Blog Post # 251 – You Endorsed This Hate

A hateful hate.

Hate has reared its ugly head.

Hatred of blacks.

Hatred of gays.

Hatred of Muslims.

Hatred of Jews.

Hatred of women.

One man raised the level of hate to epic proportions.

One man rose to the most powerful position on Earth with his hate.

I don’t care why you voted for him.

You endorsed his hate.

You emboldened the hate.

You said the hate was acceptable.

Said it was okay.

I hope one day you regret endorsing hate.

In the meantime, I will be standing up to hate.

I will be dealing with the consequences of your vote.

I will be doing the little that I can to stand up to what your vote has unleashed.

I will be fighting, suing, advocating, protesting and standing up to hate.  To discrimination.  To unfairness.

As the man nominates a racist for Attorney General and brings in an anti-Semite to be his closest adviser, I hope you know that you asked for this with your vote.

So don’t act surprised.

Don’t say that we didn’t warn you.

This is exactly what you voted for.

Perhaps it is not too late.

Not too late to stand for justice.

Not too late to reject the hate.

But it could be soon.

And history will judge all of us for how we voted and what we allowed to happen.

Which side are you on?

Blog Post # 250 – Ask Why

Question everything.

Ask why.

Then ask why again.

Dig for answers.

Accept nothing.

Come at it from a different angle.

Focus.

Ask.

Repeat.

Some people tell us to not ask so many questions.

But we should question everything.

If someone denies us, we ask why.

If someone challenges us, we seek to see what they see.

We take nothing at face value.

We don’t sit passively by while things go wrong.

We scrutinize, analyze and realize.

Until we are satisfied.

That we found our truth.

That we know the answer.

That we understand why.

Like squeezing water out of a sponge.

Until there is nothing left.

We scrounge for answers.

So that we may know.

Know why.

Only then may we rest.

Blog Post # 249 – Raw and Hot

I wish it were better.

I wish things in this country were better.

So much anger.

So much hate.

Vitriol, violence, vapidness.

What a strange time to be here.

I used to say that if I had to pick a different historical era to live through that I would have picked the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Now, I’m not so sure.

This isn’t so much fun.

Everything is more intense.

Raw.

When I was a kid, if my shoulders were sunburned, my skin would bubble and burst.

The skin beneath felt raw and hot.

Everything seems raw and hot these days.  Like my shoulders.

I understand a lot of the anger.

But understanding it without taking action does not amount to much.

This is not the time to sit on the sidelines, waiting for someone else to do something.

This is our time.

These are our 1960s.

We must decide where we stand.

Ask ourselves who are we going to be, exactly?

The test has arrived.

Will we succeed?

Blog Post # 248 – Quantity < Quality

More.  More.  More.

More food.  More booze.  More Facebook likes.

We keep wanting more.

Obsessed with quantity.

More objects for our home.  

More money in our checking account.

More retweets and shares.

We focus so heavily on the sheer numbers.

The measurements.

The collections.

The notches on our belts.

We get so fixated upon more _______, that we neglect to think about the quality of what we are actually after.

How good does the food taste?

How strong are our connections, both in the real world and online?

We need to stop and ask ourselves these questions.

Not how much did we get done, but how good a job did we do?

Not how much jack can I bank today, but how did I feel earning money this way?

Not how many things can we collect, but how useful and beneficial are the things that we keep close to us.

Quality over quantity.

Deeper connections.

More accurate thinking.

Focusing on depth instead of sheer numbers frees us from the frantic feeling of being on the treadmill.  

Of having to produce greater numbers to keep our personal machine going.

For today, let us look for depth of connections.  Freedom through letting go of numbers.  To dig deep and get connected.

Blog Post # 247 – Focus on the Love

One of the coolest things about being an immigration attorney is helping two people in love to begin their life together.

One a citizen, one a foreigner.

We spend a lot of time in these cases building evidence of the marriage.

Photographs of the loving couple are acceptable.

Photos of the pair with other important people in their lives are often more compelling.

Imagine if everyone had to prove their marriage.

To prove their love.

Copies of joint bank statements, life insurance, major purchases and trips taken are all ways to demonstrate that a marriage is real.

But it is an unusual endeavor, nonetheless.

With the high number of spouse and fiance cases that our office handles, it is clear that love comes in all shapes and sizes.

No two couples are alike.  No two stories all that similar.

In addition to gathering evidence of the marriage, we also spend a significant amount of time with the couple before the green card interview in a mock back-and-forth where we act out what might happen at the interview.

I often wonder what would happen if every marriage was subject to such scrutiny at the outset.

Conceptually, proving a marriage is valid can be difficult.

In some cases, our clients have a hard time articulating how their relationship began, as well as how it flourished.

Makes for an interesting interview preparation session.

In the end, we ask our clients to focus on the love.

The spark that started the relationship.  The drive to be together.  To explain why they want to be together for the rest of their lives.

Probably good for all of us – citizen or not, gay or straight, black or white or any shade in between.

Love is love.

Let us share our love with the world.

Blog Post # 246 – A Position to Win

Let’s put ourselves in a position to win.

To set up our day in a way that increases our chances of success.

We may be struggling.

Worn down.

In a rut, overwhelmed by bad habits.

We must ask ourselves – “today isn’t going so well.  But what can I do for the rest of the day in order to make tomorrow better?”

The three small steps that will boost our chances of having a good day tomorrow.

This is not to say that we should give up on today for the hope of a better tomorrow.

Rather, it is simply a call to tweak what we are doing to improve the likelihood of success in the days to come.

Going to bed a half hour earlier.

Reviewing our schedule for the following day before going to bed.

Blocking out a little bit of time for ourselves in the midst of a hectic calendar.

Laying out our clothes the night before.

Making our lunch and brown-bagging it to free up time and save a little cash.

These are not high concepts.

They don’t cost anything.

Just simple things that we can do today to put us in the best position to succeed.

Would love to hear about any steps like these that work for you.

Blog Post # 246 – What Did I Do?

What did i do?

What is my role in all of this?

How did I help the situation?

Or, conversely, hurt the situation?

Could I have handled this differently?

Been calmer.

Been stronger.

Worked harder.

If so, why didn’t I?

If not, why did I not?

Afraid to change?

Too tired to work?

Frustrated and angry.

Did I cause this situation?

Can I assess clearly my role in things?

Without assigning myself all of the blame.

Or refusing to take any.

When confronted with a failure or something that takes a turn for the worse, how do we act?

Where do our thoughts take us?

To a place of self-inspection with the goal of doing better?

Or to a place of blame, shame and anger?

For today, let us reflect on our role in things.

What we did.

Or what we didn’t do.

And how we might do things differently the next time.

Blog Post # 245 – Recharging with Giggles

Taking a break.

Totally okay to take a break.

Last night, some close friends had us over for hamburgers, tater tots and salad.

Scott and I played Tomb Raider.

Danny and Ismail played Rainbox Six.

Noor and Ibrahim played darts.

Amany got the third high score on Galaga.

We shot some pool and got to hear about Nicole’s senior year and her job at the Art of Entertaining.

A bunch of us played Ticket to Ride.  Yusuf won.  Again.

No talk of elections.

No grievances, no anger, no stress.

Just a lot of fun and a whole lot of laughs.

What a gift Scott and Beth gave us.

We didn’t know how much we needed an evening of normalcy.

As an added bonus, I accidentally left my cell phone in the car which grounded me in the moment.

Such a relief to just focus on being with friends.

And laughing.

For today, let’s see if we can laugh a little.  To get past all of this.  Even if it is just for a few hours.

A respite.  A relief.  A timeout.

Time for more battles ahead.

Nothing wrong with that.

But nothing wrong with recharging with giggles either.

Blog Post # 244 – Galvanized by Defeat

How do we act?

When things don’t go our way.

How do we respond?

When we don’t get what we want.

It is easy to be gracious when we win.

Some of the “jerkiest” coaches that I have seen on the baseball diamond become quite nice when their team wins.

But when they lose – watch out!

Losing is hard.

Disappointment is tough to take.

But when the game is over, the score is what the score is.

It’s good to go back and examine why we lost.

To then begin to move on.

Planning for the next match.

How we handle adversity, though, says everything about us.

It also makes us so much stronger than when we win.

Galvanized by defeat.

Rising up out of the ashes like the Phoenix.

Leading by example.

Determined to do better next time.

Don’t blame the refs.  Don’t blame the other team.  Don’t blame fate.

We lost?  So what?

Time to move on.  Time to get to work.

Blog Post # 243 – Our Own Particular Brand of Truth

Empathy and compassion.

Seems like we have lost these two basic emotions.

As a society, we look past each other.

We hate each other.

We refuse to forgive each other.

On the one hand, we have tools to connect us to each other like never before.

Yet, we talk past each other without listening at all.

We live in echo chambers of our own choosing.

Tell ourselves our own particular brand of truth.

Seems we cannot put ourselves in the shoes of the other.

Empathy takes us outside of our own narrow world view and lets us see where another is coming from.

Hard work, no doubt.

So much easier to get into a Facebook flame war.

Let’s do more of that, shall we?

So many divisions.

So many grievances.

So disunified.

Please think about how separate we are.

How our compassion has evaporated.

Leaving us angry, bitter and resentful.

Our feelings are our feelings.  And it is okay to have those feelings.

But maybe we could spend a little time getting past our feelings, outside them, and to check in on our neighbors.

Tap into their feelings

Where they are coming from.

And just listen.