I hear the sounds of breaking glass

I spent last week glued to my television while scanning Twitter posts as my Democratic Party nominated Hillary Rodham Clinton as our candidate for President of the United States.

HilaryClintonPictureShe will not have an easy time ahead.

Much of America is angry with politicians and what is perceived as a government that responds to lobbyists rather than to the working middle class, and Americans are scared of the racial violence in our streets and terrorists who are threatening us here and abroad.

We are the television generation, used to having solutions to crises within 43 minutes, which is the actual running time for an hour TV drama.

Tempers are running short. A significant number of Republicans feel Donald Trump bullied his way into being their nominee. Many respected Republican Party leaders are not endorsing him, but I hear neighbors vowing to vote for him. I think they like the idea that he has no political experience, which gives them hope he will get Big Government out of their daily lives and let local government–the men and women they see at the Brookshire Brothers grocery store–divvy up the tax money and decide who gets to go into which public restroom at the county courthouse and local schools.

I understand their frustration, I really do. But I do not share their distrust.

No, Hillary Clinton will not have an easy time, but when have women in leadership ever had it easy? I can still hear my mother Lane Murray who was the first superintendent of the Texas prison school system, tell me shortly after she retired: “Do you have any idea what it’s like to know every eye is watching you, waiting for you to make a mistake?”

The question stunned me because I’d never considered the pressure she was under. Silly me.

The truth is, it takes an enormous sense of purpose to stand in the unforgiving eye of the public. It takes grit to stay the course, as we say in education. I’m proud to live in America where strong-minded women with a sense of purpose can break glass ceilings and change the way we think of leadership.

I do not know if Hillary Clinton will be our next President, but I do know this for sure: The ceiling has been shattered, and things will never be the same as before; having a female US President will not be unique in the years to come.

A Painful Week to Remember

DallasShootingMemorial_02The perfect storm formed earlier last week. African-American Alton Sterling was shot and killed in Louisiana by police while he was pinned to the ground. Less than 48 hours later a Minnesota police officer shot and killed another African American man, named Philando Castile, during a routine traffic stop as the man reached for his driver’s license and registration. The next night, twelve Dallas police officers were shot and five (Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarriopa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith and Lorne Ahrens) were killed by an African American sniper in retaliation during a Black Lives Matter protest march in Texas.

According to ABC News:

The Rev. Jeff Hood, one of the organizers of the protest said the goal of the rally was to create “a space where anger could be let out. We were interested in creating a space where people could grieve. We were interested in creating a space where people could network to face head-on the problem of police brutality in our country.”

He added, “We left that rally in a nonviolent fashion. After leaving the rally, I heard ‘Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop’ in succession. Immediately when I heard the shots, I looked up, and I saw what I believe were two police officers that went down.”
“The sergeant ran towards the shooting. I ran the opposite direction … was screaming, ‘Run, run! Active shooter, active shooter! Run, run!’ And I was trying to get folks out as fast as I could … During that moment, I lost track of my wife. I didn’t find her again for three and a half hours,” Hood said.

“I spent those three hours talking to people asking the question, ‘Why, why? Why is this happening?’ The only answer I know now and the only answer I knew then was turn to love. We’ve got to turn to love. We got to stop shooting,” he said. “This is a devastating time for the city of Dallas. It’s a devastating time for us as activists and organizers.”

Let’s be clear, Dallas is the focal point for the national and international media outlets right now, but retaliation elsewhere in response for the killings of Black citizens is occurring in other places. Police have also been ambushed in Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee.

Terror and confusion rule the day (and night). What is happening? Are we witnessing the beginning of a race war, or the defining moment when Americans begin to build reconciliation and seek understanding? Will we realign ourselves to embrace diversity and fill our hearts with tolerance, or will we draw deeper lines that divide communities, even families?
While elected officials and other wannabe politicians may rush to judgment to feed the hungry media beast, I believe it is important for the rest of us to step back, take several deep breaths and reflect on how are we feeling? When we share our deep, personal emotions in response to the historical events of our time, our eyewitness stories become more powerful than any chapter in a history textbook or Wikipedia entry can ever hope to be. We are on the front row as history unfolds.

But even more importantly, by writing what we think and how we feel, we can begin to heal from the trauma all of us are experiencing this summer. As Dr. James Pennebaker at the University of Texas has discovered, writing about life’s stresses is profoundly therapeutic. Writing in our personal journals about the shame, the blame and the pain we are feeling today will actually save us from sinking further into the abyss of craziness.

I urge you to get out your journal and write—or draw—what you are feeling about the grip that violence has on our community. Explore the details of what you’re feeling instead of being terrorized by apparitions flickering from the dark recesses of your mind.

Write fast—against the clock—in ten minutes—or less. You don’t ever have to show it to anyone else. This is private writing, for your eyes only.

However, you may find that when you re-read it in a few months or a year, that you’ll be able to understand what you are going through and be able to bring an individual perspective to things that would not be possible otherwise.

I often say, writing is thinking on paper. What do you think, really think, and how do you feel about the chaos swirling around us? Tell yourself the truth. Your truth. And why.

1st date remembered

Ronnie and I “met” online on a site called Plenty of Fish. I’d been on and off the site for several years, not really finding any fish that were worth keeping, but it was different with Ronnie. There was an instant connection. We flirted for several weeks, eventually exchanged phone numbers and flirted some more. Finally, we decided to meet for lunch at a restaurant on the outskirts of Houston.

I remember he was waiting just outside the door. He had on sunglasses, jeans and a collared shirt. The hostess seated us and we both ordered steak salads. I did most of the talking, but God only knows what I said. First meetings are so flustering.

I left for Dallas afterwards and was gone a week. He called me every night.

I returned home the first week of July and he asked me out. Our first official date was July 4, 2011.

Ronnie rode to The Woodlands where I was living, picked me up on his Harley-Davidson trike and brought me back to Houston. We watched the fireworks flashing magnificently across the Houston skyline from the freeway.

Since moving to Navasota, we’ve celebrated in College Station on the grounds of the George Bush memorial library at Texas A&M University. We ride the trike with camp chairs tied to the back. I play patriotic music on my iPhone and we watch the children chase fireflies, and each other, in the twilight before the show begins.

Tomorrow will mark the fifth year since our first date. We are in St. Jo, Texas, visiting my brother Mark and his wife at their ranch, so we’re in Ronnie’s BMW, not on his Harley.

We plan to drive into town for the fireworks. St. Jo is a small town, so the fireworks show will not be as bold as the ones we’ve seen elsewhere, but flags will wave proudly and the rockets’ red glare will fill the sky and we will celebrate. Oh how we will celebrate.