October 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
17 years ago, my boss looked me square in the eye and told me I had to go home.
No, I hadn’t been fired—I had done my job well—but the government was shutdown, someone had to be deemed non-essential, and I was chosen.
I begged to stay, promising that I would not answer one call or take one meeting. I had a lot of worked to finish and I didn’t want to get behind. I was told no. “Someone has to walk out of this office this morning and go home.”
I begged to take constituent letters home—to read and organize so I’d be ready to answer them quickly when I returned. I was told no. “If the government can’t pay you, you can’t work, not even as a volunteer.”
I was devastated.
People said then, and they say it even now during the current shutdown, “I’d love to have a few days off.” And it is easy to think that way until it is you who is told you aren’t essential enough to keep.
Yes, the paycheck coming to a halt was a huge problem. But luckily, I had great roommates and parents ready to help. The work piling up was terrible, but I knew eventually I’d make it all up. But hearing my job wasn’t important enough to keep was the piece that hurt me the most. It felt personal.
I keep thinking about those feelings as we watch this current shutdown go on and on. I also see how difficult it is for some families to feel secure, make ends meet and generally go through life.
I’ll leave my political views out of this, but what I do know is this, both sides need to step up and do what’s right to get us back on track, to get each of the hardworking furloughed staffers back to work, and to stop hurting the people who didn’t get us in this mess in the first place.
Most of time you want to be “the chosen one,” this time, you don’t.
August 28, 2013 § 1 Comment
Access. It is one of the greatest things about living in DC.
No, not access to VIP tickets or galas, but the ability to walk out my door and into my “backyard” to be part of history.
Today, I stood in the rain with thousands to see, hear, and experience the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. King’s inspiring speech is one we can all partially recite. But I learned something today about the speech that many may not know. The most famous part, “I have a dream…,” was an impromptu performance. During a pause in his prepared remarks, Mahalia Jackson stood and said, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin,” and the rest flowed from there.
While there is still work to be done, no matter your political beliefs, the symbolism of seeing an African-American president stand in the very place as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr fifty years later should stop you in your tracks and make us all thankful.
August 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
When the recaps of the 2013 VMAs flooded my morning news show, Facebook and Twitter feeds, and the water cooler conversation at the office, I was so glad I’d decided to go to dinner last night, rather than stay home and watch.
As I sat slack-jawed watching clips of Miley Cyrus, my thoughts were first conflicted. I kept thinking she’s gone too far and then I wondered was I overlooking her artistic expression.
After all, we live in a country of freedom—of speech, of religion, of the press, of petition, of assembly. We don’t always have to agree, but we should learn to accept that people will be different. And, we can always look away if we disagree.
But in this case, as I watched more of her performance, that was hard—both accepting that this was a different kind of performance and looking away. Lady Gaga certainly has some different performances on record, but somewhere in those is a meaning or a message. In Miley’s, I could find neither. There she was, being broadcast for all the world to see, with seemingly no political, religious or world view to express or support. It didn’t even show off her talent. Just her erratic self.
Brook Shields, who played Miley’s mom on the hit Disney show “Hannah Montana,” called the performance desperate and asked who was advising her. I felt and wondered the same. Someone in the music business said she’d been true to her brand. “Guys, Miley Cyrus is an all-star hot mess for a hot mess pop moment,” Bill Werde tweeted. “She doesn’t care what u think & that’s her brand. & she just delivered.”
She delivered alright. And from the looks of it, not only does she not care what we think, I am beginning to think she doesn’t care what she thinks of herself either.
I understand growing up. Wanting to get out of a stereotype you’ve carried your whole life. And she can do that. She can be sexy, mature and self-expressive without the performance she exposed everyone to last night.
She can define for herself a better brand—and she should. One that she cares about first.
August 18, 2013 § 9 Comments
I’ve been home a little over a week now, yet I think about the Camino almost every day in one way or another.
When I returned, someone asked me if I now realized I could do trips like this. The comment stopped me; it surprised me. I wasn’t sure how to take it. Did they not believe in me? Or, did they think I didn’t believe in myself? I wasn’t sure.
I didn’t question their comment, not wanting to hear if they thought I couldn’t do it—if that was in fact the case. It would have broken my heart if I’d learned they didn’t believe in me.
You see, even though I’d never done one, I always knew I could do a week-long endurance trip like this. Yet, have other life priorities often taken over my time—positively. Did I surprise myself about my endurance on this trip—of course. Did I wonder if I’d love a trip like this as much as I did—certainly. Could not knowing if I’d love it be the reason I’d never done a similar trip—absolutely. And there were other reasons too.
So what got me to do it?
Knowing I’d be walking on a piece of history, religious and otherwise, was an encourager. Itching to be back in Europe and wanting to step outside my vacation comfort zone, another. And, knowing I would share such a trip with someone special created the excitement to do it, and to endure the blisters. The stars just finally aligned I suppose.
Would I walk the Camino again? Absolutely. It was an experience like no other I’ve had. Yet, there are bittersweet parts to the experience. Life changes a bit when you return. Coming home was great. I love my city, my house and my friends here. But, in doing that I left the daily peaceful walks, the carefree nights and a Camino family, and that can be sad.
If only the Camino could continue once I got home I thought as I left. And perhaps it can. Not literally, but within myself. Realizing that some things in life are worth a few blisters—so long as those with you think the same—and realizing others may not be up to the challenge. And in all of that, finding peace, and living life openly, fully and without judgement—my Camino will continue. And I hope those that matter in my life will join me on the journey.
August 10, 2013 § Leave a Comment
With the Camino walk complete, it was time to celebrate. After Mass inside the breathtaking Cathedral, the thick morning clouds and rain parted. It was just like a scene out of a movie. With tears–for the completion of the journey, now out of the way–let the celebration of the experience commence.
After Mass, I went to obtain my Compostela that is given to pilgrims who walk at least the last 100km or bikers who ride at least the last 200km of the pilgrimage. As we stood in line, we ran into many of our fellow peregrinos—a fitting place to congratulate them on their journey.
The last night was spent with a dinner of around 19 Camino friends. Our last chance for stories, hugs, laughs, tears, and one final, beautiful toast to the Camino and friends made along the way. After dinner, we headed back to the square. We ended up laying on our backs, gazing up at the stars and the Cathedral upside down. A final serenade from roaming musicians topped off the evening and a most amazing trip.
August 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Tradition on the walk is to wish fellow peregrinos “Buen Camino” as you pass them at a cafe or along the route. You end up adding “see you in Santiago” to the phrase as the final day of hiking nears. Making it to Santiago is reason to cheer and celebrate no matter the distance you’ve covered.
The last hike day was bittersweet. Thankful to give my feet a rest, but sad to see the experience come to an end. Sad to break up the camaraderie.
The day started in the dark and under thick clouds. A magical walk to start really. As the sun rose it was like a slow dimmer switch brightening up the walk under the trees.
An hour into the hike the rain began. Fitting I suppose. After 30 or so days of clear weather for my Camino friends and 4 gorgeous days for me, it was time to experience a hike in the rain. I’d brought a poncho and it might as well be used. The remainder of the walk was gloomy and basically in silence. Determined to finish and in a rush to get into Santiago in time for the noon mass which is dedicated to pilgrims. We made it.
I entered Santiago with a sigh. It was a time to exhale. The hike was peaceful at times, challenging at others and rolling with laughter at others still. I had a strange sense of relief and sadness at the finish. Attending mass added to the feelings. Done all in Spanish and understanding little, I still teared up. Thinking back to the path I’d taken and realizing how many others had done the same. Just amazing. To walk the same path as those from the last 1000 years–humbling.
August 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
One of the things that sets the Camino hike apart from others is the community that is formed. Along the walk, at various stops, you end up sharing a water break or lunch with a group of people and then end up seeing them in town later that evening for a drink or meal to celebrate the day’s successful walk and compare the next few day’s itinerary in order to plan future meet ups. Everyone comes from such different backgrounds and countries. Everyone walks for their own reason, but many site the movie The Way as a major part of their inspiration to give it a go.
And while their stories and life experiences add color and flavor to your walk, it is their struggles that make them inspiring. While everyone gets a visit from Sister Blister and experiences sore muscles, I met at least three people with serious enough injuries to bring their walk to a halt, yet they persevered.
One with a crushed heel–done years ago–that flared up with excruciating pain during the walk. Another peregrino with a badly twisted ankle. Then there is the Italian guy with not one but two inured knees. Young and healthy and likely able, in normal circumstances, to walk faster than most. But with two insured knees he was limping and taking hills backwards each day we passed him. But in the end, they all walked into Santiago. That’s a statement in life as much as the walk, really. We all feel we suffer and have troublesome experiences, yet in all likelihood there is always someone with more burdens to carry who perseveres!