Make America Nice Again

This aired on Tri States Public Radio March 21, 2019   LISTEN HERE
The 2020 presidential campaign has begun and with it the Democratic candidates are descending upon Iowa. Flying in from all parts of the country, they are bringing with them the promise of new ideas, new policies, and, god willing, a new administration. 
The (media) circus comes to town

Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand are just a few of the contenders making the rounds in the Hawkeye State this month. These politicians and their entourages, along with the hoards of reporters trailing them, are traveling through our communities, gassing up their cars with ethanol, giving their speeches, shaking hands, and staying just long enough for pork chops and photo ops before rushing off to the next town.

It’s a privilege to live in the state where the journey to the White House begins, and to meet the candidates up close. 
But as the race gathers momentum, so does the outrage. 
The news channels—you know, the ones that serve up opinions and speculation and call it news—are all awash in analysis and criticism of each candidate. Commentators are scrutinizing them down to the most minute details of their past, going all the way back, as we’ve seen, to their birth. The coverage, even on public radio, gets so excessive I have to turn it off.
And on social media—a forum that amplifes both good and evil—a new round of vitriol and bickering between friends has already started.
For example, no sooner had I attended a Beto O’Rourke “meet and greet,” I saw a friend’s Facebook post attacking him with a viciousness that was unwarranted. Beto hadn’t committed any sin—he hadn’t mocked a disabled reporter or paid hush money to porn stars; he had merely announced he was running for office. The friend’s Facebook comments were so mean I wanted to blast him back with positive counterpoints. But instead of engaging, I took a calming breath…and then I unfriended him. 
Throughout my childhood, my parents engrained in us rules of conduct, like, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.” Now is a crucial time for everyone—citizens and candidates alike—to heed that parental advice.
During the last election cycle, in his video that went viral, actor Scott Siepker coined the phrase, “Iowa nice.” The term depicts Iowans as friendly, agreeable, hospitable, and showing trust in strangers. But “Iowa nice” needs to expand beyond our cornfields and cows. We need to be “America nice” instead of “America first” or “America great.”

Americans in general used to have the same friendly, hospitable and trusting reputation as Iowans. Sadly, that image has become tarnished. 
“America’s standing in the world has dropped catastrophically,” says Simon Rosenberg, founder of the New Democrat Network think tank. 
Why? 
Because we aren’t being nice.
“Bombastic rhetoric and policies of Trump have given the country a serious branding issue,” US News and World Report states. They cite that in the Best Countries rankings of 2018, the United States dropped from fourth down to eighth place after Trump took office. 
However, as David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, reminds us, “America is not its president [alone].” 
He’s right. It’s up to all of us to make America nice again. 
This year we have the opportunity to do that. We can elect a new leader, someone who will uphold our democracy and raise up our country. But we cannot get there without everyone being on their best behavior and acting with decency. 
That guy on Facebook slinging insults at candidates in his own party? That’s just a tiny sampling of how polarized, combative—even hateful—we’ve become. We’ve already divided ourselves into tribes, but this kind of rancor further separates us. Well, I’ve got news for you. We are all human beings, and we need to treat each other as the single species that we are. We don’t just live in one country; we live on one planet. And we need to take care of it and each other, no matter what our beliefs. We need to be tolerant. We need to be respectful. We—the media included—need to stop making such negative, inflammatory comments. 
In short, we need to be nice.
Let’s start by changing the vernacular. Instead of emphasizing the extremes between progressives and conservatives, let’s put party affiliations aside and focus on values—like integrity, equality, accountability, compassion. And here’s a big one: compromise. Because nothing—absolutely nothing—will change in Washington—or anywhere—unless we stop clinging so stubbornly to our own political agendas. 
The American ideal is not one of Us vs. Them. It’s about being united. Finding common ground is possible, but we need to keep the pendulum from swinging too far to either side. It’s vital that we meet in the middle and getting there starts by being more civil to one another.
Election Day is still a long way off and it remains to be seen who will be on the ballot. But let’s choose someone who makes bipartisanship a priority, someone with good manners.
Wouldn’t that be nice? 

“There is ALWAYS Hope, Bea.”

There is ALWAYS hope, Bea. 

He wrote this—with the word always in all caps—above a newspaper article he had circled in black ink.

He left the paper on the kitchen table knowing I would be down for my morning coffee well after he had left the house to feed hay to his cows, check on the pigs, and attend to his other daily chores.

I always like it when I see his circles of ink on the page. I like the anticipation of discovering what specific nugget of news he wants me to see—something about a new business in the next town, a profile on someone who is using their skills to help those less fortunate, a well-written obituary of someone who led an extraordinary life. I like that he is loyal to the newspaper, having it delivered, still reading it in print instead of online, even though the paper arrives a day late. I like that he is a thinking man, a feeling man, a caring man. He doesn’t outwardly express himself—stoicism is bred into his German genes—but this sharing of newspaper articles tells me he is thinking of me, that he cares for me, that he wants to help me even though he doesn’t know how.

The article he circled this time was in the opinion section, his favorite part of the paper, which he always reads first, before the front page, before the commodity trading prices and weather, before the sports scores. The article was about South and North Korea uniting for the Winter Olympics in Seoul, a rare olive branch extended after 50 years of fighting and a war that cleaved a manmade fault line between two halves of a whole peninsula. After all this time—and all the recent escalating threats of nuclear action—a previously unimaginable union is taking place with both sides walking and competing together under one flag. Even if just for the 16 days of this one event, it signals the possibility of peace, a sign of hope.

There is ALWAYS hope, Bea. 

He alone knows the depths of my sadness, the full picture of who I am and how much I struggle to stay balanced, to stay happy, to stay alive. The fun-loving girl in overalls and braids who basks in the country life of apple pies and goats and dog walks through green pastures—this is my curated life in colorful pictures on Facebook, the carefully edited version, the one that gives people a one-sided impression. The wrong impression. Fake news. Yes, I do smile and laugh and make people happy with my homemade pies, but many of my days—too many lately—are filled with despair, weighed down by a lead blanket of Weltschmerz (the German word for internalizing all the pain of the world.) Espresso and my dog’s insulin schedule are my only motivation to get out of bed in the morning, because I wake up tired after sleepless nights, my eyes wide open in the darkness as I pass the hours searching for answers, for meaning, for purpose, for hope. For solutions for how I can save the world.

He is the sole witness to both sides of my Yin and Yang, a black and white circle of life that has become lopsided and leaning too much on the black. He sees my grief—the cumulating losses of my husband, my dad, and even one of my goats—still as raw and festering as an infected stab wound. He listens as I unleash my rage over the state of the world, wailing about the injustices, the unending human rights violations, the suppression of women, the righteousness of the ultra-religious. He remains patient and quiet as I carry on, ranting about the increase of gun violence, the divisiveness of politics, the demolition of our democratic society, the proliferation of hate speech, the dismantling of health care, education and immigration, and the utter lack of respect for the environment and its finite resources. My list of wrongs I want to right is so very long. He leans against the counter, or the wall, or his pillow, biting the inside of his lip, as I cry and tell him yet again how I have lost my faith in humanity, how my heart—already so badly broken—cannot take anymore of this assault and battery. He is at a loss for words, or maybe he has nothing to say. He doesn’t know how to fix this. To fix me.

And then I come downstairs for coffee and see the newspaper splayed open on the table, his pen lying next to it, the familiar scribble of his handwriting.

There is ALWAYS hope, Bea. 

I saved the newspaper page. I’ve been carrying it with me for a week. I pull it out of my notebook several times a day and read his sentence, spelled out in his scratchy handwriting, even though I no longer have to read it as the sentence is ingrained in my head. I hear it, the words repeating so often they’ve become the refrain of my personal anthem. And still, each time the sentence forms— punctuated at the end with his nickname for me—my throat tightens. My heart seizes up so hard I feel a rush of hot blood. And my eyes fill up so quickly with tears that I can’t hold them back, the drops leaving water stains on my notebook.

There is ALWAYS hope, Bea. 

I am in Mexico this week for a writers’ retreat. I brought the article with me, folded neatly and tucked into my carry-on. I came with two goals: finish my American Gothic House memoir and get a break from the deep freeze of Iowa’s winter (and not necessarily in that order!) I have added one more thing to that list: find hope.

How does one find hope? How can I restore my faith in a humanity that keeps letting me down with its inability—its outright refusal—to get along? Is hope something you can hunt for? Something you can see? Is it tangible? And if you find it, how do you make it last?

My first day here I was walking on the beach, my bare feet splashing through the waves, the sun de-icing my body. I looked up from the sand toward the palm trees and houses and saw a boulder painted with graffiti. The art wasn’t that big, maybe not even noticeable to others, yet my eyes were drawn straight to it. On the rock was a white background with a child’s face outlined in black. Next to the child, painted in red ink, was one word: Hope.

There is ALWAYS hope, Bea. 

It had to be a message, a sign.

I didn’t start actively looking for signs of hope. The first days I was still consumed with the stresses of my life back home, of all that I had abandoned in the name of self-care, still carrying the excess baggage of guilt over leaving Doug to take on my responsibilities—of giving Jack his medicine and hauling warm water to the goats. But with each day I spend in Mexico, thoughts of home—along with my Doomsday Clock-watching worries—slough off like the layers of my dry skin, making room for me to take in my new surroundings. With each day my observations of the life around me become more vivid, more frequent, more obvious—observations I’ve begun translating with the same hunger I hunt for words in my Spanish dictionary.

What I am observing, experiencing, finding is esperanza. Hope.

Hope is the gruff fruit vendor who made me wait while he rigged up his grandson’s fishing pole, tying a plastic bag on the end of it and putting a piece of pineapple inside as bait, and the four-year-old, so adorable with his freckles, curly hair and round cheeks, saying, “Gracias, Abuelito.” And how the other customers cheered on the child’s efforts to catch something, his arm—still chubby with baby fat—not yet strong enough to cast the line. And how the grandfather prepared the coconut meat for me after I drank the water from the shell, taking pride in serving it the local way, with salt and pepper, lime, and chili sauce. And how he smiled so warmly when I said, “Gracias, Abuelito.”

Hope is hiking on the trail through the jungle to get to the quieter beach and just as you’re wondering if it’s safe to do this alone, and realizing you haven’t told anyone where you’re going, a Mexican man jogs up the path, dripping with sweat from his workout, and as he passes you he pauses for a second, hands you a tiny sea shell, and says, “For you,” and then keeps going.

Hope is walking to the local espresso bar in the mornings, passing the kids on their way to school, so young and innocent—and sleepy—at 7:30am, dressed in clean clothes, hauling backpacks full of schoolbooks. And reading the outer wall of their school that spans a full block, covered in a hand-painted mural with messages of tolerance, cooperation, honesty, solidarity, and yes, hope. And the satisfaction of understanding enough Spanish to know that “En esta escuela trabajamos con amor” means “In this school we work with love.”

Hope is the shopkeepers sweeping and scrubbing their sidewalks, splashing buckets of water on the steps to make their storefronts look cleaner and more inviting, even when the effect is short-lived in a town with dirt roads.

Hope is eavesdropping on a conversation where a gray-haired expat in an embroidered Mexican dress relays her wisdom to a friend about the value of making decisions with her heart and not her head. (I wanted to butt in and tell her she should run for congress!)

Hope is the regular exchange of smiles and greetings of “Buenos dias” when passing strangers on the streets, whether their skin is brown, white, leathery, or sunburned.

Hope is the bougainvillea blooming with vitality in shades of magenta and orange and purple. It’s the breakfast of fresh papaya picked right off the tree. The morning swim in the sea. The baptism of diving under the waves and tasting the salt on your lips.

Hope is the sun coming up again and again and again, bringing with it the promise that there is still goodness in this world.

Hope is taking a much-needed break from home knowing there is a thinking, feeling, caring man waiting for me back on the farm. And though I love his ink-circled articles and his notes that go with them, I have found that hope is a lot easier to have when you limit your intake of news.

Making Noise for Women’s Healthcare

A Planned Parenthood rally on the banks of the Mississippi River.
I wonder what clever thing Mark Twain would have said about this.

Last week was kind of a big week.

On Sunday, I marched in a rally for Planned Parenthood in Burlington, Iowa. Why? Because Iowa is eliminating funding for any healthcare clinics that provide abortions. Well, this struck me as so ridiculous and short-sighted because I USE PLANNED PARENTHOOD for my annual exams and for other random gyno stuff that comes up. And believe me, something always comes up and you can’t just walk into a doctor’s office to see someone as quickly as you might need. And going to the ER is not a great alternative when it’s not an emergency.

I am way past childbearing years so birth control and abortion are not on my personal radar. But this is not just about me. REGARDLESS of what services PP offers, there are SO MANY WOMEN, especially in my rural Iowa area, who need affordable healthcare and PP is often the ONLY place they can get it.

Winding down Snake Alley

Obviously I am still worked up about this.

I wasn’t the only one to be outraged. A young woman in Burlington, Alexandra Rucinski (who is the subject of my essay), has relied even more heavily on PP than me. She was so upset about the clinic closures she organized last Sunday’s march–and got over 100 people to show up.

I marched too, but so what?  What good was walking through downtown Burlington going to do when 4 out of 12 PP clinics in Iowa were still going to close on June 30th anyway?

I laid awake at 4AM on Monday thinking about this—fuming actually—and an essay began to take shape in my head. Writing is my way of working my way toward a solution, or at least an understanding—or, if nothing else, a way to cope with some of the senseless bullsh*t that is going on in government. So after I got up on Monday, after I had my triple latte and walked the dogs and fed the goats, I sat down at my computer and wrote. I wrote until I found my way to an ending. I sent my story to two friends, one in New Jersey and one in NYC. They both said you HAVE to publish this. My friend Nan said, “Send it to the HuffingtonPost!”

My pink hair is still pink.

Encouraged, I first sent it to my local NPR affiliate, Tri States Public Radio. I’ve done several commentaries for them. And now, I am happy to report, I have another one to add to the list. I recorded my PP essay on Wednesday and it aired–twice–on Thursday.

You can listen here.

I had also followed Nan’s suggestion and sent my essay to the Huffington Post. I have been written about on HuffPo several times (for my pie endeavors), but I had not as yet written for them. Well, now I have!

You can read it here.

I went through the HuffPo vetting process and now I’m “in the system” so I can blog for them whenever I want. I will also continue to contribute to Tri States Public Radio as a commentator.

I’m not sure what I will write about next. But it will probably come to me around 4AM.

I ran into my pie-baking friend Esther Tweedy at the march.
We went out for ice cream afterward.

Thoughts After the Women’s March on Washington

Many of you had been asking for a recap of the Women’s March, but, honestly, I am so depressed this week it is hard to write one.

It’s been a week of political (and insane) assault on our democracy and freedom. Our role as an egalitarian, inclusive nation is being completely undermined. It’s the Orwellian stuff of “1984.” (Amazon sold out of its copies this week as customers seek a refresher on George Orwell’s dystopian novel.) The new administration has abandoned all aspects of diplomacy and become blatantly blind and insensitive to the world we live in—a global one, an intricately connected, interdependent and symbiotic one. Instead of striving to be a peaceful and welcoming country, the new executive orders being handed down will only create more—and more determined—enemies. Immigrants who have been thoroughly vetted are already being turned away at our borders. Are you fucking kidding me? Unless you are a Native American, we are ALL immigrants here.

Don’t even get me started on all the other hair-pulling, primal scream-inducing madness coming out of Washington—the war on education, on the environment, on healthcare, on the media, on science, on immigration, on the basic human rights we have worked so hard for over the decades. Not the least of which is abortion. The conservative-minded righteousness about protecting an unborn fetus is ridiculous when you consider the utter lack of support for the mother and child after an unwanted or unplanned baby is born. Take a look at the foster care system in this country and you will see exactly what I mean. (If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. But what others choose to do with what’s in their own uterus is their business.)

My brain is so overloaded with all the alarming news this week my head feels as if it will explode. My soul is feeling so crushed I can barely cope.

But for that one day, Saturday, January 21, I felt so empowered, so supported, so encouraged by the huge numbers of people who showed up to protest. Organizers were hoping for at least 100,000 in Washington, D.C., but estimates state it was closer to 500,000. We packed the streets so tightly we could barely move our feet. We listened to intelligent, caring people speak as they took their turns on the stage. We chanted and held up our protest signs and wore our pink pussy hats. (Those pink, cat-eared hats filled airplanes, buses and sidewalks leading up to the march, and on the day of the march they created a sea of pink lighting up a cloudy day with vibrant color.) We made friends. We made headlines. We made it known that we are not going to accept this new (and dangerous) administration.

Even babies marched.
In their pussy hats.

Even more encouraging was that people marched on ALL SEVEN CONTINTENTS—proof that American policy affects the whole planet. And there are a whole lot of people on the planet who don’t want the world to end. Women, men, and various combinations thereof, showed up in person to stand for equality, democracy, and, above all, for world peace. Even in places with temperatures well below zero, people marched. In the hallways of hospital cancer wards, people marched. On board ships, people marched. On rural highways, people marched. All the way around the globe, people protested the new president and his policies. More than 3 million took to the streets. And not one single arrest was made.

As for me personally, marching was never on my bucket list. Normally if I had anything to protest I would simply write about it. But nothing feels normal anymore. So I joined the masses in Washington.

Shoulder to shoulder with like-minded strangers, I joined my fellow marchers in shouts and cheers and warrior-like cries. “Women’s rights are human rights.” “Hey, hey, ho, ho, [you know who] has got to go.” And the one that still runs through my head after saying it so many times—answering the call of “Tell me what democracy looks like”—“THIS is what democracy looks like.”

I felt so proud to be there, saying those words. I felt like I was no longer just me, not caught up in myself or my own needs. For the first time in my life I was part of something so much bigger. I was one tiny speck of a larger organism, a force of life called Humanity.

“This is what democracy looks like.”

I felt so proud of the other people who showed up to say those words. Proud of the solidarity, the camaraderie, and the politeness displayed by all. Proud of the diversity, the vast range of ages, shapes, sizes, colors and costumes.

“This is what democracy looks like.”

During that day, pressed so tightly against the bodies of others, I felt so hopeful that not all of humanity has lost their sense of compassion or care for others’ well being. I felt hopeful that with this huge show of concerned citizens that we can preserve our freedoms, uphold our Constitution, and reestablish our reputation as a country that is united with the Free World and not with New World Order.

“This is what democracy looks like.”

This is what democracy looks like.

Like I said, that was last week. The challenge now—and it’s a big one—is to maintain that positive feeling, to not lose hope, to not let my brain explode or my soul get extinguished. I know I’m not alone in my despair. I know the 3 million people who marched share my sentiments. And I know there are millions more, as not everyone who wanted to march could be out there.

We marched. We turned up in impressive, unprecedented numbers. But now what? What can we do? How can we help? And how can we maintain any sense of optimism going forward?

Keep calling your representatives. Send them letters. Run for office yourself, even your local school board. Donate money to and/or volunteer for the organizations whose causes you care about, especially the ones threatened with de-funding. Organize in your own communities. Sign up for “10 Actions, 100 Days.” Write letters to the editor. Take time for self-care. Keep marching. (To stand up for science. And to demand someone’s tax returns.)

Yes, yes. Got it. That’s a list of what I’ve heard and read so far. But what else? I’m sorry for not offering any solutions or salves here. Instead, I am asking YOU for them.

Please write to me and tell me what keeps you going. Tell me what you are doing, what action you are taking, what seems to be working, and especially how you are staying optimistic in this new—and hopefully short-lived—era. Seriously. Please write to me. My email is beth [at] theworldneedsmorepie [dot] com. I promise to compile all the answers and share them with you.

Pink flowers awaited me back on the farm.
It’s so nice to have the support of my partner.

In the meantime, I am still doing laundry and catching up on my sleep. There are more marches ahead—and more blog posts to write—and I need to be ready.

——————————————————

Read this article in the Huffington Post: 10 Things The Women’s March On Washington Accomplished

The Women’s March on Washington: Just Go

Ready for Washington.
“I am woman, hear me roar.”

I hate crowds. I avoid rock concerts and rallies. I shy away from situations or gatherings that might put me in harm’s way. Especially now, in today’s increasingly violent, gun-toting, backpack-bombing atmosphere, previously safe situations like going to an airport or a nightclub or a marathon have become tenuous and slightly terrifying. But when the Women’s March on Washington was announced I ran straight to my computer and booked my flight to DC. I didn’t think twice about potential danger (or the possibility of getting arrested). Nor did I even stop to think about needing a concrete reason to go. It was like a calling from a higher power. My gut feeling took over and grabbed my credit card from my purse. And before I even thought about what I was doing–or why–I had already printed out my airline itinerary.

Many of my closest friends are also flying or driving to Washington. Others are marching in other corners of the country, in LA, Austin, New York, Chicago, Portland, Park City and Des Moines. Many of them had the same instinct. “Just go.” 

But I’ve heard rumblings from other women—and from a handful of critics voicing their negativity in the media—about how there is no real mission for the march, no specific agenda. Who are the speakers? What is the unified message? What will we do once we get there? What is the purpose, the take-away? What action will come of this? This kind of response, which I deemed a little too nitpicky, made me feel sad, as if people’s need for control overrides their ability to take a chance on life.

Overthinking creates limitations. Why would you want to know all the answers before you set out on the journey? As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a great adventure or it is nothing.” If you had all kinds of pre-set expectations and objectives, what kind of adventure would it be then? Besides, expectations can lead to disappointment.

Ten years ago I heard Alice Brock from Alice’s Restaurant (yes, the one in the Arlo Guthrie song) interviewed on NPR. She was asked about the loose style of running her business and she said, “Not being locked into a ‘plan’ or a prescribed way of doing something leaves room for all kinds of wonderful stuff to happen.”

What I had remembered her saying in that interview (though oddly I couldn’t find it in the transcript) is: “If I had known what I was getting into I never would have started it.”

I can think of so many times that “I never would have started” has applied to me: Moving to Germany to marry Marcus, for one. Starting a pie business in the American Gothic House, another. Traveling around the world making pie. Moving onto a farm in rural Iowa—with a farmer. And soon, marching with hundreds of thousands of women and men in Washington. The pattern is clear, the results, obvious: When you step into the unknown magnificent things can happen. I have never regretted taking a risk. Ever.

I’m all for being responsible. And careful. I don’t live entirely on the edge. I exercise. I eat my vegetables. I sleep eight hours a night. I floss (though not as often as I should.) I have health insurance (for now.) I look both ways before crossing the street (both literally and figuratively.) But above and beyond anything else, I honor and follow my guiding forces: my heart, my gut, trust and faith.

In “My Life on the Road,” Gloria Steinem writes, “If you find yourself drawn to an event against all logic, go. The universe is telling you something.”

But someone else—someone I have great respect for—put it in even more succinct terms. (No, not Oprah.) It was Barack Obama who, in his eloquent farewell speech, said, “Show up. Dive in. Stay at it. Believe that you can make a difference. Hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.”

To my mind that “something bigger” is community. Community is the foundation for the even bigger stuff: Democracy. Equality. Women’s rights. Human rights. And if showing up in the nation’s capitol to create a community, to demonstrate just how much those values mean to me–to so many of us– then, agenda specifics or not, I’m there.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. So on January 21st at 10:00 a.m., bundled up in my down jacket and my hand-knit pussyhat, I will lace up my marching boots and add my body—and my voice—to a sea of humanity as it moves along Independence Avenue. I will go with the belief that just showing up is the first step to making a difference. I will stay positive that it will be a peaceful, safe event. And more than anything, I will stay open to the adventure and all the great new friendships, ideas, power, unity and community that is sure to come from the experience. 

I hope you will join me!


RESOURCES:
Women’s March on Washington website
Sister Marches in other cities
Knit or sew your own Pussy Hat
Buy your America Needs Nasty Women gear

Blogging in a Noisy World: Why it Matters

You may not have noticed my absence but I am fully aware of the neglect of my blog. Aware, I say, because I miss writing here. I miss the process of mulling over topics, asking questions of life and writing my way into the answers. That’s not to say I have not been mulling, asking and writing! I’ve been doing plenty of that by way of meditating, talking with friends and writing in my journal. It’s only that I haven’t been sharing my thoughts and words here.

Why?

Because it’s become such a crowded and noisy app-happy world out there. Besides Blogger (where you are now), there is Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Snap Chat, Pinterest and LinkedIn, Tumblr and Google Plus, YouTube and WhatsApp. To name a few. There are so many ways of connecting it makes my head spin. It also makes me want to unplug and crawl back into an electricity-free cave.

It’s not just the plethora of social networking sites; it’s what’s on them. I believe everyone has a story to tell. I believe everyone should have a voice. But when I read some of the mean-spirited stuff out there it gives me pause. Worse, it makes me afraid to put my own words—myself—out there. Not only am I reluctant to heap more on the slush pile of chatter (and, god forbid, with the incoming administration end up on some watchlist), I am reticent to subject myself to the vicious comments of some who feed on ripping others apart—trolls, as they are called, who unleash an unbridled viciousness that is, unfortunately, on the rise. We’ve seen this kind of unseemly behavior growing in the past several years with politicians decimating each other like Barbarians in the Coliseum. We’ve heard the rhetoric sink so low it has been deemed hate speech, only to see it repeated and reprinted as headline news. That’s a lot of noise. Mean-spirited, negative noise.

I got a taste of this negativity, albeit a tiny morsel, a few months ago on Facebook when I posted a photo of President and Michelle Obama that included a caption (not mine) asking people to share if you wanted to thank the Obamas for their grace and dignity through these past eight years. Yes, I did want to thank them. I marveled (still marvel) at their strength and grace, diplomacy, class, and integrity as they’ve handled all the *&$%# that’s been flung their way, all the obstacles so obnoxiously placed in their path. (Which, I consider our path, the path to health, human rights and individual freedoms.) So I posted.

In response to this post I was greeted with comments negating my fond sentiments—and several people voiced some pretty harsh opinions. So I hastened to add, “In the spirit of what this post says about grace and dignity, I will delete any negative comments.” I deleted a disturbing number, including one from a high school classmate—from our Catholic high school. Upon noticing her comment had been removed, she shot back with claims to her right to free speech. In turn, others jumped in on her angry response, until there was a long thread of people arguing back and forth about free speech, about how a person’s Facebook page belongs to that person and therefore exempt from any constitutional rights, followed by more polarized opinions about the Obamas. On my post. A post that was supposed to be positive, an innocent means of saying thanks.

My parents. I appreciate
their old-fashioned values
more than ever

All through my childhood, my mother hammered us kids about minding our manners. I can still hear her voice: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.” And her other frequent refrain: “That’s not charitable,” a reprimand in response to any of our unkind or selfish missteps.

Say something nice or don’t say anything. Be charitable. These are the simple rules I learned from my mom. The ones I learned from my dad are just as important: Surround yourself with positive people. And, above all, always remember to say thank you.

But it has become glaringly evident—from my fellow Catholic school classmates to our president-elect—that not everyone was raised with these rules.

I really do believe that each of us has a story to tell. But stories need to be told in a way we can all hear. Shouting doesn’t work. Negativity is unnecessary. And bullying is unacceptable. Without civility and good manners our society will topple faster than a tower of Jenga blocks.  And you shouldn’t need me—or my mother—to tell you that. It should be common sense!

I kept wondering about the high school classmate and why her reaction to my post was so strong, so angry. So I dug a little into her Facebook page and saw that she was divorced and a single mom. I am cautious about making assumptions, but I wondered if her anger had more to do with her and less about the Obamas or free speech. Maybe she was devastated by her divorce. Maybe she was struggling to raise her kids on her own. It made me think of another of those oft-reposted Facebook quotes:

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” 

So I held her in my thoughts, sending her telepathic waves of love and compassion. And then, in a proactive move of self-protection, I unfriended her.

Forget your closet, apply this
method to your social media 

My sister would advise, “Garbage in, garbage out. What we take in affects us and we send it back out. So best to avoid the garbage.” I am not saying this in reference to the classmate; I’m referring to the bigger picture. I’ve needed to do a Marie Kondo on social media, my blog included, and tidy up. Sharing my innermost thoughts, my hopes and beliefs, was not sparking joy; it was invoking dread, even fear.

And yet, my profession is writing, communicating, networking. It’s my calling. I need connection the way Simone Biles needs backflips. Even if it means spending time on social media. (And when you live on a farm in rural Iowa, sometimes social media is the only practical means of having a social life.)

Even when I have vowed not to, I have continued to post on Facebook, and sometimes Twitter. I have also continued to break my personal rule about staying politically neutral. For years I have preached that pie was not about politics, that pie creates community, unifies and bridges some of the most disparate gaps. I’m confident that I have proven this principal over and over—all the way around the globe, in fact—by baking pie with people from some of the widest ranges of cultures, socioeconomic groups, religions, and political beliefs.

Making pie with kids in a South African township.

Pie, for me, has always been a metaphor for peace. (As if that wasn’t already obvious.) And because peace is eluding us in our current climate, it’s time for me to drop the “no politics” rule entirely. It is time for me to speak up. To add my voice to the noisy world. To contribute any constructive, positive, peace-making thoughts I can to help counter the dark forces of fear, greed, ignorance, and bullying.

My politics are not about party-based divisiveness. My goal going forward is to keep bringing the conversation back to basic values, like empathy and inclusiveness—you know, the foundations of Christianity—while keeping the conversation polite. My mission is to preserve decency and manners, and to promote respect—for each other, as well as for our environment. We all have to breathe the same oxygen from our atmosphere; we all depend on clean drinking water for our survival. Forget politics. Preserving earth’s limited resources and saving our species starts with remembering we share just one planet, and therefore we all have to get along.

Obviously “getting along” is a hard charge for us. But we can at least try. For example, even if it takes some effort, we can start by restraining ourselves before venting on social media. Instead of making negative, contrarian, inflammatory comments, how about not saying anything at all. The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. Even a baby step like this is a good start.

And lest I sound like a hypocrite, let me say this blog post is not meant to be a rant or negative commentary. I am simply trying to sort through the confusion of life and use my best means of solution seeking: writing an essay.

Mull over the topic. Ask the questions. Write my way into the answers. In this case, the answers are really very simple, so simple I could have conveyed them in five words instead of 1,500:

Have courage and practice kindness.

And write more. On my blog.

It may be a crowded, noisy world out there but everyone has a story, everyone has a voice. This is my story, my voice. And just like I would with a homemade pie, I’ve put my heart and my best intentions into my words before sharing them. Thank you for reading them.

Is World Peace Possible?

This past summer I left my home in Donnellson, Iowa and traveled all the way around the world, baking American pie in 10 countries as a way to promote cultural tolerance. I returned with the intention of writing a book about my experience. I already had the title: World Piece, spelled p-i-e-c-e.  But it is hard to write about world peace when you’ve lost your faith in it.

My trip went well enough. I toured apple orchards in New Zealand. I did a pie demo for the Women’s International Club in Sydney. I baked 75 pies for the American Embassy’s 4th of July reception in Thailand. I learned how to make pie-like pastries in India. I delivered a dozen pies to a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. I picked wild blueberries in the Black Forest to make pie with 10-year-olds, and then with a gay couple in Budapest’s bombed out Jewish quarter. I interacted with people all around the globe, weaving my way through a lattice crust of nationalities, religions and races. I made 211 pies and almost as many new friends. I returned safely.

Baking pie in the Black Forest.
We all wore our hair in braids.

But since I’ve been back, I’ve been listening to a lot of news. Bad news from the places where I had just been. A bombing at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, the exact spot where I had made my pies. A growing garbage crisis in Lebanon. The Syrian refugee crisis worsening. Trains halted from Hungary to reject the migrants. Terrorist attacks in Paris, and then Brussels. Instead of spreading world peace, it was as if I had left only violence in my wake. Add to that the vitriol of the presidential campaign with threats to build walls and ban certain religions from entering the U.S., to divide instead of unite people, and any remaining optimism I had for healing the world evaporated.

Lugging that rolling pin for 30,000 miles was all for nothing. Or was it?

In the Bekaa Valley Refugee Camp.
These Syrian kids are the happy
recipients of homemade pie.

In my state of disillusionment, I reached out to my Facebook friends, the ones who had cheered me on during my 3-month journey. I asked them, “Do you believe world peace is possible? How do you define peace and what examples do you see of it? What do you do to try to make the world a better place?”

The responses were plentiful and thoughtful.

Limit exposure to news. Meditate or pray. Spread joy. Practice kindness and tolerance. Teach children to be good citizens. Invest in the education of the next generation. Focus on the good. Live with a soft heart. Dig deeper for awareness and understanding of yourself. Choose to think positively. Help others. Talk to your neighbors. Share a smile. Cooperate with those you don’t agree with. Believe in the ripple effect. (Like pay the bridge toll for the car behind you and see it continue for hours.)

One woman in Des Moines said, “Each Sunday at the end of our service we sing words of John Wesley: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” She believes an individual’s inner peace created by these words will lead to collective world peace.

A bike shop owner in Ottumwa said, “Peace is yin and yang because energy is in constant flow. There is goodness and there is anger. Anger has its place, because oftentimes it is what pushes a change for more goodness.”

Some of the comments included links to videos—of the Dalai Lama, a CNN story on the peaceful kingdom of Bhutan, a TED talk. There were also links to organizations, a Dutch one called World Peace is Possible, whose website states, “There was peace for 1 percent of the 3,500 years of civilization, so we know it’s possible.” There is the “I Declare World Peace” hashtag movement on Twitter. There’s “A Peace of my Mind” —p-e-a-c-e— book of photography and interviews. And in LA, there is a man whose Global Vision for Peace non-profit is organizing a LiveAid-type concert to be held on September 21, the annual date the United Nations has established as International Day of Peace.

Humans share 99.9 percent of the same genetic makeup. So why can’t we get along? Why is there not 99.9 percent peace in the world? We may try to be good and do good, hardwired for survival, but we are tribal. We are opinionated, power hungry, fearful and hotheaded, with some more prone than others to strap on an explosive vest and detonate it in the middle of a crowd. Still, I want to believe mankind is basically good. I want to have hope.

One commenter suggested that wanting global piece is too daunting. “You should scale it back,” he said, “and just think about your own world, your own piece of the pie. Each piece put together in harmony can add up to the whole.”

These beauties (Margaret, left, age 94 and
Rosalie, right, age 92) know a thing or two
about life. Sharing stories pie with them
 over pie is the definition of peace.

With this in mind, I’ve reimagined my own view of world peace. It is sleeping soundly under my down comforter, next to the man I love, in a country we are blessed to live in. It is doing yoga as the sun rises over the barn. It is walking through the hay field over to the creek to look for wildflowers. It is watching the baby calves nurse on their mothers. It is dropping by my old neighbor’s house after his heart surgery and seeing his face light up at my arrival. It is listening to the stories of two 90-something-year-old sisters in my town, made even sweeter over pie. And it is about community, people connecting with each other, even if just on Facebook, who lend each other a helping hand, restoring their faith in humanity and, in my case, to push them past their writer’s block.

That last commenter was right. It is not about world peace as a whole. It’s about having one little slice of it. And that I have found. Right where I started. On a farm in Iowa.

Iowa Caucus Mania

In spite of this brilliant parody by Mike Luckovich, I was surprised
that none of the politicians showed up on my doorstep.
They missed an ideal photo op!

I maintain that pie is not about politics. “Pie is non-partisan,” I have been known to insist. “It is meant to be shared, to build community, and spread good will. Pie knows no cultural boundaries.” Thus, I normally avoid any discussion of the subject. But as I am living in Iowa during the 2012 Iowa Caucus, the subject of politics cannot be ignored. Admittedly the media buzz is rather exciting. I  mean, to have our humble state be the center of such acute interest with top level journalists from all over the country doesn’t happen every day. That said, the story here has become less about the politicians and more about the media itself.

There was an article published in The Atlantic in early December. It was written by Stephen Bloom, a University of Iowa professor who has lived in Iowa for 20 years. According to his piece, he feels Iowa is not representative of the diversity in America and therefore shouldn’t hold such power over choosing a president.

States Bloom, “Whether a schizophrenic, economically-depressed, and some say, culturally-challenged state like Iowa should host the first grassroots referendum to determine who will be the next president isn’t at issue. It’s been this way since 1972, and there are no signs that it’s going to change. In a perfect world, no way would Iowa ever be considered representative of America, or even a small part of it. Iowa’s not representative of much. There are few minorities, no sizable cities, and the state’s about to lose one of its five seats in the U.S. House because its population is shifting; any growth is negligible. Still, thanks to a host of nonsensical political precedents, whoever wins the Iowa Caucuses in January will very likely have a 50 percent chance of being elected president 11 months later. Go figure.”

Ouch! No wonder people are up in arms over his story. (See Kyle Munson’s story in the Des Moines Register for more.)

Instead of being outraged by Bloom’s article, I first stopped to remember the tenets I live by: “The Four Agreements” that come from a book of the same name by Don Miguel Ruiz.

1. Don’t make assumptions.
2. Always do your best.
3. Be impeccable with your word.
4. Do not take it personally.

Therefore, I did not take the writer’s words personally. They are merely the opinion of one man, a man who clearly doesn’t appreciate the countless advantages, positive aspects, and the abundance of heartfelt kindness of living in the Heartland.

Mr. Bloom is from San Francisco, a city that, in my experience, has its own issues. When I lived there someone left a note on the windshield of my car while parked at the Marina Safeway. Written on a scrap of a brown paper grocery bag, it said: “You asshole. You should be reported to the humane society for leaving your dog in your car.” What this righteous passerby did not account for is that I had just taken my well-cared-for, very lucky dog (rescued from a shelter, no less) on a two-hour wilderness hike, I was only in the grocery store for a mere 10 minutes, there was a dish of water in the car, the windows were left sufficiently cracked open, and the day was perfectly cool. This makes me an asshole? Really?

Contrast this to Iowa, where it is so safe I could have tied up my dog in front of the store instead of locking it in the car. That note and the attitude it portrays is one of the reasons I have no desire to live in that part of the country again.

And in spite of trying not to make assumptions, as well as being impeccable with my word (always remembering “The Four Agreements”), I cannot refrain from suggesting that perhaps Mr. Bloom is simply unhappy living in this “landlocked, flyover state.” He ought to consider moving back to Northern California instead of remaining here with the “hicks and meth addicts.” Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Or better yet, in the spirit of Grant Wood who said, “I had to go to France to appreciate Iowa,” maybe Bloom should visit Paris. I can only imagine how critical he would be of the people and lifestyle there.

After having several discussions with friends who were disgruntled by Bloom’s controversial story, I was heartened to see a clever and well-produced rebuttal. Below is Scott Siepker with his now-viral video on YouTube (see below). In a concise and deadpan comedic way, he reminds the world that Iowans are not only well educated, forerunners in progressive politics, and the inventors of the computer, they are, in a word, nice.

To have people like that influencing who is going to become the next president is all right with me.

I haven’t lived in Iowa since I was 17, so I have never voted here. And while I won’t be voting in tonight’s caucus, I will be attending to educate myself on what an Iowa caucus is all about. And after that, once the media has packed up and left, the state can get back to its normal way of life and I can get back to thinking about my favorite non-controversial, non-political subject: pie.

Pies, Cupcakes, Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It started in October, when Nation’s Restaurant News reported that trendspotter and San Francisco-based restaurant consultant Andrew Freeman predicted 2011 was going to be the Year of the Pie. “If I had one trend — one trend — of the year that I could predict, that’s why it’s in the No. 1 position, this would be the trend for pie,” he said. “I think that we’re going to make room for pie shops in the next year.”

The New York Times followed up a few weeks later when Julia Moskin’s article “Pie to Cupcake: Time’s Up” fanned the flames. And then, on January 2nd, Bonny Wolf on NPR’s Weekend Edition declared the war was over. Her piece, titled “Cupcakes are Dead. Long Live the Pie!” claimed that pie had won.

Not so fast everyone. Jezebel, the racy website for “celebrity, sex and fashion for women” held a March Madness Cake vs. Pie Tournament last spring, conceived by Jezebel’s clever editor Jessica Coen (who also happens to be a basketball fan). She stated, “It’s time. We’ve fought for far too long. The Pie vs. Cake War must come to an end! But a winner can’t simply be chosen; there must be a battle, and you, dear reader, must decide the champion.” There was a battle alright. Tens of thousands of people weighed in daily over several weeks. The voting frenzy and accompanying commentary got opinionated readers worked up into a meringue-like froth. The irony is this: the champion was neither pie nor cake. It was some strange hybrid that no one could quite define — a cheesecake. And, oh, you should have heard the outrage! Who would have thought a humorous little contest meant only to be a spoof paralleling the basketball one would bring out the worst in people?

My question is this: why can’t we all just get along? Why do we have to make a competition out of everything? Why can’t we appreciate variety and recognize that there is room for everyone? Whether black, white, Asian, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim….whether LA Lakers, Boston Celtics, or Chicago Bulls….whether Northern California or Southern….whether Cabernet or Chardonnay….whether brownie, chocolate chip cookie, chocolate cupcake or chocolate #$&*%# cream pie… Vive la difference!  That’s what makes life so bloody interesting.

The pie vs. cupcake argument only serves to be divisive. And based on what I’m preaching from my pie pulpit, that’s not what pie is about. Pie is about peace, sharing, comfort, healing. I love pie, but who wants to eat pie every day? I don’t! And I’m someone who has devoted my whole existence to this quintessential American dessert! I crave a hearty piece of carrot cake once in a while. I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie Mix. And don’t let me near a plate of cookies of any kind as I can’t be stopped. As for cupcakes? We don’t need to kill them. They don’t need to die. I say, bring ’em on. A sure way to rock my world is by bringing me a chocolate one with white frosting, a white cake one with coconut frosting, or anything with a few cheerful sprinkles on top.

You can predict all the trends you want, you can hold all the competitions, write all the opinions, and wave the flag of your choice, but consider this: pie is not a trend and should be exempt from all this maniacal hype. It has been around since the Medieval Ages. Pie crust was invented as a way to transport meat, a hard, inedible shell to preserve it. It was the Tupperware of its time. Hundreds of years later the Pilgrims embraced pie — it travels well! — and eventually it evolved into something more edible, something fruity, flaky and delicious. But something in our perfection-striving human nature has caused us to force pie’s evolution even further. Now we compare recipes and exchange tips and argue — yes, argue — over whose pie is better. Can we all just relax about pie? And about cupcakes? And about basketball and religion and race? Can we stop predicting who’s going to win and who likes what better and whose recipe/team/religion is best? Please? Life is too short for such petty wars. All I am saying is….forgive the pun, but it does happen to be my trademarked slogan, “Give a piece a chance.” Any kind of piece, as long as it makes you feel good, and even smile.

And on that note, may I present a compromise, the best of both worlds. A recipe from Baking Bites for “Impossible Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes.” Happy baking…no matter what flavor, texture, or nutritional value you choose.

Why We Blog

My friend Jill is a gorgeous, sassy, accomplished, articulate friend (and fellow pie baker) who asked my advice on her new blog. She was feeling insecure and deflated after her husband so generously offered his opinion. “My husband thinks blogging is a waste of time.”

In fact, her husband feels so strongly, and so negatively, about this he wrote a diatribe against the whole social networking trend on — oh the irony — a blog.

The underlying impulse behind all this frantic networking is the veiled desire to affirm both one’s ego and one’s identity,” he vented online. “The result is a gusher of trivia that is almost psychotic in its ferocity and pathetic in its quest for attention. But perhaps its greatest fault is that by embracing trivia and fostering human contact it demeans the English language. In the course of its flippant abbreviations both of speech and thought, it banishes certain values, which it has taken centuries to develop and, in place of creativity, it champions banality and encourages self-adulation.”

His tone was critical, closed minded, and, let’s face it, archaic, but still, I couldn’t shake the dark cloud his opinion had cast upon me. It caused to stop and take stock of my own essays — er, blog posts. Was I being self-adulating and simply trying to affirm my ego in my efforts to share my life’s challenges and adventures? Was I merely seeking attention? Further, do other people even care about what’s going on in my life? I mean, everyone has their own unique universe to focus on without wasting their time reading about mine.

There was a time — only three years ago in real time, the equivalent of three decades in Internet time — when I shared Jill’s husband’s sentiments. I even wrote my own diatribe against Twitter and Facebook — yes, on my blog, which at the time was brand new. It was my fifth post, to be exact. There are still many aspects of my story that still hold true — like the importance of spending real life face time with people, getting away from the computer to exercise and get fresh air, and creating something artistic – like pie – with your own hands. But my opinions — and my life — have evolved considerably since then.

Which is why I was quick to reply to my friend’s email. “No, Jill!” I wrote. “I know you love your husband and respect his opinion, but he is wrong. Social networking is an invaluable communications and marketing tool. And seeing as you’re the bread winner, he has no room to talk. Go ahead and put yourself out there. You have every right to express your own creative voice.”

My mother might side more with Jill’s husband. She has always told me I tell people too much. “Things you say could come back to hurt you,” she warned. It’s a good thing she doesn’t read my blog because not only do I tell people a lot, I tell them EVERYTHING. I am a firm believer that “honesty is the best policy” and what I have learned from living by this creed is the only thing that hurts is staying silent.

Try telling Kelly Sedinger that blogging is a waste of time. If you do, you’ll probably get a pie in the face.

On Sunday I received an email from a man in Upstate New York who has become a regular reader of my blog, which he discovered not from doing a Google search for pie, but for bib overalls. I find this highly amusing as wearing overalls ranks somewhere near the bottom on my list of attributes. Nonetheless, he wasn’t writing to me because of my farmer pants. This stranger (Kelly Sedinger, who I would now consider, well, a Facebook friend at the very least) was writing to tell me how much he appreciated my raw honesty about grief, about my long, emotional and sometimes suicidal process of dealing with the loss of my husband, and how my stories have helped him deal with his own grief over the loss of his two-year-old son. He also told me how he and his wife have used pie (coconut cream) to help heal, though in a most unusual way, by throwing it in each other’s faces!

I have received many emails like this (minus the pie throwing part) since Marcus died, since I began pouring my pain out onto the virtual pages of the Internet. Not a “gusher of trivia that is almost psychotic in its ferocity and pathetic in its quest for attention,” as Jill’s husband says. No, I’m gushing about REAL life. There are people out there who have no one to relate to, to talk to, to share with – for one, because our society is so reluctant to open up about death and other difficult subjects. And so, I relate, talk, share. And people, like my overall-wearing, pie-throwing reader in New York, relate, talk, and share back.

My friend Christine Buckley just started a blog called Seeking Shama about her cross-country road trip to help resolve her “existential crisis” after getting fired from a job she didn’t even like. She’s 41, fit, beautiful, well educated, highly employable, and, at face value, has nothing to complain about. Surely Jill’s husband would have a field day with this one. He would call it “banality,” while so many others are so starved for soul-searching stories like these that her essays are now published on the Huffington Post. I can just picture him fuming over this.

We, as human beings, need each other. We need to share our stories no matter how trivial, dramatic, or death-related they might be. We need to be honest. If we don’t share things, things that scare us or fill us with shame, what happens to all that fear and shame? It’s like I’ve said about grief when the baby rabbit died: Emotion is energy that needs to get out of your body. If you don’t release it, it will manifest itself in other ways like disease. Or, as my friend Nan reminds me, “Disease comes from dis-ease.” We need to share the good stuff too, the happiness, the victories. A Swedish proverb sums up in 12 words (plenty short to be posted on Twitter) perfectly: “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” If you get instant gratification — or relief — from sharing your joy and sorrow and everything in between over the Internet, well, good!

As for the “flippant abbreviations both of speech and thought” — and countering my own initial reaction of “who cares what I’m doing now” — I’ve come to enjoy the banter on Facebook and Twitter and marvel at the creative use of English. It really is like learning a new language, one that is short, to the point, and often twisted in ways so funny I laugh out loud. Flippant is good. Irreverent, even better. Thank god for the social break that these social networking sites provide amidst stressful or sometimes uneventful days. I live in a rural area and to be connected with smart, sophisticated, successful types from NYC to London and beyond keeps me from feeling cut off from the outside world, it stimulates my mind and keeps me from sinking into the vortex of despair where one can go when lacking human contact. Out there on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and beyond is a big, entertaining, often useful conversation going on 24/7 that I can drop in on anytime I feel the need for some company or want to speak my mind. And god knows, it’s better than TV. Harmful to our language? Hardly. You want to talk about the demise of English? Come to my town where there’s rampant use of the word “ain’t.”

Social networking, and blogging in particular, is not a waste of time. It is an essential means of broadening our minds, our creativity, our friendships, and, mainly, our connections. Man is not meant to be alone and if we find each other in cyberspace, so what. It’s a good place to start. And after making those initial connections, sharing our stories with each other, and discovering common ground from which to launch meaningful relationships, there’s a lot further we can take them. I look forward to meeting my blog readers, fellow bloggers and Twitter followers in person. And my life will be so much richer for it. All because of a of a little blog about pie.

I wish I could give you the URL to Jill’s blog, because she really is a great writer with a wicked sense of humor. She’s got the kind of charming voice where she can sling insults and make them sound like compliments. Kind of like getting a coconut cream pie thrown in your face. It’s so delicious you don’t even mind how it arrived in your mouth! She has talent. She also has a wonderful little business, which deserves to succeed. But Jill isn’t even her real name. She loves her husband, even though he is resistant to change, and I don’t want to offend her anymore than I already have, so I’ll stop there.

Everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard. Where and how are you sharing yours?  Creating a blog is free. Ditto for Facebook page, Twitter and LinkedIn. And by all means, please feel free to connect with me on Facebook or Twitter (worldneedspie).