Dedication of My No-Trump Vote

My nephew, Colton Gray, will be voting in his first election this November. I dedicate my No-Trump Vote to him.

I remember feeling like a true American citizen with the first national vote I cast. It felt important because it was. And so it will go for Colton. I want Colton to know in the turbulent, fraught and divisive election cycle, his vote is important and it matters and that he has nothing in common with Trump.

As a young white man raised in rural Northwest Iowa, Colton has learned more about what it means to be a man in his short life than Trump ever has, and as it seems, ever will.

Colton loves the women in his life. He treats his mother, girlfriend, grandmother, aunts, female cousins, teachers and coaches with kindness, reverence, respect, and goodwill. Through the varied roles each of these women has played in his life, he has seen strength, intelligence, and tenacity play out in real time. Their voice and presence has always been welcome and valued. Shape and size have never been a part of the conversation with or about women for Colton because….why? I am quite certain he doesn’t even understand how this is a factor, which is just another reason I love him. But I do want him to understand it’s significance. Too many women have spent their lives defining themselves by the size our culture thinks we should be. Colton, by his very actions, plays a role in changing the narrative of how woman are perceived and valued.

Colton loves guns. As a hunter, war history buff, and a competitive skeet shooter at his community college, his interest in the gun debate is sincere. He doesn’t want them taken away and yet he knows there is a problem. I have encouraged him to be a part of the solution, especially when he doesn’t agree. That is how we move forward, through rigorous debate, through speaking up, through the belief that it matters to be involved..

Colton loves his country and he loves the country, particularly the corner of rural Northwest Iowa where he lives. Rural Iowa feels forgotten after the primaries. It feels left out of the economic conversations where elite liberals rarely spend time. I have watched him cycle through news clips, listen to those he loves and respects discuss the election, and I hear him wondering, “Well, what about us?” When he reaches out to me I try to answer him as honestly as I can, but he is learning that taking this stuff apart is hard and complicated and can’t be assessed with an errant quip or a statement of truth simply because he wants it to be true….yet another quality he has that Trump does not.

Colton loves being a helper. He lives to serve and do good where he is whether that be on his grandfather’s farm, as the oldest brother of four, in his 4-H club, or as a volunteer with a rural fire department or inside elementary classrooms. Through his investment of time with people, he has shown that he cares more for others than himself in way Trump has yet to demonstrate.

I dedicate this to Colton and all young white men trying to determine what their role is in this election. They are certainly seeing what it is not;  to perpetuate anger and hostility and fear and bigotry; to make fun of the poor, the disadvantaged, the other (anyone but a white man); to succumb to “It’s only business.” On his journey from boy to man, from child to adult first-time voter, I applaud his willingness to dig in and investigate how his vote will count.

I want Colton Gray to know I’mWithHer in this election primarily because I’m with him. He shows more promise, compassion, humility, and leadership than Trump ever will. Trump does not care about the Colton’s of this world. Trump has nothing to offer those he cannot find the audacity to listen to and learn from-- young men like my nephew who will shape our country through their honest hard work, compassion, and love of ALL the people in their lives.

My No-Trump Vote is a vote for Colton’s future, one made brighter by the faith I have in him. May his actions always be led by his good heart and give him the courage to speak up through his vote so the place we both call home is not forgotten.


Diving In

I won a grant

And now I must dive into words.

I've done all the throat clearing parts...prepared the space, carved out the time, created a schedule and shared it with family and friends. I have even addressed my inner critique/scathing asshole, but the time at long last has arrived. 

It's time to dive.

I have some essays to write. When I made the proposal, I had all sorts of ideas and now, of course, they seem terrible. What was on my heart at the time seems hard to find at the present moment. Instead, I am going to simply search for my truth. 

I feel like to write means to dig into nooks and crannies that I am not totally sure of, but they feel necessary to at least visit.

I was asked to write a bio for a little piece that is going to be published soon.

I said, "She finds her truth in her coffee cup, her books, her family, and though always a surprise, it's never surprising, on the page."

So I know, at the very least, the page is where I find what I am looking for. 

Here is what I mean. I sit down to write. I write. It's meandering, boring, yadda yadda yadda and then....hmm.....there is a sentence. What is that? Where is that taking me? Where will it lead me? Sometimes I don't want to go, but I'm so curious I just can't not go. So I do.

It's sort of like the best conversation with a good friend or a trusted mentor. I am free to say whatever it is I think or feel. I might stop and start and stop again and suddenly, it seems the truth reveals itself.

It sits there, quiet but firm, just sort of waiting for recognition. I can write for hours, for days, I can turn something this way and that and then...seemingly out of nowhere, there it is.

It's interesting that once you see something or say something that you can't unsee it or unsay it. This is why I tread so carefully... so slowly and cautiously. Will I unintentionally blow up what I thought was true? If I do, then what?

I get to practice listening in a group called The Red Boot Coalition. The premise is that once a safe spaced is created, people feel safe, connected, and loved enough to say their truth about the topic at hand. I have listened (too many times to count) as people speak their way into their truth. I have heard people say, "Wow, I didn't know I thought that!"It's like that for me when I am down and dirty on the page. The space is safe and I feel open and somehow my words will take care of me. 

I know I'm a bit of a weirdo. I have been accused, rightfully so, of overthinking. But much of that makes me me. Writing. It is my experience of doing and my being. Right here sorting it all out with no particular place to go and poised for new discoveries.