Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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What is true

I know that science is true.
I know that Covid 19 is everywhere.
I know that washing hands and staying away from crowds will slow the spread.
I know that wearing masks when you do go out will protect others.

I know that spending extended months away from friends and family is hard.
I know we’re all experiencing Covid fatigue.
I know we’re feeling constrained, our personal rights being trampled.
I know we’re feeling sad and overwhelmed and frustrated and tired of it all.

And I know we want it to just go away like the President has promised it will.
But that’s not the truth.
We haven’t turned a corner, we aren’t out of the woods, it’s not going away.
There isn’t a magical cure available for anyone to use.

I know there is no end in sight, that the numbers of cases and deaths will continue to rise.
I know that unless people begin to care for each other and respect the science we are stuck with no hope but a vaccine that might come next year.
I know the vaccine, even when it’s ready, won’t be easy to administer to every American.
I know that some people won’t want to take a vaccine pushed through the approval process.

I know that 218,000 people have died of Covid related illness in the US alone.
I know that because one of those people was a family member of mine.
I know that hundreds of thousands of families are strugling with those deaths.
I know that spouses and children and grandchildren and friends are all experiencing deep grief.

And I know it didn’t have to be this way.
I know that I will always place blame on the leaders of our country for not putting together a national plan, for dismantling the process that was already in place, for lying and offering false hope.
I know that blaming doesn’t fix the problem and blaming doesn’t make the pain go away.
But I know that those 218,000 people who lost their lives deserve to be honored, and the countless hundreds of thousands of people left with dilbaitating illness after suffering the disease will need help.

I know that our country is up to the task.
I know that we can look beyond ourselves and do what has to be done.
I know that we can see family in zoom meetings, send virtual hugs for as long as it takes.
I know that we can wear the darn mask.

Because this is the America I know. The strong yet empathetic country that can accomplish anything.
The country I know can come back from the brink of destruction.
I know we can turn this around.
I know this is true.


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Some politicians are just regular folks

Let me tell you a story about politics that makes me smile.

I know, I know. Politics and smiling haven’t seemed related in a very long time. But trust me, there are plenty of great people holding down policital jobs these days. We don’t hear about them often, but we should.

Those of you following this blog for the past few years know that in 2016 I stepped way out of my comfort zone to work on the campaign of a woman running to become my district’s Representative. You know that politics is not my thing and if I had my druthers I’d live in a little house in the woods or on a lake and not turn the television on at all.

But then my dad was killed by a tired trucker and my life changed. I tell new truck safety families all the time that they don’t know how strong they are until they have to be. That we can do anything that’s important to us, that we’re passionate about.

And changing the Representative for my district was important to me, because the incumbent, representing a party that had been in office for years, refused to meet with me to talk about truck safety issues, even though I was his constituent. And the challenger, Elissa Slotkin, was willing to hear me out at the very beginning of her campaign.

So in 2018 I canvased for her, which was much more scary to me then speaking in public about truck safety issues, scarier than meeting with the Secretary of Transportation, or testifying in front of a Senate subcommittee. And she won, by a slim margin, in a district that is primarly made up of people not in her party.

Katie was happy when Elissa won too.

Since she’s been in office she’s signed on to support one of our issues, trying to get automatic emergency brakes mandated in commercial trucks, and she’s always been willing to talk with us about whatever safety issues we’re fighting.

This year my husband and I have focused on getting people the yard signs they’ve requested. We live in a township that is very red, the roads are lined with signs of the opposing party. I take it as a personal victory when I can get one of Elissa’s signs into a yard that is surrounded by her opponent’s signs.

A couple weeks ago we were notified that one of her signs, a large one on a main road, had been defaced. We didn’t know how it was defaced, but we said we’d go out and see if we could salvage it. We hoped it was just kids having a crazy Saturday night.

Discouraging.

We were wrong.

Maybe we should have left it defaced, to make a point, but signs are expensive, and the defacing seemed malicious, so we went to work to try and clean it up. It took 3 hours and a whole lot of elbow grease. And even after all that, the sign was still disfigured.

But while we were working on it we had several cars honk in support, and a few people stopped by to offer ideas on supplies that might work, or to help clean it. We probably created more goodwill cleaning that sign than we would have if it had never been defaced. And no we didn’t deface it ourselves.

Working to clean it up.

But here’s the really cool thing. Today the Congresswoman called and left a long message on our landline, thanking us for cleaning up the sign, saying she had just driven by it and she wanted us to know that she appreciated the work.

At first, while I was listening to the message, I thought it was a robo call from her campaign — you know the kind where the candidate leaves a recorded message thanking you for support and asking for you to chip in a little more. But no, this wasn’t her office calling, wasn’t a recorded message, it was just a woman saying thanks, like any regular person would, directly and in person, sincerely, asking for nothing more.

As good as we could get it.

Just saying thanks.

And that’s the kind of person I am proud to vote for this November. A decent person who tries to make the best decisions at her job under stressful conditions every day. A person working for the betterment of all the people in her district – whether they voted for her or not. Someone who will listen to anybody’s issues, will give them all careful consideration, who doesn’t dismiss anyone. Someone who is always upfront and honest with her constituents.

She’s such a regular person that sometimes it’s hard for me to remember she’s actually a Congresswoman. I think of her as Elissa. I really need to work on giving her the respect and title she’s earned. She’s my Congresswoman and I’m proud of the work she’s doing while still being just regular folk. It’s such a relief to have someone like her representing me.

She makes me smile.


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2 smiles, one weekend

I’m a lucky lady, I got to experience two big smiles jammed into one weekend. Plus we are experiencing beautiful weather, warm and sunny with the trees starting to turn color. The morning and evening light makes the trees just glow.

But that’s a different blog post.

My first smile of the weekend was Saturday evening when I got to play in a pop-up concert with some of my Clarkston Community Band mates and several professional musicians who came to fill holes in our orchestration.

The neighbors came out to listen to us play on their cul-de-sac.

We haven’t played together since early March. Many of us haven’t played at all since then, though most of us frantically practiced these past few days trying to get our lips back in shape. The professionals sightread the music and sounded wonderful. I was grateful to get to play with them.

Thankful for these guys coming to help us out.

It was a lovely night and we are reminded again why we play long after school ends. As our Director, Ms. Roland said, tonight we’re not talking about politics or bingewatching silly shows on TV, we’re not thinking about virusus or worried about the future.

ALl about the music.

Tonight it’s about the music. And what a relief that was.

Keeping us in time.

I hope the neighbors who came out of their homes, sat in lawn chairs and waited while we did a little rehearsing before we began, I hope they had as much fun as we did.

Making a big sound.

But I don’t see how they could have had more.

He’s played with us since he was a kid, now grown up and still making music.

Then this morning I did a virtual 5K with my friend Tami who lives in California. So that we could run/walk together she went out at 6 a.m. while it was still dark, and I waited until 9 am. here, an hour or more later than I would normally go out.

At the turn around point.

It was a compromise on both our parts because we wanted to motivate each other. Compromise works, I wish it was something that happened more in our world, but I’m not going there in this post.

Nope, this post is all about smiles. I hope you had something fun to do, or pretty to see, or beautiful to listen to this week.

As we march toward November we all need to remember to smile. And that’s as political as I’m going to get today.

Trombones all in providing the bass sounds.


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The challenge ahead

Internet image


I woke up this morning thinking about John Lewis, the scenes from yesterday playing over and over in my head. The woman speaking in Selma, “We are all John’s disciples. He left us the road map, all we have to do is be brave enough to follow it.” His ride over the bridge, stopping at the top for heartbreaking moments. The symbolism.

I never met John Lewis, though some members of my truck safety family have. He championed our causes like he championed causes for all people who were marginalized. He had a heart big enough to hold us all.

Yesterday it was said he crossed the bridge for the last time but this morning I find myself disagreeing.

I think that every time someone holds out a hand to pull someone else along, John crosses the bridge. Each time an honest conversation is had between people that wouldn’t have spoken before, John crosses the bridge. Whenever an individual gets a hand up and breaks the cycle of poverty, or abuse, or illiteracy, John crosses the bridge.

And the best part? We all get to cross that bridge with him. Over and over and over again until this country is the country it was meant to be. John Lewis’ shoulders are big enough to carry us all, and we are grateful for his strength.

Let’s be brave enough to follow the road map he left us. Because don’t think for one minute that he’s resting now, I imagine he’s making sure all things are right in the next life. And he’s watching to see what we do here with his legacy.

I wouldn’t want to disappoint him.


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It’s hard to smile

This week it’s been hard for me to find something to smile about.

So many families with broken hearts this week.

The news was filled with awful things. The virus killing over 100,000 Americans. The protests and violence stemming from the death that reminds us of other similar deaths.

No, this week I didn’t feel much like smiling.

And then my silly girl wouldn’t sit pretty for a picture and I had to smile…just a little.

Reminding us to stop and smell the flowers.

Yes, this week I looked really hard for something to smile about.

Oh, all right mama. I’ll look at your silly camera. Sort of.

And I found it right here at home.

I hope I made you smile too!


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Truck Drivers want to spend the holiday with family too

So much of what I write about trucks talks about their affect on us in cars. Trucks plowing into the back of slowed traffic. Trucks representing such a high percentage of crashes in construction zones. Fatigued truck drivers. Distracted truck drivers.

But did you know that driving a commercial truck is the most deadly job in the United States? The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks it as #1 on the list of dangerous jobs in 2018.

In fact, in 2018, 831 truck drivers died on the job. Many of these were truck on truck crashes, or individual trucks going off the road for a variety of reasons. But there were plenty of truck/car crashes too.

In 2018 almost 5,000 people died in truck related crashes. The numbers have been trending up since 2009. The stresses of driving a truck intersecting with the stresses of driving a car never end well for those in the car. And the guilt and grief most truck drivers experience when there’s a crash, particularly a fatal crash, can be overwhelming.

Recently I found a few articles about trucker suicide. The drivers are caught in the middle, between the shippers that want their goods moved quickly, the trucking company that wants the goods shipped profitably, the loading docks that are overbooked, road construction everywhere, and people driving cars much too close — not leaving enough space for trucks to maneuver safely. And to top it off they are paid by the mile. Every delay costs them money.

It’s hard to make a living on the road.

For those of us working on safety issues 2019 was a busy but frustrating year. We pushed four bills, each addressing a different issue, the objective of each to make our roads safer for everyone – truck drivers included. It was hard to feel like we made much progress, politics being what it is today, but we were out there sharing ideas and pushing safety and people on the hill and out in our communities listened. That’s a beginning.

But we all know that every moment we are out there pushing for safety more people, people in cars and people in trucks, are dying. Every delay in our work costs someone his or her life. On average 13 people a day are dying in truck crashes.

Next year, 2020, we’ll be working hard again. If you’re still thinking about donating to our cause, here’s the link. We’d appreciate it. Our work is so important and we can’t do it without your help.

And if you know a truck driver, give them a hug and ask them to stay safe. Spread the word among your family and friends during this holiday season about driving safely around trucks. Remind everyone that safety advocates are working to make the roads safer for everyone, truck drivers included.

Because they want, and deserve, to go home to their families too.

Dedicated to my dad, killed by a tired trucker Dec 23, 2004.

Ten years before.


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Hope = smiles

This week I had plenty of reasons to smile. After all I’m retired; I don’t have to get up in the dark and drive on congested construction strewn roads to work and then do it all again the next day.

That in itself makes for automatic smiles.

Visiting Lansing, the Capitol of Michigan, on a cold Sunday afternoon.

But if I had to pick one thing that made me smile this week it would be Sunday afternoon when my husband and I attended the ceremonial swearing in of our new Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.

I keep insisting that I’m not political, I don’t like politics, I don’t have the patience for all the talk and lack of action, for the arguing, for the lack of empathetic listening, the insensitivity. I hate that neither party even tries to hear an opinion outisde their own dogma.

But this year the candidate challenging my district’s incumbant Congressman caught my attention. She actually sat down with my husband and me and listened intently to our truck safety issues. So I became involved in her campaign, canvasing and talking politics to strangers, which was very scary for me. She won by 13,000 votes and attending her ceremonial swearing in made me smile.

Photo from Slotkin’s webpage. Senator Stabenow, Congresswoman Slotkin and her husband, retired Colonel David Moore.

Presiding over the ceremony was Michigan’s Senior Senator who has also been very open to our issues, which made me smile broader.

But the biggest smile during the event was reserved for the Sexton High School choir who sang for us. A group of young people, diverse in ethnicity and culture, sang of hope and change to a huge ballroom filled with mostly middle aged white people.

Lansing’s Sexton High School Choir rocked it!

They sang from their hearts and we listened with ours, knowing that we were on the cusp of change for our district, filled with hope for a more responsive government. And when they finished we rose in a standing ovation before their last note ended, which made them smile.

“If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
(lyrics from Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror)

After the event, while we were all milling around talking I noticed one of the young singers standing behind me. I turned around and told him how beautiful the music had been. He nodded his head respectfully, then burst out into a wide grin and swallowed me up in a hug.

Seems smiles were the order of the day.

The gears of change grind slowly.

What’s made you smile? Tell us about it and link to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap for us next Monday!

Note: Follow the link above about Elissa to read a short article about the ceremony which contains a few quotes from her speech. I think they’ll give you hope too.

Something to smile about in Lansing last Sunday.


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Trent’s World, the Weekly Smile

Looks like a front is going through.


The day before the midterm elections feels stressful. I feel like I can’t turn the TV on, can’t check social media. Too much conflict, too much negativity.

On my way home from an early morning run to the grocery I noticed dramatic clouds. And me with no camera.

Barns and cloudy skies make me smile.

I hurried home, but the drama was gone by the time I unloaded and put away the groceries.

Still, the sky was interesting. And I was restless.

The seasons are changing, the crops have been harvested.

So off I went, camera in my lap, to see what I might see. Sure it would never be the extraordinary sky I saw earlier. But you never know what you’ll find.

At first I was disappointed, mostly muddy grey skies, not the dramatic navy blue ribbons I’d seen before.

Time to hunker down for winter.

But when I got out of the car on a dirt road to grab a shot of a barn I saw the whole sky above me and actually said out loud – “Wow!”

This was my ‘wow’ moment.

And that inspired me to keep looking. And you know me…

Everywhere you looked was something wonderful.

…looking for barns amid wild skies makes me smile.

Couldn’t resist this one.

What made you smile lately?

Well yes, she makes me smile too.