Monthly Archives: November 2014

Staff Memo Regarding Ferguson

As small business owners, we’re sensitive to our roles in our community. We are involved in all the local public schools and nearly all of our employees are under 25, most under 22. In our very small pond, we are decent sized fish with quite an audience watching our every move. In light of recent events in Ferguson, we knew we’d need to address our employees. My wonderful staff members were feeling the weight of all the hate and our memo sparked much needed conversation. It was received with so much gratitude and support, I felt compelled to share our message publicly. In the spirit of transparency, this is basically the essence of how we handled the subject with our employees.

We’re all troubled by the state of affairs in Ferguson and what this unrest represents, but we must not lose our heads. Are you angry? Good. Injustice should trigger anger in us all. Frustrated? Good. Problems with complicated solutions – or maybe no solutions – are nothing but frustrating. How about sad? Because unnecessary loss is very sad. Loss of property and, more importantly, loss of life. And what about shame? Are people who share your heritage acting in a way that embarrasses you, leaving you feeling disconnected? That’s what I’m hearing from you. White, black, mixed — we’re feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. That’s okay.

These feelings are all appropriate for what is happening in our world right now. You might not know exactly what to do with these feelings but I assure you they are all appropriate. Just remember you can’t control what is happening but you can control your reaction and subsequent action, or inaction, as the case may be. All I am asking is that you please be very careful before you act.

In our personal experience it seems that many folks, especially bi-racial people, and close friends and family from the very poor, predominately black neighborhoods of our childhoods, are frustrated with the social media outpouring from the white youth and the privileged people of all races who can’t possibly understand. And I don’t just mean the racists on Twitter. People who have never experienced oppression are not helping by raising fists and acting like they get it; they don’t. They can’t. And they need to stop. A privileged, mixed, suburban male can’t simply put on his flat billed cap and think he understands the thug life. Listening to gangster rap while growing up wealthy and white doesn’t mean you understand ghetto life. A person born in the 90s can’t begin to comprehend growing up in the 60s. It just doesn’t work that way. Folks mean well but they just don’t get it. More good is accomplished by simply being supportive and acknowledging that they can’t possibly relate than insulting someone’s culture by acting like they can. They simply cannot. Instead of bandwagoning with one side or the other please consider sitting back and listening to what is truly needed and doing something to help or, if nothing else, clear the path for others who are helping. But don’t make things worse.

Also, please remember that protestors are exercising their rights AS THEY SHOULD BE. We’ve fought and continue to fight so protestors can peacefully assemble and be heard. They are angry AS THEY SHOULD BE. Let them disrupt the status quo. That’s the purpose of protest – to call attention to injustice. Their message needs to be heard so let them say it. Remember, the vandals and looters you see do not represent the protestors, the black community, nor any other community. The thieves you see consist of many races and are not part of the black culture; they are opportunistic posers hiding being people with legitimate reason for their anger. Furthermore, the actions of some police officers do not represent the actions of all police officers. In fact, men who rape women don’t represent all men. Pet store employees who neglect and abuse animals don’t represent all pet store employees. All bully breeds are not dangerous. Are you with me? Blanket judgment is the very essence of racism and it’s just flat wrong. Don’t succumb to blanket judgment calls. Look beyond the obvious. Cops are not the problem. Blacks are not the problem. The fact that a dysfunctional system allows bad cops to make blanket assumptions about black men which leads to unnecessary death is the problem we’re talking about. Don’t fall into the blanket assumption trap or make this something it’s not. When you see #BlackLivesMatter it means what it says because they do. Black lives do matter. It doesn’t mean other lives don’t. If I say #cancersucks it doesn’t mean diabetes doesn’t.

My point is this: All groups have an inherent culture that is to be embraced and accepted as equal, not same. We’re all different and that is a good thing. And all groups have what I call posers who don’t deserve to be in the group. Please don’t condone the judgment of all based on the actions of a relative few. Don’t abandon your heritage in frustration and feel compelled to “flip to the other side” — whatever that means — whatever your heritage. Don’t get sucked down into mediocrity and shallow judgment. Rise above the easy, lazy, bandwagoning path and think for yourselves. Dig deep. Deeper. Remember it’s never about WHO is right, it’s about WHAT is right. Systematic racism and oppression is a problem in every culture that must be addressed. Our culture is no exception.

One thing I can promise you is that fighting hate and unjustified violence with hate and unjustified violence won’t solve anything. Please do not support or perpetuate hate and injustice. Be part of the solution or, if you can’t make things better, be silently supportive of those who can.

 

Typical single track technical trail on the northshore of Clinton Lake in Lawrence, Kansas.

Road Pacing for Technical Trail Running

Typical single track technical trail on the northshore of Clinton Lake in Lawrence, Kansas.

Typical single track technical trail on the northshore of Clinton Lake in Lawrence, Kansas.

I’m learning! In less than two weeks I’m running a 10K on the trails with my sister, Sharron, who will inevitably kick my butt. So yesterday I listened to my cross country star husband, Tim, and decided I better increase my normal run to start preparing. I thought I was working hard before, and I was, but this is a different kind of hard work. Intervals and bursts require strength, energy, speed, and a little bit of crazy. I’ve got all of those aplenty.

Single track, technical trails are all about balance and coordination while quickly maneuvering uphill and downhill through the rocky and root-filled paths. It’s challenging, intense, a little dangerous, and I absolutely love it. Distance, however, requires patience, control, persistence, and discipline – none of which are natural strengths of mine. Distance running is all new to me and increasingly fascinating – especially since I’m adding distance to technical trail running and learning from road runners who are new to trails.

Running hill sprints and technicals I can do. Actually, I can handle a technical hill with less effort than a long, flat run. During a mud run I fly through the obstacles to get ahead because the rest of the crowd will always catch up and pass me on the long, flat paths. Weights in the gym? Check. And I know how to blow up my calves, quads and hamstrings with inclines, declines, etc. But yesterday was the first time I’ve truly taxed my legs on a run.

When I say I’m not a runner, I mean it.
I’m just not.
The only reason I say trail runner is because it sounds better than the more accurate trail maneuver-er…or something like that.

I kept my Forerunner 620 on the heart rate/training effect screen for most of the run. Normally I don’t pace. I’m 48 and I like what I like. I run fast for fun then when my heart rate exceeds 175 I walk until it recovers to around 140 then I burst again. Yesterday I consistently adjusted my pace to keep my heart rate between 150-160. No 140-150 walking, no 165-175 bursting. Just jogging. I was actually acting my age for a change.

The run was different, to say the least.

The slower pace was not boring, per se, but a little less exciting, to be honest. I’ll admit, though, that this run was more peaceful than normal. I was able to take my eyes off the trail just a little more than usual which is wonderful now that the cold weather has thinned the underbrush and, unlike summertime, it’s easy to see deep into the woods. I was also able to run much, much longer distances between walking breaks. When I did need to walk, the duration was considerably shorter than normal and the quantity of walking breaks was literally half as many as usual. My overall trail mile times – get this – were about the same.

But here’s the best part: my distance doubled.
Yeah. Doubled!

My Snapchat story update after this run.

My Snapchat story update after this run.

Usually I only “feel it” in my legs the next morning, if at all. For the first time, my legs were unstable and my feet were tingly toast by the end of the run. I actually had to ask Tim and Sharron if that was normal! This morning I woke up as stiff and sore as I’ve ever been. I always stop between 3 and 4 miles because I am so, so winded but yesterday I didn’t stop until 6.2 miles. And it’s a good thing I did because my legs were wearing out so badly I tripped at 5.2 then again at 6.1 miles. That sixth mile was a killer. Usually I dance up the technicals but by that last mile I could barely lift my feet high enough to clear the rocks and roots.

So now, of course, all I want to do is continue this type of running until I master it (and try to stop wishing I had cared more about my fitness when I was much younger). I will never abandon the trails for the roads; concrete’s just not my style. And I’ll always interval train because I believe in it and, quite frankly, that is my style. But I am surprisingly excited about how much I’m learning from road runners and I can’t wait to see how much I can enhance my trail running experience by adding distance.

Voting With Declining Faith in the System

Perhaps my young employees are correct and our political system is, well, kinda sketch. The voting irony where I live, in Lawrence, Kansas, is endlessly symbolic of an inevitable fail. All the Lawrence Democrats cancel out the local Republican votes, then the state’s Republican votes cancel out the city’s Democrat votes. It’s equally pointless yet critical to vote. Today I realized that I truly have no use for the party system. At all.

So why do I vote? I love my state and I love our country and I believe we should all participate in life to the best of our abilities. I live by Luke 12:48 – From he whom much is given, much is expected. I vote because I still believe in the original intent of our system.

I also still like music on 33 rpm LPs but, let’s face it, vinyl just won’t play in my car. So what do we do – stop listening to music? No. We find a more efficient way to listen.

Here’s my thought: If no one’s ever again going to win with much more than half of the vote, is it obvious we’re at a stalemate and the party system should once and for all be laid to rest? Is that not already happening with the rise of independents and the increasing number of voters who forfeit their say in the primaries in order to preserve the right to NOT declare a party? When is the last time a president had a vast majority of the vote? Clinton with 70% in 1996? Reagan with 90% in 1980? Are we not consistently splitting hairs at 49/51? We blame the leaders but when nearly half the people dislike them, surely they don’t stand a chance of success.

The party affiliation is becoming little more than labeling now and seems to cause more harm than good. Campaigns are more noise than info. We might agree with some candidates for the most part but because they’re with the other party we can’t abandon our party and give them our votes. Or we just choose sides & vote straight ticket because it’s easier and quicker. Most of us hate being labeled from either party based on one aspect of our ideologies. Yet does it not seem that candidates are pandering more to the extremes of each side effectively leaving those of us in the middle feeling disenfranchised? And are there not more of us in the middle than the loudest ones on the extreme right or left?

And look at the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate! We have Christians, who are personally pro-life, too afraid of conservative backlash to admit that they vote pro-choice for the overall safety of women. I know one very outspoken liberal who told me she is pro-life but would never admit it for fear of disgracing her party. Nearly everyone I know believes life is sacred and should try to be preserved but that abortion should be legal for the safety of those women who choose it. That’s the middle, folks. That’s most of us. So why do people think the noisy extremes represent the majority?

Seriously. We have a friend who once said he’s tired of people assuming he’s a Democrat just because he’s black. People can’t believe I hate weapons and refuse to touch a gun yet I support the second amendment. They’re confused about how I don’t want to redefine the word marriage but I believe all couples should have the same rights and privileges, gay or straight. Folks are shocked that my brilliant, scientifically gifted, nature freak husband is an animal loving, tree hugging conservationist…who bow hunts. Yep. Freezer full of venison. And guess what? Even though he’s white and wears camo he’s not an uneducated, redneck racist. Hard to believe, I know.

I’ve learned that stereotypes form for a reason and perception trumps intention. We should not be judged base on appearance yet we judge candidates by affiliation and are expected to remain loyal to a party. I refuse. Everyone knows labels are blinding. People see the label & look no further; they’ve got to go.

And, while I’m ranting, what’s with these political ads? All this hate! Shut up already. News flash: You had my vote ’til I saw your stupid ad and now I’m so lost in all your crap I’m tempted to vote against you even though I know nothing about your opponent. Why is so much money being wasted on these ads? That’s not okay. Valuable info can’t even be heard because we tune out the ads automatically, with good reason. All that campaign money might get folks into office but it doesn’t help them succeed because half the people still hate them and want them to fail.

Today, once again, I approached my voting poll with more frustration than hope. Something needs to change. It’s been ten years since I’ve known how I’d vote before I actually completed the ballot. Ten years. I need a better way.

So here is my wish, naïve and impossible as it may be. Before I die I’d like to see an end to all campaign ads, signs, and party affiliations. Primaries after primaries where everyone can vote ‘til we narrow it down to two candidates. Equal air time to each candidate with identical sets of yes or no questions, written by the candidates themselves. That’s all. No party declaration. No assumptions. No contributions and favors to repay. No mud. No spin.

Just facts. Apples to apples.

And while we’re at it, how about identical web sites for each with their resumes, voting records, and their yes or no questions answered? Same design, same layout, same facts, no ads, no sponsors. What if we could just remove the party affiliations and all aspects of money and strip this onion down to its core? All this nonsense is such a waste of resources.

Okay. 1000 word rant over.

So, yes, I voted today. Again. As usual. With a heavy heart and a ridiculous lack of clarity and at least one vote each for an independent, a democrat, and a republican. But in my mind, I’ll keep hoping for a better way. This system is no longer producing the kind of leadership we need. When your vote is increasingly the lesser of two evils, you gotta know something is seriously wrong. This is the United States of America – the best country in the world – yet we are anything but united. Surely we can do better.