Talent Crush

There are women who light us up with all that they are and all that they have accomplished. This is where you get to crush out with us.

Kyrsten Sinema

Just a heads up, we are talking about winners of the 2018 midterms in no particular order. I went to a website of winners and copied names down in the order I found them there. That being said, Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema won quite a victory. Read more

Stacey Abrams Talent Crush

Stacey Abrams

This week’s Talent Crush was a tough choice. There are over 100 women heading to Congress with a whole lot of firsts among them. We’ll profile as many as we can over the coming months, but I thought it would be great to start with a candidate whose fate is still up in the air.

Stacey Abrams is doing the thing that I wish more democratic candidates would do – NOT CONCEDING! It drives me nuts when high profile candidates concede before every vote is counted.  Al Gore did it too soon, Hillary Clinton did it too soon and Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Gillum did it too soon. Maybe I’m particularly sensitive to it having lived in California my whole life, but it feels disrespectful to call an election before every vote is counted, but I digress, Stacey Abrams…

Along with many progressives, I’ve been watching her campaign closely, hoping for an historic win as the first black female governor, ever. I was charmed by her education, public service experience, passion and love for Georgians.  I donated to her campaign and wrote postcards to voters in Georgia. I watched as Oprah canvassed for her and Obama spoke her praises, with hope that their efforts would push her over the edge. I laughed as Mike Pence stuck his foot in his mouth and insulted GA’s profitable film industry and tried to put his popularity on equal footing with Oprah’s.  What a joke.

The election results in that race made me nervous all day, knowing that her opponent, Brain Kemp was the Secretary of State, in charge of his own election.  His efforts at voter suppression were well documented and carried over to election day, where voters, primarily people of color, waited in line for hours and encountered broken voting machines.

Stacey Abrams is an expert in voting rights, so I was thrilled when she refused to concede in the face of a razor thin margin and obvious voter suppression. Regardless of the final outcome, it is high time that we show Republicans that we will no longer tolerate the silencing of voters of color. We are watching and we will hold them accountable.  There is no more important issue if we want to protect our democracy.

As you may imagine, most campaigns spend every dollar getting out the vote before election day.  Efforts to count votes and pursue legal courses to ensure an accurate count are expensive. If you care about this election and can afford a few bucks, you can donate here.  I’m still hold out hope for a runoff election on December 4th. I’ve already looked up flights to put my new found canvassing skills to work if it happens.

Judy Chu

I believe that Judge Kavanaugh should be disqualified by his comments on presidential power. Kavanaugh has publicly expressed his belief that the President cannot be criminally charged while in office. Surely Trump was aware of his position when nominating him, which is a conflict of interest as the Supreme Court is almost certain to hear a case involving the Mueller probe.”

If you aren’t from the Los Angeles area, you might not know who Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) is. Unlike another of our local Representative Adam Schiff (who Older Son worked for in both Rep Schiff’s Burbank and DC offices.*) Judy Chu isn’t on the national stage as much. Read more

Florence Nightingale Talent Crush

Florence Nightingale

Healthcare in America is a mess. Thousands of good people are doing their best to care for their patients as corporations and politicians thrash about, generally making things worse. If it weren’t for America’s nurses, the healthcare system would have fallen to ruin decades ago. One person we have to thank for their good work is Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 to wealthy British parents while they were living in Florence, Italy (hence her name, luckily she wasn’t born in any of these places. I don’t know that Bitchfield Nightingale would have done as well in the world.) Raised in Hampshire, Nightingale was intelligent, educated and, after a long courtship, chose not to marry. Nightingale wanted to serve others and felt being married would ultimately hinder her  goal.

Nursing, at the time, was not a respectable profession. Therefore it was seen as a decided step down for Nightingale since she was born into a respectable and wealthy family. That did not stop her. Nightingale trained as a nurse as well as learning many other aspects of what we would now call hospital administration.

And then came the Crimean War.

Let’s pause for a moment here and talk about the Crimean War (October 1853 to February 1856.) I used to think that World War I was the first time in hundreds of years that France and Great Britain did something together besides kill each other. Not true. The Crimean War, while an uneasy alliance to say the least, was indeed an alliance between France, Great Britain, The Ottoman Empire and Sardinia against efforts by Russia to encroach farther into Europe by way of the faltering hold the Ottoman Empire had on its lands. The slow and sure collapse of the Ottoman Empire was, among many other factors, one of the causes of the Crimean War. Another cause of the war “involved an argument over a key” and other murky, deeply misunderstood purposes that led to thousands of deaths and untold suffering.

Similar to World War I and the second Gulf War, those in power believed that the Crimean War would be a quick bash up in the fields of a country far from home and wouldn’t be that big of a deal. And like all of those that came after them, the architects of The Crimean War were very wrong.

It was a mismanaged, ultimatley pretty much historically useless bloodbath.

But it brought the world Florence Nightingale. When reports of the deadly squalor found in British hospitals reached England, Nightingale was sent out with 38 nurses. Arriving in the Balkans in November of 1854, Nightingale and her nurses  focused on the cleaning and feeding of the patients as well as setting the hospital to rights.

Nightingale is known for making nursing into a respected profession but what does that mean? It means she taught doctors that there was a need for a bridge between doctor and patient. Nightingale codified the care patients would come to expect not only from nurses but from hospitals. “Wise and humane management of the patient is the best safeguard against infection.” It was in it’s way a holisitic approach to healing. Paying attention to more than just the wound meant that a nurse could treat the whole person and not just the symptom.

Also, she pioneered the use of statistical data in healthcare and was the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society (1858).

Healthcare in America is a mess. Thousands of good people are doing their best to care for their patients as corporations and politicians thrash about, generally making things worse.

I genuinely believe that if it weren’t for America’s nurses, the healthcare system would have fallen to ruin decades ago.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Talent Crush

Senator Elizabeth Warren

As we talk about angry women this week, I can’t help but admire the way that Elizabeth Warren is angry.  If I could emulate anyones anger, it would be hers. Her anger is potent, controlled, just and deeply effective.  

Elizabeth Warren has been steadfast in her outrage at the current administration, but she never appears out of control or thoughtless.  Let’s take the recent example of releasing her DNA results to the public.  Donald Trump took a small piece of Warren’s family lore and turned it into a smear weapon, denigrating the Senator for the notion that she may have had Native American Ancestry.  Rather than rolling her eyes, yet again, at the racist foolishness from our current president, she used facts and science* to prove him wrong and chastise him publicly for his unacceptable behavior. 

Her personal experiences as a woman and a mother color her politics in the best way possible and in spite of her anger, she continues to give off a down to earth, approachable persona.  I mean, how can you not love dog selfies and heart shaped cakes for her mom every Valentine’s day?

But most importantly, her effectual anger is a thorn in the side of the John Kelly, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, so she is most certainly doing something right. Those foolish men keep coming for her and she is not backing down.

*I understand that a white woman claiming Native American ancestry is problematic for a variety of reasons.  This article does a good job of breaking down the distinction between DNA and ancestry.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Much has been written in the last two weeks about the nation’s latest hero, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  Women across the globe watched as she did the bravest thing many of us can imagine.  She shared her terrible story with the world, not because she wanted to, but because she felt it was her duty. Read more

Brené Brown Talent Crush

Brené Brown

I was introduced to Brené Brown by a friend who recommended an online wholehearted parenting course to me.  It was a beautiful course based on her book, Daring Greatly, which combined artwork and journaling with lessons on parenting.  I was immediately hooked by Brené’s authenticity and subject matter. She studies the topics that are hard to talk about, but are absolutely integral to our human experience, shame and vulnerability. Read more

Melissa Scott Talent Crush

Melissa Scott

A few weeks ago we were talking about reading. I couldn’t decide who my talent crush was so I picked two books and one sort of type of book.

The first book was E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. Here is the post where I gush over it.

Wait, I have to go upstairs and grab the second book. I cleaned off my desk a week ago and took the book back upstairs. I don’t think I like living in a house with two floors. Hang on.

Well shit, now I can’t find it.

Okay, I got it. Sheesh. It’s a disaster up there. Read more

Kristen Bell Talent Crush

Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell tells the story of how her mom sat her down and told her if she ever feels sad and dark to get help. She obviously tells it better than that but it’s her story so please watch here or read here or both.

Her story triggered my memory of when my dad did pretty much the same for me. And that is what led to the rather lengthy post on Monday. No, I am not blaming the wonderful Ms. Bell. I’m just saying that hearing other people’s stories often triggers memories of our own.

And that is exactly why Bell decided to start talking about her struggles with mental illness. The fact is that humans are social animals. Part of being a social animal is not wanting to cause your fellow animals trouble or discomfort. When you struggle with a mental illness there are times when you are troublesome for others. So we often try to keep our troubles to ourselves.

But what we are doing is robbing people of the chance to do what social animals love to do which is help each other!

So follow Bell’s example. Tell someone something they might not have known about you. Maybe they have a similar story and just needed someone else to speak up.

Thank you, Kristen Bell.

P.S. I loved Veronica Mars.


https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/  1(800) 273-8255


great teacher talent crush

Mr. Lofthouse

Mr. Lofthouse was Older Son’s third grade teacher. First and second grades were tough on Older Son. He read late and had to go to summer school between both first and second grade as a prerequisite for promoting to the next grade. I think his dislike of school was born during these years.

By the time he started third grade I was very…shall we say…prickly. First day of third grade I was very jumpy and chatty and worried because I knew Older Son didn’t usually perform to standards until the very end of the year.

Mr. Lofthouse was near to retirement, a tall man with thick white hair and a bright, open smile. He turned that smile on me and said, “Give us a couple weeks to get to know each other and then you and I can talk.”

I agreed but gave him a stern look. I wanted him to know I was going to stand up for my boy. I must have looked adorable but Mr. Lofthouse was too polite to laugh.

Two weeks later Mr. Lofthouse called me and we sat down just the two of us to talk about Older Son.

I immediately talked about how Older Son took longer than most kids to reach proficiency but that he always did.

Mr. Lofthouse waved that away, “Your son has something I can never teach. He’s kind and thoughtful and an asset to our class. I look forward to working with him.”

I started crying. Big, ugly crying. Not one teacher had praised Older Son since kindergarten. All they talked about was the fact he couldn’t read, that he couldn’t do the math other students were doing. What they were saying was that he was dragging down the test scores.

And here was a teacher who had been teaching for more than 30 years, who had seen literally thousands of students and thought my dearest, darling son was an asset and someone he was looking forward to teaching. Not a problem to be solved or a drag on the rest of the class.

Mr. Lofthouse calmed me down and then talked about how they got a new student in class who had moved from China the week before and spoke very little English. Without prompting, Older Son approached her and showed her around school, including how to buy lunch and how to get in on the much prized games of handball on the playground.

“That’s kindness, that’s a good heart. I can’t teach that. The rest he will learn.”

That moment, that meeting changed my entire experience parenting a child who was in school. A teacher who took the time to sit down with me and tell me that my child had gifts that could never be quantified on a test or graded but still mattered.

Thank you, Mr. Lofthouse.