Category Archives: Think

Who are Refugees? — part 2


Zeina, a Syrian refugee who came to Detroit in 2012 with her mother and younger brother.

This is part two in a series. To read Part 1 first, click here.

I’m sitting on my bed, deciding where to go to breakfast with my husband on a Sunday morning.  We slept soundly last night. I will brush my teeth, take a hot shower (as long as I like) and have my choice of clothes to wear for the day. Then we will go get breakfast and enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the day. The safety and comfort of home is a normalcy in my life and community, as is the freedom to go and do whatever I like.  This is not the case for refugees. These simple everyday things are exactly what they are seeking — a place that will allow them to simply be.


a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Here are two stories about two groups of refugees after their relocation to the United States and Canada. Continue reading

Who are Refugees? — part 1

Elena, a 14-year-old Honduran refugee fleeing gang and sexual violence in her country.

Elena, a 14-year-old Honduran refugee who fled to Mexico to escape gang and sex violence.

The new President’s executive order on immigration has provoked a lot of discussion about immigrants and refugees. In the midst of this, and to help us develop informed opinions, it is important that we remind ourselves who these refugees are.


a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Continue reading

Dignity for Christmas


This video is simple – asking people what they want for Christmas and giving it to them. The only catch is that these folks are homeless. In my experience, what homeless people lack, isn’t just a house, it is also the social constructs of dignity with which we treat each other.

Next time you see someone on the street,  look them in the eye and talk to them like a person. Don’t avoid them. Acknowledge they are there—a person with a past and a future just like you. Talk to them the way you want to be talked to. Treat them the way you want to be treated. The golden rule always comes back around. Thanks to the Random Altruist for this beautiful video showing us how it’s done. Continue reading

Let’s Take Back Our Politics!


Photo by Aaron Burden.

This election has profoundly polarized American politics like never before. People are choosing sides, surrounding themselves with those who are like-minded and letting the divide between the two ideologies grow wider. I’m only 35, but I can see how things have grown worse over the years. Perhaps it’s that I care more about politics now than I used to, or perhaps the internet has accelerated this decay. Either way, combating this new bitterness requires more of each of us. Let me be clear…

…the people who disagree with you are not idiots.

Continue reading

Democracy is the worst.
Do it anyway.


Photo by Matthew Wiebe.

My family, kids and all, went to the 2016 Democratic caucus last night in Lafayette, Colorado. Just to give you an idea of what this round of American democracy looks like, below is a video that shows me walking from the start of the line to the end of the line. The video is nearly four and a half minutes long. This is the line to get in the building. Continue reading

The Right to Bear Happiness

columbine flowers

Columbine flowers

I woke up in England today at 3:00 am U.S. time to the BBC News: another random shooting in the U.S.—I’m immediately asking where it is, whom do I know there, and why? My assistant and wingwoman in my small business, Danielle, lives in Portage, Michigan, Kalamazoo County. I jumped online to her Facebook page Continue reading

Ask for Generosity


Photo by Meja Petric, courtesy of

This Christmas, we decided to do something different. It was my husband’s idea. He was inspired by the images of refugees fleeing war and the contrast between those in need and the oncoming glut of excess that seems to follow Christmas. He said, “Why don’t we have a party where the whole idea is about giving to others?” We decided to call it a Giving Party. We had no idea if anyone would be interested. It is a busy time of year and folks are already stretched thin with their time and wallets. We gave it a go anyway. Continue reading

Sink In.

A snapshot from Richard Smith's, "The Farm," video.

A snapshot from Richard Smith’s, “The Farm,” video.

This video is brought to you by Death to Stock photo. The site is a collection of breathtaking photographs that are free for anyone to use. More importantly, the community supports artists far and wide in their efforts to produce something beautiful and meaningful—including the funding of this video.

Paired with a simple poem, this video reminds us who we are when the world slows down. Continue reading

Adventure Has a New Face

Two boys at Marshall Mesa

Our two little guys at Marshall Mesa in Boulder, about 50-60 feet from the parking lot.

I used to travel the world, helped Indigenous Australians with economic development work, volunteered with the Red Cross in New York after 9-11… however, I have a 2-and-4-year-old now, and adventure has a new face. It looks like this: Continue reading

Help Syrian Refugees Now

Syrian refugee children, 2013. Photo courtesy of

By the end of August, the United Nations estimates that 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced and 3 million have gone to nearby countries to flee the civil war and ISIS. Of the 4,088,078 who have registered, just over two in five are under age 11, and half of those under age four. Now in its fifth year, the war in Syria has killed around 222,000 people. This is one of the worst refugee crises in world history and the international refugee aid system is straining under its weight. Continue reading

Intergenerational Genius

Alex Stafie, 5, and Wallace Scherer, 92, make sack lunches for the homeless during an activity at Providence Mount St. Vincent home for older adults in West Seattle. Children from the Intergenerational Learning Center, a licensed childcare program, is also housed at Providence Mount St. Vincent. Five days a week, the seniors and children connect in a variety of programs including art classes, music time and story time, exercise and one-on-one visiting.

Alex Stafie, 5, and Wallace Scherer, 92, make sack lunches for the homeless at the Intergenerational Learning Center at Providence Mount St. Vincent home for older adults in West Seattle. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times.

The way senior citizens are treated in America does not do justice to their experience or what they have given to us through their lifetime. I see it with the senior I used to work with and I see it with my own grandmother: as people age, they become more and more removed from the life they once had. As a fact of life, their bodies begin to fail them and they regularly attend funerals of friends and family, suffering isolation as a result. In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 28% of people over age 65 live alone. Isolation has been linked to poor mental and physical health1, increased cognitive decline2, and depression3. However, there is hope and it is growing. Continue reading

An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar…

A photo of said atheist and Christian. photo by Jackie Hobbins.

A photo of said atheist and Christian. photo by Jackie Hobbins.

I’m a Christian and my husband, Mike, is an atheist. This one fact about our relationship seems to be a fascinating conversation starter for many. I used to bring it up bashfully,  depending on the audience. In short, in Mike’s work community–he’s a research scientist–religion is not always viewed favorably, whereas in my own religious community, admitting you are married to a non-believer usually brings on a flood of ensuing pity and the predictable “Oh, don’t worry dear, he’ll come around.” Continue reading

Good Peep #2 – Alyssa Bray

Alyssa Bray with a new-found friend in Ethiopia.

“I’m not sure if he was recommending the street food, or cautioning me. Basically, I have no idea what we were talking about, but it was really funny!” Alyssa Bray with a new-found friend in Ethiopia. Photo by Rick Egan.

If you need a little proof of Alyssa Bray’s easy-going nature, just take a look at her swimsuit (the tata top). If you don’t feel like clicking on that link, it is exactly what it sounds like—a skin-colored bikini with printed nipples, all to support breast cancer and body-awareness initiatives. This is just Exhibit A of Alyssa’s sense of humor – one that isn’t merely amusing, but also embedded in thoughtfulness. She is hilarious, crafty, athletic, good with animals, encouraging, and a great friend. There is more to her then just these qualities, that is why she is Good Peep #2. Continue reading

The Things We Cannot See

photo by Danist Soh

photo by Danist Soh

Invisibilia is the latin word for all invisible things. It is also a new National Public Radio show about the invisible forces that control human behavior. Created by Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller, in its first two months of broadcasting, it has touched on:

The show does describe some phenomenal people but beyond that, it teaches its listeners about things that affect us everyday—that we would not ordinarily recognize on our own. Then it shows the science behind those ideas, lending weight to some concepts that could otherwise seem lofty and out of touch.

As an example, take Daniel Kish, a blind man who can see. Sounds crazy right? Continue reading

Good Peep #1: Meet Christy


Christy running at 6 AM in -3 °F weather… and she somehow got me to go with her. It was awesome, and that white stuff on her hair and eyelashes – yeah, it’s frost.

Christy Kohler. She is one of those people who, the first time you hang out, you tell way more then you should. Then you hope they still want to hang out with you… Well lucky for me, she did. Not only does Christy know how to get you to talk, she pretty much kicks ass at life. Here are a few Christy facts: Continue reading

Spread the Nice

photo by Coley Christine

photo by Coley Christine

On April 20, 1999, I was a senior in high school when the shootings happened at Columbine High School. At the time, I worked in a pizza parlor just across the park from from the school with a young man who would die in that shooting. It absolutely changed my world. It was the first time in my life that I cried to my mom and she couldn’t help me. She said, “Honey, I just don’t know what to do for you. I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”

The guy I worked with was a year or two younger than me.  I had closed the shop with him just a few days before. I remember asking him to mop the front of the store, which was something I was supposed to do. He just smiled, went and got the mop and got to work.

As a 17-year-old, experiencing such a horrible event, I thought: Surely this will never happen again. How could we possibly let this go on? But it has. Again and again and again and again…. Continue reading

Teaching Compassion


photo by Jackie Hobbins

It is one thing to teach your kid how to eat with a fork, or pee in the toilet—not easy feats, but at least there are some concrete steps. But how do we teach compassion? Whether or not you have kids, you are no doubt an Auntie, Uncle or maybe just a good friend to another family in your neighborhood, and it most definitely takes a village to raise a child.

Our boys are 1 1/2 and 3. Though the hubby and I have done lots of volunteering, we weren’t sure if they were old enough to start doing that sort of thing with them. So, when there came an opportunity to feed some homeless folks that stay at my church on Saturday nights through the winter, we thought, why not give it a go?

At least once a month, we spend a couple of hours on Saturday making breakfast burritos to serve early on Sunday morning. It is becoming a new family tradition and I think, one of our favorites. The first time we did it, our three-year-old Tommy helped. He got a lesson in personal hygiene, cooking and you guessed it, compassion. The conversation went something like this: Continue reading

Your Best Self

photo by Jackie Hobbins

photo by Jackie Hobbins

My husband and I have just had a romantic dinner at an Italian restaurant in San Francisco. We are on a work trip for him, without kids, and the whole week has been slightly magical. I’ve been able to finish a meal without stopping to change a diaper, to eat my own food without my ravenous children scavenging it off my plate, and I’ve had multiple decent conversations with my husband that remind me of our early dating years and of the time we fell in love.

After this jewel of a dinner, I’ve decided I want dessert. I spend ten or so minutes deciding that Chocolate Panna Cotta is the way to go. We decide to get it to go to eat it back in the hotel room, and wait a bit for it to arrive. I politely participate in flirty conversation while secretly salivating about the creamy chocolate treat. After the bill, a brown paper box arrives, neatly tucked up in a paper sack with crisp cut handles, a set of cutlery ready for our indulgence. I can’t wait to cuddle up in our room and enjoy.

As we walk from the restaurant on the rainy streets of the city, we are interrupted by a woman with frizzy hair, a worn jacket, faded, black, relaxed-fit jeans and sneakers. She asks if she can have our leftovers. I think silently, “Well, these aren’t really leftovers. It’s dessert that we are taking back to the hotel.” But really, it isn’t silent at all: I’ve actually said it aloud. Continue reading