You Should Know About:
We Are The 15 Percent


It’s been an emotional week. As I read the angry comments — at liberal places like — from Paula Deen supporters who feel she’s been given the shaft, I watched the Supreme Court of the United States strike down an important section of the Voting Rights Act (which, imperfect though it was, was the only protection against voter disenfranchisement that we had), and then, as I celebrated the end of DOMA, and the upholding of marriage equality in my own state of California — and as I watched my new feminist hero Wendy Davis take a stand for women’s reproductive rights (as one of my Facebook friends put it, “she did the damn thing.”), I roiled with emotion, moving from sorrow, to joy and back again.

The human family is a house divided. We’re divided by hate, by fear, and by our inability to recognize that the other is also the self. It pains me to bear witness to our simple inability to love. It should be the easiest thing, but we are twisted by rage, and broken in ways we’ve yet to take full measure of. And yet, even still, we are still walking forward, towards that beautiful day when we will recognize ourselves as members of a single human family.

The U.S. Founding Father’s envisioned it, even if they didn’t always live it. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many others laid down their lives for it. They leave us their legacy and they leave us the staggering task of winning this war, not at the level of laws (or not there only), but at the level of the human spirit. It is a battle we will win in the annals of love. And so, it was with joy that I ran across the We Are The 15% Tumblr — a response to the Cheerios ad backlash — which in the simple act of sharing pictures of interracial couples and families takes a stand for love in all its forms. #LetLoveRule


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Teaching Commitment:
Letting Children Quit


Kids In Surfboard Laden Car


When I was a child I took piano lessons from an older Southern lady who taught me to play Dixie (before my mother put the kibbutz on that), and then moved along to the polka. Needless to say, it was not an auspicious start. There would be other teachers and other music over the years (European classical, mostly, which I like to listen to but don’t really like to play), but my polka years loomed large and the love of piano never took root. I wanted to quit. My mother wouldn’t let me. She feared that I didn’t have any “stick-to-it-iveness,” as she called it, though by then I’d been a gymnast for 9 years, and had proven myself to be a focused and dedicated student. I don’t fault her, really. She wanted me to have the discipline and drive I would need to cut a broad swath through life — something she wanted for me, and that I’d later want for myself. Like parents everywhere, she wanted the best for me — and thought that having me stick it out on piano would somehow play a part. Of course, her other option would have been to simply let me quit.

Conventional wisdom says that sticking it out builds character, but I’m not convinced. Sticking it out builds character if. If we are passionate, if we are talented, if sticking it out, even when it’s hard, helps us toward a longer-range goal. In the absence of one of these “ifs”, it can actually be a good thing to let our children quit. As it happens, quitting builds character too.

Ideally we emerge from childhood knowing how to commit, and what to commit to. Too often, the “what” of the equation gets short shrift.

If we want our children to develop discipline, focus and the ability to stick it out, even when it’s hard, then we need to give them a good reason to stick it out even when they don’t want to. I can only think of three: passion, talent and purpose. 


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Happy Birthday Daddy

Daddy On My Wedding Day

Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been 83 today. When I think of him, I think of the way his eyes would light up when he looked at me. He saw me fully, believed in me, admired me  (and taught me to admire myself), and loved me so deeply that his love sustains me still. Like all of us he had his flaws, but he had a beauty that ran so deep it rendered his every flaw null. He walked the extra mile, for me and for our relationship and, in so doing, bequeathed me with the greatest of gifts: the gift of knowing that I was truly and deeply and irrevocably loved. When he parted this life on April 22, 2010, a candle went out, but it left behind its beautiful scent. Today, the day he would have been 83, I remember him with a reprint of his obituary, here:


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In This House
We Do Second Chances

In This House

Last week I was thinking about what I would tell children about family. I was thinking then about the every day, about what I would tell them when they’d picked up after another family member for the 100th time, or unloaded the dishwasher, or helped fold the laundry. I would say, “We’re a family. We help each other.” That for me is the definition of family, that we help each other, with the every day things and the epic things that happen in our lives.

Family makes the hard things easier and the good things exceedingly, breathtakingly good, whether it’s the family we’re born to or the family we make.

When I found the quote above I fell in love. It seemed to encapsulate for me the best of what family can be. Though family can also be a place where we are challenged to do the hard work of developing the best of who we are, in a safe loving environment where we are sometimes pushed beyond our comfort zone (where the best things generally occur), it should also be a place where we are loved and accepted, with all of our shortcomings and mistakes, a place where we have a lived experience of grace.