Rounding up the Wagon, Heading South

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I am reluctantly leaving Idaho for points south. Why? This weekend it is suppose to drop to the teens (F) at night and the temperature is also going to be chilly during the day. I don’t do cold and I don’t do snow. It is time to head south.

A Beautiful Fall Day

It is hard to leave Idaho. I love the country here, yet more importantly, I love my friends Linda and Steve. I have felt safe and secure in their borrowed home about 2 hours north of Boise. I have been in Boise at their full-time home for the past couple of weeks. I have enjoyed the company and the ease of our companionship. We have walked and hiked and talked a lot. Linda and I are both birders so we have been out searching for the birds and enjoying beautiful fall days.

Now it is time to venture south. Before I do, however, I will be heading east and to the Camas Wildlife Refuge to find the Sandhill Cranes. I love them. I follow those birds everywhere. The best part of heading four hours east is… Linda will be taking her Roadtrek and joining me. We are both photographers and bird watchers. It is fun to have company to explore a new area. It is fun to have someone to ooh and ahh with. I am looking forward to the company and the fun.

Sandhill Cranes

Friday I will drive south looking for warmer weather. By the end of the month, I will arrive in San Diego. I will get all my medical and dental checkups done, visit with friends (from a safe distance). No later than January I will head east to the California Desert and points east. It is desert season.

The adventure of my current lifestyle continues. I am getting ready to get on-the-road. I hope you will continue to follow along on my adventures. 

 

 

How Plans Can Change in a Moment

This morning I drove to McCall to pick up my groceries and run a few errands. Everything was fine. I began the return trip to Donnelly and all of a sudden my rig wouldn’t go over 45 mph. What!!! I had trouble getting my sweet girl to get up the minor hills. I was glad to get her back to the house.

With one phone call to Coach-net, my roadside assist, they gently and kindly took the decision making out of my hands. After a few conversations, they had contacted Mercedes Benz in Boise. After another conversation, I found that the towing will be included. It is 94 miles to Boise from here so I am thankful for the free tow. Did you know that if you have work done on your Mercedes within a year Mercedes will free tow your vehicle? Sweet!!! Coach-net told me the towing would be covered no matter what. Sweet!!!

Now I have an appointment with Mercedes Benz in Boise for the third week of this month. I am going to winterize my rig, just to be safe. Next week they will pick up my rig and tow it to Boise. My friend Linda and the owner of my summer home in Idaho is coming to pick me up next week. Together we will winterize the rig, and close the house for the winter. I have a home to wait in in Bosie while I wait for the rig. I have friends to visit and stay safe with. Maybe I will even get a cat, back on my bed.

Small town living has its bonuses. I called the Chamber of Commerce in McCall to inquire about rental cars. They guided me to the local small airport. They will have a car for me tomorrow. Since I don’t have a way to get to McCall they are coming to pick me up. Small towns are marvelous for personal service. I am feeling blessed. I am thankful for being in a small town where everyone will pitch in and help.

 

This afternoon I am thankful for so much. I am thankful that I was not on the road somewhere remote and distant. I am thankful I was able to drive my rig, slowly and carefully back to my summer home. I am thankful for Coach-net who took me into their hands and guided me to the right contacts. I am very thankful for Linda and Steve who are taking me into their home in Boise. First, they offer me this place and now their home. It is good to have such good friends.

Things can change at a moment’s notice.

 

An Idaho Adventure Approaches an End

Coming to an end. So much of my life is about coming to ends. So much of my life is about beginnings. My summer Idaho adventure is coming to a close. Each time the temperature drops I think about leaving. Then the temperature warms up and I make the decision to stay longer. Fall is a glorious time to be in the mountains. It is warm during the day and chilly at night and the colors of the trees are changing.

I have had a quiet, relaxing, and wonderful summer here in the mountains of Idaho. It is hard to leave. I like being in the country. I like riding my road bike for miles and not have to worry about cars. I can hike a trail or take a walk and not see another soul. I have walked more than hiked. I love being able to walk outside my door and go.

I love that people are nice to me when I have adventured into the public. These adventures in public have been minimal. I see my chiropractor-he is the only one who I see on a regular basis (masks up, hands cleaned and table wiped down). Every Wednesday I go to the Farmers Market in Donnelly (managed by nurses, masks, and social distancing a must).

I have not always been happy being alone yet as the summer and early fall have progressed I have found comfort within myself. I have finally given myself time to grieve over the loss of Elsie. I can finally look at pictures of her and smile. I am still working on the guilt of leaving the RV door open, yet even that is softening. Things are hard at times in all of our lives. The country and the kindness of people have helped me soften and be kind to myself.

I have adventured out. I have discovered places that I love and return to often. As the Cascade Lake and Reservoir has drained due to lack of rain and need of water for the cities south of here, the dry-lake bed has become one of my favorite places to explore. I have gotten mucky and dirty, yet I return there again and again. The birdlife has been wonderful. Noone else is nearby. I can spend hours on the dry-lake bed.

I usually walk to the lake at least three times a week. I found the Sandhill Cranes active on the dry bed and they alone, draw me back time and again. There are large flocks of White Pelicans that entertain me every time I am there. They are beautiful to catch mid-flight. I am not so good at identifying the myriad of ducks but love to see them doing their duck things and catch them in flight. It is peaceful and relaxing. I spend a lot of my time sitting and waiting to see what will happen next. Waiting is what wildlife photographers do best. The cranes are so quiet in flight (as long as they don’t make a sound), and often surprise me when they fly right over my head.

 

 

 

 

A few weeks back the owners of the house and dear friends came for a week. Linda and Steve have been social distancing in Boise. Steve works for Micron where they test their employees frequently. Linda is recovering from medical issues so she has been distancing. After some discussion, we decided that we would be OK to be in the same house. Isn’t it interesting that this has to be part of the subject of conversation now?

Dusky Grouse

We had a good low key week together. Like many places in the western US Idaho has been dealing with smoke. The week that Linda and Steve were here the valley was smoked in. The smoke was not encouraging us to go out yet, we did manage an adventure into the mountains north of here. It was a special moment when we saw a dusky grouse near Upper Payette Lake.

I absolutely enjoyed the company and am planning to camp in their driveway in Bosie for a few days when I leave here. It is good to have good friends that like and enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. To top off the visit I also had the company of three cats and Poncho the Pooch. The true delight for me? Misty the cat slept on my bed every night. It was so comforting and a delight to have a warm body next to me once again. Needless to say, I enjoyed the company of a kitty on my bed once again.

Over the past week, I have been getting my rig ready to roll. Cleaning, dusting, washing, waxing, and more. She is beginning to look spiffy. She is looking like she is ready to roll.

As I enjoy my last days here, this year, I am looking forward to the next new adventure, another new beginning.

A Teaching Moment

Yesterday I took a bike ride. I rode one of my favorite routes to Cascade Lake. I like to go to this State Park Day Use area, sit on the rocks and watch the activities on the lake. I started out in the partial sun and arrived back at my current home in smoke-filled skies. What a change a few hours can make.

Something I will never do.

As I was riding on the paved trails I encountered a small garter snake. It was trying to cross the path as I was biking by. If you have read my previous post Snakes! you know that I am not fond of snakes. In fact, I am a bit afraid of them. They always surprise me and cause my heart to race.

Here is this poor snake, it sees my bike and I see the snake. I immediately think “Oh my God, I am going to run over this snake and it is going to get stuck in my spokes and be tossed on me. I freaked. The snake freaked. It started to squiggle back and forth rapidly on the trail, not knowing what direction to head to avoid that big object coming at it. Know that this all happened in a few moments of time.

After this event I began to think of this poor snake, rapidly moving back and forth on the trail trying to escape my bike and find safety. It finally succeeded and moved off the trail into the undergrowth. I was thankful and I imagine it was thankful too.

How many times have I done this in my life when confronted with the unknown and challenges and stressful moments? Do I move rapidly in many directions before I finally recognize the obstacle and figure a way to overcome the situation I am in? How long do I move back and forth and go through the darkness of indecision before I finally find my way out of my predicament? Is it a split second, days weeks, or years?

I believe that as humans we all do this at times in our lives. When confronted with the unknown or stress or the need to make a decision, we have to move back and forth and around, trying to figure out the best approach to find the most correct result. Sometimes the best thing we can do is move back to where we previously were. Sometimes we force ourselves forward to achieve that next goal or slip through the obstacle that confronts us. Sometimes we slither back and forth rapidly on the trail.

Avoiding decisions or opportunities is not possible, something will move us forward. We have to move in one direction or another. If one approach doesn’t work then it is important to look at other possibilities. Just like that little, harmless snake, we try out different things until the right way presents itself.

Who knew that this moment in time would give me reflection on a much larger and broader subject. I have thought about this snake a lot since I saw it yesterday. Symbols are important to me. Sometimes one word or act allows me to see the much larger picture or the smaller details. Maybe this garter snake was simply feeling everything out in a nanosecond and unconsciously chose the quickest way out. For me, it represented a bit more than the quick way out. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on this topic.

Cascade Lake

Today I am thankful for all living things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling a Sense of Accomplishment

Biking the Idaho backroads

This past spring I acquired a new-to-me bicycle. I have been making it mine.

First, there was a new saddle. I added the saddle myself and with the help of a local San Diego bike shop adjusted it to fit. I added new peddles. I got a new tool to help me get the old ones off and put the new ones on. I love tools. I have added my rear and front lights, and a speedometer. I bought a new saddle bag and new water bottle and I was ready to ride.

Cascade Lake

I have been enjoying the long-empty expanses of roads in Idaho. I can ride forever. Since I am staying near a lake I get to explore different sections of Lake Cascade. I take my cell phone with me so I have a library book with me. I can stop and sit near the lake and read. I can watch the activity on or near the lake. Yesterday I found two balk eagles sitting in a dead tree.

 

I had noticed that my handlebars were going to need new handlebar tape. Areas were getting thin and worn. After researching handlebar tape I took the plunge and bought the tape and decided that this was a project I could do.

Since Jim’s death over seven years ago, I have found YouTube to be a good friend. I turn to YouTube like it is a friend who might have the right answer for my situation. Sometimes I end up acknowledging that the project might be a bit more than I can handle. I then look for the experts to help me out.

Wrapping my handlebars appeared to be something that I could challenge myself to do. Yesterday afternoon after watching one more video I removed the old tape and started to apply the new. Nothing is as easy as it looks. It took me two hours to finally complete the project. I stretched and slowly adjusted the tape around each bar. It was work and my hands were a bit sore and raw feeling by the end of this home project. Yet I walked out of the garage feeling accomplished and proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often when it came to home projects, Jim was the one to take the lead. I was second in command. Now I have to take the lead. I am the lead and the second in command. Projects don’t have to be large or complicated to make me feel a sense of accomplishment. Each time I do something and it is successful, I feel pride in myself. I took another project on and was successful. If I need to do it again, and I will, I know I can tackle it again and it will go a bit smoother and quicker than the last project.

Now it is time to take a ride and test out the new handlebar tape. I keep moving forward one step at a time

Snakes!!!

I am not fond of snakes. They are startling and sneaky even if they don’t mean to be. They startle and surprise me and I am not fond of them.

When I was young my mother and father built our family home on a piece of farmland in Delaware (the second smallest state in the nation). Since there were three children we were responsible for “doing the dishes”. In case you don’t know what that is, it means that after dinner we were responsible for washing, drying, and putting away the dinner dishes.

One spring evening my sisters and I were about to embark on our dishwashing duties. My mother noticed I did not have shoes on and told me to go and put a pair on before I helped with the after-dinner task. Merrily I meandered into my bedroom, not watching where I was going, I stepped on something slimy and slithery and it dashed into my closet. I screamed, ran into the kitchen yelling about the snake. All three girls ran out of the house and ran circles around my parents in the garden, yelling about the snake. We wouldn’t return to the house until my father captured the poor wee garden snake and killed it.

I have no doubt that my fear of snakes began at that moment. I have been known to go out of my way to move around a snake. It is not unusual for me to turn around on a hike when I encounter a slithering thing on the trail, especially one with rattles. I am wary of snakes. I will never put a snake of any sort on my shoulders. I will never hold one, although I have touched a few.

One time I was hiking in the Tetons with a good friend, Diane. We hiked the Cascade Trail into the heart of the Mountains, our destination a lake. We were sitting on a log, dangling our feet in the lake when I looked down and there were these squiggly things all around our legs. Watersnake hatchlings!! Oh my!! My breath quickened. I told Diane my fear of snakes, so we moved to the rocky shore, only to discover more small slithery things among the rocks. I finally told Diane I had to go. So we hiked out. After were safely back at the campsite my hiking companion told me that she had seen more of those little things on the hike out. Remembering that still can cause a catch in my breath.

I have had other encounters with snakes since then and I admit to being a bit better with the confrontation of those sneaky reptiles. I have encouraged myself to learn about them. l have researched them and read about them. I know all the good they can do. They are an important part of all ecosystems. With the San Diego Zoo close to my home for many years, I would often go to visit. I always made sure to go to the Reptile House. I figure that it would help me get over my fear. I figure they were safe behind glass. Then Harry Potter came into the picture and I have to admit, I hope the glass holds when I go into the “Snake” House.

 

While in South Africa Phyllis and I got to see some really colorful snakes at one of our stops early on the trip. They are pretty and colorful. Even there I had to tell Phyllis after a short time that I needed to leave. One of them coiled and jumped towards the glass and that was it. I had enough. Ah, snakes!

Why am I telling you this? I was kayaking on Cascade Lake and the North Fork of the Payette River earlier this week. I was paddling north enjoying the birds and the dragonflies and all the nature around me. Suddenly I saw a small head moving across the water. Quickly I realized it was a small (very small snake). I turned around and began to paddle towards it. I wanted to look at it. As I turned to do so, it turned right towards my boat. Instantly fear took over and I went into flight or fight mode. My heart rate picked up. I was sure that the snake was going to swim to my boat and get in. I panicked and turned that kayak around and paddled as hard as I could to get away from it. It felt like I paddled hard for five minutes or more. However, I think I paddled hard for maybe a minute at most. That little tiny snake was not going to get me. Why did it have to turn and swim toward my boat? Once I was sure that the little wiggly thing was not behind me I slowed down and continued to enjoy my morning. I kept an eye out for all things squiggly for the rest of the kayak.

Fear of snakes, Fear of spiders, Fear of water, whatever the fear, it is not rational. These are phobias and most of us live with one or more of them. I know my fear of snakes is not rational. I know I can control the situation. I have proven that to myself in the past. On the river, I did not prove myself to be brave and fearless. That little snake made me realize I still have more work to do.

What are you afraid of?

 

Going Solo, Well Not Really

An Idaho Summer

Just before I arrived in Idaho this summer I had a text conversation with Linda, who has opened her and her husband’s second home to me. She was concerned about me coming to Idaho. Covid-19 was on  upsurge in the state and she was concerned. Linda’s statement to me was she wasn’t sure I would have allies up here. I told her as a single or solo person I can’t rely on having any allies.

Guess who was wrong? Me. A week after I arrived in Idaho I got sick. I had a sore throat, it was really sore. After spending a weekend self-treating I decided a visit to the clinic associated with St Lukes Hospital was in hand. I was apprehensive. I worried that I had Covid-19. I was worried that I could have infected others. I was worried that things could get worse. I was disappointed in myself that I had exposed myself to this ugly virus. I was feeling alone.

I had a car appointment. I wore a mask and never got out of my car. The NP who saw me was gowned, gloved, and masked. My whole visit was conducted without moving from the driver’s seat. My heart rate was a little high and I received the lecture about drinking enough water at elevation. My throat was red and sore.

I was tested for strep which was negative and then for Covid-19. I was told I should self isolate until the results came back. Three days later the results were in and I was negative for the coronavirus. Yes!!! I am happy to report I am back in full working order and what was a scary moment in time is now in the past.

My friends came to the rescue. I notified Linda that this was happening. She immediately texted me and told me to hang tight. Over the next few days until the results came in we texted back and forth. Her support was a comfort to me and made me realize I am not alone. My sister, Ginny, was in touch and anxiously waiting for the results with me. Friends in Oregon, Mary, and Wanda, awaited the news and supported me via social media. Hmmm, I was not alone. I have allies.

Kayaking the North Fork of the Payette River

This event has made me realize I am never alone, not really. I have friends and allies all over the country and world who continue to love and support me and encourage me when I feel the most vulnerable and worn down. I have friends who support and celebrate with me when life is on an upswing. I have friends who make me realize I am not alone. I may be solo and adventuring out on my own but I carry all these people with me, in my everyday life. They are only a phone call away.

This summer I am up in the mountains. I am safe. I am biking, kayaking, hiking and taking plenty of photos. I am social distancing and wearing a mask. I am taking care of myself as best I can. And I am not doing it alone. I have allies.

Today I am thankful for my immediate family and my family of friends who love and support me, no matter what.

Idaho Summer-Sheltering in Place

Two weeks ago I bid farewell to my friends that I have been sheltering in place with, moved into my RV and began a journey north and east to Idaho for the summer.

After feeling safe and protected in San Diego it was a bit of a surprise to get out into the rest of the world. I decided to drive up the coast. I am not one who delights in hot weather so I decided that sticking to the coast was my best option.

BIG MISTAKE!! As I traveled toward Santa Barbara and up the Big Sur Coast I discovered that many out there in the world must not believe the whole Covid-19 thing exists. There was no social distancing, no masks and the coast was packed. I have seen few people until this and it was a rude awakening. I kept driving until I arrived in Monterey (night 2). I stayed in a campground near the ocean for the night. Thankfully that beach was quiet and essentially deserted.

After a short visit with friends in Medford Oregon, I traveled east and arrived in west-central Idaho for the summer. I am blessed with many good friends in my life. I appreciate all of them every single day I am alive.

Linda in pink & Mary on the White Rim Trail

I met Linda Roadtreking in the desert east of San Diego. Yes, she was there for my fateful fall and broken ankle event. It appears that sealed our friendship. We have traveled together since, most notably the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park with another mutual friend, Mary.

Three years ago she offered me the use of her cottage (really a summer home) near McCall, Idaho. It is in the mountains. I enjoyed my time there so much. I went hiking and kayaking and biking and enjoyed the magic of a mountain spring and summer.

I am back. When I was trying to decide how to give my San Diego friends their home back I thought of this lovely home in the mountains, not being used. I asked Linda and her husband Steve how they would feel about me accessing their home again. The answer was a resounding yes. And, here I am ready for another summer in the mountains. And more importantly, I feel safe once again. McCall has a masks on policy. Albertson’s has a grocery curbside pick-up. I have even stopped on my one grocery outing to grab a banana pancake breakfast to go.

What have I been doing? I have been biking and hiking and walking and really taking lots of pics of the beautiful still blooming wildflowers. I am still acclimating to altitude so I am giving myself time to adjust, though I am up to 15-mile bike rides at present. Soon I will go and discover the kayaking rentals and get on the lake. Cascade Lake is close to my door and there is a kayak rental place nearby. I am ready.

The nice thing about being in this home is that Linda has given me Carte Blanche. I have been weeding and yesterday I moved two small pine trees to new homes on the property. It is nice to be able to work with my hands and be in the gardens and yard.

I am not a stay at home type of girl. I will plan some camping trips to nearby National Forests and campgrounds. There are new places for me to hike and explore. I am sure there are plenty of photos waiting to be taken as well.

Here I am, feeling grateful, feeling thankful and enjoying my summer in the high country.

 

Getting Ready to Roll in the Time of Covid

My Roadtrek

In RV lingo – I am getting ready to roll.  I am going


to be moving back into my sweet little Roadtrek and heading out into the wide-open spaces of the American West.

All good things come to an end. My time “Sheltering in Place” with my friends, Cynthia and Ward is coming to a close. It is time to give them their home back. We have gotten along more than well, not one argument. I will miss them. This three-month adventure has made me realize that community living is definitely possible.

Where am I going?  I am heading north. As I am sitting in the middle of a Santa Ana and things are warming up in San Diego county I realize it is time to head for the coast and the mountains in search of cooler weather. First I will venture to Ventura for a few days to meet up with Dan Neeley of Dan Neeley RV Services who knows all things Roadtrek. It is time to get some work done on my rig. We have been trying to get together since January, without success.

I have good friends in so many places. It makes it easy to travel and feel safe from all those germs out there. A few summers ago Miss Elsie the Cat and I spent most of a summer in Donnelly, Idaho. My good friend Linda and her husband, Steve, offered us the use of their cabin in the mountains. It was a beautiful summer of hiking, biking, and using the lakes, that are generously dispersed throughout this beautiful country. It was also a summer of getting to know Linda and Steve better.

I am returning sans Elsie. I asked Linda if their second home might be available and without hesitation, she said yes. Why not shelter in place there? Why not enjoy the mountains and water? Why not?

My 1st Summer in Idaho

Ooooohh there are so many possibilities.

It is time to clean out my rig and put what is not needed into storage for the next several months. I am spending time cleaning and getting things done while still enjoying the company of my friends. My new bikes are getting excited. I occasionally hear their chains rattle in anticipation.

This will be the first adventure out since Covid 19 arrived on the American scene.

What will I do differently now than when I traveled before?

  • Wash my hands often.
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available and use it.
  • Wear gloves when I pump gas. It had not occurred to me until Covid that touching a gas pump handle is dirty. Think of all the people who touch a handle on any given day. I have disposable gloves or work gloves that I will use when I pump gas.
  • I have masks, thanks to Cynthia. I will use them when I encounter others and will faithfully wear them.
  • The free tours of my rig are on hold for now. 😕
  • I will eat at home almost exclusively. I have a small but efficient kitchen in my rig and it will be used.
  • I am so thankful for my own bathroom. I will be able to avoid public restrooms. And I can shower at ease in my rig.
  • It will be unique to visit others while socially distancing (6-8 feet away), but at least we can visit.

There will be challenges as well. How do I approach laundromats to wash my clothes? I will have to enter a grocery store. I haven’t seen the inside of one since early March.  Remaining alert and attentive will help me weave my way through the challenges as they arise.

This will be a good getaway for me. I have had a lot to deal with in the past six months. I know this adventure out will not be truly normal, yet I hope I still have the excitement of seeking out new adventures and places. This year I will be on a careful and watchful adventure. Normal times are not here yet.

And if things bottom out again in the next week and a half…..it is not a bad option to remain “Sheltered in Place” with my good friends in San Diego.

Today I am thankful for good friends, my rig and knowing how to safely, move through my world.

 

White Privilege – The Elephant in the Room

Last January I attended the Annual Borrego Springs Film Festival. It begins on Thursday and ends the following Monday. The films can be anywhere from a few minutes long to an hour. You buy your tickets in blocks. At the end of the block writers, producers, actors, and more come to the stage and the audience can ask them questions about the movies. Some of the films are unique, others just OK and then there is a film that will leave a significant impact on the viewer.

Brooklyn in July” -“It is the summer of 1945. The War is all but won. The U.S. is riding a wave of triumph even as the undertow of unresolved issues roils beneath. Frank, like so many other African-Americans of the time, is drawn to New York by the promise of a better life only to be confronted by the same realities, fear, and hatred he hoped he had left behind. He is a man scarred by a past that is lurking skin deep.” This film is about the racism that most people of color endure on a daily basis, then and now. It was horrific and sad and very moving.

The movie was approximately 20 minutes long. It was one of the more uncomfortable 20 minutes I  remember enduring in a long time. At the end of the block, I discovered that it was an uncomfortable moment for this mostly white audience. The questions that were posed to this writer and producer were around this discomfort. Did he realize how uncomfortable this film was for his mostly white audience? What did he hope to achieve? What made him write this? Who were the actors and how as people of color did they feel in these rolls?

The writer and director stated that if it made us feel uncomfortable, then he had done his job. He had chosen the north to write this film because many people believe that racism did not exist in the northern states. He stated that racism in the northeastern part of the United States was not acknowledged. This type of racism can be stronger and more powerful and dividing than what we can blatantly see in the south. He mentioned that “White Privilege” continues to exist today. If we are white we experience “White Privilege”. This statement immediately made me experienced discomfort.

This topic has continued to be a part of my thought process since January. When I returned to San Diego my friends, Cynthia and Ward are studying,  Sacred Ground A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race & Faith through the Episcopal Church. Since I am now sharing their space we have discussed this subject more than once.

“White Privilege” has made me feel uneasy. I don’t like the term and I especially don’t like this term in describing me. I am part of the white race and so I need to find a way to comfortably address this discomfort. There is no more important time than now to address this Elephant in the Room.

I have done reading on white privilege and institutional racism since January.  It remains an uncomfortable topic yet maybe a bit less so since I have been researching and exploring it.

White privilege is—perhaps most notably in this era of uncivil discourse—a concept that has fallen victim to its own connotations. The two-word term packs a double whammy that inspires pushback. 1) The word white creates discomfort among those who are not used to being defined or described by their race. And 2) the word privilege, especially for poor and rural white people, sounds like a word that doesn’t belong to them—like a word that suggests they have never struggled.

This defensiveness derails the conversation, which means, unfortunately, that defining white privilege must often begin with defining what it’s not. Otherwise, only the choir listens; the people you actually want to reach check out. White privilege is not the suggestion that white people have never struggled. Many white people do not enjoy the privileges that come with relative affluence, such as food security. Many do not experience the privileges that come with access, such as nearby hospitals.

And white privilege is not the assumption that everything a white person has accomplished is unearned; most white people who have reached a high level of success worked extremely hard to get there. Instead, white privilege should be viewed as a built-in advantage, separate from one’s level of income or effort.”  (from the article: What is White Privilege Really)

I experience white privilege every single day of my life. I have the freedom to move around as I please (except now due to Covid-19). I can move through the world and know or expect that my needs will be met most of the time. Books, even Children’s books usually have white characters.I don’t have to look in special sections of a store for hair or beauty products. I am less likely to be followed, interrogated, or searched by law enforcement because I look “suspicious.” My skin tone will not be a reason people hesitate to trust my credit or financial responsibility. My skin tone will not be a reason to look at my admission to institutions of higher learning as unique or impossible.  I can be comfortable in my world most of the time. And these examples are just a few of many. The more I have explored this topic the more I have come to realize that White is everywhere Color, well, not so much.

Institutional racism has been responsible for slavery, settlement, Indian reservations, segregation, residential schools (for American Indians), and internment camps. While most of these institutions no longer exist, they have had long-term impacts on our society. As a result of institutional racism, racial stratification and disparities have occurred in employment, housing, education, healthcare, government, and other sectors. While many laws were passed in the mid-20th century to make discrimination illegal, major inequalities still exist.” (from the article Definition and Analysis of Institutional Racism)

This past weekend has been painfully necessary for this country. In the 1960s Institutional Racism was addressed in many of the same ways it is being addressed now. This is a wake-up call for all people, no matter the race. It is time for us to address Institutional Racism and move towards equality for everyone. It is time for us to ask our police to treat lives as if All Lives Matter and to recognize that All Lives Matter only when All People of Color Lives Matter. It is time to address the Elephant in the room.

What can I do about this? The first step is to educate myself so I can learn what it may be like for someone else to live in a world that is not as comfortable to live in as mine. When I talk to my friends or even strangers of color I will stop, and really listen to what they have to say. I will remember to listen, really listen. When people of color speak to their experiences of oppression, it’s important for me not to question their experiences. I can use my privilege to make these voices heard and help create change.

I would like to recognize the times when I should speak up. All people need to take the lead on anti-bias work. All people need to intervene when something offensive is said. If I hear racist remarks, I will speak up. If I see opportunities to educate fellow white people about race, I will. As an ally, my privilege can be a tool to reach people who may be more likely to listen to me or relate to my educational journey.

I can stand up for inequality, in whatever way I can. I can acknowledge that it is OK for me to feel uncomfortable and move ahead anyway. I will support education and learning. I plan to explore more tools I can use to more comfortably address this elephant.

Although I am not actively protesting(Covid), I support those that are. (Please understand I support peaceful protest, not rioting) I have watched some of the protests on television and admire these groups for their stand. It is time we come together as all people, dialog, and create change. Then, maybe then I will become more comfortable with the term White Privilege and it will no longer be an Elephant in the Room.

Anything that is highlighted in Orange, you can click on and it will take you to the appropriate article or page on the web.