The Roads We Travel

A few days in a life journey.

Archive for the ‘Inclusion’ Category

Where the Heart Is

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Darden Family 2017

It’s been a little more than three years since our family hitched up the wagon and moved across country from Maryland to California. At the time, it seemed surreal, like more of a vacation than a move. Now, more and more, California feels like home.

Home means many different things to different people. Along this journey, we’ve met families who live in urban cities, families who live very remotely, families in desert towns, suburban families, families with huge houses, families with tiny apartments, and families with mobile homes. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting families from varied ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. They’ve welcomed us into their homes and we’ve welcomed them to ours, and I’ve learned a lot, especially that we are all doing the best we can with what we have and it’s enough.

Our family grew by one as my youngest brother moved in with us this summer to pursue his dream of acting. It’s been great having him here and part of what makes it feel a bit more like home.

We also had another move this year. Moving from our tiny two-bedroom apartment to a small three-bedroom house. I’m grateful for the extra space and I try to stay in that place of gratitude, but it’s easy to slip into comparing it to our larger home in Maryland. I remind myself that we are on a journey, not a race. Where we are right now is where we are supposed to be and it’s enough. In time, we’ll find our forever California home or maybe California isn’t meant to be forever.

As I move into 2018, I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned on this journey so far and all of the people and families who’ve entered our lives. I’m excited about the year to come. My goal is to remain heart open and to lead with gratitude. I’m also committing to writing more here and elsewhere. šŸ¤žšŸ½

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Written by Shara

December 30, 2017 at 11:34 am

Inauguration 2013: We the People…

Presidential Inauguration 2013

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

Today, I watched the PresidentialĀ InaugurationĀ and felt such joy, pride and hope. Not just for myself and my family, but for so many Americans who in the past have been relegated to the sidelines of Ā our society — minorities, immigrants, same-sex couples, and even those with disabilities. All mentioned in President Barack Obama’s Ā inauguration speech.

Wow!

Just earlier this week, I had a conversation with a neighbor who proclaimed there were too many Asian Americans in our community. He said that another neighbor had to move because she was the only one on her street who spoke English. He continued to share that his biggest problem is with Hispanics who are “too lazy” to learn English, and that if they truly wanted to be Americans then they should learn English. He felt that federal tax dollars should not be spent to translate information for government services into Spanish.

Of course, I took issue with everything he was saying. Everything.

For a moment, I was surprised. I’m not sure why because I have had similar conversations with this same neighbor in years past. Also, I have met people with similar prejudicial ideas more than a few times in my life. Then it hit me.

In my quiet moments, in the safety of my loving home and in the ideals of my mind, I forget that not only does this type of prejudice still exist in our nation, but it resides in my community — right down the street. And, while I’m saddened at the thought, I’m also thankful.

Thankful that my neighbor feels comfortable enough expressing his prejudices to me… someone I’m sure he knows is not a sympathetic ear. Thankful that his starkly different views slap me in the face and wake me up to a reminder that our work is not done.

Thankful for a President who has the audacity to hope for something better for ALL Americans and would be Americans. Ā Thankful for a President who said today,

“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.”

See, I realize that my neighbor and many like him have never taken the time to get to know someone coming to this country for the first time, trying to make a better life for themselves and their family… and also struggling to learn English as a second language. If he did, he would know that it is certainly not laziness that becomes the barrier to success. Many wake earlier than the sun and work multiple minimum or low wage jobs to provide for their families. They strive for that dream that so many take for granted.

I also realize that it’s not my job to convince him that he’s wrong and I’m right. And while I am baited into the dialogue to express my opinions and strong dissent, it’s not my job to change his mind or enlighten him.

It IS my job to make sure that legislators are elected, at all levels of government, who understand the importance of creating a unified vision for America. One that includes all Americans regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, disability, language, religion, sexual orientation or otherwise.

It IS my job to make sure that I am a part of this dialogue for change, so that when opposing views are expressed, they are not the only ones heard.

It IS my job to make sure that my children learn these lessons not merely from what I say, but also by what I do.

It IS my job to ensure that my children understand how they too can make a difference in this country and in this world.

My heart sank thinking about my neighbor’s comments the other day. Today, my heart soars with hope and progress. Ā I will keep at the forefront of my mind the President’s words today,

“We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky andĀ happinessĀ for the few.”

God bless you all and God bless the United States of America!