Friday, November 27, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 146


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mine was full of delicious food, lots of family, a cat nap or two, and fun board games. And now, time to break out the Christmas music!!!


Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl, on tour ...The very first book review I published on this blog was for Rachel Simmons's The Curse of the Good Girl almost three years ago. (Spoiler: I really liked it!) I just recently read this article on how being a "good girl" - i.e., one who doesn't rock the boat or make waves, one who is always nice and polite and doesn't speak up for herself even when she feels something is wrong - can be a literal health hazard.

On what being a "good girl" means and what it doesn't:
We’re told to be polite, be good, to not interrupt, to say thank you and fake appreciation even when we don’t like something, to be pleasant, not make waves, to be seen and not heard, to not question authority, not stand up for our rights, not be bossy, share when we don’t want to – the list of how we’re taught to “be good” is endless. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be decent citizens with good manners, but that’s different than not speaking up for ourselves and accepting what just feels wrong.
And on how that looks in a medical setting:
You see, the good girl thing translates into being a good patient. Good patients don’t question authority. They don’t challenge the need for the test, the diagnosis, or the treatment. They don’t say no, I don’t want you to examine me. Or thank you, I’ll just leave my clothes on for the Pap smear and I’ll cover with a drape, rather than wearing that insulting paper gown with my rear flapping in the wind. They don’t say I think I’ll labor for a bit longer, thank you – we can revisit the cesarean later. And while we’re at it, I’d like to walk around to help my labor move along rather than being strapped into this bed by a fetal monitor and an IV. Or hey, this symptom is not all in my head...
Now, I will gladly acknowledge that some difficult patients are not being difficult because they have done their research and are standing up for themselves. Some patients simply don't want to do anything hard or uncomfortable, regardless of how well their medical provider explains to them the need and the consequences of failing to follow through. (For example, a diabetic patient who refuses to change her diet to help control her blood sugars is not being a "Wonder Woman"; she's doing harm to herself.)

But at the same time, I have been frustrated by feeling steamrolled both for my own medical care and that of my children. For the most part we've had great medical and dental providers, but there have been a few I've had to face down occasionally and a handful we've refused to see again. How about you?


Photo Credit: Dimitris Michalakis/Reuters

The plight of Syrian refugees continues to tug at my heartstrings. This article from Public Radio International lists several organizations doing important work specifically to help these refugees.

Of course, do your own research into these groups to determine which (if any) you would like to support. Or choose a local organization helping refugees in your area. (Here in Spokane both Global Neighborhood and World Relief Spokane are great options.)


Love, love, love this article about history's complications. People are complex - never all good or all bad - and the decisions they make are complex, even when - perhaps especially when - they are in a powerful position.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1919.jpg
Photo credit

The article focuses on a current controversy at Princeton University regarding Woodrow Wilson.
Wilson, as you may know from your history classes...was both a Princeton alum and the university’s president before he went on to become the governor of New Jersey and, in 1912, only the second Democrat since Reconstruction to win the White House. He led the country through the First World War, founded the League of Nations and established the Federal Reserve system as we know it, among other things.
Wilson can fairly be credited, along with Theodore Roosevelt, with having pioneered the modern concepts of American internationalism and progressive government...

What you might not have known about Wilson — and I admit, this was hazy in my memory as well — is just how execrable a human being he seems to have been. Wilson was a fervent segregationist who apparently went to some effort to separate the races in federal buildings. As president, he screened “Birth of a Nation,” the infamous film glorifying the Ku Klux Klan and its philosophy, at the White House.
So President Wilson had some great accomplishments and was an avowed racist who used his considerable influence to block racial progress. People are not all good or all bad.’s students have grown up in a society that increasingly eschews moral complexity...But history is complicated, and so are the people who make it. The messy reality is that great people sometimes do terrible things, and terrible people sometimes do great things. To discard all the actors we find abhorrent, along with all the things they might have accomplished, is to deny the vexing contradictions of humanity — which is exactly what real knowledge is about.
It's a fair question, however, to ask how we should recognize and honor the "good" without either ignoring or praising the "bad". I appreciate this author's nuanced approach and suggestions on how to teach this up-and-coming generation how better to handle the moral complexities and shades of gray inherent in being human, while always striving for personal improvement.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 145


Yeah, I know I missed last week. I actually had one all written, but I was (well, still am) processing a particularly fraught topic in that post and I'm not ready for it to be out for public consumption yet, so you'll just have to wait...


And yeah, I know this one should have been up yesterday, but it's been a busy week here.  Tuesday evening we had a windstorm that resulted in 71 mph winds, two fatalities, and the worst power outage this area has ever seen. And then temperatures dropped into the 20s Wednesday night.

Our family was actually very fortunate in that we never lost power, internet or cell phone service, but most other people in the area did. As of Saturday morning, I have several friends who still don't have power.

We did have two trees come down. The first missed our van by inches:

And the very top hit one small section of the fence around our pool:

This was the view from our house:

And then we spent the next two and a half hours biting our nails, watching the next one (in the center of the picture above) sway 45 degrees in the wind, with its roots swelling up through the ground, and then stand back up until it finally fell over. The top got caught up in the maple tree, so it didn't cause any damage or even hit the ground.

It could have been much, much worse.

Here are a couple of angles on the two trees the morning after:

A friend came over on Wednesday with his chainsaws and Gene was able to get most of the day off, so they were able to get the trees limbed and cut into chunks. We've got it mostly cleaned up at this point, except for the stumps. As we drive around town, though, there are still trees down all over, though most aren't blocking roads anymore. Trees on top of houses and cars, fences blown over, downed power lines, trucks holding up power poles, whole neighborhoods still dark. School was cancelled for three days this past week and I'm not confident they'll have them open again on Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break.

It's been quite the adventure.


A couple more "100 Years of..." videos. First "100 Years of Dinner":

I love watching the plates change with the years, too. 1945 and 1955 did not look appetizing to me, but sign me up for any of the other decades, especially 1965, 1975, and 2015!

And then, even though I don't drink, I found "Decades of Drinks" fascinating:


Alanis Morissette provided the soundtrack to my late high school/early college years. I can't believe it's been 20 years since "Ironic" came out, but I love her updated version:


My business partners at Me2 Solutions (i.e., my dad Frank and sister Meredith) and I have launched a new podcast called "The Hidden History of Business". It combines all sorts of subjects that we love to geek out about including, of course, history and business, but food and feminism and warfare and other random topics. Click here to go to the facebook page and "like" it to receive updates. Or go to the website here to listen to all of the episodes in order. We're also on iTunes!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 143


Late last night I learned of a policy change in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I avoid posting knee-jerk responses to controversial issues. I generally try to take time to read and study and ponder and pray and work to understand different perspectives, to give people on all sides of an issue the benefit of the doubt.

It's been about 24 hours now, and I'm still reeling.

My facebook feed has practically exploded with expressions of pain and anguish and yes, anger, from those who are directly affected by this change, and those who care about them. I spent an hour last night messaging with a gay LDS young adult who received the message loud and clear that she isn't wanted in this Church. Several other friends have reached out to me in confusion and heartache about what this means for them. I have heard of children's baptisms scheduled for this weekend being suddenly cancelled. And what of those children who are already baptized or ordained or planning on a mission or even currently on a mission? What about those who are in joint custody situations, splitting time between two parents, one of whom is in a same-sex marriage while the other one is active LDS? Does this policy apply to them as well? This throws them and their lives into complete chaos.

I am heartbroken. I have so many questions and very few answers.

Even if you believe this is a good policy, please recognize the very real pain and loss it causes for people who already feel marginalized, who may be hanging on by their fingernails. Please remember our baptismal covenants to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who need comfort. Please honor and validate the stories and feelings of those directly affected. Please choose love and charity when you interact with those who may disagree. Please.


I needed something light today, so I binge-watched the 5th season of Little Mosque on the Prairie, created by the fabulous Zarqa Nawaz, who I met at the Parliament of the World's Religions. (You can watch her comments, as well as those of the three other Muslim artists who performed as part of "Laughing All the Way to the Mosque" here.)

Little Mosque is set in the fictional town of Mercy in Saskatchewan. After a long search, the town's small Muslim community has finally found a place to worship - in the local Anglican church. Interfaith shenanigans ensue, of course. Nawaz has created fun characters that belie the stereotypes and represent a wide variety of practicing Muslims. Hulu has the entire 91-episode, 6-season series available here.


I also recently discovered the TV show iZombie, from the creator of Veronica Mars. It is likewise a fun, campy show with great characters, snappy dialogue, and an intriguing premise. A smart, ambitious medical student goes to a boat party and is scratched by a zombie, becoming one herself. She breaks up with her fiance, leaves med school, and takes a job in a morgue to give herself easy access to her required diet, human brains, without killing anyone.

The entire first season is on Netflix, and the handful of episodes that have aired so far in the second season are available on Hulu.


And here's some baby kittens. They always seems to make life a little brighter. The little guy in the tissue box at about 0:55 is pretty darn adorable.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 142


Happy Halloween!


The staff at Sesame Street has always worked toward making the show inclusive of diversity of every stripe, and I'm glad that they are still striving for that goal. Sesame Street recently released a series of videos highlighting children with autism, across the spectrum. They are done beautifully, lovingly, and with joy and understanding of each child's unique qualities. I've embedded one of my favorite videos below. Check out the full series here.


I really enjoy those fun "100 years of fashion" videos that have been making the rounds lately. This link has a half dozen short videos, including a side by side comparison of women's and men's fashion during the same time periods, men's swimwear, and a century of wedding dress styles.


It's been a week and a half since I got back from the Parliament of the World's Religions and I'm still going through withdrawals, mourning my return to the "real world" a bit. I loved the environment of inclusiveness and curiosity and welcome and learning that pervaded the entire conference.

One of the presentations I didn't get to see was titled "Teaching Children about World Religions" presented by Ron Madison, the author of a children's book that does just that. Luckily, I found this youtube video of him and several of the children he profiles in his book:

And in case you're interested in learning more, here's a TED-Ed video that provides a brief chronological introduction to the five major world religions: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 141


If you saw my Friday Four last week, or follow me on Facebook, you'll know that I recently spent five days in Salt Lake City (and two long days in my van) to participate in the Parliament of the World's Religions.

2015 Parliament

It was an incredible experience! From Native American smudging, to the Sikh langar, to Muslim comedians and artists, to a Baptist gospel choir, these five days were packed full of fascinating, uplifting, educational experiences, of people sharing how they worship and connect with God - however they identify that Divine Power, and of the innate goodness and power of people choosing to step outside their comfort zones and make a difference in the world. I'm so glad I got to be a part of it!


I got to meet and hang out with some of the coolest people. I didn't get nearly enough pictures...

Native Americans in full ceremonial dress

Sonja J. Wratten of the Church of England,
the first female priest of her parish in Bedford, England

Andrea Radke-Moss and Carol Lynn Pearson

Two Jain women chatting at the Parliament

My sweet friend Emily & her daughter Cherylyn!

And her husband (and my good friend) Kenyon

My freshman-year crew from BYU: Dan, Ben, Cristie & Brian

HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji

Meredith & I met Zarqa Nawaz, the creator of
the Canadian sitcom "Little Mosque". It's on Hulu - go watch it!

Ajisebo and Wande Abimbola, Yoruba high priestess & priest

Met an online friend in person, Betsy Vanderberghe (C)
and a new friend Becky Farley (L)

SpokaneFaVS folks celebrating after a successful presentation.
Some of the best people I know are SpokaneFaVS people!

Tresa, Sara, me & Meredith - we've got big plans!

FaVS road trip buddies! Kim, Tracy, Skyler, me, Meredith, & Laura

Of course there were many others that I didn't get to personally meet, but whose words were powerful for me this week. Karen Armstrong, Tariq Ramandan, Jane Goodall, Grandmother Rose Pere, Ilyasah Shabazz, Ruth Messinger, Rabbi David Saperstein, Valarie Kaur, Jonathan Brown, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Bernard Freamon, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Bishop William Swing, Rev Jim Wallis, Police Chief Devon Clunis, Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Sister Maureen Goodman, Metropolitan Nikitas, Danny Blackgoat, the list goes on and on...

And my reading list has exploded!


Coming back to reality after the interfaith high of the past week is not always fun and smooth. I'm definitely experiencing withdrawals! But these faces ease the transition a bit.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 140

Greetings from Salt Lake City! 

I'm here for the Parliament of the World's Religions, the largest interfaith gathering in the world! 10,000 people from 80 different countries and 50 different religion traditions have converged here to learn and teach and share and commune and be inspired and uplifted. And I'm so lucky to be one of them!

SpokaneFaVS is presenting on Monday. Our workshop is on 'Creating Meaningful Interfaith Dialogue in Your Community in the Digital Age' and it's going to be great!

In the mean time, I'm overwhelmed by the options - so many difficult choices! There are three or four sessions I'd like to attend during every time slot. It's impossible to catch everything, so I'm just trying to see as much as I can. I've already met amazing people and had so many wonderful experiences after only one day!

The place we're staying doesn't have great wifi, so if you'd like to see pictures and read more about my experiences here, trot over to my Facebook page ( where I've made all of my Parliament posts public.

You can also go to the Parliament's website at and you can watch at least some of the proceedings online!

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 139


It just so happened that my post-surgical self-imposed exile-from-most-human-interaction fell over General Conference weekend. (For those unfamiliar with this event, twice annually the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather in Salt Lake City and broadcast sermons to the world-wide membership of the church: one session on a Saturday evening and then five sessions total the following Saturday and Sunday.) This allowed me a perfect opportunity to sit and listen to the messages with fewer distractions than normal (not no distractions, of course; pain meds and children were integral parts of my weekend).

On the whole, this was one of the most Christ-centered General Conferences in a while. I heard sincere love and concern, tenderness and an effort to reach out and understand. It really was a gathering of imperfect people doing their best to express the thoughts of their hearts and imperfect people doing their best to listen and understand how best to improve moving forward.

As is inevitably the case in any large conference with almost twelve hours of sessions addressed to more than 15 million people in a dizzying myriad of situations all around the world, some of the dozens of talks last weekend and this spoke directly to me and my personal challenges at this point in my life; some didn't; and some I'm not so sure about. Some were instant favorites that I look forward to re-reading again and again; some I wasn't very fond of at first hearing, have questions about, and I'll need to re-read them again and again as well. I take very seriously the charge to seek personal revelation and confirmation of the messages shared, as well as to apply the individual promptings I receive as the Spirit guides.

I have friends for whom Conference seems to have been an unadulterated uplifting and edifying bathing in the Spirit, where every word seemed to come with a golden heavenly stamp of approval joyfully and easily welcomed as it fell from the lips of the speaker. And I have friends for whom Conference was painful, triggering, and disappointing, where certain aspects made them feel alone or misunderstood or unheard. And many - including myself - for whom it was a mixed bag somewhere in between.

I guess what I'm saying is, let's be gentle with each other. None of us experiences life's challenges and joys and heartaches and lessons exactly the same as anyone else, and I firmly believe that is a strength to our community of Saints, not something to shy away from or fear. One of the repeating themes of this Conference was the infinite worth of each human soul as a daughter or son of heavenly parents, and the related pleading that we more clearly see each other as children of God and treat each other accordingly.

We can all do a little better in that regard.


I still wasn't feeling 100% Sunday evening, but I was determined to go listen to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at Gonzaga University. President Sirleaf is the current leader of Liberia and one of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureates and has been instrumental in moving her country - and especially the Liberian women - forward in educational and employment opportunities. She also recently had to manage the terrifying Ebola outbreaks in Liberia and handled the crisis decisively, with strength and grace. I admire her greatly.

So I got out of the pajamas I'd lived in for a few days and met my sister at the McCarthey Athletic Center. We arrived early enough to snag fifth row seats!

I'm so glad I made the effort. President Sirleaf's remarks were stirring and inspiring. She has withstood great trials in her life, made great sacrifices to serve her people, and is seeing the fruits of her efforts in her beloved country. Education and literacy is increasing, women fill 30-35% of the leadership positions in government, communities feel - and are - empowered to address their own issues and participate in the solutions. The economy, infrastructure, and health systems are being slowly rebuilt after the devastation of Ebola.

As Africa's first democratically elected female head of state, she recognizes, she said, that she represents the aspirations and expectations of women in Liberia, in Africa, and around the world. She is devoted to changing things for the better, but it is the resilience, the determination, the commitment, and the industry of the people of Liberia, she says, that is making the change happen.

Remarkable woman.


Last week, my friend Kim invited our family to come celebrate Sukkot with her family and friends. Sukkot is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths. It's a Jewish harvest festival and also a commemoration of the Exodus, forty years of wandering in the wilderness and living in temporary booths or tabernacles.

A proper sukkah, I learned, is enclosed on three sides and has
openings in the top through which you can see the stars. Beautiful!

Delicious soups and casseroles and veggies and breads and desserts!
Wonderful food, fun conversation with interesting people, and my boys had a great time, too!


Early October is a busy one for birthdays around here.

First, Evan turned seven years old!

And then Josh broke into the double digits!

Happy birthday, my boys!