Monday, January 30, 2017

My open letter to Gov. Hogan

I submitted this letter on the Governor's comment site this morning. I don't think Hogan speaking out will change the policy. But his not speaking out will change my opinion of him. And I don't know what else to do against this action.

Issue - General Comments
Subject - Speaking Out Against the Muslim Ban

Original Message - 

Governor Hogan - As a MD constituent and life-long resident, I am asking that you speak out against the Muslim Ban and encourage Maryland judges to open BWI to incoming refugees as many other states have already done. This is not a partisan issue - you do not need to stand silent based on your status as a Republican. Other prominent Republicans have spoken out against the ban, and both our Maryland senators are opposed to the ban. As a state, this is a place I believe that we can and should present a united front. Please step forward and take a public stand. Given your own wife's status as a first-generation American, you must already understand the important role that immigrants play in the country - please, for the families made by generations of people seeking a better life here, please speak out against the ban and condemn it for what it is - unconstitutional, un-biblical, and un-american. Sincerely, Emily J. Brown

Friday, January 27, 2017

Thoughts on the Current State of Things...

I recently read a story in the New York Times magazine about former President Obama's commitment to reading ten letters every day from constituents, and the team of people hired at the White House to read and down-select the letters for him to read. It was fascinating, and the article can be found here for those who what to read it:

I learned after reading that article that the white house office has a tumbler account where some of the letters (and the president's reply) are preserved for people to read. I haven't read all of them, but the ones I have read have been pretty great, if you want to read those too.

These letters made me think of the videos "YouTube Asks Obama", which were produced by some of my favorite internet personalities, and both of which I was able to watch live as those personalities asked questions from their audience (including me) live and in person. If you didn't see them, they are archived at the links below:

And all of that information about former President Obama has gotten me to thinking about how the power of reputation really matters, especially in a president. I am not a political expert - I vote just as blindly as the rest of America. I vote based on personality. And what I felt from President Obama, the reason I voted to re-elect him to office (the first presidential election I voted in, when he was the incumbent), was that he was at least trying to listen to everyone's opinion. His personality was one that I trusted, one that felt open. 

Like many of you, I have been concerned by the personality the current president has displayed. I have felt that his personality is one of a combative nature, that he is not open to the things I care about, and that he is prone to play the victim, especially online.  Today, in my "Lean In" circle at work, we talked about the concept of "being your own hero". The lesson is available at for those interested. In the talk, the presenter highlighted the importance of not playing the victim, not blaming everyone else for your problems. He said to take responsibility is not to accept the blame - it's to use your power to change the situation. I think, as a country, we could all take that advice - the new president, those that voted for him, and those that voted against him. Rather than blaming each other, let's figure out how to change the situation.

I don't know who originated this quote, but it hung on the wall in my world history class in high school, and I have most frequently heard it repeated by Dr. Hrabowski, the president of my university - "Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your becomes your destiny."

America. Our words are becoming our actions. Our personality matters. I know I'm not saying anything super original here. But I think the in-fighting between parties has become a habit. As the left walks further left and the right walks further right, the thoughts become more opposing. Those thoughts were words in the election season. They are becoming actions, unless we do something about it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

What if social media was honest?

the other day, Ryan said to me, "you know, Facebook is kind of pretentious". I was semi-offended, because I'm on Facebook, but then i thought about how right he is. Now, I have nothing against social media - I'm a Millennial, after all. I see the value of social media for creating connections. I have friends from college that I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with if it weren't for Facebook. But that doesn't change the fact that Facebook is, and has always been, a place to brag about how good your life is, and even bad news is expected to have an ultimately positive spin. My dad is a great example of this. Even his cancer updates are usually wrapped in some positive, upbeat note about some of my siblings. My own Facebook page does this too - and even more so my Instagram page. Instagram is even worse than Facebook, actually. Capturing the perfect picture and sharing it is the punch line of many jokes recently - like the term "Instagram husband". If a picture is worth 1000 words, than every Instagram post contains the same rose colored view of life as a month's worth of Facebook updates.

The other big use of Facebook (and Twitter, for this one) is to share anything that argues for something you believe to be right. In the current political arena, this is mostly presidential, but it applies at all times, not just now. Sharing why it's better for the environment to be vegan/vegetarian. Sharing why you should care about causes. Again, I totally do this. I share articles from Goldie Blox or A Mighty Girl declaring why you should teach young girls the STEM fields are awesome. But in a way, this is just the same positive spin on everything that the above statuses are about. Even if the article that you share only talks about the world falling apart, you are validating yourself and your opinion by sharing it. You're saying "hey look, someone else feels how I feel, and that makes me right, and I want you all to know I am right".

Facebook is the online equivalent of someone asking "how are you doing?" and hoping that you just give the socially acceptable "good" and move on. Facebook is the online equivalent of someone expecting you to fall into their socially comfortable, normal boxes. And because that's what people want, it's what we give out. People want you to talk about how you are #Blessed and how you are #rockingIt, but not about the times you are hurting, or confused, or anything else. Because Facebook is a network that is a mile wide, but an inch deep. And like I said, I see the value of this - I just get frustrated if that's my ONLY connection to you.

So here are two examples of honest statuses I might write:

Emily is jealous of her co-worker, who got the position I wanted to get but didn't get, and who got promoted to the next level the same time I did, even though she has been at this job less time than I have. This co-worker is a really nice person, but my issues get in the way of us really connecting.

Emily feels frustrated, sad, and confused about the political state right now, and feels like friends on both sides of the political aisle are telling her she's not doing the right thing, and to be honest, just wants to stick her head under a rock till it's all over. Which, I'm sure, some of my friends will tell me is the wrong/cowardly thing to do. And I know that. But I'm scared, and it's easier to be complacent than to take a stand, OK?

Do you see why social media is not honest? Because it reveals our sins to be honest. It's easier to pretend to live the perfect, righteous life than it is to address our own failings. However, one of my new year's themes this year was connection. So I'm making an effort to connect with people - both by sharing my honest mess, and by asking you to share yours. I can't promise how I'll react - part of my mess is that I'm a judgmental jerk more often than not - but I'm working on it. The End.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Years Resolutions 2017

This year, I am trying the habit calendar from Free Period Press for my resolutions (

The habit calendar breaks resolutions into daily, weekly and monthly boxes that can be checked as you go along, and comes with a category guide to think up ideas. I used the following categories to think up resolutions: Health, Connection, Organization, Finance, and Creativity.

Here are the resolutions, grouped by type:

- Floss/Mouthwash (Health)
- Read 1 news story (Connection)
- ACTS prayer (Connection)
- Text someone hi (Connection)

- Save $10 towards vacation (Finance)
- Write a blog post (Connection)
- Vacuum whole House (Organization)
- Do a crossword puzzle (Creativity)

- Mop Kitchen/Clean Bathroom (Organization)
- Craft Completed (Creativity)
- Read non-fiction (Creativity)
- Write a Letter to someone (Connection)