When Stars Align a guest post by Monique Ruffin

While I’m on my trip I have enlisted some of my favorite women to help me fill this space.  Because of my involvement in the Mayor’s race I have felt more connected to my city and wanted to pick bloggers who also feel that connection.  Today it is Monique Ruffin.  I met Monique at a shoot for Mom.me sometime in ’12 and I was instantly drawn to her.  A charismatic single mom I thought, “she has it”.  She writes for the Huffington Post and is passionate about her dedication to doing good and raising her son who has special needs.             If we were in pre school together I would pull my mat next to hers at nap time.  The more you know of her you too will want to be her friend. 

 

Last Tuesday, May 21, 2013, Eric Garcetti was elected mayor Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S. It was a hard-fought race for both candidates, and by the end of the campaign, many local news outlets were saying it was too close to predict a winner. In my personal circle, which includes many politically savvy folks, the message was to keep campaigning to the very end in order to ensure a Garcetti victory.

 

As fate would have it, I was interviewed by Seema Mehta, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, just three days before the election. At the time, I was at the park pushing my six-year-old son on the swing. Sometimes the stars just align, and things happen more fortuitously for you than if you had tried to organize them yourself. I have been a political junky all my life, and I was heavily involved in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. I even wrote a book, titled Open Your American Heart: From Personal Responsibility to Collective Accountability, hoping to help citizens understand the personal nature of politics and how valuable we each are to the process. And so when Mehta approached me with a tape recorder and asked who I was supporting for mayor, I was ready to talk. What a fabulous opportunity!

 

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I have lived and worked in many different areas of the city. I love it here. One of my most favorite things about L.A. is our farmers’ markets. I do most of my shopping at the farmers’ markets because I understand the value of circulating dollars to local farmers and how the practice impacts the community and the environment. And because I have a young son, I care deeply about the welfare of the city’s parks, and of the public schools on which he and I rely. My son has Down syndrome, so when it comes to education, I’m all too aware of the benefits of a well-funded system. Maintaining solid programs that benefit all children will prove to be a mighty effort for mayor-elect Garcetti, as it has been for mayors in the past. It is my belief that this mayor has what it takes, the heart and the wisdom, to make a difference.

 

The day after Mehta interviewed me, the Times called to ask if they could come and take a photograph of my son and me. I agreed, and the day before the election Zion and I hit the big time, supporting Eric Garcetti for mayor. That morning my phone started ringing early. I thought someone in my family had died, because relatives I usually see or speak with during the holidays or on my birthday were calling me. After learning that the district where I live, Mid-Wilshire, might be the one to determine the next mayor, I wrote a piece supporting Garcetti for the Huffington Postto drum up last-minute support. I also persuaded as many friends and family members as I could to go vote. It was expected that only a small percentage of voters would participate (it turned out to be only 19 percent), so I knew every vote would make a difference. By the end of election day, two of my neighbors acknowledged my efforts as the reason they took themselves to the polls to cast a vote for Garcetti. I just love that.

Eric Garcetti, Monique Ruffin in the Charlie Chaplin room at Campanile July 2012

 

I’m looking forward to the next four years. I’m going to engaged deeply in local politics and support the issues that matter most for me and my family. I have Daphne Brogdon to thank for this. If she had not invited me to the luncheon hosting a group of about twenty blogging moms and then mayoral candidate Garcetti, I would not have gotten to know him, and I would not have felt as inspired as I was on the day the reporter approached my son and me in the park. Who knows what’s possible when the stars align?

Monique Ruffin can be found at the Huffington Post and at Moms Can Change the World.  

NO Name calling

Our sweet Charter school won a National No Name Calling Contest.  Here is a video our friend narrated about the mural we won for. ( we, like I did anything).

We are underfunded, have chipped paint and bad drainage, but I love how our school teaches the students ( parents) how to resolve conflicts and to respect feelings

 

Thanks to our school dad and Huffington Post columnist  Bill Walker for spearheading this contest and always makes us aware of the power of hurtful words and the healing power of kind ones.

6 year old girls sexual identity

Ugh, I’ve been worrying about this since before my daughter is born.  She in now 6, nearly 7.

I was right to take back the baby Brittney “hit me one more time” Spears outfit given to us at her shower.

I am right to monitor what she watches.  Some crap gets through.  How can it not when the latest edition of “Candy Land” looks like a promo for a stripper bar. Does that lady want to find some candy or a sugar daddy?  But, most sassy, short skirted, too mature for their age shows are turned off.

I was right to deep six the wrong sort.

LET them be kids.

This article from Huffington Post  Called ” Why 6 year olds want to be sexy” is a good read for parents of young girls.

A few years ago my husband had a guy working for him who lived near us. His wife and daughters would nice.  Vivien would play with their oldest daughter.  We weren’t besties, but we got along and since my husband worked with this guy I felt the need to get along.  But, one evening I changed my mind.  The girls were playing dress up and the mom came to pick her daughter up.  The 4 year old girl walked out in a fairy costume which showed her belly button.  The exclaimed:

“SEXY!”

I froze.  She didn’t just say that?  Then she quickly followed it up with:

“Suck in your tummy, it will look prettier.”  The girl did.  “Good, that’s better.”

I was speechless.  Vivien was out of the room or I would have said, “we don’t talk like that here.”  But, she wasn’t and it was one of those awkward moments, of well, it’s her kid, not for me to direct her parenting.  But, after that I started to limit my daughters exposure to them.  I didn’t my daughter to be told that she was “Sexy” or that she should alter her natural, baby like body to please an adult.

Fortunately, the guy was a disaster at work who was sent packing a while back so forced friendship is over.

But, the pressure on girl girls continues as does our need to protect them.

 

Muff on the Huff

Muffinlicious was included in a great post on woman formerly known as beautiful. Read it here, but in a nutshell, the blogger, Shannon Colleary, says she has decided not lose weight and practice self acceptance. Her body stats are almost the exact same as mine. So, of course I say “you go girl!” And thanks for including me in a post that went to Huffington Post.
( and thanks to Jessica Gottlieb for emailing me while I was at the park “you are on Huffington Post!”)
Since posting about my muffin top I’ve gotten many “you are so brave” comments. Thanks, but I don’t feel that brave. I consider no surprise how I look. If I appeared in public like Kate Bosworth

kate
and then did a video about how my guy floats around the edges of my slim jeans, than yes, that would be brave as I’m blowing the lid on my image.

I don’t have an image to blow up.

pregnant me
pregnant with Rex

I’m in my forties, I’ve had a few pregnancies, that have yielded two children. I live with a great chef and we co own restaurants with stellar food, wine and cocktails. If I became a water swilling vegan I think my marriage would be over.   I’m not going to look like Kate Bosworth. I don’t want to be “mid western fat” ( this is distinct from LA fat, which is a size 8), but I am what I am.

Now, did you see me shooting a video of me SITTING DOWN in tight jeans? That would be brave.