from the little girl who never dreamt of her Barbie playing president

America needs every one of us to lend our energy, our talents, our ambition to making our nation better and stronger. I believe that with all my heart. That’s why ‘Stronger Together’ is not just a lesson from our history. It’s not just a slogan for our campaign. It’s a guiding principle for the country we’ve always been and the future we’re going to build… A country where all our children can dream, and those dreams are within reach. Where families are strong, communities are safe, and yes, love trumps hate. That’s the country we’re fighting for. That’s the future we’re working toward. And so it is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for President of the United States.—Hillary Clinton, DNC 2016

As a child, I loved Barbie’s. I had a pink Cadillac, wedding dresses, a Skipper in a slightly psychedelic dress that came with hair gel… I have a sister 20 months younger than me and she had her own Barbie’s so we had plenty of possible scenarios to play out. We would set up a Barbie world in my room where they would have their own “homes”, another room would become a “mall”, there would be teachers, dance instructors, and the Ken’s were not in charge, the Barbie’s and Skipper’s were. The young budding feminist I was, I rarely orchestrated a wedding for Barbie and Ken (Skipper was too young).

With all the creativity and dreaming, I never had a political Barbie. Never did I create a scenario where Barbie ran for President. It was beyond comprehension for me. I know they had made Presidential Barbie, but that wasn’t the direction I went in. I wasn’t able to dream that possibility even with my giant imagination.

Around the same time I was playing with Barbie’s Washington state elected Patty Murray (“a mom in tennis shoes”) to the United States Senate in 1992 as part of the wave of women after Anita Hill. Strong women have been politically visible in my state of Washington especially when Christine Gregoire became the governor when I was in college. We also have United States Senator Maria Cantwell and countless women (not to the point of parity) in political offices at all levels. But the most visible political office for a child is the presidency.

Tonight, we’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union: the first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president. Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too – because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit. So let’s keep going, until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves.—Hillary Clinton, DNC 2016

8 years ago I was finishing my undergraduate degree and supporting Barrack Obama. I had struggled between Hillary and Obama in the primaries, but ultimately, I went with Obama (yet retained a sense of guilt). For times such as these, Obama has done amazing these past 8 years and I think that Hillary is more poised than ever to run now.

As the past few months have gone by, many people assumed I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, but I was a diehard Hillz fan. I bought a Women’s Card when it first came out. I quietly read Hillary articles, spoke with my friends, tried to avoid the wrath of the people who questioned my judgment. I had never felt so protective of a candidate before and finally I started to become more public about my support. I caucused in Washington state for Hillary Clinton and even spoke about her to my peers, debating a few of them.

This isn’t the post where I am going to state why I support Hillary Clinton, it’s not just because she is a woman, she is the most qualified candidate we’ve seen in decades. I could talk about how her Methodist upbringing mirrors my own, how her sense of vocation is linked with her faith, and I see her living her faith whenever she takes action.

Last night I watched Hillary Clinton accept the democratic nomination for President of the United States. As I watched with my parents, my eyes welled up (multiple times) because for the first time in my life, I could relate with a presidential nominee. Her early life story aligned with mine, her sense of faith and seeking justice mirrors with my own, and I started seeing stories of my friends who have girls, who saw what I didn’t get to see. Girls around the world have seen something that I didn’t witness until an adult. They will grow up in a world with one less glass ceiling.

If I was a little girl today, today is the day that my Barbie would be nominated for the presidency. She would be running as a democrat and she would win. I hope that today, the little girls and boys everywhere don’t have to use their imaginations to envision a woman president because now they can now see it in action.

Freedom and equality, justice and opportunity. We should be so proud that these words are associated with us. That when people hear them, they hear America. So don’t let anyone tell you that our country is weak. We’re not. Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have what it takes. We do.—Hillary Clinton, DNC 2016

musings on adult coloring & christian perfection

This post is dedicated to my fellow coloring friends; my sister, Shari, the Rev. Justin White, Kelle, and future coloring fanatic, Tara. You inspire me to attempt staying in the lines.

Adult coloring books have become a thing, I’m over a year late to the party. If my memory serves me right, they have been a prayer practice of my seminary friends for a few years before that. But I avoided coloring, like the plague, beyond needing and purchasing color pencils for my Art & Reconciliation class last summer.

I liked coloring growing up, but never managed staying in the lines as much as I wanted to. In fact, I distinctly remember hating using watercolors in coloring books because I couldn’t control where the color ended up. Eventually I gave up on art because I thought that I wasn’t good enough. The perfectionist in me beat out the artist in me.

Finally an impulse purchase landed me with an adult coloring book while waiting to board my plane home from Phoenix last week. The person in front of me was taking forever (okay as I wasn’t in a rush) while I was waiting to buy water and coconut water (another impulse purchase). All around the register were adult coloring book kits that included the pages and the color pencils. I laughed as I brought my purchases back to my friend who was also on my flight, but proceeded to color from Phoenix to Seattle.

Coloring isn’t any easier as an adult, especially the darkness of the plane at night and not having enough color pencils to make it look good. I kept going outside of the lines, didn’t like how it looked color-wise, and frankly wasn’t sure if this was for me. Coloring outside of the lines isn’t fun for this perfectionist.

Yesterday, I decided I wanted to color outside in the sun after a week of my new coloring book kit living in my backpack. I found my other colored pencils from last summer and began round two. As I basked in the warm Seattle sun with Mount Rainier out and Lake Washington feet away, my soul was quiet and happy. I realized I needed to be comfortable with coloring outside of the lines. That it wasn’t important, it was the process.

After a few hours of coloring in the sun, it was time to go to church, after I returned home I did some more coloring when I realized, my pages were double-sided, with the same pattern. I knew they were, but didn’t realized I could have a redo with the designs. I could learn from my “mistakes” and color better. I could perfect my coloring.

Wait, perfecting something beyond legislation? (Sorry to all my non-UMC readers.) It hit me: coloring is theological and very Wesleyan. Try as I might to avoid theological books for a few months post-seminary, I had one right in front of me and I got to fill it in. Wesleyan theology is a grace-based journey.

We start with the grace we are given no matter what (prevenient) which is like how one’s parents love anything we color. Then to the grace we discover when we chosen to love God back (justification) as we grow and slowly create more types of coloring, knowing it’s good, but we want to live into being a better artist, turning over the page. As we continue to live grace and follow the radical gospel message we move towards Christian Perfection (sanctification), a right relationship with the Divine, and maybe staying inside the lines or finding the best color combination. (Please note, still working on my metaphor.)

As I move towards perfecting my coloring, I am noticing that the end product isn’t what matters, it’s how I get there. How I think and dream as I color, as I am able to sometimes empty my mind, that I can color in silence with a good friend, and how it weirdly soothes my soul.

Coloring is a reminder that it’s not the destination, but the journey. The goal is a good looking piece of art (well, for me its art), but the process is more important. I’m never going to stay completely in the lines, but I may be able to make a flower thing look more owl-like or incorporate more bright colors the second time around. The more I color, the more it becomes second nature, the more I love forward.

Now, it’s time to go back to coloring.

privilege + importance of i-124

I recently calculated how much time I have been away from home since General Conference, it’s almost 5 weeks with 3 of those weeks spent living in two separate hotel rooms. 2 weeks in Portland and a few days shy of 1 week in Phoenix.

Last night I attended the Hotel Safety Summit used to launch Seattle’s I-124 campaign. UNITED HERE Local 8 is leading the charge to protect women and other hotel workers. What is I-124?

PROTECTION FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT & ASSAULT

  • Provides panic buttons to workers and requires posting of anti-harassment policy in guest rooms.
  • Creates a standard réponse procedure for reports of harassment and assault including documenting such incidents, banning harassing guests, and giving workers advance notice when known harassers return.

PROTECTION FROM INJURY DUE TO INHUMANE HOUSEKEEPING WORKLOADS

  • Limits the guest room area a hotel housekeeper is required to clean in an eight hour shift to roughly fifteen rooms.
  • Improves housekeeper injury rates by reducing unsafe housekeeping workloads and slowing down the pace of work.

ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE FAMILY MEDICAL COVERAGE

  • Requires employers to either provide quality affordable family health insurance to low-wage employees or additional compensation to offset employee healthcare costs.
  • Ensures that all low-wage hotel workers in Seattle working for large hotels will have access to quality affordable family health insure at no more than 6% of annual income.

ACCESS TO BASIC JOB SECURITY

  • Gives existing hotel employees an opportunity to retain their jobs under a new employer.
  • Reduces disruptions and improves service in the hospitality industry by allowing experienced workers an opportunity to keep their jobs when ownership or management changes.

-Hotel Safety Summit flyer on I-124

I consider myself an advocate for all women, but as much as I have smiled, tipped, done my best to be respectful to the housekeeps, I have failed them. We have failed them.

The Summit featured a panel of women hotel workers who shared their stories. I learned that they are expected to clean 14-15 rooms per shift and are typically given 30 minutes. There is a stark difference between how many people are occupying the room. My heart fell as I remembered the times that I left a messy room during my 2 week stay in Portland, how much I appreciated the women I knew were cleaning up after me, but no idea about the realities of the work they were doing.

I learned that they were under constant pressure from managers to move quicker. That the housekeepers have to move mattresses by themselves. That per day, a housekeeper lifts 1000 lbs of linens. Finally, that the people who clean our hotel rooms have a higher injury rate than coal miners and construction workers. That the average family size of a hotel worker is 3 and they live on wages just a tad higher than the poverty rate.

The women who work in our hotels are majority women of color and immigrants, they need our protection and are not getting it. Safety is also imperative for these women and their employers are not providing it. Money takes precedence over the safety of the workers (even in unionized hotels which are 80% of those in Seattle).

In terms of safety the women on the panel continually stated that one never knows what is on the other side of the door when coming in to clean or for room service. From sexual assault, undressed guests, violence, racism, sexism, porn on screens, ordering prostitutes… and they have no way to call for help or backup. They aren’t always given radios, cell phones aren’t quick enough. That’s why panic buttons are included in I-124, in fact 95% of those surveyed by UNITED HERE Local 8 said they would feel safer if given panic buttons.

I-124 seeks to make the invisible, visible, something I have had to grapple with since last night in reconciling my privilege and complacency. If I am for women’s rights, I must support all women, women of color, women immigrants, and that’s why I am 100% supportive of this initiative. Seattle needs to protect its women, all women.

How do we move forward, what are the next steps in Seattle adopting I-124 into law? First step is to further educate yourself, visit www.seattleprotectswomen.org. The next step that I understand is that we need our Seattle City Council to vote to put this on our fall ballot, there were 3 city council members there, so it’s hopefully they should be able to have the majority in getting I-124 to Seattle voters. The last step, is to check in with your city council members and start talking with your friends and family.

It all comes down to getting the information out and making sure that the invisible are made visible. That we see our housekeepers, our hotel workers, and those I-124 are respected and treated with dignity, let’s pass this policy that provides tangible solutions that the workers need and want.

living in a (hopefully ken burns) documentary

I love documentaries. It all started with watching Frontline’s Dick Cheney’s War and went downhill as streaming got popular in college. Then with the advent of Netflix, a whole spectrum of documentaries was just a click away. During a breakup, I went through a World War II phase because it didn’t remind me of my ex. When I want to get jazzed I like a good sports documentary. If it has to do about women’s rights, I usually tear up and want to burn a bra (just kidding). Music, religion… I love them all.

My favorite documentarian is Ken Burns. He has made the Civil War interesting and Prohibition thrilling. Most of all, I like his documentarian style.

I sat and witnessed the election of the first openly out bishop, Bishop Karen Oliveto, just a few days ago. For the first time in my life, I realized that I was a part of history. I didn’t do it in the comfort of my own home snuggled up with my dog, but was an active observer slash Tweeter.

I saw a qualified woman be elected to the church’s highest office. To step into a role that requires much of any candidate, but even more so as the first out bishop. Bishop Oliveto asked us if we were able and we resoundingly said yes.

All around the room, there were tears of joy. My LGBTQI+ brothers, sisters, and siblings for the first time, could look to the Council of Bishops and know that their voices, their perspectives, their hopes and dreams, and their fears would be heard at the highest levels of our institution.

As I openly wept, I felt hope and possibility for The United Methodist Church. You see, if Ken Burns was directing a documentary (which he should) about the election of Bishop Oliveto and asked me questions about my day leading up, I’d have to explain that mere hours before, I was ready to leave the church.

Friday morning I woke up with this heavy feeling I couldn’t shake. A few actions and conversations in the morning made me think, if we can’t elect the best candidate because of homophobia or because we were scared, how could I stay? (I want to say, all the of candidates were amazing and I later pledged to work for Dottie 2020.) What was holding me to this institution that wasn’t fulfilling God’s call of radical love? For some time, the glue that has held me has been my annual conference and jurisdiction. I feared for the first time that my jurisdiction was going to let me down.

But it didn’t. As each candidate allowed the Spirit to work, we inched closer to an election. Finally it happened and Karen Oliveto made history, really her-story.

As much as I believe that the election of Bishop Oliveto is important, what is more important is what I realized afterwards. We took a huge step forward as a church, to live into the promise.

I believe that we are one step closer to actualizing the Kin-dom of God, maybe two.

Even after the election, many of us gathered together in the hotel bar. Every single time a bishop candidate walked it, we all rose to our feet clapping and whooping. That’s the Western Jurisdiction. We were, we are united, and moving forward, beyond proud to make history.

Some day, probably sooner than later, Bishop Karen Oliveto will have a documentary outlining her life and her call to ordained ministry. We will discover she is more than who she loves, actually, we will discover who she loves, who she walks with, as she lives out her life modeled after Jesus.

I’m just praying Ken Burns makes the documentary.