Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Middle of the Road Can Hold

In those few moments, she made the world's wrath her own.

It started like it always starts -- something doesn't go Bryce's way and the rage spiral begins. This time there was too much honey on her peanut butter toast. The peanut butter jar was nearly empty, and I didn't want to take the time to mix the new jar because of how the oil separates in the organic peanut butter we buy (can't it just mix itself?), so I made due with the little that was left. I thought I had it nailed, adding extra honey to cover for the lack of peanut, but to no avail.

"There's too much honey, Daddy."

"Eat it."

"No! Too much honey!"

"Eat it!"

"No!"

Of course I knew I wasn't helping, but my own spiral had begun as well. I was having a crappy week at work combined with the fact that my wife (known as "The Mama" to my regular readers) had a series of Kidpower workshops and had to leave really early, leaving me to wrap the mornings up and get the girls to school. Plus the recent election, the Dakota Pipeline protest and the general craziness and instability of world unknown, where many of us are still holding our collective breath, hadn't helped either.

Usually I have no problem with managing the morning routine even when I'm working early, which is all the time, but when the Bryce factor escalates, it's a tough road. And the Bryce factor had felt the adult stress in the room of late. Both girls did.

"What do you want then?" I asked her.

"Sunflower butter bagel," she answered, one of her staples to date.

"Fine, I'll fix you the bagel, but please go upstairs and get dressed for school. You know how Beatrice doesn't like to be late."

"Okay."

"I don't want to be late, Daddy," added Beatrice.

Everything mellowed again -- until she wanted the blue jacket. Her warm new blue jacket that was no where to be found. I even texted the Mama to see if she knew, but she didn't. Maybe she left it at school, she texted back.

That didn't sit well with Bryce who wailed on and on about it. I made her put on another jacket and herded both girls out the door.

"I don't want to go to school!"

"Get in the car!"

"Daddy, we're going to be late, aren't we," Beatrice said.

Christ, not now, I thought.

"No, get in girls and let's go."

But it was too late. Bryce distilled into a Molotov cocktail that blew up in the back seat. Bryce screamed and thrashed more than usual and Beatrice plugged her sound-sensitive ears, looking helpless in the rearview mirror.

"I don't want to go to school! No!"

"Stop it now, Bryce! We have to go now. We do this every morning. Stop acting like this!"

"Daddy, I don't want to be late!"

I might as well have poured gasoline on this latest flash fire. Every positive parenting action and Kidpower recommendation became a distant fire line in my mind. Only two days before I had picked Bryce up from school and we had a similar stand off, but this time I kept my cool, and not just because some parents watched as Bryce writhed and thrashed on the ground in front of me. I used what's called my "walk away power" -- literally -- and told Bryce I had to get back for a call and she needed to come with me. So I walked away from her. Then she followed, reluctantly, but quietly. All the way back to the car and was quiet all the way home.

Bryce began kicking the back of my car seat near my head and that woke me up. I wanted to pull over and spank her little butt, which we've never done with either girl, but I didn't. I should have pulled over regardless, I know, but we had to get to school and goddammit my girls were not going to be late because of this outburst.

Instead, we sat in the car at a stop sign in the middle of the road, with no other cars around, and I voice texted my wife. Bea continue to plug her ears while Bryce cried and kicked.

Can you call me in the car, I texted. Bryce is really mad. (Which autocorrected to Price is really a sad.)

Upset and kicking me.

Sorry. Pretty bad this morning. Thought hearing your voice would help. Love you.

Nothing like ensuring correct punctuation in urgent voice texts while stopped at a stop sign. She didn't answer so I knew her workshop had already started. I proceeded to school yelling at Bryce to stop while Bryce yelled at me and poor Beatrice tried to help calm us both, index fingers in ears.

We arrived and parked down the street from school like we usually do.

"Daddy, Bryce took off her shoes and socks," Beatrice announced.

I was so done by then, but I sucked it up and firmly opened up Bryce's car door and put her socks and shoes back on.

"Bryce, let's go," I said.

"My-my glasses," she said. She had finally calmed down, but she held one of her lenses in one hands.

I felt beat up, punched in the gut. All I could do was pop the lens back in her glasses, put them on her, and pulled her gently out of the car seat.

Besides Beatrice informing one of her classmate's parents of what had transpired on the journey to school, the same mom I had told of my woes earlier in the week, Bryce and I walked in silence the rest of the way to school.

We've survived all this before and we'll survive it all again. Later that day after school the Mama and I sat down with Bryce and talked about it, or as much as you can talk about it with a firecracker of a six-year-old. We talked about how it's not okay to act that way and that we need to use our words when we're mad and that it's not being safe when she uses her body to put herself and others in jeopardy because she's mad. We talked about how we should use our own words with her when we're made instead of yelling (which ain't easy). We laid out the Kidpowerin' for her as we do for both girls and each other. Bryce listened, and whined, and listened, and tried to articulate how she felt and why she did what she did.

We've survived this all before and we'll survive it all again. We do our best to provide a stable environment for our girls and know that's all we have control over -- and we're not the only parents who deal with emotional swings and childhood angst. It's hard when you're in those fiery moments, but we'll survive and our center will hold.

A few days later we were all in our local Christmas Parade marching down the middle of Pacific Avenue with the Mama's Girl Scout trip that our girls are in, and I couldn't help but think about what we've felt and projected of late has impacted them. I couldn't help but think how much positive energy it takes to keep our centers intact, and like the Yeats poem, how much negative energy is released when we don't.

And there was Bryce at the end of the parade celebrating her center in the only way she knows -- her way. Maybe, just maybe, the middle of the road can hold for us all.




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Standing Up to Standing Down

One side wants the other to stand down. To acquiesce. To rollover. To not fight the good fight. History is full of the one-sided smack, usually a government, or a corporation, or a political party, or a cultural norm, or a religious or ideological movement, or some other form of precedented mob rule dominating over the masses, especially the disenfranchised. It's masked in the stance that, if we all come together on this, if you all just do as we say and wish, we'll all be the better for it. No one gets hurt. No harm, no foul. Normalize the rising tide so the rest of us can easily look away from the bodies buried in the sand, reasonable voices eventually drowned out. For a little while at least.

But for most of us, it takes a lot of focus and energy to keep our heads just above that waterline, fighting the everyday good fights for family and community. Those good fights being led by our own subjective voices of reason for a myriad of reasons, a hopeful array of daily disarray. There are so many movements to get behind and support, and yet I always come back to one -- domestic violence awareness and prevention.

Growing up, my sister and I witnessed my mother suffer continuous verbal and physical abuse. Her own parents (our grandparents) had told her repeatedly that she "made her own bed," that she married our birth father and needed to figure out how to make it work. That latter part we didn't know until years later, and while not out of the ordinary with the way families sometimes respond, it always hurt my heart that my loving, evangelical grandparents didn't give our mother more support early on. The domestic violence only escalated from that point on until she got us all out. A single mom with two little kids, no child support from our birth father, we were always one pay check from being homeless. Although I don't know what it was then, today according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.

However, we did have help from families and friends, and our grandparents did eventually take a stand and help us as well. Not a moment too soon either because we went from one violent home to another before finally finding peace and love with the man I called dad from age 13 onward. Too many times my mom's life was in jeopardy. Too many times all our lives were in jeopardy. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, three women die everyday in the U.S. due to domestic violence.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently called on governments around the world to increase spending in areas that will empower women, help domestic violence victims, and prevent future abuse. This includes an expanded definition of violence against women and harsher consequences for non-physical violence such as stalking, harassment, emotional abuse, and verbal abuse -- something that the perpetrators of certainly want us to stand down from supporting.

Besides Kidpower, my wife (known as "The Mama" to my regular readers) has also gotten involved in women's rights issues of late due to the contentious election our country has endured. I call it "activate the Mama" in honor of her inspired activism and civic duty in support locally and nationally of the Women’s March on Washington. Their mission is to stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families -- recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. 

Of course it's not without its critics, and the differences among the women involved are as diverse as the very nation they represent. However, they are standing up to standing down, and since we have two girls growing up in a world where civil rights may potentially be diminished, I couldn't ask for a better partner to help fight this good fight. We've even adopted a family from a local women's shelter this Christmas, a mother and her two young daughters, to give them gifts that they couldn't afford otherwise. It's a little something and every little something helps when you're struggling to live day to day.

Whatever positive movement you support locally and/or globally, get off the ground, activate your family and make a stand happen. Every little bit of positive change and sustenance can go a long, long way this holiday season and throughout the year, the special gifts that keep on giving.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

On the Field in Front of Me

Photo courtesy of Paul Turner

I couldn't believe it; we'd been scouted. Just minutes before our game, during warm up, one of my player's parents approached me to relay that information.

"Guess what."

"What?"

"One of the hyper-competitive parents from the other team scouted us last week."

"Are you serious?"

"Yep. Supposedly they're undefeated and they wanted to find out who our strongest players are."

"Wow. We're in a recreational league. What the heck? They scouted us?"

"I know, right? Well, we haven't lost one yet either, so let's give them a run for their money, coach."

Let's give them a run for their money. As I called out our starting players to take the field, I realized I wasn't that surprised. I never would've scouted another team prior to playing them, not at this level, but I've always been pretty competitive myself. Every week we played I kept the running score of our games on my clipboard, and every week we chalked one up in the win column, except for one tie and no losses. That was something I was very proud of, but tried to temper during each game so as not to get the girls to caught up in the gut-wrenching angst of pure unadulterated competition -- some of them would there in a few years anyway. So, except for posting in our team website after the games for the parents benefit, I kept my coaching cool.

The game started and immediately we were schooled. Their team had crisper passing, better dribbling, tighter shooting and a stronger defense. Obviously they were drilled over and over again on these soccer fundamentals, and they obviously played a starter roster and only subbed in when needed. They quickly went up 2 goals to none well before the first half was done.

And that gut-wrenching competitive angst blew up inside me. I kept it contained, thankfully, but I second guessed my entire approach to coaching this scrappy yet talented U10 recreational soccer team. Yes, we drilled the basics during practice, and we scrimmaged together every single week. And yet, my focus has been teamwork and having fun, fun, fun no matter what level their girls are at. That's why everyone got a chance to play every game and rotated positions throughout the season. I subbed the girls in constantly through each half, sometimes because the forwards needed a break, but also to ensure everybody played as much as possible. There are 12 girls on the team and only eight players can play at any given time.

Momentum is a malleable thing, however. At some point late in the first half, we took it in our hands -- and our feet -- and made it our own.

Something changed on the field. Something I'd seen already occasionally during the season but only now recognized it for what it really was: pure, unadulterated teamwork. The girls settled down and it was like their individual identities were blotted out. They dribbled, passed, shot and defended like the other team, except more effortlessly, as if each girl were connected to the other, elementals on fire that scorched the earth beneath their tireless feet.

And they were having a blast doing it all.

Once inside the second half, the score became 2-1, and then 2-2. The entire second half we dominated the field and kept the ball dangerously near our opponents goal over and over and over again. The other team was getting tired. We were just getting started.

Blink. Another score! 2-3! We took the lead with only minutes left!

Wait, what? Offsides? Noooooooooo!!!

No. No. No. No. No. Crap! Keep it together, Coach. Mercy me.

Minutes later the referees blew their whistles and the game was over. It might as well been the end of every underdog sports movie I'd ever seen in my lifetime. In that moment everything I had intended to instill in my team had come to be on the field in front of me. And it gave me hope in an ever-changing world, a world going darker by the day. It gave me hope that our children may someday help this crazy friggin' world figure out how to play like a true team and celebrate together all the fragile freedoms we've fought so hard to secure and keep, that now seem to be slipping away.

Yes, I really did get all that from this game and I know what I'll be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Thank you, girls. You are the future looking bright.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Let's Go All In on Them Instead of Hate

“Half the world hates
What half the world does every day
Half the world waits
While half gets on with it anyway…”

—Rush, Half the World


It was simple, to just have some fun. That's all I wanted us to do that night at soccer practice, including me. I'm the coach, yes, but we needed to play and run around and be a little chaotic. Not hurtful chaotic, just playful chaotic. We raced during dribbling drills. I set up a defensive exercise that turned into a wild scatter-ball chase. Then we scrimmaged and cheered each other on until twilight forced us to wrap it all up, everyone sweaty, tired and full of beaming smiles. It was cathartic for us all, even their parents nervously watching and waiting on the sidelines, wondering what the hell was going to happen next.

The girls didn't talk about it, although one did ask who I voted for. I told her it was a personal decision, and then told her who it was anyway, and she frowned and ran back to play. I never asked for clarity as to why.

Half our world felt marginalized and left behind; half our world feels marginalized and left behind; half our world blames the other. The anger and resentment is real and we've made it okay to hate and hurt again.

Although that's not exactly true, the last part, because the hate and the hurt of scapegoating have never really left us...

Through all the laughter and running around, that's all I could think about during practice, like basking in the sunshine of a clear blue sky 10 feet from a neglected landfill. Regardless of who you voted for in this presidential election, we've again opened an angry wound America has struggled to heal for a long, long time. Too many of us during this campaign accepted bullying behavior and hateful rhetoric, especially from a candidate where half our world went all in on and who is now our national leader.

Sadly, the violent reactions to either side played out before the election and continue to play out now. Hostile acts and protests are rearing their ugly heads across this nation, and even though we're hopers and doers, the Mama and I feel it's only going to get worse before it (hopefully) gets better.

I did try to inject a little levity between us by telling her we read and watch way too many end-of-world stories. She laughed. A little. But we're still worried about what's to come. We admit we feel hoodwinked, gut punched, even assaulted by where our country is now. We don't all have to like where we're at and can voice our opinions about it without violence or hate, because it is still America after all. Half our world tells us that's extreme, that we should get over it, but in all transparency, we won't sit silent for any bullying or violence from either half.

Our girls only gleaned a cursory insight as to what's happened so far and we've done our best to explain what's going on without sharing too much of the violent acts while telling them we'll keep them safe. Thankfully the wisdom and skills we've gained from Kidpower, the global nonprofit leader in personal safety and violence prevention education, have emboldened our empathy, positive strength and safety in our lives.

The founder and executive director of Kidpower, Irene van der Zande, again shared Kidpower's values statement about Inclusion this week (and not a moment too soon):

"We welcome people of any age, culture, religion, race, gender, political belief, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity, marital status, any kind of disability, or level of income who share our commitment to integrity and safety for everyone and who can join us in upholding our values."

The angry wound forever festers, but we have to get on with it now to make a difference. The Mama and I know it's not all rainbows and unicorns and never has been, but we're not pushovers either -- we will protect our family no matter what. We will also wear the safety pins that say, "If you feel that you're in danger, you're safe with us, no matter what." This is is clear tenet of the Kidpower Protection Promise, that we can and should make to the kids and adults in our lives.

This is on us all now. Let’s do what we can to transform our fear of bullying, violence and abuse into a future of lifelong safety and success. Our children are the most precious resource that we have today, so let's go all in on them instead of hate.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

How We Can and Do Celebrate One Another

“You and I, we reject these narrow attitudes
We add to each other, like a coral reef
Building bridges on the ocean floor
Reaching for the alien shore

For you and me - We hold these truths to be self-evident
For you and me - We'd elect each other president
For you and me - We might agree

But that's just us
Reaching for the alien shore…”

—Rush, Alien Shore


We talked of the end of the world as we knew it. At first it felt harmless, just another day talking about our days during dinner. I even referenced the zombie apocalypse with a smile on my face. But then it all went south and surreal quickly; she wanted to go north, to Canada, and was quite serious. I sat up straight in my chair wanting to stay and fight for our country, for America.

Our fear filled the space between us like something rotten, killing our appetites, as if we'd unearthed something under the dining room table that should've been dealt long ago but instead was buried and forgotten. We talked of hate and divisiveness, the threat of civil war and death, of why a big part of our country felt so angry and disenfranchised. We talked of the future and our daughters' safety, where in many parts of the world, including our own country, they're still viewed as second class citizens and even slaves -- to be discounted, oppressed, abused, raped and killed.

I remembered thinking, Are they listening to this? Do they know what the hell we're talking about right now?

The girls played in the living room while we talked and our volume escalated with our fears. Neither seemed to be paying attention, but I remember the ugly fights my abusive father and mother had growing up, so we can never be sure. This wasn't that, only a heated discussion, but still disruptive to childhood. While we talked, I thought that I hadn't had such dark, visceral thoughts since the heart of the great recession, where we nearly lost everything and had to reinvent and reinvest ourselves to survive with two very young children.

Our democracy is tenuous even in the best of times, and time and again we've nearly brought it to its knees. Today combined with ever-changing global economics, perpetually polarized politics, and contentious social change and backlash -- and it all goes to hell pretty quickly. And now with blatant racism and sexismvoter intimidation, threats of violence and war, and unfortunately so much more, it's all washed away the middle of the road like a sulfurous red tide. It's a wonder the Mama and I don't have these serious dinnertime discussions every night of late.

Thank goodness that recently there was a fresh breeze that blew through our community and carried away the smell of democratic decay. It came in the form of a beloved annual holiday, full of frightful fun and a rich neighborly tradition delivering many more treats than tricks: Halloween. I have nothing but fond memories of Halloween and this year was no exception for our family, even with the perennial fake news of poisonous candy and razor blades buried deep inside caramel apples.

There we all were, the parents, many of us who knew each other because our children go to school together, walking along like peaceful protestors in the middle of the street. Our children ran frenetically from door to door, giddy with the immortality of what happens next and the treats they'd get from the generous neighbors who opened their well-lit homes, offering sweet smiles as well as candy.

This played out for us street after street, and later after the girls were in bed, we talked about how nice the evening was, and we imagined that's how it played out on similar streets across America. On a day and night where we celebrate the dead and faux frights, and in a time of unprecedented political dysfunction and echoes of societal outrage past, it reminded us of how we can and do celebrate one another, our communities, our country. Either way it goes, we hope we all remember that on November 9 and in the years to come.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Ones Who Know the Difference

“Man makes a gun, man goes to war
Man can kill and man can drink
And man can take a wh---
Kill all the blacks, kill all the reds
And if there's war between the sexes
Then there'll be no people left
And so it goes, go round again
But now and then we wonder who the real men are…”

—Joe Jackson, Real Men


As I approached, he didn't move. Hood up, head bent slightly forward, backpack tightly bound to his back, hands in coat pocket, facing due west, he stood as if he longed for something. At least, that's what I projected onto him as closed the distance between us on the beach. I was starting my weekly workout and wanted to catch the morning light that had burst through the cloud cover and landed upon the last of the Natural Bridges, the churning sea around it.

I crossed in front of him and said, "Good morning."

He didn't respond, his eyes fixed on the ocean, a scraggly dark beard masked his mouth. I kept going and then stopped a few yards away to take my picture. Again, he didn't turn in my direction nor did he move.

It wasn't until the last stretch of my workout did he slowly made the trek up the large sand dune that led to the road above the cove. I didn't know who he was, didn't know his story. But yet I couldn't help to wonder what it was, who he was, and why he was. In that moment he represented shades of men for millennia who have who have led or followed, who have loved and protected, who have been abused and neglected, who have assaulted and killed -- or some combination therein. There was no stranger danger here for me. No matter what his story, he seemed to be a broken man.

And I've had plenty of those early on in my life. Boys grow up a product of the biology, their parents and the myriad of complex cultural forces around them pressing down all the time. Of course, it's the same with girls, but I'm focused on the guys in this article. The parental impact is weighted paternal or maternal, even when the combined influence is evident. A recent Hidden Brian podcast -- Episode 44: Our Politics, Our Parenting -- examined how our upbringing, whether strict paternal or empathic maternal, influences how we end up voting. Bigger picture here -- how and why we make the life decisions we make.

Of course there's a whole body of research, decades of it, around how our parents and others influence our behavior and our lives. Most of us I'd argue do the best we can, mothers and fathers, mothers and mothers, fathers and fathers, and especially single parents everywhere.

Unfortunately history shows us that men have pressed down much more violently on the world than women, in the name of, whatever. As parents of boys, we can instill more empathy in them and less "my way or the highway" mentality. We can circumvent aberrant behavior that could lead to abusive behavior later on in life. As I wrote recently, Bea has a friend who's a boy who struggles with her now wanting to also be friends with another girl in their small circle of friends. So much so that he's causing angst for her by trying to scare the other girl away, as well as lashing out verbally and physically to Bea and others in the circle.

It's hard not to project adulthood here -- to see this as a microcosm of what happens when we grow up and how we react to one another. The Mama and I have to remember that they are children still. However, that doesn't mean we don't empower our girls on how to deal with this behavior.

Just like the first kiss Bea received, which was innocent enough, the Mama and I do worry about what happens next, year after year, because we've lived all of this before. So we continue to renew boundary talks with both girls, focusing on the Kidpower strategies (the global nonprofit leader in personal safety and violence prevention education, of which the Mama is an instructor for). This means empowering both our girls to develop the awareness of when something's not comfortable and then literally creating a figurative fence and/or wall and saying aloud:

"Stop! I do not want to play this game."

Because no means no. It's not oversimplifying either; it's a critical empowerment practice for all girls and boys. Putting safety first among many other strategies is the very embodiment of Kidpower’s core principle:

The safety and healthy self-esteem of a child are more important than anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience, or offense.

Amen. Thankfully we're still in the sweet and innocent years with the girls, and while we're still vigilant and teaching them these safety skills, we recognize that growing up will happen.

But we keep hearing about these horrible sexual assault allegations that are allowed to occur with little intervention or ultimate punishment. Like the recent ones at Baylor University and the University of Wisconsin, and of course the Stanford student Brock Turner, and we continue to have conservative religious leaders forgiving and/or justifying related abhorrent male behavior, whether straight or gay. Not to mention the violent suppression male-dominant religions apply to women worldwide.

These are not the men many of us are raising today, at least I'd like to believe that, especially my daughter's friend and the many other boys and men that will come in and out of both our girls' lives in the years to come. But like the drifter I ran into on the beach, whether loved and protected or abused and neglected, we don't know every man's story and if they'll be abusive themselves in the wild.

Which is why we must be vigilant when raising our boys and girls -- why we need to clearly instill being personal responsible for every action and inaction we make and take every single day of our lives. It can never be okay for boys to bully and hurt girls, or for men to abuse and assault women. Ultimately the real men (and women) are the ones who know the difference and who can help save the rest of us from ourselves.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

On Happily Doing Their Own Fancy Dances

“All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
I like watchin' the puddles gather rain…”

—Blind Melon, No Rain

We went out into the rain three times over three hours. Each time wearing our rain jackets and our rain boots, Bryce and me with socks on and Bea without. They bounded up and down our one-way street flooded gutter while I watched and called out when cars approached. They jumped and splashed and smiled and laughed. I jumped and splashed and smiled and laughed.

All of us stir crazy, yes, and the fact that our girls just love playing outside in the rain, the first big rain of our ever warmer and drier California dreamin'-scape. The Mama was away doing a Kidpower workshop, so with Daddy daycare in full swing, and the living room floor already littered with nearly every toy in the house, playing outside on a rainy day was the only way to go. We also made milk carton boats to sail down the gutter and that was a big hit (and something fun I remember doing when I was their age).

And as I watched my girls bound and splash and float their boats, I smiled big over and over, because so far so good with them "dancing as if no one is watching." Plus, not caring even if someone was. Each girl differentiating further from one another every single day with the one common thematic thread of being who they are, of being comfortable in their own still pliable skin. As we all know, that is always a work in progress, and yet, they're already light years ahead of my struggles at the same age.

Proudly the Mama has also launched a Girl Scout troop recently, for both Daisies and Brownies based on the ages of our girls and their school friends. For those who don't know, the Girl Scout mission is all about building courage, confidence and character and to help make the world a better place (fun facts: the majority of the women in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives were Girl Scouts, and every female American astronaut to date has been a Girl Scout -- I did not know).

All these things weren't lost on me recently when work traveling, first going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and then a quick trip to Las Vegas -- all full of people, women and men alike, making their own way while flying their own freak flags. Of course I'm not condoning the debauchery, just the spirit of individuality, entrepreneurial rebellion and celebrating inclusivity and teamwork (like my favorite band -- can you guess who that is?).

There's always an edge to finding your own way and becoming yourself, then being your best self and sustaining it. That's the edge we hope we're helping our girls with. I thought about that as I sat eating dinner overlooking the Vegas strip, watching the buzzing throngs of crazy fly by. As I ate and watched, some of my favorite rock songs played overhead and Blind Melon's "No Rain" came on, a big hit from 1992/93.

Not hearing that song for some time prompted me to later watch the music video online, because I vaguely remembered it tell a story of a "bee girl" doing her own dance and being made fun of. She wanders aimlessly alone until she finds a beautiful grassy knoll under blue sky where many other bee people are happily doing their own fancy dances -- and happily joins in their fun.

As I watched it I thought, Bring on the rain, baby. Bring on the rain. #BhivePower indeed.