Vicky Collins Online

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Kara’s Tea Party: Am I Missing Something Here?

Eddie is one of my very closest friends.  We have known each other since we were teenagers and knew of each other even longer.  Our fathers were best friends and Polish immigrants who met in London following World War II and came to America on the Queen Mary together.  When I lived in Connecticut and Eddie was in New York we hung out together every other weekend.  We attended each others weddings.  We love each others spouses and parents and the relationship between our families is continuing now for a third generation.  When I travel to New York I stay with Eddie and if he ever would go west of New Jersey I would roll out the red carpet for him in Denver.  Eddie and his wife, Mary, have raised two incredible kids and I hope my children will be as worldly and successful.  I am blessed to have Eddie and his family in my life.   

As close as Eddie and I are, we are on completely different wavelengths politically.  He is very conservative and admires Sarah Palin.  I am very liberal and support Barack Obama.  We love to debate and adore each other despite our points of view.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he sent me a message on Facebook saying “My daughter is KICK-ASS.”  He was proud because Kara attended a Tea Party Rally in Washington D.C. and made an impromptu speech.  She talked about the dollar and how it is losing its meaning because it is no longer earned but rather allocated (she said stolen) through government programs which we are taxed to support.  Kara standing up for the populist Tea Party and shouting out for fiscal responsibility has shaken me.  Until now it has been easy for me to ignore the protesters because they look nothing like me.  I cringe when I hear Sarah Palin’s braying and  see people who remind me of my father-in-law who lives in small town Iowa when I scan the crowds.  If Kara is jumping on the bandwagon it’s time to pay attention.  I need to ask if I’m missing something here?

Another good friend who also shook his head over my politics used to tell me “If you’re young and you’re Republican you have no heart.  If you’re old and you’re a Democrat you have no head.”  So what was Kara doing at a Tea Party Rally?  I’m not certain I can dismiss this movement anymore as a bunch of Republican extremists.  If the message is making sense to smart college educated kids like Kara then perhaps the Tea Party is gaining the kind of traction that will make a difference at the polls in November.  I hope other liberals like me who look at the Tea Party as a movement that clutters the airwaves with hate speak and reaches out to the disenfranchised few and their birther friends, ask themselves if they’re missing something too.  And when they start getting uncomfortable like I am now, when they start realizing that maybe this is a party to be reckoned with, then maybe they can stand up like Kara did and make some noise.

To learn more about Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

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Health Care Reform and Leadership

The debate over health care reform is not over.  Even with the House vote and significant legislation approved, the merits and process will be hashed and rehashed for years, and certainly, vociferously, until November when mid-term elections decide the fate of many in Congress who went one way or the other.  We haven’t heard the last of the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck but I think that when people go to the polls in November they will consider that the Democrats actually got something done in Washington.  I was starting to wonder if it was possible.  The nastiness and fear tactics have been so discouraging.  This was an ugly process and there were many compromises.  It’s not the bill President Obama or anyone really hoped for but we have reform and it’s better than defending the status quo which was leaving so many on the sidelines.  At the 11th hour, with the finish line in sight, we had Republicans saying this is not the time, we should be concentrating on jobs and the economy.  They are right about many other priorities in this country, but why wouldn’t we finish what we started, especially when we were so close?  Why wouldn’t we push through the difficulties and get the job done?  Why wouldn’t we do as Americans do and lead?  It takes courage to make tough decisions.  It takes balls to stare down opposition and try to do the right thing.  Why would the Republicans let themselves be so marginalized while they stood on ideology?  By refusing to collaborate they are standing in the way (or rather being pushed out of the way) when meaningful progress needs to be made.  The health care reform that was passed was not radical and many experts believe it will be embraced by the public as they learn more about it.  Hopefully the electorate will keep this in mind when it’s time for them to vote their conscience.  I’m sure many Democratic legislators lost sleep over their vote but they didn’t cave in and they made important changes in a broken system that were long overdue.  They voted with common sense.  They pushed through the fear.  We can debate the merits of the health care reform bill until we’re blue in the face and gasping for oxygen.  But I’m breathing easier this morning.  Finally, someone is leading in Washington. 

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Greyhound Bus to Vancouver

This blog was born so that I could post to my friends, family and anyone else interested from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Now on the eve of 2010 Olympics, as I prepare to board an airplane for British Columbia, I find myself blogging again and reflecting on the only other time I was in Vancouver. I was 10 years old and my great uncle Jacques, who lived in Canada, was getting married. My great grandmother, Daisy Peraya, would not fly on a plane so four generations boarded a Greyhound Bus in Long Beach, California and spent the next 36 hours heading up the coast to Vancouver.

I am certain that this is where the seeds of my wanderlust were planted. I loved looking out the windows at the rugged coast and pulling into Oregon and Washington bus stations at 3 in the morning.  I was mesmerized by the people along the way with character written on their faces and smoke coming out of their mouths.  More than anything else I loved talking to the teenage girls in the back row. They regaled me with the stories about running away, sex, boyfriends and bad behavior. I was flattered that they would tell me secrets only older kids knew.  I aspired to be free just like them. 

I don’t really remember much about the wedding. My most vivid memory of Vancouver was going with a 17 year old distant relative/hottie named Boris to the Pacific National Exhibition. The PNE was a huge provincial fair and I developed the biggest crush on Boris as we were hurtling down the largest roller coaster I had ever dared to ride.   I literally “fell” in love.  I’m certain the Olympics in Vancouver will be another great adventure and I will do my best to share them on this blog.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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The Faith Club Part 3

Three years ago I was on the road in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Rosh Hashanah.  As is my custom when I am traveling I find myself a service wherever I am.  One year I celebrated Rosh Hashanah in Wilmington, North Carolina while covering a hurricane.  Another time I spent Passover in Kampala, Uganda where we substituted Indian naan for matzah.  There was Yom Kippur in Savannah, Georgia and a seder at a college in Walla Walla, Washington while working on a story about Bigfoot.

Surely the service on Rosh Hashanah morning at the Libertad synagogue in Buenos Aires was one of the most memorable of all.  The truth is I did not understand a word.  It was all in Spanish and Hebrew.  What set it apart was the trio of cantors, two men and a woman, whose harmonies throughout the entire service made it seem more like musical theatre.  Tears streamed down my face.  It was so very beautiful.  And then there was wonderful Mania who made this stranger feel welcome.  The four hours flew by.  It was the most inspiring high holiday service I had ever attended and I long for my spirit to be filled again the way it was on that day in Buenos Aires.

One of the things that always gives me pause during the Jewish holidays is the idea that Jews all over the world are saying the same prayers at the same time.  I get goosebumps to think that on the day I’m saying the closing line of the Passover seder, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” it is also being said by my family in Israel.  As the ominous prayers are recited on Yom Kippur and “the gates begin to close” on the day of atonement that same urgency is being felt on continents half a world away.

The communal nature of these moments appeal to me.  In the book “The Faith Club,” Ranya, a Muslim, Suzanne, a Christian, and Priscilla, a Jew, came together for years to discuss and dissect their respective religions.  They invited each other to their homes and services and tore down the walls that divided them.  They pushed through their fears and differences to find similar truths in all of their faiths.  They agreed that God was loving and forgiving, that prayers were calls to action in all of their traditions, and that goodness and evil co-exist but light triumphs over darkness.  They concluded that human decisions, not God’s, cause suffering in our world and that dogma gets in the way of spirituality.  I feel like I’m in lockstep with these women when it comes to faith.   

How good would it be if we could all come together like these courageous women?  Wouldn’t it be something if we could leave our comfort zones, whether in our homes, in our churches and temples, or even in our countries and celebrate our faiths with people who are different than we are.  My richest experiences have been praising God in unfamiliar places, praying wherever I am, and worshipping with strangers.  Shalom. Ah Salamu Alaykum.  Go in peace.  At the end of the day, no matter who says it or where in the world it is said, we all wish for blessings and peace.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Homeless Children

The plight of homeless children was the focus of two articles in the 5/18 edition of USA Today. One is about 11 year old Zach Bonner who is walking from Atlanta, Georgia to Washington, D.C. to raise money and awareness for homeless youngsters. He hopes to meet with President Obama when he arrives in July.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-05-17-wagon-boy_N.htm?csp=34

The other is by CBS anchor, Katie Couric, who draws attention to the rapidly growing “collateral damage” from the economic downturn, children, whose families have lost jobs to layoffs and homes to foreclosure as the recession has worsened.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/05/the-recessions-tiniest-victims-need-help-too.html

While working on a story about the impact of the economy on public hospitals I had a chance to see for myself the world that children, some formerly middle class, live in when they lose their homes. Besides being on the move many try to keep their shame a secret from friends. Attending school, receiving medical care, transportation, everything is difficult.  Thanks to Zach and Katie for telling the story.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Showing Up

Who would you show up for? Who are the people in your life that you would be present for rain or shine? Who would you jump on a plane to see? My friend, Genevieve, and I were driving back from Beaver Creek after an overnight celebrating Nancy’s birthday with the ladies. We were talking about how your dearest friends were those you could count on one hand. The ones you would show up for. She is one of my handful.

Recently I had a photo exhibit in a gallery in Denver. It was the first time I had done anything like this. My best friend, Heather, who has been my closest companion since we were teenagers felt it was an important enough occasion to warrant a trip. She brought her entire family and celebrated the event and even endured a wicked spring blizzard that wrecked the reception anyway, but she showed up for me. I felt blessed.

As I write this, I am sitting in a home overlooking the water in Bellvue, Washington. I have come to show up for my friend, Brenda, who lives in Sydney, and has made it all the way to the states for a visit. When I spent three months in China last summer she was my dearest friend. I had the trip of a lifetime in large part because I had this special relationship out of the gate. There was never a question that I would show up for Brenda. If she could make it to Seattle, I could make it to Seattle. So I jumped on a plane.

In his new book, “Showing Up for Life,” Bill Gates, Sr. writes about the importance of showing up for family, showing up for your community, showing up in every aspect to live a productive and memorable life. I especially liked his chapter on friendship and what it means to have friends who you can count on and who can count on you. He wrote affectionately about his bridge group and his friends who took care of him when his wife, Mary, died. He also wrote about being able to accept friends for who they are.

It isn’t always easy. I struggle with one friend in particular who won’t show up for me and won’t let me show up for him. Many people would probably say he isn’t much of a friend at all but he is someone dear from my past so I’m trying hard to accept who he is. I’m reminded of something wise Helene said at that same party at Beaver Creek. She talked about not only showing up for friends but learning to accept them. It seemed there was a back story of disappointment somewhere behind the comment but I thought it was a profound realization. Sometimes we show up for our friends by just letting go.