Where to Go from Here

Terrified.

Sick to my stomach.

Fearful.

In shock.

These are not words to follow a presidential election. At least, not an American one.

Yet here I am as the ballots are being counted and it’s nearing the time when the candidate I didn’t vote for will likely be in the White House in two months, and I am deeply troubled.

As a former ‘news person’ I’ve had some ask me how this could’ve happened. There are lots of hypotheses: erroneous polling, overly confident headlines, and an intentional overlook of a demographic that is often looked down upon – the white low-income class. They don’t satisfy.

I have to wake up to my alarm tomorrow.

I want to look forward to walking down the aisle, cradling my first child in my arms, seeing a new country for the first time.

I dream of a world that isn’t so broken or hate-filled.

It seems bleakly impossible.

Tonight I prayed a prayer that only God could give me. I didn’t pray for understanding – I may never get that. Instead, that impossible prayer begged for trust, for comfort, for wisdom, and most importantly – for strength to know how to keep living the values and beliefs I have – when everything else turns inside out around me. Our call isn’t to flee. Our call is to be a part of the change we still believe in, no matter who is our President. 

Terrified.

Sick to my stomach.

Fearful.

In shock.

But now it is time to do/think/share/hope/love more than we did before.

#imwithher #imwithUS #Election2016

Link

A Tragedy that Reflects Back Hope

For all those who took the time to read Ki’s story (and comment online or to me directly!), thank you.

Leah Loves That Photography

Credit: Leah Loves That Photography

Toya didn’t flee from country to country. Her first language is English. Yet what this Pittsburgh woman made of her life is inspiring, incredible and illuminating. Even without meeting this woman face-to-face, her story drew me in. Take a look.

Link

When Two Worlds Collide

You may accuse me of being quiet.

(This is partially true. I feel that my tendency to be an extreme extrovert has weakened with time).

The words are still spilling out, though! The reason for my silence on my blog and other social media outlets is all the planning and tweeting and writing I’m doing for Kiva Zip. If you don’t know what that is, I will cast no judgment if you go now and make a $5 loan! 😉

That being said, I still wistfully think about my former reporter life. Having conversations via Twitter is not quite the same as face-to-face.

Then the opportunity came in the form of a meeting with a Cambodian woman who was forced to take refuge in Vietnam and then immigrated to the U.S. She and her husband want to borrow $5,000 to help their small sandwich shop succeed.

Ki Giang

For a little while, philanthropy and reporting are going hand-in-hand. Meet Ki. 

Being Silenced: Where Change Can Begin

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read, statements posted, comment threads and tweets resonating with anger and injustice. This has been a charged, painful, frantic few weeks, and while one would hope it is to come to an end, this is the beginning.

Eric Garner March

Funny. There is hope in that statement, isn’t there? We are entering another civil rights era, a time where men and women march to ensure equality. This time, people of all races and backgrounds will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, repeating the cry. Black Lives Matter.

 

I have wrestled with blogging about these current events because I did not want to simply fume on the internet until I had all the facts. Yet it wasn’t until I realized how uncurrent these events were that I began to type.

#CrimingWhileWhite has been a shameful testimony of how many times one’s appearance has provided a second chance. Granted, these are anecdotes. Here, however, are the numbers. In this ProPublica article, there is proof of the racial disparity when it comes to bullets fired and lives stolen in an instance. Just a few years ago, the federal data revealed that “blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.” Essentially, the authors of the article estimate that young black men face a 21 times greater risk of being shot by an officer than a white male of the same age.

Image courtesy of ProPublica

And this is data that isn’t even fully complete.

 

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All this being said, this post isn’t just a rant about what is wrong.

 

We must recognize we have created an enemy too. Who is “the other side?” Do we condemn all uniformed men and women? I know many who have taken the oath who grasp the dignity of life and the delicacy of justice. There is no doubt that a medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, and the man last seen with his arms around the black man’s neck is not facing any repercussion. The days to come though, may be punishment enough. What we need to seek is a solution, not revenge.

 

A former mentor of mine urges us all to “lean in and listen” in his editorial in the Huffington Post. Call me old-fashioned, but respect garners further respect. I have no right to command that you silence your voices now. I just ask you to be aware of the potential prejudices spilling out of our hearts as we speak. At times, a listening ear will heal more powerfully than a spoken word, and a conversation more effective than a lecture.

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Chaz Howard also wrote about the incongruity of Philadelphia’s protestors against the backdrop of the Christmas tree lighting at City Hall Wednesday night.

“A huge tree stood over all of us. Today shiny ornaments and lights hang on it. Not very long ago a black man would have hung on it.”

 

 

About 2000 years ago, a Middle Eastern man hung on it too. And He did have the right to say this:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

All lives should matter. Let us strive to make them so.

Earthquakes

Remember how I realized that I’ve explored two cities this summer whose goal is to be bizarre?

 

Another fun fact: I’ve also ventured through two cities whose identities have been heavily molded by an earthquake’s devastation.

 

I have never experienced an earthquake (knock on wood – preferably a sturdy doorframe). This is rather surprising, seeing that I called California home for years, visited the state frequently and am now considering it as a future home. However, even without the personal experience, I feel aghast at seeing what such a natural disaster can undo.

The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.

The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.

 

It is even more gasp-inducing to see what humanity can re-do afterward.

 

In Lisbon, my sister and I stumbled upon the work of a pair of designers who have captured the personality of Portugal in childlike cartoons.

lisboa_02

(courtesy of Soma Ideas)

A poem accompanies each city or national icon. For Portugal’s capital, one line immediately held my attention.

(courtesy of Yelp.com) Urbanity risen from an earthquake.

(courtesy of Yelp.com)

Urbanity risen from an earthquake. 

 

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi (photo courtesy of about.com)

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi             (courtesy of about.com)

 

These churches are also the progeny of a post-earthquake era. Both existed before 1906. Both fell in that year. Now both have been born again.

 

“Born again” has a spiritual association, and I profess to fall into that Christian category. Joining my spiritual life is now my professional life. Please don’t misinterpret this: my decision to leave a career does not compare to the pain and destruction experienced in an earthquake. I am, though, starting anew. What existed before is no longer in front of my eyes, and I have to envision, reimagine what will stand there in the years to come.

That’s why the tales of these shifting tectonic plates has so grabbed me. Look at the beauty around you. Humanity is a people of resilience. Of strength. Of determination. In a time of desolation, the answer is not, “Let me leave.”

 

Instead, it has been, “Let me live.”

IMG_9604

 

 

As I survey what is no longer there in my everyday, I pray for an existence greater than what was before.

Status Report: 6 Weeks

It’s been exactly six weeks since I walked out of YNN (still in the habit, dang it. I mean Time Warner Cable News). As I recount my thought process anew to friends I haven’t seen in years, others are checking back in.

 

“What are you learning?”

“Any clarity on where God is leading you?”

“Did you find your spirit animal yet?”

 

Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions is still: ____________________.

Well, perhaps not the latter. That’s just a “no.”

 

Or is it…?

I'd like to think mine is either a dolphin, giraffe, or koala. The latter a new addition because of my recent stint in Australia.

I’d like to think mine is either a dolphin, giraffe, or koala. The latter a new addition because of my recent visit to Australia.

 

As exhilarating and exciting as these six weeks have been, there have been moments of anxiety, even agony. Looking ahead also means looking back, and tearfests have made their way into my life more often than brainstorming sessions.

 

Truth serum. Better known as some crazy concoction of alcohol my recent college grad of a niece decided to order for us.

Truth serum, or some crazy concoction of alcohol my recent college grad of a niece decided to order for us?

 

 

I knew it was going to be difficult. I didn’t realize how difficult.

 

For example: the balancing of time.

If you know me, you know I’m delighted by people. I’m also a chronic people-pleaser. This manifests itself in a packed schedule, day-in, day-out, with friends/family/strangers (?!) lined up in my calendar. As I meet with them, I have to look ahead to also plan which activities will be on my agenda in the rest of the Pacific Northwest, then on the East Coast, then across the Atlantic, and oh wait, Texas too?

 

*breathe*

 

It may not sound like a task to you, but for an über-organizer like myself, it’s been overwhelming. And there have been more moments of helplessness.

 

Yet, even in that simpler of examples, it becomes clear. This period is not just about who I will be, but who I already am.* Who I am not. And most importantly, who God is.

 

In which case, falling apart is acceptable.

—————————————————————————————————

*TEASER: Expect a post ahead about a truly insightful book called “Let Your Life Speak.”

Apparently not alone

A good friend of mine sent me this link (thanks Nancy and J!) of a news scrum.*

Whether you know what that is or not (I didn’t), the viewpoints of the contributors are insightful, varied and telling. Please read.

 

The point of this post is a self-realization: I am not the only journalist to be leaving my field. In fact, the article cites another USA Today reporter who’s left his post for a digital communications firm. Scott Martin’s primary reason is also concern for the direction of journalism. In his case, specifically technology news. Martin writes, “…Social media giants are becoming the new distribution powerhouses and gatekeepers of news as well as the place to put advertising dollars to work,” and as a result, he believes news is indirectly becoming corporate advertising.

 

My thoughts on journalism’s future are similar, though Martin addresses the introduction of advertising at a level deeper than my thinking.

1. Despite my interest in local news, its audience is diminishing.

2. The demand for viewers leads to efforts to engage the public.

3. Oftentimes these efforts focus on social media.

 

That timeline seems innocuous. New attitudes, approaches and mindsets are necessary to keep up with society’s changes.

 

Here’s the problem. With fewer people tuning into their local stations, those newsrooms are making decisions that tend to lean toward the more scandalous, the ones that will grab your attention. They’re also using social media in a way that gets people to tune in. Oftentimes it’s a simple copy/paste and putting the audience’s thoughts on the air.

 

Is this the right platform for random comments? Is this news? As stations become more desperate for viewers and engagement, I feel there will only be more changes that will not reflect the heart of journalism.

I will say that the current station I’m at does not compromise on many of these things, but I’m looking ahead.

 

It’s an unusual state-of-mind for me to be in. I generally plan in the short-term. But again, after much prayer, reflection and conversation, I’ve been able to take this leap of faith, leaving a job I love, to find out what else is in store. Stay tuned.

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*I had no idea what a “news scrum” was either. Fast Company describes it as a place where “senior reporters add crucial context and information to a mainstream technology story.”

A significant announcement

 

Thacher State Park

Thacher State Park

 

I took this photo at the end of January. Trees – in case you didn’t know – don’t grow sideways. Yet this one ended up parallel to the earth that gave it life, going against the direction of all the other trees.

 

I took this photo thinking of me.

 

This was a day spent in prayer and reflection, in praise and in apprehension. It’s when I decided I was going to run counter to what was expected of me and leave the field of journalism for now.

 

So there’s the announcement. After years of reporting, anchoring, producing and informing, I’ve decided it’s time to step away to see the people I love, explore other paths I may be passionate about and challenge myself in ways I haven’t in the past.

 

There are multiple reasons for this. Among them, the fact that I’ve said no to many opportunities, events and moments in an effort to say yes to a career. I’m also sensing a growing concern about the direction that local broadcast news is headed. If you’d like to chat more, feel free to ask.

 

Back to reality though. This means in June, I’ll be leaving Albany. For a few months, I will be roaming my home countries and a few others while searching for my next landing place.

 

For those of you who have been a part of this journey with me, I can’t thank you enough. You’ve been by my side at career fairs, stayed up with me until midnight or woken up at 3 a.m. with me, juggled my strange weekends, visited me in cities you never thought you’d be in.

 

oh, how I miss this

oh, how I miss this

fdsaf

my family, my rock

 

Most importantly, you’ve believed in me, especially in moments when I lacked faith in myself. Thanks to you, I’ve learned, grown, and become so much closer to the journalist I wanted to be.

WMDT in Salisbury, Md.

Salisbury, Md. [WMDT]

NYS Fair, YNN

NYS Fair, Syracuse [YNN]

Reporting, TWC News

Reporting [now TWC News]

 

Just as that wayward tree is being held up by the other upstanding ones, you carry me.

 

Your name is on my byline.

Becoming a Massachussettsian*

It’s funny how a town you’ve never been to can grow on you within a few days. Five, in fact.

Last Tuesday, I was startled to read that a hospital in North Adams, Mass., was abruptly closing in just three days.

Starting on Wednesday, I began to meet the hundreds of people who didn’t know what their future would look like. They told me their town of 13 and half thousand people would not survive without North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH). I met the daughter who moved within walking distance of the facility to ensure her mother, her children, and she would have immediate access to health care. And I joked with the Mayor who showed shock in his eyes but fearlessness in his words as he promised to do whatever he could to bring the hospital back.

 

And I kept at it for the next four (work)days.

 

Each day came with its own burdens, hurdles and stress. Daily, sometime in the mid-afternoon, there would be a late-breaking development. For a reporter who’s off the clock at 6 p.m., any news at 3 or 4 o’clock when it takes over an hour to travel is not welcome news. This led to late hours, extreme hustling to meet deadlines, and getting the necessary news out.

I was there a lot.

I was there a lot.

 

As exhausting as it was to make the drive daily (the trip from Albany to North Adams was at least an hour and 10 minutes), I came to welcome these views as I crossed the Taconic Mountains from the Empire State to the Bay one.

 

After a storm

 

Those mountain tops. Stunning.

 

It meant, that after all the winding, the bumps, the steep precipices, the curves beyond which I couldn’t see… there would be a city that I could try to help through my work.

It meant that I would soon start recognizing certain landmarks and towns.

It meant that I could give one of the recently unemployed leaders of the Massachusetts Nursing Union a hug.

It meant that I could stop by City Hall and get a heart-to-heart from Mayor Alcombright.

It meant that I would head down Main Street to pick up a muffin from Luma’s Muffin and Mug.

 

In less than five days, I found another home to love.

 

 

This is what I love about the news business.

—-

For some of the coverage I provided, check out these links:

Patients Respond

Adjusting to Health Provider Changes

Temporary Injunction Falls Through

The Unemployed Look to the Next Step

State Leaders Address NARH Crisis

 

*I don’t know if Massachussettsian is actually a word. I found it somewhere on the Interwebs and liked it.

 

Sunshine online

Today I consumed more dairy than my stomach will be able to handle come tomorrow. Until then, here I am.

 

That’s right. Hello!

Yes, I’m just as surprised as you are that the itch to write has returned. I’ve always loved writing, but as it turns out, my insecurity prevents me from doing it. That and a busy social calendar that I inevitably schedule and regret.

 

 

Last year an event gave me a first-ever experience in my journalistic career: A crash that killed two young teenagers and deeply wounded two others. A crash that ended first love. A crash that sent a father to jail. A crash that began wrapping up the grieving in a bandage of community solidarity. A crash in which Dennis Drue was sentenced to 5-15 years in prison on Thursday.

You may not have known I was covering it because I didn’t appear on television it. Twitter gave me away.

There are so many thoughts that could be scrawled on this screen right now. They range from:

1. The moments that made me bite my lip to keep the tears at bay. I was unsuccessful.

2. “Closure”

3. The justice system

 

Maybe I’ll get to those. Maybe I won’t. This post is for hope.

4. Social media positivity

 

Thanks to my news director, I know I tweeted at least 70 times throughout the day. My handy smartphone notified me of every time someone RTed or favorited my 140 characters.

My tweet with the widest online ‘footprint’?

12.7.2013 1:55 pm

12.5.2013 1:55 p.m.

 

There is so much pain in this story. I am unable to fathom what it is like to lose a child, sister, brother, significant other or friend. There are many still grieving and trying to pick up the pieces of the lives that once were. Others are leaving them behind, understanding the future will have to look nothing like what they hoped for.

Yet enough people found these words describing a beautiful girl and her beautiful heart worth noting.

Is there anger behind those words? Possibly.

Is there full healing in the heart that loved her? Not yet.

But in <140 characters a young man articulated what was so worth loving about Deanna Rivers, and tweeters knew they had to respond. Whether they knew her or not, this is what’s worth remembering.

 

Rays of sun will break through the darkness.