Standing against Racism–Lingering Thoughts on Charlottesville Riots

I wrote this after the Charlottesville, VA riots and murder.   I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it. But then I wondered—if I don’t speak up, does it look like I am in tacit agreement with the displays of racism?  And if you read here, you know that I  am the opposition (or the opposite, but opposition sounds more active). So, here goes…

I watched. I read. I listened. I cried. I almost vomited.

I am so angry, disgusted and appalled at the outright bigotry, racism, and ignorance that was on display in Charlottesville, VA. This was especially true after watching the entire Vice.com video. Have you watched it? Listened to the hatred, trying to their justify actions?

I never thought that I would see Americans gathering again in such large numbers preaching for the KKK and Nazism. Disgusting. Carrying Tiki torches, like they were at a party, while chanting their nasty, ignorant, racist lines. Then one of their kind killed Heather Heyer,a counter protestor, and injured others—horrifying. We have barely hear anything about the 2 state troopers who were killed, when their surveillance helicopter crashed.

So many people have died standing strong against this bigotry in the past–both as victims and and forces fighting against these groups. Here, it has slithered up again.

Then to have the President of our great nation not stand up immediately and denounce this racism and bigotry was appalling. Embarrassing. At least VA Governor Terry McAuliffe called out the protestors,  telling them they were not wanted in VA.

I know this bigotry has bubbled under the surface for years. But, with the current administration, these voices have become louder, more strident.

I believe in free speech. I also believe that when a group filled with hatred and weapons is given a right to gather, it is only logical to think that the other side will also be there– especially when the organizing side is speaking vitriol and ignorance.

I also believe it was wrong for people to then tear down Confederate statues with no permission, no warning, no discussions.  I agree with their sentiments, but there were other paths. This was vandalism.  I know that many cities have now followed suit and hastily removed statues.

I am doubtful this is the last time these protests and even deaths will happen this year.

I think it is sad that we need to become more vigilant, louder, stronger just to maintain human dignity in this country.  I will continue to resist this movement, and I will speak against bigotry, racism, hatred.

The journey continues.

C

Playing Hooky

As we get ready to start a weekend, this reminder is for me leave some unscheduled time. And you, if you are interested.

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Sunrise Beach in Lake Bluff, IL

Last Monday morning our pantry was desolate, the laundry baskets overflowing, the garden needed weeding, pictures still needed to be hung,I had yet to pay mid-month bills, and I had to work. But you know what? I didn’t care one iota. Some weekends—especially gorgeous summer Midwestern days– are perfect days to play hooky.

The to-do lists, the chores, the having-to-fill every-moment with something productive hours can turn weekends to drudgery. Those 2 precious days can start to feel like the overburdened week days, if we cram them with minutia and busy work.

Last weekend was filled with entertaining surprises, as I tried to grab my free time with gusto.  Memories of my kids and friends could have skipped right by, if I had spent all my time on things I think I should have been doing.

Here is a short list of some of the fun, unanticipated moments to store in my memory bank.

–Sushi dinner with my kids, followed by going to see The Big Sick (highly recommend this movie!) where my daughter and I brought down the average age of viewers by about 20 years.

–Northwestern college tour followed by stunning, perfect views of Lake Michigan.

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–A 20 mile bike ride with friends. This workout was definitely about the destination, not the mediocre views along the way. The highlight was the stellar beach on Lake Michigan we didn’t plan to stop at, putting our toes in the sand.

 

–The former followed by an unplanned dinner al fresco with neighbors.

–Unexpected trip to the Chicago on Sunday afternoon. We were excited to finally lunch at the inviting 3 Arts Club Cafe   While waiting for our table, we wandered a neighborhood I can only dream of living in, and joined in on the Dearborn Garden Walk. Worth the wait!

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Having fun in the Restoration Hardware while waiting for our table. 
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Us at the lovely 3 Arts Club Cafe

Who wants to remember yet another trip to the grocery store? Boring! Go quickly, move along.

Not every weekend is as open as the last one, but hopefully you can accept some last minute invitation for FUN.  Projects can wait for another day. Be spontaneous!

The journey continues.

C

More than Muscle Memory

I am back in the saddle, literally. And damn, it feels great.

It’s been a couple years since I rode horses regularly.  Work, family, my health, finances—ahh, life– all contributed to keeping me out of the barn.

But, I woke too many mornings during this no-horse phase, wishing I was riding. And I kept practicing my two-point position on my bike. Clearly, I wasn’t through with a hobby (an addiction?) I had practiced most of my adult life.

Why is it that some girls never outgrow their love-of-horses-phase-of-life?

After 4 lessons in two weeks, I am in. 100%.

Barn basics quickly came back: brushing, tacking, mounting, handling, riding (walk-trot-canter-low jumps) and yes, a little nerves. As my trainer J says, the muscle memory was still there. And in each lesson, that memory and confidence was a bit stronger. I certainly couldn’t pick up a brand new sport this quickly.

After several visits, I realize it is more than the horses, the lift I get from riding that brought me back. I think I also relished going back to a familiar place for the mental memories I have of the barn, the people, the friends I have made. I feel welcome, like it’s been days since I have been there, not a year.

Resuming riding is also a short reminder of cliché’s—life is short, time goes fast, etc etc.

If there is something you love to do, DO IT. If you want to try something new, make the time now for yourself, your interests, yourself. The joy it might bring is worth it.

The journey continues.

C

Anatomy of a Bike Ride

Recently I was riding my bike before work—a morning far too beautiful to spend in the gym. Suddenly, I realized I was aware of only my music, my heartbeat, and my hard but steady breathing. It was as if I was riding with blinders on, totally unaware of the landscape, houses, or traffic on either side of me. I was literally going through the motions, just trying to complete my ride.

I was riding like a machine, but this workout was only accomplishing the caloric burn-off goal. No joy. Stress, supposedly released through the pedals. But shoulders to my ears said otherwise.

Breathe out. Phewwww. I slowed up slightly, came back to the reality of what I was doing, then continued moving forward.

I thought about how our weekend rides with friends are much more relaxing, longer, and fun. We ride but can talk, laugh, stop for a few photos. Yes, this ride was shorter in distance, time, and purpose…. but it should be enjoyed too.

Becoming AWARE of my thoughts, my ride, my motions, my morning, my job, my conversations, my night, it makes them all much more real. So busy, it is easy to forget to live the minutes, the details. Sometimes it takes a moment like on my bike to remember that.

Some times we all want to pass fast. Now, without thinking. But when we continually move too quickly we can miss the subtle moments, the quiet ones, some critical ones. We become sloppy, often unaware of the larger picture, thinking only of the task or situation right in front of us.

We should remember that it’s the single moments that make up our life, not just the motions. The Blur.

The journey continues.

C

New Orleans Scenes

A bit delayed, but here are a few shots of the characters and character of New Orleans.

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Great people watching–anything goes! 
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Louisiana Loom Works has a myriad of cats, working looms, and amazing pieces.  Worth a visit!
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Daytime street view of never-ending live music. 

IMGP4859Next trip I should have better plan of what to focus on.  We were so busy with varied days this visit it was hard to have a single shooting goal….other than the pre-wedding pics from last post.

The journey continues.

C

Pre-Wedding Shots

IMGP5031IMGP4971The day before the wedding we attended last weekend in New Orleans, I got a call asking if I wanted to shoot pictures of the girls in the bridal party getting ready for their Big Event.

Gulp–that’s a lot of pressure.  But always up for a photo adventure, my daughter Tara and I had an impromptu photo shoot while Devon (my other daughter) and the rest of the girls primped and prepped.

What fun we had!  Tara also has a very artistic eye, so we took turns acting as assistant, shooting the girls and still lifes of the flowers, the dresses, the house.  We tested lighting and aperture settings, and I explained some of the technical adjustments you can make with the DSLR.

What fun we had! So, take on that new challenge presented to you.  You never know what you might learn, and hopefully the experience will exceed your expectations.

I will send Alexie and Will–the new couple–the photos this week.  But, here is a sneak peek of a few that I think came out well.  Enjoy.

C

Note: all photos copyrighted by me, Cindy Kennedy.

Tuesday, Bluesday

IMGP4519Over the last couple months, I realized that Tuesday is the hardest day of the week for me to focus.

I used to think it was Monday that I dreaded. I muddled through Sunday night: I double-checked the upcoming family and work schedule, sorted through weekend emails, planned the week. But by Monday morning, I found I am often invigorated to start the work week. It’s usually filled with calls, meetings, travel, a few social gatherings.

Then Tuesday hits. Blah. I finally realized there was a negative Tuesday power in my routine. The work week isn’t half over, my energy is sapped. And why, why are there are more Tuesday problems than ANY other day in the week? That is my drag day, filling spare moments in the kitchen, longing to flatline that stress.

I decided–let’s change it! To conquer my Bluesday, I am going to try to change up how I approach that day. I am going to schedule time to work with a friend or at the library, meet someone for lunch, specifically work on a fun, new project, set aside time to write or take pictures, vary my exercise routine. Today’s visit to the dentist does not count.

Hopefully this positive attitude will spike the Tuesday mood, flow into Wednesday and the rest of the week. I think the key to successfully working solo most of the time is figuring the triggers to anti-productive, negative attitudes and behavior. Then change it.

What tricks do you have to break up the week?

The journey continues.

C