Monday, July 15, 2013

Grandma Hudson

I can't imagine that there will ever be a day that some things don't immediately make me think of my Grandma. The Chicago skyline, chocolate covered orange peels, Marshall Fields, double solitaire, Red Door perfume, Dala horses, Pepperidge Farm gingerman cookies, campy musicals, San Antonio.

My Grandma, Barbara Anderson Hudson, came downstairs every morning ready for the day, wearing a skirt or dress (I never once saw her wear pants) and a pair of heels. She wasn't the kind who was likely to splash around in mud puddles with the grandkids. I don't recall raucous games of tag or late night ice-cream runs, but I know my Grandma never missed an opportunity to gather her entire family together. I know she got deep joy out of watching the bonds between cousins and kids and grankdkids and great-grandkids develop and grow.

There were things about my grandmother that were maddening to me as a child and young adult. Having to dress for dinner (at home!) in skirts and heels only to be relegated to the kids table. To have to go to bed at night when things were just getting fun. To endure formal dining and/or social situations when all I wanted to do was go climb a tree or jump on the beds with my cousins. To feel the pressure of doing the right thing and making the right decisions without knowing the exact parameters of the expected outcome. But as an adult, I came to understand why my Grandma was the way she was and I grew to appreciate the things I learned from her - not only the lessons in social graces and formality (many of which clearly didn't stick!), but other life lessons and bits of fun as well.

My Grandma taught me how to needlepoint and cross-stitch. She taught me how to play double solitaire. She taught me that relationships with family and friends are important and that time together is required to maintain those relationships. She taught me that I should keep up with local and world news (how it vexed her when I said I rarely read the paper or watched Fox news!). She taught me, by example, to put my "money where my mouth is" by supporting the organizations and charities I believe in. She taught me that action is better than sitting around waiting for things to happen. She taught me that traveling is fun. And that a sparkly cocktail dress or a little bit of (tasteful) bling added to an outfit is an instant pick-me-up. She taught me generosity. And that money well-managed allows you to bless your family and others in ways that can change their lives.

My Grandma was a wonderful example of commitment, not only to her family and friends, but to the causes and organizations that she believed to be right and true. She and my grandfather were married for a zillion years (yeah, I don't know the exact number of years, but I do know it was upwards of 60). She had dear, life-long friends that she knew from high school and college. She never missed sending a birthday or anniversary or graduation card. She was always on time, and never blew off an appointment. She was a faithful church-goer, an active supporter of the Republican party and a life-long dues paying member of several organizations including DAR and her beloved Kappa Kappa Gamma.

My Grandma had almost 94 years on this earth. What an amazing blessing to have had her in my life for nearly 40 years. She outlived her husband and the vast majority of her friends. It makes me smile to think of the party that took place last night - lots of dancing to Big Band music, beautiful clothing, laughter, drinks, talk of politics - producing all of the same noises I would hear into the wee hours of a morning when I visited Chicago during my childhood. I look forward to seeing you again one day at your "grown up" party and the ultimate family reunion! In the meantime, take a spin around the dance floor with Grandpa for me.

Rest in Peace, Grandma. You will be missed. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Trial by Fire

I have debated continuing my blog. It may sound silly, but I have been concerned about the fact that things that I say in this public spot can reflect back on my friends, family or even the city. But I have decided that I would rather put it out there, have people call me out if I am out of line and continue to allow myself a way to reflect and process my life. I have always been forthcoming with opinions and information about my life and I figure there is no reason to change that. So here it goes...

Back in January, I started my tenure as a city council member for the city of Tonganoxie. I was appointed to fill a spot vacated by a gentleman who is now our county commissioner. It came at a perfect time as I have spent the last year trying to sort out exactly what needs to be in an out of my life and I have cut waaaaaaaaaaay back on my activities and involvement. Plus, I have always wanted to get involved in either the school board or city council and this way I didn't have to actually campaign. I was able to just slide on in (with approval of the current council, mayor and staff of course - I mean they don't just let ANYBODY run this place;)). Which is good for me, because as a friend pointed out "you would have a really hard time getting elected in this town - you are way to outspoken". I am not sure whether that is a compliment or not, but it is a true statement. I very rarely allow a subject or topic to go quietly by...especially if I feel there is injustice or misinformation or misunderstanding surrounding whatever subject is being discussed. I feel compelled to set the record straight or disseminate information. I am often very passionate about getting my point across. I want to know ALL of the facts and I want everyone else to know them, too. I don't care if you come to the same conclusion I do on any particular topic, but I need to be able to see the logic of how you got there. I want to discuss your viewpoint and my viewpoint and I want us to be kind and respectful to each other when we do that. I want to avoid name-calling and flame throwing and insult hurling. Yeah...after typing that, I am thinking maybe I am not cut out for politics;).


The first big topic of my time on the council has been the installation of a traffic signal. Without boring anyone with all of the details (my poor family and friends can tell you that there are lots of details and that I have not spared many of them in my passion over the last few months), I will say that it has been a down-and-dirty intro to the world of council-dom. We finally voted on the issue last night (after many, many meetings and discussions and public forums) and I am happy that we made some forward progress. That being said, I woke up this morning feeling really, really sad about the whole thing. And I feel a much deeper sympathy for our elected officials who have to do this on a higher level day in and day out. I am not uncomfortable with the decision we made, but I am disappointed in the way it all went down. Let me preface the next statements with this - I am extremely excited that so many people got involved in the process. It sure beats the apathy that is prevalent surrounding most things political. And there were many people who were perfectly lovely during the process. The vast majority of people, as a matter of fact. But as in most cases, the negative things are the ones that get the air and ear time. There have been months of misinformation and accusations and name-calling. The council was accused of disregarding the safety of the citizens, not thinking things through and of being "out to get" businesses. I can assure you that none of these things are true. All of the members of the council and the mayor and city staff have reviewed and negotiated and pondered and listened. I have spent time meeting with people, fielding calls and emails and trying to get the information and facts out there. I know my fellow council members, the mayor, city staff and KDOT have done the same thing.We may not have all agreed all of the time, but I know that everyone has been working hard to try to determine what is best for our town.

I have been told many, many times not to take any of the comments personally. Not to wear my heart on my sleeve. And I try not to. But it is really, really hard. I take very seriously and honor the position I hold. I thoroughly research and collect data so I can make fact-based decisions. I remove my emotion from the process so I make sure I am seeing things through an unclouded lens. That I do not think things through or don't care about the people of Tonganoxie is an inaccurate statement. Those are fighting words. Does it matter that people accuse me of these things? No. But it does make me realize that I need to work really, really hard to make sure that I do not make others feel this way. That I respect opinions and personalities and try to always be rational and kind. Wouldn't the world be a nicer place if we all did that?

That sounds a little Pollyanna-ish. Probably a good indicator that I need to grow a thicker skin if I am going to keep doing this politics thing. But it is my sincere hope that kindness, respect and rational discourse have a place in this city and in politics. I am going to do everything I can to make sure I do my part to help that happen.

Isn't it ironic?

Let me put in a slight disclaimer...I realize that the following statement isn't a true example of irony, but I frankly can never remember the exact definition and I am too lazy to Google it right now.

So, isn't it ironic that my last post was about finding center and and haven't written a single blog post since? One would think that with all of my "center finding" I would have a minute or two to use what is a very effective outlet for the crazy goings on in my head.

A lot of things have happened during my more-than-brief hiatus. Of course at the moment, I can't really recall a single damn one of them.

This will just be a gentle easing back into this blogging thing. Stay tuned for what will surely be riveting news and insight.