Pink Politics: Below the Radar*

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month: This year’s National Sexual Violence Resource Center campaign theme is “Engaging New Voices.” We definitely need more voices to fight President Trump’s budget.  Trump proposes eliminating the Justice Department’s Office on Violence against Women.  In the U.S.an estimated 1 in 4 women will suffer severe physical abuse in their life-time. About 3 women a day are murdered by someone they date or are married to. The highly publicized killing of a teacher and student yesterday (April 10, 2017) was by an estranged husband. The President’s proposed cuts would reduce services to at least 260,000 victims of sexual assault and violence annually (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-budget-domestic-abuse-victims_us_58cc2184e4b0ec9d29dbd9f7)

Trump Properties Serve as Second White House: President Trump has spent nine of his 11 weekends as president visiting at least one of his properties. While a number of these weekends have been recreational, the world was treated to Trump Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan responding to news of a ballistic missile test by North Korea. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/05/us/politics/tracking-trumps-visits-to-his-branded-properties.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news  This week Trump was at Mar-a-lago when he announced firing 50 cruise missiles on Syria.  Problems with using Trump properties for White House business include increased security costs, conflict of interest (the properties and Trump brand get continuous advertising at no cost), and informal unscheduled meetings with members to the club.  Media and general public do not have access to who is in attendance as required by public meeting laws.

Melania Trump Thwarts Her Husband’s “Made in America” Campaign: Mrs. Trump’s official portrait was released last Monday (April 2, 2017). Rather than showcasing an American designer, Mrs. Trump chose a tuxedo jacket from Italian luxury house Dolce & Gabbana. Mrs. Trump’s choice of European designers for a majority of her appearances seems in direct conflict President’s Trump’s emphasis on American manufacturing and inflammatory rhetoric on imposing limits on global trade. Mrs. Trump looked stunning in a blue outfit by American designer Ralph Lauren for Trump’s Inauguration. Obviously, if she chose to highlight American designers, she could be very influential in selling American haut couture around the world. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/03/politics/melania-trump-white-house-portrait/

Trump’s Tweet Wars Continue: Syria may have provided President Trump with the opportunity to demonstrate his willingness to take dramatic military action.  His tweet action continues unabated.  Since being elected he has waged tweet wars on the Australian Prime Minister, an acting Attorney General, seven predominately Muslim countries, a “so called” federal judge, Sweden, “Fake Tears”, Chuck Schumer, Saturday Night Live, the FBI, the un-American leakers in the intelligence community, the City of Paris, Mark Cuban, John McCain, millions of protestors, Lindsey Graham, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Cuomo, the University of California at Berkeley, ratings “disaster”, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nancy Pelosi, the “Traitor” Chelsea Manning,  Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Barack Obama, the City of Chicago, Susan Rice, among many, many others. While Trump pounds out alarming negative tweets about most people, he was call Bill O’Reilly a “good man”. This was at the very time Fox News is hemorrhaging from paying off sexual harassment law suits and loosing advertisers for O’Reilly’s inappropriate treatment of women. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-on-trump-the-destroyer-w473144

Ivanka Trump, A Goddess in China and Featured as Complicit on SNL in America: Ms. Trump’s daughter entertained Chinese President XI anad his wife when they visited Mar-a-lago April 6 and 7. Ivanka was called a “Goddess” on Chinese social media. This post was one of the most read, shared and discussed posts from NYTIMES.COM last week. Ms. Trump recently became a federal employee and top advisor to the President, without pay, formalizing a role she had been undertaking as a volunteer.  Here in America, Saturday Night Live has spoofed Ms. Trump for her failure to defend women’s issues by naming a perfume “Complicit” for her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7o4oMKbStE

Confusion Reigns in Trump White House while Trump Poll Numbers are Lowest in History: Trump is still in his first 100 days of office, a honeymoon period for most presidents. But Trump’s approval rating of 40%  (Real Clear Politics) are the lowest of any President in history at this stage in their Presidency.  Karl Rove in a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that White House staff needs more structure (https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-presidential-honeymoon-from-hell-1491434155) Recent leaks about infighting in the White House suggest that President Trump is unable to assemble a team with a coherent strategy. This weekend was particularly alarming when Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations stated on national TV that the U.S. was committed to removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria while Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, argued that defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) is the Trump priority. Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, explained the two differing statements as essentially the same thing.  Trump is committed to developing a national strategy which protects Americans. Spicer has to have the worst job in American, trying to make sense out of chaos. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/10/politics/syria-russia-iran-missile-strikes/

New Spin on Oldest Love Story of All Time, Adam and Eve: Tired of women being the “bad guys” in Genesis, try Bruce Feiler’s The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us (Penguin Press, 320 pp.), Feiler writes that rather than Eve being a secondary creation, Adam and Eve were made to be equal partners. They represent a profound example of true love and companionship.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2017/03/20/the-first-love-story-adam-eve-and-us-bruce-feiler-book-review/99183416/

* Dr. Julia Robinson’s blog “My Private Idaho” will be going dark  on May 1, 2017 for six months.  Dr. Robinson has been asked to write for Pink Politics LLC . P squared was created to provide a social media platform for progressive women living in red states. Primary activities include a weekly blog synthesizing national news  with links for people who don’t have time to keep abreast of changing stories or don’t have access to informational resources.  Below the Radar is a second weekly blog on topical information that is not headline news.  Commentary and inspirational blogs will also be published by various authors on the Pink Politics page along with a podcast. Starting May 1, 2017 look for Pink Politics on facebook and twitter @Pinkpoliticsusa.  Pink Politics logo is P2 pink x politics = power

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On the hunt for the perfect college I find myself questioning long held beliefs

My daughter is a high school junior. We have spent recent school breaks and long weekends  touring colleges. I started this project with the concept that we are fortunate to have resources.  We have saved enough in a 529 plan for Kayla to go to the University of Idaho and only be responsible for incidentals.  Kayla is Asian. The last couple of years she has begun feeling the pressure of being a rare exotic flower in a sea of all white. She will frequently mention to me that we are once again in a room of Caucasians.  Her father and I decided we needed to kick up our savings a notch to allow Kayla to attend an out-of-state school with a more diverse student population.  My husband is 70 and still working and I am 66 and retired.  Increasing the college fund actually means reducing our retirement savings.  I realize these are the same trade-offs most families make but they probably have fewer resources and are at least 10 to 20 years younger.

Idaho is part of the Western Undergraduate Education program (WUE) which means that at participating schools, you do not pay full out-of-state tuition rather you pay instate times .5 This assumes the student has adequate test scores and grade point average. Kayla meets all the achievement criteria.  Kayla has toured Montana schools twice.  They don’t offer better diversity than Idaho. Montana is, however, slightly more liberal. Montana schools’ tuition aligns with Idaho’s.  We have also toured Nevada-Reno, more diverse and a brand new campus purchased by large donors, demonstrating money makes such a difference. UNR is in a price range with Idaho slightly more diverse but not as academically well-rated.

Kayla has always wanted to go to Colorado State. We attended an immersion program over President’s weekend and she was delighted.  I was a little less delighted because the in-state tuition and room and board is topping out at $100,000. The  WUE tuition is $125,000, significantly above our slight bump-up in tuition.  As the financial aid officer was reviewing costs, one mom started crying in the back.  She asked, “What if my daughter can’t meet achievement scores?”  The financial aid officer suggested loans.  I  was satisfied we could probably make this work by increasing our savings the next 2 years and continuing to pay for Kayla’s college costs the next four years (mind you my husband will be 76 and I’ll be 72 when we get Kayla through school).  I said to the financial officer as I was walking out door, “If we come up with $125,000, this will fund 4 years at CSU for my daughter?”  He says, “Probably not, with inflation the cost is more likely to be $140,000.”   That sum of money is about the same amount as we sold  a 3 bedroom rental house  in Meridian last year.  It was a number that made my heart sink.  We are too well off to qualify for any type of financial assistance.  I don’t expect the public to be paying for my daughter to go to a state school.  But I do think that public colleges are  too expensive.  As my husband says, our tours have made the University of Idaho look like a great value.  CSU rates slightly better than U of I on academic criteria but not substantially better for almost twice the cost.

We are now taking a spring break to tour California schools. I call it our fantasy land tour.  I have three girls with me including my daughter.  One has a trust fund and can afford to go to any school she can get into. One is having trouble funding her meals on the trip though she has excellent grades.  I am paying for everything but food. We are staying in hotels where breakfast is provided so she only needs to cover lunch and dinner.  She asked to come on the trip because she has never been to California.   I am sure she will probably qualify for financial aid but not enough for the high cost of California schools.  Then there is my daughter.  We think she should be somewhere with high academic standards and where diverse populations are welcoming and abundant (sounds like California to me).  But when we looked with my son six years ago, there was a gap of $60,000 annually between the scholarship he received and the cost of the school where he wanted to go.  We said we wouldn’t pay it and he ended up at Idaho.  He has graduated now and we are hopeful a college education will help him land in the middle class as it did my husband and I. But I don’t know that for sure.  He has yet to land a job on the west coast where he wants to go for the same reason my daughter wants to go out of state, more diversity and more liberal thinking.

What I do know is if upper class, highly educated professionals find the cost of education daunting it must be terrifying for most families. I think we need a well-educated workforce. To achieve that, college needs to be accessible to most people.  That means public universities need to have a reasonable tuition for the middle class.  I don’t agree with Bernie Sanders that college should be free for everyone.  But I do understand why his message resonated with college students trying to make their way through school while studying, working, and carrying large loans.  I think public colleges need to be affordable.  If that means, my husband and I pay more taxes to make that happen so be it.  We need a workforce of the future that is well-trained, creative, and not dragged down by debt.

 

Intuition-a gift, learned skill or both?

“The Intuitive Mind Is a Sacred Gift and the Rational Mind Is a Faithful Servant”  Einsteineinstein-intuition-540x254

Intuition is the art of knowing without rational facts. Implied in the definition is that what you know is correct despite the facts you have before you. For example, you meet someone and you immediately know that they are a good person you can trust.  Later over the years, you find out this assessment is true based on repeated interactions with this individual. Recent research, published in Live Science, May 2016 found that people do use intuition to make faster, more confident, and more accurate decisions.  In other words that feeling in your “gut” is worth listening to. Intuition is a perception that happens in the present, is very fast but this momentary perception can be swept away by cognitive analysis. Unfortunately, in our society based on technology and rational thought we often over-think our initial response

Women are attributed with having stronger intuition than men. Research has clearly shown that women are better at reading facial expressions than are men. Thus, women are more likely to pick up on the subtle emotional messages. Psychology Today suggests this skill is a direct outgrowth of women having lower social power than men. Women have had more opportunity to study their male supervisor’s response and learn to adapt in order to either stay in their positions or move ahead. Women’s special intuitive skills may in fact be a direct outgrowth of surviving in environments with “emotionally clueless men” (Riggio, 2011)

Einstein suggested that intuition is a gift. Some people have more intuitive talent than the rest of us.  We call them clairvoyant, psychic, or prophetic. Many times we are fascinated by these individuals’ ability to see more than one can know based on natural vision or rational reasoning.  At times in throughout history, this ability has frightened us. We have labeled women with special sight witches and burned them at the stake.  We have looked askance at fortunetellers in carnivals believing their skill was probably trickery.

While our culture focuses on technical rational thinking, other cultures, such as India, embrace sensory experiences. Neither approach is right or wrong but by cultivating our intuitive side; we open up our creative mind.  Creativity requires being willing to move forward embracing uncertainty and doubt. Some of the greatest discoveries in science come from scientists being willing to follow their intuition about how to solve a problem.

An individual’s intuitive skill can be improved. I took a class on intuition this week.  The emphasis in the class was on opening yourself to listening to your intuitive sense.  This personal awareness requires the ability to be still, breath in and out in a settled position, and listen to the air.  The prophets in the Bible heard messages from God as whispers and in dreams.  We can’t become attuned to our inner-most thoughts if we are constantly in front of screens, have ear plugs on and spend our lives multi-tasking.

Take the time this week to take advantage of your sacred gift of inner knowing. Spend some time by yourself but with yourself.meditation

Trump’s Terminating Political Appointees is Routine News

Political appointees serve at the pleasure of the elected official, period. End of story.   In my early years in government, I was one of these exotic creatures who can do as they please as long as their elected official is willing to support them and remains satisfied with their work.  I even had three possibly four Department heads over me who wished me gone. I served at the pleasure of a Democratic Governor for ten-years in upper management.  The Governor respected my work and knew my family (personal connections are essential to success in political jobs). This Governor even nominated me for a national award for my work with troubled youth.  I was subsequently selected as the national winner by the National Council of Women of the United States from all the nominees throughout the nation and flown to New York, put up in a hotel on Park Avenue viewing Central Park and featured as the main speaker at their national lunch; a heady experience indeed for a young naïve, highly-educated professional woman from Wyoming.  This Governor never promoted me to head of the Department, my dearest desire because I had the administrative credentials but he knew (though I didn’t understand it at the time) I didn’t have the political connections.

I accepted a position as Cabin Secretary of a similar Department in Montana working for a newly elected Republican Governor. I was brought in from another state because there were major complaints of sexual harassment by male Department executives. A thorough housekeeping was in order.  The Governor and his personal staff didn’t know me well but respected my administrative acumen.  I did manage to reorganize and clean up the mess I inherited but at great personal cost to me.  It is hard to work in an environment where those around you are untrustworthy and you can find your name in the paper any morning.

After 4 years, a new Governor was elected. The existing cabinet was all asked to submit our resignations the day after the election, effective at the end of my Governor’s term. We all did so. I subsequently met with the new Governor and he told me that I had done a good job, “but these positions are like hair spray, and there was a shelf life.” I had apparently outlived my shelf-life because I was terminated.  Out of a job, I was recruited by head hunters for several other political jobs. There are always places where someone’s friend appointed to a high position has made a huge mess and the politician needs an independent executive to help clean up.  However, without the correct political connections, it was clear to my husband and me that taking any of these positions would lead to a life dependent on the vagaries of politics and whims of politicians.  The political appointee is not judged by their skills or aptitudes at their job but rather by their ability to please their boss, be on the right side of news stories and not upset the politician’s base.

I have been surprised by the brouhaha around the recent request by President Trump that 46 Obama-era prosecutors resign. While many things in the Trump administration have upset me, this request is actually standard when political parties change power.   The political appointee has two choices either carry out the wishes of the politician who selected them to the best of their ability or resign.  Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’s refusal to implement the Trump Travel Ban didn’t surprise me.  I wouldn’t have supported it and neither have the courts.  However, what did surprise me was that she didn’t immediately resign.  Rather she said she wouldn’t implement it and waited to be fired.  She had to know that she would be terminated.  She was not appointed by Trump, she didn’t embrace his politics and she didn’t want to help him implement his campaign promises.  The high ground in this scenario would have been to resign and clearly state to the President, the press and the American people the problems that she saw with the immigration executive order.  Taking such a tack, she could have explained her inability to maintain her integrity if she continued to serve in the role of Acting Attorney General. Understanding and maintaining integrity  in political roles is essential to sustaining Democracy.  Instead, Yates opened the door for President Trump to attack her and seize the high moral ground with incendiary language such as “betrayed” and “weak on immigration” when the moment was hers to win.  Instead, I fear Trump followers ended up feeling the federal bureaucracy was once again out of control.

I am not a Trump fan but when the press makes headlines out of routine politics as if it is some horrendous scandal, the media is contributing the charge of “fake news.” All of us need to focus on the issues that make the Trump administration different and outrageous and not pretend that routine political patronage is something out of the ordinary.

We are all immigrants through time and history

“Every day is a journey and the journey itself is Home”

(Matsuo Basho, Japanese Poet 1600’s)

There are approximately 11 million people living in the United States illegally. The question is not so much how did they get here but why did they get here and why historically have we offered these individuals a home.  We have invited many people to come to our country and serve in positions that we are unwilling to take.  I heard an Idaho Dairy farmer on public radio before the election say he was voting for Trump. The farmer employs illegal workers, Mexicans, who have been in Idaho working on his farm for many years.  When asked about Trump’s plans for deportation, the farmer explained that Trump wasn’t talking about removing his workers; Trump was talking about removing the criminals.

A Wall Street Journal  article, March 4th , 2017 entitled “Time Makes Migrants of Us All” argues that in a global economy rapid change means that at some point in time, even if we never travel afar we will feel foreign. This week, I was visiting with several older women who were discussing how difficult it is for them to keep their computers up to date and how stymied, frustrated and panicked they feel when their computer isn’t working.  My attorney recently had his office flooded by Idaho’s ongoing winter.  Removing the water and remodeling his office has totally disrupted his work flow.  My kids laugh at me when I refer to “The Google” or the snappychat (still a foreign entity to me but certainly a prime purchase on the stock market last week).

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Neanderthals exterminated by interaction with humans.
If we take a longer historical view  and accept that we are all on life’s journey together than we are all immigrants forging our way forward towards a new future. We all came to American from somewhere.   I read an article this fall about the drama in our DNA. If we really analyze our DNA and look at human development through the ages,  human evolution is a scientific soap opera. The drama of human history revolves around climate waves of decimating cold and surging heat.  History includes killer romances. Humans and Neanderthals apparently had love affairs in which the human DNA proved toxic to the Neanderthals. Interbreeding proved a disaster for the Neanderthals who never recovered decimating the race in the course of millennium.  Humans went on to become stone tool makers, who were also artists (40,000 years ago).

We moved from hunting and gathering to farming in the Fertile Crescent, planting crops and domesticating animals. We learned to digest milk and metabolic fats. We got taller, developed lighter skin and eyes in the colder climates.  Leprosy and TB emerged and threatened us as did the plague and flu.  We are all carriers of this genetic history.  The fact that we are here means that our ancestors were survivors.  Among us today 2% of us have DNA that goes all the way back to those Neanderthals who we wiped out 50,000 years ago.  Their genes are still with us.

A rudimentary look at my own family tree suggests many opportunities for diversity. My son is a fifth generation Wyomingite.  My great grandfather moved to Wyoming territory as a miner. His tiny one-room mining cabin in the Snowy Mountains still isn’t accessible by road even in the summer.  Hard to believe that a mountain man living high in the Rockies by himself didn’t do some womanizing at some point in time.  He later became a railroader when the Union Pacific came through Wyoming, served on the first territorial legislature, and eventually killed himself.  No one ever said why.  His wife took to traveling all over the nation by train. My grandmother and grandfather were both highly educated for the time. Grandmother was one of the first classes of women to graduate from the University of Wyoming.  My grandfather held an engineering degree from the University of Michigan and served as Wyoming’s first Highway Engineer.  On the surface, our Wyoming lineage looks extremely homogenous, Caucasian builders of a new state but just like Thomas Jefferson’s family, I can’t swear there aren’t other branches that are more colorful than we are.

My dad’s family is even more likely to have a dramatic history.  He grew up in South Carolina on a plantation that was downsized by the time I was young. The big house remained but the land had been sold off and other houses built around it.  My grandmother still had “colored” help (her terminology in the early 1950’s).  I don’t think my grandmother ever learned to cook.  The history of long-term southern families is thwart with secret interracial mixing.  I can’t image that ours is not the same.   I have an adopted daughter from China and my sister has an adopted daughter of Mexican/Native American descent.  So if the historical roots of our tree are not diverse,   the new leaves are bright indeed.

When we as a country talk about sending people home, maybe we should first think about where our home is. I don’t mean our literal home but where did we come from in history.   Where would we be now if our ancestors had been sent home or couldn’t develop the genetic structure to continue forward?  Even in our life time, are we not all immigrants in the new global high tech world?  Have we not had to learn a new languages to dwell among the ever evolving technology.In this life time, have we not journeyed far from the party-line rotary dial telephones and manual typewriters to the new frontier virtual reality?

Is my home Ashtree Way, Boise,  Idaho, the United States, the world, the 21st century, or all of the above?

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Depression, my experience with deep darkness

In 1988, “Gorillas in the Mist” was a big hit. I went with my boyfriend, now husband-Pete, and our friends, Teri and Jack. The movie is the true story of naturalist Dian Essey, protector of hunted gorillas. Blood is featured prominently throughout as gorillas are hunted for cash, gorgeous animals with huge hearts attacked for no reason, their hands sold as ash trays. Essey lived and died among these rare creatures.  The last scene is especially bloody. Essey’s throat is cut. Viewers see the knife slice and blood dripping from her neck. Her assailant is never identified.

As we stood up to leave the movie, I realized I could not speak. Unbeknownst to me, the movie had touched some hidden well-spring releasing a huge surge of darkness that engulfed my senses. The only two bright spots were: 1. I knew something was terribly wrong and 2. I was surrounded by supportive friends. By morning I was able to talk but dark shadows were still hovering like ghostly cobwebs in the corners of my mind. I would not wish that catatonic blackness on anyone. I understand some people can’t surface on their own towards the glimmering light of reality as I had. Trapped in that blackness for a significant period of time, I would find the experience unnerving, unbearable and ultimately unlivable.

While the initial depressive episode was almost 30 years ago, I was reminded of the experience this week while visiting Wyoming friends in Colorado and Arizona. While I was in Colorado, my friends Teri and Jack drove down from Cheyenne to see me. We laughed about our many shared good times, i.e. Like when their cat, Tiger, stole the pork roast, bigger than he off the table as we were sitting done to eat. We don’t talk about how I couldn’t get to their wedding in Jackson even though Pete was the best man because I was struggling to keep the darkness at bay and wouldn’t travel for an extended period of time. I had lunch in Phoenix with my dear friend, Holly. During my mental health struggles I would camp out on Holly’s couch for the night to make sure I wasn’t alone. Excellent counseling, medication, funds to pay for it, and  a strong support system of friends helped sweep my blackness away though I still watch for triggers, such as no depressing movies. I am always thankful for the light.

I have been planning a spring break trip to California for my daughter and her friends to tour universities the last couple of weeks. She wants to go because her brother and his friend made the trek with my sister and I six years ago. The  circumstances of that trip were very different than the one we are contemplating now. When I planned the trip in 2011, I didn’t know the challenges we would face. The week we were to leave I received a call from the friend’s father. He told me his wife had killed herself the night before while the family was in the house. I told him we would the cancel the trip but he insisted we go.

Right after the mom’s funeral in a Boise Episcopal church filled with Juniors in high school, we started out to California. We wound our way down the California coast, touring Stanford, UCLA, Santa Clara and finishing in San Diego. We turned home driving through Yosemite.  After the park, we drove straight home, a week away in La La land resulted in my son’s friend beginning to come to terms with his mother’s death.  Understandably, he wanted to get home as quickly as possible. I was so pleased this December when my son’s friend, a first generation college graduate crossed the stage at University of Idaho. After such a tragic beginning to his college career, his success gave all of us in our family a spurt of joy.

Over the years, mental health issues have grabbed more of the spotlight. The Affordable Care Act(ACA/ObamaCare) now about to be repealed requires that insurers pay for behavioral health treatment at the same level as other medical services (the technical term is parity and insurance payment for mental health is a recent development). I am an example of the success of having access to resources. Unfortunately, treatment still carries a stigma unlike cancer and too many people can’t access appropriate care either because it isn’t available or they are unwilling to admit they need help. Idaho has one of the worst community mental health systems in the nation. Our suicide rate is too high. We can strive to do better as a state. As individuals, we can all be  supportive friends to those in need. My friends kept me going when I was surrounded by darkness and despair. Thirty years later whenever I’m with them I bask in their light.

 

 

Chinese New Year 2017—Kozisek Style

I have an adopted Chinese daughter, Kayla who is now 17. We have been celebrating Chinese New Year sometime during the traditional two week celebration since she was a very small child to honor her heritage. Unlike New Years in the United States the Chinese date moves around from year to year. This year Chinese New Year began on January 27th (the eve of the lunar New Year) and ended with the Lantern Festival Feb. 11, 2017. We chose to celebrate with friends and family on Sunday, February 5th.  We always go to a local Chinese restaurant, owned by a Chinese family to celebrate. This year we were greeted with a red menu with Chinese New Year specials in an almost empty dining room because of the Super Bowl.  But because of our trip to Australia and the great skiing in McCall, we had to double book activities to get in our annual Chinese dinner (we saw the first half of the Super Bowl and recorded the last half. The two halves were like two different games).

Our dinner this year was both smaller and larger than we planned. Smaller because two of Kayla’s friends who usually join us along with my sister were sick. We had invited our neighbors down the street who have a Chinese daughter and have joined us before. Sadly,their family was smaller this year because the husband/dad, a big man with a big personality to match had died two weeks before.  Our party was larger because our neighbors added in a third family with a Chinese daughter who we had not met before.  Our final group included three beautiful Chinese girls, all adopted from orphanages as infants, and their families for a total of nine.

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ShaSha and Jillian (9th graders) with Kayla (High School Junior).  All came from China as infants.

I brought along red envelopes with money for the girls. Red envelopes filled with fresh new bills are the traditional gift during the Chinese New Year celebrations. A red envelope bestows happiness, blessings and wishes for another safe and peaceful year. As we enter February, I have high hopes that we will have happiness and peace this year despite national divisions. I would be remiss not to give a “Shout out” to the 9th Circuit Justices for recognizing how important it is to allow people from far away to travel to this country when appropriately screened and carrying approved documents–a judicial blessing as we begin the New Year.

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Billions of red envelopes filled with crisp new bills are given out during Chinese New Year

 

One-fifth of the world’s populations celebrate Chinese New Year. More than 200 million Mainland Chinese travel long distances for these holidays. Billions of red envelopes are exchanged. While our daughter and the other two Chinese girls celebrating with us that night are a minority in Idaho, Chinese make up the largest ethnic group in the world. Having a Chinese daughter and having visited China, has helped me understand that there are simply not enough Americans, no matter how well armed to take on the majority of the world alone. Globalization requires a commitment to understanding other cultures and learning to value the traditions of countries along with our own.

This year, the two week Chinese News Years celebration welcomed in the year of the Rooster. The Chinese zodiac has 12 animals representing different years. The year in which you were born is your zodiac animal. Kayla is a rabbit.  Rabbits are frank, straightforward, ambitious, hard-working, but slightly reserved. Rabbits tend to be gentle, quiet, elegant, and alert; quick, skillful, kind, and patient; and particularly responsible. Female rabbits are pretty and pure of heart. These words definitely describe my girl.

My husband and son are dogs. Dogs are loyal and honest, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent. Due to having a strong sense of loyalty and sincerity, dogs will do everything for the person who they think is most important. These adjectives describe both my husband and son well.

My husband is a Fire Dog making him particularly intelligent, hardworking, and sincere. Anyone who knows, my husband knows these adjectives describe him to a “t”.  At 70, he still gets up every morning at 6, heads out the door by 7 and returns home around 7 from the hospital where as a palliative care physician he has spent the day treating people who are dying or suffering from severe chronic pain. He doesn’t need to work but his work is his passion and defines who he is.

My son is a Wood Dog, sincere, reliable, considerate, understanding, and patient. My daughter would say these terms are a bunch of hooey when used to describe her brother. But one can always hope as he moves into the world of work he will demonstrate his “ good dog” qualities.

I am a tiger. People who know me would say the animal is a great characterization of me. I am known to be fierce, ambitious (before I retired) and sometimes off-putting with my strong opinions. Tigers are enthusiastic, brave, competitive, unpredictable, and self-confident. They are very charming and well-liked by others (some people who know me might not find me to be sooo charming). But tigers can also be impetuous, irritable, and stubborn. Believe me, my husband would say he has experienced the angry, impetuous tiger more than once in the 27 years we’ve been married.

At our house, we have four dogs, two cats, a rabbit and a tiger, quite an eclectic mix. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The Koziseks found blessings and joy in 2016 and I hope those gifts will extend into 2017. As I age, I realize how fragile life is and how we must celebrate together when we can.

family-sacred
Kozisek/Robinson Family enjoying Thanksgiving on the Big Island of Hawaii.  We had many blessings in 2016 and look forward to a safe and peaceful 2017.