These Cosmic Connections

Something really amazing happened this morning. And just when I really needed it, too.

I think I need to back up for a moment to 2011. Eight years ago I was in a transition between one job and the next. It was a scary, exhilarating, audacious, crazy wonderful time for me – rich with possibilities. I was unfettered and open to whatever new opportunities came my way – ready to create a whole ‘nother career for myself. For the first time I went to a counselor – and she helped me discover for myself what it was I needed to do to bring sanity to my life – what I needed to discard, and what I needed to nurture. My financial advisor (of all people!) suggested I meet a local woman named Laura Lavigne – the originator of the Happiness Sprinkling Project – and Laura showed me how to make a vision board for myself. Creativity moved up to the front of my life – photography and writing and music.  The insane stuff – nonsensical edicts (stuff like that scene from Office Space), schedules and bureaucracy, fear and anxiety – got tossed.

And, once I opened my thought to all the infinite possibilities, cool things started happening: I was offered a small salary to work as my church’s Reading Room librarian; I got a contract to proofread and write for an educational publishing company; I made note cards of my photos and started selling them at a little coffee shop; my book, Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist, was bringing in a small amount in royalties every month. I wasn’t making a LOT of income at first – it was more of a symbolic income, really – but it was enough to give me hope that there was something waiting for me beyond the career I’d left behind. And soon I was offered another job, teaching at an alternative high school, that brought my life purpose and great joy for the next seven years – until I retired last June.

Which brings us to today and the amazing thing that happened this morning.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning and went downstairs to feed the cats and check out the news online. The news was disheartening. Greed. Corruption. Dishonesty. Crises. And I felt myself getting discouraged and going to that dark place – asking myself what in the heck we’re doing here, and what’s the purpose of it all, and etc.

Still feeling discouraged, I went to my Facebook notifications and found there was a message waiting for me on my Author and Photographer page from a woman named Floriane. Floriane wrote: “Hi! Just wanted to reach out to you because I purchased a picture of yours in 2011 while stopping on a Greyhoud bus from Vancouver to Seattle. I love it to this day and wanted to say thank you.”

Whoah. I tried to figure out where Floriane might have found one of my photos to purchase, and asked her for more details. She sent me a picture of the photo she purchased and told me she remembered buying it at a coffee shop while she was traveling around on her own for two weeks – moving between Vancouver and Seattle and Portland – before starting an exchange program in Texas. She said the photo is now in Normandie and will soon be in Paris. Like. France. Yes. My little photo note card of Bellingham Bay will soon be in Paris, France.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this was one of the cards I sold at the coffee shop during the months I was transitioning from one career to the next. I’d almost completely forgotten about those note cards and that little coffee shop. But look what that card did for me! It connected me to a woman who lives across the Atlantic, on another continent, 5,000 miles away! I never could have seen THAT one coming.

Cosmic.

What in the heck are we doing here? We’re sharing joy and beauty with each other, that’s what we’re doing. And what’s the purpose of it all? To connect and discover each other, and bring each other hope and love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

Endorsed by Equal Rights Washington

I just discovered that I was endorsed by Equal Rights Washington for the election this week. I didn’t win the election, but this recognition by ERW is bigger for me than winning or losing the race for school board. Finding my name on ERW’s list of endorsements was one of the highlights of my week.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“ERW’s non-partisan endorsement committee uses a specific set of carefully developed criteria in making our endorsements. We back candidates who have a track record of support for LGBTQ equality in a number of areas, and who advocate on behalf of the issues we support, such as trans justice, gender and racial equity, anti-bullying and banning conversion therapy for minors.”

Taking Down the Signs

“Karen…as you deal with the results of the election, please know that you ran an ethical, honest, community-driven, and student-focused race. What a fine woman you are. I am grateful my sons had you for a teacher…and I am glad we are friends. You are an incredible example of what humankind can be.”
–  Kathy

Okay – THAT brought me tears.

Rich won. I could not have run for school board with a nicer person. I guess if there’s one emotion I’m feeling right now it’s relief. I’m so glad it’s over! And I’m so glad I put my name in and had this adventure. I’ve met so many wonderful people on this journey. I feel huge gratitude for the support I’ve felt from my community the last six months. I am truly blessed.

I spent most of the day taking down campaign signs. It was a cleansing; a closure. Almost every sign had some memory associated with it that brought me a smile – new friends met; old friends who stepped forward and asked if they could plant signs in their yards; memories of strangers waving and smiling at me as I hammered stakes into the ground. I found one or two signs that I hadn’t even known were out there! That made me grin. 🙂

Today I’ve put two questions to myself –

If I had to do it over, would I still put my name in the race? Yes. I needed to run for this office. I wouldn’t have met all the amazing people I’ve met if I hadn’t done this. If I hadn’t run I would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to move outside my comfort zone and challenge and stretch myself. I have this sense that there are other reasons I needed to run, too, that I haven’t even realized, yet.

Do I wish I’d won? No. I think I was meant to go down another path. I think there’s something else I’m supposed to do – something that’s tied in with running for this office, but not necessarily with winning. I’m not feeling any kind of disappointment or sadness at all in the election results.

“I love you Karen. Every person you encountered along this journey is a little better because they got a glimpse of you.”
– Linda

Yeah. THAT one made me teary, too.

campaign sign

 

An Ode to Campaign Signs

An Ode to Campaign Signs 

They were the first to the front –
the few, the proud. They stood
sentinel, silently, solemnly solo
pounded into hillsides and lawns,
mud and grass and gravel.
Six months later and their numbers
are down – disappeared into
dumpsters, shredded by county
mowers, confiscated because they
were planted in the wrong place.
Those that remain are bedraggled,
snapped by the wind, duct taped,
mud-splattered, tilted, askew –
but still they stand – the proud
the staunch, the few.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

campaign sign

What an Adventure This Has Been

What an adventure this has been! Running for school board has given me the opportunity to connect with amazing people in my community; and it’s given me the opportunity to stretch and grow, listen and share, and force myself to do things that I was scared to do (the public forum!!!). However this turns out, I’m so glad I put my name in this race. I’ve realized that my greatest fear of all was getting complacent and settled and stuck. I’m not done, yet, you know? There’s still so much to learn and do and be!

It started in June and now it is autumn
We’re in the ninth inning, at the very bottom
The signs are looking a little bedraggled today –
duct taped, leaning, and shredded along the way
But the adventures I’ve had! The people I’ve met!
Being in this race has shown me I’m not done, yet!
The pamphlets and ballots have come in your mail
And however this turns out – there’s no loss and no fail.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

campaign sign

School Board Candidates Forum

Participated in my first-ever public forum tonight as a candidate. I was so nervous – I think we all were – the other school board candidates and I were laughing about that before it started – I don’t think any of the other candidates had done one of these before, either. But we all survived and came out smiling and shaking hands and nobody threw tomatoes at us or anything.

Also – the Seahawks won.

It was a good night.

***

The League of Women Voters hosted the event at our local public library. All the school board candidates gave opening and closing speeches and in-between we were asked questions from the audience.

Here’s my opening speech:
It’s great to be here tonight with my teammates on this adventure. All of us – Bill, Holly, Rich and I – are running because we genuinely want to help our community. What I can bring to the board are my years of teaching experience – right now the board doesn’t have anyone with a teaching background on it. I have a Bachelor’s in Education and History from Washington State University, and a Master’s in Literacy from Walden University. I was a teacher for more than 30 years – for 20 of those years i was in the Burlington-Edison school district and taught at three of the schools there – Allen, Edison, and West View, the district’s dual language school. And for the last seven years I’ve taught at Emerson High School, the alternative high school in Mount Vernon. I think my teaching experience would add something positive to the board.

And here’s my closing bit:
I have a passion for teaching and learning. As I contemplated my retirement from teaching last spring I realized I still wanted to be a part of education – and it occurred to me that I could bring my experience and love for teaching to service on the school board.

My mom passed on two years ago. She was the youngest of ten children – eight of them daughters – and she was the only female in her family to get a university degree. Education was very important to her. My brothers and I knew growing up that there was an expectation we would go on to college. My mom worked as a teacher’s aide for many years and impacted a lot of young lives – she knew how to reach the struggling students. I still hear from some of her old students about how much my mom meant to them. I think Mom would be proud of me for running for school board – win or lose – I think she’d be proud that I put my name into the race.

I think I could bring a lot of good to the school board.

Thank you for inviting us all here tonight to share our visions with you.

campaign sign

A Coup?

“coup: a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.”

“impeachment: a charge of misconduct made against the holder of a public office.”

Let’s be clear: The impeachment process is not a “coup.” It is a legal process – written into the US Constitution – for putting on trial a person holding public office. Donald Trump is NOT our government. Our government does not exist of Trump, by Trump, or for Trump anymore than it does for any of the rest of us. Donald Trump is a person elected to serve the people in a government that belongs to THEM. Our government is “of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE.” If Donald Trump has used American weapons, paid for by our tax dollars, as a means of bargaining with a foreign power to help him find dirt on a rival in the 2020 election – as Donald Trump has publicly admitted doing – then he needs to be put on trial. And no, that is not a coup. That is a necessary step taken to keep our nation secure and working as a democratic-republic.

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