Mass Shootings Are Just Part of American Life Now

20130725-026wYesterday there was another mass shooting. Every time it happens, I notice fewer and fewer people are concerned about it. Today at lunch, one of my companions said, “Was there another shooting yesterday?” I never even went and read a real news story about it. I saw bits and pieces. I read the President’s comments. We are generally well-informed professionals, so how can this be.

Because we, and millions of other people, have just accepted this as part of our normal.

When I watched parents grieving their kindergartners after Sandy Hook, and saw that we made no changes as a result, I just accepted periodic, senseless shootings as part of American life. It’s just something we, as a group, have decided we’re okay with. It’s a risk we’re willing to take. We are willing to accept random mass shootings are part of the fabric of our society. We’ll take our chances. You can argue that’s not the case, but people would vote differently if they truly cared.

I live in a state with conceal/carry with no training. Although I live in a very safe little mid-western town of 40,000, there are now just places I don’t go in town – that I view as too unsafe. Why? Because I’ve accepted that the chance for a random shooting is just part of living in America now.

I’m not happy about that. It seems to me we should try to stop making so many people who want to kill other people. Why are we doing that? How are we doing that? I don’t know, but it’s clear we are. White, male loners are dangerous people, is the logical conclusion. This has been clear for decades. It seems like something we should figure out, but we have no interest in that either. I don’t know why.

I can guarantee you from personal experience that people with no training do not need to have guns. I grew up around guns. I’m pretty good with a gun. I don’t own a gun. I don’t want to ban all guns. But we do need to apply some logic to who has them and if they know what the hell they’re doing with them. Guns can kill a lot of people very quickly. There’s a reason wars are fought with guns and not knives.

Oh, there’s a lot of lip service paid to these events. We celebrate the heroes and swear we won’t glorify the shooters. And then we just keep doing what we were doing before. The things that, as a society, somehow led to the shooting.

It horrifies me to accept that mass shootings are just part of American life now, but it is clear that is the case. When we won’t do anything after kindergartners are shot, we’re not going to do anything when anyone else is shot. It’s sad, but it’s true.

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Words That Soothe

20140510-002wOccasionally I run across a quote or verse that really strikes me. Maybe it’s because of where I am in my life at the moment or maybe it’s just the beauty of the words. But, I’m finding this particularly meaningful these days.

I will soothe you
and heal you,

I will bring you roses.

I, too, have been
covered with thorns.
— Rumi

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Broken People

2015-05-27 16.26.37In yoga class Wednesday night I had a real spiritual experience.

Near the end of class, I was lying where I could see out the windows at the back of the yoga studio. There are small windows up above that act almost as a frame. The clouds were moving quickly and morphing from one thing to another. There was nothing but blue sky and clouds in my field of view.

As I watched the clouds go from one shape to another a story unfolded in front of me. It probably wasn’t a story anyone else would have seen or cared about, but it was clear to me. The message I took away from the experience was not uplifting, but important.

We are all just broken people, wandering around with pieces of ourselves, looking for someone who can help us put them together. Sometimes we have someone help us who forces them together like puzzle pieces that don’t really fit. Eventually that becomes clear, and we have to rip them apart again. Then, there we are, broken people, wandering around with pieces of ourselves, looking for someone who can help us put them together. Again.

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A Satisfying Sunday

20150809-060wThis day has been spent working around the house on the typical computer projects, but also on a couple of other projects I’ve put off far too long. I can spend more time dreading doing something than it would take to just do it. I’m not sure why I do that. It’s not like I’m unaware of it, but nonetheless, it happens.

At dusk I went out for some dinner and then decided to drive out and see if I could get a nice sunset photo. It had sprinkled rain a couple of times so I thought the moisture in the air might give us a pretty sunset. It was nicely intense.

As I was coming back into town, I drove past a bull calf in a fence row, not with the rest of the herd on the other side of the fence. I started to stop at a nearby house, but then got concerned he might get on the road. So, I turned around and went back to where I could see him. I looked for a gate but didn’t see one.

The calf was going up and down the fence, sticking his head through here and there. Not knowing what else to do, I called 911 and asked them to send a deputy. I was afraid to leave him because I didn’t want him to get on the road. Only once did he move that direction, but it was getting dark and I thought that was a disaster in the making.

So, I turned around, back and forth, to keep him in my headlights. Eventually I was just sitting in the road, my hazards on, watching him, when the Sheriff’s Deputy arrived. He pulled up beside me and we were watching the calf. Then, as we’re talking, the calf finds the spot and jumps back into the field. So, problem solved.

Except, of course, the calf can come and go as he pleases, apparently. I don’t know if his people know that. But I don’t know who his people are, so I can’t help with that.

I had hoped one of the half dozen or so cars that went by would stop. I thought maybe they would know who owned the herd. But, for the first time ever, no one stopped. I’m really puzzled by that.

But, at least for that moment, the calf was back with the herd. No one driving by was going to hit him in the dark, which would have been bad for human and calf. No one was going to lose a chunk of their livelihood.

I’m not sure how my days get weird, but they do.

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Busy Saturday

20150808 035

These two lovely people got married today!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to their wedding reception. It was at my friend, Trish’s house, which is a great spot for such things.

Jill and April are wonderful folks. We don’t know each other well, but they were generous enough to include me in their reception.

The day the marriage equality decision came down. I was joking all day, “It has been four hours and no one has invited me to a wedding!” Then, “It has been six hours and no one has invited me to a wedding!” Finally, “It has been a whole day and no one has invited me to a wedding. I just ordered a dress last night that would be perfect for a wedding. But no one has invited me to a wedding!” (That was actually true about the dress.) Anyway, I think they finally felt sorry for me and said, “Just wait, the invite is coming. Soon!”

So, the invite arrived. And I was delighted to be there to celebrate with them!

In the evening I went to hear the Vogts Sisters at Stage 9. They have those wonderful sister harmonies that are so pretty. I had stopped in at Brewed Awakening around noon when they were doing a little preview. Their concert was a nice way to wrap up a Saturday.

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Food Prepared With Love

20150807 - 2015-08-07 19.00.37A friend invited me to a lovely dinner on Friday night to celebrate his birthday. There were 10 of us total and it was a wonderful evening. I’m so lucky to have such fantastic friends. Jon has brought a number of terrific friends into my life and I hope his 50th is one he remembers for a long time! Happy Birthday Jon!

Later I was telling another friend about the evening, and he said he had also had a fabulous dinner. His mom had prepared a dinner he enjoyed. It made me suggest to him that he fully appreciate how wonderful that is.

Having someone prepare food for you – with love – is something many of us don’t get very often. My mom always loved to cook my favorite things when I was home. I loved that, but knew it was a temporary situation. After my mom died, my sister in law cooked for me sometimes. Now that she’s gone, it’s pretty rare for me to enjoy food prepared by someone else with love. I eat out a lot, so I do eat food prepared by others, but restaurants are not the same as having someone who cares about you cook for you. It’s also a gift to prepare food for those you love.

If people cooking for you is something you have in your life, enjoy it and appreciate it. The friend I was visiting with tonight said he suddenly realized he had been cooked for a lot in life and hadn’t appreciated it fully. As he put it, “Please wait. Maturity is buffering: 51 percent.”

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Those Conversations

20090215w - Copy (2) - CopyWEBTonight I had a lengthy and intense conversation with a friend. As conversations go, it was a seamless transition from one topic to another, although I’d be hard pressed now to explain how that happened.

I’m once again struck by how rare it is to have “real” conversation. Not conversation about the jetsam and flotsam of life, but real things. Things that matter. Things that affect you. Things that you care about, sometimes even when you don’t want to care about them. Things that make you who you are, including things you’re not proud of.

It requires both people to be open, to take risks, to accept that what they say will be treated with gentleness. It requires vulnerability, something most of us are loathe to extend to our fellow humans. It requires believing we can count on kindness for parts of ourselves even we have difficulty with.

I left the conversation with no regrets. I hope the same for him.

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Talk20 Hutch and Connections

talk2020140124-283wbobcolladayI’m passionate about connecting people and ideas, and that often happens through story. In fact, almost everything I do in my personal and professional life is about building connections. I’m certain this is how we make the world better,

One of the things I’ve been a part of creating that exemplifies community connection is Talk20 Hutch. We just had our fourth installment Friday night and it was spectacular, as always.

The concept is that 10 people tell a story using 20 photos and each one is shown for 20 seconds. The slides are on a timer and just keep going, so the presenters have to, too. Each presentation is a little over six minutes.

This is a community project a friend, Kari, and I started. Actually, we weren’t friends when it began – we didn’t even know each other. But a mutual friend, Kate, thought we should, and asked us both to get together and meet. Kate wasn’t in town, so Kari and I met on our own. I’m always thrilled to do that. In fact, it’s how I first met Kate. She said people kept telling her that she should get to know me and she asked if I’d meet her for coffee. It was great to connect with her and it was great to connect with Kari through her a few years later.

Anyway, over coffee, Kari was telling me various ideas she had for things she’d like to see in Hutchinson. One of them was Talk20. She had been a presenter where she had lived before moving back to Hutchinson. As soon as she explained the concept, I said, “Oh! I love that! We should do that, and we should do it at the library!” I was excited by the possibilities.

Well, things went along for a few months with both of us thinking about potential presenters and Kari, who had just moved here when we first met got settled in. She messaged she was ready to proceed. I asked the director at the library to meet with us. Kari asked if I thought he would be willing. I replied I was 99.99% sure. We explained to Gregg what we wanted to do and with no hesitation he said, “Yes! Lets do it!”

So, we began planning. That was in October, 2013. We did our first Talk20 in January, 2014. We expected 75-100 people. We had about 150. People were standing in the auditorium hallway, sitting on the floor and leaning on the walls. But people stayed. Because hearing people talk about their passion is intoxicating. Forty people have now stepped up to the microphone and shared their story.

201501 talk20The next time we moved downstairs for more room. The library rented chairs, a screen, a sound system, etc. We simply could not have done it without their generous support.

The fact that Talk20 Hutch exists is a testament to the power of connection. In addition to all the library does, downtown Hutchinson has supplied gift certificates, and my friend, Greg, has recorded all the presentations so they’re available for viewing on the website later. We have a core group of vocal supporters who help spread the word, and The Hutchinson News has been very generous with pre and post stories each time.

Although it’s a tiny ripple, by creating this community event, it has created business for others. Not only does the library rent equipment to make it possible, but we have an after party each time, creating a situation where people are gathering and buying food and drink. Most of all, we’re giving people the opportunity to make more connections with community members by attending. There’s a magic about that.

People often ask who’s putting Talk20 on, and the truth is that it’s Kari and me who are organizing the night and Gregg who is making it possible for it to happen. Talk20 has no budget – it’s the lamp from my desk that illuminates the podium and Kari’s laptop that’s running the presentations. This is a labor of love. The library is making it all possible from the chair people are sitting in to the screen they’re watching. 

Talk20 is an example of what can be done when ideas and people connect. But it has to start somewhere. If Kari and I hadn’t both been open to meeting someone new at the suggestion of a mutual friend, this wouldn’t have come to be. And if we hadn’t taken action beyond that it would have just been a nice chat over coffee.

You have ideas and people that need connection, too. They’re waiting for you to build those bridges.

I’m so thankful for the talent, time, energy, enthusiasm and connection of all the folks who’ve made Talk20 happen!

Some of our spectacular presentations:
Ann Richardson – Autographed Handkerchiefs
Julie Black – Creativity
Jason Probst – Going Viral

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History is Made – Supreme Court Rules on Marriage Equality

This is what history feels like. Today, one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in my lifetime was handed down. Same-sex couples are entitled to marry just like anyone else, and have their marriages recognized in all 50 states.

Kansas, where I live, was one of the few remaining state that prohibited gay marriage. As of today, it is the law of the land that everyone has the same rights when it comes to marriage.

I’m not sure how long it will take for me to stop saying “gay” marriage and just call it marriage. I think it’s going to take awhile because over the last few years I’ve said “gay marriage” many thousands of times, I’m sure.

20150626 006 lovewins

This morning when I saw the notices on Facebook of the court’s decision, I asked if anyone wanted to go to dinner tonight to celebrate. Eventually we ended up with 20 people, 22 including another couple that decided to come last minute and couldn’t sit with us because we couldn’t add any more tables, but did get to come and visit. It was a great group. I wanted to be with like-minded people tonight.

I was in tears multiple times today, just from the emotion of seeing something I believe to only be fair and right come to fruition. I thought the decision would go this way, but I was relieved when it did, nonetheless.

Tonight I passed around a journal and asked everyone to write something about the struggle, what today meant, or anything else they’d like to share. I didn’t read it until I got home because I knew it would make me cry. It did. I am constantly flabbergasted at what my gay and lesbian friends have suffered. Just as I will never know what it would be like to walk around in darker skin, I will never know what it feels like to be shunned only because of who I love.

Often criticized for his flowery writing, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, and his style was perfect for this occasion.


No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgement of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.


Of course, not everyone is happy. One of my Facebook posts today acknowledged that:

There are people I love who are not sharing my joy today at the ruling on gay marriage. None of those people will be hateful, for which I am thankful. I hope eventually you’ll see this day as a time when our union became a little more perfect, a little more equal, a little better for ALL of us. But, even if you don’t, I’ll keep on loving you. Because ‪#‎lovewins‬ in all circumstances.


But, despite that, it’s a happy day, a historic day. This is one of the great moments in our nation’s history when something that should be obvious is made the law of the land. Yesterday the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the court. Today gay marriage. If the supreme court had a fan club, I’d join this week.

I would like to see everyone on the right side of history, but if that were possible, there wouldn’t be these issues. Some will always insist on being the Bull Conner’s of the world. With social media they have a bullhorn of a different sort. But the difference today is that we ALL have that bullhorn.

Tonight the White House is lit with rainbow colors. Obama was so eloquent today about the decision.

I am also happy that Obama is getting vindicated. I cried the night he was elected, too. I was so overcome with emotion, with a feeling that we were turning in the right direction. I have that same feeling today. And in his years in office we have healthcare and now marriage equality, both of which will eventually be considered the norm.

I realize there will come a time when people say, “gay marriage, what do you mean?” And we will have to explain that there was a time gay people were not allowed to be married. We will have to explain that there was a day when that changed. Today was that day.

This is what history feels like. Sometimes America gets it right. ‪#‎lovewins‬

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Time to Reconnect

I was able to have lunch with my friend, Jon, today. We hadn’t seen each other in months. I’ve been missing him.

Lunch with a friend is one of my great pleasures in life. I think maybe because I grew up where such things just weren’t really possible because it was the country, I still love that. There’s something magical about sharing food and conversation with people.

As always, we had a wide-ranging conversation, including the state of politics in Kansas at the moment which is sad, to say the least.

Then I spent the afternoon at a client’s house and have been working on various projects since I got home. It seems I spend a tremendous amount of time at the computer!

I did finish up a couple of things that had been languishing, so that was nice. This is one of them.

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