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Crowdsource Our Candidates

Do you know who you will vote for in the midterm elections? The voter pamphlet will come out next week if you are in Oregon. Let’s get a jump on our candidates, the issues, and what various stances on the subjects are. 

Help me fill out this Google Sheet of Oregon Candidates. Together, we can help each other make informed choices when it comes to those who should be representing us in office. 

For a list of the issues, check out this sheet

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Election Review

I first voted in 1996. For the 2000 election, I wanted to create a chart that described the candidates, so there was an easy comparison. At the time AOL Time Warner had done one that was pretty good, along with a few others. (Must’ve been a collective consciousness to inform the electorate.) There was talk, constantly, of the lesser of two evils. 

In 2004, after the second presidential election I participated in was decided by the courts (remember the Florida Chads?), we had another narrow battle of donkey vs elephant. In 2008, the margin wasn’t as slim, but the vitriol spewed took a bent not quite heard in some time. (See 270towin for past election details.) No longer were the candidates simply white males. Now, we had white women and a black man participating, and the tones changed. Threats cut deeper and more below the belt. We continued to showcase our lack of civility and our desire to … just get nasty. 

In 2012, the first black president won again, and then in 2016, the country seemingly revolted. Or, the Russians interfered and manipulated our populace. (You did see how if you’re liberal, you saw one Facebook feed, and if you were more conservative, you saw another, right?) Regardless of the reason, we have a need to be more aware of what’s going on around us, raise our critical questions, and talk civilly to our neighbors about the issues that are important to us. We have to learn how to hold disagreements. We have to learn to hear when people are “advocating at the top of [their] lungs that which [we] would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of [ours]” (The American President, 1995). 

Well, this year, we have midterm elections, on top of necessary local politics. As a citizen of this country, it is YOUR job to stay informed of issues that dictate your life. You don’t stay informed? You should lose your right to complain. Did you know that typically, since I began voting in 1996, about half of all eligible Americans vote? In 1996, it was a whopping 49% (down from the previous year). In 2016, it had risen to 55%. Only HALF. Half of all people who can exercise their civic duty and makes a choice for this country actually do so. It doesn’t matter to me that we have 200,000 registered, a stunning landmark for sure. We are still only exciting around 50% across the whole nation to exercise their civic duty. This is a problem. Especially since voter turnout is usually higher in presidential elections. And, it’s the small elections that matter a lot. 

Your mayors, commissioners, and county boards decide your immediate life. Your states dictate how your schools will run and how your roads will be updated. They set the tone for your immediate culture, what is important to you. At the national level, we should be choosing those we feel best to represent all the best we have to offer. 

Now, the trick is, we need people to run for office that we can feel passionate about choosing. So often, since I started voting in 1996, those around me complain more and more about terrible choices and the lesser of two evils. You don’t like the choices? Then YOU should run for office. If you are a Democratic woman, connect with your local Emerge branch and they will even TRAIN you to run for office. 

If we learned ANYTHING from the last election is that WE have been too complacent. We have been sitting on our laurels NOT talking about the things important to us, and we are now, I daresay, represented by a fool. A fool we collectively chose, no matter who you voted for. Because I guarantee there were many you didn’t talk about politics to, because they were too controversial and you didn’t want to raise a fuss. I am a part of that you, as well. There are many family members and friends I dared not talk politics for fear of injury or misunderstanding.

This is one of the reasons I started my listening campaign. Check it out if you want to learn more.

I will leave you, though, with this tool. The New York Times has put together a comprehensive map of which electoral voting precincts voted in which way. (The only thing that would make this map better is if it were distorted for the population.) 

I’m not sure how I will continue to write about politics, but it is becoming quite clear to me at the time of this writing that this is something I must do. So, stay tuned. Be a part of the conversation. Host a dinner party. But, above all, hold your tongue when someone says something you disagree with and really try to hear what they are saying. I promise you there is a kernel of truth there that is important. And, if you don’t even try to find that kernel of truth, we will have another shit election like the last 20 years of elections I’ve participated in. Let’s change this. We have it in our power to do so. 

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Deconstructing Privi​leg​e

Two people I love shared this dated opinion. So, now I feel like I must respond. It is an opinion piece called “What Has America Become“, and is written by a man named Ken Huber. It was printed in the Iosco County Herald on June 9, 2010. The current originating Facebook post shows it as being shared in 2013. I note this because the copied image is without the date, and by posting it three years later, and then being repeatedly shared 5 years after that, it has a timeless quality that isn’t actually wholly relevant to today.

Mr. Huber complains that America has become the land of the double standard, and he continues to list a series of ironies he feels are unfair. You must understand that I live on the “left coast“, where my progressive politics color my views.

He has a list of complaints, where he sees Congress and Progressives getting their way and ruining our country. He even goes on to claim that “communists” and “Socialists” threats are just rebranded progressives. He complains about unfair border policies and lack of God in schools. If I shall opine for a moment, this sounds like complaints from an old, angry, white man, whose privilege is coming under question, and he doesn’t like how it feels.

Well, if Progressives are so bad, what do they believe? Check out this “Progressive Manifesto“, where ThinkProgress defines four tenants of freedom, opportunity, responsibility, and cooperation. Progressivism has a history that goes back more than 100 years, with a definition more akin to “[an association] with science, rationality and an approach to government and society reliant on knowledge and empirical methods”. (NPR 2016)

So Progressives want to think critically, using verifiable facts to create policy? 

Mr. Huber essentially complains that he can’t be racist, we are letting too many people into our country, and we have to restrict personal liberties because he believes his God would want it that way. 

What Mr. Huber is missing is that he has lived on the top of privilege his whole life. What he is seeing is all people are created equal with unalienable rights coming to claim their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, that means the white, property-owning male has to share the stage. 

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Tips on Being Green: Start with Waste Reduction

We need new system design.

Sustainability has been important to me as long as I can remember. I started the journey when I was young, with a book my Aunt sent my family: 50 Ways You Can Save the Planet. Until then, I had no idea the planet needed saving. Since, I’ve paired down that focusing on educating people about the environment is one of the reasons I’m here, on this planet.

Why

Why do we need to educate ourselves on the environment? Because in our hurried society, we are so busy taking care of basic needs that we either forgot, we’re not taught, or a combination, of all the things that we need. The rampant fires, the rising waters, the continued pollution are all reasons why we need more environmental education.

Handily, a friend, in the food buying club world, asked for recent resources on how to do green. Thinking about this, I realized that I don’t turn to too many outside sources anymore.

While it’s good to stay up to date on recent bloggers, I have found that following a few basic principles are more key to living a green life.

And, funny enough, I got on this topic with my husband the other day. Husband never really understood why I preach a green, organic life. In a fit, I expressed, exasperatedly, it comes down to keeping our basic life resources clean so that our kids and their kids can drink from the tap without fear of contamination. So our kids and their kids can walk outside without a gas mask because the air is so polluted. So our kids and their kids can use the earth without fear it’s so contaminated with pollutants they cannot grow healthy food.

Whole Life

The bottom line it’s about a whole life thinking. Thinking in terms of what we need every day and shaping our health around that.

Systems Thinking

It is a simple systems concept, from start to finish. If we reduce the amount of things we take in, we will reduce our output.

Reduce Input

So, what does that mean in the day-to-day? Let’s take a look at the kitchen. In the kitchen we prepare food, we cook food, we consume food, we clean containers that helped with the whole thing, and we store all the unfinished bits. When we reduce our input, we are using reusable containers, for one. When we wash our dishes, we are using chemical-free agents to do our cleaning, so we reduce our input of more chemicals in the ground and through the water filtration process. When we reduce our input into systems, we are reducing our waste. So, we are recycling and composting as much as we can, based on where we live.

Reduce output

A natural consequence of reducing our input will be reducing our output. When we use durable plates and silverware, we simply don’t have to throw away as much. When we use reusable containers for our food waste, we aren’t throwing away plastic bags that held a sandwich. When we buy in bulk, we also have less packaging to throw away or recycle. Coming from this aspect, once you start picking away, one at a time, places where you used to throw something away and you’ve replaced it with a durable good, you’ve already started reducing your waste footprint on the world, and you’ve started being more sustainable.

Whole Foods

A huge place this waste is found is in food. Have you noticed how much packaging it takes to get our food? I’ve seen Kiwis in plastic clam shell containers, not to mention everything on the inside aisles of a grocery store.

An easy way to reduce the amount of output you have is to eat whole foods. Buy apples instead of applesauce. Buy fresh corn instead of canned. Buy heads of lettuce instead of lettuce in tubs. Learn to make your own food with whole ingredients instead of buying cans of soup, sauce, and everything in between. Even if you just pick one thing, you will have begun the waste reduction towards a more sustainable world.

I’m not typically a fan of fad diets, but we have found where they have shifted us into better health after letting go of foods that aggravate sensitivities. A few years ago, we began eating in the “Whole 30” way. Basically, we eat a chunk of meat surrounded by vegetables. Whole 30 advocates argue that the added chemicals to our food is making us sick, so eliminate those, and you’ll feel better. Whether you’re eating paleo, keto, or a vegetarian diet – generally speaking, you’ll be eating more whole foods. Whole fruits, whole vegetables, not preprocessed in some plant. The more you get into these diets, you may find yourself making your own broth, roasting whole chickens, and tending after your own hens to get your own eggs out of your own backyard. All of these steps will simply reduce waste in your home. The bonus being, you’ll eat better too!

New System Design

Another important aspect to sustainability is design. Running on carbon stealing, over built, waste inducing design will not solve our world’s problems.

You can never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

~ Buckminster Fuller

We need a new way of thinking about things. Paying attention to new technologies (new ways of designing buildings), participating in politics to update codes (seriously, why is greywater illegal?), and buying the new technologies as you can afford it (can’t wait to get my Tesla!). All these things will help move us towards a greener world.

What Will You Do?

So, the next question is – what will you do? First, assess where you are.

My favorite assessment is “My Footprint”. It’s gotten a facelift since the last time I took it, and it’s still quite informative. Full disclosure – here’s the link to my results: http://myfootprint.org/en/your_results/?id=3357605. On my family’s lifestyle, it would take 3.08 earths to sustain us. While this is much lower than the country’s average, seriously 3.08 earths? I only know of one we can access, today.

Try both of these quizzes. My Footprint is great for adults and covers a range of systems that keep us going (http://myfootprint.org), and this Scholastic quiz (for kids) breaks down kid-friendly ways to reduce your impact (http://www.scholastic.com/downtoearth/quiz/howgreenareyou/).

Now that you’ve assessed how green you are, what is an easy first step you can take? Where will you reduce your impact? What change do you want to see? Please share your quiz results in the comments below!

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Connecting Women: Why This is Our First Priority

I’ve written about this before, but this is a topic so near to me that I think uncovering and unpacking the layers is relevant, important, and necessary. When I go back to what it is I do, connecting women and holding space for women is the common theme. So, why is that so important?

Connecting to Sustainability

Years ago, I identified that my goal is to educate people on the importance of a sustainable society. This was a beautiful moment because it allowed me openness to opportunities that had just been created and were now available to me. I was able to declare Sustainable Urban Development as my minor at Portland State. I was able to travel to Italy on a Sustainability Study Abroad. I was able to co-author a book on Sustainability. Because my bucket job explorations in sustainability didn’t lead to a paid gig, I kept unpacking what sustainability meant for me.

The Triple Bottom Line is the common definition I use. It’s easy to understand, wrap our heads around, and generally gets the point across. I’ve called it the Three Es, until this new definition. It means that you balance three things equally instead of just one.

In business, the norm is to balance the books. You know if a company is making a profit, or not. You balance the profit books, the economic books. In the Triple Bottom Line definition, you add two books: people (equity) and planet/place (environment). With how we’ve measured environmental success, this piece is easy to measure. We know if we are polluting the environment more than cleaning it up. We know if we are cutting down more trees than planting. We know if our food is contaminated, or not. We know if our water is contaminated, or not.

Connecting people

But people, that’s where things get messy. Because people are messy. We bring all of our junk, or baggage, to the table – no matter what the table is – work, family, volunteering. If we had a bad day at work, it’s often hard to hide it from our families. If family life is stressful, it affects our concentration at work. We are a society that likes easy things, so we don’t deal with the people aspect because it is hard.

And, the hard thing is exactly what we need to deal with. If we want our society to be a better place tomorrow than it is today, we have to tackle the hard thing. I want society to be a better place. I want my son to grow up with kindness, compassion, and opportunity within a setting of health, wellness, wealth, and awesome choices. I want the next generation to have even better opportunities. If we collectively want that, and I think we do, then we have to work together to figure out people.

Connecting with Women

I am focusing on women for many reasons. I am a women. I was raised by a women, who served our family as a single mother using social services, until she remarried. I have sisters. One sister is the mother of a special needs child. One sister was killed by her boyfriend. That is, one sister was a victim of domestic violence.

I watch all the women in my circle: gay, straight, single, parents, black, hispanic, white – and they all have spaces where they need support. Many women I see are not the sole breadwinners of their families, and that directly affects choices they make. Some women face exclusions that I, as a white women, cannot relate to, and it’s unfair and unnecessary.

So, I see a need for us, women, to come together like we never have before. I see a need for us to cross race, political, and economic lines and see the potential in each of us. I see space for us to thrive together.

When women support each other in joy, we do amazing things. We love. We share. We are kind. We show up with compassion. We gift, and we support. I want to create a society that honors the feminine to bring these necessary things back into our world, massively. Join me. Let’s connect.

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Hi! It’s me. It’s been a while. Let’s connect.

I love writing, but finding my blogging voice has been quiet, silent, for a long time. I had an amazing experience a week or so ago, so I thought I’d write about it.

I have friends all over the political spectrum, but your vibe attracts your tribe, and my tribe is left-leaning women who resonate with creating a women-empowered economy, and even smashing the patriarchy. We know that it’s our time, and we want to do this journey together. A journey where we create a more love-centered, compassionate world. A world where we seek win-wins, instead of wars.

This election has a lot of us riled up. RILED UP. I have confessed, multiple times now, that during Obama’s administration, I fell asleep politically. Instead, I chose to focus on my family, things near to me that I could control. I missed out on great speeches, some political decisions I think are disastrous and don’t represent my values, and some political decisions I would have appreciated celebrating.

An old man was elected to the presidential office. Again, someone who espouses values that I do not agree with, at least they come across as the opposite of compassionate, win-win decisions. The campaign, from that vantage point, seemed to be a campaign of anger, hate, and riling people up for violence. Again, values that I do not espouse, nor do I want represented in the office we hold most dear in this land.

So, what’s a girl to do? We march. And, march we did. The early estimates, for Portland, guessed that 20,000 to 30,000 women would show up. The final estimates guessed that over 100,000 people showed up to say, “NO,” to the current administration and the policies that have been promised.

When Bush was president, another president whose values I did not hold in similarity, we marched. But, then I stopped. Much like falling asleep to the Obama administration, I fell asleep to the things I didn’t feel like I could change.

Hopefully with age comes wisdom. And, this time, the people who have chosen to help organize these marches have also organized actions. 10 actions in 100 days. I have cultivated a left-leaning tribe, and the people in my tribe are ACTING. Some are signing and sharing petitions, some are making calls, some are attending town halls, some are protesting injustices, some are doing all these things. A friend and I hosted a Huddle (action number two), and that felt great.

Though we invited a handful of people close to us, the majority who showed up were strangers to us. Other concerned women who want a world that is more compassionate, loving, and inclusive of all of our differences. We talked, and I had the opportunity to serve, gifting the group my facilitation skills.

Joy! Bringing women together, who showed up, ready to engage! Joy! Listening to all their varied stories while we thought of what we want our world to be. Joy! Seeing the actions that sprang up. For example, a committee formed around one woman who is interested in exploring a political office! Joy! A group was created so that we can stay in touch and engaged.

If you want to know more about the Huddle or other events that we have planned, send me a message. I would love to connect with you. Stay with me, as I continue to fine tune and realize my own story. As we connect together, we will share our stories together and create a world we want.

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Question Authority

Two of these friends, being silly, in front of our decorated picture window. It reads something like "Make Love... Make Peace..."
Two of these friends, being silly, in front of our decorated picture window. It reads something like “Make Love… Make Peace…”

The last time I eagerly uttered those words, it was the spring of 2003. I was living in Lansing, Michigan. I was in my early twenties living with other white people who were also in their early twenties.

A typical Friday night for us was sharing a meal, inexpensive wine, and stories. We were all left of the center. And, we all agreed that George W. Bush was not our president.

On the day, in March 2003, when Dubya declared war against Iraq, it was one of these wine nights. We sat around our friend’s small living room around their even smaller television. Some on the floor; some on the couch. I felt like the TV was so close it could touch our noses. The live declaration was announced, and suddenly our country was launched into war, despite lack of congressional approval.

The last declared war I had heard in my lifetime, was by Dubya’s father. I was in 7th grade. I remember calling my early teenage boyfriend, aghast, that our country would send young men to their death. I have relatives that have served, many proudly. Many who have been affected by some sort of “shell shock” or now “post-traumatic stress disorder”. Why would we willingly send loved ones to “fight for our freedoms” when they came back broken and hardly free of acquired demons? The irony was not lost on me, and the only conclusion I drew then, and now, was that there has to be another way.

I was living with a group that also felt there had to be another way, so we did the next best thing we could think of. We participated in what was called the largest ignored protest. We made signs. We marched. We chanted. We felt validated in our questions by surrounding ourselves with other like minded left of the center, socialists. I joined a group, The Greater Lansing Area Network Against the War in Iraq (GLANAWI for short). How can this be happening in my lifetime? Didn’t we learn the lessons of WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam? Apparently not.

And there was a chasm – support our president because it’s the right thing to do… Or?

Have you ever had a boss you thought was out to lunch? Maybe this boss was even chosen by a bunch of smart people. Yet, you watch them railroad meeting after meeting and shoot down idea after idea. You watch them fail to listen, repeatedly, and you see this is why they are not succeeding. You see them handle communication awkwardly, or not at all. You see how they make staff divisive, instead of loyal. And, then, you watch them lie.

I’ve had a few bosses like this. And, when my friends and I watched Dubya, that’s what it felt like. Clearly a clever man for having reached the presidency, but how could he be making so many poor choices? How could he be sending people he’s never met to their sudden death under the guise of freedom?

And, there, I was validated again – our role was to question. Our role is to never stop asking questions. If we don’t understand something, our job, with all respect, is to ask questions and never stop asking questions until we get satisfactory answers. And, even then, we can’t stop. Our job is to push them to be their best. Even when their egos are so inflated they cannot see that we are truly helping them because we do believe in a greater America. We believe that we can be our best selves and this is not it.

When I was in my early twenties, we declared our message through childish posters drawn and hung around our craftsman, duplex, bungalow. Now, I write in this forum, and I actively question and challenge when face to face. I’ve learned some things about interrupting oppressions, and I use those strategies with a guarded heart.

Join me in questioning. We deserve to live in an America that truly does embrace all, all of us with our warts, our varied colors, and our varied ways of doing this thing called life. No one person is more important than another, and we all have an important role to play. You matter. I matter. We matter, and our job is to remind them that we matter. And we will not shut up until they listen.

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Peace in Grief

I wanted Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president. I admired her grace and stamina since she was the First Lady of the United States. I never really understood why she was vilified so much in the press. I never understood the severity of the scandals like Whitewater. When it came to her husband’s more solicitous affairs, I chalked that up to what most politicians do, he’s just being vilified for it.

I find it interesting, now that Hillary served as FLOTUS, to being elected two terms as a senator in New York, and then serving another five as Secretary of State, that Politifact and other sources mark her as one of the most honest politicians. A few theories explain that this idea of her being a “liar” is basically the same lie being repeated so often that it felt like truth. [1][2][3][4]

So, we have a woman, unfairly caught up in scandals, made loud by the media, and trumped up as truth because the lie is repeated over and over. It’s hard not to see that as misogyny. And, when men tell you that it’s your imagination, it’s hard not to see that as more misogyny and “mansplaining.”

I feel pain for this. I am so sad that the greatest glass ceiling I know of is still unbroken. I am confused that 53% of white women voted for the candidate who was known for misogynistic comments throughout his celebrated career. I am heartbroken that this vilification continues. I am devastated that we can’t seem to come together to find a solution that works for all of us.

So, this is when I turn to my essential oils. Right now, I want forgiveness and peace. I firmly believe that President-Elect Trump deserves a fair shot. I believe in our constitutional democracy, and that we need to trust in the process, no matter how flawed and unfair it seems. I believe that we owe him respect as our future president. I believe we owe ourselves acknowledgement that he is smart and clever for having won this tough seat. I also believe that we must stand taller, prouder, and louder in the face of oppressions and interrupt them. We can do it with peace. But, we must do it.

We must interrupt women hating comments with a loud, “Ouch! Would you say that to your mother?”

We must stand up for our neighbors when they are being bullied.

We can find courage in our secret groups, but our courage needs to be outed and loud.

We need to talk about our beliefs.

We need to ask questions to others about THEIR beliefs. If we really want to affect change, we must first seek to understand, and then be understood. I have oils for that too. Start with Lavender, the Oil of Communication. You might be surprised at its calming effects while you find words you need to say.

We need to understand that we have far more in common than things that divide us. And, we need to find conversations around those commonalities. Then, we can pick apart proposed solutions until we find one that fits.

I envision a future where clean air and clean water are no longer fought for because we all agree they are inalienable rights to every single human on this planet.

I envision a future where we have robust gardens of nourishment in every food shed, so local places can support themselves.

I envision a future where we stop digging in our sacred ground and we turn to energies that move and shine all around us.

I envision a future where we bring up leaders who love learning and who are excited about affecting positive change for their own futures.

I envision a future where our basic needs are met so well that we can all work on our dreams and goals with fewer hurdles, barriers, and upper limits getting in the way. (I have an oil for that too… start with Wild Orange, the Oil of Abundance.)

I envision that we all honor the divine in you and the divine in me. That we all recognize life is precious and must be taken seriously, with light hearted fun to pepper things along the way. We all deserve to be here. We are all Children of God. We all have purpose, and we can do this together. We can do this with love.

t-10-vi-52_4-fear-love

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What Makes America Great

The husband and I were discussing this after running errands prior to picking the kiddo up from school. In 2004, I came to some conclusions. It doesn’t matter what end of the political spectrum, or grid, you are on. What matters is that most people simply care about those they love, however they define it. And, most people, want those they love and care about to succeed. In 2004, after deals were struck for oil barons, I theorized GW cared about his oil friends.

I care about my farmer friends and family. I care about my union working, manufacturing friends and family. I care about those who serve in a variety of ways. So, it was hard for me to relate to someone making deals that didn’t directly affect those I care about. Or rather, it was hard for me to relate to someone making deals where the side affects adversely affected people and things I cared about – environment, local wages, etc.

I firmly believe our common values unite us. We don’t, however, spend enough time talking about those values. Sometimes, we come to solutions before seeking to understand the other side, and those solutions are at odds. I often think that’s what we’re fighting about.

I get that there have been many stories showcasing horrific examples of misogyny, racism, homophobia. I have hope those are rare examples. Horrific. Awful to those who had to experience first hand. Yet, I hope those are rare instances. The last surge of hate before real, loving change happens.

In light of this thinking, watch Ellen’s take on “What Makes America Great.”

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The Only Constant Is Change

I love exploring sites like 27o to Win or Nate Silver’s 538. Places dedicated towards numbers, polls, and results. And, I also like to remember that things rarely stay the same.

Living on the “Left Coast”, California, Oregon, and Washington are foregone conclusions for the election. Growing up, the states around my home state of Michigan were thought of blue too. But, what do the results say? Times change. Take a look at 1904 to present.

1904 to present, presidential elections

make action GIFs like this at MakeaGif

I’m excited to see how this year pans out. I’ll be donning a sort of #pantsuit on Tuesday expressing my hopes and desires.