Latest Posts

Wake Up!

We need to wake up.

Today, there was a bombing in a London subway. Again. The 5th terror attack this year.

Yesterday, North Korea launched a missile capable of destroying our Allies and our fellow countrymen.  Again. The 13th missile launch this year.

Our response?  We’re fighting each other. Today it’s St. Louis. Last night, it was Berkeley. There’s a civil war in this country with Americans fighting Americans as the war on democracy, on freedom, on all we hold dear nears ever closer to our shores.

We have common ground if we’re willing to look for it.  We can agree to open the door wide to anyone that wants to EMBRACE democracy, is willing to WORK for the American dream and is willing to SACRIFICE anything to UPHOLD what America stands for. That’s our fight. Let’s fight for that. Does the pathway to citizenship need to be reformed? Yes. Do we welcome, with open arms, those that want to work for and embody the American Dream? Yes. Absolutely!

But that’s not everyone.   And we can no longer afford to be naïve to that fact.

Europe is paying the price for naiveté.

The American Dream is too precious, too sought after, too hard earned by Main Street America AND the tired, “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to be so disregarded by the naïve thought that thinks anyone who makes it to our shores wants to embrace our Country and its values.

We have to wake up, stop fighting each other and start fighting for all that America stands for.

America is too precious to destroy it from the outside.  She is FAR too precious to destroy it from within.

Time is ticking.  We have to wake up.

Parking in Placerville

PARKING in Downtown Placerville…It’s a new system with increased hours and cost, and it is sparking heated debate and angry concern among merchants and the community.

We acknowledge there are challenges.  We’d like you to know we’re working on them.

Staff will provide the City Council with an update on the Parking Program on Tuesday, August 8th although we are fully aware of the conversation and concerns of the community. In addition, the Parking Committee has been interfacing with Staff on this issue and they will be working with the merchant community to fully understand the problems while they collaborate on potential solutions. I have no doubt that we are in a period of transition and that the current parking program can be tweaked successfully.  We can figure this out!

As I have been challenged to think critically about this issue, here are some ideas I’ve found helpful:

ACCEPT “WHAT IS”.  We have a new parking program. It’s totally different. People are confused about it. There are problems with it. There are also critically important reasons for some of the changes. The task before us is to acknowledge all of this, without extreme emotion, so we can employ rational thought to the challenge.  We can’t go back to where we were, so the next step is to accept “what is” at this moment in time so we can move forward productively.

Then what?

OBSERVE AND DECIDE.  (I think we’re right in the middle of this course of action.)  We are observing how the current Parking Program is working and are understanding what the exact problems are that need to be addressed.  I also found it helpful to realize that just because a program isn’t perfect right off the bat doesn’t mean it should be immediately discarded. Life is full of trial and error. Action and redirection. It’s kind of like parenting. No one does it perfectly from the get-go. You make mistakes. You try something new, see how that works. You get better as you go. It’s as simple as that. As for parking, we’ll talk to each other and understand what exactly isn’t working for the customer, the merchant, the employee, the taxpayer, and then we’ll decide on potential solutions.

EMBRACE CHANGE.  (This is an area we tend to struggle with as a community). It is important to understand we had to change the old parking program. Did you know that the old meters were broken?  Did you know they were so old that parts were not available and that the company was no longer servicing them? Did you know that the $1 per hour fee for parking had stayed the same for over 10 years? Did you know that the old Parking Program wasn’t paying for itself and that NO money was being set aside for the repair and maintenance of our parking garage and parking lots? We had to make a change…it would have been irresponsible not too.

So here we are.

The Parking Program has some challenges. What initial effort doesn’t? We don’t need to be completely undone by this fact. Our response doesn’t have to be a knee jerk reaction like “I’m never shopping in Placerville again!”.  We can make productive changes to the Parking Program which ensure that our customers have adequate parking, that our merchants and the taxpayers are not unduly burdened, and that we have the resources we need to maintain our parking facilities.

My goodness, if we can tame the Wild West, we can tweak our parking program!

I’ll see you on Main Street.

 

 

 

 

Reflections from Main Street

There was a time I was really productive.

Dennis and I had committed to getting up early and spending an hour or so, everyday, doing something that moved us forward.    Several days a week, I moved my body (I exercised). The other days, I moved my mind, seeking inspiration to push entrenched thought patterns off dead center. I felt alive. I felt excited. I felt flexible. Good things began to happen.

Then one day, I slept in.

You know how it is… life got really busy. There were a lot of wonderful things going on in our life and I needed to be rested up! I knew I’d get back to my schedule tomorrow.

“Tomorrow” became “next week”.  “Next week” became “never”.

This weekend I had the opportunity to “man the sidewalk sale” in front of the pharmacy.  From 9-5, I sat out on the sidewalk. It was about 103. It was hot. It was uncomfortable. My feet got sunburned. And… there was a lot going on in the heart of Main Street. Merchandise moved. Sales were robust. Interesting activity buzzed all around. Engaging conversations were had.

  • There was a film crew from Australia shooting a segment for HGTV.
  • The stagecoach rides ferried people about.
  • I ran into the person I’ve been meaning to have an important chat with.
  • Another person ran into me that had been carrying a burden and we were able to lift that from him.

Then I got too hot. I went inside for lunch.

It felt good to retreat to an air conditioned office with some yummy pad thai and a good magazine. I relaxed. I cooled down. I settled in. It would have been all too easy to stay there the rest of the day, and yet, the action was on Main Street. I needed to move myself out there to be a part of it.

Today, it hit me that mental and physical progress is much like the sidewalk sale. If we want to progress, we have to be engaged. To be engaged takes sacrifice…it takes the giving up of comfort, ease, relaxation, distraction and entertainment so we can be in the middle of activity…In the middle of new ideas, fresh inspirations, superior reflections so we can think better.  In the middle of stretching our body, elevating our heart rate, practicing our balance so we can move better. 

When we think better, move better, we are better.

I guess that means tomorrow I need to get up early and do something better than indulge in another hour of sleep. I’m looking forward to it.

Sacred Moments

This is a monumental week.

Brooke, my first-born, is becoming a wife on Saturday.   Her groom is an amazing man that we can’t wait to welcome as a son.

I don’t know about you, but as I have gotten older, I find that my emotions have evened out. Unfortunately, the highs are not quite as high, but the lows are not nearly as low. I guess that’s good, because living on an emotional roller coaster is exhausting and not very productive. However, I like to feel deeply, and today I awoke with a deep sense of profound joy and anticipation.

Life is incredibly busy, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up…you just want to slow down and catch your breath. Other times, after years and months planning, a major life event is suddenly here and you’re so afraid that this precious time is going to go way too fast, you want to savor every sacred moment.

In life there are many celebrations. So many timeless life moments. So many transitions in this fluid progression called life.

My daughter, Brie, reminded me that celebrations are like seasons. When you’re in the middle of them, they seem to last forever. Then, suddenly, they transition quickly into something else.

The stormy sleep of winter paves the way for the rebirth and rejuvenation of spring, in all it’s vast expressions.

Out of the colorful explosions of spring, comes the intensity of summer….the chance to slow down, heat up, reconnect, savor.

And when the heat of summer gives way to the coolness of autumn, we breath a sigh of relief. We anticipate the bounty of the harvest and the joys of the holidays.

Then all too soon, the holidays are gone and we find ourselves relieved to welcome a quiet blanket of snow.

Maybe that’s what makes life’s seasons so sweet…they are here and gone before you know it, and yet they pave the way for something fresh, something unexpected, something new.

The trick is to thoroughly savor the season you’re in.

Ours in wedding season, and in this final week before Brooke and Justin become man and wife, I’m going to treasure every single sacred moment, knowing it’s the beginning of another wonderful transition.

And that fills me with joy.

 

 

 

Proud to be an American

On Monday, we will celebrate Memorial Day honoring the men and women who have died protecting our right to be Americans.

It breaks my heart that, somehow, it has become controversial to be proud of our Country….to be pro-America and all that She stands for. It breaks my heart that, somehow, being a proud American is being equated with being anti-immigrant. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Since the birth of our nation, immigrants have been a vital part of who we are as Americans. Our cities honor and reflect the flavor of different cultures and customs, and we’re proud of that. We enjoy that. But we have to ask ourselves these critical questions:

  1.  Are we AMERICANS that enjoy the diversity of different homelands?  OR
  2. Do we believe that we should be sovereign cultures that just happen to reside on American soil?

There is a tremendous distinction between those two philosophies, and the future of our Nation will be determined by what we fight for.

Our Founding Documents, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, protect the freedom that has called people to our shores for generations. And if it’s true that people all over the world have literally sacrificed everything to get to America, there must be something incredible precious about who we are and what we stand for. Let’s take a look at what we stand for…at the foundation on which we were built.

Our Constitution is inspired and there is genius in its simplicity and in the sacredness of its content.  The Preamble clearly states the goals for our Founding Document…

First and foremost, it articulates that the government is US…”We the People”. The power and privilege established in the Constitution, and the responsibility that entails, is granted to our citizens.

And WHY is power given to the people? For what purpose?

  1. To Form a Better Government than the tyranny we came from or see in other parts of the world.
  2. To Establish Justice. Now it doesn’t say “lay down the law”. The goal is to build the government of our nation on a foundation of fairness, equity and objectivity in how we deal with one another.
  3. To Ensure Domestic Tranquility. To have peace at home, in our own nation, for a people cannot forever survive a divided country.
  4. To Provide for the Common Defense. To make provisions to safeguard and protect our Country and its people.
  5. To Promote the General Welfare. To actively encourage and affect the health, happiness and prosperity of everyone in our nation
  6. To Secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity: To make sure that we are able to enjoy these freedoms along with our children.

These goals are further supported by the Bill of Rights granting immense freedom to the people of America under the protection of law.

Under the BILL OF RIGHTS, you have a right to…

  1. Worship the way you want. Say what you want. Gather information. You can peacefully get together wherever and whenever you want. You can complain to the government, ask for assistance or communicate with the Government without being afraid. And the Press is can report what it wants.
  2. You have a right to your guns and to defend yourself and resist oppression.
  3. You don’t have to house the military in peacetime. (Granted, this is not a hot topic but a good idea, nonetheless)
  4. You are protected from unlawful search and seizure and arrest.
  5. You don’t have to incriminate yourself or be tried twice for the same offense ever. You have the right to due process of law, regardless of circumstance, and your property can’t be taken without being paid fairly for it.
  6. The Bill of Rights further lays out what “due process” looks like.
  7. Finally, under the 9th Amendments, it acknowledges that you are born with more rights than any constitution could ever list or specify.

PROTECTING THESE RIGHTS, WHICH YOU SO FULLY ENJOY, IS WHAT THE MEN AND WOMEN OF OUR MILITARY HAVE DIED FOR.

This Constitution, this Supreme Law of the Land, IS the beacon of hope and freedom that calls hungering people to our shores. It’s worth defending. It’s worth working for.  It’s worth protecting.  And it’s worth asking those that come here to honor.

And while the majority of us aren’t called to military service, we have the explicit duty to claim our allegiance to these great Ideals, for if we don’t claim and protect them, we can’t be a beacon of hope for anyone.

I am awed by the depth of personal respect that is framed within our guiding document.  Our Country’s foundation, on which we stand, live, breath and build our lives, deserves the same depth of respect.  Let us not contort, pollute or convolute what it truly means to be a proud American.  Let us make the conscious choice to not see ourselves as Republicans and Democrats violently divided… let us choose to be AMERICANS who are unified by the sacred freedoms we enjoy.  And let us work our differences out from that standpoint.

If the men and women in our military have died protecting those rights, let us honor their sacrifice and live in a manner that embodies all that is good and just and right about what it is to be an American.

Their sacrifice deserves nothing less.

Something New…

I’ve been feeling the urge to try something new.  There’s been a growing craving for growth, learning, stretching the boundaries of my knowledge and skills.

Maybe I gotten too comfortable. Settled into too much routine.

I recently heard that we will never know what gifts and talents are hidden and stored with us until we make a demand on them. That resonated with me because it’s all too easy to think that we can just wait around until new skillsets emerge and make themselves known. Sometimes I’m tempted to feel that exploring an area I know nothing about is a waste of time because I could spend that same time doing something I’m good at.   I could spend my time doing something that is likely to lead to a successful result. But that’s not what growth is all about.

Creating something new is a messy process, fraught with periods of failure. It’s about exploring, trying and failing some more. It’s only when we push through new beginnings that we get to enjoy the joy of discovery. It’s only then that we are rewarded with enlarged capacities and expanded opportunities.

This week I’m spending some time with my parents exploring a passion they dearly love..plein air painting. We’ll be working in oils which I haven’t done since college. I’ve also never developed a gift for painting outdoors on-location as my preference has always been the controlled, bug-free environment of my studio, close to the refrigerator, bathroom and air conditioning.

But this week, I’m trying something new…

Our instructor, John MacDonald, a renowned oil painter, has encouraged us to be patient with the process. To mindfully engage in the joy and pursuit of finding our own creative expression. He has challenged us to not expect a masterpiece at the end of the week, as that may or may not happen. The goal is not to walk away with a successful painting; it’s to develop new ways to see and express the world around us which will involve the continual process of discovery.

So here goes…this may be the only canvas I share with you. It’s fresh, new, and brimming with possibility.  So is this experience before me.

May you listen to your own yearning for growth.

 

Beyond Labels

I’ve been thinking about labels…

We use them liberally to inform our choices. To categorize and classify. To add structure to our disorderly world.  Many times we use them to define each other… to put each other in a box so we can more easily deal with conflict or quickly identify those who share our values.

It’s like we all have label makers in our back pocket, and we love to use them!

Recently I was at a retreat for business executives. This is a unique organization that brings diverse leaders together to unify, strengthen and serve their individual communities. Mutual respect for diverging perspectives is a cornerstone of the membership which helps leaders gain skills for critical dialog. At this gathering, however, something stood out to me.

Throughout the weekend, there was an underlying tone of condescension for one of the political parties. Now it was subtle. I don’t think people even realized it was present, but it pervaded conversations and presentations in such a way that the disdain just seemed like “fact”…that one political party was inherently wrong and had to be dealt with. To me, this was just a symptom of the current state of our political climate. It also got me thinking.

WHAT IF we chose not to immediately define each other by our political affiliation?

WHAT IF we were able to see beyond who we voted for in the last election?

Think about it.  When we hear, “Oh, she’s a Democrat….”  or  “He’s a Republican…” we jump to conclusions. We think we know exactly where the other person is coming from and we cast judgment based on our own perspective. We also close our thought to each other, automatically assuming that suddenly we are on opposites sides of a great divide that can’t or shouldn’t be breached.  If we continue on this course, we will continue to have the ideological chaos that we are starting to accept as the status quo in our country. However, we can break through this wall of obstruction if we begin to deal with ideas, not labels.

We see this example in local politics. In El Dorado County, our political climate is truly non-partisan. In fact, for a long time, I didn’t even really know how my fellow Councilmembers had registered….and we’ve found it doesn’t matter.

We take one issue at a time. We talk about it. We look for the community’s perspective. Naturally we bring our own knowledge and critical thought into the process, and then we make common sense decisions based on the common good.  And we don’t give a darn what label is next to our names at the Registrar’s office, because at the end of the day, we are all here to bring our best to the decisions at hand in service to our community and our country.

That sounds like a pretty good model to follow.

 

 

 

 

Standing on Common Ground

Common ground is the sacred space between divergent perspectives.

 The Urban Dictionary defines it as …”A common interest between two alienated parties who generally disagree with each other.”   This definition makes a thought-provoking assumption … that people dug into divergent perspectives can willingly work together to find a common interest.

That’s worth fighting for.

As we witness our society grow increasingly divisive with both sides of the aisle quick to point fingers to the “other side” as the root cause of all manner of evil, it’s easy to buy into that narrative, dig our heels into entrenched positions and lob hate-filled attacks at each other, especially on social media.  We’re also pretty good at labeling each other and then stuffing each other into the narrow box we’ve defined.  We assume we know where the other person is coming from, and we are quick to form a vicious judgment on their intent, perspective, or mindset.  And while pockets of that certainly exist here, I have also seen that, as a community, we are often willing and able to search for common ground. That is something to be proud of.

Recently, I had the occasion to see both methods in action when I forced an issue rather than take a more consensus-building approach. It was an interesting learning lesson.

The hate-filled lobs came first. People assumed they knew where I was coming from. They presumed to know my “end game” and defined me by the labels they assigned…labels such as ”racist”, “xenophobe”, a “member of the KKK”, and my personal favorite, “a racist piece of f’in shit”. And while there’s not an ounce of truth to those hate-filled labels, they swirled fervidly around social media.

And yet others showed up differently. Many reached out in agreement that there are difficult challenges that need to be seriously considered. Conversations acknowledged that issues are layered and complicated and so are the solutions. Ideas were shared that opened my thought, that deepened understanding, that recognized there are not simple, one-sided solutions. Some people showed up with grace, and grace breaks through the most difficult impasse.

As I’ve reflected on it, I see that it’s critically important to not buy into the fevered pitch that is playing out on the National Stage, no matter which side you most identify with, because that doesn’t have to be us.  In our community, we are more than who we voted for because that does not fully define us nor should it stop us from pulling together as neighbors, friends and members of the same community.

What does it look like to choose to stand on common ground? I have seen…

  • It starts with giving people the benefit of the doubt…that we are good people who just may have a different outlook.
  • It asks questions to understand, not attack.
  • It stops the naming calling and it stops assuming we know each other by the labels we assign.
  • It agrees that one side is not always summarily right and the other side inherently wrong.
  • It realizes that divergent options can exist together respectfully.
  • It agrees we don’t have to change each other’s mind to feel good about ourselves.
  • It acknowledges that there may be things we don’t know…that there are things we can learn from each other.
  • It recognizes that life, issues, and politics are not just black and white, right and wrong.   They are complex and layered and so are their solutions.
  • It understands that an enlightened life is fluid. That we can stand for our principles while being open to new information.

There’s no doubt in my mind what our common ground is. We are particularly passionate in our devotion and dedication to Placerville, Apple Hill, Cameron Park, El Dorado Hills, Tahoe, the Sierras, the American River and every place in between in El Dorado County.

We all want what’s best for our county and the incredible people in it.  And while we may have differing opinions about what that looks like, we are good people who love our amazing community.

And that is a sacred space on which to stand.

 

 

 

 

A discussion on sanctuary state status…

At our City Council meeting on February 28, I had asked that we bring forward a letter of opposition to California becoming a sanctuary state.  At the beginning of the meeting, I did end up pulling the item from the Agenda out of respect for my fellow councilmembers….I had not followed proper protocol in putting this item on the agenda in the first place.

The best course of action is to ask if the majority of Council agrees to hear an item, and if so, it is included in a future agenda. I did not do that…I put the item on myself and so my fellow councilmembers dealt with a backlash of opposition prior to the meeting without the opportunity of a discussion about it. I put them in a difficult position and therefore pulled the item. That said, we welcomed a robust discussion at public comment.

Last night I was incredibly proud of our community.  And while one side of this issue was in the majority, we were able to tackle a really charged and emotional topic in a respectful and constructive way, something we have not always been able to do.  Awareness was raised about this issue, opinions were shared, and a deeper level of understanding was encouraged.  It is tremendously important is that we continue to build containers to hold critical conversations and that we welcome, and participate in, diversity of thought on both sides of a conversation. Our community will be richer for that.

My intention on bringing this item forward was to build that awareness.  It certainly had NOTHING to do with being “anti-immigrant” because I don’t feel that way at all!   ALL of us were immigrants at some point and I support and value all members of our community.   It just that as I’ve been talking with people, I’ve been amazed that a great majority of folks didn’t know that California was on the bullet train to sanctuary state status.  It’s an emergency statute, it has passed its first committee hearing and is in Senate Appropriations.  The approval process could go very quickly and would be enacted immediately.

My intention for taking a hard look at SB54 was to ask the question, “Is this the BEST solution to the problems we want to solve?”  Are there other options?  Do we need to strengthen or revise the H-2A Termporary Agricultural Workers Program to provide better confidence and protection to our vital immigrant population?  Is there another safeguard we should explore? There is a significant lack of information on how sanctuary state status will affect our community and we need to be keenly aware of unintended consequences.

My overriding concern is, how do we protect American citizens AND the hardworking immigrant families that are a vital and valued part of our local and state economy, WITHOUT…

  • Overwhelming our resources
  • Taking away local control
  • Unduly tying the hands of law enforcement
  • Enabling criminal intent to flourish in our communities
  • And without jeopardizing federal funding which is about a 1/3 of our state budget.

Because the bottom line is…if we don’t have a prosperous and vibrant economy, our City, County and State can’t be a refuge, a place of safety, or the land of opportunity for ANYONE.

Also in the seat that I’m in, my lens is always “what is best for Placerville and El Dorado County”?    How do we ensure that everyone in our community is safe and secure and that our City has the resources it needs to provide essential services?  Is what we are doing now working?  Do we need the State to fix something for our local community?  I’m incredibly wary of broad-sweeping big-city policies and how they will affect us, and we usually aren’t in the position to respond to them BEFORE they become legislation.  We are usually dealing with the ramifications of those policies after they are enacted.

Let’s make sure we are not blindly rushing into a solution because we are passionate about doing something.  Let’s not get embroiled in crazy rhetoric, on either side, that does nothing but obstruct clear, rational, informed thought.  At the end of the day, this is a really complicated issue and there is a tremendous amount at stake.

 

 

In the presence…

There was a bat in yoga class today.

Now you have to understand…I HATE bats. I detest how they flit about in erratic ways. They are unpredictable, and in their frenzied state, I’m afraid they are going to dash into me.  You just never know, and they are so darned hard to get rid of!  Usually, I choose to run away from them. In fact, the last time one flew into our house, I locked myself in the bedroom until my husband got him out.

So there we were…enjoying an incredibly soulful yoga class on a rainy morning, when in flits this unwanted visitor. He roared down the middle of class, grazing yogis on the shoulder, even fluttering into their hair. Immediate disruption. Peace, gone.

We stopped our practice…ducking, slightly confused, the way forward blocked by indecision on how to proceed. While some bravely stood to deal with the bat, I assumed Child’s Pose. I contemplated leaving but realized the better choice was to get as far down on the mat as I possibly could as this black beast zoomed all around the room.   Finally, he flew out the double doors that had been opened for him. With sighs of relief, we gathered ourselves and settled back into our practice…problem solved.

15 minutes later, he came back.

This time, I chose a different mindset. We all did. As he flew by the face of the young woman beside me, we kept going. I was engrossed in what we were creating in class. It had been way too long since I had been to yoga. I was feeling empowered once again by strength, peace and an inspired state after a long period of inactivity…and it felt good.  I choose not to have that disrupted. There was also a lovely sense of community as practice progressed. We were a diverse group in age and ability, and there was a unified harmony as we moved through class with our own varied expressions. The bat settled on the wall, and we continued, undisturbed.

As I lay in Shavasana, a phrase from the 23rd Psalm came to me “in the presence of mine enemies”.  It occurred to me, our work, our activity, our progress and our peace can all move forward even in the presence of an “enemy”.

Now there are different types of enemies.  An enemy can come in the form of problems, disruption, chaos, misunderstanding, rumor, gossip. Others are more destructive, personal and are found in blatant attacks against us. But once again, no matter how aggressive the enemy, we can move forward, we can have peace, we can stand our ground effectively in the middle of their presence.

We tend to think that we need to be free of the dissention, the conflict, the chance of being attacked before we can find a sense of peace.   We think that an enemy or a problem needs to go away before we can move forward.  Or, we tend to think we need to change someone or affect their character or chosen nature before we can regain our equilibrium.

This morning I saw that the bat did not need to leave for me to act. He didn’t need to go away for me to have a sense of peace.  The erratic nature of the bat did not need to impede my activity.  Also, I didn’t need to change that winged beast and make him something other than a bat.  He could be a bat and I could move forward, and that choice was entirely up to me. Obviously this is a small example, but I so appreciated the lesson behind it.  And rather than running away, at the end of class, I walked away empowered, inspired.

I’m grateful for the lesson learned from that beady and erratic little guy with wings.