My Birthday Is Cursed

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No, really. I used to think it was just me.

September 11, 2001: my sweet sixteen. New York City. Twin Towers. Pentagon. Flight 93.

September 11, 2012: my 27th birthday. Benghazi. Perhaps the most tragic event ever used for political gain.

September 11, 2017: my 32nd birthday. Hurricane Irma. The most intense hurricane to strike the U.S. since Katrina (2005).

The latter, however, is the first catastrophic birthday I have celebrated with two little ones at my side.

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The Day Politics Went Dark

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Our lives have become filled with negative things – ugly things we do our best to bury deep. Lately, it’s been hard. Take a look around Facebook. Or, even worse, Twitter.

But the eclipse, I would argue, changed it all. For one day, politics wasn’t the focus. Yes, we should all still care what President Trump says and does, but the distraction was – in a word – welcome.

Last week, I was scrambling to order glasses in time. My husband may be the scientist, but the eclipse offered something so rare, so human.

I craved a reason to look up.

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The Great American Family Road Trip [2017]: Day 2

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Human beings are funny creatures. Even at 10 p.m. on vacation, I found myself running on a treadmill last night.

In my defense, we spent most of our second day on the road in the car. Again.

But in the 20 minutes I spent exercising alone, I enjoyed the kind of reflection that comes when you don’t hear a child breathing (i.e. whining) for the first time all day.

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The Great American Family Road Trip [2017]: Day 1

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“I can’t find it!”

Two doodle pads. Really, I thought this would be our solution to the endless backseat rivalry.

But, within one minute of my son entering the vehicle, a special feature of his brand new toy had been lost: a cat face magnet.

And – to no one’s surprise – two preschoolers now fought over the newest doodle pad.

This was the beginning of our epic first road trip as a family of four.

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Portraits of Courage, Hope

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How do we honor the fallen? It’s a question that’s been rattling around in my mind for some time.

I teach veterans. I am friends with veterans. I once loved a veteran.

But, the truth is, very few of us know the stories of those who died protecting every freedom we hold dear. What were their final thoughts? What insights would they have wanted the world to know?

I think Portraits of Courage by George W. Bush gets close. Beyond the incredible paintings, Bush penetrates the gaping vulnerabilities left in wounded veterans.

In many ways, it offers a rare glimpse into the painful inside of war.

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Descending the Ivory Tower

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My uncle is a plumber. To the average American, there is nothing exceptional about his life.

One Christmas, when our extended family still gathered for the holidays, my uncle was late. At the time he was working for a highly-esteemed university in our community.

The reason for his tardiness that particular year? He had been called in to shovel snow off of campus sidewalks.

I remember staring at him in disbelief. “But it’s Christmas.”

“Well,” he explained with an air of resentment, “those professors gotta have clear sidewalks so they can do their work.”

What I didn’t realize then was that this division – between the haves and the have-nots – was bigger than Christmas lunch that year. That it would only grow in the years to come. And that it would forever change our political landscape.

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A Wall, Our Peril

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I saw a young man walk into a wall at the park last week. No joke.

The Pokémon Go craze has almost (yes, almost) intrigued me enough to learn how I, too, can walk into walls and run away in shame.

But, let’s be honest, we have bigger things upon which to focus. Take the 2016 Republican National Convention. Even if you haven’t watched it (I haven’t), I’m sure you’ve heard the highlights:

Trump said something inappropriate!

Protests took place outside!

Cruz got booed!

So in the midst of much excitement (i.e. drama), why then are thousands of people choosing to escape into an augmented reality game?

Because, quite simply, we are already living the game – all of us.

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What Scares Me about Trump

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Election year is upon us, and every day there is a new reason to loathe politics. In my own mind, I can’t quite wrap my head around a Trump candidacy or, worse, a Trump presidency.

Over and over, I wrestle with the thought of my children’s future being steered, at least for the next four years, by Donald Trump. In truth, I don’t personally know the man, and, sadly, just like the rest of us, I am largely informed by media agendas.

This week I saw that Trump has released a partial list of the foreign policy advisors that will guide him if he is elected. Who is on this list? I would argue that it doesn’t really matter. The individuals who are passionately following Trump and pledging their dogmatic allegiance do not need to know his list (or any tangible details) because, quite frankly, it will not impact their vote.

Should it?

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