Unless you live under a rock, it’s likely you heard about another mass shooting in America. Aurora Illinois, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
I recently read the following redacted E-Mail, just yesterday morning, actually. It certainly makes one think, or those that don’t, to wake up.
Our parish community has grown through the years, always attempting to meet the needs of our people of faith. In this day and age, with violence a part of our everyday lives, we find a need to upgrade our security for both of our churches.
This past weekend there was an alleged threat toward all Christian churches in XXXXX. The person of interest was identified and has been talked to by the XXXXX Police Department. Once hearing about the possible threat, we asked for the XXXXX Police to help us monitor the facility. We took the threat very seriously! There was a police presence at XXXXX Church all day on Sunday. The XXXXX Police, after a thorough investigation, has determined the rumored threat to be unfounded. We will continue to work with the XXXXX Police Department.
The rumor of threat alone was cause enough for our parish staff to take action to begin to develop procedures for future security issues. There will be individuals present at all masses who are familiar with the person of interest or credible threats on the property. Because of this incident and some previous incidents, the Parish has decided to form a security committee who can help evaluate and respond to future concerns.
What can you do?
- If you have the interest to serve on a security committee, please submit letters of interest to the parish office: drop off, mail or email to XXXXX
- Be attentive; see something, say something!
The well-being of our parishioners and guests in our churches are always a priority to us.
The following was printed in the on-line version of the Washington Post, I share with you.
A gunman opens fire in your building. What do you do?
What would you do if someone walked into the building you are in right now and started shooting? Through training programs and public awareness campaigns, law enforcement experts are asking people to consider this question so that they will be prepared to act rather than freeze if the unthinkable happens. Here are the basics of the “Run, Hide, Fight” program created by the Department of Homeland Security, with additional details from active-shooter survival trainers, law enforcement officers and a Special Forces veteran.
The first — and best — option is to get out if you possibly can. People have been shot while they froze in place a few steps from an exit door, said Scott Zimmerman of K17 Security. Encourage others to leave with you, but don’t let their indecision keep you from going.
Choose a route carefully
Don’t run willy-nilly or blindly follow a crowd. Pause to look before you enter choke points such as stairwells, lobbies and exits to make sure you can move through them quickly and not get stuck out in the open.
Doors are not the only exits.
Open a window; if you have to break it, aim for a corner. See if the
drop ceiling conceals a stable hiding place or a way to enter another
room. You may even be able to punch through thin drywall between rooms.
If you’re trapped on the second floor, consider dropping from a window, feet first, ideally onto a soft landing area. (But if you’re higher than the second floor, the drop itself could be fatal.)
Be quiet and stealthy
Try not to attract a shooter’s attention. Remember that edges of stairs are less likely to creak than the centers. Stay low and duck when you pass windows both inside and outside the building.
If you can’t immediately leave a building or room, you want to buy time — time to plan another way out, time to prepare in case the shooter forces his way in, time for the police to arrive.
Don’t just lock them, barricade them with desks, chairs, bookcases — anything big and heavy. Wedge objects under them at the farthest points from the hinges. Prop or wedge something under door handles to keep them from turning all the way. Tie hinges and knobs with belts or purse straps. A shooter doesn’t want to work hard to enter a room.
Turn off lights, silence phones
Make sure someone has alerted 911
with as many details as you can about your location and anything you
know about the shooter’s whereabouts. Cover windows if you have time; if
not, make sure you can’t be seen through the glass.
Choose a hiding place
If you know you will hide and stay hidden, don’t count on particle-board furniture to stop bullets. Get behind something made of thick wood or thick metal if you can, or stack several layers of thinner material. Make yourself as small a target as possible, either curling into a ball or lying flat on the ground.
Make a plan
Don’t just get under a desk and wait. Plan how you will get out or what you and the other people who are with you will do if the shooter gets into the room.
This is the last resort, a dangerous option to be used only if your life is at risk and you are trapped with a gunman. Different situations call for different strategies, but all of these turn the element of surprise against the shooter.
Throw books, coffee mugs — anything you can grab. Make noise. Keep moving. A moving target is much harder to hit than a stationary one. Greg Crane, founder of the ALICE Training Institute, which has worked with nearly 3,000 schools, said that even children can be taught to move, make noise and distract so they can buy time to get away.
Some experts teach a Secret Service-style
technique in which people wait beside the door and grab the shooter as
he enters. At least one person goes for the arm that holds the gun, one
wraps his legs and others push him down. Using their body weight, a group of smaller people can bring a large man to the ground and hold him there.
Move the weapon away
Once the gun is separated from the shooter, cover it with something such as a coat or a trash can. Don’t hold the weapon, because if police storm in, they may think you are the shooter.
This is last even among last-resort options. The ALICE program doesn’t even suggest this for adults, and none recommend it for children. But if you try to fight, choose a weapon and aim for vital areas such as the head, eyes, throat, and midsection. Don’t quit.
Things you should know to prepare for any emergency
Have an exit plan before you need it. Know where all the exits are in buildings you visit frequently, not just the exits you use.
Keep “real” shoes at your desk so don’t have to sprint in uncomfortable shoes.
Know how to call 911 from your building — do you need to dial out first? Should a crisis arise, make sure someone actually calls.
Don’t use code words on PA announcements, and be informative with as many details as possible, such as “A man with a gun is in the library” or “There is a fire in the third-floor utility closet.”
Let someone know once you’re safe outside.
Try to keep others from inadvertently walking into danger once you are safe.
Sources: Scott Zimmerman, chief executive of K17 Security; Patrick Twomey, formerly of Canadian Special Operations Forces; founder Greg Crane and spokesperson Victoria Shaw of the ALICE Training Institute; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; FBI. The math of mass shootings
So, 14 February is a time for lovers. Go back in time to 1954, use some of these words by the Penguins when talking to that special someone. Live Long, Love, Be Happy and be Kind. The inspiration for this post came from a friend in England, Thanks Thom. https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2019/02/14/the-penguins-earth-angel-street-corner-symphonies-subway-psalms/
From: Brunssum Netherlands and my granddaughter, Captain, USAF, currently serving in Geilenkirchen, Germany with NATO.
In case you ever wondered what being a mom of 4 is like…90 handmade Valentine’s complete. 2 I designed and made from scratch. 2 I used someone’s design and then made from scratch.
A blogging friend’s husband from down Carolina way, sent me a condensed version of a great undertaking by the folks in North Platte, Nebraska this past summer. I looked around as I often do and found this old article from the Wall Street Journal. All credit goes to Bob Greene, and the WSJ and, North Platte Telegraph for this content. Be you Red or Blue, here’s a feel-good story for you.
A Soldier Never Forgets North Platte
When service members pass through this small town in Nebraska, the community comes together to thank them.
293 Comments By Bob Greene July 22, 2018 4:01 p.m. ET
Community and service members in North Platte, Nebraska. Photo: Stephen Barkley/The North Platte Telegraph
‘We were overwhelmed,” said Lt. Col. Nick Jaskolski. “I don’t really have words to describe how surprised and moved we all were. I had never even heard of the town before.”
Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard. For three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming, training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations. Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base.
A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas. The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks. The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte, in western Nebraska, around the time they would likely be hungry. The company placed a call to the visitors’ bureau: Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses, and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack?
North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes.
The community welcomed more than 700 service men and women, North Platte , Nebraska, June 18-19. Photo: Stephen Barkley/The North Platte Telegraph
During World War II, North Platte was a geographically isolated town of 12,000. Soldiers, sailors and aviators on their way to fight the war rode troop trains across the nation, bound for Europe via the East Coast or the Pacific via the West Coast. The Union Pacific Railroad trains that transported the soldiers always made 10-minute stops in North Platte to take on water.
The townspeople made those 10 minutes count. Starting in December 1941, they met every train: up to 23 a day, beginning at 5 a.m. and ending after midnight. Those volunteers greeted between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers a day. They presented them with sandwiches and gifts, played music for them, danced with them, baked birthday cakes for them. Every day of the year, every day of the war, they were there at the depot. They never missed a train, never missed a soldier. They fed six million soldiers by the end of the war. Not 1 cent of government money was asked for or spent, save for a $5 bill sent by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The soldiers never forgot the kindness. Most of them, and most of the townspeople who greeted them, are dead. And now, in 2018, those 21 busloads from the 142nd Field Artillery were on their way, expecting to stop at some fast-food joint.
Photo: Stephen Barkley/The North Platte Telegraph
“We couldn’t believe what we saw when we pulled up,” Col. Jaskolski said. As each bus arrived over a two-day period, the soldiers stepped out to be greeted by lines of cheering people holding signs of thanks. They weren’t at a fast-food restaurant: They were at North Platte’s events center, which had been opened and decorated especially for them.
“People just started calling our office when they heard the soldiers were on their way,” said Lisa Burke, the director of the visitors’ bureau. “Hundreds of people, who wanted to help.”
The soldiers entered the events center to the aroma of steaks grilling and the sound of recorded music: current songs by Luke Bryan, Justin Timberlake, Florida Georgia Line; World War II songs by Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey. They were served steak sandwiches, ham sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, deviled eggs, salads and fruit; local church groups baked pies, brownies and cookies.
Mayor Dwight Livingston stood at the door for two days and shook every soldier’s hand. Mr. Livingston served in the Air Force in Vietnam and came home to no words of thanks. Now, he said, as he shook the hands and welcomed the soldiers, “I don’t know whether those moments were more important for them, or for me. I knew I had to be there.”
“It was one soldier’s 21st birthday,” Lisa Burke said. “When I gave him his cake, he told me it was the first birthday cake he’d ever had in his life.” Not wanting to pry, she didn’t ask him how that could possibly be. “I was able to hold my emotions together,” she said. “Until later.”
When it became time to settle up—the Army, after all, had that money budgeted for snacks—the 142nd Field Artillery was told: Nope. You’re not spending a penny here. This is on us.
This is on North Platte.
Mr. Greene’s books include “Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen.”
I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity and ability to be a companion for my widowed Brother-in-law who had shoulder surgery this past Monday. His name is John and my wife and I were his and my sister’s next door neighbors for twenty years from the late 60’s to the late 80’s.
Since he lived alone, with his daughter in Alaska, a son needing to show up to work each day and his usual watchdogs taking care of some health issues of their own, I said, “what the hell, I’ll go up”. Up you say, Connecticut is where he lives, about seventeen miles south of the Massachusetts state line. Did I mention it’s cold up there? -1 as I press these keys on this Friday. For those of you further north and west, I know you’d like to see it that warm.
Driving would be out of the question, at least for the first week. So, he needed a driver. John is right handed and the right shoulder is what was being operated on. Getting in and out of his elaborate sling with pillow and cold water jacket would be close to impossible. Forget about the emptying and filling of the cold-water jacket from the high-tech jug of ice water. Preparation of meals would present quite a challenge as well.
My greatest attribute while being with John was being able to remind him “don’t do that”. It’s just amazing how we all think, the rules of the road, Doctor and common sense, don’t apply to us. So, after a few sessions in the time out chair, the old dog learned some new tricks. K-9 Tigger, an under-foot type whenever food is being prepared or consumed, seemed more of an issue to the caretaker than the cared for.
We’ve been to PT, the day after surgery and shall return again on this my last day. I’ve watched over him X3 each day while he went through his exercises. I’ve assisted with the Ice application, which we modified for further easiness. We’ve studied history together, had discussions on politics of the day and watched my beloved U Conn Huskies ladies basketball team get their butts kicked by Louisville for the first time ever.
1,898 miles to the south at the Island Magic Beach Resort in Belize sending this warm propaganda of the sun as it rises.
We went to PT, did a few stops to pick up some batting and material for the wife from her favorite place to spend money when we’re up here. I made a stop for Pastrami on Rye at Rein’s Deli and we headed back to the house.
I was just about to open the lunch bag when we get guests arriving. Former neighbors Ian & Lavinia. Lavinia, not being a common name and me a fanatical background and research nerd found this, just in case anyone is interested. A beautiful orange Tulip plant now adorns the house.
Borne in Roman mythology by the daughter of King Latinus. She was the last wife of Aeneas and was considered to be the mother of the Roman people. The name is a feminine form of Latinus (from Latium, the area surrounding and including ancient Rome). I must not slight Ian so:
Ian is a modern Scottish form of the name John. It was not used in Scotland until the late nineteenth century, though it has since become popular throughout the English-speaking world.
,Moments before the arrival of Ian & Lavinia came calling, John got a call from good friend Lynn. I put the Pastrami in the fridge for a Tuna Grinder ‘( that’s a Sub or Hogie up here in CT). I’ve been saying it a lot lately, “God Bless That Women.” Lynn’s food came from:https://www.georginasrestaurant.com/
After all depart, my patient does his exercises and breathing conditioning and we both get in a warm winter’s nap. Oh how I love that hour from 2:00 – 3:00 when I can sneak one in.
Grandson Tim and his girl friend Lauren came by and I hung around for a bit to catch up on things I’m one of the Ladd’s Uncles. At seven son Matthew came by and picked me up. I’ll spend tonight with him and his family three miles up the road. Tomorrow it’s BDL to PHL to SBY and home.
My Job is complete, Behave John!
Today it is raining cats and dogs as a big front moved east across the Delmarva. This has been a good opportunity to catch up on blogs I follow on three different sites, WordPress, Google, and Medium. I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been keeping a Journal for a number of years, it will now take on a different look as I encompass some of Barry Davret’s ideas.
Each half hour I get up and take to a 40 step walk, ten times through our downstairs. Two rooms, Living/Dining combination, and a Bedroom. We also have a bathroom on this level. Yes, small by most standards and a big step down from our 3500 sq/foot previous home. We do have an Annex of 900 sg/feet that is also a guest house.
Upstairs there is the Sewing room where the quilts are put together, a bedroom where the quilts are laid out, my Office and another full Bath. We also have a loft, attic, garret, whatever is your pleasure. When the Grands were Wees we would throw the lot of them up there to sleep. “Go TO SLEEP”!
See, much like that daily documenting, things are stimulating memory. I’m just doing it here in the Blog. So, here you go with a couple of sites to pull up. Especially take a few minutes for https://medium.com/@Barry.Davret/how-an-experience-journal-will-turbocharge-your-daily-writing-and-ease-your-anxiety-9e1961eb3ec3
“A life worth living is a life worth recording”. Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn, the philosopher who has left an indelible legacy of time-proven principles says:
How An“Experience Journal” Will Turbocharge Your Daily Writing And Ease Your Anxiety by: Barry Davret
All You Need Is A $2.00 Notebook and 15 Minutes Before Bed.
Once again the Rooster is ever grateful for another family member making my Blogging easy. I share with you the most recent Blog of grandaughter,, Captain Samantha Berthiaume-Davies, USAF. Thanks Sammy.
20 years ago due to an airplane malfunction 20 Washington State Air National Guardsmen lost their lives on Geilenkirchen Air Base.
I had great plans to write this post on Monday night. Then on Tuesday I planned to write it, but from a very different angle. Today, I finally have some time to sit down and try to do this post justice.
I was asked to help with the execution of the memorial service. This being my first event of any scale I was on edge. 75 people had flown from the US to honor their comrades and family members lost on Jan 13, 1999. There was a 20 minute ceremony and a lunch that I was responsible for. Though the weather didn’t cooperate, the entire day went off without a hitch.
I didn’t realize how much of myself I had invested into the event until Tuesday morning. We forgot Ana’s book bag at the house (thanks to Zed for running home to grab it), forgot my cell phone at home (a whole day without a cell phone is hard), after my shower from the gym I realized I hadn’t brought boot socks or an uniform shirt, oh and I left my hat in my car so I got to do that walk of shame.
As I walked out the of gym in a smelly uniform shirt, with no hat on, and ankle socks I saw the school bus pull up. At that moment I just needed a hug from my girls. I got two amazing hugs before they headed off to school with their pony tails wagging behind them and went back to my car to figure out what had just happened.
Why was I in tears at 830am over such trivial things? It was then I realized how much effort I had put into this event to ensure the family and friends of ESSO 77 had a memorable time. For some of them this was the first time they had ever been to GK and for others the first time they had been back since their squadron mates had passed away.
It was also then that I remembered the importance of hugging those you love and making sure they know how you feel. And finally, it was when a new friend tapped on my window to ask if I was ok and gave me a hug.
So to ESSO 77, thank you for your service to not just the nation, but serving with NATO means you’ve provided service to the world.
Articles if you want to learn more about ESSO 77.
We are past the weekly hump and I find myself alone, well, except for Ben whose asleep on the couch. It’s 0525 and I’ve been up since 0332. Don’t you just love those digital clocks?, Why in the name of sleep would a Rooster be up crowing so early you ask, because the Mrs., the cackling hen, is prepping for her trip to the gym. God Bless her, the eldest among the fit she sweats with, and they are most kind to her to boot.
As for me, I’m a sane and still moving elder who goes to the MAC center, I do stressful stuff like stretch and tone, in a chair. I did do a mile on the treadmill yesterday. It wasn’t quite like the Mother Hen’s walk across the Bay Bridge, but it was good for my bones and cardio system.
Lately, some quilting’s been started, it will next go to the Annex, be put on the quilting frame and the actual quilting process will begin. This time some Big Stitch quilting will be tried. Me dear lady has done Machine, Lap and small stitch in the past. Here are some examples of Big Stitch.
Two of the most recent Baby Quilts are pictured below.
As for me, I’ve been checking on the chickens, gathering eggs, taking the dog for runs and mentally working on a future Blog. Here are a few pictures of recent views.
In order to put more information out in the Electronic Hemisphere, I’ve adapted to sharing loved one’s posts from the Netherlands. Thanks to granddaughter Samantha who gets to live there for a few years with husband Zed, ( I call him Sir Zedsalot), and their 4 Children, she provides me with ammunition of the written word to use. Sam has provided some great travel info and photos in this post, enjoy. Happy New Year all! theRooster
Though the title only really applies to one lunch Zed and I have had over the past 2 weeks it also explains our holiday break pretty well. We tried a little of a lot and saw some new things. Enjoy the long, but fun post to follow.
We spent an entire day in Maastricht, NL while the kids were at daycare. If you’ve been to Georgetown, MD imagine a European version and that’s Maastricht. Their Christmas market was still going, but everything was on sale! We rode the Ferris Wheel, walked the shopping district and ate at a small burger place named FAB (Famous American Bistro). Sharing 5 sliders and some deep fried Mac & Cheese we felt a little piece of home, except for the glass bottled waters.
The church on the left has been restored from the 1700s to its original painted color and structure. The church on the right is from the 1500s.
View of Maastricht from the top of the Ferris Wheel.
Another view from the Ferris Wheel of the two really old churches.
This book store has taken up residence in an old church. The vast cathedral houses three stories of books in a multitude of languages.
Zed and Ana went shopping at Rammstein, aka as American as you can get in Europe. They saw Mary Poppins, bought discounted Christmas decorations, and visited Bastogne.
New Year’s Eve Day, we stayed local as I had about 5hours to play in between my shifts. Heerlen is where our ward building is located, but also a really neat town close to home. We enjoyed the site, shopping, and some yummy sushi before I headed back in to work.
These bricks are found in the sidewalk outside of buildings Jews lived in. They say the name, the birth year, when they were deported, when they died, and the camp they were sent to.
During the winter a sledding hill and ice rink are set up in the square.
Pock marks from bullet holes can be seen in the bell tower left over from WWII.
New Year’s Eve was quiet inside our home, but the Dutch sure know how to celebrate. The firework display was a 360 degree show that lasted from 11pm to 3am. This display was put on by everyone, but us. We were not aware that to live in the Netherlands you are obligated to set off fireworks on New Years…we have learned for next year. The fireworks set off also are not able to be purchased in the US. The rockets are large and fuses short.
Jan 2nd brought another date day where we got to test out our new GoPro at the indoor ski slopes. Completing 12 runs in two hours, we were pretty tired and ready for some lunch. Back to Maastricht we went to enjoy some Fish and Chips at Jack White’s. Here is where the title of this post comes in. We enjoyed gourmet fish with a tray of five different sauces to choose from. Zed ordered the cod battered in the traditional seasoning. I got Mackerel battered in various herbs. Our tarter sauces consisted of traditional tarter, curry lime, spicy beetroot, mango, and garlic. The mango was our favorite and the garlic made an amazing dip for the chips. It was at this restaurant we learned the best way (cheapest) to drink out is to order the largest water they have and split it. We also stopped in a costume shop to begin our Carnival costume planning. Here’s what Zed is considering.
The 3rd, on a whim we went to Trier. This is the oldest town in all of Germany with many Roman ruins still present. We ate in a historic cellar that displayed numerous crests from the region. Unfortunately both of our phones were unusable halfway through the day so we didn’t get pictures of everything…guess we’ll just have to go back. We intend to bring family as they come to visit because we enjoyed the town so much.
One of the many churches in the town. I am standing at the opposite side of the square in order to capture the full height…at least 12 stories.
Better lighting and side view of the same cathedral.
Inside the Constantine Basilica. The most interesting thing to me here was the history of the church. In the history it explains how many times the church was rebuilt (at least 5) due to different ownerships. The most recent reconstruction of the Basilica was due to “the necessary consequences from the Nazi era”. The altar is the place of the previous Roman Emperor’s throne. It was the plainest church we saw in Trier, but according to the guide “it has been divested of its former pomp and splendor. Marble and treasures have no place in it.” The guide made us wonder who was responsible for writing it due to the blunt nature of the words.
Ironically, this is connected to the back side of the Basilica. Covered in pink paint, gold leafs, and Roman statues the electoral college had ownership of the building at one time. This opens up into what I can imagine is a gorgeous garden in the spring and summer time complete with fountains and reflection pools.
Porta Nigra. The one remaining port entry gate from the Romans, there were a total of 4. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My first ever to visit.
After this picture my phone died. We also saw the amphitheater which felt much life a Division 1 football stadium and the main bath house. Oh, and we did some shopping of course.
We put some miles on our shoes, checked a few stops off the bucket list, and enjoyed some quality time as a couple. Because of these small trips, Zed and I have realized we need to make a list of places to visit based on driving distance so as we have a random day or long weekend off we can hop in the car and go.
I’ll be sure to have a phone charger in the car and the GoPro always prepared from here on out so you don’t miss any of our travels.
Watch Shonda Rhimes’s Wonderfully Candid Dartmouth Commencement Speech
My daughter and I share stuff back and forth. Today when I opened my mail, this was waiting for me. Yes I know, a lengthy read. but worthy to be read by those going forward in this world of ours. Take ten minutes or so and read it. If you know of a young one out there going forth in the world, share it. If you think it worthy, don’t thank me, thank my daughter, that would be our first born, Kathryn. She has that uncanny ability to motivate people, mentor our youth and inspire many.
I’ve also read somewhere that going more than 12-1,600 words, you tend to lose your audience. I apologize for that, however, this is what the lady said, and what I’m sharing. Didn’t someone once say ‘Go forth and multiply”?
I share with you. Shonda Rhimes gave Dartmouth’s commencement address on Sunday, noting to the sea of students that she was worried that she might “pass out or die or poop my pants” midway. But! She made it — imparting much general wisdom and some added tips on being someone whom many people assume effortlessly “does it all.” (The secret? “You don’t.”)
Her speech begins at 1:41, and you can read a full transcript below.
President Hanlon, faculty, staff, honored guests, parents, students, families and friends—good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth graduating class of 2014!
This is weird.
Me giving a speech. In general, I do not like giving speeches. Giving a speech requires standing in front of large groups of people while they look at you and it also requires talking. I can do the standing part OK. But you looking and me talking … I am not a fan. I get this overwhelming feeling of fear. Terror, really. Dry mouth, heartbeats superfast, everything gets a little bit slow motion. Like I might pass out. Or die. Or poop my pants or something. I mean, don’t worry. I’m not going to pass out or die or poop my pants. Mainly because just by telling you that it could happen, I have somehow neutralized it as an option. Like as if saying it out loud casts some kind of spell where now it cannot possibly happen now. Vomit. I could vomit. See. Vomiting is now also off the table. Neutralized it. We’re good.
Anyway, the point is. I do not like to give speeches. I’m a writer. I’m a TV writer. I like to write stuff for other people to say. I actually contemplated bringing Ellen Pompeo or Kerry Washington here to say my speech for me … but my lawyer pointed out that when you drag someone across state lines against their will, the FBI comes looking for you, so…
I don’t like giving speeches, in general, because of the fear and terror. But this speech? This speech, I really did not want to give.
A Dartmouth Commencement speech? Dry mouth. Heartbeats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.
Look, it would be fine if this were, 20 years ago. If it were back in the day when I graduated from Dartmouth. Twenty-three years ago, I was sitting right where you are now. And I was listening to Elizabeth Dole speak. And she was great. She was calm and she was confident. It was just … different. It felt like she was just talking to a group of people. Like a fireside chat with friends. Just Liddy Dole and like 9,000 of her closest friends. Because it was 20 years ago. And she was just talking to a group of people.
Now? Twenty years later? This is no fireside chat. It’s not just you and me. This speech is filmed and streamed and tweeted and uploaded. NPR has like, a whole site dedicated to Commencement speeches. A whole site just about commencement speeches. There are sites that rate them and mock them and dissect them. It’s weird. And stressful. And kind of vicious if you’re an introvert perfectionist writer who hates speaking in public in the first place.
When President Hanlon called me—and by the way, I would like to thank President Hanlon for asking me way back in January, thus giving me a full six months of terror and panic to enjoy. When President Hanlon called me, I almost said no. Almost.
Dry mouth. Heartbeats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.
But I’m here. I am gonna do it. I’m doing it. You know why?
Because I like a challenge. And because this year I made myself a promise that I was going to do the stuff that terrifies me. And because, 20-plus years ago when I was trudging uphill from the River Cluster through all that snow to get to the Hop for play rehearsal, I never imagined that I would one day be standing here, at the Old Pine lectern. Staring out at all of you. About to throw down on some wisdom in the Dartmouth Commencement address.
So, you know, yeah. Moments.
Also, I’m here because I really, really wanted some EBAs.
I want to say right now that every single time someone asked me what I was going to talk about in this speech, I would boldly and confidently tell them that I had all kinds wisdom to share. I was lying. I feel wildly unqualified to give you advice. There is no wisdom here. So all I can do is talk about some stuff that could maybe be useful to you, from one Dartmouth grad to another. Some stuff that won’t ever show up in a Meredith Grey voiceover or a Papa Pope monologue. Some stuff I probably shouldn’t be telling you here now because of the uploading and the streaming and the tweeting. But I am going to pretend that it is 20 years ago. That it’s just you and me. That we’re having a fireside chat. Screw the outside world and what they think. I’ve already said “poop” like five times already anyway … things are getting real up in here.
OK, wait. Before I talk to you. I want to talk to your parents. Because the other thing about it being 20 years later is that I’m a mother now. So I know some things, some very different things. I have three girls. I’ve been to the show. You don’t know what that means, but your parents do. You think this day is all about you. But your parents… the people who raised you … the people who endured you … they potty trained you, they taught you to read, they survived you as a teenager, they have suffered 21 years and not once did they kill you. This day … you call it your graduation day. But this day is not about you. This is their day. This is the day they take back their lives, this is the day they earn their freedom. This day is their Independence Day. So, parents, I salute you. And as I have an eight-month-old, I hope to join your ranks of freedom in 20 years!
OK. So here comes the real deal part of the speech, or you might call it, Some Random Stuff Some Random Alum Who Runs a TV Show Thinks I Should Know Before I Graduate:
When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of wise and heartfelt things. They have the wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.
I think that’s crap.
I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.
The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be …” or “I wish.”
“I want to be a writer.” “I wish I could travel around the world.”
And they dream of it. The buttoned-up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams, and the hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate about their dreams. Maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girlfriend or your mother. And it feels really good. You’re talking about it, and you’re planning it. Kind of. You are blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should be doing. Right? I mean, that’s what Oprah and Bill Gates did to get successful, right?
Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.
So, Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.
You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.
I did not dream of being a TV writer. Never, not once when I was here in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, did I say to myself, “Self, I want to write TV.”
You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I blue sky’ed it like crazy. I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, FYI. Anyway, there I was in that basement, and I was dreaming of being Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. And guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up. So one day I was sitting in that basement and I read an article that said—it was in The New York Times—and it said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. And I thought I could dream about being Toni Morrison, or I could do.
At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories. A way that suited me. A way that brought me joy. A way that flipped this switch in my brain and changed the way I saw the world. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I had no stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.
Lesson Two. Lesson two is that tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you.
When I graduated from Dartmouth that day in 1991, when I was sitting right where you are and I was staring up at Elizabeth Dole speaking, I will admit that I have no idea what she was saying. Could n’t even listen to her. Not because I was overwhelmed or emotional or any of that. But because I had a serious hangover. Like, an epic painful hangover because (and here is where I apologize to President Hanlon because I know that you are trying to build a better and more responsible Dartmouth and I applaud you and I admire you and it is (very necessary) but I was really freaking drunk the night before. And the reason I’d been so drunk the night before, the reason I’d done upside down margarita shots at Bones Gate was because I knew that after graduation, I was going to take off my cap and gown, my parents were going to pack my stuff in the car and I was going to go home and probably never come back to Hanover again. And even if I did come back, it wouldn’t matter because it wouldn’t be the same because I didn’t live here anymore.
On my graduation day, I was grieving.
My friends were celebrating. They were partying. They were excited. So happy. No more school, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks. And I was like, are you freaking kidding me? You get all the fro‑yo you want here! The gym is free. The apartments in Manhattan are smaller than my suite in North Mass. Who cared if there was no place to get my hair done? All my friends are here. I have a theatre company here. I was grieving. I knew enough about how the world works, enough about how adulthood plays out, to be grieving.
Here’s where I am going to embarrass myself and make you all feel maybe a little bit better about yourselves. I literally lay down on the floor of my dorm room and cried while my mother packed up my room. I refused to help her. Like, hell no I won’t go. I nonviolent-protested leaving here. Like, went limp like a protestor, only without the chanting—it was really pathetic. If none of you lie down on a dirty hardwood floor and cry today while your mommy packs up your dorm room, you are already starting your careers out ahead of me. You are winning.
But here’s the thing. The thing I really felt like I knew was that the real world sucks. And it is scary. College is awesome. You’re special here. You’re in the Ivy League, you are at the pinnacle of your life’s goals at this point—your entire life up until now has been about getting into some great college and then graduating from that college. And now, today, you have done it. The moment you get out of college, you think you are going to take the world by storm. All doors will be opened to you. It’s going to be laughter and diamonds and soirees left and right.
What really happens is that, to the rest of the world, you are now at the bottom of the heap. Maybe you’re an intern, possibly a low-paid assistant. And it is awful. The real world, it sucked so badly for me. I felt like a loser all of the time. And more than a loser? I felt lost.
Which brings me to clarify lesson number two.
Tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you. But don’t be an asshole.
Here’s the thing. Yes, it is hard out there. But hard is relative. I come from a middle-class family, my parents are academics, I was born after the civil rights movement, I was a toddler during the women’s movement, I live in the United States of America, all of which means I’m allowed to own my freedom, my rights, my voice, and my uterus; and I went to Dartmouth and I earned an Ivy League degree.
The lint in my navel that accumulated while I gazed at it as I suffered from feeling lost about how hard it was to not feel special after graduation … that navel lint was embarrassed for me.
Elsewhere in the world, girls are harmed simply because they want to get an education. Slavery still exists. Children still die from malnutrition. In this country, we lose more people to handgun violence than any other nation in the world. Sexual assault against women in America is pervasive and disturbing and continues at an alarming rate.
So yes, tomorrow may suck for you—as it did for me. But as you stare at the lint in your navel, have some perspective. We are incredibly lucky. We have been given a gift. An incredible education has been placed before us. We ate all the fro-yo we could get our hands on. We skied. We had EBAs at 1 a.m. We built bonfires and got frostbite and had all the free treadmills. We beer-ponged our asses off. Now it’s time to pay it forward.
Find a cause you love. It’s OK to pick just one. You are going to need to spend a lot of time out in the real world trying to figure out how to stop feeling like a lost loser, so one cause is good. Devote some time every week to it.
Oh. And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething
Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show. I do it all the time. For me, it’s Game of Thrones.
Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it’s good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. Don’t be an asshole.
Lesson number three.
So you’re out there, and you’re giving back and you’re doing, and it’s working. And life is good. You are making it. You’re a success. And it’s exciting and it’s great. At least it is for me. I love my life. I have three TV shows at work and I have three daughters at home. And it’s all amazing, and I am truly happy. And people are constantly asking me, how do you do it?
And usually, they have this sort of admiring and amazed tone.
Shonda, how do you do it all?
Like I’m full of magical magic and special wisdom-ness or something.
How do you do it all?
And I usually just smile and say like, “I’m really organized.” Or if I’m feeling slightly kindly, I say, “I have a lot of help.”
And those things are true. But they also are not true.
And this is the thing that I really want to say. To all of you. Not just to the women out there. Although this will matter to you women a great deal as you enter the work force and try to figure out how to juggle work and family. But it will also matter to the men, who I think increasingly are also trying to figure out how to juggle work and family. And frankly, if you aren’t trying to figure it out, men of Dartmouth, you should be. Fatherhood is being redefined at a lightning-fast rate. You do not want to be a dinosaur.
So women and men of Dartmouth: As you try to figure out the impossible task of juggling work and family and you hear over and over and over again that you just need a lot of help or you just need to be organized or you just need to try just a little bit harder … as a very successful woman, a single mother of three, who constantly gets asked the question “How do you do it all?” For once I am going to answer that question with 100 percent honesty here for you now. Because it’s just us. Because it’s our fireside chat. Because somebody has to tell you the truth.
Shonda, how do you do it all?
The answer is this: I don’t.
Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.
If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost.
Something is always missing.
And yet. I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I like how proud they are when they come to my offices and know that they come to Shondaland. There is a land and it is named after their mother. In their world, mothers run companies. In their world, mothers own Thursday nights. In their world, mothers work. And I am a better mother for it. The woman I am because I get to run Shondaland, because I get write all day, because I get to spend my days making things up, that woman is a better person—and a better mother. Because that woman is happy. That woman is fulfilled. That woman is whole. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who wasn’t doing.
Lesson Number Three is that anyone who tells you they are doing it all perfectly is a liar.
I fear I’ve scared you or been a little bit bleak, and that was not my intention. It is my hope that you run out of here, excited, leaning forward, into the wind, ready to take the world by storm. That would be so very fabulous. For you to do what everyone expects of you. For you to just go be exactly the picture of hardcore Dartmouth awesome.
My point, I think, is that it is OK if you don’t. My point is that it can be scary to graduate. That you can lie on the hardwood floor of your dorm room and cry while your mom packs up your stuff. That you can have an impossible dream to be Toni Morrison that you have to let go of. That every day you can feel like you might be failing at work or at your home life. That the real world is hard.
And yet, you can still wake up every single morning and go, “I have three amazing kids and I have created work I am proud of, and I absolutely love my life and I would not trade it for anyone else’s life ever.”
You can still wake up one day and find yourself living a life you never even imagined dreaming of.
My dreams did not come true. But I worked really hard. And I ended up building an empire out of my imagination. So my dreams? Can suck it.
You can wake up one day and find that you are interesting and powerful and engaged. You can wake up one day and find that you are a doer.
You can be sitting right where you are now. Looking up at me. Probably—hopefully, I pray for you—hung over. And then 20 years from now, you can wake up and find yourself in the Hanover Inn full of fear and terror because you are going to give the Commencement speech. Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.
Which one of you will it be? Which member of the 2014 class is going to find themselves standing up here? Because I checked and it is pretty rare for an alum to speak here. It’s pretty much just me and Robert Frost and Mr. Rogers, which is crazy awesome.
Which one of you is going to make it up here? I really hope that it’s one of you. Seriously.
When it happens, you’ll know what this feels like.
Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything moves in slow motion.
Graduates, every single one of you, be proud of your accomplishments. Make good on your diplomas.
You are no longer students. You are no longer works in progress. You are now citizens of the real world. You have a responsibility to become a person worthy of joining and contributing to society. Because who you are today … that’s who you are.
So be brave.
And every single time you get a chance?
Stand up in front of people.
Let them see you. Speak. Be heard.
Go ahead and have the dry mouth.
Let your heart beat so, so fast.
Watch everything move in slow motion.
You pass out, you die, you poop?
And this is really the only lesson you’ll ever need to know …
You take it in.
You breathe this rare air.
You feel alive.
You be yourself.
You truly finally always be yourself.
Thank you. Good luck.
I love when Sam writes a post and I get to share it with my readership. It certainly makes my Blogging easy. 2017 saw Zed deployed to the Gulf and Sam and the children nestled down in Allen, MD with Pappy & G. (That would be Jeff & Kathryn) Today you get to see the family from a distance 3896.60 miles away. When we spoke with Sam yesterday she said it was a balmy 60 degrees. Enjoy our distant Grands and Greats
Merry Christmas from Germany…well the Netherlands. Live in one country and work in another, pretty cool concept.
We would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This was our first year recording the chaos thanks to an early gift, 1.5hr of opening gifts and a full day of lounging and playing with them. I tried to upload the pictures in progression of the events.