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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the privilege of being able to vote in a democratic system, and in it, I argued that voting itself is the most important right that we have.
That’s true; I still think that.
But that post strikes me as incomplete.
The fact is, there’s a candidate this year who I’m thrilled to vote for. Since turning eighteen, there’s never been one I’m this excited for. And in a close race that will come down to a handful of remaining states, I feel like I’d be missing an opportunity if I didn’t share with you who that candidate is and why I think this is so important.
But first, a word of background. A few months ago, I eliminated advertising from this site. I’ve stood by that promise. When I stopped taking sponsorships on this blog, I told you that all I wanted from you was for you to listen. That’s still all I want. For you to listen to what I have to say with an open mind.
I will probably convince very few people to actually vote for the candidate I support. Maybe none. That’s ok. These are my opinions; they might not have an impact for a variety of reasons. Your state’s primary may already be over. You may not be registered to vote. You may not be a U.S. citizen. You may fundamentally disagree with me. Or you may be sick to death of election news and decide to skip this post completely. If so, that’s cool. I get it. See you next week.
But if you’re still reading, I want to tell you a little bit about the candidate I support.
That candidate is Bernie Sanders.
Our world is changing, faster now than ever. I’m thirty-five, which is not very old, but when I look back over my own lifetime, it feels like I’ve been on a roller coaster. My childhood was largely spent in a pre-internet world, my adulthood in a post-internet world, and my teenage years somewhere in between. This blog itself — the way I’m communicating right now — is a tool that didn’t exist for my parents’ generation.
It’s not just communication. It’s everything. It’s education, it’s wealth, it’s foreign relations, it’s medical care, it’s our political system, it’s the planet. That’s a list in five seconds off the top of my head. Things that felt stable and certain ten years ago have changed, faster than anyone realized they could. Things that felt sure and certain ten years ago are, it turns out, anything but.
And the world is about to start changing even faster.
Over the next few years and decades, we’re going to face challenges that prior generations couldn’t have dreamed of. I’m virtually certain that we’ll face challenges that, sitting here today, I can’t even dream of.
If this sounds scary… well, on some level, sure, it’s super scary. But it’s also incredibly exciting. And one of the best tools we have to grapple with these changes — to protect ourselves where necessary, and to foster and encourage the right developments — is through our political system.
Which is why it’s critical to elect the right leaders.
I could talk about a lot of individual policy reasons that I support Bernie, but you may not have the same views as I do on specific policies. That’s ok. America has a diverse population with a huge array of different perspectives; that’s one of the things I value most about living here. That’s not what I’m writing about today.
Because when we look at individual policies, I think we sometimes miss the forest for the trees. The fact is, our government wasn’t set up so that each citizen could choose every single policy according to their individual beliefs. In a country this diverse, that would be impossible. Nothing would ever get done.
Instead, we elect representatives. We do our best to pick people who are competent and intelligent, who have the right values, who fight for the things that matter to us. And then, if the system works, we let them do their jobs. We don’t have to micromanage everything. We put the right people in power and let them figure it out.
Except over the last few years, our system has gotten bogged down. It’s weighed down by money, by conflict, by politicians appealing to fringe groups instead of working in the public interest. Something needs to change, quickly, before these problems become impossible to fix. Issues like climate change and income inequality are existential threats to our world, and we are almost past the window to fix them.
But we have the tools to do it. They are sitting right in front of us, waiting for us to pick them up. And the first step is to elect a leader who cares more about the good of our country than about himself.
That sounds like a small thing, doesn’t it? It’s not. For whatever unfortunate reason, our country seems to attract megalomaniacal politicians. It’s one of our long-running jokes — that you can’t trust politicians and lawyers. Do you know how screwed up that is? There are the people who are setting and enforcing our laws, and we all treat it like a joke that they can’t be trusted.
Even worse, we all accept it, like it’s nothing. Like it’s just a given. Like it’s something that can’t be changed.
And that’s because it felt that way, until this year.
Bernie is different. In a world where politics and authenticity have somehow diverged, he’s a beacon of unwavering personal integrity. He embodies a model that I try my hardest to live up to in my own life, one of honesty and truth and standing up for what I believe is right. He’s spent his entire career as a public servant, and time and again, he’s demonstrated a clear, unwavering dedication to helping this country. He hasn’t always taken popular stances. In fact, he’s often taken unpopular ones. But he has held fast to an unchanging moral core for decades, even when it was hard.
Voting for him is a privilege.
A few months ago, there was a lot of talk about how Hillary was certain to be the Democratic nominee, that Bernie didn’t have a chance.
But things have changed. Bernie has won the Democratic primary in nine of the last ten states that have voted. The gap between his delegate count and the number needed to win the nomination is closing with every state that votes.
He is catching up.
And with a couple of key victories in the next few weeks, he will win.
But that’s not a guarantee. For him to win the democratic nomination, and then the presidency, it’s going to take all of us who believe in him learning the issues, telling our friends, and spreading the message. It’s going to take us engaging with our friends and family on both sides of the aisle to talk about why this is the right decision. We need to explain why voting in this election season isn’t a messy chore — it’s an incredible opportunity.
This year has given us a circus mess of unqualified, uninformed political candidates.
And somehow, in the middle of all that garbage, there’s a diamond.
That’s honestly how I feel. I’m not just voting for Bernie; I’m thrilled to vote for Bernie. I will do anything I can to help get his message out. A few weeks ago, I stood in line for four hours at a rally for his campaign — that’s the photo above. Thousands of people in a single line, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
It was too crowded; I didn’t get in. I didn’t care. I was happy to be there, happy so many people were there with me. Against all odds, his message is spreading, faster and faster every day.
And yes, some days it feels like an uphill battle. Some days, it feels like moving a mountain, one grain of sand at a time. But that’s how it’s got to get done.
I know this blog has a strong readership in New York and California, two huge states with upcoming primaries. If you’re eligible to vote in either of those states, please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the candidates and please, please, please vote. There is literally nothing more important you can do this year than exercise your right to vote carefully, wisely, and for the right person.
I’ve told you who I think that person is.
Now go decide for yourself.
A few weeks ago, I had some girlfriends over to our house, and of course, I had to give a full tour to one of them who hadn’t been over before. The tour ended in my closet (obviously!) and one of them zeroed in on a dress that was hanging there.
“What’s that for?” She asked me, obviously anticipating some super-glam event coming up on my calendar.
But… nope! Aside from a quick vacation coming up in a few weeks, Chad and I have exactly nothing big planned for the next few months. Chances are, we’ll be spending a lot of Saturday nights ordering takeout and watching the baby monitor.
On the other hand, I’m almost tempted to plan something extra-special just to wear this dress. I have some daytime events on the horizon but can’t quite bring myself to break out a ballgown in the middle of the day. But I keep finding myself scoping out possibilities for a really over-the-top night out, just an excuse to break this dress out of the closet!
I love to buy new dresses for special occasions, but I hate the pressure that comes with needing something right now, which inevitably means that I’ll spend a whole day shopping and not find anything I like. So now I make an effort to find dresses I love before I need them, so that I have something on hand in a pinch!
What about you guys? Any swanky black tie galas or chic wedding parties coming up this summer?
Gifted eDressMe dress, Carolee necklace, BHLDN Luna bracelet.
You guys! This week got away from me. It was an amazing one, but one that left me with exactly zero time for blogging. Boo! Next week, I’ll be back on track.
What do y’all have planned this weekend? I am super excited about ours — Chad’s brother, his wife, and their two-year-old son are coming to Houston for a visit! Bear met his cousin Evan at Christmas, but he’s so much bigger and more aware of everything now, and I’m super excited for them to actually get to play together! We got them on FaceTime a few weeks ago and Evan kept saying “Hi Baby Bear!” It was SO cute!
Every time I see older kids now, I get so excited to watch Bear grow up and to see all the new things he’ll learn. I can’t wait until he’s old enough to talk! Right now, he says Mama and Dada and not much else, but I know they start advancing in leaps and bounds the second year. I can’t wait!
Also, this weekend, I’m going to get on the ball about planning Bear’s first birthday party! It’s only a few weeks away (eek!) and I’ve done exactly nothing so far. (Double eek!) That’s not totally true — we ordered our invitations and thought a lot about the theme, but there are a lot of details that need to come together in the next few weeks, and I have to get on the ball! It’s going to be a ton of fun.
And thank you all so much for the vacation ideas! I want to go everywhere. One of my favorite things about living in Houston is how many easy beach destinations are just a few hours away — I can’t wait to explore more of them!
My heart exploded this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more happy and grateful than I do at this moment.
Welcome to the world, baby Bear. We love you with our whole hearts already.
Dylan Bear Atlas, born April 26, 2014, at 7:01 a.m. Seven pounds, three ounces.
Something I’ve been meaning to talk about on Sugarlaws for quite a while: Meditation.
About six months ago, at Chad’s suggestion, I started meditating for 15 minutes each day. I was skeptical at first — I’m one of those people who’s constantly multitasking, and the idea of taking fifteen minutes to think about nothing (when there is so much on my to-do list at any given moment) was, quite honestly, a little overwhelming.
But I started it anyway. New research comes out every day that meditation lowers blood pressure, amps up your immune system, and helps you concentrate, among other health benefits that are too numerous to mention. Since I’m always looking for ways to improve my overall well-being, I figured that fifteen minutes a day was worth it.
And it was the best decision I could possibly have made. Since starting meditation, my stress levels have fallen so dramatically, it’s astounding. We all deal with tight deadlines, uncertainty, and worries in our day-to-day lives, but meditation has helped me let go of the underlying layer of stress and worry that was part of my life for way too long.
Take driving: Houston has bad traffic, as many cities do. When I was running late to events or meetings, I used to sit in my car and just FUME at the traffic, getting myself more and more worked up. By the time I arrived where I was going, I was a frazzled mess, even if I wasn’t even late.
You know what sitting in my car fuming did? Nothing. It didn’t help me get there any faster, not one single second. The situation was completely out of my control, and yet I sat there, making myself miserable about it.
You know what I do in traffic now? I use it as an opportunity to relax. I accept that it’s out of my control, that I’m doing the best I can, and that getting upset won’t get me there any faster. And then I find a great song on the radio, relax my shoulders, and focus on breathing in and out until I get wherever I’m going.
Sitting in traffic is an easy example, but there are so many more ways that meditation has improved the quality of my life that I notice every day. I’m a calmer, happier, more patient and thoughtful person than I was six months ago, and I credit daily meditation for a lot of that change.
I’ve noticed physical changes too — I enjoy little moments more, and life doesn’t feel like it’s going by so quickly. My stress levels and diet have improved dramatically — sure, this eight-months-pregnant lady still goes for chocolate and cupcakes, but I also find that I enjoy nourishing my body in a way that I didn’t fully appreciate before. I’m more careful about the ingredients I use in our food and on my skin (thankfully, my favorite Simple Skincare products don’t contain dyes, artificial perfumes or harsh irritants, so nothing changed there!), and I’m more mindful of the way I treat the people around me, from random strangers to my own family.
So, since I think each and every one of you should give this a try, I thought I’d give you a few meditation tips for beginners!
Meditation Tips for Beginners
Set Aside a Time and Place
We have a corner of our dining room set up with meditation mats, but you don’t need a formal set-up. But do pick a time and a place that you can devote consistently to meditation, whether it’s your favorite armchair or the first ten minutes before you get out of bed in the morning. Pick a spot where you’ll be alert and focused, though — you don’t want to drift off to sleep!
Use a Timer
At first, it’s going to feel like those ten or fifteen minutes are endless — trust me, it gets much, much easier. The best way to keep yourself from checking the clock every minute or two is to use the timer on your cell phone. Set it and forget it — don’t let yourself keep checking to see how much time has gone by!
Focus On the Breath
But how do you do it? It’s incredibly simple and easy. Sit still, and focus on breathing in and out. Take a moment to really connect with your surroundings, experience the feel of the chair on your skin, and try to listen to the silence in the room around you. Count your breaths, starting at one and going to ten, until a thought distracts you — and if it does, start over again at one. (It took me weeks to make it all the way to ten, so don’t get discouraged if this is difficult at first!)
Do It Your Own Way
It’s tempting to think that you have to sit in a certain position or hold your hands a certain way to meditate properly. But my view is that the best position to be in is one that’s comfortable for you, whether that’s sitting straight up, lying down, opening or closing your eyes, or holding your hands any way you want. My most comfortable position is kneeling, eyes closed, with my fingers interlocked, even though that’s not “proper” form. But it works for me, so that’s what I do.
Let It Spill Into Your Daily Life
As you go about your day, try to find moments of mindfulness or awareness. In those moments, focus on being present and let thoughts about future actions or worries drift away. You’ll find that this is easier to do as you get better at meditating, but even taking a few seconds to focus on being present can have a huge impact.
This one isn’t specifically about meditation, but it does fall within the general mindfulness category. I like to take a few seconds each day and think about three things that I’m grateful for. They can be big (our health, our dogs, our new baby) or small (the sunshine, a great breakfast, a phone call to my mom), but it’s a great way of remembering and appreciating all the wonderful things that life has brought you.