Why I Marched


The election was a gut punch for me. It hit me hard and the future felt dark. I heard about the Women’s March on Washington later that week and knew I had to go. It felt like an imperative to me.

I shared that plan with a friend when we were taking a cooking class last November. What had been planned to be a fun evening ended up being a somber discussion about the state of the country and the impact the election had on each of us. I told India that I was planning to go to the march because it was a tangible way to demonstrate how I felt about the president-elect and the plans he was laying out for our country. She said she had been feeling too down to even think about it, but might consider going.

After the class, she told me about how her husband’s family, who are Japanese Americans, had already experienced comments of discrimination, telling them in Trump’s America, they should go back to where they belong. Their family has been in the US for generations and already endured the internment camps during WWII. A few days later, she texted me and said I’d better be serious about going to DC because she was now committed. Her sisters-in-law were on board and if I wanted, I had a place to stay with them in Philadelphia. I reserved my flight that day.

I didn’t hit me until about the week before just how big the march had become. The numbers expected in DC were several hundred thousand – and there were marches in almost every major city. I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the outpouring of frustration and resistance that was generating this very unified reaction. This was bigger than me being pissed off. This was bigger than a few women who felt compelled to stand up. This was a movement on a massive scale. And I was thrilled to think I’d be a part of it.

One thing to know about me – I hate crowds. I hate them because I have enough claustrophobia that I find them overwhelming. I avoid them whenever possible, and for me to voluntarily sign up for something that involves a boatload and half of people is really out of my comfort zone. That’s how much this march mattered to me.

My trip east was through Chicago. I started to see pink hats at O’Hare and realized that flights directly to DC were packed with women. Since I was staying in Philadelphia and taking a Rally bus into the capital, there were fewer on my plane. But the fact was clear – people were mobilizing. I felt encouraged and uplifted. I arrived at my hosts’ home and immediately felt welcome. They’d been making signs to carry – the group consisted of 6 of us ranging in age from 73 to 33 and included Americans of Japanese,  Chinese, and  European descent. We were all there to say we weren’t OK with policies and plans the new administration intends to enact.

For me, I was there because I can speak up. I don’t fear my government because I have been privileged all my life. There are other voices, however, who don’t feel that same way. I intend to stand up for any voice that feels threatened or marginalized or at risk. That means people from every walk of life and interest. I will not sit by while groups are targeted and think “well, that’s not me, so I’m OK…” The time to speak up is now.


The march itself started out for me at 4:30 a.m. We had to be at the bus by 5:15, as I’d volunteered to be a bus captain. That meant helping to get the buses loaded and then be a point of contact as needed. We had 45 people on our bus and we were the lightest of the 5 buses that left that part of Philadelphia. In all, 1400 buses were expected in DC. The ride there was about 2.5 hours and we arrived at RFK stadium about 9 a.m. From there, we walked to the Armory metro station and headed into town. The crowd was thick getting into the station and the trains were packed, but everyone was cooperative and helpful.

We got off at the Federal Center stop and walked toward 6th street. Once there, we saw the crowds and heard the speakers, so we moved in as close as we could. We ended up standing in a section where pea patches had been set up, so we made sure to not stand on the plants. After listening to several of the speakers, including Gloria Steinem, we decided to move and we headed back toward 6th street. This was harder than expected, as the crowd was shoulder to shoulder and moving through them was an effort. We decided to look for a toilet and ended up at L’Enfant plaza where there was a little more breathing room.


Everywhere we went, there were marchers. And to a person, they were helpful, supportive, and positive. Even with all the people, there was no time where I felt concerned about safety (other than the sheer volume of people). We ended up heading toward the American Association of University Women, as they’d offered their offices as a place to step out of the crowds for a break. Once there, we were able to use their restrooms, recharge phones, have some snacks and watch a live stream of the event. We watched several speakers from there, including Maxine Waters. She was amazing. We left AAUW to head back toward the rally and meet up with Anna. We had lunch with her and as we left the restaurant, we saw the rally had finally begun moving – and it was coming right toward us. We joined in and marched from I street all the way down Massachusetts to where it finally petered out at about Union Station. People were cheering us on, the marchers were chanting and waving. I had an overpowering feeling of ‘this is what it’s all about’.

At the end of it all, the count was almost half a million people there in DC with us. There was a women’s march on every continent around the world – 600 marches in 57 countries. An estimated total of 5 million people marched – and in the US, the marches were in cities everywhere, almost 470 cities spread throughout the country, not on the coasts as you might hear from some news outlets. This was a global movement and the marches were only the beginning. Activism is alive and well and something that will continue on. I know it will for me.


Everywhere we went, people were exuberant. The pink hats were a common theme, along with some of the best collection of homemade signs. It was great fun to read what people had put together. I used one that was created by local artists from Kirkland and added another from NOW on rights for LGBTQIA. The march was a pot pourri of ideas and issues, but that’s what made it great. The metro workers were kind and helpful, the police and National Guard waved and supported us, the atmosphere was rich with positive energy. I thought to myself at one point that I needed to soak it up like sunshine to sustain me in the dark, cold days ahead. This resistance is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m in training to make it to the end.


We arrived back in Philadelphia at 9:30 p.m. and I was exhausted – still buzzing, but bone tired. I had to fly out the next morning, and slept soundly knowing I’d done my part. My trip home was great – I saw lots of women in both the Philadelphia and Chicago airports and connected with them, sharing stories and our enthusiasm. One woman asked me to sign her poster – she was an artist and was trying to gather as many signatures as possible. She was taking the poster back to an art gallery outside of Chicago to hang on the wall. I was thrilled to add my name to the board.

Stepping out of my comfort zone was rewarding. I spent 32 hours travelling and was in DC for about 9 hours. It was a whirlwind trip, but I helped make history. And I will keep working to effect change however I can – and I do it because of what I believe in, for the people I love and for those whose voices need to be heard. This is just the beginning. I have been reactivated and I will not stand by quietly.

To all the people who marched on January 21 and to all who will stand up for the right things when the time comes, I salute you.

50 Happy Things For 2016


50 things I’m grateful for

This was a tough year to come up with a list that didn’t feel forced. My gratitude is there, don’t get me wrong. But I am burdened with a discomfort that comes from an unsettled future for our country. I won’t apologize for feeling this way – I have been a student of history and international relations too long to not see patterns that are troubling. We are headed into uncharted territory and it has left me worried.

The things I hold most dear can’t be taken for granted.  I mentioned them briefly last year, but this year, I wanted to look at those rights more clearly. What is at stake? I started thinking about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – key tenets from our declaration of independence 240 years ago.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

And liberty is a key element – without the rights outlined in the Constitution, much of what I take for granted could disappear, or require extreme effort to accomplish. I want to hold these close and protect them – for me, for my family, for all Americans. It’s part of our obligation to the future.

Once I framed the list in light of those three things, it became much easier to write my list. And it’s a list I plan to print out and read often. We all need to be reminded of what’s at stake.

A big thanks to Dawn Quyle Landau for the reminders to do this. I need to be slapped around a bit, but she got me there.

Instructions, if you’d like to participate are:

Set a timer for 15 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that make you happy, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; just write what comes to mind in the time allotted. You may find that if you use numbered mode, and just type what comes to mind, like me you will have enough time for more than 50. When the timer’s done, stop writing. Finish whatever sentence you’re on, but don’t add more. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things great; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! Add the photos, links, instructions, etc after you finish the list––the timer doesn’t matter for getting these details down; it applies to the list only.  Be sure to link back to this post, so that others can find the instructions and join in to.


  1. The gift of life from my parents
  2. The life I gave to each of my 3 children
  3. The joy of watching them grow into wonderful human beings
  4. The ability to help others who need help, the vulnerable, the needy, those hurting or fragile as a result of life’s misfortunes
  5. Waking up and knowing the day is ahead and I have choices
  6. My heart, the engine that keeps my body moving
  7. My heart, the emotional center of my life, keeping me aligned to my sense of purpose
  8. My body, for getting me around every day and working better than it used to
  9. My health, while not perfect, being manageable and allowing me to live my life, not simply endure it
  10. The wisdom that comes with losing loved ones, the resiliency that brings, along with the humility to empathize with others
  11. For all the humans who have shaped me along my journey – my family, my friends, my husbands – each have left an imprint on my soul
  12. For the family I’ve created along the way – those people who are a part of my life and history
  13. For my memories – for holding them dear and using them as a part of my moral compass as the future unfolds
  14. For becoming more compassionate with age and knowing how much each of us carry with us as we go through life


  1. Freedom of speech – the ability to put my thoughts, opinions, and ideas out into the world without fear of reprisal
  2. Freedom of religious affiliation – or none at all
  3. A free press which can report, investigate, and evaluate what is happening in our country and the world
  4. Freedom to protest and assemble in public without fear of violence; to be an activist
  5. The ability to petition the government for redress of wrongs as appropriate
  6. A military that is led by level-headed people, not thin skinned reactionaries
  7. Freedom to choose my life’s path
  8. The right to live in my home safely, providing shelter for my family
  9. Protection from unlawful search and seizure
  10. Legal protection from bearing witness against myself
  11. The protection of my life, liberty, and property without due process of the law
  12. No imprisonment without formal indictment
  13. The right to a speedy and public trial
  14. The use of a fair and impartial jury
  15. The right to know who has accused me of wrong
  16. The right to know what I’ve been accused of
  17. The right to counsel
  18. Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment
  19. Bail set that is reasonable
  20. Respecting that my rights only extend to the point in which they infringe on another’s
  21. A state government that is solid and respectful of our diverse population
  22. Abolishment of slavery
  23. The right to vote as a citizen, born or naturalized, for the candidate or issue of my choosing
  24. Strong representatives in the Senate and Congress representing my state
  25. Equal rights without bias by gender

Pursuit of Happiness:

  1. The messy, chaotic, warm love that comes from the animals in my life
  2. Travel – seeing the world, being in places I’d only dreamed of being
  3. Reading – this is my daily vice; I can’t imagine a world without books to read
  4. Coffee…it is a daily pleasure
  5. Chocolate…no longer daily, but still something to savor
  6. Creating things – food, art, a garden – these are the small creations that make life a joy
  7. Writing stories, thoughts, ideas and making them available to the world
  8. Seeing the sunrise or sunset and being reminded that beauty is everywhere
  9. Continuing to learn and stretch my mind
  10. For believing that miracles can happen and that sometimes the impossible can be achieved
  11. For learning when to say enough; for knowing when to keep trying


One of our family stories from my childhood is about a trip I made to Portland with my dad when I was just a little thing, maybe 3 or 4. I only have fuzzy memories of the trip. What I remember most is the retelling of the tale every time we crossed the Columbia River heading south into Portland.

The way my dad told the story, I was taking swimming lessons at the Y and they’d taught me to float by doing the Starfish. A Starfish was basically a dead man’s float, where you put your arms and legs out and float on top of the water. I was really proud of that accomplishment and I remember feeling competent and very grown up.

While we were going across the river, my dad asked me if I thought I could swim across that large stretch of water. As a fairly serious child, I looked down at it, gauging its size and considering the question. I said I wasn’t sure I could swim it yet, but I was pretty sure I could starfish across it. In my dad’s retelling, he always got a good laugh at my seriousness, my determination, and my strategy for how I would succeed. It made me both proud and a little embarrassed as he chuckled at my 4 year old confidence. To this day, I can’t cross the Columbia River into Oregon without thinking about that story with a smile. It’s a piece of my dad that lives on in my heart.

The other day, as I was determined to do something all by myself, my husband offered to help. I told him I just needed to prove that I could do it alone and he replied, “Of course you do, Starfish.” And I stopped – he’d never called me that before, but somehow, in that moment it fit. And I smiled. And couldn’t stop smiling. It was a link back to that childhood story that had been passed on to our kids, and it made me feel close to my father again.

The truth is, I am still that very determined little girl. I consider my strengths, my options, and my strategy when I take something on. I don’t like to fail (see Random Facts About me here) and being careful about what I take on helps me ensure success. That doesn’t mean I haven’t take a run at some pretty wild things in the past, but for the most part, I utilize my very rational thought process as I approach something that seems to be difficult or unwieldy.

As I look at the future and the challenges ahead, I plan to continue to be a Starfish. It will be my warrior name as I take on the self-imposed role of truth teller, light shiner, and torch bearer for hope. I will be tenacious in my resolve to stand up for what is right, to protect those who need protecting, and to take action instead of being passive. I have been awakened from a state of comfort that I know is not going to return. And I intend to add my voice to the mix whenever I can, speaking up clearly and logically. I will use facts, data, and verifiable sources to ensure I am not a part of sharing propaganda. I will hold myself accountable to do my homework as I expect others to. I will not live in an echo chamber of my own making, but I will seek out information and make my own conclusions. I will Starfish the HELL out this thing and make it through.

I think about that little girl (most likely riding in the front seat with my dad, without a seat belt going 70 miles an hour on the interstate…) and I want to feel that kind of certainty and confidence. I can do this. I’ve always known I am capable and now is the time to practice what I preach and get busy.

Welcome to the Handbasket

“Going to hell in a handbasket”, “going to hell in a handcart”, “going to hell in a handbag” are variations on an American allegorical locution of unclear origin, which describes a situation headed for disaster inescapably or precipitately.


In September, I had lunch with my brother in Denver when I was in town for a conference. After some small talk, he launched into the political situation by asking me “So do you plan to vote for a crook or a liar?” And honestly, I didn’t know which candidate was which – they both qualified for either description.

I will be clear – I voted for Hillary because she represented the status quo and I was OK with that. She was the more tolerant choice, the more progressive choice – the safer choice. When the election results were in, I felt stunned. How could this have happened? How did we elect someone who heretofore seemed to be a joke candidate? This has been a common refrain, given the pre-election polls and predictions. But it did happen. And now we are all in this basket together. I wish I felt like we were headed somewhere good, but my gut (and I have learned to trust it implicitly after 57 years) tells me otherwise.

We are on the road to perdition, people. The highway to hell. The mainline to mayhem. And…we did this to ourselves. Anyone who can observe the actions of the past two weeks and use their critical thinking will see that the path ahead is going to be led by people with an agenda that is radically different than at any other time in America. A man with tight ties to white nationalism is leading the White House strategy, the future Secretary of Defense is a warmonger, the Attorney General selection has been quoted making racist remarks, and the proposed National Security Advisor is an Islamophobe.

This paints a pretty clear picture of the future and it is grim. The morning after the election, the hallway in my building was being painted and all the overhead light fixtures had paper cones around them. It darkened the path and felt gloomy and dim. It matched my mood and the view I have of the future a little too well. The paper cones have since been removed, but walking down the hallway, I am reminded that we are headed for some dark times ahead.

I’ve heard the reminders to be patient, he’s “not that bad”. I’ve been told to “wait and see.” But my gut (there it goes again, being all judgy) says “hell, no.” By waiting, I am part of the problem. I am accepting this future as a given. I can’t do that, people. I can’t. I have to say “look at the past to predict the future” and any leader with an untamed ego and a hair trigger temper will lead us to danger. Already, he’s showing his temperament over minor slights. He’s continuing to question the news sources and cast aspersions on their ability to report on his administration. This erosion of trust is step one in controlling the news. And by controlling the news to match the perceptions of his truth is step two in compromising the First Amendment. Who out there remembers Pravda? In Russian, Pravda means truth. It was the state owned news outlet following the Russian revolution and was in place for 80 years, until Glasnost came along, changing the Russian landscape. When I see this pattern, I worry. It can happen so gradually that people may not notice the change over time. Take a snapshot now and compare in 6 months – 12 months – and be mindful. When a government seeks to control the dialogue and conversation, truth suffers.

Speaking of hell, one of the things I am most perplexed by is the number of religious groups who supported a man who has:

  1. Been married 3 times and has kids from each marriage
  2. Is a known philanderer who has cheated during his marriages
  3. Has multiple claims of inappropriate conduct from a wide range of women he’s been in contact with
  4. Had a cameo in a porn film only 16 years ago
  5. Openly stated that as a star, he can “do what he wants” to women with no repercussions
  6. Has no consistent pattern of church membership
  7. Treats truth as optional
  8. Was chastised by Pope Francis: “A person who thinks only about building walls—wherever they may be—and not building bridges, is not Christian …”

Considering the scrutiny over our current president’s religious affiliations and the ongoing questioning about his faith, I have to say I am honestly perplexed. All of these things listed above are facts. They are known to be true and voters heard them. Still, the religious right said “He’s our guy”. And the Catholics came through, too. His stand on abortion alone was enough to sway them. And…if you recall, he used very graphic references regarding abortion in the last debate. Graphic and wrong. It was a scare tactic that somehow seemed to work. All the progress over the many years of educating people and now we are facing a complete reversal of thought, with abortions being considered a criminal act.

As a refresher, for those who are religious, here are the 10 Commandments. I’ve commented on those that are in question based on the president-elect’s past:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Ego and narcissism here)
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (6 foot painting of himself, his name on everything he owns)
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (No firsthand experience, so I won’t comment)
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Nope)
5. Honor thy father and thy mother (He’s probably good here)
6. Thou shalt not kill (Nothing has been reported here)
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery (Yep, Yep, and Yep.)
8. Thou shalt not steal (Yep – basic premise of his business model)
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (Lies as soon as he breathes)
10. Thou shalt not covet (wives, homes, animals, etc.) (Yep, Yep, and probably)

We are at the top of the bobsled hill, people. We are about to start the one way trip down the slope with a guy at the helm who hasn’t even been on a sled before. I don’t feel safe and I don’t feel hopeful that we will all make it down the hill OK. We have a lot at stake here. And while the right approach for some may be to close your eyes and hope, and for others, it’s to sit up front and revel in the rush, I plan to be one of those who actively tries to slow the damn thing down and wrestle some sort of control back. I didn’t sign up for this ride. I don’t intend to be collateral damage along the way.