I thought things had changed

The following is a very personal post that I felt was necessary to write after seeing my Facebook feed literally flooded with posts about a specific trial in Palo Alto and its conclusion this past week. We live in a culture that despite all its good things still has so much imbalance.

When I turned my step-father in for sexual abuse way back in 1985, I had total “white knight” syndrome. I thought that since the secret was out, things would get “better”. In many, many ways the three years after my step-father was arrested were worse than the three years he was committing the abuse.

One of the most horrible parts about the whole experience was the “justice” system. While there was little physical evidence of the abuse, other evidence was pretty overwhelming and for various reasons my step-father decided to plead guilty to what he did. He had a really good lawyer and they were able to work out a pretty sweet deal with the prosecution that significantly reduced almost all the charges against him — and his culpability.

I never understood how this was allowed to happen and for years I was quite angry about it.

Today, unfortunately, my Facebook news feed is filled with Facebook shares of a similar story. You can read about the sentence here, but the synopsis is that a wealthy, white boy with a good lawyer was somehow able to convince a judge that even though he had been found guilt of three counts of felony sexual assault, he only deserved 6 months in “jail”. Given California’s jail over-population issue, it’s likely he’ll probably not even serve the entire 6 months.

This story has literally made me physically ill. I feel so much empathy for the young lady who will not only have to deal with the after effects of the assault for the rest of her life, but will also have to deal with knowledge that this judge put her attacker’s worth over her own. The judge said he feared for the attacker’s safety in prison and didn’t feel he deserved a prison sentence given that it was his first offense.

photo-1434873740857-1bc5653afda8The woman at the center of this case, known as “Emily Doe” to protect her anonymity, delivered a really powerful statement post-sentencing that you can read here. What she said at the end was this:

“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.”

To that I would add that I am here too. It’s now been 30 years since my own “trial” with the judicial system. I am proof that regardless of the injustice, life goes on.


Bob Goff’s Living Room

Several months ago, Bob Goff posted on Instagram and on Twitter that he was hosting a little event in San Diego. It was going to be called “Living Room” and only 50 spots would be available.

There weren’t a lot of details, just an invitation.

I’ve learned over the past couple of years that these events without a lot of specifics often turn into the best times. When we are able to give up control and just open up our hearts and minds to the possibilities, amazing things happen.

First, Bob and Sweet Maria are probably two of the most awesome hosts you could ever hope to meet.

Bob’s team of “women in black / men in black” did an amazing job keeping us all together and all on schedule.

Bob’s friends that he invited to speak to us and share their hearts with us were absolutely fantastic.

Most of what was discussed will not be shared. Bob had invited us all into his home and that made us family and there are things you share with family that are special and you keep private.

I will share a few key takeaways for me:

  • Instead of asking people superficial questions, get real with the people in your life. Ask them tough questions:
    What do you put your hope in?
    What are you passionate about?
    What are your dreams and how can I help you get there?
  • The world needs to hear our stories, especially the ones that show our broken-ness. Often times, we feel like we can only share with the world our super hero capes and all the good spots in our lives, but what really can draw people both closer to us and closer to Christ is seeing our rough spots. People need equals in their lives to walk with them.
  • We hold too tightly to who we are and where we are at in life. Until we are willing to let go, we can’t move forward and be the person that God wants us to be.

I thankfully was able to take a full week of work, which gave me time in San Diego both before and after the event. I did a lot of writing after the event to really think about what fears are holding me back from being who I want to be, and how I want to move forward with my life.

Bob is having another Living Room event in May in Disneyland. Part of me wishes I could go and be part of both!

My favorite podcasts

podcasts-are-awesomeI mentioned that I recently installed the Pocket Casts app, which means that I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts again.

I love listening to podcasts, and my mix is fairly eclectic.

These are my current favorites:

  • The Moth Podcast – The Moth is like the memoir version of TED. People go on stage and tell stories about their lives. Those stories are recorded and then The Moth Podcast plays some of the best. Many of these stories quite literally make me laugh out loud.
  • Startup by Gimlet Media – I’m somewhat torn about including this on the list, but I’m super hopeful for the future. I *loved* Season 1, but Season 2 was a big disappointment. One of the big difference between Season 1 & Season 2 was that Season 1 was almost real-time where Season 2 was kind of like a post-mortem talking about things that had happened a year or more earlier.
  • This American Life – “From WBEZ in Chicago, it’s This American Life.” If you like listening to random stories about things happening in the U.S. (and sometimes around the world) This American Life is great.
  • Action Army Podcast – A relatively new podcast from my friend Jason Zook (also occasionally includes his partner Caroline Kelso). He talks about his entrepreneurial experience and gives advice on how his listeners can take action in their own lives — whether it’s personal or business.
  • Serial – It’s hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Serial Season 1 was awesome. Serial Season 2 is good, but not great. Both seasons are definitely worth a listen.

Podcast review: A great way to listen to podcasts on Android

Years ago, I used to listen to a lot of podcasts. I would mostly listen to them at work, and I used iTunes.

One of the apps on the “do not install” list at my current job is iTunes, and I’ve struggled to find a podcast app that I really liked — especially one that worked well on Android.

About six months ago, I saw someone mention a podcast app called Pocket Casts. They mentioned it wasn’t free, but it was totally worth paying the $3.99.

There were a handful of podcasts that I had started listening to again (Serial, some of the stuff from Gimlet Media, and a few others), so I decided it was worth it to at least try.

I’m super happy I tried it out. I love this app. Searching for podcasts you know about is super easy, and it also has a great “discovery engine” to find podcasts that you might be interested in watching.

The app makes queuing up a playlist super smooth, which makes it super easy to set up an hour or two of episodes.

When I grow up, I want to be Aretha Franklin

A few days ago, a video of Aretha Franklin went viral. It’s pretty awesome.

Carole King was being honored with a Kennedy Center Award and Aretha Franklin came to perform “Natural Woman”, which was co-written by Carole King.

The performance is pretty mind-blowing. compared to her younger years, you could say that Aretha may have lost some of the power in her voice, but she’s lost none of the ability to command a stage and bring an audience to its feet.

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

quote_20160101For the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about writing this post but it’s been tricky. When I think about 2015, the best way to describe how I feel about it is “meh”.

There were some really cool things that happened, but also some kind of dark months. There were goals accomplished, but also many goals that didn’t get the attention they deserved and stagnated.

Like I said, a bit “meh”.

I don’t like to dwell on the negative, so let’s focus on the positive:

  • I was able to continue to help serving at my church. Being on the media team allows me to use my skills for good. Plus, we put on a pretty cool Veterans’ Day event, and I was also able to help with some social media consulting.
  • I received a promotion at work that has been challenging and an interesting learning experience.
  • Speaking of work, we did some amazing things for our clients in 2015.
  • I launched a new blog, which gives me a place to put all my thoughts about genealogy and family history.
  • I had huge momentum on a special project I’m working on.
  • I finally got some answers on some health stuff that’s been impacting my life.

What I’m looking forward to in 2016:

  • “Working” a bit less and focusing on me a bit more. While I love my “day job”, it took up way too much of my time and energy in 2015. I’m hoping to find some balance between doing amazing things in a 40 hour work week and leaving more time for things that will move me forward.
  • Launching my new special project.
  • Spending time in with Bob Goff and friends in March.
  • Speaking at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in March.
  • Hopefully spending time with the misfits in May.
  • Getting my application submitted for the Daughters of the American Revolution.
  • Continuing to serve at my church and find ways to serve more in the community.

I hope everyone has a wonderful start to 2016.



Don’t take this one life for granted

This past week, the final Grateful Dead concerts have been all over my newsfeed – whether it was the ones in California or the ones in Chicago.

I’ve never been a Grateful Dead fan. No real reason, but I just never got into their music.

However, any mention of the Grateful Dead always conjures up a reminder of a good friend in college who died while travelling home from a concert.

I think of Dan Hallberg a lot. In fact, I’ve written about him on this blog more than once.

When I was driving around Kentucky over the weekend, some thoughts came together as to why he is frequently on my mind. Dan was an amazingly talented writer who also lived the life he was given to the fullest. Whenever I think about my writing or my art and whether or not it makes sense to keep trudging along, I think of Dan and the opportunity he doesn’t have to share his art with the world.

As my friend AJ Leon has frequently said, “This is not your practice life.” Go out there and share what makes you unique with the world.

Nicholas Winton: A true hero

A few years ago, I came across a documentary called The Power of Good: Nicholas Winton. While I had heard many stories about amazing things people did to rescue people from the Germans, this man’s efforts to get children out is absolutely amazing.

If you haven’t seen the documentary, it’s available on Netflix.

You can also watch a clip from 60 Minutes about the man here:

Nicholas Winton passed away yesterday at the age of 106.

It’s been too long …

11542048_10153501921472474_7885554485482540682_nI’ve continued to be in long stretches of introspection lately, which makes writing a bit tough.

I have things to say, but they never get to the point that I want to publish them publicly.

That’s about to change.

A) I’m actually starting a new blog to talk about genealogy / family history “stuff”. Once it’s live, I’ll post the new link here.

B) I consume a lot of media, and I’m determined to share more of my thoughts on some of the media I consume.

Also, I’m toying with the idea of getting a little more political, but we’ll see.