Namaste, Voters

44563Four years ago today, I was elated to see my state had struck down two laws I had bubbled in “No” for the day prior. A few days ago, I was able to take 15 minutes over the lunch hour to register and vote early in the general election. With my Wisconsin ID and bank statement in hand, I was grateful for my state’s decisions four years ago. My voting experience was seamless, efficient, and most importantly, safe. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee this effortless experience for all. But what I can do is vote with that intention in mind.

I didn’t vote against the marriage or voter ID law for myself, even though I believe I benefit directly and indirectly from both results. I can’t give equal access for a leisurely skyway walk over to the polls, but I can share my positive experience to convince one more voter that it’s worth their time. I can’t guarantee a safe and welcoming polling experience, but I can vote for candidates who make this a priority. Candidates whose rhetoric protects and promotes all American citizens, and encourages every voice to be heard.

Now, that can be easier said than done. Wanting more voter turnout means voters regardless of what bubble they will fill in. Wanting more voices to be heard means voices regardless of if their opinion aligns with yours. Mindsets of a “wasted vote,” or hoping a person doesn’t “cancel out” your vote don’t fit that bill. Deleting Facebook friends for their opinions, avoiding alternative points of view, or shunning certain headlines don’t fit that bill.

Tolerance is being genuinely happy for the involvement of third party voters, voters of one’s opposing party, and voters who will leave the presidential candidate bubbles blank. Because they’re voters. If you want to see tolerance, practice tolerance.

Cheers to you, voters

It’s not easy. I think that’s where we’re all the same. For the most part, we all want the same things. It’s human nature to desire, to demand, safety. That’s innately our highest priority- whether to fight or flight  (it’s even our first chakra). But how we think our country will remain safe, and what it means to be protected, is incredibly unique to each person. Understanding this doesn’t necessarily solve anything. It’s a simplified view of one issue. But for me, it provides an example of a shared experience with people that I might otherwise think I have nothing in common with.

For me, practicing tolerance calls for talking (and writing) less and listening more. It means not reacting to an opposing opinion, but rather wondering, with curiosity not judgement, what makes someone feel that way. What experiences have they had that I haven’t? For example, Trump’s recent stance on minorities in Minnesota wouldn’t gain traction if it resonated with no one.

We all have our individual lens through which we see the world. Because these recent comments don’t align with my opinions and values, it can be difficult to accept that point of view. But tolerance doesn’t need to be silence, which is why it’s just as important for it to be made known when a comment or speech does not represent the worldview of a person, group, or community, as Betsy Hodges, Al Franken, R.T. Rybak, and others have done.

What’s helped me (a news junkie who tries to also keep her heart rate below 60 bpm) is remembering that my vote counts, the vote of that loud-person-on-Facebook-you-can’t-remember-where-you-met-but-are-for-some-reason-FB-friends-because-they-wished-you-a-happy-birthday-once counts,  but there’s also a lot more that counts outside of the voting booth and on days other than November 8.

It’s easier than ever this year to be an informed local voter, a simple google search of “What’s on my ballot,” will fill you in on what names to prepare for. If there’s something that is an essential outcome for you after this election, think of how you can be involved in that on a local level. And if you wish this election season’s climate was more tolerant, less divisive, and more balanced, let that start with you. 

Props for my election day viewing party- because we all need something to celebrate
Props for my election day viewing party- because we all need something to celebrate



3 Reasons to Redraft your Resolutions

new yearAlthough Monday is the Nickleback of the weekdays, the approaching first Monday of the new year is an exception. It’s the calm after the storm. Whether it’s the first day back in the office or the first truly relaxing day of winter vacation, there is a sense of routine and normalcy. As much as I love the holidays, I am looking forward to going back to the Cities and having days filled with activities and responsibilities that are more overarching than “exchange pants at Lululemon.”

Now that the shopping day countdowns, calories and chaos are behind us, it’s natural to wonder what the coming months have in store.

Spoiler alert: not much.

Unless you decide to create it, that is. Throughout the month of January, the words new year’s resolutions have about as much appeal as after-graduationwe-need-to-talk and moist. Goal setting is common for new school years, birthdays and professional opportunities, yet the cliché name we attach to our aspirations for the new year tends to make them irrelevant by Valentine’s Day. Here’s why-

1. Failure is an option– Although it can be helpful to make resolutions concrete, it’s this same tendency that makes it easier for us to say, “I tried, I failed, I quit.” If your goal is to go to the gym three times a week, and you only make it once or twice, this progress gets lost in the number. By focusing on your intention, to be active or to treat your body well, you are able to recognize every healthy choice as a small victory and each misstep another opportunity to move forward. The specifics of a goal aren’t the point, it’s the purpose and vision for results that matter.

2. It’s trending– No one is making you create resolutions, let alone making you choose ecardspecific ones. If you plan on fitting volunteering into your schedule because you feel like you should- or worse, because you have to- it’s rare that it will actually be prioritized. If it’s the cliché name that throws you off, ban it and make this your own. I am a big believer in goal setting, vision casting, bucket list creating, year-around; it’s what allows us to recognize if we’re living the life that we want to be. And maybe that in itself is your intention for this year.

3. We plan an extreme makeover– I rarely say this, but do less. We start with a few goals, and that tends to snowball into a laundry list describing the ideal human, something I am guilty of as well. The reality is, you have the tools to succeed at the aspirations that truly resonate with you. In yoga, we call these sankalpas. It’s the idea that you aren’t creating this brand new healthy, focused or punctual person; you’re removing the obstacles that have kept you from showing up in the world that way. Often times the root of these obstacles are stress or feeling as though we don’t have enough time. You can see the danger of adding gym 7x/week, volunteering 4x/week, making lunch 5x/week, traveling 3x/month, and learning 2 new languages to your plate.

2015 is yours for the taking, make it worth celebrating a year from today.