Conversation with Inspiration: Gold Medalist Megan Blunk

“My accident gave me a second chance at life, so I want everyone to know that you can fight it – and you can be happy. No matter what happens in life, don’t ever let it hold you back.” https://meganblunk.com

Totally rando and out of nowhere, I was in a very public place and there was a young woman in a wheelchair sort of pushing another wheelchair with slanted wheels (that I later learned was used when she played basketball). I asked her if she needed any help and she declined, but we started chatting and I learned that she is a real live HERO.

Her name is Megan Blunk. Originally from Gig Harbor, Washington, Megan is a Paralympic gold medalist for wheelchair basketball.

Megan discovered adaptive sports a year after a motorcycle accident that paralyzed her and also revived her former inner athlete. Prior to her accident, she was a five-sport athlete.

She went on to play college wheelchair basketball at the University of Illinois, where she completed a bachelor’s degree.

She’s an advocate for adaptive sports and speaks to groups and one-on-one with other athletes.

“Whenever I meet someone recently disabled, I reach out to them,” she said. “I would be there in a heartbeat if someone asked me to see someone who had just been injured.” https://meganblunk.com/2016/09/01/south-sound-magazine/

In my opinion, Megan really needs to do a Ted Talk. Her story — and her inner and outer strength — is an inspiration to everyone.

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Megan holding her gold medal.

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Life Cycle of a Rose

Not about ME, haha,  but check out this most delicate ballet pink rose I’ve ever grown in the garden here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

The life cycle up to this point has been about a week long journey.

Just picked. The fragrance is so light and delicate. The very essence of a rose.

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The petals are starting to open a tiny bit more in response to the sun and being indoors.

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See the outer petals beginning to turn color? Still beautiful, though.

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This morning, in her full glory at five inches across. More discolored, faded, and less pink petals.

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Sweet rose. Almost at the end of her life, she selflessly shared all the joy and beauty she had to give. Soon, her petals will fall to the table and she’ll be gone.

How did this all get so depressing? Just like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Sheesh. I need to lighten up!

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And now this, the finality and death of a once beautiful and vibrant rose.

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Shaking off THAT doomed train of thought, here are more roses that I left unpicked in the garden.

Buds. Babies.

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I love the peach and red dual tone of these roses.

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Peppermint striped climbing roses. Very spicy fragrance.

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Finally, a rock rose, California native.

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All the rain we had in SoCal made a joyful garden.

Happy end of April and almost May, everyone!

 

“To sleep: perchance to dream”…

Of course this is Shakespeare:

HAMLET:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub

Yeah, there’s the rub, that’s for sure.

I used to love to sleep. Sleep came so easily for me. Almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, I could count backwards 5-4-3-2-1 and be asleep. Just like that, *snapping my fingers*. I could fall asleep anywhere. I took blissful, restful sleep for granted.

Back then, my dreams were mostly of my beloved dogs and cats that had crossed the Rainbow Bridge, sometimes bringing happy messages back to me. Or every so often, I’d have a prophetic dream about my son but never really a nightmare.

Last night was a big deal for me.

April 1, 2019 marks the first night I slept an entire night without waking up once in dread, in a cold sweat, without my heart beating a million beats per second ready to jump out of my chest, without the gasp of that split second between sleep/awake and remembering that my daytime reality IS the nightmare, that there really IS hell on earth, and I am living proof.

When I first woke up this morning, it took a moment for me to perceive that it wasn’t 3am, that the earliest of early morning birds had started to sing and there was a faint hint of dawn lightening the sky.

There was no swirling of dreams that made waking up a death unto itself. A shard of glass to slice at my heart and torment me, poking at me with each inhale and exhale for the rest of the day.

There was peace. OMG, so much peace.

I had to help my brain process this miracle of healing, a painfully slow process of realization that FOR THE FIRST TIME, I had slept unfettered by the bondage of painful memories that morphed into night terrors so incredibly lucid that they haunted me during the day.  Sleep was walking into a dark tunnel with not the slightest glimmer of light at the end of it. Depressing, huh?

I couldn’t endure another dream of a gigantic mottled black plague-infected rat with oozing sores climbing in my bed to curl up next to me, no more continuation of the abject panic that permeated my waking life.

No more dreams that weren’t even really dreams, simply the continuing of the day’s macabre horrors.

For more than three years, thirty-six months, 1,095 days, 26,280 hours, and 1,576,800 minutes, I couldn’t sleep, and I’d cry out to no one into the silence of the night to please wake me up from this nightmare, please take me out of my misery; only to realize that there was no respite for me.

“No sleep for you!” said the sleep Nazi (an homage to Seinfeld’s soup Nazi.)

The nightmare WAS the reality.

The dark soul of the night became the abject despair of the day.

There is the saying “follow your dreams” but if I had followed those dreams, I would have ended up in a vortex of Sartre’s No Exit. 

I was in a neverending episode of the Twilight Zone, caught in a purgatory that I could never have prepared myself to endure. Drowning.

I tried everything: meditation, EFT, mantras, deep breathing exercises to control my out of control hyperventilation /tachypnea, conscious mindfulness, and lessons in neural plascticity to nurse my wounded brain. One of the best pain relievers was and is listening to raw binaural beats with headphones. Some nights, that was the only way I could even attempt sleep.

I dreaded going to sleep, the actual sleep, and the waking up from an unhappy sleep.

The simple tortuous action of closing my eyes created a canvas where I’d be subjected to an endless loop of conversations, images, mirages spanning more than twenty years.

I wished for a lobotomy, to be in a coma, to erase all that was etched in my conscious and subconscious.

Through pain and fear and sadness, I discovered that the only cure is radical acceptance. I couldn’t run away from it. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Wherever you go, there you are.

I had to stand my ground and surrender to the pain.
To love it, honor it, respect it, and learn from it.

Now. Right now. I hear a hawk, I hear a scrub jay, I hear the angry chattering of a nesting Bell’s Vireo. Off in the distance, I hear a train. I hear an airplane. I hear a symphony of wind chimes. I see blue sky, I see lush green grass that’s been lovingly tended, I feel a gentle breeze lifting a swarm of Painted Lady butterflies from the yellow marguerite daisy bushes to settle for a moment on the Pride of Madeira. All the rain we had this season birthed an incredible floral display.

Everything around me seems to be conspiring to show me that there’s still beauty after a storm, that there’s happiness to be discovered if you look and listen.

IMG_7039Oh and I see a bunny. Always a bunny.

My heart is wounded and scarred; I’ve been through a war zone,

I had no weapons to fight the enemy that raped and pillaged my life and my innocence. And my heart.

I’m collateral damage,

I’m eternally sad.

But I’m alive, and that’s something to be grateful for.

And…for the very first time in a long time, I slept an entire night and woke up in serenity and peace.

(But that peace wouldn’t last, as I soon learned…)

 

Planet Theo

“I will keep YOU safe, Grandma!” as he runs across the lawn and jumps in my outstretched arms.

“I will keep YOU safe, Theo-saurus!” “We’ll be safe together, how does that sound?”

And we laugh at our little joke, over and over again pretending to be afraid of the remote control dinosaur, a gift from Grandpa for his third birthday.

“I like it when T-Rex dances, but I SORTA don’t like it when he roars!”

“Are you afraid of him, Theo?”

“Not really, Grandma. He’s not scary to me. Well, at first, I was a little bit afraid, but not anymore.”

“Me neither, T.” I said, to affirm his bravery and courage in overcoming his fear of a twenty-four-inch tall walking, roaring, dancing Tyrannosaurus Rex.

******

I’ve delayed for almost a week writing my observations of the arraignment last week of the  suspects arrested in the murder of a local woman.

In my dreams, I can still see the faces of those two monsters charged with stabbing her more than fifty times in the face and head.

As a diversion, I’d rather focus on something beautiful and positive, just a brief respite from the reality of dark and disturbed people who made a decision that seems so senseless; so cruel.

Back to Planet Theo…

The world really does revolve around him, and like most toddlers, this is an important developmental milestone.

The normal human brain is designed by evolution to generate the egocentric illusion: the illusion that the owner of a particular brain is the center of the universe.

Egocentrism refers to the child’s inability to see a situation from another person’s point of view.

Reading about this reminds me of the time I spent post-BA when I was in the teacher training program at university and we studied this fascinating subject.

According to Jean Piaget, the Swiss biologist and psychologist, the egocentric child assumes that other people see, hear, and feel exactly the same as the child does

SENSORIMOTOR STAGE (BIRTH TO 2 YEARS OLD)

The infant builds an understanding of himself or herself and reality (and how things work) through interactions with the environment. It is able to differentiate between itself and other objects. Learning takes place via assimilation (the organization of information and absorbing it into existing schema) and accommodation (when an object cannot be assimilated and the schemata have to be modified to include the object.

PREOPERATIONAL STAGE (AGES 2 TO 4)

The child is not yet able to conceptualize abstractly and needs concrete physical situations. Objects are classified in simple ways, especially by important features.

CONCRETE OPERATIONS (AGES 7 TO 11)

As physical experience accumulates, accommodation is increased. The child begins to think abstractly and conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences.

FORMAL OPERATIONS (BEGINNING AT AGES 11 TO 15)

Cognition reaches its final form. By this stage, the person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgements. He or she is capable of deductive and hypothetical reasoning. His or her ability for abstract thinking is very similar to an adult. (https://www.learning-theories.com/piagets-stage-theory-of-cognitive-development.html)

As we grow from children to adults, we first separate and then individuate from our family of origin. Separation entails moving away, starting a career, and setting up a home. Individuation is the process by which we grow into our own authentic self. Individuation is detached observation of the behaviors and beliefs we learned as children.(https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24867/the-single-most-destructive-factor-in-your-search-for-real-love.html

Most of us move through these stages as we get older; our brains grow, we individuate, we see ourselves as part of the whole, each piece synergistically interacting with others; we learn empathy. Some do not. Those with personality and/or character disorders become stuck somewhere in the early stages of development and never truly individuate.

Genetics and environment both seem to play a part in preventing certain children from growing or developing properly, hindering and sometimes even completely inhibiting the ability to maintain healthy adult relationship connections.

That’s why it’s vitally important to educate ourselves about how the brain works, how emotions develop, how play and make believe are critical building blocks to lay a sturdy foundation of trust, love, and safe boundaries.

OK, off my soapbox for now. Happy 3rd birthday to the one and only Theo-saurus and happy birthday to Daddy too, Here’s the post about his birth, thirty-eight years ago. I am so proud of the man he’s become. And soon to be daddy to #2, the princess of all princesses. I’m already drooling over frilly pink dresses and pink blankets.

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We went camping in the Anza Borrego desert to see the full moon. That’s the Sawtooth Mountains.

I don’t have many pics ‘cos I was too busy trying to keep up with Planet Theo. We saw California Quail, bunnies, and heard coyotes. Life is GOOD.

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At Agua Caliente County Park and Hot Springs.
Just a daddy and his sun son. Keeping him safe. Forever and ever.
My heart is overflowing. (And I’m EXHAUSTED lol)
Back home and one final surf sesh.
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Not in Carlsbad. Home Invasion and Murder.

***UPDATED***

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This doesn’t happen in Carlsbad.

I’ve lived here for about thirty-five years, and was obviously lulled into a sense of complacency and maybe even a tad smug…we don’t have THIS kind of violence in our little beach town.

This is the kind of place where neighbors talk to each other, host “get-to-know-your-neighbor” parties, and watch everyone’s children and grandchildren grow up and have their own families.

But it did happen and it was blocks away from where I live.

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There was an initial report of a home invasion where the victim, a woman, was stabbed multiple times but was able to call 911.

Despite the best efforts to save her, she died at the hospital.

She had been home alone.

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(Out of respect for the victim and her family, I’m purposely not posting her name.)

Later we learned that there were two suspects. Her car was stolen and eventually abandoned near Highway 78 in San Marcos.

In hearing this shocking news going on in my town, I checked the address and was horrified because it was the exact street where a good friend of mine lived.

I tried to text her, but got no immediate response, and immediately started to worry.

I headed over to the street which was now a crime scene with a command post and yellow tape blocking access.

Hanging around the many news vans and journalists, I learned that it was not my friend, but a woman who lived two doors away from my friend, someone I had known from attending neighborhood parties.

This is not an easy area to locate. It’s comprised of many little cul de sacs tucked away in a lovely community of attached homes overlooking Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

According to information provided by Carlsbad Police, “Through the preliminary investigation, it appears a male and female suspect attempted to burglarize the victim’s home. ”

I got a tip from a reporter that a man and woman had been arrested just minutes before I arrived. They had been hiding under some bushes in the lagoon. The police that were on scene confirmed that there were two arrests but would not confirm that it was connected to the murder.

I am concerned that the local elementary school very close to the lagoon was not put on lockdown.

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My friend finally texted me back and confirmed that it was her neighbor who had been murdered, someone with whom she had dinner just a couple nights ago.

We are all waiting for more information, but I wanted to post what I have initially learned, and will update as more details are released.

This doesn’t happen in Carlsbad. But it does. Even though it shouldn’t. And if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

Please be extra careful, friends, and look out for your neighbors

Statement from Carlsbad Police Department:

Update – Two Arrested for Homicide on Outrigger Lane

CARLSBAD, Calif – Update – “The Police Department shares the communities’ concern over such a tragic incident,” stated Police Chief Neil Gallucci. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s family.”

It is important for the community to know that, with the assistance of the community, investigators have made arrests in association with the Outrigger Lane incident.  The suspects were arrested in the 4800 block of Park Drive.

The suspects are identified as 37-year-old Ian Bushee and 26-year-old Malissa James, both transients.  Bushee and James are both on probation in San Bernardino for residential burglary.

Bushee was arrested for Homicide, Burglary, Conspiracy, Auto Theft and Accessory after the Fact. James was arrested for Homicide, Burglary, Conspiracy and Auto Theft. Both will be booked into the Vista Detention Facility.

At this time, investigators believe there are no additional suspects. The investigation is ongoing.

If a community member has additional information about the incident, they are asked to call the Police Department at 760-931-2197.

The department would like to help the community cope with the concern caused by this incident. Most residents know, Carlsbad has always had one of the lowest violent crime rates in the county.

A last note from Chief Gallucci, “Be certain, officers are out-and-about patrolling our neighborhoods 24/7 and are just a phone call away. Call us if you need us. We are all a part of the community of Carlsbad.”

A little research revealed more info on the suspects…

April 12, 2018T

wo transients — including one who authorities say tried to discard a sock containing $70,000 worth of valuable coins — were arrested after an Upland-area homeowner walked in on a burglary.

The incident happened Tuesday, April 10, in the 2600 block of North Mountain Avenue in San Antonio Heights, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.

The burglars, after being confronted by the resident, fled with thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and electronics. Deputies identified the burglars as transients known to them, Ian Forrester Bushee, 36, and Malissa Deanna James, 25.

More at: https://www.dailybulletin.com/2018/04/12/burglars-arrested-with-70000-in-coins-in-a-sock-near-upland/

Conversations with a special human

Running joke between us…

“Hey Theo-saurus, what’s my favorite color?”

*Giggling*

“Grandma, you’re silly; your favorite color is… ME!”

“That’s right, buddy, and what’s YOUR favorite color?”

“It’s…YOU, Grandma!” Jumping up and down, he adds, “And purple!”

No wonder I’d rather chat with him than most adults I know.

This brilliant, beautiful, funny little boy human will soon be three-years-old.

He is a force unto himself.

Up until this dervish was born, my son was the most amazing child ever created.

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I know, I know. That HAIR.

But no longer.

Theo sees the world in his own way.

Along with Dad’s favorite teddy bear, still for just a brief moment, contemplating cloud formations.

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Recent chat…

“Hey Theo, do you want another veggie burger snack before dinner?”

“I’m done with veggie burgers for today,”

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Time to put out fires and rescue dinosaurs. And Peppa Pig.

Look at this fashionable hipster boy in his fave hat wearing one of his many dinosaur shirts. We were at music class and he hoarded all of the purple shaky eggs.
Yes, purple really is HIS color.

And yes, he makes all of his daily fashion choices. He started picking out what he’ll wear the night before…definitely MY grandson and my genes.

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Listening to the beat of his own drum…actually patiently (bored) waiting for the class to be over so he could play Teacher Blake’s big drums, a special treat ONLY for this little music man.

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“Grandma, why do you have to go home?”

“So I can get your bedroom all ready for you with dinosaur sheets and make your blue dinosaur cake for your birthday and for Daddy’s birthday party. And to check on the bunnies and the coyotes in the garden…”

“But I love you. I don’t want you to go. I want you to stay forever and ever.”

STOP. MY. HEART.

One of those exquisite moments in time that make being alive and breathing the very best thing of all. That can erase any sadness or sorrow or pain.

But I love you.”

So I replied, “I love you too, Mr. T, and can’t wait to see you! Let’s think about all the fun things we’ll do. We can walk to the park and see the big turtle and go camping and hiking and bake cinnamon rolls, too. What else do you want to do?”

“I want to wake you up in the morning and say, Grandma! Wake up and make me oatmeal!”

“You can do that for sure. And we will have so much FUN, right?”

Daddy’s mini-me. Two curly boys.

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And soon he’ll be big brother to a little Princess!

OMG, you know she will be the best dressed little girl in the whole world.
Finally, someone I can share my love for all that is Hello Kitty and pink and frilly and fluffy so we can twirl together.

Thinking out loud here. Do you think Chanel does a line of children’s clothing?

I.CANNOT.WAIT.

 

 

 

Burning down the house

(To fellow WP bloggers, this is the weirdest thing. Apparently this post did not publish, or it published in a draft format that was not at all what my final result looked like to me, and that’s why I’ve reposted it. Strange limbo zone!!)
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Do you smell the smoke?

It’s a rainy SoCal day and I was in a state of cleaning bliss, dusting and polishing and organizing.

I lit dried sage from the garden to smudge in a metal bowl on top of a mirror on my bedside table to bring a little pungent sagey/outdoorsy fragrance.

It seemed safe, right? Metal bowl placed not directly on wood, but on a mirror to protect it.

Apparently NOT safe.

I continued cleaning the other rooms, enjoying the sagey perfume. After a while, I thought that it seemed to be smoking for much much longer than the amount of leaves in the bowl and as I walked toward my bedroom, I was engulfed in smoke!

A MAJOR smudge haha.

I ran over to the window which was closed ‘cos of the rain, and slid it completely open, then to my beside table where I could see the mirror had cracked and the metal bowl had fused to the wood and was too hot to touch.

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The table was literally seconds away from going up in flames!

The smoke was no longer from the sage; the antique and very dry wood was burning.

Oh, and somehow the carpet had a few burn holes too.

Now there’s a nasty burn mark on my mom’s antique bedside table,img_6903

It took about an hour for the smoke to dissipate. There’s not a smoke alarm in my bedroom and it hadn’t yet reached the dining room area where there are TWO smoke alarms, so that’s why I was oblivious.

Well, one reason why I was oblivious.

The other reason is that cleaning puts me into a Zen-like trance and I was lost in my own little world.

Moral of the story? DO NOT put sage in a metal bowl on top of a mirror on top of a wooden surface. EVER.

I repainted this room recently, and noticed that it no longer reeks of fresh paint, so there’s a sort of silver lining???

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Low tide. Tide pools. King Tide.

Amazingly otherworldly photos from Carlsbad State Beach at low tide this afternoon. Lots of wind and blue skies.

Do you think this looks like a donut as much as I do? It’s not though, just a rock treasure alongside a seashell treasure.

Cool tide pools.

Gangsta Butterfly

Rain of any kind in SoCal is something to be grateful for because for a brief moment, we can enjoy green and lush hills and gardens.

Now that we’re back to sunshiny blue skies again, I took pics of the lawn ‘cos it’ll never look this velvety smooth again.

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Even though I have the flu or some version of it in spite of a flu shot, no way would I miss spending an entire day working in the garden. Dirty hands, twigs in my hair, muddy shoes. HEAVENLY.

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But I wasn’t alone.

This happy gangsta butterfly not only followed me everywhere I was, but sat on my head for a few marvelous seconds, too! It’s too bad I couldn’t snap a pic but it was impossible, so you’ll have to trust me. Fluttering and flapping wings all around my face and head. And listen to the birds! So much joy.

Was there a message or a lesson the butterfly was attempting to convey? Or maybe just a shared joie de vivre?

We can coexist in peace, my friendly Mourning Cloak butterfly.

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Yes, s/he was upside down or maybe I was upside down? It’s all in your perspective. Totally LOVING the apple blossoms.

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Knowing that our rains are brief, all the plants put their best foot forward. The rosemary is a riot of blue flowers and bees.

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Bees, so many bees!

 

Happy all planets direct and Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse tonight!

 

A Slice of Covert Racism

On a recent flight back home, I was sitting in my usual choice of an aisle seat mostly because I don’t like to crawl over strange legs when I need to use the restroom.

An older (older than me) woman crawled over me to take the window seat.

A young man was escorted to his seat directly across from me by a flight attendant who commented on his height and asked him how old he was as he was flying as an unaccompanied minor.

He was nine-years-old and about six feet tall.

Just a little boy in a man sized body.

I could feel his embarrassment as he was singled out for his height and I’m sure has had to endure a zillion comments about it.

He was very quiet, but seemed a little scared, so I chatted with him a bit, and he was very sweet. His dad was picking him up and he would be starting school in San Diego. He began to open up and just as I suspected, he was a little boy who didn’t really know how to deal with the fact that he looked like he was in high school.

The older woman next to me said, in a very heavy southern accent, “I should get his autograph now, he’s going to be famous.”

I didn’t respond to her right away because I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt or maybe I had misinterpreted what she was alluding to, but she repeated herself loud enough for the young man to hear, and I felt that I needed to do something.

I said, “What are you saying? That because he’s tall, his only life path is basketball?”

She looked at me and said, “Well, he’s tall…” and then her voice and thought faded.

I replied loud enough for anyone to hear, “Maybe he’s going to be a doctor. Or a professor. Or an artist or a writer. Just because someone has a physical trait doesn’t mean it’s a life sentence. He can and should do whatever touches his heart.”

The woman had so much ingrained covert racism built into her that she didn’t really know what to say, but a few minutes later she told me that she thought about it and agreed with me, so then we had a pleasant rest of the flight.

Did I change her?

Probably not, but the grateful smile I received from a nine-year-old made my day.

(And did I really need to mention that he was a six foot tall African American nine-year-old child or did you figure that out for yourselves?)

And then I saw this photo of Trump serving fast food to the Clemson team.
More covert or not so covert racism. Love Reggie Bush’s tweet.