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Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

June 8, 2016

In the fall of 1992, I was a senior in high school and the nation was consumed with a presidential election unlike any before. This was the year that featured an established sitting president (George H.W. Bush), a rogue third-party  candidate (H. Ross Perot), and a young Baby Boomer named Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary.

I was 17-years-old and the world had an excitement in the air. People felt hopeful; like we were on the verge of a new beginning. The Clintons – with Bill playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show – was like nothing out of politics before.

I watched the Clinton and Gore families triumphantly dance on stage to Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” at the Democratic National Convention. These people were young, I thought. They were my parents’ age, and their kids were my age. Even today, 24 years later, that feeling of anything is possible runs through me every time I hear “Don’t Stop” on the radio.

Later that summer, my friend and I found the local Clinton-Gore volunteer office and eagerly signed up to do any task they needed help accomplishing. Whether it was calling prospective voters, counting out yard signs for distribution or stuffing mailing envelopes, I couldn’t wait to be a part of American history and do my part to elect the nation’s president.

I proudly displayed my Clinton-Gore bumper sticker on my school binder and bulletin board. I watched the election results on the television that November night and cheered triumphantly when Clinton was declared the winner. And I couldn’t believe my eyes when I received an invitation to one of the inaugural balls as a thank you for my volunteer services (sadly, I wasn’t able to attend).

VOTE written on wooden cubes on the USA flag

Yesterday I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton in the California primary election. Sophie and I walked down to our local polling place so she can see votes being cast and we picked up my “I Voted” sticker. We talked about voting as an important right, and one we should never take for granted.

In her speech last night, Clinton talked about how our nation has reached a milestone. For the first time in our history, a woman is the major party’s nominee. Whether you’re “with her” or not, it’s hard not to acknowledge this is a historic time in the United States. As a woman, I am particularly proud to witness this shattering of the ultimate glass ceiling (Clinton’s words, not mine).

While I don’t have the same optimism I had in 1992, I am humbled to see this milestone in my lifetime. And I’m excited my daughter will grow up in a country where being president of the United States is a realistic goal for a girl.

NOTE: I wrote this post to share a significant memory, and how it relates to my feelings about today’s presidential election and the future. I didn’t write this to seek a debate on my political choices. If you decide to stop reading my blog or unfriend me on Facebook because I voted for Hillary, that’s certainly your choice to do.

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Monday Musings ~ May 23

May 23, 2016

Happy Monday!

flowers from sophie

1. First off, I want to thank all of you for your encouragement and comments about our big move to Indiana. It’s been an exciting and emotional roller coaster, so your nice words are greatly appreciated!

2. I may have written that Mary Chapin Carpenter is my absolute favorite singer/songwriter ever. I discovered her while in college and have been a fan ever since. Her words and songs are so hauntingly beautiful and resonate with me so deeply. I was thrilled when she released her latest album a few weeks ago. And it’s just as great – if not better – than her previous work. Check out this NPR article about her and listen to the album.

3. We are currently binging on season three of “The Americans” on Amazon Prime. So of course, I was fascinated by this behind-the-scenes article about how the television show is made. Do you watch “The Americans?”

4. Speaking of television, I agree with this article entitled “If You Want to be a Writer, You Should Be Watching TV.” A lot of the creative inspiration I’ve had recently has been a direct result from watching beautifully scripted stories and rich characters on television. And a well-constructed series is also a great teaching tool for how to pace a story. So if you ever needed inspiration to watch more television, now you have it!

5. Have you ever wondered why iced coffee is more expensive to purchase than hot coffee? I thought I was the only one who noticed this. But then I read this article and realized it’s a phenomenon and I’m not the only one who noticed.

6. Finally, loved this article about the most underrated, must-have items at Trader Joe’s. We’re big fans of those tortilla and mini ice cream cones. Oh, how I love a good trip to Trader Joe’s! What’s your favorite item?

What’s going on in your life? Tell me what you’re thinking about this week.

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Daring to Imagine a Different Life

May 20, 2016

In You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly makes the difficult decision to close her beloved The Shop Around the Corner children’s bookstore. It’s a decision that, she notes, was not an easy one as the shop was such a large part of her life since she was a young girl. When she tells the older and wiser Birdie of the plan, her friend replies, “Closing the store is the brave thing to do … you are daring to imagine that you could have a different life.”

Never have these words rang so close to home as they do to me now.

Later this summer, I will be leaving the place I’ve known since childhood and moving to a different life in Terre Haute, Indiana. Bryan accepted an amazing leadership role at Indiana State University. So Bryan, Sophie and I (and Casey, Cody and Tess) will become Midwesterners after all these years in San Diego.

In many ways, I feel like Jo March as she leaves her small home of Concord for a new life in New York. Only I’m doing the opposite of Jo, as I’m going from big to small. I don’t mind the small, and I welcome a slower, less crowded pace. I hope I will be as brave as Jo as she embraced her new life and the adventures that lie ahead.

I am sad to leave my family, and the community I’ve come to love. And I’ll miss all that’s familiar to me. But I’m excited to experience a completely different way of life and find new places to explore. We’ll be able to see parts of the country that I’ve never known before. Sophie can perfect her basketball skills and become a Hoosier. And of course, seasons! Finally, trips to the pumpkin patch in autumn when I’m not wearing sleeveless tops and flip flops in 90-degree heat!

I’m fortunate that my business allows me to work virtually with clients from all over the country. Hopefully my writing and marketing skills will help new businesses and entrepreneurs in Indiana and the Midwest. And I can’t wait to share all my new thoughts and moments here with all of you (so much more blogging fodder!).

It’s going to be a crazy summer. So much to think about as we pack up our belongings to move east. I’m still wrapping my head around transporting an 8-year-old, two dogs and a cat across country — that will be a road trip for the books! There will be many more musings about our move and Indiana in the future. But for now, I’m ready to imagine a different life in Indiana.

Thanks for your all your support as Leah’s Thoughts makes a cross-country journey. Moving tips will be appreciated!

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Monday Musings ~ May 2

May 2, 2016

Happy Monday!

beautyis

1. I just returned from a conference designed for moms, media and marketers that was all about empowerment and having a voice through content channels. The conference’s theme was “redefining motherhood.” There were many things I really enjoyed about the conference: I attended some great sessions (heard the producer of “Spotlight” speak!), met new contacts and spent time with great friends. Yet the content and great company was a bit overshadowed by my observations that women continue to perpetuate stereotypes and resort to “othering” each other.

Let me give you an example. I was listening to a panel of super-successful women. And by successful, I’m referring to an executive at Twitter, CEO of a philanthropic foundation, founder of a cross-border investment platform, president of an elite special events company, and an astronaut (yes, an astronaut). I felt honored to be in the presence of these amazing women. Yet the moderator spent quite a bit of time asking them about their relationship with their spouse, and strategies for making time for date night.

Granted, I’m NOT knocking date night. But I couldn’t help but think: If this were a panel of men, would they even be asked these questions?

Further, one of the panelists answered that instead of focusing on date night, what works for her is focusing on spending quality time together as a family. But that answer didn’t fit into the gendered norm and she was shamed for not making time for the traditional date night. I was really bothered by this. Here I sat a conference designed to empower women to have a voice and redefine motherhood. Yet the mom who was honest about her family’s choice was criticized in front of a crowd. I’m not blaming the conference organizers for this. It just reminded me of how far we as women and society still have to go.

Well, that was more of a post than a musing. … If you’re still reading, thank you. And let me continue on with my thoughts.

2. Remember the Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had a Million Dollars”? I was reminded of that song when I read this article and this one about what people would do with a big tax refund. I did not get a tax refund (quite the opposite!). But I always think about that song and wonder what I’d do if I suddenly had a bunch of cash. First thing I’d do is hire a maid service and buy a new car with functioning air conditioning. What would you buy?

3. I was laughing out loud as I read this Scary Mommy article about how family road trips have changed since my childhood. My family would spend a week each summer driving to and from Lake Tahoe and San Diego. There were no snacks or bottled water. Entertainment was reading a book and listening to my parents’ favorite cassette tapes. This is perhaps why I refuse to buy a car with a DVD player (much to Sophie’s dismay).

4. Finally, I’m in LOVE with The West Wing Weekly podcast! “The West Wing” is kind of like comfort food for me. Anytime I feel down or need a pick-me-up, I re-watch episodes and I feel better. It’s still one of my favorite shows. Watching television shows in 1999 (when the series debuted) was so different than today. You had to wait every week for a new episode. There was no DVR, binge-watching or spoilers to find on the Internet. So waiting for the next podcast episode is almost like reliving those early days of “The West Wing.”

What’s going on in your life? Tell me what you’re thinking about this week.

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How the Wrong Change Led to a Moment of Childhood Wonder

April 15, 2016

Every Friday, Sophie’s school sells cups of frozen yogurt for $2.50 when the afternoon bell rings. Last Friday (and like every week before), Sophie wanted to buy herself a frozen yogurt. She pulled $3 out of her backpack and ran off to purchase her cookies and cream treat.

She returned from the purchase looking ecstatic as she ran across the playground toward me. Even for frozen yogurt, I was surprised at her level of excitement.

“Mommy, look what I got!” Sophie shouted as she ran toward me. “Instead of getting two quarters in change back from my one dollar bill, I got this really cool Chinese quarter!”

She shows me a silver coin that was the exact size of a quarter, but was a foreign coin and most likely not worth 25 cents.

I immediately started thinking we should return to the yogurt sale booth and ask for a replacement since she was (inadvertently) shorted a quarter. I started to suggest out loud that she go back and get the proper change.

But before I could finish my sentence, Sophie looked at me with shock and asked why on earth would she even consider returning the coin.

So instead of demanding proper change, I shut up and gave in to Sophie’s wonder and curiosity about the coin.

Sophie continued to revel in the coin’s possibility “Isn’t this amazing? I got a coin from China. Or Japan. Or somewhere else. I wonder how much it’s worth. It could be valuable!”

She then talked about sharing the coin with my dad (her granddad), whom she knows takes yearly trips to China for his work.

“Do you think Granddad will know what this coin is worth? I should save it because one day, he may take me to China with him and I can use this coin there.”

The next day, Sophie wrote and mailed him a letter telling him all about the coin and asking for his advice in deciphering its origin.

Finding the right direction to wonder

Finding the path to wonder

This simple, little moment reminded me how incredibly grateful I am that – at 8-years-old – Sophie is still in awe of these little things like a foreign coin.

And here we are, as adults, all grown up; so jaded and focused on reality. When did we lose that wonder? When do we go from curious to cynical? From thinking everything is possible, to thinking things are more impossible than probable? When does that change?

I think about myself at her age and rack my brain, wondering if I ever experienced that type of magical thinking. When did I lose my wonder? I don’t remember.

Seeing Sophie and the curiosity and awe made me smile. I felt a satisfaction that I hadn’t felt for a long time. And this may sound condescending, but I was proud of myself, as a parent, for not crushing that moment of joy by correcting her with accurate information.

So, here’s to finding the wonder — whether it’s a shiny foreign coin or something else!

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