings, who basically stripped it of everything of value, including a lot of my own possessions.

But I digress.

That whole story is told in the book Amanda and I wrote together, “The North Side of Down.”

The book won an award.

North with BRAG

As often seems to happen when power is bestowed, and especially with people who suddenly get religion to go along with it, Amanda’s guardianship has turned the corner into the land of Cray-Cray.

During a phone conversation, she told me that our sister had “starved” her during her visit there. She lost 17 lbs during the two or three weeks she stayed there. She was cornered and bullied and yelled at. She was afraid to tell this fact to her guardian. She turned to me instead.

As a result, she no longer gets to talk to me by phone.

She wrote me a letter asking if she could come and stay with me during her 2016 trip to Michigan, and saying “don’t give up on me.”

As a result, she no longer gets to write me letters.

I took the matter to court last summer, so she could express her wishes to another judge. After all, during her first hearing about guardianship, she was given a chance to speak her mind.

As a result, she wasn’t brought to this hearing.

The judge basically threw us under a bus, giving the guardian free rein to do whatever he wants to do, to or with Amanda.

But Amanda, in her gentle way, persisted in trying to reach me.

Amanda and I have been told to sit down and shut up.

I can’t help but draw the parallels here, with a big ol’ bright red Sharpie.

All Amanda and I want to do is continue on with our lives, peacefully, without interference. We want to have pizza and see a movie. .We want to talk about our friends, and commiserate with memories of Mom and Dad. We want to talk about the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. We want to play loud music in the car and shout from the top of a hill. You know, normal sister stuff.

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I have tried to compromise.. We were even asked to interview for the Dr. Phil show, and let him act as mediator. This seemed like a great idea especially since the guardian is under contract to allow Amanda to promote our book.

I wanted to ask Dr. Phil about the effects of the stress of separation on a person with Down syndrome. Studies indicate that it can lead to dementia.

Just one more thing for me to fret about.

But when you are dealing with people in power, all that matters is the power. There is no room for empathy or consideration in the mind of a narcissist.

On February 27, it will be seven months since Amanda and I have spoken. This will be the longest stretch in our lifetime that we gone without talking.

I have Amanda’s Valentine’s Day card. I have a picture of her this time. I told someone that the photo just feels like evidence from the kidnapper that she is still alive. The horror of the situation is indescribable.

I know Amanda, who is much more stoic than I, and I know in her patience, she is waiting for this B.S. to end.

Why this punishment? What did we ever do that was so wrong?

We spoke up. We asked to be together.

If we had only been good little girls, with no opinions of our own.

Yes, there really are people this heartless, this crazy. Amanda and I love movies and I imagine that she is hoping, as I am, for an epiphany or plot twist that lets the good guys win.

As our country careens along into this weird phase of the pseudo-administration, I see heroism every day. I watched Sally Yates stand up for what was right in the face of white men in suits, and she was fired from her job as Attorney General.

I watched Elizabeth Warren try to read a statement in Congress that was written by Martin Luther King’s wife, and she was told to sit down.

I wrote emails and made calls trying to make Amanda’s visit happen, and I was accused of a “temper tantrum.”

Amanda and I are in good company.

My wish is not to promote infighting or trouble within this hopelessly dysfunctional family. My wish is for Amanda and me to be left alone. Sure, my fury is colossal. My fury shakes the walls and chews nails. My anger busts out of every self-righteous stereotype and judgmental package of lies they want to seal me up in. I could power a bus with this anger.

I cannot be silent about this. My sister has no voice. It’s my job to speak for her. I will shout for her rights from our hilltop until there is no breath left in me.

But I understand the profound need for peace in the world. I know Amanda would love for everyone to get along. I am completely open to an apology and any small sign of contrition from any one of those who have wronged me. I would love to just go about my business and not have to make any more blog posts like this. But I have to know Amanda is okay, and that will not happen until she is allowed to speak her mind.

 

 

 

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How Buying Art Improves Your Health

Art investors know one of the best-kept secrets to supporting the creative effort: A lifestyle that bursts with good health and energy.

The reason for this is, quite simply, collecting art motivates one to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

First of all, in a study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts  and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis showed that the arts gave a tremendous boost to the U.S. economy, to the tune of a whopping $704.2 billion. This documented a 32.5 percent increase from 1998 – 2013.

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Dusty Celebration, watercolor by Nancy J. Bailey

If supporting the greater good isn’t motive enough, collectors can watch the market and wait for an artist to die. That’s a pretty common theory, but according to artbusiness.com, this is most effective if:

a) The artist has reached a level of fame and the work has been rendered valuable during his/her lifetime, or

b) The artist gets hit by a bus.  The sudden death of an artist can cause the value of his/her work to spike, creating a shopping frenzy in what artbusiness described as, “Temporary insanity.”

To that end, the buyer must be motivated to stay healthy. If you are going to outlive me, you will be competing with excellent genes. Time is on my side. My grandmother from Sweden lived to be 104. My parents were both in their eighties. I normally do a lot of walking. I love green veggies, I don’t smoke, and I look both ways before I cross the street.

The lifespan thing does give me opportunity to amass a pretty good volume of work, and I can keep practicing and improving.

Maybe with a little luck, the fame thing will kick in. (I can only hold my breath for so long.)

Either way, I guess it’s a gamble. But if you like art, and just buy it because you enjoy it and want to support the economy (which should be the real motives, after all), it still behooves you to stay healthy.

I did get a paper cut today.

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My Own Immigrant

We called her Grandma Gus. Her name was Esther. She had a serious countenance, but a quick smile and intelligent blue eyes. She was born during the long golden days of the Nordic Indian summer, ear…

Source: My Own Immigrant

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My Own Immigrant

We called her Grandma Gus. Her name was Esther. She had a serious countenance, but a quick smile and intelligent blue eyes. She was born during the long golden days of the Nordic Indian summer, early September 1887. Her home was Geta, the farthest north municipality on the edge of  the Baltic Sea, in a cluster of islands forming the midpoint between Sweden and Finland. The group of over 6,000 islands, studded with red rocks and caves, and beaches and windblown pines, and thousands of apple trees, is known as Aland.

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An agricultural mosaic of small farms, Aland provides a bounty of wheat, potatoes, rye and sugar beets, plums and pears. The harvest extends generously for sun-drenched weeks. Residents are healthy and active people who love the outdoors. They enjoy fishing, cross country skiing, hiking, horseback riding.

Despite its beauty and small-farm lifestyle, the islands have not always been peaceful. Until 1809, Aland was ruled under the mantle of Sweden. But it was relinquished to Russia, which held it for nearly 50 years. At the end of the Crimean War, Britain forced the end of Russian’s building of forts and military outposts. However, the Russian military continued to occupy the space, through the time my grandmother was born and into the early years of her life.  During these years, residents of Aland still considered themselves Swedes, and the primary language was Swedish.

Esther was only 18 years old when she married Johan Gustafson, a carpenter with thick brown hair and a bristling mustache. Johan was 17 years her senior, a ship’s captain with ambitions of sailing to America.

In 1914, when Esther was 27, during the rumblings of a World War, the Russian government turned the islands  of Aland into a submarine base.

Esther and Johan emigrated to the United States, sailing through the Great Lakes, where they came upon American’s version of Aland: a group of islands in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula. The rocky shores, the sand pounded clean by Lake Huron, must have reminded them of home.  I can only imagine how happy Esther was to see boulders smattered with orange lichens, the dripping cedar forests, the robust apple orchards. These islands were dubbed Les Cheneaux, French for “The Snows.” As Johan set about building an elaborate house on a corner in Cedarville, Michigan, a sprawling castle with turrets and steeples and windows, the couple had a passel of lively children.

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Their second youngest girl was Marilyn Elaine Gustafson, my mother. She was 22 years old when Johan died in 1945.

With her children mostly grown, Esther carried on. She took in laundry to pay the bills. She rarely complained, always maintaining an air of cheerful dignity. As the years passed, she began spending winters in Arizona with her daughter Ruthie, but always returned for summer to stay with us in the far north. I always knew her to be active and fit. She took vigorous walks every day, and never accumulated excess body fat. She was seldom inert, choosing instead to move about the house with a broom in her hands, sweeping the floors briskly. Her legs were long and slender, with graceful calves that could rival those of any top model. Through her seventies and into her eighties, and then her nineties, she wore a dress, with pumps and panty hose, and finished off with a string of pearls. She would change her dress several times a day. Any small event warranted a dress change: A trip to the store. Dinner. A picnic near the shoreline.

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To my amusement, her dresses were usually in neon colors; either pink or green, with polka dots. Her pumps always matched the exact shade of dress. This was long before neon was fashionable, and certainly not on someone whose years bordered on a century. She once told me, “I always wanted red shoes. For some reason, I never got them.”

Esther was so quiet that I never knew her to be afraid of anything. She was always a lady, traveling resolutely back to Michigan every season. As she aged, her trips eventually became less frequent. When she was about to turn 100, my mother arranged for a big party for her. I went to JCPenney’s and found her a pair of Naturalizers, red leather flats. I knew she loved heels, but she was getting so frail I was concerned she might trip or fall in a pair of new pumps.

She began to grow forgetful, and her last summer in Michigan was fraught with occasional bad dreams. She would wake up shouting, convinced that the Bolsheviks were coming for her. Someone would have to go into her room and calm her down. This gave me some indication of how traumatic those early years had been, even though she had never talked about it. It made sense to me that she would want to return each summer to Cedarville; her new Aland, her place of sanctuary where she could raise a big, happy family in peace.

Grandma Gus finally passed away in Arizona when she was 104.  Recently, my cousin posted a photo of her on Facebook. It was taken shortly before Grandma’s last days. It showed her sitting on the couch with some of her grandchildren. She is smiling, wearing a a dress spattered with a wildly colorful floral pattern, and on her feet are the red shoes.

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Delegating Your Dog to Shop for Pet Supplies

Beat the Monotony

For dog owners, shopping for pet supplies may be a little less monotonous than visiting the grocery store. Many pet owners enjoy an excursion to the pet store. To others, however, it is merely a chore. It doesn’t go beyond the need to find time in their busy schedule to schlep a 40-pound bag of dry dog food out of the shop and into the trunk of the car.

Este is posing in front of the Family Farm and Home, where I will be teaching a walk-in class beginning next week.

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People who don’t like bringing their dogs out in public due to bad behavior should take advantage of classes like this, because this is exactly what the dog needs.

Put Your Dog to Work

Why not let your dog do his own shopping? Most dogs, as Thoreau would put it, “lead lives of quiet desperation.” A trip to the pet supply store can be the highlight of a dog’s whole week. With this in mind, schedule a time when Fido can be your partner in the browsing agenda. Many stores have bins of toys and snacks that are within his reach. Pick up the ones that he zeroes in on.

Remember that to a dog, any facility with pet supplies is a veritable cornucopia of smells. He can read all about who has passed through this area, and how long ago. He knows where they came from, their gender, and many more invisible details. To him, sniffing the floor is like reading a newspaper. Walk him up and down all the aisles, allowing him to imbibe. If your dog is friendly to others, let other customers pet him and make a fuss over him. The shopping trip is your dog’s time.

Reap the Benefits

When you get home, give the pup a reminder of the outing by presenting him with his new toy and a couple of cookies. Your furry pal will greatly appreciate the gesture. You will find that it takes very little effort to transform a task into an event. Your four-footed companion will benefit from the exercise and the stimulation, and so will you. The time away from your busy schedule, focusing on your dog’s needs and enjoying the rapport with him and others, can lower your blood pressure and release some pleasant endorphins. You may be surprised to find that eventually, one of your favorite weekly routines is to go shopping for pet supplies.

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Slate Week

“Bring me your liars, your whores; your huddled bastards yearning to breed greed.” The Statue of Liberty must be cringing on her pedestal right now. I apologize to all immigrants for our sad excuse for a president. This is not who we are.

It’s been a pretty turbulent time for America, with the new administration stirring up a big ol’ melting pot of bigotry and lies. Like many artists, I’ve found solace in the studio.

Maybe because something good has to come out of the mayhem, this week has given birth to some new slate paintings. Slate is a great surface to paint on. The surface holds the acrylic nicely, drying quickly and offers a tremendous contrast with a coat of varnish. The surface offers idiosyncratic cracks and ridges that can be worked into each piece. One of the nice things about slate is the ease of display when the painting is complete. A couple of holes drilled can lead to a creative type of hanger — beaded yarn or barbed wire or my old fallback, baling twine.

This group includes mainly farm animals, and for some reason, a snow leopard. Which one of these… Does not… Be LONG…. I am sure the snow leopard happened because I was thinking about the EPA and endangered species.

Some of these are available in my Etsy Shop.

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palomine

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Watercolor Week

Watercolors have mass appeal; it seems to me they are the most popular among mediums. I’ve never  been sure exactly why. It might be their unique softness and easily recognizable transparency.

Transparency can be an appealing quality, for sure.

 

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The hunting dog’s pose caught my eye, as he is facing away; not the typical portrait. But the best part about this image was the grasses. I love the way grass shines in the light, and the variety and depth in its colors. This abundance of grass, with patterns repeated in the dog’s coat, gives a suggestion of movement.

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I call this, “Two Cute Kids” and it features a little girl, Maddie, and her goat. I wanted to do this portrait in watercolor, because of the complimentary colors of the child’s hair and her coat, and the beautiful lighting. The patterns in the image really appealed to me; between the markings on the goat’s fur and the polka dotted jacket.

 

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The “Crows with Keys” started because I was watching a “Game of Thrones” marathon and couldn’t get the colors and imagery out of my head!

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I finished off this week with a painting of our newly former First Lady, Michelle Obama. She was a few days’ worth of work. I have always been drawn to her angular face and unique features. I haven’t painted a lot of humans in watercolor. Would love more practice.

I guess practice is what it’s all about! Very grateful to everyone who allowed me to use their images as inspiration, and to people who liked my watercolors.

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“Firefox” is the continuation of my whimsical trend of animals with human-generated objects. This started with the “Crows with Keys” I did at the year’s end. I had a tremendous and unexpected note of encouragement about “Firefox.”

“I just wanted to tell you how gorgeous and delightful I find this painting of the fox and the fireflies!! A very special painting. It popped up on my phone this morning. What a nice start to the day.”

The message was written by a friend I’ve never met, Lee Rockwell. She added, “Things like this will have to sustain us through the next years. I usually wake up both during the night and in the am feeling so horrible with worry over the future of our country. Thanks again for lovely things!”

Of course a compliment is always a welcome gem! But this was a reminder of how significant the arts can be. This is the reason artists struggle and scrape, but keep on creating. Art speaks to the soul.

I encourage anyone who has a warm thought, to make the effort to express it. As Lee said, especially in these days of social turmoil, a compliment or word of encouragement carries great power. When we speak from the heart, we can change the world.

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Why I Marched

I’ve never invested much time in politics. But if someone helpless, whom you love, starts getting shafted big time by the system, you might find yourself taking an interest darn quick.

The state capitol was wrapped in fog as my friend Sylvia and I walked along the sidewalk toward the din. Along the street, coming toward us, was a couple, each carrying a little kid on their shoulders. The kids were carrying poster board signs, streaked with magjc markers, something about the right to an education. Others were mingling along the stretch of road; walking dogs or laughing in small groups. The atmosphere was one of camaraderie. There was no tension or stress; only welcoming smiles and friendly greetings.

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The closer we got to the capitol building, the more people we encountered. Now we were starting to notice many of them wearing hot pink scarves or hats. We could hear a crowd cheering. The abrupt surge of applause was something akin a heavy rainstorm or the sound from a pro bowl game.  Above the spiking office buildings, the clouds were slowly migrating, leaving misty hints of blue. As we rounded the corner to the capitol building, the light passed over a mass of people, standing room only, packed together tightly, all happily facing one direction as if it watching a Beyonce concert. Their faces were lifted toward the front entrance of the Capitol, where a voice boomed and snapped, but the acoustics were garbled so we couldn’t make out any of the words.

“We have to get closer,” Sylvia said. I followed her into the audience as individuals mildly stepped back or forward to let us through. There was no resentment as we brushed past them. Everyone was accommodating. Most of them were women of various ages, and many were holding signs, brightly colored, some carefully measured and crafted, others on cardboard scrawled with a magic marker.

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One made me laugh out loud. “Free Melania!”

A few others were anti-Trump. “You tweet, we march.”

But there were more that stated a deeper mission. “I stand for Planned Parenthood.” “Build bridges, not walls.” “Girls just want to have fun-damental rights.”

Sylvia moved through the crowd with such determination that the gap closed quickly behind her and I realized I had better stop gawking and try to keep up. I had a flashback to decades prior, following her through the deep woods, her bent form crashing through the brush in her thunking hiking boots, while branches and and whisks of cedar slapped me in the face and beat me about the head.

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We finally reached a spot where we could both hear what the speaker was saying. She was talking about Planned Parenthood. “Who here, at some point, has used their services, or knows someone who has?”

All around us, hands were raised, gloves reaching upwards.

Women were balancing children on their hips or shoulders, grasping signs about public education and the future of the planet. Elderly couples stood quietly together holding hands, with hopeful statements about social security. And so many people; young, middle-aged, lined up in groups, just wondering how they were going to get by.

But as we stood there, feet squishing into the cold mud on the trampled front lawn of the Michigan State Capitol, the ambiance was one of optimism.

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Michelle Obama, Watercolor by Nancy J. Bailey

Michelle Obama once said, “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

The woman’s movement, which surpassed expectations, was dismissed as a “temper tantrum” by several who shall go unnamed. The label “temper tantrum” is a handy one for those who won’t acknowledge a legitimate protest.

This is why I marched. I am sure everyone has their own reasons. I was not involved politically when President Obama took office. I got a big wake-up call in 2016 when the courts prevented my disabled sister Amanda from expressing her wish to visit me. Something that seemed like a n0-brainer turned into a major war among siblings, and ended up in the courtroom.

Since Amanda was denied her right to be heard, I’ve spent the past year attempting to educate myself about how to make legislative change. I found the president-elect’s policies (when I could determine what they were) alarming and his attitude toward women alarming and his demeanor reprehensible. What scared me the most was when I watched the debates and he couldn’t answer a question without resorting to inflammatory remarks. He just didn’t seem to know what the heck he was talking about. Since I went to the state on behalf of my sister, and it would not listen, and the courts would not listen, and various federal agencies would not listen, it seemed to me that the next step was to jump on this opportunity to march for human rights. I want this administration to know, from the beginning, that we care very much about what happens to minorities and regular people.

If I were a billionaire, I know I would not have a problem helping my sister. I could buy a lawyer to defend her. Should she have any fewer civil rights than a billionaire, because she has Down syndrome?

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I felt gratitude toward this peaceful crowd, standing in solidarity on this remarkable day, this first day of the new administration. It was astounding to know so many others around the country, and even around the globe, were chiming in to set a precedent. I’ve never experienced anything like this; thousands upon thousands of voices speaking out for civil rights; the right to healthcare, the right to marry who we love, the right to an education, protection for our veterans and immigrants, for the disabled and the elderly, the preservation of our national parks, the environment, and the battle against climate change. These are all matters that “promote the general welfare.” Our statement is made now, on this first day; we sent a peaceful and humor-filled, but forceful and powerful message. WE are America.

So it begins…

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