Bathroom Bill aka Texas S.B. 6

I typically don’t talk politics here because I find most online political conversation to be unproductive. However, I’m making an exception because Texas state representatives are considering a bill that I find unnecessary, unproductive and unhealthy. Even worse, I cannot find any reason for this bill except for fear mongering. If you believe S.B. 6 is necessary, I hope you’ll listen to my concerns before reacting.

Dear Texas Legislators,

I’d like to understand your goal in regulating bathrooms. It appears Texas Lt Governor Patrick’s proposal will create bathroom chaos, unenforceable regulation and possible health problems for some of the population, none of which seem productive.

Slide1Regulation is a balance of costs & benefits, with benefits outweighing costs. Conservatives prefer less regulation and Texas is known for its conservatism. So why impose additional regulation on bathrooms? What data indicates current regulations (e.g., public indecency/Penal Code Chapter 43, sexual offenses/Penal Code Chapter 21) are not effective in minimizing inappropriate bathroom behavior or privacy infringements?

 

Lt Gov Patrick proposes to ensure no one invades someone else’s privacy in the restroom by drawing a line according to biology . I don’t believe that every man is a pervert trying to spy on someone using the facilities, but it appears Patrick does. Why else would he feel a need to further regulate bathrooms in this way? What data says this is a big issue, that men masquerading as women are spying through the cracks in the stall doors to watch us? Let’s look at the data and see if his proposal is the most productive way to secure our privacy. (I have yet to find any published data supporting his position.)

For now, let’s assume that TX follows NC in regulating our most private moments and insists that people use the bathroom associated with the gender on their birth certificate. Let’s discuss enforceability. Imagine you’re a woman (e.g., me) in the women’s room and a person dressed as a man walks in, and that they are a woman-at-birth and therefore must use the women’s room. What are you going to do? Ask him for his birth certificate, the document that Lt Gov Patrick proposes as the basis for this regulation? Who will tell him he can’t use the bathroom if he can’t prove that he’s a girl-at-birth? Who will force him to use the men’s room even though our state leadership banned him from doing so? Who will enforce this regulation and how will they do so? An unenforceable rule is worse than no rule since it will create chaos.

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Let’s assume ‘he’ was born a ‘she’ and can prove it by producing a birth certificate. Now, we’ve created a ruckus, all to make sure that a ‘real’ woman is in the right bathroom. Is your average citizen going to quietly challenge this apparent man or are they going to get a security guard? Will most bystanders think, “oh, bathroom bill enforcement” or will they think “Pervert!!??” If a born-female-identifies-as-male follows Patrick’s rule, aren’t we creating more regulation than is reasonable? Are we accomplishing anything besides making a transgendered person afraid to use a bathroom (which is unhealthy). I would prefer to not have this kind of chaos when I am trying to simply use the facilities and go on my way. I’m perfectly fine having a transgendered person use the obvious facility (mens room if they identify male and women’s room if they identify female) as long as they behave themselves, as we expect everyone to do.

Or is that the point? Does Lt Gov Patrick think that transgendered people are simply perverts? Or that the only folks who call themselves transgendered are really just perverts masquerading as the other sex so they can get into the women’s bathroom? Is there data that supports this? I’m 54 and have never had any experience in a public restroom that leads me to believe bathroom voyeurism is a widespread problem, nor do I know of anyone who has had this happen to them. But maybe I’m just lucky, so please, where is the data?

Lt Governor Patrick stated “This issue is so clear and simple that it defies belief. Do they really want a man walking into a restroom with their daughter or mother or wife?” How often does a father/husband/son go into the women’s room with their daughter/wife/mother, aside from the obvious toddler attending with his mommy? Do we really think that your average male will just wander into the women’s room if we don’t make a law against it? If we think this, where is the data? If there is no data, why is a conservative like Patrick trying to regulate our bathrooms? What point is there in promoting fear that is based on how someone looks?

image_thumb95According to Media Matters, “The “bathroom predator” myth has been repeatedly debunked — by experts and government officials in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and school administrators in 23 school districts and four universities. Despite overwhelming evidence, many media outlets continue to uncritically repeat the debunked myth peddled by anti-LGBT groups.” Further, “Texas Experts Debunk The “Bathroom Predator” Myth. Experts — including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for sexual assault victims — from three Texas cities with LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances debunked the “bathroom predator” myth, citing empirical evidence and experience working with sexual assault victims. [Media Matters, 10/15/15]”

Without data, it appears Lt Gov Patrick is promoting a particular social agenda but not accomplishing anything productive. I have no doubt there are sexual predators out there, but don’t our current laws already address that issue? Don’t we already have laws that outlaw predatory behavior regardless of sexual orientation or appearance? This proposal is NOT a priority, not when we have bigger problems, like making sure we’re all employed, that our roads are safe, that we have affordable healthcare, that we have competitive education systems, that we can defend our nation…. you get my point. I’m hopeful our state leaders are more focused on big issues, not bathrooms.We Don't care sign

 

Sunshine for Your Pocket

The world can seem pretty ugly these days, can’t it? Is it any wonder we turn to entertainment for escape? Sometimes, we just want a happy ever after, a joyful place to visit for a bit. The Oscars are this weekend, offering up all kinds of beauty and one of the soundtracks caught my ear.

One of Original Song nominees is Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling. I’ve mentioned this song before but it’s worth repeating – how do you not get up and dance along?  It looks like pretty much everyone has a little sunshine in their pocket.

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Timberlake produced the music for Trolls and his fingerprints are all over it, including a cover of Earth Wind and Fire’s September – apparently, this is the first time the band re-recorded it, so they were in the studio with Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. Do you remember?

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Been knocked around in traffic (see Traffic Jam)? How about Get Back Up Again, featuring Anna Kendrick?

Hey!

I’m not giving up today

There’s nothing getting in my way

And if you knock knock me over

I will get back up again

If something goes a little wrong

Well you can go ahead and bring it on

‘Cause if you knock knock me over, I will get back up again

Feeling a bit whimsical? The opening song on the soundtrack is Hair Up. I’m half tempted to get a bucket of gel (5 gallons might do it)and put my hair in the air. Yeah, it’s a little silly but everyone could use a dose from a glitter bomb. YOLOoooooo!

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Want another take on Sounds of Silence? Yes, seriously (more singing). It helps me relax. 😉

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And, if you want some pure beauty, watch this video of Kendrick and Timberlake performing a cover of True Colors at the Cannes Film Festival. If you’re a cynic about live performances and lip synching, this one will restore a little faith. Ahhhhhhhhh. There’s that sunshine feeling.

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Have a fabulous weekend, may you all have a little beauty. ❤

 

Traffic Jams

How was traffic today?

Imagine your entire day was made up of cars carrying a thought or feeling. I bet that your day was full of traffic, maybe even gridlocked, if today was stressful. Did you want to call a halt to everything? Or, if your thoughts or feelings were pleasant, did you want to go for a nice long drive in those particular cars and avoid the less pleasant ones? This traffic concept is one of the visualizations from a meditation app, Headspace.

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For those with preconceived notions about meditation, I’d like you to set them aside. Not all meditation is chanting phrases with your legs crossed. Instead, practitioners are taking time (10 minutes, in the case of Headspace) from the hustle and stress of our days to take care of ourselves mentally and physically. Some call it mental hygiene. Think of meditation this way: If you take the time to declutter and clean up your car, if you shower daily and do the laundry often, why wouldn’t you do the same for your mind? Meditation can improve concentration, self awareness, acceptance (Serenity Prayer anyone?) and physical well being (e.g., lower blood pressure). By the way, contemplative prayer is one form where prayer and meditation overlap. If you grew up, as I did, reciting the Hail Mary, then you’ve practiced contemplative prayer. Does it surprise you that this is very similar to the Eastern practice of mantra meditation?

Back to the benefits of meditation – this one is important for all of us who hope to age well: In one study, it appeared to slow the aging process in practitioners, including increasing the number of brain cells. Who knew you could grow a bigger brain?

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Blue is better!

Meditation comes in many forms (including the aforementioned chanting). The style I prefer is mindfulness. You start by focusing on your breathing, then taking stock of your physical and mental sensations. Throughout the meditation, your mind drifts off to tasks, worries, politics or whatever and you gently refocus. By the end of the 10 minute session, I’m calmer, less likely to react to things (pick any news topic right now) and, most importantly for me, a better listener for others. When I practice regularly, I find it easier to calm down in all kinds of stressful situations.

So, let’s get back to the traffic analogy. Do you chase after cars? Attempt to stop them? Do you realize how many cars are on your figurative road? What happens if you simply acknowledge them as they go by, instead of attempting to change them? Think about how you manage all of these thoughts and feelings today. Some of those self-management habits are healthy (e.g., going for a walk), some are less so, especially if you use them too often (e.g., alcohol or drugs). Meditation is free (or relatively cheap, like the Headspace app), requires no special equipment and travels well. All you need is you and a willingness to try.

I’ve mentioned Headspace before. It’s a meditation app that offers guided sessions and also gives you tools to help practice throughout the day. This traffic visualization is one of them. Helpful, huh? They have many others, like Blue Sky (Finding Calm). It’s a handy tool for finding calm when things are tough. If you want to learn more about Headspace or other meditation tools, you can follow the links in this post or just search on the web. I wish you peace this week!

 

 

 

We Will Get By

Waahhhhooooooo, it’s Friday!

I took most of January to just be.

That’s it. Just be… Be in the moment, be in the here and now.

I had no plans and did no planning.

I pretended I was a cloud and generally went where the wind took me. It was immensely freeing to stay in the moment, but this departure from daily lists and tasks won’t last forever so I’m enjoying it while I can.

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It’s Friday and we can all use a recharge as we wrap up the week. Here are a few songs that inspired my thinking, my floating, drifting with the wind, my appreciation of the freedom that comes with a career transition.

The Glee cast’s cover of Defying Gravity from Wicked Retiring is a lot like closing your eyes and leaping.

Disturbed’s cover of Sounds of Silence  Silence is what happens when you’re not on conference calls every hour!

Jack Johnson’s From the Clouds  Happy music with great imagery.

Michael Franti & Spearhead’s Sound of Sunshine  The video is shot on a beach, one of my happy places.

Finally, The Grateful Dead’s Touch of Grey  A happy melody with the best lyrics ever, especially if you’re feeling stressed. We will get by……one of my favorite ear worms.

May you do more than get by, may you find joy today!

 

 

Mother Trees

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, or is it?

Is every man only looking out for himself? I’ll warn you that I’ve searched far and wide for cliches today….

I was recently reading about networks and communities. No man is an island, after all. 😉 In my reading, I kept coming across the concept of ‘mother trees’ and a biologist named Suzanne Simard, who talks about big trees support seedlings, enabling them to grow. Like the mother trees in Avatar, these large, older trees rise above the forest and connect to other trees via a network of fungal threads. It appears these mother trees not only share nutrients with weaker trees, they’ll also do so when it means sacrificing their own needs. In return, the seedlings grow and will provide nutrients to others, including the mother trees.  Ms. Simard describes forests as complex networks of trees who communicate and support each other, making the whole forest more resilient.

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Some of you will say that’s a bunch of hooey and use words like “anthropomorphize”, meaning we’re attributing human traits to non-humans, but how else do you describe the passing of nutrients when needed? We can debate anthropomorphism another day and get back to my original question: Is every man or tree only looking out for himself? Or is it all for one and one for all?

I vote for B. We’re a community and our networks make us stronger. Our ability to support each other in times of need means that more of us survive, both literally and figuratively.

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Back to Ms. Simard for a moment. She also mentions that forests can be more vulnerable because of the trees’ networks. If you damage the mother trees, the whole forest declines. Or, if you let loose a scourge (I always wanted to use that word…. 🙂 ), like the bark beetle, the trees’ network may collapse. How do you make a forest less susceptible to a scourge? Diversity. Instead of one or two types of trees, you have many types of trees, some that are resistant to a particular attack. The more diversity, the less the risk of the community failing.

My point in as few words as possible:

  • Mother trees (hubs) matter. These are the people who connect us to each other and help us get what we need, especially in times of stress.
  • Even the smallest seedling can contribute to the well being of others and their community.
  • Diversity fortifies our community against harm.

As you go through your week, I hope you look at your world with fresh eyes. Who are the mother trees in your network? How do the smallest, youngest, weakest members contribute? How can diversity strengthen you and your community?  In short, how are we better together?

Better When I’m Dancing

What moves you? Is it techie or Trekky? Is it color, words or music? Is it smooth jazz or rhythm?  Can you tell when someone’s in their element, doing their thing? They light up, they dang near glow. They get lost in it, and they can likely go for hours without realizing time is passing.

My husband, Martin, and I often debate our favorite music. This started when we were dating and attended Dead concerts. Yeah, we’re that old, to have dated in the era of live Dead shows…. hush, y’all, hush. 🙂

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There was usually a Space/Drums transition in every show. Martin loved Space, an undefined jam with lots of woo-woo guitar and synthesizer. Space could be eerie and dissonant, it usually lacked obvious rhythm and could last for-ehv-ahhhh, at least in my view. Space was not my thing and I was known to fall asleep during it. Twice, as in, during two different shows. Seriously, not my thing.

On the other hand, I loved Drums. Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman (long time drummers for the Dead) were my Dead heroes. I could dance for days to anything with a beat. Even now, I still use strong rhythms to get me up in the morning and to pull me out of funks. How can you not be joyful when you’re moving to a fabulous rhythm?  I hear them in my head while I’m waiting in line at the post office, standing in an elevator or sitting behind the wheel. There was a time when you could have caught me tap dancing while I waited for a train. Time ceases to exist for me when I have a beat. Like Meghan Trainor, I feel Better When I’m Dancing. (She apparently feels the same, watch this making-of-video, where she explains that dancing makes her feel better and the inspiration for the song.)

grateful-dead-drums-bill-k

While Martin liked Drums, it wasn’t his thing the way Space was (and still is, thanks to the Dead’s prolific recordings). Neither of us is wrong or right in our love of Drums & Space, we just march to different drummers (pun intended!).

beat-of-your-own-drum

So what’s your thing? What drummer inspires you to marching? What do you seek out when you’re searching for a little joy, a little more energy to climb those mountains? Life is hard, I hope y’all find that special something to  inspire you. ❤

Faith

Wow, it’s that time! countdownTwenty eight years ago, I walked into 633 Folsom in San Francisco, both nervous and excited to get started. My only goal? I wanted to work for a company that would give me room to grow. After my first day, my first week, my first month, my first year (!) I couldn’t believe they were paying me to do this stuff. (Yeah, that was not the first time I realized I was a nerd on a cosmic scale….. I can hear y’all snickering.) All these years later, I am so grateful for all of the adventures and opportunities I’ve had.

I’ve been so, So, SO fortunate to have y’all in my life and to have you share yours. I’m most grateful for your inspiration and I hope y’all know how much you’ve meant to me. There are not enough words (and y’all don’t have enough time 😉 ) for me to list all the things we’ve accomplished together. I have to mention, however, the most important of these was the world we built. We brought out the best in each other and I wish y’all the best as you carry on the AT&T community.

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As I sign off from AT&T for the last time, I leave you with this song –  Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande’s Faith (From “Sing”)

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Every time I see it, I’m reminded of the faith we have in each other, I’m reminded of y’all.

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Every time you see it, I hope you think of those in your life that need you for their inspiration.

Thank you for having faith in me and best wishes for a fabulous 2017!

Caryn