Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Nourishing Beauty

With Emily in 2011
As a dietitian and health educator, I know how important it is to nourish ourselves with whole foods. That includes limiting our intake of pesticides (especially from the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen) and other dubious “ingredients” like BPA from food packaging. I know quite a few health-conscious mamas who focus on putting healthy foods in their families mouths and end up covering them in toxins anyway. All summer long we slather ourselves and our children in sunscreen to protect them from harmful UV rays while inadvertently exposing them to harmful chemicals. And it’s not just sunscreens, it’s other hair and skin care products as well.  Even some specifically advertised as formulated for children.  

Did you know your skin is like a second mouth? In fact, a debatable percentage of what you put onto your skin gets absorbed into your body. Don’t believe me? Think about medicines that are delivered via skin patches. In addition, people inhale powders and sprays and orally ingest products that are applied to lips and hands.

This topic is not my area of expertise, so I’m introducing you to someone who knows a lot more about this topic. NCB readers, meet Emily Toledo, my crafty soul sister, tribes-woman, and one of my child’s Godmothers (that’s how much I love and trust her!) Emily has spent countless hours researching and has become a passionate advocate for women and children in the process. On her journey, she joined the company, Beautycounter, so she could spread the word and help others. Beautycounter also helps nourish her own sweet family by providing income so she can be home with her littles.

Emily Toledo

Here is my interview with Emily:

KSW: Hi Dear Emily! I’m excited to introduce you and your mission for safer beauty to my NCB readers. Can you tell us why you felt drawn to this cause and how got involved with Beautycounter?
ET: When our son was 2 years old, he had a severe allergic reaction to a very well known brand (children’s formula) of sunscreen. I rushed him to the pediatrician who reassured me that it was just an allergic reaction, quickly told me that children are particularly vulnerable to what we put on their skin, and advised me to just buy a different brand.  At the time, I was buying organic food, shopping at the local farmers market, making my own cleaning products, had reduced our use of plastic in the house, etc. I thought I was ahead of the game! Yet, I had never considered what ingredients were in the products I was using on myself and on my family. The experience served as a Pandora’s Box moment for me and was my catalyst for discovering Beautycounter. That was 2 ½ years ago and educating people on this issue of ingredient safety and empowering them to make safer choices has become my absolute passion.
KSW: I’ve seen you post some pretty crazy/ scary #s about the lack of regulation in the United States vs. Europe. Can you tell my readers a few of these?
ET: Sadly, the United States lags behind other countries in terms of consumer protection. While the European Union restricts nearly 1,400 ingredients from use in products, the United States restricts only 30. The last time a major federal law was passed regulating the personal care and cosmetics industry was 1938. Since then, more than 80,000 chemicals have been introduced into commerce. Approximately, 12,000 of those chemicals are used in the personal care industry and only 10% have been tested for safety. Of the chemicals we actually DO have data on, many of them have proven links to human health issues such as contact dermatitis, endocrine disruption, and cancer.

It is perfectly legal for a company to manufacture and sell a product without disclosing that it contains ingredients known to be harmful for human health. Several major brands actually have safer formulas sold in Europe that are not sold in the U.S. Even worse, due to major loopholes in federal law, cosmetics can be labeled “all-natural” and “organic” without containing ingredients that accurately meet those descriptions. In fact, products certified as "organic" can contain as little as 10% total organic ingredients. Tricking consumers into thinking they are getting a safe product with a clever marketing campaign is so common that it has its own term - “greenwashing” - and it’s rampant in the personal care and cosmetics industry.
KSW: Tell us about Beautycounter's current efforts for stricter legislation.
ET: Our advocacy work is what truly sets Beautycounter apart from any other brand. We are not only creating safer products and being a part of the solution, but we’re also fighting for legislative change so that one day, all products will be held to the same standard of safety. In 2015 for example, we partnered with the Oregon Environmental Council and were instrumental in helping pass the Toxic Free Kids Act. We are currently working with several other states (California and Hawaii, to name a few) to help draft similar laws to ensure safer products in the marketplace.
You can join the fight too! Text "better beauty" to 52886 and follow the prompts to urge your senator to pass more health protective laws.
KSW: How can people follow you (on FB, Pinterest, etc) to get more information and get updates?
ET: I love sharing updates on the industry, announcing new products when they launch and discussing strategies for healthy living, in general.  My Facebook and Instagram accounts celebrate this! You can find me online:
KSW: Is there anything else you would like to tell NCB readers?
ET: It doesn’t matter if a company claims to be “safe", “pure” or “natural”. In such an unregulated industry, words like that have little meaning. You need to be your own advocate and read the ingredients. A helpful tool for consumers is Environmental Working Group's “Healthy Living” app. It’s available (and FREE) on iPhone and Android. You can use the camera on your phone to scan the barcode of products in your home (or before buying them in the store) to see how they rank in terms of safety.

 I want to introduce everyone to Beautycounter’s "Never List". These are the ingredients that will never be used in the products. Ever. Many are cancer causing agents, skin irritants, or are endocrine disruptors. Even if you’re not ready to make changes to your personal care & cosmetics regimen, I encourage you to compare the Never List with the ingredients in your products. Knowledge is power!

Hey Readers, I want you to know that I’m writing about this because I believe in this cause as well. I’m not getting any free products by writing this! 
I also want you to know that you can make your own products as well. I use olive and almond oil on my skin, and have put these and essential oils into coarse sugar to make a sugar scrub. These are functional and fun to make, but they don’t have the amazing scent of BC oils and feel heavier and greasier than the BC products. I tend to rebel against recipes (I cook, make art, and make body scrubs by throwing things together and hoping for the best- which amazingly works out most of the time) but you may want to find body care recipes online if that is your schtick.  

Fabulous Resources
The Environmental Working Group
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
*Check out the Red Lists of concerning chemicals found in cosmetics and other body care products

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Shout Out to My Favorite Black Person

Today I'm giving a shout out to to my favorite black person. (Although in my opinion, he's more of a chocolate brown.) Click here for a segment that Dallas News 5 aired today on Brian and the history of black men in medicine.

It's such a gift for me to be able to watch these brief videos. Brian and I have been together since July 4, 2001 (the first week of his surgical residency!) and up until last year, I hadn't ever seen him doing his "surgical thing." He works A LOT (when we first started dating he was working 120+ hours a week sometimes and no, that is not a typo or an exaggeration.) I've seen his various offices over the years, but I never saw him in the operating room or scrubbing in. To the people at the hospital, he is a big deal trauma surgeon. But to me, (for many years although not recently,) he was my husband who was never home. And that was especially hard when our daughter arrived two months after we moved across the country for his job and I was sans family support or my tribe. 

Now, this next part is sort of embarassing, but I'll tell you anyway dear reader. Prior to last year's Black Men White Coats video, I would occasionally watch Trauma: Life in the ER, just so I could just get a sense of what his life was like in those many hours at work. I wanted to better understand him and the demands of his career. And I confess, I would watch the trauma surgeon on the tv show and think: Wow! It is so sexy how that guy is taking command of such a chaotic situation and is literally making life-or-death decisions while his hands are inside someone's guts. It allowed me to be more tolerant of his absences. It also helped to think about all the people he is helping everyday- not just patients but the underrepresented minority youths who see him and know that being a surgeon (even while being a first generation college graduate!) could be possible for them too.

 So, here I am. SHOUTING. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Love Looks Like a Glitter Lava Lamp

Apparently all the red and pink in the stores this week inspired me to blog again. Twice in one week. Whoop, whoop! You go me.

Actually, the real inspiration came when my husband, Brian, gifted me with freedom. He took our daughter to school and took Disco to "the doggy spa." So I was totally free for 6 divine, uninterupted hours. 

And the whole time I was creating/writing/learning, I gazed at this lovely thing:

Brian gave it to me that morning for Valentine's Day. I could say that he got it for me because he knows me so well. But that's not completely true. Really it's because the last time I was visiting my BFF in Arizona, we saw this glorious, glittery, glowing thing and I asked her to text Brian right away and tell him to get me this. Since it's screaming, "KATHIANNE!" in big sparkly letters, I'm sure he would have bought it for me had he seen it on his own. But since he had to go to 4(!!!!) Target stores without success and then ended up buying this one online from Amazon, I'm guessing he would not have found it and I would not have it and thus you would not be reading this blog post right now. 

The morals to this glitter lava lamp love story?
1. Don't be afraid to ask for exactly what you want.
2. Enlist your BFF for assistance in gift-buying. 
3. Love is a verb. 
4. Persistance pays off.
5. Money cannot buy happiness. But it can buy a glitter lava lamp and for me that's pretty darn close.

Everytime I see this magnificent expression of his love, ๐Ÿ˜
I will think of how he went to great efforts to find it for me. 

๐Ÿ’–That's love with sparkles. ๐Ÿ’–

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Go Spread Love

My Dear Readers,
I'm sending you love
Texas-sized, sparkly love.  
From my home to yours.

It's LOVE Week! It's LOVE month! Even if you don't have a "Special Lady" or "Special Mister," it's no matter. Surely there is someone (ANYONE) who you love and someone who loves you. This is a great time to send them a ๐Ÿ˜˜ text, a card via snail mail with glitter in the envelope (it's not too late, it's never too late), a ๐Ÿ’– posted on their Facebook page, or an extra long hug. You might even consider leaving a comment on a blog post (hint,hint.)

Send love to people (and animals) who really need a reminder that they matter: refugees, foster children, sick kids, the impoverished or homeless, injured veterans, abandoned animals, lonely old folks, and grieving families to name a few. Give a smile, money, hugs, prayers, your time, your gently used clothes and homegoods, and/or notes that say you care. Pick up garbage that you didn't leave to love our verdant planet. Practice self-care (NOURISH yourself with dark chocolate, blackberries, green tea, long walks, and bubble baths. Or gratitude-journal writing, time being creative, and 15 minutes sitting in silence so you can hear your soul.) Love yourself and then love others from your overflow! 

And who doesn't love this bunny who is obviously the life of the fiesta?

This world needs more love! So be a love spreader! Spread love like heart-shaped confetti blowing in a 55 mph wind gust. (Biodegradable confetti, of course, because we also love Mother Earth.)

Please keep me posted on ways that you are spreading love this month! 


PS: If you have little ones at home, try this craft with them. It's super easy and fun.

I-Spy Sticker Cards

I save all of the stickers we accumulate (lots of $1 sticker packs from Target, it might be a problem) in a bin and then whip out the bin for projects like this. Just take a notecard and stick, stick, stick away. It's great for fine motor development.

We (and by we, I mean me because God gave me a daughter who is perfect as he made her except that can only sit to do craft projects for 3-8 minutes at a time) made these for some of our little friends that live far away. On the back I wrote: We made you an I-Spy! Can you find.....a strawberry, a squirrel, a teeny skull, and....... What else can you find? I sent the cards in envelopes to keep the stickers from falling off in the mail. A sealant like Mod-Podge would also protect them if you are more inclined to send postcards.

Go spread love Dear Readers!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why I Am Hurting After this Election

Before President-Elect Trump, her future seemed brighter.
Like many Americans, I've been hurting big time since the election results came in. First I was in shock- my country wouldn't do this (elect a man who was endorsed by the KKK, bragged about sexually assulting women, etc., etc., etc.) Then I was sad, so incredibly sad.

In the last two days, I've had several facebook conversations with Trump voters- some that I know and some I do not- because I sincerely wanted to understand what they were thinking. Maybe if I understood, I thought, my suffering would be less.  

Anger is a secondary emotion. Hurt almost always lies underneath the anger. Trump insulted veterans, women, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, people of size, and disabled people. He didn't offer apologies. He instigated hate at his rallies. His call to "Make America Great Again" in and of itself insulted minorities. What time period was he referring to? American history has not been kind to anyone except white men. The "good old days" were not great for women or minorities.   

Each vote for Trump FEELS like a validation of all those hateful comments. And that hurts. Big time. I'm not hurt by him, I had already written him off as a narcissist incapable of empathy. Rather, I am hurt that 50% of the people in this already great country validated the hate he peddled. The people who "held their noses" or overlooked his hate and voted for him anyway. 

Today I had lunch with two sweet friends after yoga. We made small talk and one asked how I was doing. I said I wasn't doing well and that I was really hurt by this election. The talk turned to how people were rioting and wasn't that terrible? Why can't the people who voted for Hillary accept it and move on?

It is terrible. It's terrible because hate cannot be conquered by hate. It's terrible because the Trump people will now just write off all protestors as "crazy liberals" who are violent and hypocritical and sore losers. It's terrible because it's not ok to destroy property and hurt people because you are angry. But I said that I understood their anger. I don't condone it but I understand it. People are HURTING. People are scared. People feel they are not seen. People feel they do not matter. 

One friend said this is why she didn't talk politics. I could tell I was making her uncomfortable. The topic of conversation was changed to her child now in middle school and yadayadayada. I couldn't hear a word. I felt unheard. I felt my hurt was being dismissed. I couldn't eat my lunch. I started to sob. I said "how are we going to heal as a country if we can't even have these discussions with friends?" I said I didn't want to have friends that only talked about things on a superficial level and who didn't try to understand why I was hurting. They said they weren't taking the elections personally. 

And BING BING BING- there was the source of my pain. I was taking it personally. 

I thought we were making steady progress and that my daughter would not have to endure the blatant racism my husband had endured. I am a mama bear and I am hurt beyond words that my beautiful and long-awaited child is not valued in our society as much as their white children. Literally. The fees for her adoption were less because she was part black. They are lowest for full black children. The waiting time for black children is significantly shorter. And STILL black baby boys are being shipped overseas because they aren't all being adopted here. Why are some people pro-baby when it comes to unborn children but not pro-baby for the ones that are already born? How can someone be staunchly anti-abortion but then not adopt? Where do they think those babies go? Why are the unborn babies seen and valued when babies (and people) of color aren't? What about the suffering right in front of our eyes? How can a vote for a serial cheater (of women and small businesses) and a documented liar who now says he is pro-life in order to get elected be the vote of the conservative Christians? What is Christian about his statements and his actions? Who really wants to claim his "values" as their own?

One of my lunch friends was not familiar with my husband's recent press coverage. I told her of his role in the Dallas Police shootings and his comments to the media. How he has experienced racism his whole life. How he condems violence but understands the fear of police because he experiences it. He lives it. I told her how he has had patients coming into the hospital literally dying on a stretcher who said they didn't want a black man to be their doctor. (And he was the only trauma surgeon there!) I cannot fathom having so much hate for a group of people that you are willing to DIE rather than have one SAVE YOUR LIFE. And can you imagine how that must feel to be so despised? Just because of your skin pigment? And a lot of white people that I know honestly believe that racism doesn't really exist anymore because they don't see it or experience it. I will tell you I myself was naive about a lot of it until I witnessed it. And I had a very reasonable fear that a white supremacist was going to come to our house and shoot us because my husband spoke out. 

Our country has a long and complicated history with "all men were created equal." For many, many years, "all men" meant white men and not people of color or women. So, my fellow Americans, do you REALLY believe that ALL MEN (AND WOMEN) ARE CREATED EQUAL? And if we truly believe that, why do black babies cost less? They were created the same way (physically and spiritually.)

Thank you for reading along this far. I am grateful that you are trying to hear me. What I ask now, is for you to be still. Trump does not appear to be capable of empathy. Are you? Can you put yourself in the "other's" (pun intended) shoes? 

How would you FEEL if your precious son was killed serving his country? Then your ultimate sacrifice was belittled by the man running for president? And that man was validated by being elected president? (Trump is now going to be commander-in-chief. How are people of color, women, other religions, etc currently serving in the military going to feel about giving their lives for the country that elected him and ignored them? Why would minorities join the military now after he (and our country) insulted them?)

How would you FEEL if your daughter was sexually assaulted? Then a man who boasts about sexual assault was validated by being elected president?  

How would you FEEL if you were unseen, unheard, and unvalidated? 

Tonight I told a black friend that my husband wasn't as upset by this election as I was. We realized it was because he has felt marginalized by this country his whole life. But for me, this election was a slap in the face. Because I believed things were getting better. I believed the future was brighter for my precious, priceless, miracle daughter. And I'm grieving that the America I believed in said with their votes that her future may now not be as bright as their white childrens' future. For me, it's personal. My black friend told me that she was proud to be an American but that her America wasn't proud of her. It broke my heart. Because to many Americans, that is their truth. And I don't want that to be the truth for my daughter. 

As I typed this, she ran into our kitchen in her Elsa pajama top and Wonder Woman underwear full of giggles and joy and love and light. "Mama!!! Put that down and come with me! We are having a tickle fight. Do you want to tickle me?" And my heart breaks because I see her innocence and I know it will soon be shattered by the hateful messages that were just validated. I feel the injustice of this election. I am hurt. I grieve. Trump does not deserve to be her president. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reflections on Becoming Unexpected Activists (Or Our Life went Crazy Pants)

 Photo Source

Here's what I learned when my husband opened his mouth, cried on international TV, and our life went crazy pants:

1. You really NEVER know what is coming next in life. Good or bad. Control is an illusion.  
2. Pack a basic black dress you can wear twice OR pack a second dress. (See number 1.) You just never know what is coming next. Like, that time we were asked to meet the President the very next day and I only had packed one dress- that I was already wearing that night. On T.V.
3. Be present on the journey. Whatever you are experiencing will likely end soon, so hold on tight and enjoy the ride. (Or throw your arms in the air and scream like hell.) Maybe take notes and take pictures. But be sure to FEEL the wind in your hair and your stomach dropping on the downhill. It's a challenge to be present- I'm a work in progress on this one. But I'm committed to the practice and I've gotten somewhat better through the years.
4. Don't read the comments. (I did not do well with this one, I admit.) It amazes me how people watch the same video yet receive messages that are polar opposites. It's a bit scary, actually. But as Brenรฉ Brown says, the bystanders' opinions don't matter. The only opinions that matter are the ones in the arena. Frankly, I think when people automatically assume the worst of someone, it reflects more on the judger than the judgee. (I'm pretty sure I made those words up. And I'm going to keep them in here anyway.)
5. Don't be afraid to DARE GREATLY. Brian and I read Brenรฉ Brown's book, Daring Greatly as our own little book club. Brian feels it was life-changing. (And therefore it's life-changing for me too, as my life changed/changes when his does.) Brian only moved people at that press conference because he was courageous enough to be vulnerable. He showed emotion and people FELT that. Vulnerability leads to connection. (If only he had shown emotion the first 14 years we were together...but hey, that leads me to the next point.)
6. Live for the now and believe in the future. Breathe, believe, receive. GREAT things are coming your way. (And excuse me now- I'm going to get a bit spiritual and use the G word) God's plans for you are SO MUCH BIGGER than you can possibly imagine. He will use your pain for good. He will take a man who hadn't cried for 35 years, break him open, and then have him cry on international TV. He took a man who very rarely spoke about race with anyone, who was incredibly private, who turned down press interviews in the past and gave him the courage to Be the Change. I'm telling you- if a year-and-a-half ago you would have told me my husband was going to cry (just cry!) I would have laughed IN YOUR FACE. I used to tell him that I could die and he still probably wouldn't cry.   

Here are a few links from some of my favorite interviews from that time:

Dallas Trauma Surgeon Reflects on Irony of Treating Wounded Police Officers
With Ari Shapiro on NPR All Things Considered, July 15, 2016  (5 min 40 sec)

A History of White Delusion
Nicolas Kristof, The New York Times, July 14, 2016

Parkland Doctor's Candid Words Resonated with Black Professionals
Maria Halkias, The Dallas Morning News, July 15th, 2016

Surgeon Who Tried to Save Dallas Cops
BBC World Service, August 4, 2016 (50 min.)

Monday, August 15, 2016

You Only Have to Bloom.

I found this quote today and wrote it in my art journal (along with a little doodle). 
Something inside me was pushing to post it on here too. 
So, who else besides me needed to hear this message today?

Transformation doesn't ask that you stop being you. 
It demands that you find a way back to the authenticity and strength
that's already inside of you. 
You only have to bloom.
-Cheryl Strayed

Thursday, August 11, 2016

That Day We Met the President (Unexpected Activists- Part 5)

Here it is. The post you have been waiting for. (Is anyone still out there reading this? Bueller, Bueller?) I know, I know. It's part FIVE. (In my defense, I don't like long blog posts. Reading them OR writing them. So I apologize in advance that this one is a bit long. Part 6 just seemed like toooooo much.) You've made it all the way from Part 1 through Part 4. And now we're ready to meet the President of the United States of America.

Thursday July 14, 2016
We woke up early that morning after only a few hours of sleep. Brian and I packed and got dressed and we then attempted to wake Beni. Normally, she is up at the crack of dawn and trying to pull me out of bed. But I swear, whenever we HAVE to be somewhere, she sleeps in. After some coaxing, and a reminder that she got to wear her new sparkly dress, sparkly shoes, and sparkly accessories, she allowed Brian to dress her while she laid there. He even brushed her teeth with in-bed service. We left the room sometime after 6:30am and grabbed a cab to Penn Station. 

Cab ride to Penn Station

At the train station, we found a Dunkin Donuts (I've missed you, DD coffee) and grabbed some coffee nirvana for me and some munchkins for the munchkin. And us too, of course! Public transportation, I've missed you too. Although, I realize it's easy to miss you because right now it's not cold, raining, and something I HAVE to do. Every. Single. Day. But it was incredible to be back on the East Coast and experiencing the hustle and bustle of a "real" city. 

After a short wait and some people watching, we boarded our train. Somehow we ended up on the quiet car, but it ended up being a blessing. One man was asked to leave after talking on his cell phone and I told Abeni he was kicked off the train car because he was too loud. (That was technically true AND was effective in keeping her quiet the whole way. Score one for Mama!) We all fell asleep with the gentle motion of the train and the sound of the wheels. But not before I posted this message on Facebook to my friends:

After arriving at the DC train station, we headed to a hotel near the ABC taping venue. Brian's hospital had sent a communications expert (thanks Mike!) to provide him with guidance about what he could and could not say (nothing about legislation since B was a state of TX employee.) We had lunch, freshened up in Mike's room, and all left in a rush to make it to the venue. 

Arriving at the DC train station

Once at the venue, we waited outside while the Secret Service swept the theater for security. We entered through metal detectors and they did a quick search of my purse and Beni's koala backpack. It was loaded with activities that would hopefully keep her entertained while Brian and I were at the taping. Once inside, we waited for quite a while longer. I sent this update to my Facebook friends. 

And then, without any warning (for a last minute potty break), Brian and I were ushered to our seats. I called out to Mike, "Take good care of our precious treasure!" Brian was seated in the front row and I was seated directly behind him. David Muir came in and talked to us for a while, and then THE PRESIDENT walked in. I'm trying not to use the word "surreal" too much, but that's the overwhelming feeling that filled me. 

That's Brian's big head there on the left. 

After two-hours, David Muir said- this is the last question- and it was over. Brian was disappointed he did not get to ask his question. Then the President went around the room to shake hands. Brian got a quick handshake. Everyone had a few seconds with POTUS as he walked around the circular room. Brian urged me to move from my second row seat and move into his path so I could meet him. I tried to maneuver into his path but the Secret Service agents were human obstacles.  

Brian chatting with David Muir, ABC newscaster

And then, there he was. The President of the United States was looking right at me. 
Me: (grabbing his hand) It is such an honor to meet you, Mr. President. 
Obama: Thank you.
Then there was a pause. I assumed he would keep moving on to the next person, so I didn't say anything else. But he didn't move on! 
Obama: So, what is your name?
Me: (very animated) I'm Kathianne Williams. My husband, Brian Williams, (I gestured to Brian behind me. B had strategically placed himself to get a photo of me with the POTUS.) was the surgeon who took care of the policemen that were shot in Dallas. 
Obama: (to Brian) Oh hey man! (shaking B's hand and then grabbing B's tie) Yeah, he dresses like a surgeon.

And then, miraculously, there was another pause. I had NOT planned anything to say. I wasn't even sure I would get to meet the President. So, I don't know WHERE this came from, because I am usually kicking myself later for not saying something "better." But I opened my mouth, and this came out of nowhere:

Me: (grabbing his hand and pulling Obama even closer) I just want to tell you, that when you were ignaugurated, I wrote a letter to my biracial daughter. I wrote to her that I was so happy that she would never know a world in which only white men were president. 
Obama: Thank you. Please tell her I said hello. She must be what? Eight years old now?
Me: No, five.

And then he moved on to the next person. I hope he put it together that I wasn't confused on my timeline; it was just that I wrote the letter to my daughter before she was even born. Because I had to do A LOT of waiting for her, remember? And do you remember the blog post I wrote several years ago about my letter to Beni on his inauguration? (Please follow the link and read that one.) Looking back now, it all feels magical. I wrote the letter to her in January of 2009, published the blog post in January of 2013, and then met the President and told him about it in July 2016. It was a full-circle moment. A moment when everything seems to fall into place and the Universe is in order.  

Can you tell from this photo that I am squeezing his hand kind of hard? 
I was holding his one hand with two of mine at one point. Ha! 
Brian said that the President wasn't going anywhere with my grip.  

Meanwhile, Brian was saying to me, "I thought I had to be quick to take the photo, but you were talking to him forever! After a while, I just held the button down and took a burst of photos." Sadly, we didn't get a photo of Brian with the President, and he didn't really get to say much to him. He's still a bit bummed about that. Frankly, I am just amazed at myself that I thought on my feet and took advantage of the moment. Yippee!!! 

We then collected Beni from Mike (she was alive and happy and had eaten a lot of candy and played with the young relatives of Eric Garner). It was a rush to get back to his hotel for our bags, then into a car for a long drive to BWI airport. Then it was a long flight back to Dallas. We landed at Love Field, but our car was at DFW (from the NYC flight) so we had to take a car service back to DFW. Then drive home from there.  

All in all, it was a VERY looooong day. So long, in fact, that the memories we made will last a lifetime.

Please stay tuned for 2 more posts. One is a final reflection on the events from my point of view. The other is an interview of Brian H. Williams, MD. He was interviewed by Don Lemon of CNN, Ari Shapiro of NPR, and Gayle King of CBS, but he has not faced the toughest interviewer yet! Kathianne Williams of Nourish.Create.Bloom!!! Feel free to write any questions you might have for Brian in the comments below. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Accidental Activists- Part 4

Thanks for following along so far up to Part 3. It's not long now until we meet the POTUS!

On Wednesday afternoon, we arrived in New York City. That night we were invited to be in the audience of CNN's Black, White, and Blue: America 2016- town hall on a nation divided. Brian was invited by the moderator himself, Don Lemon, and was going to ask a question. 

Photo taken from inside the cab
A car service (complete with carseat) picked us up at La Guardia. I felt like a VIP. *smile* Our hotel was located directly across from Central Park and a few blocks from the Time Warner Building. For some miraculous reason, our room was upgraded to a suite (that was larger than the apartment we'd had for 6 years in Boston.) By the time we checked in, we had 2 and 1/2 hours until the babysitter arrived to walk to the mall, find clothes for tomorrow, and be back at the hotel. We had only packed for 24 hours (and NOT for meeting the President.) Frankly, it was the best excuse I'd ever had to buy a new dress. It seems like it would be exciting, right? We were speed shopping. After a cross country flight. With a travel-weary 5-year-old. (That last part takes the glamour right out of it.) 

Beni was the big winner and ended up with two adorable and sparkly dresses, coordinating sweaters (one with sequins), along with a pair of black sparkly sneakers and two glittery headbands (one with cat ears, one with a crown. Of course.) Brian got a new suit, 2 shirts, 2 ties, socks, and had the suit tailored for him within 30 minutes. There was 30 minutes left for me to find something. (We mamas often only get "the last 30 minutes" for ourselves.) I got... a pink cashmere cardigan to wear over the dress I'd already had to change the look. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a dress suitable to meet THE POTUS. Fortunately the dress I'd brought was black and not very memorable. And I'm certain no one but me was very concerned with my appearance. 

After a sweaty speed walk back to the hotel, I ordered Beni a $30 kids meal (of which she only ate 3 bites). Her meal arrived right after the $35/hr (plus cab fare home) babysitter the hotel concierge arranged for us. (My dear friend, Alexis, was unable to stay with Beni and we didn't have time to ask anyone else we knew in NYC.) I got dressed in less than 10 minutes, gave the sitter, named Honeybee (yes I clarified that), the deets on Beni's bedtime routine, and we were off. To the CNN studio. In the elevator I looked at Brian and said, "We just left our daughter in the care of someone we'd never met named Honeybee." Life was surreal.

Inbetween commerical breaks
At the Time Warner building, we were escorted from the main lobby to the CNN foyer on the 5th floor. When we got off the elevator, about 5-8 men were standing and talking. They all recognized Brian and introduced themselves. At one point, the large flat screen TV in the lobby showed scenes from one of the slain DPD officer's funeral service. Brian had a strong emotional reaction and all the men became silent. He went to the restroom to collect himself. I was/am still not used to seeing this level of emotion from him. 

Behind the scenes
While we were waiting to be taken from the CNN lobby to the studio, Brian was receiving texts from ABC producers about the show the next day in DC. There was a problem getting the Secret Service clearance for our daughter. We didn't have her social security memorized, and hadn't even known about the DC trip until after we landed in NYC. I sent a frantic text and Facebook message to our dear accountant (we love you Dianne Moore in ATL!) requesting her to get it for me if she was able. A few minutes after I sent the text, the ABC producer told Brian that George Stephanopoulis was calling the White House himself to request they clear our daughter even without her social security number. since she was only 5. (Yes. I just said that.) George Stephanpoulis called the White House to discuss OUR CHILD. My dear Readers, I don't think I can express how bizarre it felt to be living this. 

Brian was taken up to the "green room" to have his face powdered. Next to Bishop TD Jakes. And of course I know who TD Jakes is. I watch Oprah.

Eventually, we were led into the studio. It seemed so much smaller in person than it did on TV. The show was 2 hours and live. Brian was one of the audience members who asked a question. After the show, Don Lemon said to Brian- Hey! You didn't cry on national tv tonight! 

Don Lemon taking a selfie with Brian

It was 12:30am by the time we left the Time Warner building. We had 30 minutes to get back to Honeybee (she was great with our daughter, BTW) and Beni. We grabbed Subway (the only quick restaurant we saw open in the next two blocks) and headed back to the hotel. Sadly, we needed to leave the apartment-sized room to catch a 7:30am train to DC. We didn't get to enjoy the suite, Central Park, NYC, or visit with any friends. But we were meeting the President (!!!), and that made up for it all. 

Stay tuned for the final installment- meeting the POTUS!