Is This Who We Are?

“I don’t know anyone who loved life more than Ben,” Francine Wheeler told Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. Her son Ben was one of the victims of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school.  She went on to describe the last morning she spent with Ben before he died.  Ben, was six years old.  That morning, sweet, innocent Ben asked his Mom, “What does forgiveness mean?”  I am sure, amid the busy morning, she had no idea, how she would soon realize how meaningful those words would be.  Ben WheelerBen and his Mom went to Starbucks together so he could order his favorite- Starbucks hot chocolate, and they shared a heartfelt conversation that no doubt she will carry in her heart for the rest of her life.  He told her about his dreams for his future.  He wanted to be an Architect, and a Paleontologist because that is what his brother wanted to be.  He never got the chance.  I carry the memory of her raw emotion, both pain and courage in my heart and the pictures of those children touched me so deeply.  I know I am not alone.

On December 14th, 2012, the day of the mass shooting at Sandy hook Elementary my youngest daughter was in second grade.  I remember my heart just breaking for the parents who will live their lives with a hole in their heart. Sandy hook QuoteMy pain is miniscule compared to theirs.  As every parent knows, having a child is like having your heart suddenly live outside of your body.  For several months, I would drop my kids off at their grade school and try and take a mental imprint of what they were wearing.  I couldn’t escape the fear that it could be the last time I would see them alive.

This week, I have the same feeling of total heartbreak. The nation mourns for those children and families.  February 14th, 2018 my grade school children are now teenagers and attending high school, just like the kids in Parkland, Florida.  I made the conscious decision to read the accounts from the families and feel the raw grief they are feeling.  I think we need to collectively feel the pain.  And after the prayers and condolences, we have to act. This just cannot be.

We have to rally together and decide who we are as a country. Are we the country who decides school massacres are the price we pay for freedom?  Are we the country who just shrugs our shoulders and decides it is just too hard to fight for change to help keep our kids safe?  Are we the country who doesn’t have the will to demand action from our leaders?

I refuse to believe this is who we are. I refuse to believe there is nothing we can do.  We are smarter, stronger, more creative, and resilient than that.  Parkland, Florida VigilThe United States of America was built on the idea we can collectively do things no one thought possible. I am not naïve.  We have gotten ourselves into a big mess and no one law will immediately solve the issue of thousands of dangerous weapons in civilians’ hands.  But just because we can’t save every life, does not mean we do absolutely nothing, or worse, actively pass laws that make buying guns easier and less restrictive, which is what is happening right now.

I am so very sorry for the heartbreak these gun deaths have caused and I remain hopeful we can raise a generation of kids who will not have to experience this pain. There are countries, like Australia, who we can look to for solutions that resulted in the eradication of mass shootings.  We need to elect leaders who do more than extend thoughts and prayers.  The number one responsibility of a government is to protect public safety.  Parkland, Florida School ShootingWe have failed in our number one responsibility to protect our children, and that is not who we are.  I do not say “we” lightly.  This is a collective problem. We elect the leaders who represent our beliefs and we can elect leaders who are committed to taking their responsibility of protecting public safety seriously.  Whatever we do, we should never forget this is about kids like Ben and the hundreds of other children affected by violence and all our efforts should keep their stories and faces at the forefront of our decisions.  We should never forget.

I would be curious to know how you feel after this national tragedy?

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Wow!  WHAT. A. GAME!  January 14, 2018 will go down in Vikings fan history as the moment we will never forget where we were, who we were with, and how we felt!  Being a Vikings fan is an emotional roller coaster!  Tonight, finally, the emotion was pure JOY!

The excitement is once again in the air. Could this be our year….!?  We are all hesitant to get our hopes up too high.  We know how much the disappointment hurts.  It appeared we may experience yet another heartbreak until….. Case Keenum threw a 61 yard pass to Stefon Diggs for what will forever be called the Minneapolis Miracle!

This morning, Kirk and I watched Joel Osteen on TV and he preached about never losing faith even when you are thrown into the fire and the circumstances seem dire.  Tonight, I remembered his words, I had my eyes closed and prayed as hard as I could for all of the guardian angels for the Vikings players to step in and work their magic. And- boy did they ever!

This week I couldn’t help but reminisce about another big Vikings game.  The year was 1998.  Vikings fever was HOT!  I had tickets to attend the NFC Championship game.  Everyone was making Super Bowl plans in anticipation.  I still remember listening to the radio, and the announcer said, “I cannot imagine a scenario where the Vikings lose this game.”  Upon hearing that, I remember having an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I had the thought, he should not have said that, but like everyone else in Minnesota, I wanted to believe he was right!

We walked into the Metrodome and the energy of the Vikings fans was contagious!  The stadium was LOUD! The win seemed inevitable.

And as you know, the unbelievable happened.  We lost the game to the Atlanta Falcolns.  The dome was silent.  It was as if we all had the wind knocked out of us.  The silence was deafening.  I remember there was one Atlanta fan who held up his cell phone (a flip phone) and said, “It’s not so loud in here now!” I was afraid for his safety.  The fans walked out in silence.  There was no eye contact.  We wanted to go home and lick our wounds in private.  It was a tough day to be a Vikings fan.

Then there was 2009… and it was the Saints who left us with purple tears again.

Until tonight!  FINALLY, Minnesota Vikings players and fans catch a break!  My faith has gotten stronger each year, but tonight I believe in the power of prayer and in miracles and although it is “just” a football game, it gives me hope. Skol Vikings!  #bringithome

I am curious to hear your reaction to the win?

Darkness Cannot Survive in the Light

Martin Luther King- DarknessDarkness cannot survive in the light. That phrase keeps coming to me.  Because of the bravery of so many women, and great investigative journalism, another powerful man has been exposed for who he truly he is.  Harvey Weinstein is just the latest casualty of darkness being snuffed out by the light of truth telling.

Women (and we can never forget this happens to men too), are feeling empowered to speak their truth about their own sexual harassment, or assault and exposing the pain, the shame, and the guilt that often lingers long after the traumatic event or events.

Oprah taught me that it’s not the act itself that haunts victims of molestation, but the shame they carry. The shame is what keeps people silent and eats at their very soul.

I have been listening to a great podcast, called, “Death, Sex, and Money”- things that everyone thinks about, but no one talks about. Our culture teaches us to be strong, independent, and “fine.”  We need to make it okay not to be fine.  We need to allow people to speak their truth.  Truth truly does set you free.Truth can set you free

I am so struck by the wave of empowerment this story has started. Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and now Harvey Weinstein are just the tip of the iceberg of powerful men whose predatory behavior has gone unchecked for years.  Men look the other way, or laugh at vulgar jokes to fit in, while women pretend to be “fine”, and stay silent out of fear.

I believe strongly there is a gift in the darkness as well. My hope is, exposing the vulgarity, telling the truth, and shining light on this subject will be the tipping point in a massive shift in what is tolerated within society.

Another interesting detail from these stories is, mixed within the tales of sexual assault are stories of verbal abuse and threats. In addition to being sexual predators, these men have the common traits of larger than life egos, volatile tempers, and subjecting victims who dare to say no or cross them to verbal abuse and assault that can be as damaging as physical abuse.  DT-VulgarThis blatant lack of empathy for other people’s emotions should not be tolerated by people in power and should be viewed as a red flag for an emotionally disturbed individual.  I think it’s important to change the norms on verbal abuse as well.  Just because someone is powerful does not give him or her the right to abuse people without retribution.

I have heard it said that women are “too emotional” for leadership positions. When I read the quotes of the vulgarity, abuse, and temper tantrums thrown by these men, I think they are the poster children for why that narrative has no basis in fact.  The truth is, we accept angry outbursts from powerful men as signs they are “tough”, and they “fight back”, while women who get angry and emotional are considered “unstable”.  I think it’s time we stop accepting abuse of all kinds and tell the truth about how wrong it is.

I told my story of sexual harassment as a teenager in an earlier blog, which pales in comparison to the stories many women have, but I am far from alone as evidenced by the #me too movement. If your voice has no powerThis wasn’t the only time I was harassed, and just like the women coming forward now, I didn’t tell a soul.  There is a reason the first step in a 12-step recovery program is acknowledging the problem. Without the truth, there is no healing.  I hope people do not stop shining the light.  The darkness truly cannot survive.

I am curious to hear your reactions to the Harvey Weinstein story?

Lessons of History

It is August 2017. 72 years after the end of World War II when the world learned about the horrors of concentration camps, and the slaughter of over 6,000,000 human beings.  Typing those zeros is sobering.  And it isn’t fair to the people who died.  They weren’t just a number.  They were someone’s child, mother, father, grandma, grandpa, friend. They were innocent.  Their “sin” was many believed they were inferior.  Their death was justified by hate and ignorance.

There is no question about how and why this many people died. The history is crystal clear.  One man, I won’t give him the dignity of repeating his name gained power in Germany and convinced millions of people that Jewish people were to blame for their problems.  He further claimed people with blue eyes, blond hair, and white skin were the superior race and rightfully deserved to be in power.  I always wondered if he failed to look in the mirror?  This man with these crazy ideas did not personally kill 6 million people.  The tragedy is not just that he gained power, the tragedy is how many people believed him or didn’t speak up.  He empowered others to hate or at the very least be complacent to the hate.  Leadership sets the tone of what is normal.  Most people didn’t speak up, didn’t protest, didn’t question the narrative. I have often wondered what I would have done?  Would I have been complacent, or would I have tried to do what I could to help?  I am truly inspired by stories of people who risked their lives to help others despite grave danger to themselves.

Yesterday, in Charlottesville, Virginia there were people marching and using the Nazi hand signal. There is a picture of my own great state of MN of men marching


with Nazi symbols on their arm. Many of them feel inspired and empowered by our President.  How is this possible?  How is it possible that any human still uses the man responsible for the death of 6,000,000 people as their personal hero?

The same narrative existed in the United States against American Indians, and African Americans and many other groups of people. The Confederate Flag is a symbol of that hate, which was also prominent in the protests. Many among us believed whites were superior, therefore justifying killing, enslaving, and terrorizing entire groups of people.  This is our history too.  Yesterday’s riots proved that narrative has not died.

If you ask most people what would be the characteristics of a superior human being. They would likely list traits such as kindness, integrity, honesty, strength of character, love for others, generosity.  JusticeThese are universally the traits that humans appreciate and admire in each other.  People with these traits and those whose life mission make the world a better place are the people we admire and should admire.  Most people would not cite traits such as cruel, hateful, vengeful, paranoid, and aspirations for genocide.

The fact this man lived, made it his life mission to kill as many human beings as possible is proof the white race is not the superior race. He is the definition of evil and he was white.  The irony is, his life and actions alone make the case that there is no superior race.  Hate and fear comes in all colors and so does love.

This is a unique period in history and I find myself asking what I can do?  The lessons are many if we are paying attention.  We have learned from history it starts with “just words” which can lead to far darker consequences.  I for one aspire to use my words to be on the side of love.

Are you paying attention to the lessons? I am curious to hear your thoughts?

Leaders Set the Tone

Leaders set the tone for the group they lead.  As Oprah says, this is one thing I know for sure.  I have spent my career supporting other leaders.  Most of the people who report to me have others who report to them and I have watched this human phenomenon with fascination.

My guess is, you have seen it too? Most of us work with other people and if you do, there is no way not to notice that people emanate energy- we all do.  When someone walks into a room, you can sense their mood.  A leader with high energy, and positivity leads a team who responds with energy and positivity.  The opposite is true as well.  A person with low energy, and negativity leads a team of low energy, negative people.  Those who don’t vibrate at the same frequency, often get frustrated and leave if they have the chance, leaving those that do behind.

Most organizations have informal leaders as well.  These are people who may not have a formal management title but due to their longevity, or their personality, they are a person who takes a leadership role within their work group.  leadership-quincy-jones.jpgThey can also have significant influence on group dynamics.  Most of us have had the experience working with an energy sucker, or the opposite, an energy lifter.

You may not consider yourself a leader, but all people have a circle of influence or some sort of a leadership role.  If you live with others, especially children, you have a leadership role at home.  Home is likely where you have the most influence.  Being a parent is the most influential position you can have.  You are truly setting the tone for how your child interacts in the world.

Everyone has a unique circle of influence.  There are CEOs who indirectly lead thousands of people. There are people like me who indirectly lead hundreds of people, and there are leaders whose circle of influence may be in their home, their friend group, or in their church.

As Uncle Ben told Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  I believe this so strongly. Great Power-Responsibility Although, I think we all have a responsibility to be the best version of ourselves, and be mindful of how you are interacting within your circle of influence, leaders have a special responsibility.  Leaders need to know they set the tone, and be aware of how their words, actions, and energy have ripples that can last forever.  You really have to be a person of integrity, and high morals to be an effective leader.  Abraham Lincoln said, “If you want to test someone’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln-give him powerThis is so true.  I have been a student of leadership.  It is truly an art, not a science.  To be a “good” leader, natural ability helps, but there are so many tools and resources to help improve the skills that help you succeed in leading.  I have watched leaders fail and I have watched leaders succeed, and I have a set of beliefs, backed by anecdotal observations, and a lot of reading, and support from leadership coaches.  The number one advice I give new leaders is to pay attention to the energy you bring to every interaction.  People will react to your mood, and follow your lead in how to respond to situations.  Stay calm as much as possible, and lead by example.  If you get angry, people will never forget it.  I am fascinated by human behavior that replicates itself despite completely different people and circumstances.

As a student of leadership, watching this President lead has been so very painful for me.  I am so afraid we have become numb to the tone he is setting.  When you become the President of the United States, your circle of influence automatically becomes one of the widest in the world.  Every word and action is analyzed, observed, critiqued, and often replicated.  This is what worries me the most.  It is extremely hard to resist the influence of the energy of a leader.  Even if you are aware of the influence a powerful person has on you, it is difficult to not be affected by the energy of that person.

I don’t think even his supporters would argue that our current President is setting a positive, hopeful, compassionate tone.  Every week, we have been bombarded by the news of another angry Twitter rant about someone or something that upsets him.  People who support him, join in his anger and cheer him on.  Energy- Pollution QuoteThose of us who don’t, feel angry that he’s so angry.  I often just want to close my eyes and shut it all out.  It’s too difficult.  But I can’t.  This week, the legislature is debating Medicaid cuts.  I have dedicated my adult life to caring for seniors, and these cuts would be devastating to people I serve.  It would be irresponsible of me to completely turn a blind eye to current events.

Awareness of how your energy is influenced by others does not make you immune to it.  I know I am not immune to this.  If you read my last post, I was angry about us taking a step back in the global leadership role to combat climate change.  I still am.  This anger I feel has been bothering me. In general, I pride myself in being an energy lifter.  I know that anger that lingers can block you from living your best life and I don’t want to be in that bitter state all of the time. Writing has helped me release it.

One of the things I LOVE about reading is, when you are pondering a question, you will often discover something that answers your question.  This is what happened to me this week as I was feeling guilty about my feelings of anger.  Glennon DoyleOne of my favorite Author’s, Glennon Doyle wrote, “Why do people think that anger isn’t kind?  Every internal or external love revolution starts with a little anger.  We should stop telling women and girls that they are not allowed to be sad or angry.  Forbidding half of the human experience to half of the human race is quite dangerous.  It hurts women.  We assume that if we are angry, there is something wrong with us instead of considering that maybe we are angry because there is something wrong with the world.  Perhaps that “something wrong” is even something that we could help change.  Maybe anger is like compassion, in that it can point us directly toward the place in the world we were born to help heal.”

THANK YOU SO MUCH for that Glennon! Yes… this is it.  The emotion of anger is not the problem.  I release my shame about that.  It is what you do with that anger that counts.  If you are able to use the anger to spread love and compassion and ease the pain of others, that anger is a gift to the world.  If you use the anger to spread more hate, and darkness, you are contributing to the problem not solving it.

I for one am going to stay alert, and pay attention to how I am reacting to the tone of the country and ask what I can do with the emotions that arise.  I feel a sense of great responsibility to those within my circle of influence, and I want to continue to use that influence to help improve the energy of whatever space I am in.

I am curious to know if you have noticed yourself being affected by the tone?

You Messed with the Wrong Mother

Mr. President,

Mother Earth.  Today, you messed with Mother Earth. And this mother is not afraid to tell you what she thinks.

I actually prayed for you today.  I Pope Francis quotesaid a prayer you would show leadership, perhaps some courage.  I know better.  The great Maya Angelou told us, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”  I wanted to believe there was a shred of decency in you. I always do.  I know Maya is right.  Maya is always right.  But still I prayed, I hung on to a glimmer of hope.

I heard your daughter, Ivanka who you described as, “a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing,” urged you to not pull out of the Paris climate agreement.  I thought that sounded hopeful.  Perhaps she could appeal to your better nature.

Nope.  Not so.  Today it was confirmed, your better nature does not exist.  Even Pope Francis gave you a copy of a letter he wrote about how the world needs to protect the environment from the effects of climate change.  Knowing you, this was an effort to get back at the Pope for publicly criticizing you.

I have spent years reading books on spirituality and studying tools to help me be a more peaceful presence in the world.  I know anger only harms myself but tonight I am SO angry.  That’s not strong enough.  I am furious. I am livid. I weep for our beautiful earth.

The world deserves a leader who reads.  A leader who believes in science.  This is not the time for alternative facts.  Human lives are at stake.  This is our future.  Maya Angelou- Beleive ThemThis is not about you.  You are a public servant to the people of the United States of America.  The world is watching.  You were “hired” to look out for the interests of your fellow human beings. Not just you anymore.  I know you think you “won” so you can do what you want. No one can tell you what to do.  NOT true.  You work for US.  You work for ME.  I am watching and I will not forget when you distract us with another ridiculous tweet.

I am not writing this for you.  I know you will likely never read it.  If so, you will not care.  I am writing this so that my children, my grandchildren, and perhaps my great-grandchildren (provided we have an earth for them to live on) will know that I DID NOT do this.  I DID NOT support this. I did what I could with my small voice to say NO- you messed with the wrong mother and your judgment will come.


Carli Lindemann

#resist #stayinformed #youmessedwiththewrongmother

We Can do Better

Do you have stories from your past that stick in a way that others don’t? Stories that leave you wondering, what if?  I have a few of those stories and I am going to share one with you because it seems so relevant to the national conversation.

The story is about a girl I worked with in a previous job at a nursing home and assisted living. I will call her Sandy to protect her privacy.  I worked as the Administrator and Sandy started as a Nursing Assistant.  She was interested in a promotion so we paid for her to go to school to become a TMA (Trained Medication Aide).

Sandy was skilled and efficient at her work. She took pride in her job and was very dependable.  Sandy was also a single Mom to a young boy.  The Dad was not involved so Sandy managed her full-time job, and duties as a Mother with some help from her family.  I admired her work ethic and as a Mom I knew the challenges she faced.

Like many of our employees, Sandy had to work every other weekend and holiday. I write this on Memorial Day when many Americans have a day off.  I think it’s important to remember there are millions of people who are working to keep vital services available to our most vulnerable citizens.

Abruptly, Sandy started bringing her 7-year-old son to work on her weekends to work. This wasn’t completely unheard of.  We ran a business that was open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.  The services we provided were critical to the residents we served so occasionally, if a parent, or even a grandparent was in a child care bind, we would allow children to come to work.  This was typically done as a temporary measure because we needed someone to work and there was no other option for the employee or for us.

This was not an ideal situation and would often create questions from other employees and managers about fairness, and the standards we were setting. I wish we lived in a black and white world, but there is often so much grey.

The complaints started coming from co-workers about Sandy’s child being disruptive and causing issues at work. Her Supervisor addressed the situation with her and informed her she needed to find day care for her son on the weekends she worked.  Sandy explained her Mom had been her day care provider but they had a falling out so she was no longer willing to watch her son.  While her Supervisor empathized with her situation, she explained because of the necessity to maintain performance standards, bringing her son to work would no longer be allowed.

Sandy’s son stopped coming to work and we assumed she had arranged for a babysitter. One day a police officer showed up at work to arrest Sandy.  Quote- do not be dismayedSandy had made the decision to leave her son at home while she went to work. He had left home, and was being disruptive in the neighborhood and she was arrested for child neglect.

This hit me hard. I felt terrible Sandy was put in the position to decide between her job and her son and I have forever wondered if I could have done something more to help her.  Some may judge Sandy for being a poor decision maker, or worse, a bad mother.

That is not what I saw. I saw a girl who tried to make the best of the cards she was dealt.  No question her life involved many choices and had she made a different choice, she may not have ended up in the circumstances she did.  What person doesn’t have that story to tell?

What I saw was a girl who tried to do the right thing when the choices were hard. When she unexpectedly became pregnant, she chose to have her baby.  She got a full-time job to support her son, even going to school to better herself.  She didn’t want a hand out so she didn’t quit her job.  But Sandy certainly needed a hand up.

Sandy represents so many women in America today. Many of the decision makers we have elected, have likely never worked with a woman like Sandy, but she played by their rules.  Quote- Pro-LifeShe did not get an abortion, she worked full-time, and she did not expect government to take care of her.  She was faced with a difficult choice and she made the best one she knew how to do at the time.

What some people don’t know is Sandy likely did receive government assistance, as many full-time workers do. Many people see welfare recipients as lazy people, living off someone else’s hard-earned tax dollars. ChristiansSandy worked

harder than most people can imagine.  Are there lazy people on welfare?  Yes.  Are there lazy people with million-dollar trust funds? Absolutely.  There are lazy, unethical people at all ends of the socioeconomic scale.  But what about people like Sandy?  She played by the rules and she just needed some support to help her succeed.

In some areas of our great nation, we are facing a worker shortage like we have never seen. With baby boomers retiring by the thousands, there are going to be significant worker shortages in many industries.  When you go out to eat, we depend on people to cook our food, serve our table, and do our dishes.  When we stay at a hotel, we count on employees who check us in, clean our room, and fix our shower when the water is cold.  When our parents get sick, we count on people available 24 hours per day to save their life at the hospital.  When our parents need care after the hospital stay, we depend on more employees to help care for them while we go to work.  While at work, we hope there are qualified people available to care for, and teach our children.  These are essential services for our society to continue to function in the manner we have become accustomed to.

I do not view finding solutions to Sandy’s child care dilemma and looming worker shortage as a partisan issue. I see it as necessary for our survival as a collective society.  The reality is, we will need all the able adults working, and will need immigration to fill in the gaps.  Eliminating barriers to work is what the government, employers, and all of us should be thinking of as we prepare for the future.

What can we do? The first step is awareness.  You can start by paying attention to the many people you count on and expressing gratitude for their work.  You can also ask what life would be like if those people were not there to meet your needs of the moment?  Saying thank you, noticing hard work, and expressing gratitude for work that benefits you goes a long way to encourage people to stay in the work force.

You can also support candidates who have policies that support working parents and families. Although she is not a lawmaker, my understanding is, Ivanka Trump has been advocating for a child care proposal that helps wealthier parents but leaves Mom’s like Sandy with the same options as she has always had.  Do I go to work or take care of my child? I applaud her for at least raising awareness about the need for policy changes.

I agree with Sister Joan Chittister, and do not believe it is ethical to advocate for policies that support birth, but not the programs that help the mother and child after the baby is born.

If we elect officials who have known women like Sandy, or even better, lived her life, perhaps a story like Sandy’s will not be possible in the United States of America. I truly believe we can and must do better.