Give the gift of loving-kindness this Valentine’s Day

IMG_4876

I hate cards. It’s okay getting them, but I don’t like buying them. It seems so impersonal and as a writer, I feel like it’s just lazy.

The comedian Jim Gaffigan has a bit where he shops for a card: “I guess that is something I’d say. I guess I’ll sign here.” And then he hands the card to his loved one: “See what that other person wrote about how I feel about you.”

See, seems kind of dumb.

Maybe I’m too focused on the giving of the card and not what the most important part is: the shopping for the card. In those moments of shoebox greetings and Hallmark hell, you stop and think about someone you care about….

Read More >
 
Add a comment

Is awareness a burden or the key to happiness?

IMG_5648

“Don’t F@ck with chocolate. I don’t want to know.”

That was a friend’s reaction when I told him I was researching the book that would become WHERE AM I EATING?, a book in which I traveled around the world to meet farmers who produce chocolate, bananas, coffee, lobster, and apple juice.

The cocoa farmers I met in West Africa lived in poverty. A worker on a cocoa farm was enslaved. Child labor. Environmental degradation. Economic impacts of a changing climate. There were plenty of issues to be aware of.

So…did this awareness ruin chocolate for me?

Nope. Quite the opposite. Now that I know more about chocolate, how it’s produced, where it comes from, and brands that concern themselves with the well-being…

Read More >
 
Add a comment

On Prom Night I was a Lucky Immoral Idiot

Kelsey Annie Transam

In high school I drove a black Firebird. It was a ‘93 Trans-Am, the first year for the curvaceous f-body, with a 275-horse-powered LT1 engine. The same engine the Corvette had. It wasmy dream car then and now. The license plate read: BATMBLE.

Batmobile. I’d be lying if it ended with the license plate. I had Batman floor mats. I had the soundtrack to the first Batman movie, the one with Michael Keaton, in the CD player. I loved blaring it on fall nights, leaves swirling where the Batmobile had been.

“You want to get nuts,” Bruce Wayne said to the Joker’s henchmen in the movie. “Come on let’s get nuts.”

I occasionally got nuts in the Batmobile….

Read More >
 
Add a comment

On Climate Change: Finding Hope in the Lack of Hope

Unharvested corn field

I went for a three-mile run down my Indiana country road yesterday on December 31st, 2018. It was 60-degrees. That’s not okay normal. It’s a terrifying new normal to which I still can’t adjust. Even though I knew the temperature, I still dressed for a December run.

I ran past a field of unharvested corn, each stalk broken or bent, sewed but not reaped.

I was hot and wished I had worn shorts…in December…in Indiana…while running outside.

The realities of our changing climate are no different than they were a few months ago, but humanity’s understanding of them has made the prognosis even more dire.

We’re now aware that the world is in worse shape than we thought it was.

The

Read More >
 
Add a comment

The Invisible Poor

Poverty, like death, is something that is all around us, but we like to pretend it doesn’t exist and could never happen to us.

Most cultures have prejudices toward the poor. I’ve noticed this when I travel. I’ve had translators in China and Cambodia who wondered why I would want to talk to people who worked in a factory or lived in a slum. I’ve had plenty of translators and friends who’ve said things like “They talk uneducated,” and they do things because “they don’t know better.” For many of my translators, the poor in their country are as invisible to them as the poor in my own had been to me until I started to volunteer. Researchers found that tourists on slum tours in India looked at slum residents…

Read More >
 
Add a comment

Would You Save This Child?

Say Cheese!This is a pic of my son Griffin. I think you’d save him, if he needed saving. Why then do we ignore the preventable deaths of other children around the world when our actions would save their lives?  This is a challenging question and one introduced to me by Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save.

I present Singer’s thoughts in this excerpt of Where Am I Giving?:

///

I threw my cell phone, dropped my laptop bag, and ran as if my life depended on it. Part of me wanted to throw up or scream or both, but I needed to focus all of my energy on running as fast as I could.

Nothing else in my life mattered in that…

Read More >
 
Add a comment

Wanderlust, It’s a Wonderful Life, & Mom

IMG_7394

(Mom and I with Safari Doctors in Lamu, Kenya)

A few years ago Mom told me that when she was in high school she wanted to be a travel writer. She graduated and went to a business college for a year before becoming pregnant. Mom and Dad got married in a ceremony I haven’t heard much about. They moved into a mobile home, but her life was anything but mobile. Dad worked construction and on his parents’ farm. Mom worked as a secretary for an auto manufacturer that has long since closed.

She lost the baby. His name was Michael. I’ve always felt some connection with him. If he had lived, would they have decided to have a third child after…

Read More >
 
Add a comment

Dear friend who doesn’t like to get political

Dear friend who doesn’t like to “get political,”

Farm bill. Food stamps. Farm subsidies. Food safety. Poisoned.

Eating is a political act.

Car emissions. Smog warning. Ozone action. Factory exhaust. Suffocation.

Breathing is a political act.

No music. Test teaching. Politician’s curriculum. Slashed budgets. Dumbed.

Education is a political act.

High premium. Expensive meds. Uninsured bankruptcy. Untreated. Preexisting until you unexist.

Health is a political act.

Farm runoff. Waste treatment. Lead water. Depleted aquifers. Parched.

Drinking is a political act.

Bears Ears. Natural parks. Algal blooms. Dying reefs. Homeless.

Recreation is a political act.

Trade laws. Labor rights. Underpaid. Overtime. Destitute.

Working is a political act.

Neighborhood watch. Stand your ground. Speed limits. Slow . . . at risk children at play.

Safety is a political act.

Unemployment. Social security. Disability. Promised entitlements. Uncertainty.

The future is a political act.

Museums. Public works. Heart appreciation. Examined…

Read More >
 
1 comment
Read More >
 
Add a comment

The gift of a teacher

Mrs Marshall

Before I turn in a book manuscript to my editor, I turn it in to my high school English teacher, Dixie Marshall. She’s my best and most trusted editor. And also, I suppose, I’m trying to make up for all the assignments I didn’t turn in as a high school student.

There was the group project on King Arthur where we turned in our “notes” and it became apparent that none of us were taking the assignment seriously.

There was the summer reading group. Mrs. Marshall selected me and a few other students for a group she hosted at her house . . . in the summer! Did I mention this was during…

Read More >
 
Add a comment