Deep thoughts, cute shoes

Got issues? Start here.

Thanks to the national nightmare that is the Trump administration, there are dozens of critical issues now dominating our nation’s political conversation every day, which can be paralyzing. Where should you put your energy, when so much progress is being rolled back in so many areas? Pick your battles. Focus on the causes that you’re most passionate about, and concentrate your efforts there.

To help fight climate change and protect the environment from forces of pollution and corporate greed, contact the National Resources Defense Council, which has a staff of 500 lawyers devoted to protecting the environment who have pledged to lead the charge against anti-environment agendas.

Perhaps women’s issues and health care concern you most. You can donate to Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and join women’s rights organizations such as the National Organization for Women.

Concerned about ongoing attacks on the free press? Get in touch with the Committee to Protect Journalists or Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit foundation that promotes public interest journalism.

Another issue is making sure scientists remain free to research, invent, and explore. Go to the National Center for Science Education, which defends the integrity of this field.

To help protect discrimination against Muslims and advocate for immigrants, donate to the American Civil Liberties Union and report incidents of immigrant abuse to the Anti-Defamation League.

Whatever you do, please do something! No matter what the president and this current administation might tell you, this is OUR country. We, the people, are the deciders. Congress works for US.

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2acaf3cbad25c2cbad7e196bde3612feDo you feel like a lonely blue unicorn roaming the red Texas prairie in solitary splendor, alone in your freaky progressive viewpoints?

Outraged by cowardly Texas elected officials who refuse to schedule town halls to listen to the views of their constituents and who casually pass laws that roll back women’s rights?

Disgusted by neighbors who see no contradiction betweeen worshiping Jesus on Sunday and deporting Muslims on Monday, building a wall to keep the Mexicans out on Tuesday, and denying gay couples civil rights on Wednesday?

Flumoxed that we can’t everyone can’t at least agree that we should have clean air and water and protect the environment for the next generation?

Seriously, are you on drugs? What difference can you–‘lil ol YOU–possibly make as a progressive in Texas the buckle of the Bible Belt? Why not just stay home watching Rachel and punching yourself in the head?  It’s cheaper. And faster.

I’ll tell you why. Because if you’ve read this far, you know you have to do SOMETHING. And you know that freedom fighters don’t always win, but they’re on the right side of history.

So here’s the deal: you have two choices. You can bitch and moan and whine and share articles on Facebook that annoy your family  for the next two years, or you can crawl out from under the bed and get to work for the next 100 days. Because the  the path to change begins with fighting hard in the 2018 mid-term elections to elect new Dem representatives and show complicit, silent and corrupt Republicans the door. Though many people are frustrated with the Democratic party and improvements are needed, it remains the only real opposition to defeating the current  administration.

Here are three concrete things you can do that can make a real difference in the next four years:

  1. Sign up to be a Volunteer Deputy Registar

Volunteer deputy registrars assist with the responsibility of officially registering voters in the State of Texas. They administer voter registration applications and make sure that citizens complete the applications correctly so there is no delay in processing.  Learn more here for the entire state of Texas here, or check out

Dallas County:

Collin County (north):

Rockwall County (east):

Kaufman County (southeast):

(Call 972.932.0298 for info on upcoming classes in Kaufman County)

Ellis County (south):

Tarrant County (west):

Denton County: (northwest):

2. Consider becoming a Precinct Chair

If you want to impact political change, there’s no better first step to take than becoming a Precint Chair. Texas counties are divided into individual precincts, and a precinct is the smallest political subdivision. The Precinct Chair serves as the contact person for their respective party in their precinct, works to increase the number of voters in their neighborhood at at the grass-roots level, and represents their precinct on the County Executive Committee. Learn more here.

3. Take Action at Your Fingertips

Protest comes in many forms. It doesn’t have to just take place in the streets. And while liking pages on Facebook and retweeting messages won’t impact change–but calling your elected officials can.

Since the election, a number of  progressive websites and groups have sprung up since the election promising actionable advice. One of the best is Five Calls, which lists issues, phone numbers and scripts you can use to call your representatives regularly.

Though the site is easy to navigate, unfortunately many callers to their elected officials report that lines are often busy and voice mailboxes full. According to 5 Calls co-founder Neil O’Neill, more than 360,000 calls have already been logged through the platform. And while unfortunately many citizens who try to call their elected officials unfortunately report that lines are often busy and voice mailboxes full, calling is an excellent way to kickstart your activism–and its impact is being felt in Washington.

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Books

Books by Lindsey Townsend

 

Letting Go: Surviving and Thriving Through Life’s Greatest Trials

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How do you overcome a heartbreak that you’re not sure you can survive?

That was the question facing Jo Ann Brumit, mother and CEO, when her life was forever changed by the unexpected death of her daughter.

Written by Lindsey Townsend, this memoir feels like a heart-to-heart conversation with a dear friend, offering practical, empathetic advice on how to face a wide variety of challenging life situations with hope, courage, and persistence.

Children’s Books

A portion of the proceeds from every Letting Go children’s book sold are donated to help children’s charities and children in crisis.

Cody’s Big Move

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Moving is hard—even for baby chickens.

Meet Cody, who thought he would live in his barn with his best friend forever. But one day, a big moving van pulled up, and he has to leave all of his friends to move to a new and strange place.

Will he ever make any new friends or stop being so homesick? Find out how Cody finally learns how to let go of the past.

Maxi’s New Family

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What’s a mini teacup pig to do when her dad doesn’t come home to sleep in his favorite mud pen anymore?

When Maxi’s father moves away to a new home, she feels sad, mad and lost. What if he stops loving her?

Follow Maxi on her journey as she discovers that even when families change, some things always remain.

Gary’s Baaaad Habit

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If you see something that you really want, why shouldn’t you take it?

This wise and wonderful tale tells the story of Gary the goat, who finds himself in trouble when he makes some bad choices.

Discover why it’s never a good idea to borrow other people’s things without permission…or to eat them!

Barry Gets Bullied

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Standing up to a bully is hard, no matter how old you are.

Barry is a little brown bull with a big problem.  He gets bullied every single day by a big meanie named Bruno, and he’s sick of it.

Come along for the ride as Barry learns how to take the bull by the horns and  turn a foe into a friend.

Available on Amazon.com and the Letting Go website

Coming soon: Socks Can’t Trot!

 

 

 

 

Sunday School for Wine Lovers

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I can think of no better way to while away a Sunday than with a good friend, in-depth conversation, and an amazing glass of wine. Unless, of course, that lazy afternoon also comes with a free wine education.

The best place in town for that right now is Sixty Vines, where you’ll find a relaxed, upscale atmosphere, wine on tap, and a lighter, healthier menu that’s reminiscent of the ambiance in Napa Valley or Sonoma.

While typical fare in Dallas trends towards beef, barbecue, and Tex-Mex, Sixty Vines focuses on fresh produce and simple preparations, perfect for a lighter lunch or brunch, or a (mostly) guilt-free dinner.

Then, of course, there’s the wine. “We’re all about making wine accessible, both in terms of trying new things and intereracting with a knowledgeable staff that is passionate, patient, and not at all pretentious,” says Aaron Benson, beverage manager.

Sixty Vines offers an extensive list of wines available by glass or bottle, including several that can help visitors explore classic wine regions, such as Rioja or Bordeaux, at reasonable prices. The restaurant takes their commitment to wine education so seriously that they have partnered with the Court of Master Sommeliers to thoroughly educate the staff.

Our personable and efficient server, Shaina, is a Certified Sommelier who asked us about our preferences and then presented us with a flight of custom selections that were the perfect pour for our palates. We left with a newfound appreciation for pinot grigio and a couple of ideas for great bottles to enjoy in the future. “We want to be the first place people go to make new wine discoveries,” Benson adds. Mission accomplished.

Here’s to the joys of lifelong learning!

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How come everyone wants to live forever, but nobody wants to get old?

121012-1C4259310-tdy-121011-woman-aging-01.blocks_desktop_largeBad news: live long enough, and it’s gonna happen.

You can juice to clean the inside, Botox to plump up the outside, and insist your grandkids call you “Gla-Ma.”  But you cannot escape becoming a Grandma or Grandpa. Thirteen signs that it’s already happening:

-You understand why grandmas like to bring a sweater with them wherever they go, “just in case.”

-You would prefer to eat at the restaurant early, to “beat the crowd.”

-You don’t even consider going out on New Year’s Eve.

-Doctors, dentists, and pilots look alarmingly young.

-You wake up at 6 a.m. without an alarm clock.

-When you receive a Christmas card from a friend, your first thought is, “My God, those kids got old.”

-You’ve considered writing an angry letter to the publishers of any magazine lecturing them on readable font size.

-You know what a font is.

-You tell your family that you don’t need anything for Christmas, and you really mean it.

-You can sing the entire Brady Bunch theme song, but can’t remember what you had for lunch yesterday or why you just walked into the bathroom.

-You don’t know who the celebrities are in People magazine anymore, and what’s more, you don’t care.

-You tell random kids that you see outside in the winter to put a coat on.

And the No. 1 sign that you might be a grandma:

-You’re really looking forward to your next cortisone injection. Because that doctor is SO NICE!

35851_1489436393882_1365912_n20 years ago today, I woke up scared to death that I was getting married. So scared that when the busboy wandered by and asked me if I would like a drink while I was getting dressed, I thought for a minute, then replied, “Why, I believe I would.”

Two drinks later on one empty stomach, I did not float down the aisle like a beautiful, elegant bride as much as I staggered and drifted, stopped abruptly at the altar and said, “Oh, it’s you!” As a good friend of mine who attended my wedding kindly pointed out, “You were a drunk.”

You might say I entered into marriage without a clue of what being in a successful relationship required. You would be right.

That was in 1994. Two decades later, I am still learning.

In the past 21 years (20 married and one dating), I have learned a few things about marriage and what it takes to make a relationship work. Some of them took me years to figure out, and some I’m still working on. Clearly, this is a class that I will never graduate from. But I’ve learned a few shortcuts to passing the class that I’m willing to share:

  1. You will never agree on everything. Learn to say, “You could be right.”
  2. The only person you will be 100% compatible with all the time is yourself. Give each other space to do the things you enjoy.
  3. Don’t make him go shopping with you. Go with a friend. You’ll both have more fun.
  4. When your spouse wants to gripe about work, remember to listen. Or act like you’re listening.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month, even when it leaves you broke. You’ll be glad later.
  6. There are times when you will be your absolute worst self with your spouse. Remember that, and allow them the space to be the same.
  7. On the other hand, also do your best to remember your manners and show respect for each other. Sometimes this can only be accomplished by pretending your spouse is a stranger you have just met.
  8. If you are going to fight about how he drives too fast every single time you head for the mountains, either get a Xanax prescription beforehand, or consider separate vacations.
  9. Remember that inside every man is a 14-year-old boy afraid of rejection, and be as kind as possible. In fact, be as kind as possible, all the time.
  10. When you need something, whether it’s a back rub, a hug, or to be left alone for the night, say it. Your spouse is not a mindreader.
  11. Always keep in mind that you both play for the same team.
  12. Try very, very hard NOT to roll your eyes when he starts telling the same story you’ve heard 100 times to a group of friends.
  13. Consider carefully what you have built in your own backyard before you decide that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
  14. Never underestimate the importance of feeling safe with someone.
  15. Show up for them when they lose someone they cannot live without (this is also a good rule for friends).
  16. This one is so important that I’m making it Nos. 16-20: Learn to laugh. At yourself, at the crazy things that happen, the messes, frustrations and disappointments, the little annoyances and the giant failures, the petty grievances you both share and argue about. If you can laugh together, you can stay together.

William Blake once wrote, “We are here to learn to endure the beams of love.” In the past 21 years, I think I have finally learned a little bit about learning to do just that.  As my favorite Buddhist used to say, “May it be so.”

Do Manners Still Matter?

A teenager pulls into the handicapped space at the store and flicks her cigarette on the ground as she rushes by you. A dad in a pickup truck snags the parking space you’ve been waiting for just as its occupant backs out. The store clerk ignores you to talk on the phone while you stand there, fuming.

If you leave home today, you’ll probably deal with at least one such scenario. Even if you stay in, some telemarketer is likely to call right when dinner’s on the table and rush through his script without asking if it’s convenient for you to talk. Suddenly you no longer feel like being polite as you hang up.

Whatever happened to old-fashioned manners? In one U.S. News and World Report/Bozell poll, a whopping 89% of respondents believed that incivility is a serious problem, 91 percent said it contributes to violence, and 84% said it erodes moral values. Three out of four Americans felt that incivility was getting worse. And sometimes it looks like there’s a whole new crop of kids coming of age that have a permanent case of the rudeness virus, with a good dash of meanness thrown in.

I first noticed this when my son was in preschool. He used to come home regularly and announce things like “Grant punched me in the stomach today, and I cried.” Early on, I tried to talk to him about the golden rule. “If you’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to you,” I said. “If you share with them, they’ll share with you.” I had this conversation with him when he was just three years old. He looked at me gravely.  “Mommy,” he said gently, the way the nice nurses talked to the inmates in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  “They don’t share with me when I share with them. And they’re not nice.”

Even if kids aren’t more aggressive than they used to be, it sure FEELS that way, and isn’t that just as bad?  It’s like Rosie O’Donnell’s line in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. During a meeting, all of the women are hotly contesting a survey that says a woman over 40 is more likely to get shot by a terrorist than to get married. “That’s not true,” the women all insist. “That statistic is NOT TRUE.” “Maybe it’s not,” Rosie deadpanned. “But it FEELS true.”

So how do we teach our children to be civilized when all they see when they look around is evidence that the law of the jungle applies—that bigger, stronger, meaner kids get all the goodies in life? How do you teach kids to wait their turn when we’re stuck in traffic and they see car after car zooming down the shoulder, squeezing in ahead of everyone else? How do you emphasize self-control when so many adults around them routinely refuse to play by the kindergarten rules: share, wait your turn, and be nice?

You’d think that people who work in customer service would have this stuff down, but it seems the new policy is “How to Give Service With a Snarl.” People skills are apparently no longer a requirement. I walked in to get a haircut the other day and was ignored for 10 minutes by three stylists who refused to acknowledge my existence with even a “Hi—I’ll be right with you.”

People who work in the service industry, of course, have their own complaints: long hours, inefficient procedures, and impolite customers, whose behavior they may use to justify their own nastiness. But as someone who was taught to always be polite, I am astounded by the behavior that I see. Then again, I’m the kind of person who bumps into a mannequin and says “excuse me.”

Remember the “Practice random acts of kindness” movement that swept the country a few years ago? Maybe it’s time for a revival. Try holding the door for the person walking in the drugstore behind you, or offer to help that irritated mom struggling to carry a stroller down the stairs at the airport. You may inspire someone else to act a little better, too. At the very least, you’ll be part of the solution, not the problem.