Wrangler Dani

Writer, editor, marketer and communication strategist. I'm also a wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl and experimental cook living in beautiful Central Oregon.

Archive for the ‘current events’ Category

February 10th, 2017 by Dani

Balance and Being Still

I was going to write something about my little life when I started to feel embarrassed by the every-day-ness of it. Does anyone really want to hear about my daughter’s new obsession with fort-building (yay for Daddy and snow days!) or my attempt at Coq Au Vin this weekend?

I’ve been thinking about heroism and what that means. I think it’s tempting to keep heroes and regular people apart. This is why we either self-deprecate or self-inflate on social media right? We’re either assuring the world that we’re nothing special, nothing to see here, or that we’re a caped crusader with heroism leaking from every pore. You know who I’m talking about. It might even be you, but I understand. We all do.

We are small but we want to be big. Like children insisting that we are 6 and three-quarters, that we matter because we are getting bigger every day. It’s hard I think to balance the every day of life with the yearning for more, which is why we either hide or inflate ourselves – we try to pick either invisibility or celebrity and neither satisfies.

Yesterday I read the verse, “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s a nice verse. It’s often quoted to worriers and over-achievers like myself. But do you know what leads up to it? Read the whole thing:

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. 
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

This is so war-like! I thought “Be still and know that I am God” was embroidered on nice things, like tea cosies and grandmotherly pillows. It’s often been quoted to me as a helpful verse for the overcoming of frantic energy. But I think I’ve been reading it wrong. It’s not “Be still and know” as in, “sit there, dear, and try not to bother yourself”, it’s “Be STILL and KNOW” cried with the booming voice of thunder. This is a God who is not scared of Donald Trump or ISIS. This is a God who does not share power, who melts the earth with his voice. This is a God who offers to be our fortress, to be WITH us in war and peace, in heroism and dailyness, in abundance or in fear.

When met with this kind of God, my worrying attempts to either make much or less of myself seem quite silly. This is not a being who needs my help after all, is it? So I am free to live out redemption in my daily life without worrying about my heroic status or lack thereof. This doesn’t mean I’m passive, but it does mean that I am not worried. I am not anxious. I am not insecure. The God of Jacob is my fortress, after all, so I truly can “be still and know” that I have a refuge in him, better than any I could make for myself.

December 4th, 2016 by Dani

Keep Going!

Addy has a little walker that talks. She doesn’t use it much any more, unless I start talking about putting it away, in which case it becomes The Most Favorite Toy of All Time. Anyway, it talks when it senses movement, and it’s got a jumpy trigger finger, because said movement can be any person walking around the house, no matter how far away.

The other day, I walked by it and it chirped out “Keep going!” I laughed to myself and then thought, I need this little voice all the time.

Because I need to hear, “Keep going!” Because, and I’m being honest here,… is anyone else tired?

I used to get on Facebook for cute photos of my friends’ kids and puppies, and now I get on in fear and trembling that I will see another apoplectic political post. (I brave them for the pay-off of cute baby/puppy/Christmas tree photos but I’m just saying – it’s gotten a little hot out there.) I need reminders to keep going, that relationships are important and valuable, even when I’d rather check out and protect myself.

I need to hear “Keep going!” because all too often I hear the opposite. I hear that I’ll never be good enough or cute enough in Spandex, so I should quit going to yoga. I hear that I’ll never get a book deal, so I should stop writing. I hear that adoption is only a tragic choice and not a beautiful one. I hear that my choices for my kid is questionable, that my beliefs are silly, that my life is small and foolish.

At Christmastime, I hear that my love for this sparkly season is silly. I hear that my joy at big bows and perfect presents and hot cocoa on a snowy afternoon are childish or materialistic, silly or thoughtless. But I do love Christmas, because it is the season of foolishness. It is the season of “Keep going!”, don’t you think?

It is a season when we should be awed and not calloused, when we embrace an infant Savior, an angel choir singing to dirty shepherds, a blazing star in the sky. I’m daring to believe that God sent Jesus to tell us “Keep going!” that we don’t have to do this alone, that we have Emmanuel, God with us. Every time I walk past that silly plastic talking toy, I’m going to thank my Creator for the gift of wisdom through a child’s toy, hope through tragedy, joy to the world when it feels like it’s falling apart. After all, he didn’t say “endurance to the world” or “clenched teeth to the world” or “anxiety to the world” – I’m going to believe that the God who came as a helpless baby into a wartorn, oppressed country isn’t too scared by the troubles of 2016, and that he meant for us to live in joy despite them.

The angel said, “I bring you good news of GREAT JOY for all people!” JOY TO THE WORLD. Keep going!

November 9th, 2016 by Dani

What I will tell my children (Election 2016)

We got a new president in 2016, kids, just as we had for 44 election cycles before. It’s a pretty neat thing, actually, and it happens every 4 or 8 years, depending on whether or not We the People think the President deserves another term in office. The United States of America, unlike many other countries in the world, has peaceful, free elections. We transfer power within parties peacefully, without coups, riots or civil wars. We also don’t have a king or queen, which means that this President, like him or loathe him, will be gone soon enough.

When people vote, we often get wrapped up in the candidate we support or don’t. In 2016, Daddy and I voted for neither major candidate – that’s one of the many lovely rights we have as American citizens – to protest the status quo with our vote and our voice. After the election, a lot of people were scared, confused and upset. A lot of people were very happy. Others were sad, because they had voted for what they believed was the lesser of two evils, which isn’t a very good feeling.

But do you know what the truth is, in all of this? America is a great nation because America is us. Not just our family but all of us. We the People get to decide how to move forward, and sometimes, because we’re people, we make mistakes. But we try to believe in our ideals – the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to speak our minds and vote our conscience and dream big.

Our job is to be kind, when others are upset. When I was a little girl I remember being very nervous about the outcome of elections, but I am not anymore. Because we are more than our leaders, and we are not defined by politics. Out job is to love God and our neighbor, to give generously and act justly, to love mercy and live in hope. In 2016 I knew that God was in control and that America was still my beautiful country, my promised land, full of fascinating, wonderful, hard-working people who I am honored to call my fellow Americans, no matter who they voted for. My dear kids – my beautiful, wonderful, unique and precious children – do not squander the life you’ve been given or the country you’ve inherited. Never forget how to love someone who disagrees with you, how to keep eternal perspective in mind, and that you get to choose – not just a President, because sometimes that doesn’t flop your way – but who you’ll be in every circumstance, how you’ll lead and how you’ll live. I pray for you, that you surprise the world with your love and your God-given gifts, no matter what happens in politics or in the world.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” -Jesus (John 13:34)

September 21st, 2016 by Dani

I want my daughter to know….

When Addy was just a tiny baby, I got in an unintentional fight with some adoptive parents of non-white kids. (You can read my thoughts about that incident here.) I was a new mom and I didn’t want to be painted as a poor soul who had already failed because of my ethnic heritage, and my supposed innate, unchangeable out-of-touch-ness.

I am still wary of any racial conversation in a public space because of that incident, so what I am about to write has been written and deleted many times, thought over, considered, and rewritten.

But I want my daughter to know that I, a deeply patriotic white woman from the boonies of the Northwest, grieve the loss of dark-skinned lives and therefore I cannot be silent about them. I am not here to debate the nuances of police brutality vs. appropriate force vs. outright racism. But I am here to say that I’ve gotten the “look” from white people in public places (rare, but true) when I’m with my daughter and it makes me want to punch them in the face. I am here to say that it takes a lot of denial to assert that nothing is wrong here, that there isn’t something deeply broken in our culture.

I am sad today. I’m sad that we should be gasping with hands over our mouths, crying and praying, and instead we are posturing and debating. Life should matter, but instead we elevate talking points.

I recently read Ann Patchett’s lovely essay “The Wall”, in which she talks about her dad, a 30-year veteran of the LAPD. She sadly notes that he will be remembered for the Rodney King incident, which happened after he retired, and not for decades of service and sacrifice. A couple of months ago, Addy and I went to the public library for storytime, and as we walked in the door a white police officer was standing there. He had been silently nodding to the other moms and kids, but he walked up to us and reached out for Addy’s hand. He tried to get her to smile and he asked good questions. I didn’t know what to do with it at the time, but today I am moved by the memory. I hope he doesn’t get jaded and stop trying. I hope he knows that the memory of his simple kindness makes me teary-eyed and very grateful.

We don’t need to accept death or hatred. We don’t need to lock our doors and stay silent because we’re afraid of being berated for saying the wrong thing. It sounds trite to say that love is the answer, and so it is –  if that love is the kind of unfounded, wimpy, however-you-feel-today love that is so often peddled. No, the love that is the answer is the love that is willing to be wrong, willing to look foolish, willing to stand down, willing to go to war. Love that always hopes, trusts, perseveres and never fails.

Today I’m praying for that kind of love. The kind of love that inspired a police officer in Oregon to make friends with my 10-month-old, the kind of love that makes eternal promises, the kind of love that gives courage, the kind of love that makes hate gasp for breath.

March 13th, 2013 by Dani

Watching the Vatican

I’m a cynic. I’m the one who asks the Devil Advocate questions, who snorts at simple answers, who absolutely rejects chain-letters and sappy news stories and nearly every hard-luck tale. (I’m not proud of this, by the way. Just being honest.)

So, I surprised myself when I cried this morning as they announced the new Pope at the Vatican. There are thousands of people packed into the courtyard, millions more all over the world, leaning into radios and TVs to watch the proceedings and listen as Pope Francis 1 makes his first blessing. Thousands of voices reciting “Our Father” and “Ave Maria” together.

There’s a lot of cynicism in my heart, and even more in the world. There are people making cracks about how the Catholic priests are just a bunch of child molesters, how religion doesn’t mean anything, how much the Catholic church gets wrong. I think it does get some things wrong, but it also does a lot right.

Papacy is a tradition that’s carried on for almost a thousand years. “Our Father” was given by Jesus two thousand years ago. I can’t be cynical about something that has stayed true for so long – I think about my grandmother, how she would have gotten teary-eyed too at this moment, how despite her toughness she was a softy for the Catholic church, for living her life in a way that honored God. I see the faces on the TV of people from all over the world, waving the flags of their country and crying out their gratitude to God for a new leader.

It’s really a beautiful thing. My cynicism is melting away in the face of this optimism and faith, and it feels good.

 

February 27th, 2012 by Dani

Things I love about going to the movies, a list

I really love going to the movies at the theater. Sure, it’s an indulgence, and occasionally you get a lip-smacker or someone who mistakes the theater seats for their therapist’s couch, but usually I love the movies. We just saw Act of Valor last night (SO GOOD, read my review here) and I thought I’d write down all the reasons it’s worth shelling out cash for a ticket instead of waiting to rent the DVD.

  • Seats with removable arm-rests and an excuse to get all date-y and hand-holdy. This is silly, since we are old and married and live together and have a couch and everything, but snuggling up in the movies makes me feel like I’m on a date, and I still get all excited when we put back the arm-rest and get comfy.
  • Candy. I love it, and the theater is one place I don’t have to justify the calories to myself.
  • Ditto with popcorn. We also have a reward card at the theater, so we often get free goodies, which is even better.
  • Costco movie tickets. So cheap! So awesome! So Costco, the best place on earth!
  • Surround sound.
  • Big screen. We have a big TV, but you can’t beat the theater picture and sound, particularly for action movies.
  • Intentionality. You can’t get up and check the fridge, there’s no laptop of work asking for your attention. Sitting at the movies is at least two hours of uninterrupted brain-tune-outage, and it’s awesome.
  • Sharing the experience with friends. Going to the movies in a group and talking about it afterward is unbeatable, especially when you see something particularly awesome or terrible.

What’s your favorite thing about the movies?

 

April 29th, 2011 by Dani

Jumping into the Royal Wedding carriage

Didja see what I did there?

I was sitting here, this morning, checking things off of my to-do list and writing away like the studious little chickadee I am, and thought to myself “I should make this more fun with some pomp and circumstance and British accents”. So I turned on my teevee, and instead of the drooling press I was expecting, I was greeted with a very sweet, truthful and surprisingly faith-based ceremony.

I’ve been reading a few other bloggers who were bashing the wedding fever here in the States as pure flighty escapism, but I think it means something much deeper. Sure, Americans are goofy airheads when it comes to this stuff, and yes, we value royalty and celebrity in unhealthy ways. But I don’t really care about that, and I’m certainly not going to bash someone for wanting to watch a wedding (yay!) in Westminster Abbey (double yay!).

I think that we are watching this by the millions, because, as much as we want to relegate this spectacle to the crazies wearing giant British flags on their heads, this really does matter. There’s an old saying that goes, “babies are God’s way of saying the world must go on” and I think new marriages evoke the same feeling in us, even amongst the most cynical. Marriage is about believing the best in each other, about trusting in the good of a loving God and a loving spouse and about celebrating selflessness, a trait that is all too often mocked.

The Archbishop of Canterbury (who awesomely has his own website and made the amazing YouTube video, below) said that marriage is the best picture of God’s love for us – a statement which is humbling and overwhelming all at once.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8msHZ8wI7Y&w=640&h=390]

So, as much as it would be easy to snark about our obsession with William and Kate, I’m resisting the temptation. Today I’m rejoicing that God’s love was on display, that so many are rejoicing the power of marriage and that love can actually overcome almost any prejudice.

God Bless, William and Kate!

January 27th, 2011 by Dani

Oh, Lady Liberty…

I love to rant about politics. (I also love to state the obvious. Obviously.) I recently got published in a pro-free-markets, individual liberty, Constitutional piece of wonder called Liberty Ink Journal. This is really more a piece for my other blog, but I had to share it here, too, because you all have been with me and cheered me on through this whole weird crazy journey of self-employment and calling myself a writer with conviction, so you deserve to know.

I wrote for this little magazine like it was going to kill me. I poured my heart and soul out, waxing eloquent about things that most people think are boring – like FDR’s speeches and the Washington Monument Ploy and the dream of utopia. It brought out my best and it showed me places where my logic had faltered and needed strengthening.

Today I learned that they’ve closed – for the moment. There’s hope that investors will revive it, but for the forseeable future, Liberty Ink Journal (in print, at least) is no more. I spoke to their publisher a few weeks back on the phone and as we swapped introductions, he told me, “well, I’m just out here in Colorado, trying to save the country”. He meant it as a joke, of course, a lighthearted take on a serious enterprise – one of everyday columnists and part-time philosophers returning political speak back to where it belongs, in the mouths, hands and hearts of We the People.

I’m mourning my outlet today – I never even told you all this big news, because it still seemed to precious and I wasn’t ready to broadcast it – but today I am crying because I finally made a tiny profit on something that I loved to write about more than anything in the world, and in a moment, it’s taken away. Here’s to you, LIJ, and to the countless start-ups like you. I hope you come back and remind us what entrepreneurship looks like, but in the meantime, thanks for the ride.

Click to read one of my pieces for LIJ.

December 9th, 2010 by Dani

The Sing-Off – Glee vs. Geezers

“Welcome back to the The Sing-Off”, says our host Nick Lachey, and I get entirely too excited. Let’s saaaaaang (as AP would say).

“Use Somebody” is the opening number and it gives me chills. THIS is what I was looking for on Monday, and I’m relieved that they finally delivered.

On the Rocks – “Live Your Life” – These guys refer to themselves as a “singing fraternity”. I wonder why that’s unique until I recall that most people didn’t go to ACU.  Anyhoodle, I still love them. They stay (mostly) on key as they jump around impressively, one dude falsettos his way to Rihanna and they are generally infectious and I really want to be friends with them. I’m from Oregon, too, so I’m sure we’d understand each other. The judges agree, although Ben asks for more art next time, which I can get behind. The Beelzebubs last year were very similar – silly and energetic – but they also managed to make us feel something besides pure joy, which OtR has yet to do.

Street Corner Symphony – “Hey Soul Sister” – Pure class. This song has been overdone and overplayed, but I still loved it. Their lead singer is amazing. He still looks like an aging hipster, but I don’t care when he’s in my iPod.

Eleventh Hour – “Just the Way You Are” – Oh, Glee. They cry about wanting to stay on the show in their interview, which means they’re going home. They are sweet and legit singers, although it gets pitchy in places, and Prom Queen girl is a little dramz.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town – “Mercy” – These guys are pros at their genre, and nobody can touch them. They’re so cute in their peach jackets and doing the Old Dude Shuffle. They’re hard not to like, but I feel like the elimination will be between the Geezers and Glee, just because of marketability.

Elimination – After much ado, Eleventh Hour is going home. It’s OK, babies.

Nota is back! They perform “I Gotta Feeling” and it’s great, of course. Yes, I bought their album the day it came out, why?

The Mercenaries (aka The Backbeats) – “Break Even” – I’m still mad at them for not being a real group, but they almost won me over with this song. It’s melancholy and soaring and sad and they are actually really good. I guess that’s what happens when you use paid talent. You sent Glee home, y’all. Hope you can live with that. Jerks.

Committed – “Apologize” – They’re so good it makes my heart hurt. This is a great song, and they have a new lead, who’s obviously legit, because they’re all legit. They’re also all REAL friends from a REAL little town in Alabama. *cough*Backbeats*cough* I love them. Nothing more to say. Oh wait, except that last time Shawn lost it, and this time both Ben and Shawn are blown away. VALIDATION!

Groove for Thought – “Cooler Than Me” – Their music style is not my fave. However, they are really good. Listening to the song a second time made me like it even more. They’re also nice people and a REAL GROUP of REAL FRIENDS.

The Whiffenpoofs – “Haven’t Met You Yet” – Not as fun or sassy as their last performance, but more heart-warming. On the Rocks members bounce across the stage like a bunch of frat boys on Rockstar, while the Whiffs prance around like a chorus in a Broadway show. They are cute and quirky, but maybe not as lovable as OtR. Also, even if they are stuck-up, at least they’re actually FRIENDS and exist outside of TV.

Elimination – Whiffenpoofs are headed home. Aw. MERCENARIES take out another group. Life is cruel.

December 7th, 2010 by Dani

The Sing-Off – So it begins…

Oh, it’s a beautiful thing, ain’t it? The Sing-Off’s a capella jams are back, and so is Ben Folds’ cute head-nodding habits. Let’s get to it!

Speaking of Ben Folds, he’s totally like a professor that I would’ve had a very inappropriate crush on in college. Nicole Scherzinger is back, with nothing but cotton candy between her ears and not quite enough crazy to make her entertaining, unlike lovable Paula. Shawn Stockman is also back and he is rocking Ben Folds-esque specs and a yellow tie, which I find endearing.

Oh, Nick Lachey is also back. Last year I was worried about his heart health because of the abundant mayo-induced puffiness, but this year he appears to be friends with the outdoors again, so that’s good. Ok, let’s sing!

Opening medley. Fun. Exactly what you’d expect. Not Earth-shattering, though.

First up…

Eleventh Hour (from Ohio? I think?) “Baby” – They are in high school and they don’t like to talk about it. JK, they want to talk about it ALL the time, like OMG.  They sing “Baby” by Justin Bieber because they like stereotypes. They’re cute and sugary and very “Glee”.

On the Rocks from University of Oregon – “Bad Romance”. I love them immediately. I love anything that satirizes pop culture and they do that just by existing. Anybody who has even seen Lady Gaga in passing knows that she needs to be taken down a peg, and 15 clean-cut frat boys goofily writhing on stage ala Gaga’s shirtless dancers get kudos from me. Also, they are actually really good vocalists. They had at least four dudes grab the leads and they were all believable in their own right.

Groove for Thought from Seattle – “I Wish” – I’m sorry, but I’m already bored. They seem likable as people. I like their yellow shirts. That’s about all I got.

Pitch Slapped (haha) from Berkelee Music School in Boston – “Good Girls Go Bad” – Timberlake wannabe starts us off. Their outfits are cute. They have like a hundred people on stage, and it’s sounds like only five. Nicole stumbles through how “Pussycat Dolls” the chicks are, and that’s kinda all we get.

Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town from Oakland, California – “Save the Last Dance” – Aw, old fellas! They’re cute and classy and likable like old fellas nearly always are. Part of me is slightly bothered though – Jerry Lawson made 29 albums with the Persuasions – do they really need to take a chance at a contract from an up-and-coming group?

Elimination time! I love this show. No long waits or fake drama. Just cut ’em and let’s move on.

Pitch Slapped is eliminated. It’s OK, JT. Lachey says “Pick up yo’ mikes” which tickles me.

The Whiffenpoofs from Yale University – “Grace Kelly” – They are cocky and insufferable in their video, even going so far as asserting that they “invented a capella”. I’m grossed out almost instantly, but their performance is actually really good with a Broadway swagger. Maybe they’ll be more likable next week, since I’m pretty sure they’re way too good to be sent home. (Although, awesomely, Shawn calls them out, thanking them profusely for “inventing a capella”. Ha.)

Men of Note from New Jersey – “For the Longest Time” – They sing to pick up chicks at the mall and assert that they are athletes. They’re cute and seem destined to go home rather soon, even though I really like them and want to feed them a good dinner. (I can’t help it, I feel motherly toward waifish boys.)

Street Corner Symphony from Nashville, Tennesee – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – They are scruffy, aging hipsters and I’m a bit skeptical, especially when the lead singer chooses a terrible pair of cut-off shorts for his video interview attire. However, within half a measure I’m won over. They are LEGIT. I love them.

The Backbeats, from everywhere, because they are completely mercenary and created just for the Sing-Off – “If I Were A Boy” – It seems too low for the lead, and I just can’t get over the fact that this group was put together just for the show. Doesn’t that kind of spoil the Cinderella story of the whole thing? They are good, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t love them.

Committed, from Huntsville, Alabama – “This Love” – Gospel singers! They sing in their church and their pastor is shown grilling roughly 50 chickens and expressing his excitement for their opportunity on the Sing-Off. They’ve never done Top 40 songs before, but they pick “This Love” by Maroon 5. Pssst! Boys! Do you know this song is about sex? Ah well. They work it out, y’all, red sweaters and all. It’s only six dudes and it sounds like 20. Nice. Shawn looks like he’s about to faint.

(As an aside, I love seeing the other groups grooving to each other’s music. Also, the judges are fantastic – critical without being cruel, funny without selling out. This show is so sweet it’s gonna give me cavities.)

Elimination! Men of Note are headed home. Aw. I’ll make you a pot roast.

See y’all Wednesday! Sing-Off season is the most wonderful time of the TV year.