Little did that little girl know. . .

I saw Stevie Nicks in concert last night, and I was transported in time.

Music can do that for us. Suddenly we are in the place when we first fell in love with the songs we are hearing again. Suddenly we are the age we were when we first started singing them out loud to ourselves. I was 12 years old when I first started singing “Gold Dust Woman.” How ridiculous. 12 years old when I learned the words to “Landslide” and started singing to myself, “Well I’ve been afraid of changin’ ’cause I built my life around you. But time makes you bolder, even children get older, and I’m getting older, too.”

I was a student at a private school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called Pine Crest. FullSizeRender (3)My parents let me go to school so far away from my home in Pennsylvania because I was a good swimmer who hoped to be great someday. The coach at Pine Crest was the USA women’s Olympic coach known for developing young talent. I was hoping to be one of those “young talent.” So, off I went to live in a dorm with girls from all over the world, but mostly from South America. The girls at Pine Crest were either swimmers or from very wealthy parents who wanted their daughters to get an education in the United States.

How I came to be in the Miami Baseball Stadium on that spring day, unchaperoned but with a few friends, Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 1.42.22 PMI don’t remember. I remember the smell of marijuana, not knowing what it was until told. I remember seeing people dancing and swaying with the music, some lying on blankets, none taking pictures and posting them on Facebook. It was a different time.

Stevie Nicks and I have aged 40 years, but she has stayed the same in so many ways. Her voice singing “Landslide” last night was clear, not resentful of having to sing the song again, but grateful for what it has given her and all of us.  Before she started, she said, “Little did that little girl know that that one song would take her to the top. So, always keep your eyes open. Here it is, Landslide.”  She still wore the long, flowing black sleeves, carried the tambourine and tied scares to the microphone, but she had the wisdom of years now. She knew better. She had given up drugs and knew to put friends before flatterers.

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 1.49.27 PMI had a lot of dreams back then, as I’m sure you all did, as Stevie did, when she wrote “Landslide” and had no idea it would “take her to the top.” I remember standing in the Miami Baseball Stadium taking it all in, loving the freedom of being away from the dorm, feeling like I could do absolutely anything without getting in trouble, worried about how late we would get back because I had homework to do. I think someone may have told me to “Chill out.” I was mesmerized by Stevie Nicks, as all of the 40,000 people in attendance were. When she twirled around, we moved too, and felt free.

Now, 40 years later, she has experienced pain and loss, written dozen of hits, recorded with Prince and Tom Petty, broken up with Fleetwood Mac and gotten back together again, and come back to Salt Lake City, where she once lived as a Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 1.50.12 PMchild, to stand in front of a packed house at Energy Solutions Arena and play for a screaming crowd. And I, 40 years later, have come to feel genuinely free. No one tells me to “Chill out.” I am already chill. Whatever dreams I had of swimming the 200 butterfly died with a thyroid problem unknown to me at the time of the taking of that picture above, but I see it now as a blessing. All roads lead to here, and here is where I want to be.

Here is where I can stand next to a man I love so completely and who loves me so completely in return that when tears start to Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 7.32.40 PMstream down my face at the beginning of “Landslide,” he pulls me close to him and puts his arm around me. He lets me sing out. We sway to the music together, and I cry without hiding it. If you had asked the little girl who went to the concert 40 years before what her dreams were of a happy life, she probably would have said something short-sighted about the Olympics, but if she had really thought about it might have said, “I want to be happy. I just want to fall in love with a good man who loves me as crazy all the way as I love him.”

 

 

 

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Words of Love for Hate Speakers

hate-speech

I met a man today in Ogden who said some pretty harsh things to me a decade ago.

“That was me,” he said as I was leaving a speech at the Convention Center.

I paused and noticed he was holding a copy of my books.

“I was the one who texted those mean things to you after you came back from maternity leave. I was going through a divorce.” He looked down at his feet. “And it was a really hard time for me.”

What a kind face he had. I remembered the texts. They told me I should stay home and take care of my baby, that he liked the woman who had been filling in for me on the radio better, that she was more professional.

“I’ve received a lot of texts like that,” I said, and patted the bench beside me to invite him to sit down. “How are you doing now?”

“I read your books,” he offered. “You’ve been through so much. I just wanted to thank you for what you said today, and ask you to sign my books.”

“Of course.” I reached out for them.

As I handed the signed books back to this extraordinary man, I lingered. “You’ve really taught me something today. Thank you.”

 

The men and 643463983-mlk-on-hate-and-lovewomen who send me hateful tweets, texts, Facebook posts and email this week may very well have a compassionate, brotherly conversation with me ten years in the future. (Hopefully it won’t take that long.) What I learned from this dear man today is that every person who reacts with anger and hate is my brother, my sister. When someone calls me an idiot, a fool, uses sexually degrading words to describe me – it’s not about me. There is pain in them, and I happen to be the target. They would not speak this way to their mothers, hopefully, not to their sisters or daughters. I don’t think their better natures would let them speak to me that way in person. Even when we disagree with each other, we can find a way to do so with kindness and mutual respect. I know we can. I can find a way to learn from you, and you may even be able to find a way to learn from me.

 

One of the people who does this with real grace is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. He regularly receives tweets that say things like, “One word for you Booker – idiot.” He responds, “One word for you – love.” He actually takes the time to reply to these people, dozens and dozens of them. I have read some of the most hateful tweets directed at him, and he has turned the other cheek in a way that is humbling and inspiring.

 

As we approach the election next Tuesday, knowing that it is highly likely either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president, I am calling upon all of our higher natures even as I am summoning my own. If you wake on the 9th of November to the result you dread, can you still love your neighbor? Can you still support your government? Can you find things to compliment and love in America? Of course you can. I know I can. The way I see it, I either have time to complain during the four years ahead, or I have time to serve my fellow man – not both. If I waste my time complaining about a Trump or Clinton presidency, I will have squandered the precious time I could have spent loving. learn-hate

 

If we take deep breaths now, today. . . if we hold our children and tell them we will be just fine under either president . . . if we reaffirm the values we hold dear, and then pivot to – how can we serve – we will be on the right track to a stronger nation.  If we listen to each other more than yell. If we think before we post on Facebook – am I posting in anger? Is the purpose of this post to put down or build up? Am I one who uses demeaning language or one who looks for what is good and praiseworthy in others? Which would I rather my children do – put down or build up? Every bit of energy I expend toward one effort cannot be offered to the other. That person who supported the other candidate – she is my sister, my brother, my mother, my friend. She is my neighbor. When her house catches fire, I come running with a hose. When her mother dies, I hold her hand in grief. When her son is sick, I watch her other children. Can I not show her enough respect to get through an election? Of course I can. We can.

 

I offer these words of love in support of those who have spoken to me, to anyone, with hateful words. It’s never too late to send another tweet, “I’m sorry. I never meant to speak in anger. I wish you well.” And if you cannot write those words, hold them in your heart.

It’s enough.

 

 

 

 

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The Loyal Opposition

I remember wondering at the end of the 2000 election, which never seemed to end, whether Al Gore would be able to let the Supreme Court’s decision against him stand with grace, even though he clearly believed it was incorrect? Would he be able to encourage the millions of Americans who voted for him, more than had voted for his opponent as it turned out, to be at peace with the Court’s decision and become what we refer to as “the loyal opposition”?bush-gore

In his concession speech, the Vice President said, “Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. And I promised him that I wouldn’t call him back this time. I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we’ve just passed.”

If Donald Trump wins, I can picture Hillary Clinton saying these words, with great difficulty to be sure, but saying them. She as much as said them already when Zach Galifianakis asked her if she would move to Canada if Trump wins. Before admitting how much she regretted agreeing to do his show “Between Two Ferns,” she said, “I would try to keep him from destroying the United States.” Zach asked her if she would lead the civil war. With total deadpan she replied, “I wouldn’t take up arms. I think that would be a little extreme.”

But not for some Trump supporters. The Boston Globe reports that a 50-year-old contractor named Dan Bowman said, “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it. We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country.”

I am trying to picture Donald Trump saying something like Al Gore said 16 years ago when he said, “Each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in a spirit of reconciliation. So let it be with us.” I cannot picture it. I can only picture him saying the election was rigged and blaming the media. I can picture him saying that hers will be the worst presidency in history and that crooked Hillary will be the first president to go to jail while in office. I can picture him riling his supporters against her and the office of the president in a way that is not only dangerous to her as a person but to us as a nation.

I remember reading a book written by a secret service agent shortly after President Obama was elected that described the number of threats made against him, both while he was campaigning for the office and after elected, and how they had gone up over 400% over any other president before him. I never would have thought that a woman in that office could be more personally at risk that, and yet it may be so under these present circumstances.

Where is the voice that will teach us how to be the loyal opposition if our candidate does not win this hotly and cruelly contested election? Will we listen? Will our blood cool and our spirit remember the words Mitt Romney offered so beautifully in his concession speech: “I so wish — I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.”

I pray for the next president, for our nation, and for the one who is not chosen and his or her followers perhaps even more, for the strength and peace of the loyal opposition.

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Room Full of Heroes

neff-and-centerville-boyI spent the evening in a room full of heroes this week. It was the Department of Public Safety Awards banquet. I was surrounded by men and women who serve all of us, every day, in extraordinary ways. I listened and watched as the awards were given for saving lives. One driver drove into oncoming traffic in an apparent suicide attempt with her 8 year old and 18 month infant in the car. A trooper got there, applied a tourniquet to the 8 year old who was losing significant blood, got the child airlifted to Primary Children’s, and saved the child’s life. Another officer in the St. George police 14572829_1153450934702470_1671469341188840649_n

One after another they came onto the stage to receive their award. They stood next to Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, Commissioner Keith Squires, Deputy Commissioner Nannette Rolfe and Colonel Michel Rapich. They looked humble, slightly awkward even, as if they didn’t want to be there. This is the “Trooper of the Year” Stephen Matthews pictured here, a leader in many ways in the Utah Highway Patrol. He was like so many of the wonderful men and women I admired that night. There was no strutting onto the stage. There was only humility. They looked happy to shake the hands of their superiors, proud of their work, but uncomfortable being singled out when they would be the first to tell you that they were just doing their job.

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_mg_0106I was there as part of the Beyond the Badge program at KSL Newsradio, to accept an award on its behalf, to thank the Larry H. and Gail Miller Foundation who makes the program possible, and to see our officers honored. I am so proud of the officers who we have the opportunity to feature each week on KSL, officers from every jurisdiction in the state. It was a real pleasure to watch them walk, one by one, onto the stage and be recognized in front of their peers. Their acts of service, large and small, have such a profound effect on the communities they serve.

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I had not anticipated the surge of emotion I would feel when Colonel Rapich described the “Table for One.” Are you familiar with this ritual? Law enforcement families likely are, but I was not. I had seen the ceremony once before, but it was not at the front of my mind until I felt the powerful emotion in the Colonel’s description of the Table and noticed it set off to the side of the dining hall. table-for-one

The Colonel spoke, “We set the Table to honor and to remember them for they are not with us.

The white tablecloth, which stands for purity and their willingness to answer the call to duty, so that all communities will remain safe.

The single rose reminds us of loved ones and families of our comrades, who are keeping the faith. The yellow ribbon on the vase, just like the ones worn by thousands who admire them and who demand justice and safety for all.

The slice of lemon is on the plate to remind us of their bitter fate.

The salt on the table which symbolizes the families tears.

The Bible represents strength achieved from faith, helping to sustain those while in the line of duty, founded as one nation under God.

The faded picture on the table serves as a reminder to their families that they are loved and missed very much.

The candle will be lit to symbolize the upward reach of their unequaled spirit. With complete disregard for their own safety, and despite the extreme hazards associated with their duties, they entered into danger to protect and rescue with exemplary courage. We honor them, to bring great credit upon themselves, their families and friends. Also, we as a community, honor and respects our heroes.

Please join us now as we bow our heads in a moment of silence.”

I was close enough to the stage to see the tears in the Colonel’s eyes. I know he has lost men he served with and loved. I felt the tears on my own cheeks as I sat silently, thinking of their sacrifice and of their families.

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The evening ended when the family of Officer Doug Barney, shot down in the line of duty, came onto the stage. We stood up immediately and clapped with love and support in our hearts for widow Erika Barney, son Jack Barney and daughter Meredith Barney. Jack reached up and gave the Colonel a full body hug that lasted for so long I knew they had hugged before. The boy then turned, saw nearly a thousand people clapping for him, his sister and mother, and smiled.

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Was I unethical?

colin-powellI have been struggling with the question today of whether or not I was unethical for having shared the contents of former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s email with you on the air this morning. His email server was hacked, and the contents of those email were posted on a website, which lead to their being picked up by every media outlet in the country, including KSL.

I do not let myself off the hook by saying, “Well, everyone else shared them, so I get to.” Of course that’s not a good enough answer.

As I heard my colleague Jay McFarland asking the question today, “How could it be ethical for someone to share something that is stolen, to aid and abet the hackers, the thieves?” I had to ask myself, am I ethical? I shared stolen information.

Would I have shared a stolen photograph of Secretary Powell that showed him in the shower? No. I would not have. That would not have been newsworthy in my judgement. Would I have shared an email between him and his wife. Again, no, same reason.

But I shared his opinion of Donald Trump, which was not complimentary. And I read and want to share with you his opinion about the Benghazi investigation because I think it is important and credible. Credible because it was shared in an unguarded manner with Condoleezza Rice.  So, we have two high level knowledgeable officials sharing an opinion on Benghazi, a topic about which there have been repeated hearings and even more heartache and millions of dollars spent, but the information is stolen.

It’s private – but it’s important.

It’s stolen – but it’s important.

Do you want to know what it is? It may change the way you think about Benghazi. Do you have a right to know? Maybe. Maybe not. The Benghazi Committee could subpoena Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice, but they have not. If they did, we could learn these opinions in a lawful way. Since they are unlikely to, we may never have learned them were it not for these stolen emails.

Am I unethical for reading them, for sharing them? It is a question I struggle with tonight. I heard Jay talk today about our decision in the media to not share some information – the name of a rape victim (although there are states that actually outlaw such conduct, removing any choice from the media) or the name of a suicide or child victim. These are sometimes questions of not what we “can” do but what we “should” do. We withhold this information for two reasons: 1) because we are protecting a victim and 2) for the larger societal good.

Are those reasons present in withholding Colin Powell’s opinions on Donald Trump or Benghazi? Is there a victim to protect? Some might say Colin Powell is a victim for having his privacy invaded. Having been in such a situation myself once where very private communications were shared, I know that can be a truly victimizing feeling. But what about number two. Is the larger societal good served by withholding the information? Is deterring the hackers worth withholding the information that could affect our understanding of history or opinions in a matter of national concern? And again, you would feel completely differently if this were an email to his wife, if it contained a compromising picture or even details about his personal life. The emails I have read were all about matters of significant national interest, and while that does not qualify as whistle blowing, it may reach a point where we have to ask ourselves – which is the larger societal good? Preserving privacy, including ultimately our own, or sharing important information?

I hear the “ends justify the means” in my argument, and I don’t like it, and so I ask myself again, was I unethical to share that information with you this morning? Do you want to know that information? Your desire won’t dictate my behavior, although I am interested. Tonight I struggle with my own conscience. It’s not everyday I am called unethical. Not everyday my conduct may qualify under that heading.

I will not share the Benghazi quote with you after all. If you want to read it, you can find it. I do not regret reading it myself. There is something in me that feels once a person is a Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, National Security Advisor, not to mention Four Star General, their candid opinions on matters of public interest become too important not to know.

Just because I don’t regret reading it does not mean I don’t regret sharing it with you on the air. I certainly regret doing anything that would cause me to lose your respect. I have been striving for 25 years to earn it. It is not something I would throw away on one hacker story.

No matter how important the subject matter is.

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