another gratitude post

January 27, 2009

Monday and Tuesday this week I went to a hunger advocacy conference put on by one of our funders. Monday night they had a speaker –the director of the California Endowment — Robert somethingorother. His talk was great but one part at the beginning stood out to me: At the beginning of his talk he asked people to raise their hands if their parents had grown up in poverty, if their grandparents had, if their great grandparents had. i thought back to my dad working his full time job and coming home to work another parttime job or more; my mom going back to school when i was 11 or 12 and all the sacrifices it entailed; my mom’s stories about the parsonages they used to live in that were barely inhabitable and all that my grandmother had done to make them into a home; and my dad’s mom’s stories about about how when they were kids during the depression her dad would go hunting and they would eat whatever he could shoot (possum, squirrel, raccoon – which wasn’t her favorite); and my maternal great-grandmother who had to dig a path with her young sons through a blizzard to make room for the coal truck so they wouldn’t freeze to death in south (?) dakota…

I raised my hand every time… along with about 80% of the rest of the group.

the speaker talked about how our ancestors who had struggled through poverty had, at some point (at many points), made decisions to help our grandparents and our parents, and us to live a better life… and how all of that in so many direct and indirect ways had led us to our presence there that evening in a nice hotel with a delish free meal.
he talked about how making those changes was difficult — just like the issues that we are facing now — but because those choices were made, and that vital hard work was done, our lives were all the better for it.

i appreciated the way the speaker reminded us that our work, while difficult, is so important; whether we ever get to see the results or not, there will still be benefits beyond measure.

On a more personal level it also made me realize a little more fully that people I have never met have done more than i can imagine to ensure I could be where I am today — healthy, happy, smart, secure, etc. So much I will never be able to repay…

Except, I guess, I can pay it forward a little by doing what i can to live a life that honors all that hard work, all the difficult choices and all the doing without, without giving up hope…  I hope we can all live lives that show we don’t take any of that for granted…


16 things

January 22, 2009

16 random things about me…

Tiana put this on her blog, and wanted to get a response in kind, so here it is…

1. As most of you know I have a scatological sense of humor. Tiana and I like to say “any joke that includes poop-n-pee-n-farts-n-piss…” Lately, one of my friends gets all worked up about it, (“How do you get poop into every conversation?!?!”) which makes it even better.

2. I usually am not good at picking up after myself. Like a lot of things in my life, I let it all build up until I just go on a binge to clean it up again.

3. I’m totally stealing Tiana’s number 13 – I also like eccentric people. Well, mostly I just like people, but the more eccentric the better—as Tiana said, “they are so unapologetically themselves and seem unmoved by people’s judgment…even better, maybe they are even unaware of it? YES, they are weird but they are so special…”

4. One of my secrets – exposed!!: When I was 19 and worked at an onion plant, I once agreed to have dinner (a date?) with one of the truckers who had picked up a load of onions from us. He was a Russian immigrant and when I went to his truck to tell him I’d meet him at the truck stop back across the river in Oregon, he was reading his russian/english vocabulary book (which i thought was cute, like there were specific words or phrases he wanted to have prepared???). I felt likeI shouldn’t tell anyone cuz they’d think I was crazy but I guess I was up for an adventure. From what I vaguely remember the food was terrible, and I felt really self-conscious about being there surrounded by truckers, but I had a nice time. He told me about his life on the road, that it was lonely and he wanted more chances to practice his english. Before I left he gave me his cell phone number and said I could call if I ever needed anything… I know it was pretty risky, but I’ve always been kinda glad I went. He was a pretty nice guy. (this probably goes along with my number 3 in some ways.)

5. I have a bad habit of picking at my cuticles when i am nervous or bored. I recently started rubbing neosporine on them in an attempt to heal them and give my hands something else to do. It still pick them, but they don’t look so gnarly and bloody anymore.

6. I realized recently that many of my greatest friendships have been forged since i moved to San Diego in 2000 – while George W Bush was in office. I like to think that now, as good as those friendships have been, with Obama and all this hope and optimism leeching into our brains and souls, well, I like to imagine that my relationships will have something new and hopeful about them too…

7. I LOVE reading tabloid headlines in the grocery store checkout line. Sometimes if the line is extra long I’ll even pick one up and thumb through it. But I would be too embarassed to ever actually pay money for any of them.

8. I like writing letters partly because I like to imagine the recipient opening the mail box and, between the bills and junk mail, seeing a colorful envelope and a handwritten address. And of course, I like receiving letters too. So much better than email….

9. I am working on being more decisive – not just deciding for the sake of making a decision, but making a conscious effort to think through the options and come to a conclusion. I am learning this is a much more exciting way to live than to hem and haw and let life pass me by…

10. I have a friend in recovery from substance abuse and I admire their determination to get to the heart of things, work the steps, and maintain a sense of humor about it all. I feel kinda lucky that I get to share the journey a little with such a cool person…

11. I think the mind-body connection is fascinating… like how much sensory stimulation/deprivation can affect moods and ones ability to cope. Like, just swimming out in the ocean past the breaks and (in between worrying about sharks) feeling the pull of the water as it pulses around ones body. Isn’t it crazy and amazing how much just that sensation effects the mind!?! I think stuff like that is one of the Gifts of being alive. There’s more to this (human touch, being around animals, vocalization of pleasure or pain, more than I know for sure…) but I’ll just leave it at that for now.

12. I like to listen to books on tape while I make crafts. I especially like whodunit mysteries and stuff from NPR like The American Life. These are times when I get in the zone and I don’t want to talk or be interrupted at all. I’ll finally be tired or hungry a few hours later and come back to ‘reality’ but it will feel like it has only been 30 minutes (another crazy mind/body thing!).

13. For the first time in my life, I really really love my job.

14. I wish I could somehow squish the distance btween Northern Oregon and Southern California so I could spend more time with my nutty family that I love so much.

15. Sometimes there is nothing like a good hard cry to just get a fresh start… it’s like going outside after it has rained really hard all night and all morning… the air is a little fresher and things seem a little newer…

16. Today a took a dump and it smelled like that smell when you drive down the freeway with your parking break on.

weird dream 01.19.09

January 19, 2009

last night a had a dream that george w bush was hanging out with me at my parents house. we sat on the couch. i told him all the times i thought he was a real asshole, what an idiot of a president he was. he listened and shared his regrets. he seemed genuinely sorry and i felt an enormous sense of compassion for him. after a while i felt like i wanted to make out with him and he started rubbing my back and….

did you really think i would make out with him in my dream??  i dont like the guy that much (not at all, even with our dream friendship)!  seriously, i started waking up at that point so i swear nothing happened. i swear!!!

i know it was just a dream, but i feel better that george and i could have that little tet-a-tet. makes it a little easier to forgive, move on, and celebrate tomorrow with sheer joy!  anyone else having any presidential-type dreams lately???

I was reading some back articles of The Sun Magazine when I found an interview with this guy named Michael Shellenberger from about 4 years ago (I’m just going to refer to him as MS since his last name is so danged long).  MS is pretty young but has done a lot in the progressive /social justice movement over the last 10+ years.  The title of the interview is ‘why liberals need to abandon complaint-based activism.’  His premise is that most people, while they share many of the same values don’t always agree on the issues, and that is why there is so much fragmentation and lack of success in the progressive movement.

This idea is something that I have been thinking about for a long time (and to give credit where it’s due – I think my parents were the first to remind me of this after I got involved in social justice issues. After one of my long diatribes about everything I was now against, they asked me, “yes, but what are you for?”).  The question has always been how to do it – how to make the connection about what one is for in the midst of all the “problems.”  MS talks about “bridge values” – those things that, when it comes down to it, most of us can agree on (e.g., war is bad, hunger is bad, working together for the success of our communities is good –people might disagree on the best way to meet these goals, but our core values are still the same).

Part of the reasons progressive ideals have struggled is instead of approaching people on ‘values’ we’ve used scare-tactics or guilt to move people into action, which, MS says, is like a sugar rush type of response to issues – lots of activity in the beginning, and then a burn out.  (I think we’ve all been there right?)  MS suggests a new strategy where people’s core beliefs are used to inspire them.

(BTW, just while I’m thinking of it, I think this is something that helped Barack Obama to become so successful – he has a way of appealing to the values that people hold no matter where they stand on the issues. It is inspiring because we can connect with the shared values, which gives us hope.)

I think this example really elucidates his point: “Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech is famous because it put forward an inspiring positive vision that carried within it a critique of the current moment. Imagine how history would have turned out had King given an “I have a nightmare” speech instead.”

Instead of spending a lot of time trying to reword what MS has already said so well I just want to share some quotes. A lot of it is talking about politics, but I think it is something that many of us can think about at a more personal intimate level — in our conversations with people, in what we look for in our leaders, how we approach our work, etc. It has made me think a lot about my work with hunger and how I can better get people on board with ending hunger – connecting with their values and then getting as many as I can on board for at least the next 2 or 3 next steps toward making the dream come true – cuz I gotta believe this is a dream we can make a reality.

Michael Shellenberger:

“The rhetoric of the Right says that government is alien from the people, that it’s a foreign entity that is occupying us. That’s a dangerous disturbing idea, because it concentrates power in self interested private entities – namely corporations. As much corruption as there is with Halliburton and the rest, we still elect our government. We are our government; we do not live under a dictatorship. Our government is there to represent the public interest.”

“You need a bold, exciting vision to bring new people into the political process and create a governing majority.”

“Democrats frame their proposals around issues when they should be framing them around values. What really determines how people vote is their core believes, not what their position is on an issue like healthcare or abortion or the economy. If you can understand why people’s values are, you can figure out how to create a governing majority. Our theory is that even people who are fairly conservative on issues like guns and gay marriage hold a lot of progressive values, especially around economic questions, and the Left needs to identify and strengthen those “bridge values.”

“A value that is much more powerful is that of shared achievement. How do we do something great together? The United States is a culture of aspiration. Winning the gold at the Olympics, putting a man on the moon, freeing or country from dependence on foreign oil – they’re all more motivating that [some environmentalists’ message] “Let’s keep the planet the way it has been for thousands of years.”

“Let’s define what we like about being American. There’s a lot that I’m proud of.  I can get a business license from the Financial Services Dept and I don’t have to pay a bribe. I can ride my bike with my son to the library and, at least for now, my librarian won’t call the FBI on me. I don’t worry about going to jail for saying the things I’m saying to you right now. There are many things that I cherish about being an American, but progressives don’t talk much about these things because we are such a complaint based culture.”

“At some point in the 60s the Left bought into the big lie that its values were not American values. We actually believed people when they said that about us. I don’t know why it happened, but it did.”

There is so much l like about these ideas…  Tell me if you think this is interesting or inspiring? What do you think the “bridge values” are from your perspective?

christmas with my family!

January 4, 2009

Hi Everyone,

they are so cute! my little chefs!

Here is my first holiday post. I also had christmas with Scott’s family but haven’t gone through those photos yet

Check out the pics and my highlights below:


  • I made some amazing aprons and chef hats for my sister’s kids. They like to cook with her so I thought it would be fun. The younger boys got a play kitchen for christmas so it was perfect!
  • Hanging out with my mom and dad at the mall. Went to see Benjamin Button — pretty good movie
  • Visited my brother and his family. His kids are getting so big and cute! I need to get more pics of them!!
  • Took my niece out to lunch — she is growing into an amazing young lady. I am so proud of her!
  • Took two of my nephews to lunch at a chinese restaurant that we really like in Hermiston. Chase loved the sweet and sour chicken and carson refused to eat anything. ha!
  • Went out with my sister one night and had a nice time catching up with her. She is great!
  • Chase and Carons slept in our room with us one night. Carson passed out before he even got there, but Chase and I stayed up and talked. I love late night talks like that! 🙂
  • Making paper airplanes and this burning newspaper hindenburg thing with my nephews out of the “dangerous book for boys” that I got for Chase’s 7th birthday.
  • Snow ball fight and snow man building in the 12″+ of snow that my parents had! So fun!

Have fun viewing the pics! I’ll post more after I organize the Shigeno family pics!

we will crush you!

we will crush you!