You are receiving Ellie Krug's Monthly Newsletter, The Ripple 
Hearing from the Universe 
Dear Friends:

Happy 2022! I hope the new year has started off well for you!

Last month I referred to the story of the vitriol Kelsey Waits and her family endured following the outing of her eight-year-old nonbinary child Kit as Kelsey was running for reelection to the Hastings, MN school board. As planned, in collaboration with the Hastings YMCA and Thrive Hastings (which works to make Hastings more welcoming), I presented my “Bridging Divides” talk to 100+ Zoom attendees earlier this month. The engagement by attendees was just marvelous and we had many transgender folks and families with trans relatives, as well as educators seeking to learn, on the Zoom. I’d like to think that the talked helped at least a little. Clearly, there needs to be far more engagement with greater MN (and the greater Midwest as a whole) for strategies on how to stop “Othering” so many different humans. 

Separately, on this past Saturday as I was working on this newsletter, two separate people—whom I barely know, but would like to get to know better—reached out with the same exact words, “Ellie, I am thinking of you.” One message came by text in the morning, and the other arrived in the afternoon in the form of a knock on my door, along with a gift of freshly baked rye bread. The coincidence was uncanny, as if the Universe was trying to tell me something—and frankly, with the bitter cold and some aloneness that I’ve been feeling—those messages (and the bread!) meant the world to me.

It all reminded me of the power of simple words: I’m thinking of you.  As you will see with this month’s feature story below, connecting with humans can be magical. I certainly felt that on Saturday; the contacts made my heart smile!

Lastly, some may appreciate hearing that Donna, the fantastic breeder who helped bring my pup Jack into the world, has a brand-new litter from Jack’s mom, Lucy. If you have an interest in becoming the parent to an English cream golden retriever pup, email me and I will put you in touch with Donna. Here’s a page about the litter.

Have a great rest of your January! Stay warm my northern readers and to those in the south and southwest, lucky you!

Remember, I care about you. Be well my friends! 
Glittering Compassion and Interconnectedness
A story of compassion and interconnectedness in a Baltimore County neighborhood located just beyond the city limits got on my radar a couple days after the December issue of The Ripple went out. I was so touched by the story, as reported here in The Washington Post, that I held it for this month’s issue.

Just like much of America, this neighborhood, with rows of wood and brick townhouses and tree-lined streets, is filled with people struggling with the effects of the pandemic. One man, Matt Riggs, knew that his across-the-street neighbor, Kim Morton, was dealing with depression and anxiety and the loss of a loved one. To let Kim know that he was thinking of her, Matt surprised Kim by stretching a string of Christmas lights from his house to hers. It was a symbolic gesture to show that the two households were connected to each other.

As Matt related, “I was reaching out to Kim to literally brighten her world.”

Matt’s imaginative act of showing compassion for a neighbor caught on. Soon, people up and down the street (one estimate was that 75 percent of the neighborhood participated) were stringing Christmas lights house to house. One neighbor, self-described as a “go-big-or-go-home” person, used bent dry cleaning coat hangers to fashion the lights to read, “Love Lives Here.”

Another neighbor remarked, “It’s the best neighborhood. Everybody is friendly and helpful and loving and kind.”

Matt agreed, saying, “It really does represent a connection that we are feeling…this is a physical manifestation of that.”

All of this found its mark with Kim Morton, the first person to have lights attached to her house. She said, “It made me look up, literally and figuratively, above all the things that were dragging me down. It was light pushing against the darkness.”

It’s the old adage that one kind act begets other kind acts. And too, this story shows that using your imagination (how brilliant to connect lights house-to-house!) to reach out to humans can make such a difference to someone.

In the end, it really is because we do care about each other. I will believe that until my last breath.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
Compassion and Support for
Suicide Loss Survivors
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January 31 will mark the 32nd anniversary of my father’s suicide. It’s a date that my younger brother, sister and I always commemorate with early morning texts saying, “I love you.” Those who have read my memoir will recall how Tom Terrific taking his life wounded me and so many others. 

As I wrote in the book, I see my father standing in the back of every room that I enter. 

For this month’s Inclusivity Tip, I thought that I would offer suggestions on how to be supportive of and inclusive to those who are left behind after someone voluntarily ends their life. These “suicide loss survivors” often find themselves alone and hurting. What can others do to help?

From a survivor’s perspective, the most important thing is to not ignore what just happened. All too often, because people don’t know what to say about a suicide, they say nothing, as if the suicide never even occurred. This simply makes the pain worse, because it is so easy to then believe that people just don’t care.

My suggestion, and that of others in this space, is to bravely acknowledge the loss. One doesn’t need to have the wisdom of a monk; all that someone could say is, “I’m sorry this happened. Would you like to talk about it?”

I realize this means the listener might have to bear hearing some painful stuff, but please consider what the loss survivor is going through. Just knowing that someone cares and is willing to sit and listen really could make all the difference in the world.

Please also remember that one’s grief or suffering can show up in different ways. Please be patient and understanding with how the loss survivor may be reacting, whether it’s in the form of taking time off from work or passing on socializing.

Another thing that supporters could do is to remember that when the press or social media report about other suicides—like with national figures—that too will affect your friend, the suicide loss survivor. It would certainly be compassionate to let your friend know that you are thinking of them, even though their loss may have occurred months or years before.

Also, if you are close to the suicide loss survivor, knowing the day that their loved one ended their life is important. A text or email or phone call on that day, “I’m thinking of you,” would mean the world to your friend. (Note: I had drafted that sentence before this past Saturday when I received those very words from two different people, as related above.)

Finally, allies can speak up for loss survivors. All too often within social circles, there’s judgment cast toward the loss survivor, as in, “How could they have not known?” or “Why didn’t they do something?”

Allies can educate by saying that often no one sees or understands the signs when someone is contemplating ending their life. Don’t let the judgment of others go on to compound the suffering of a loss survivor.

For those who would like resources, check this out this really great Australian website, Beyond Blue. Here’s also some information from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Thank you for considering all of this. I and other suicide loss survivors appreciate it!
Sixty Second Roundups
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This month’s Compassion examples come in many forms, beginning with this story of a UPS driver who stopped to simply leave a Ring message wishing a family well on the birth of their new child (he had seen a plastic stork announcement in the front yard while making his runs). The UPS driver also related that he was a new father himself. The family later shared the video on social media, and because we humans have good hearts, the world began sending the UPS driver gifts for his baby. Yep. We also have this eleven-year-old Oklahoma boy who, in the course of a single day, saved a classmate from choking and a woman from a burning home. Lastly, over the holidays I watched a 2013 film, The Railway Man, which stars Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, and is about a British railroad buff who, as a soldier in WW2, was tortured by the Japanese. The movie, based on a true story, is about grief, suffering, and loss, as you might expect. What I didn’t anticipate was how the story pivoted to forgiveness and compassion—I highly recommend the film! (Plus, Colin Firth is just a gem in this!) 
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My show this past Saturday, the 22nd, had me interviewing Danna Nelson, a 25-year-old woman battling terminal cancer who has become an advocate for medical aid in dying; last year, the “Minnesota End of Life Option Act” was introduced into the MN legislature, but it went nowhere. Click here to listen to Danna’s interview; like me, you will be touched by her absolute courage and grace! Here’s also the link to learn more about, Minnesota Compassion and Choices, the organization Danna is helping with what little time she has left. We also have this story by CNN’s John Blake recounting how it is possible to escape racism in one’s family. Then there’s this Georgia mother who at a school board meeting eloquently laid out the case for studying America’s history of racism. Also, don’t miss this story of brave Texas librarians fighting back against censorship (and incredibly, one librarian—a librarian, for god’s sake—had to conceal her identity for risk of reprisals). 
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Words really can’t describe the level of pain I felt reading this stunning Washington Post expose about the number of Congressmen—more than 1700 elected leaders!—who were slave owners in the course of America’s history (the last elected enslaver served in 1922). The piece also details how out of the first 18 U.S. presidents, 12 were enslavers. Please, take the time to digest how the oppression of humans who aren’t white was/is embedded into the very fabric of our country. Separately, here’s the story of parents at a Tennessee school pushing back against creation of a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) for fear that teachers and students wanted to “indoctrinate” straight kids. (Ha, as if that’s even possible…) But wait—you’ll also see that there’s a brilliant twist to this story! Finally, do we all understand that across America, Jewish people have to worship behind blast barriers and with armed security? This NYT piece by Bret Stephens helps to bring into focus how antisemitism is often mislabeled, adding pain on top of pain. Thank God no hostages were harmed in Colleyville, TX. (My thanks to Ripple reader Michelle Cohen for passing along the article!)
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This month’s relief starts with another Xmas leftover—I guarantee that your heart will simply melt as you watch this cherub open a very special living and breathing Christmas present. (I've cried every one of the half dozen times I watched.) From there, we go to goldfish who literally learned how to drive; see here. Finally, we pivot to dolphins, or more precisely, to this story of wounded vets swimming with dolphins as part of their recovery. Wow. Frankly, they deserve that and way more. 
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Continuing from my opening comments about Kelsey Waits, I had Kelsey on my radio show recently, where incredibly, she talked about hope (click here to listen to the interview). She and other parents of trans kids/allies have now created the TransParent Alliance with the goal of giving parents and allies of trans kids tools on how to tackle marginalization. Please check out the organization here, and if so inclined, contribute like I have. Thanks! Also, see this wonderful essay by Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Laura Yuen about an act of allyship toward her two decades ago—you will be struck by how such acts can stick with us for our entire lives. And I can’t end without highlighting this piece on how Amy Schneider’s winning run on Jeopardy has worked to make millions more accepting of trans people. Thank you for showing up, Amy! 
Lastly, if you want to help me to do more work for organizations that lack budgets for training, please consider donating to Human Ripple Works, Inc., a nonprofit that others and I set up to train nonprofits/other organizations on human inclusivity. Thank you for that!! If you’d like to support this work, please click here on the HRW website.
The Ripple is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!

Please consider reading my book, Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change; if possible, order it through your local bookstore. And, if your book club reads my book, I'm happy to come for the discussion via Zoom!

Thank you for helping to make the world a better place! I'm at your side, cheering you on, I promise! Please have compassion for yourself and for others.

Encouraging Open Hearts and Thriving Human Spirits 
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word

Ellen (Ellie) Krug