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Beyond What I See

“They made us feel like we could do anything!” This was the quote that my twelve year old daughter shared as I drove her home from her first over night camp experience, a soccer camp with a strong leadership component. The camp was founded and led by Julie Foudy, a three time Olympic medalist in soccer and a multiple World Cup winner. Like most soccer parents, I sit on the cold steel bleachers to cheer on our soccer player rain or shine. Okay, if I’m being honest, if it’s raining or overly humid, and my hair has been freshly straightened, I’m watching the match from the comfort of my climate controlled vehicle in an effort to protect the investment made on the top of my head and to shield my tween heir from the mortification that comes when my hair gets wet and begins to inflate unexpectedly from the humidity. It doesn’t take much to mortify a tween girl, and her mother’s appearance and attire is usually an easy trigger. If I’m embracing my organic hair, I gladly sit in the rain and let my tresses soak up the free moisture.

It’s important to understand that our tween heir has played competitive soccer for almost five years, but before registering her for this camp, I had no idea who Julie Foudy was. Not a clue, even though she played for the US National team for over seventeen years and was MVP several times. Julie and her teammates earned two Olympic gold medals and one “white gold” medal after a heart wrenching loss to the Norwegians. At the welcome session for parents, she shared this story with humor, grace and a sense of “I still want a do over, we were robbed!” in her voice. The campers played soccer in sweltering heat and bonded while participating in carefully orchestrated leadership workshops and skits. The extended debriefing that I received from my soccer player on our nine hour trek back home was that Julie was a daily and hands on presence at the camp, walking the hallways and chatting with the campers like she was Mrs. Garrett, the warm and fuzzy house mother from “The Facts of Life” albeit Julie would be a very toned and fit Mrs. Garret. My daughter hasn’t a clue who Mrs. Garret is, I threw in that nugget for my seasoned blog followers. My camper shared that “Julie still has skills” as she demonstrated soccer techniques on the field. Julie shared with the girls that the thing that made her a winner on the field was the leadership skills that she learned and modeled off the field, placing soccer second to leadership.

I snapped photos of my tween heir with her new camp buddies and smiled as she hugged her new friends and lingered, not really wanting to leave each other’s presence as they pledged to keep in touch and return next year. I felt blessed that we were able to provide her with an experience that was clearly life changing for her. That night, over dinner, she asked if we could break the “we don’t watch television during dinner rule” so that she could watch CNN to follow the Aurora, Colorado shooting tragedy that had unfolded while we were in the car returning from camp. She hadn’t watched television during camp. I paused. I watch CNN. Heir #2 watches anything but CNN. Who was this new kid masquerading as my daughter? I obliged and we turned on the television. We watched in horror as Don Lemon covered the story live in Colorado standing in front of the movie theatre. I watched as my daughter’s innocence was transformed. Obviously, this isn’t the first national tragedy that has occurred during her pre-pubescent life, but it’s the first tragedy to which she has paused, taken notice and expressed genuine concern. Coincidence? I don’t think so. While I drove, she read the CNN transcript which included interviews from survivors. That evening, as we watched CNN, a woman was being interviewed by a CNN reporter. My daughter recognized details from the woman’s story as the one that she’d read to me in the car. She was right. She hadn’t just been dutifully reading the story to me as I drove. She had been paying attention.

I live in a conceal and carry state, which means that it is perfectly legal to carry a concealed weapon. You can carry a gun in your purse, pocket or picnic basket. As long as you have a license for it, it’s legal. I believe that many of the ladies in my Bible study group carry pistols in their Prada. Okay, maybe they’re not toting Prada bags, but I like how that reads. Our health club boasts a sign that you can’t bring your gun into the club. Makes sense to me. No one wants to hear gunfire while doing Zumba or pilates. The facebook posts that are flying now include discussions about gun control and conceal and carry. One person posted this question: If others in the theatre had been carrying weapons could someone have taken the shooter out or prevented some of the loss of life? Perhaps. Or would other innocents have been killed by that person’s gunfire? It’s hard to know. The killer had a mission. He dropped tear gas bombs so the theatre goers couldn’t see. He also methodically ordered expensive weaponry and trained himself on how to use it. Glocks and semi-automatic weapons are not cheap. He had no prior record of bad behavior or anything else that would have made it illegal for him to obtain legal weapons of choice. It’s unclear as I write this blog if he had proper permits for his weaponry.

The gun control lobbyists and the right to bear arms folks have been at a standoff since before Janet Jackson played Penny on “Good Times” and then became Willis’ girlfriend on “Diff’rent Strokes” which is about when I started watching 60 minutes and realized that the world was bigger than the universe that existed between my mirror and me. Sadly, the Aurora, Colorado massacre is not our first glimpse into the evil that can occur when guns are in the hands of sick people. Each time there is a tragedy involving guns, the gun control lobbyists and the right to bear arms folks square off. The right to bear arms is protected by the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the Constitution has only been amended 27 times and 10 of those amendments was the Bill of Rights which happened at the same time, so technically it’s only been amended 17 times. That’s not a lot of change for a document that was ratified over 225 years ago. Obviously, it’s extremely hard to amend the Constitution. You have to get both houses of Congress to agree and then the states have to ratify it. Picture this, it’s like getting a roomful of 100 thirteen year old girls and another roomful of 435 girls to agree and approve one dress to wear to the dance. 2/3rds of each group must agree on the particulars of the dress. And then they have to get 3/4 of their parents (the states) to ratify or approve the dress. They must all wear the exact same dress, and the dress must be identical in color, fabric, length, and all of the accessories to go with it. Good luck with that. By the time the girls get that prom dress approved, they’ll be grandmothers themselves.

The six main characters in my Black Diamond Series are certainly more agreeable than members of congress, but even a close knit group of chums often struggle to agree on something as simple as what to order on their pizza. If the Black Diamond Series’ divas: Tanisha, Maria, Lori, Justine, Rashanda and Grace were participating in the gun control vs. 2nd amendment debate this is how I imagine they would weigh in: Tanisha would express tears and sympathy for the victims, but would stand on the side of the 2nd amendment and the right to bear arms, but would argue that it should be harder for people to get guns. Maria would be a strict gun control lobbyist working to abolish the 2nd amendment. Lori would look to scripture for guidance and try to convince the girls to believe that the horrific act was beyond what they could see and that they must find good in even the darkest hour. Maria would curse Lori and tell her that she was an idiot. Justine and Grace would stand for gun control and Rashanda would be gathering research before rendering an opinion on either side of the debate. They would all agree that the shooter was a sick individual who should have used his brilliance for good. The girls would debate and ponder how the killer developed an appetite to kill. What was his motive? Was it nature or nurture? Was he not hugged enough as a child or was he hugged too much?

In Camp Colorblind, book two in the Black Diamond Series, Tanisha Carlson attends a leadership camp that proves a life changing experience where several stereotypes that she’s held are dispelled. She develops friendships with people that she’d previously mocked and stereotyped and we learn in subsequent books in the series that those friendships prove to last a lifetime.

I read reports that the shooter ran cross country and played on his school’s soccer team. I haven’t researched this, but something tells me that he probably didn’t attend a leadership camp in his youth and if he did, he didn’t get anything out of it. He may have had a neuroscience degree and been academically brilliant, but he wasn’t a leader. Leaders don’t massacre innocent victims.To me, the shooter was blind. He clearly could not see beyond what was going on inside his own twisted head. The tear gas was his attempt to blind the others in the theatre and invite them into his darkness. Sadly, the shooter’s name will be remembered forever while the names of Olympic medalists are not known by the masses, and the names that are known are often too soon forgotten by most of us after the Olympic torch is extinguished.

I deliberately didn’t include the shooter’s name in my blog. I don’t want to remember the name of a sick man who went on a killing spree, killed innocent children and people while they watched a Batman movie, altered the lives of hundreds of others and created a wide web of terror that has people afraid to do something as innocent as attend a movie. Two minutes of madness creates a lifetime of fear and terror.

Right now, I’d rather not remember the name of the sick shooter, but I know that the media will make it impossible for me not to know his name. Instead, I want to remember a name like Julie Foudy, and the names of other Olympic athletes who are using their greatness for good and not evil. As the world mourns the senselessness of this despicable tragedy and the loss of life that resulted, may we find hope in the spirit of excellence and goodness that is the Olympic games and pledge to remember the name of one gold medalist long after the torch is extinguished.

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Beyond What I See

“They made us feel like we could do anything!” This was the quote that my twelve year old daughter shared as I drove her home from her first over night camp experience, a soccer camp with a strong leadership component. The camp was founded and led by Julie Foudy, a three time Olympic medalist in soccer and a multiple World Cup winner. Like most soccer parents, I sit on the cold steel bleachers to cheer on our soccer player rain or shine. Okay, if I’m being honest, if it’s raining or overly humid, and my hair has been freshly straightened, I’m watching the match from the comfort of my climate controlled vehicle in an effort to protect the investment made on the top of my head and to shield my tween heir from the mortification that comes when my hair gets wet and begins to inflate unexpectedly from the humidity. It doesn’t take much to mortify a tween girl, and her mother’s appearance and attire is usually an easy trigger. If I’m embracing my organic hair, I gladly sit in the rain and let my tresses soak up the free moisture.

It’s important to understand that our tween heir has played competitive soccer for almost five years, but before registering her for this camp, I had no idea who Julie Foudy was. Not a clue, even though she played for the US National team for over seventeen years and was MVP several times. Julie and her teammates earned two Olympic gold medals and one “white gold” medal after a heart wrenching loss to the Norwegians. At the welcome session for parents, she shared this story with humor, grace and a sense of “I still want a do over, we were robbed!” in her voice. The campers played soccer in sweltering heat and bonded while participating in carefully orchestrated leadership workshops and skits. The extended debriefing that I received from my soccer player on our nine hour trek back home was that Julie was a daily and hands on presence at the camp, walking the hallways and chatting with the campers like she was Mrs. Garrett, the warm and fuzzy house mother from “The Facts of Life” albeit Julie would be a very toned and fit Mrs. Garret. My daughter hasn’t a clue who Mrs. Garret is, I threw in that nugget for my seasoned blog followers. My camper shared that “Julie still has skills” as she demonstrated soccer techniques on the field. Julie shared with the girls that the thing that made her a winner on the field was the leadership skills that she learned and modeled off the field, placing soccer second to leadership.

I snapped photos of my tween heir with her new camp buddies and smiled as she hugged her new friends and lingered, not really wanting to leave each other’s presence as they pledged to keep in touch and return next year. I felt blessed that we were able to provide her with an experience that was clearly life changing for her. That night, over dinner, she asked if we could break the “we don’t watch television during dinner rule” so that she could watch CNN to follow the Aurora, Colorado shooting tragedy that had unfolded while we were in the car returning from camp. She hadn’t watched television during camp. I paused. I watch CNN. Heir #2 watches anything but CNN. Who was this new kid masquerading as my daughter? I obliged and we turned on the television. We watched in horror as Don Lemon covered the story live in Colorado standing in front of the movie theatre. I watched as my daughter’s innocence was transformed. Obviously, this isn’t the first national tragedy that has occurred during her pre-pubescent life, but it’s the first tragedy to which she has paused, taken notice and expressed genuine concern. Coincidence? I don’t think so. While I drove, she read the CNN transcript which included interviews from survivors. That evening, as we watched CNN, a woman was being interviewed by a CNN reporter. My daughter recognized details from the woman’s story as the one that she’d read to me in the car. She was right. She hadn’t just been dutifully reading the story to me as I drove. She had been paying attention.

I live in a conceal and carry state, which means that it is perfectly legal to carry a concealed weapon. You can carry a gun in your purse, pocket or picnic basket. As long as you have a license for it, it’s legal. I believe that many of the ladies in my Bible study group carry pistols in their Prada. Okay, maybe they’re not toting Prada bags, but I like how that reads. Our health club boasts a sign that you can’t bring your gun into the club. Makes sense to me. No one wants to hear gunfire while doing Zumba or pilates. The facebook posts that are flying now include discussions about gun control and conceal and carry. One person posted this question: If others in the theatre had been carrying weapons could someone have taken the shooter out or prevented some of the loss of life? Perhaps. Or would other innocents have been killed by that person’s gunfire? It’s hard to know. The killer had a mission. He dropped tear gas bombs so the theatre goers couldn’t see. He also methodically ordered expensive weaponry and trained himself on how to use it. Glocks and semi-automatic weapons are not cheap. He had no prior record of bad behavior or anything else that would have made it illegal for him to obtain legal weapons of choice. It’s unclear as I write this blog if he had proper permits for his weaponry.

The gun control lobbyists and the right to bear arms folks have been at a standoff since before Janet Jackson played Penny on “Good Times” and then became Willis’ girlfriend on “Diff’rent Strokes” which is about when I started watching 60 minutes and realized that the world was bigger than the universe that existed between my mirror and me. Sadly, the Aurora, Colorado massacre is not our first glimpse into the evil that can occur when guns are in the hands of sick people. Each time there is a tragedy involving guns, the gun control lobbyists and the right to bear arms folks square off. The right to bear arms is protected by the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the Constitution has only been amended 27 times and 10 of those amendments was the Bill of Rights which happened at the same time, so technically it’s only been amended 17 times. That’s not a lot of change for a document that was ratified over 225 years ago. Obviously, it’s extremely hard to amend the Constitution. You have to get both houses of Congress to agree and then the states have to ratify it. Picture this, it’s like getting a roomful of 100 thirteen year old girls and another roomful of 435 girls to agree and approve one dress to wear to the dance. 2/3rds of each group must agree on the particulars of the dress. And then they have to get 3/4 of their parents (the states) to ratify or approve the dress. They must all wear the exact same dress, and the dress must be identical in color, fabric, length, and all of the accessories to go with it. Good luck with that. By the time the girls get that prom dress approved, they’ll be grandmothers themselves.

The six main characters in my Black Diamond Series are certainly more agreeable than members of congress, but even a close knit group of chums often struggle to agree on something as simple as what to order on their pizza. If the Black Diamond Series’ divas: Tanisha, Maria, Lori, Justine, Rashanda and Grace were participating in the gun control vs. 2nd amendment debate this is how I imagine they would weigh in: Tanisha would express tears and sympathy for the victims, but would stand on the side of the 2nd amendment and the right to bear arms, but would argue that it should be harder for people to get guns. Maria would be a strict gun control lobbyist working to abolish the 2nd amendment. Lori would look to scripture for guidance and try to convince the girls to believe that the horrific act was beyond what they could see and that they must find good in even the darkest hour. Maria would curse Lori and tell her that she was an idiot. Justine and Grace would stand for gun control and Rashanda would be gathering research before rendering an opinion on either side of the debate. They would all agree that the shooter was a sick individual who should have used his brilliance for good. The girls would debate and ponder how the killer developed an appetite to kill. What was his motive? Was it nature or nurture? Was he not hugged enough as a child or was he hugged too much?

In Camp Colorblind, book two in the Black Diamond Series, Tanisha Carlson attends a leadership camp that proves a life changing experience where several stereotypes that she’s held are dispelled. She develops friendships with people that she’d previously mocked and stereotyped and we learn in subsequent books in the series that those friendships prove to last a lifetime.

I read reports that the shooter ran cross country and played on his school’s soccer team. I haven’t researched this, but something tells me that he probably didn’t attend a leadership camp in his youth and if he did, he didn’t get anything out of it. He may have had a neuroscience degree and been academically brilliant, but he wasn’t a leader. Leaders don’t massacre innocent victims.To me, the shooter was blind. He clearly could not see beyond what was going on inside his own twisted head. The tear gas was his attempt to blind the others in the theatre and invite them into his darkness. Sadly, the shooter’s name will be remembered forever while the names of Olympic medalists are not known by the masses, and the names that are known are often too soon forgotten by most of us after the Olympic torch is extinguished.

I deliberately didn’t include the shooter’s name in my blog. I don’t want to remember the name of a sick man who went on a killing spree, killed innocent children and people while they watched a Batman movie, altered the lives of hundreds of others and created a wide web of terror that has people afraid to do something as innocent as attend a movie. Two minutes of madness creates a lifetime of fear and terror.

Right now, I’d rather not remember the name of the sick shooter, but I know that the media will make it impossible for me not to know his name. Instead, I want to remember a name like Julie Foudy, and the names of other Olympic athletes who are using their greatness for good and not evil. As the world mourns the senselessness of this despicable tragedy and the loss of life that resulted, may we find hope in the spirit of excellence and goodness that is the Olympic games and pledge to remember the name of one gold medalist long after the torch is extinguished.