Tag Archives: politics

An explosion of thoughts.ย I tried to keep them in, but I couldn’t.

On making generalizations:

We need to stop making generalizations, accepting stereotypes, and spreading them into the world. I am not trying to make stereotyping and generalizing a political issue. I will certainly admit our political climate has changed the ways we talk to and about one another, and that brings this issue to mind.

Making generalizations continues to create divisions when there may not be any, and it further separates and emphasizes the divides that exist. Even though a conservative said that I am mean-spirited, I don’t assume that all conservatives feel that way. Generalizing means that you take the actions from a few specific cases and apply that logic to a whole group. I read a post yesterday from a conservative woman, stating that the women involved in the marches would be terrible mothers. Despite my obvious pain in the world of infertility and my deep desire to be a mother, I wondered… what in the world would possess someone to make such a cruel, sweeping, obviously untrue statement. Maybe some of those woman would be bad mothers, but is it helpful to generalize all of them, and share it in a public setting? Sure, people liked her statement, and piled fuel on the fire. Does that mean that all those people believe the same thing? I’m hoping that instead of that woman being heartless and cruel, that she is thoughtless… and doesn’t actually mean those things.

What is the motivation there? I’m honestly curious as to why people make terrible generalizations, especially in such a public forum. Is it to gain attention?

I’m agonizingly thoughtful in the words that I choose and the way I use my public influence, because words do matter.

Social media has given us each an audience, and we need to choose our words carefully in our newfound positions of influence.

On kindness being equated with weakness:

Being kind and caring toward others doesn’t indicate anything negative about my character. Taking care of those who need help- yes, including safe spaces for those who need it- is not a strike on me. We all have safe spaces. Some people find their safe space in a book. Or a video game. Some people use a cold beer. Or a cup of tea. Or a cigarette. Or from hugs in their mother’s arms. Needing a safe space is human, and the implication that is it an insult is deeply disturbing. I know some of you are reading this and must be thinking that me being disturbed by your statements taunting and making fun of “safe spaces” means I’m a snowflake. That brings me to my next thought…

On being a snowflake, I guess:

Snowflakes are beautiful and unique. It would be such a flattering statement for you all to think that I’m beautiful and unique. I can be delicate like a snowflake but stand up for myself. I can be caring towards others and strong at the same time. Being politically correct, when it puts someone at ease or makes them more comfortable, is a kind and strong decision, not a fragile one. I ask a lot of questions when I don’t understand something. I don’t consider myself weak, either of character or body. I work hard. I’ve run marathons! I thrive without a thyroid. These things are not easy. Why do people use the word snowflake to try and tear me down for being kind and thoughtful? Of course I’m hurt when people I love say mean things.

Any implication and generalization that liberals don’t work hurts me. It really bothers me when people I love say things like that. I’m not easily offended, and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, which is why it is so painful when my family and friends make generalizations about the work ethic of liberals.

Don’t they know me?

Do they not respect me?

Do they not mean what they say?

Do they not realize that when they make untrue generalizations in a public forum, they’re further separating us?

Literally, us. Me. And you.

I read those statements and want to keep those people at arms length, because they must think differently of me. Why wouldn’t they say those things to my face? They feel so strongly enough about it that they’re willing to say it to everyone they know online.

I don’t have time to defend myself against every attack on my work ethic because I’m too busy running two photo businesses, serving as an elected official, being a wife and puppy mom, studying for my master’s, and teaching undergraduate students- if I have spare time, I’m volunteering my ass off.

When I am upset that people I care about are spreading hatred, sometimes people around me (ahem, Mr. Mustache) try and make me feel better by saying, “Heidi, it’s not about you. They’re not talking about you.” Unfortunately, when you make public generalizations about women, or conservationists, or politicians, YOU ARE. It is about me. As soon as you make a sweeping statement about one of those groups, I’m in there. Please think about it before you hit the “share” button on some meme saying politicians are like dirty diapers.

On rehearsing:

Rehearsal isn’t a bad thing. I saw an interview with a young Trump supporter where he echoed the sentiment of several that I’ve heard and read about. I’ll paraphrase his statement, “I voted for Trump because when he gets up and speaks, he’s really saying what he’s thinking. He’s not rehearsed. No one has told him what to say.”

I want to make it very clear that I think rehearsal is incredibly important for almost every aspect of my life. Rehearsing what you want to say doesn’t mean that you’re influenced by anyone. I do most of my rehearsing alone, with a highlighter over a city council agenda or reading my grad school papers to my dog.

There is a language to public speaking, to persuasion, and to professionalism, and while I don’t believe that we all need to rehearse every single thing we say, there needs to be some practice. There needs to be an understanding of the context in which you’re speaking and the audience you’re addressing.

This feels like the difference between asking a 7th grade saxophonist in jazz band to improvise, and asking Wynton Marsalis to improvise. There is a period of learning: you learn the language, you learn the context, and you practice how to say what you intend. You have to learn the notes, the chord progressions, and figure out how to use those notes to convey feeling. Eventually, after lots of practice, you can say exactly what you mean, and be very clear in your message. If you’re not rehearsed, you can get bogged down by logistics and not be a good communicator.

I know politicians that make eloquent statements, probably rehearsed, but completely authentic. I know this because I know them. I literally know them- send Christmas cards, have conference calls, sit in meetings together, “let’s have lunch!” kind of know them. The words that they say in press conferences and that they type in press releases are just cleaned up versions of what they are thinking. Rehearsing and prepping your material is a part of political professionalism, and not always a sign of impact from outside influence.

(Disclaimer: this post has been heavily thought through, rehearsed, and edited. It is definitely still authentic, and straight from my heart.)

On hearing “Get over it”:

At the end of every meme challenging the #notmypresident movement, there is seemingly the same sentiment, Get Over It. This is troubling because I believe that it has little to do with Trump supporters thinking that others need to accept who our new president is, and is an indication of an entirely different style of political involvement.

I believe that those who say “get over it” subscribe to a style of politics with involvement once every four years. If they didn’t like President Obama, they “got over it,” and didn’t worry about it until it was time for the next election. I don’t subscribe to that style of politics- I believe in being active as often as possible at every level of government. Change is made incrementally at all levels, and it is being accomplished constantly. I don’t think I need to get over anything- what is on the other side of that statement?

“Get over it” and don’t think about politics until it’s time to vote again?

“Get over it” and don’t talk about your concerns with policy with anyone?

“Get over it” and get back to work?

Other people may say, “get over it,” but I’m going to pretend they’re saying, “get on with it.” We’ve got work to do. I hope that’s what they are actually intending to say.

On science, facts, data, and the media:

I will have to write a separate post about these issues, because I honestly don’t know how to begin writing and starting conversations about the attack on facts. I don’t know how to make a persuasive argument when facts are now considered up for debate. I do know that this issue is tied to the media, and the real and perceived bias. I consider myself a part of the media, and I have been doing tons of research in grad school about the field of visual communication within the field of political communication. I just have one thought to leave with you on this topic until I write about it again: covering an event with no perceived bias is almost impossible.

Here are a couple non-political examples:

Example one: bridesmaid looks at wedding photos and says, “You made me look fat. I’m not that fat.” Yes, different angles could change the way she looks, but in reality, photos often capture a pretty accurate picture of what is actually happening.

Example two: commercial client sees his headshots and says, “Whoa, I look like I’ve lost a lot of hair in these photos! Is it the angle, or the light?” I didn’t try to make him look worse, in fact, I tried to make him look better!

Even if I captured that bridesmaid or that businessman in a 100% accurate photo, they could feel that I was not doing them justice, or portraying them in a bad light. I could edit the photos to make them thinner and with fuller hair, but then I’m showing bias in the opposite way- which I often do. ๐Ÿ™‚

In our political climate, imagine if candidate one had a huge booger sticking out of their nose in a debate. If the newspaper wrote that the candidate had a booger, it would appear that they were biased against candidate one. If the newspaper didn’t say anything about the booger, it would appear that they favored candidate one. This is a tricky situation, and not as easy to solve as it would appear. Accurately reporting on events will always favor one person over the other because real life isn’t exactly equal and fair all of the time. Sometimes one person has a bad hair day. Sometimes one person just got a speeding ticket and they’re coming in to the event already angry. Someones one person has a Freudian slip and says something wrong and embarrassing. Covering these types of things accurately will portray someone in a more negative light, and it’s not biased, it’s accurate. More to come later.

While there are many things that I could say about my concern with the new Trump administration (especially regarding WOTUS), this is not intended to be a purely partisan post.

I want it to be an honest call to action for my readers to think about how they choose to use their influence.

I want it to be an honest call to action for people to be kind.

Hitting that publish button feels a lot like I’m walking into a fist fight with my hands tied behind my back, but I feel a social obligation to share my thoughts and concerns with you. I’m waiting for all the unkind things that will be said about me “whining” and that I’ve been “brainwashed” and all the rest of it. I know it’s coming. I’m trying to be prepared.

Please be kind to one another. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Hope for my friends

Does this election cycle leave you feeling disillusioned? Unhappy? Angry? Helpless?

I’m here to give you hope.

Non-partisan, straight-from-my-heart hope.

Please take a deep breath. Relax your shoulders. This isn’t one of those stressful articles about the current state of politics that is trying to change your mind about the candidates.

In fact, here’s a selfie with Thomas Jefferson. A favorite quote of his? “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

Let’s start by telling you why I’m involved in politics: I want to make a difference. Please don’t think the politicians you see in the media represent all of us. In addition, please know the media doesn’t represent politicians as the actual people that they are, for better or for worse. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m here to remind you that politicians are real people, and the majority of us are your neighbors. We live around the block from you, or go to your church, or our kids swing next to yours at the park. I kind of want to make a shirt that says, “Politicians are people, too.” For some reason, people feel empowered to say terrible things to and about their elected officials. I beg of you, please stop that.

If you wouldn’t say it about me, don’t say it about our presidential candidates. They’re people, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Death threats are uncalled for. Insults are unnecessary. Yes, we’re all frustrated, but we’re also working together as a society. Humanity, people.

Most of the people reading my blog know who I am- we’ve met. I sat next to you in band, or we were in Girl Scouts together, or I shot your wedding, or you met me through Mr. Mustache. Regardless of how we initially met, or how long it’s been, I’m still the curly, bubbly Heidi that you all know and love. Yes, I was elected to represent my community- probably since I care so passionately and I want to help- but I’m still the same girl who tap danced at the school talent show and competed with the math team. Maybe I’ve been hardened a little bit, but mostly I’m getting used to handing criticism, deserved and undeserved. I’m undergoing personal growth. ๐Ÿ™‚ Adulthood is a wonderful thing!

It would be easy to stay at home next Tuesday. It is easy to turn off the television, to unfriend Facebook friends who drive you crazy with their political statements. It is easy to put the election in the far back corner of your mind, and focus on everything else…

…except, in the words of Truman,ย “Decisions are made by those who show up.”

I want to make decisions. I don’t want to pretend that I don’t have an opinion, or worse, I don’t want to stay home because I’m frustrated, and let others make my decisions for me.

I have two suggestions:

  1. Please vote. Vote in every election that you can! It’s such an honor for me to be involved in the political process, and I cherish living in a country where my input is valued. All of our input is valued. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that your individual vote doesn’t count. The ocean wouldn’t exist without each water droplet, and our current country wouldn’t exist without each of us. Please don’t confuse my optimism with naรฏvetรฉ- I truly believe that each person is an important member of society with a role to play and a job to do.
  2. Get involved with local politics. In my job as an alderwoman (councilwoman), I have the privilege of helping make decisions that really affect my community. I make sure that kids have safe routes to walk to school. I help ensure that police officers have the vehicles they need. I learn about Emerald Ash Borer from our city forester and approve the spending to help prevent major damage to a huge asset: our city trees. I make sure that we take care of the elderly in our community. I help find funding to fix our bumpy roads and mow the lawns in our parks. I learn about our city budget and try to help find creative ways to keep all our services running while still taking care of our city employees. I help reunite lost cats and sweet old ladies (yes, this happened!). I’m literally able to make a real difference in my neighborhood!

You can do this, too. It’s not difficult, it’s not a huge time commitment- our local cities are clamoring for your input! Many municipalities have committees with citizens that fill their spots. You could call your local alder and find out if they need help with anything. You can even just write an email and share what you love about your community and what concerns you.

I’ve heard people say that there are more important things than politics, like their family or their job. I urge you to see the connections between all of the above. Since political influence extends over all of our lives, I want to make sure it has a positive impact. I want to make the best neighborhood possible for my future children. I want to have a safe, happy, healthy home.

Please don’t write off politics as a whole because you feel disenfranchised with the happenings on the national stage. There are lots of local politicians who are here to listen, and want to help.

Our big election will be over in less than a week, and regardless of what happens, our cities and villages will keep on chugging along. We’ll still be here, working hard to serve you!

Please know that you can make a difference. Your input is valued. I care!

With love,

Heidi

P.S. There are a few houses for sale in my neighborhood, in case you want to move somewhere I can represent you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

I like the challenge.

Life is full of so many challenges, and I love it.

Life is short.

I feel so lucky to be here, and I love this struggle that we’re all facing together. Here are a few of my current favorite challenges…

The challenge to keep my cool when people lie to my face, especially in politics.

  • I’m not involved in politics for my own gain. I’m not in it for the “glory,” and I’m certainly not in it for the money. My salary is public record, and much of what I do is volunteer work. There are lots of late nights and early mornings. In reality, I’m in politics to help make a difference. To be actively involved in my neighborhood- to preserve the unique qualities of my community while changing us for the better.

capitol-10

The challenge to continually come up with fresh, creative ideas in the face of mirror images.

  • Seeking inspiration from other creatives and from reflection in solitude is not easy. It requires a healthy dose of honesty and open-mindedness… and a realization that, yes, sometimes the truth hurts. Accepting it and using it to improve my craft is where the growth happens.

The challenge to remain youthful but make mature decisions.

  • I feel an intense societal pressure to appear youthful but not act that way.

fullsizerender-5

The challenge to continually market myself when sometimes I just want to be real with people.

  • Yes, sometimes I take iPhone photos of my lattes. No, I usually don’t post them on social media because they don’t fit my “brand.” I used to try to take one of my cameras everywhere, so I could satisfy my urge to capture everything and still have the quality that I feel I need to post images. Having a transparent, integrated life sometimes makes me feel like a fraud, because my brand is ME, and while I have no problem posting selfies or unflattering photos of myself, I intentionally end up not sharing some of the more, well… not “picture-perfect” things that I’ve documented, as if it will somehow negatively effect my business. I need to remember that my clients know when I’m working and when I’m having fun, and taking non-professional photos when I’m not working isn’t an indication of what I can do when I am.

Here’s a phone photo of a beautiful flaming cocktail from my local distillery. The upside is that I’ll be doing photo work for them in the coming months, so I’ll have some professional photos, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

img_1900

The challenge to ignore the “haters” and remember that their problems are with themselves, and are not about me. I thought K-12 school was bad, but I had no idea about the adult business world.

  • My personality is one that thrives off competition- it pushes me to be better and work harder. Some people don’t have that same instinct, and competition brings out the worst in them.

The challenge to remain positive and focused on the long game, when current situations make me feel defeated and hopeless.

  • Especially in politics: when I’m fighting the good fight, and I know I’m going to lose, it’s difficult to stay optimistic and keep fighting. There are always going to be more fights to take on, and they’re often among the same people. It’s hard for me to lose with grace when my instinct is to go down swearing and swinging, leaving destruction in my wake. I usually end up defaulting to acting with grace in the hearing/meeting/consult, then crying out of anger in the car on the way home. Brian has received a brunt of my frustration after interactions like that. Thanks for the support, honey!

The challenge to keep growing and learning, stretching through the painful growth spurts, knowing there is a new version of myself waiting on the other side… and the simultaneous challenge of accepting and loving myself as I am, and at every step along the process.

  • Balancing the desire to become better and acceptance for my current self is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve always wanted to be stronger, smarter, and thinner, and it’s proving a good challenge to accept myself on every step of this journey.

The challenge to consistently motivate myself independently- as a business owner, as a distance runner, as a grad student. This skill is elusive but incredibly important.

  • I’m reaching that wise age now (31, as of last week) where I realize that striving for self-motivation is worthy, but it’s also important to recognize when I need to ask for help. Sometimes I don’t want to read another scholarly article. Sometimes, I don’t want to go for a run. Sometimes, I don’t want to put myself out there in case people reject me or shut me down. It’s times like those that I’m thankful for my incredible support system who will bring me coffee and a cozy blanket with my homework, or give me the perfect pep talk, or get a manicure together, or put on their own running shoes and go with me.

The challenge to put aside my own worries and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

  • First world problems. I have plenty of them. Today, I was fighting with myself about how miserable it is that my lipstick gets on my braces. I can’t believe that was worth complaining about. Braces and lipstick are both non-essentials. I’m lucky, I know it, and don’t want to waste my time complaining when I can spend my time using my gifts to help others who need it.

The challenge to stay focused on this current moment, to appreciate what I have. Where I am. Who I’m with.

  • To put down my phone. It’s so hard. I feel like the world will fall apart, that my business will collapse, that there will be unrest in District Four, and it will be my fault. In reality, focusing on my current situation helps me to be better inย all of my roles.

The challenge of properly deciding when to open my mouth and when to close it and smile.

  • I like to talk. I’m still getting used to the whole “on the record” thing. I want to be like my friend, Mary, who thinks things through so thoughtfully before she speaks- and as a result, she says incredibly insightful things.

The challenge to stop fighting sleep- to know when to stop writing, stop editing, stop consuming… to turn off my devices and go to bed.

  • Sometimes I feel like a little kid- I just don’t want to go to bed. I don’t know why I do this; I’m exhausted. I also love Jimmy Kimmel- that’s part of the problem. He’s so funny! Thursday nights are my favorite- they run his feature, This Week in Unnecessary Censorship. Hilarious.

The challenge to be social and friendly in a group setting, even when I’m just exhausted and I’d rather be secluded.

  • Conferences and meetings are especially tough- I feel like my personality always has to be “on.” I need time to recharge, and I don’t have enough of it. Multiple days of forced extroversion can be exhausting, but I know that pushing myself outside of my comfort zone is where growth happens, and I’ve had many wonderful experiences when I’m tired but hung with a group, regardless. I really do love meeting new people.

The challenge to push myself creatively, to try new subjects, new medium, new locations.

  • I’m going to try painting next. What’s the worst thing that can happen? The last time I tried shooting a new subject in a new style (food and beverages), I was blown out of the water. I couldn’t wait for my food photography and food styling classes, and I had a renewed excitement about shooting. All the colors and textures and movement just drew me right in, and I found myself shooting events and portraits with a new excitement, as well.

donut-1-4

And, lastly, the challenge to summon the bravery required to continually remain transparent. Honest. To blog with you all about my hopes and my dreams. To share my failures and my successes. To shout my joys and whisper my hardships.

  • Thank you for coming along on this journey. I appreciate you all!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized