Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Golden Rule

I'm not very religious but I always taught my kids the Golden Rule, and I'm always proud when they make the choice to do unto others as they would wish others to do unto them. I think every "social" political issue we seem to endlessly debate these days can be solved with this simple rule for empathy, kindness and consideration. If that's the kind of world you want to live in. 

For example, I've seen a lot of postings about the recent Supreme Court decisions that clearly are not governed by the Golden Rule. If we all applied the "do unto others" mentality to each situation, I really think we'd all be in agreement. Or at least closer to agreement. This is not about politics. 

1. Everyone wants to marry the person they love regardless of what someone's else's religious beliefs are or how they define traditional marriage. The Golden Rule protects each person's individual rights: the one person's right to marry AND the other person's right to hold opposing religious beliefs and marriage traditions.

2. Everyone wants to have access to the medical care they need regardless of how economically or politically disastrous someone else thinks the current Affordable Care Act legislation might be. I've always believed that if health care were as evolved in the 1700's as education was, the Founding Fathers would have created a comparable health care system to go along with public education. What's life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if you're sick or dead? 

3. Everyone wants a safe place to live in which they can thrive and grow. Whether it's housing or immigration, we could certainly all benefit from stepping back, taking a deep breath, and applying the Golden Rule to these situations in particular. Shelter is one of our most basic life needs, and the pursuit of a better way of life in another land is largely how our country was populated. 

4. Women want privacy over their reproductive organs. We teach body ownership to children where I work, and I'm appalled every time a law is passed that gives someone else a right to make body ownership decisions for women in this country. It's crazy outrageous. It's 3rd world  oppression like stuff. A women's right to choose is basic Golden Rule and in no way infringes on another person's right to care for children living in a dangerous situation that calls for assistance. There are many, many children in these kinds of situations who need help desperately. Now. 

5. Workers want a living wage; women want equal pay. As human beings, we should really be insisting on the application of the Golden Rule in these situations in particular.  These inequalities have been formed and continue to exist as a result of decisions being made by corporate boards and shareholders as opposed to individual human beings capable of empathy and the application of the Golden Rule. We have too many resources in this country not to ensure that workers are paid a wage that allows them to exist above the poverty line. 

One important thing to keep in mind: living by the Golden Rule often involves not only opening your mind and stepping into someone else's shoes in order to be able to apply the rule, it also involves a willingness to pay to ensure it can become a reality. It's not enough to feel sorry for the marginalized or vocally champion the disenfranchised. You've also got to take your vote of confidence into the voting booth.  Charity costs money. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Everyone Can Bowl For Kids' Sake!

I think bowling's making a comeback. If you're one of those people, like my dad, who still bowls several times a week, you probably haven't wondered why people don't bowl so much anymore, but if you're like the rest of America, you'll understand what I mean. 

When I was a kid, I was surrounded by avid bowlers. My parents and grandparents and many of their friends bowled. I have bowling day-care memories that involve intense feelings of joy and freedom when I was finally let loose to roam the alley versus being handed over to the frizzy haired, chain smoking childcare lady behind a white, wooden half-door with squeaky hinges. I spent hours running from one end of the alley to another with my friends, to the thunder of bowling balls crashing down onto the lanes, hitting pins, a cacophony of my childhood. 

When I was 18, I moved into an apartment in Universal City, Texas down the street from a bowling alley with a dance club/bar attached to it called Billy Dans. No one had ever taught me how to bowl, but dancing came naturally!  It seems like only yesterday that I was sipping on a Ladies-3-for-one-night rum and coke to the tunes of "Into the Groove" and "Careless Whisper" without a care in the world.  Ah, the 80's. 

Me and the Trekkies
In March 1995 I worked my first Big Brothers Big Sisters bowling fundraiser in Oklahoma City with a bunch of competing teams of "Trekkies."  These people thought that everything was more fun if you're wearing a Star Trek costume and bowling was no exception. Few team themes have lived up to this one since. 

The following year I "worked league lanes" for 2 months at a different bowling alley every night, which involved trying to fervently persuade hundreds of (mostly older) men to take a promotional bowling towel in exchange for a promise to raise $50 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. I got hit on. A lot. I didn't realize that 95% of these guys had heard the spiel dozens of time in the past and had every intention of participating. But not without making me work for it. It was my first BBBS right of passage. Anything for charity, right? 

The reason I think that bowling is making a comeback is because of all the new bowling centers like  Bowlero opening up across the country. These swanky new centers feature restaurants,  full bars, plush seating, complex lighting schemes and even fancy bowling shoes.  I went to one in Phoenix that served bacon wrapped filet mignon and pecan encrusted asparagus. This is a new and different kind of bowling center, but it clearly points to a demand for more bowling opportunities.  While the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl For Kids Sake event may not feature gourmet food, it will result in the making of more life changing one to one mentoring relationships for at risk youth.  

This event takes place at Bandera Bowl in San Antonio, where we have been going for over 15 years.  No other center in town can top their awesomely charitable prices, which means that we can raise more money for the kids!  This year marks my 20th Bowl for Kids' Sake event and my kids and Littles and I still have fun every year.  I hope they will have lots of fond memories to look back on when they are older.  

There are 3 main reasons why I love Bowl For Kids Sake, and why you will too:  

This team wore high heels to BFKS
1.  Anyone can have a good time bowling:  At our event you don't even have to actually bowl, you can just eat free pizza,  drink beer, win prizes and watch everyone else bowl. Also, if you're really bad at it, we can get the bumper lanes up for you. 

2.   It's easier than a lot of other fundraisers to raise money. It's only $100, so you can get 10 people to give you $10 and you're done.  My youngest daughter's stuffed rabbit Bramble, our honorary Bowling Team Captain, once raised $250 and he is not even actually alive. 

3.  All the money raised is unrestricted funding to match any kid on the Big Brothers Big Sisters waiting list. There are over a thousand kids on that list, waiting for the phone to ring telling them that we have found the mentor for them.  This event makes that happen for over 100 kids! 

Peacock Pin
Also, another bonus reason to participate is the annual Pin Decorating Contest.  This is an opportunity to take on old beat up bowling pin given to us by the bowling alley and transform it into your creative, artistic masterpiece.  I am not personally creative myself, but I still have a bowling pin lamp in my office made by Zachry Holdings a few years ago - it's pretty impressive.  

The following are a few of my favorite pictures from the event over the years!  Come on out and be a part of matching the next new Little Brothers and Little Sisters!  There are shifts on June 26 & 27 or September 26 & 27 to choose from.  Click HERE to learn all about how to sign up as a team or an individual, tips on fast, easy fundraising, info on all the prizes you can win, and how to get the new mobile app.  

If you're inclined to donate to me and my Little Sister, Destiny, click here:

Finally, please watch and share our new PSA here!  

The Ritas on The River team members show off their pin
Dude Looks Like a Lady:  the male makeover contest
Hula Hoop Contest winners

The Limbo
Look how excited these bowlers are! 

Best tattoo contest
Wing eating contest

Throwing out the first ball
We are ready! 

My daughter and my Little Brother Chris