Can You Breathe?

Eric Garner couldn’t breathe in 2014. George Floyd couldn’t breathe in 2020. Learn about how little has changed in six years here.

The Groveland Four were wrongfully accused of raping a white woman in 1949. In 2020, white woman Amy Cooper called NY police on a black man after he asked her to leash her dog in Central Park. Learn about how little has changed in 70 years here.

My mother taught me that it is wrong to not like someone for something they have no control over, like skin color or gender or sexual orientation or a disability. I’m not the only well-meaning white person who wants to help my fellow Americans and can finally see, plain as day, that meaning well means nothing.

For all of my generation’s luck to be born after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For our TV diet of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Schoolhouse Rock. For the rise of rap and hip-hop as legitimate music. For the first generation of black athletes paid their worth. Generation X has had very little impact on systemic racism in America.

Generation X is pessimistic about social transformation. Millennials are more likely to oppose racism, according to Data for Progress.

Last night I checked in with friends in San Francisco, which just enacted a city-wide curfew. We talked about how sad and helpless we felt. “Donate! That’s what I’ve been doing,” Marshall said. Marshall is one of the smartest, kindest, most gorgeous people I know. And yes, he’s a millennial. “Put your money where your heart is! You want to help but you don’t want to feel like you’re just sad and angry and powerless. But I think by doing the research, understanding why and how black Americans have always been discriminated against, and then taking some sort of action, you’re playing a role.” He immediately DM’d links to resources all over social media.

I’m a white middle-class American woman. I have a lot to learn. But I’m a dutiful student. After going through Marshall’s links I went to Black Lives Matter and started at the “About” tab. Next was donate. Money makes policies change. Check out this great resource for donating by The Cut.

Learn more about how to be an effective ally here.

Read the LA Times’ Op-Ed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge here.

What about you, how are you feeling? What actions are you taking? What else can well-meaning people do to help? Let me know in the comments below.

Karens for Good, a reddit thread

Alyssa’s Greatest Hits

IT HAPPENED! Freddie and Alyssa hosted the Zoom chat with the 3 winners – including me! It was a blast! Alyssa and Freddie are genuine, sweet people. We talked about DAYS of course, but also theater, public health, hometowns, pets…a wide range! It was so nice to have conversations with new people. Like we were strangers chatting each other up in line. I long for those pre-COVID moments, the chance encounters with strangers that could go either way – a friendly conversation that makes your night or a dude shouting at you to suck their d!ck. (Do I look like I’m into baby food? F*ck you!)

I didn’t thank them during the chat like I’d planned. It felt weird with others on the Zoom – they were there just as DAYS fans, not The Pivot Principle. Instead, I sent a brief DM after:

Thank you Alyssa and Freddie! If you wondered if something good would come of posting The Pivot Principle on YouTube, IT DID. It gave me the push to change my life. From unused potential to being kinetic. From frozen with fear to giving-no-sh*ts if I fail because there is value in trying. From C activity to A activity – wow, it’s the best way to learn. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for writing it and sharing it!

So, as I pivot (see what I did there?) from effusively blogging about my millennial gurus, I give you a gift: Alyssa’s best quotes. May she upend your world like she did mine. Drop some knowledge, Alyssa!

The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.
Introduction

Any time you catch yourself about to say, “I don’t have the time for _____,” stop and say, “_____ is not a priority.”
Ch. 5, Pivot on Purpose

To reach new heights, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Ch. 1, Pivot from Fear

Only use positive words when speaking, especially to yourself.
Ch. 3, Pivot your Mindset

If all you do is try and speak your life into existence without action, you will see zero progress. But the moment you align your actions with your beliefs, and make your intentions clear to the world, you will be pleasantly surprised. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Positive reinforcement not only to yourself but to the world will leave you ready to rock it. Revive your sparkle, manifest your dreams, realize your worth.
Ch. 7, Pivot your Routine

There is no perfect moment. “Being ready” is an excuse.
-Ch. 1, Pivot from Fear

The Zoom chat!
OF COURSE I ADDED IT TO MY STORY

Comfort Food (a 99-word short story)

One pound of lean ground turkey, one pound of 80-20 ground sirloin, one packet of McCormick meatloaf seasoning, one egg, one generous handful of Progresso Plain Breadcrumbs, half of a medium diced onion, one squirt of ketchup. It’s important to mix everything into the ground meat by hand, but don’t overdo it. Your grandfather and I added a twist: divide the mixture into twelve muffin cups. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Your grandmother always tried to sneak a half a meatloaf muffin without us noticing. She was so silly! I see both of them in you, my child…

END

I’ve entered another 99-word flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Why not mosey over there and give them a look-see?

Long Distance Longing (a 99-word short story)

1989. If I mail my letter priority mail, it’ll take, let’s see, 8 days to get to Adelaide. Then he’s got to read it and write back. Let’s say that takes him 4 days the earliest, then another 8 days back to me in New York. That’s 20 days. Almost three. Whole. Weeks! I am totally going to DIE! When are they inventing video phones so we can, like, see each other? Or those transporters in Star Trek so we can visit? It’s so unfair! I’m totally moving to Australia when I’m 18. My life is the. Worst. Ever!

END

I’m entering another Flash Fiction Challenge at the Carrot Ranch! The challenge: write a story about distance dating. This is right up my alley. In high school, I was completely besotted with an Australian exchange student. He was only at our school for a month so we became pen pals. Then the longing set in. Torture! We finally dated during my senior year of college. We remain friends to this day. This is for him!

Sprinkling Fairy Dust

I won a Zoom chat with Alyssa and Freddie! I’m thrilled for the chance to thank them for their audiobook, which I’ve blogged about quite a bitmaybe too much. My newfound social media bad-assery paid off!

Being grateful and thankful is an important part of positivity. What a wonderful exercise to think of three things you’re thankful for each morning. It opens your heart and mind to good things that come your way. But it seems the act of actually thanking people gets a bit lost.

When I worked at a law firm in Atlanta, a second-year associate hid in my office. He’d submitted a document to the Delaware Secretary of State, but found a calculation error after it was posted. He was miserable because the last time he’d worked for this client, he made a similar error and had to submit a Certificate of Correction, which wasn’t good. “I can’t go back to them with the same mistake a second time,” he groaned.

“Let me see what I can do.” I picked up the phone and called DSOS. After speaking with a few people, it turned out that they could do a page swap within 12 hours of filing! We quickly submitted the corrected page and the document was fixed. What a relief!

At the end of the day, I called DSOS again. I left a voice message profusely thanking the rep who’d helped us, hung up and moved on to the next thing.

The next morning I had a message from DSOS. Uh-oh.

“Nothing’s wrong,” the rep’s message began. “I just had to tell you that we never, ever get thanked. All of the overnight voice mails are complaints. I forwarded your message to my supervisor, who forwarded it to the Secretary himself, and he sent it to the whole office. You don’t know what it means to us to hear we actually helped.”

Ever since, I make sure I thank and compliment people who help, or try to help as best as they can, especially in crummy situations like when a flight gets canceled. “Can you transfer me to your supervisor? I’d love to give them a compliment about you.” It’s so easy. You could help someone get a bump in pay at their annual review just by giving a compliment about them to their boss. My husband and I call it “sprinkling fairy dust.”

You see why I’m super excited to thank Alyssa and Freddie. They helped me so much and they have no idea! If it were me who put something out into the world like The Pivot Principle, I’d be so happy to hear I helped someone. But we are strangers so I don’t know how Alyssa and Freddie might feel. I will think carefully about what to say and a succinct way to say it. I’d die if their reaction was, “Anywaaaayyy…”