writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
Vol 4 No. 12 December 2019
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
Wishing You the Very Best
It’s been quite a year, this 2019 we’re winding down—for me, I did 154 talks, trainings, and convenings, all about human inclusivity in one way or another Frankly, this number is some slippage from 2018 (where I did 177 engagements), but still, yes, it’s been a busy and productive year. For that, I am extremely grateful!
In case you might be interested, here is my
Combined Impact Report for 2018 and 2019
, which details my work for the past twenty-four months. I certainly don’t want to appear braggadocios, but on the other hand, I know that people appreciate hearing about what I’ve been up to. And, I know that metrics matter.
Separately, I’m happy to advise that I am very good. Although, I sometimes feel as if I’m the only one who sees that WE (the collective America, the all-of-us-are-in-this-together, “we”) can get past the stuff that separates us. But then, when I’m feeling a bit dejected, someone comes through with an email or Twitter post or now (yes, I’m finally in the 21
Century) an Instagram message, sharing that my work has been meaningful for them. With that, I’m instantly renewed and ready to continue the journey (and battle).
Hearing that my work has impact is like “rocket fuel” for my idealistic soul. It so helps me go forward!
Finally, as we close out 2019, I want all nearly 9000 of you to know that I wish you the very best. I hope that you are happy and feel loved. Most of all, I hope that you love yourselves; it’s so important in today’s world to believe that you are good and that you matter.
Because you are and you do.
I mean that from the bottom of my heart!
Take care and be well. Please remember, I care about you. Happy holidays! Talk to you in ’20—the next decade!
p.s. Forward this
to friends or family--spread the word about how humans are good to each other!
Kindness at a Denny's Restaurant
A Galveston, TX Denny’s restaurant server who walked fourteen miles to work every day got an enormous surprise from a husband and wife couple she waited on—a car.
reported by CNN
, the server, Adrianna Edwards, walked four hours roundtrip to work every day. “I have bills to pay…You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Adrianna explained to a local television reporter.
In the course of waiting on the couple, Adrianna shared about her daily walking trek. At the end of their meal, Adrianna gave the woman an extra scoop of ice cream. After paying the bill, the couple (who wanted to remain anonymous) left the restaurant and went to the auto dealership they own. They picked out a 2011 Nissan Sentra and returned to the restaurant where they handed Adrianna the keys.
In return, the couple simply asked Adrianna to pay the good deed forward. Adrianna’s response: “I still feel like I’m dreaming. Every two hours I come look out my window (to) see if there’s still a car there. When I see somebody in need, I’ll probably be more likely to help them out…”
Adrianna now plans to start college earlier as a result of having the car.
This story is an example of extreme generosity, for sure. However, it also demonstrates what happens when someone is given a lift-up—a vehicle—that makes life easier: Adrianna will go to college sooner than previously thought.
(which may be a future
piece) about the positive effects of giving lower-income folks an extra $500 a month; as you’ll read, it buys them more time. That’s the same thing that’s happened with Adrianna—with more time every day in lieu of walking to work, she can have time to study.
Kindness is good, yes. However, when it’s strategic, it can ripple in a myriad of ways.
Joining the Rockettes: A Dancer
With a Visible Disability
It’s the holiday season, which means that audiences will be flocking to Radio City Music Hall in New York City to see the Rockettes and their Christmas show.
This year, there will be a new addition to the Rockettes—a
dancer with a visible disability
. Sydney Mesher was born without a left hand. That hasn’t kept her from building a dance career, which now includes Sydney being the first Rockette to ever have a visible disability.
Sydney is originally from Portland, OR and has a BFA in commercial dance from Pace University. Her goal is to celebrate and praise all body types. As
her agency profile
states, Sydney is, “(D)riven by her hopes to bring a new image to the dance industry, by highlighting different body types and celebrating individuality.”
Sydney, your example will shine through for many who feel stigmatized by visible disabilities! Way to work hard and show up!
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
Teaching Our Children Kindness
In this holiday season, I think it important to highlight kindness and compassion and to offer some tips about teaching those values to our children. This topic is partly on my radar after hearing about a $20 million grant that UCLA received to create the
Bedari Kindness Institute
to study human kindness and ways of spreading it. My reaction to the idea of a “kindness institute” was, “that’s brilliant!”
Mostly, I’m writing about kindness because of a
in this month’s
, “Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids,” by Adam Grant and Allison Sweet Grant (for simplicity, I will refer to the authors as “the Grants,” no disrespect intended to Allison).
The thesis for the Grants’ piece is that while many families espouse kindness and compassion as important values, parents often actually pay far more attention to achievement and individual happiness. Thus, it’s the difference between praising a child for being kind or altruistic versus giving accolades for good grades or athletic accomplishments. Moreover, many parents model achievement as most important by talking about career advancements, asset accumulation, and the like. Far less parents model kindness or compassion, such as by volunteering at a nonprofit or helping out a family or person in need (and then sharing about doing that with their children).
One way of teaching about kindness and caring for others is to make those values part of the daily dinner conversation. As the Grants write, “To demonstrate that caring is a core value, we realized we needed to give it comparable attention (relative to achievements like good grades). We started changing our questions. At our family dinners, we now ask our children what they did to help others.”
In response, the Grants’ children talked about sharing snacks with other children or helping a classmate understand a question that she got wrong.
I love this approach since it underscores the value of kindness/compassion and makes the child accountable for his/her/their actions (or lack of action). Can you imagine how different the world would be if more parents took this approach?
Remember, I often say that almost everyone has a good empathetic heart; it’s just that fear or inattention often get in the way of us exercising empathy. Just like everything else, we must be mindful of the need to demonstrate and teach about kindness and compassion to others. When we do, wonderful things happen!
Odds & Ends
As usual, there are many links this month, but hey, it’s the holidays and you’ve got extra time, right? Sure, Ellie… At any rate, I hope you can enjoy at least some of what follows!
Second Darn Wonderful:
As we get to year’s end, many think about how time has passed so quickly. Here’s a
of a human growing from baby to young woman. Wow.
One More Wonderful:
Pantene, the hair product company, has put out
this wonderful ad
featuring transgender humans. It captures perfectly the fear of rejection/desire for acceptance my community experiences when we come out as our authentic selves.
Moose Fighting on a Subdivision Driveway:
was recently updated with a comedian's voice-over; caution, there's some real swearing here but it's all quite hilarious.
Brandt Jean Talks About that Hug:
In the October
, I wrote about Brandt Jean hugging the person who had killed his brother, Botham Jean. Here’s a
where Brandt shares about others opening up about forgiveness. Very powerful.
Calling for Interview Candidates:
I’m working with a Twin Cities marketing firm that has an ongoing contract with a state agency to message around the perils of opioid addiction. I am looking for several candidates who are (1) in recovery from opioid addiction and (2) identify as LGBTQ; the goal is to interview them about their recovery. If you know of anyone who you think would be interested in this, please forward them this newsletter and ask that they contact me at
Racism in the Business World:
Here is an important
, “This is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry.” See also this
about how the number of African American franchisees with McDonald’s continues to decline—out of the 10,000+ franchises, barely 200 are owned by black-color humans. How can that be?
Better Late Than Never:
The Minnesota History Museum has finally opened a
on Native Americans in Minnesota. Finally.
Honoring Matthew Shepard:
Twenty-one years after his murder, the body of Matthew Shepard has been
interred at the Washington National Cathedral.
A plaque reads, “Matt, rest gently in this place. You are home safe now. Peace be with you and all who visit here.” Readers of my
column may recall my 2016 piece where I tried to find Matthew’s memorial in Laramie WY, only to discover that none existed—intentionally.
Muslim Teen Leads Others to Safety:
of a 17-year-old Muslim woman opening the door of her mosque to usher in (mainly Christian) high school students escaping from a threat incident in Oshkosh WI.
Dolls with Hijabs:
Here is a
about a MN kindergarten teacher who has dolls wearing hijabs in her classroom. How smart!
Not Good for Transgender People:
about how the Trump administration is systemically erasing transgender persons from federal employment and protections. I feel like I'm racing against the clock to show the trans humans are just like everyone else.
On the Other Hand, Trans Humans Are Not Going Away:
Here is a
report on a study
that concludes transgender children, when allowed to identify with their “true” gender, develop in the same way as cisgender children.
Cops Using Their Imagination:
Patrol officers called out because of noise from a late-night playground basketball game joined in playing hoops to show that they can be good sports. Click
Libraries Scrapping Fines:
shows, more and more libraries are scrapping their fine system in order to make books more accessible to everyone.
A Kindergarten Class Shows Up for a Classmate’s Adoption:
Children can be so real, so kind. Make sure you catch the
The Gilmer, TX Chamber of Commerce Defends a Muslim Resident:
incredibly positive story
about how the Gilmer, TX Chamber of Commerce terminated the membership of a business owner who posted a racist FB post about a Muslim woman/new resident in town. Additionally, the Chamber will offer diversity training to Chamber members. What a model for other organizations!
My 29-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. She recently launched a brand-new book review website,
It’s All Booked
he regularly reviews books on her blog; check it out! Her book pick and summary for this month is
Between the World and Me
, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Although the book has been out for several years, Kate recently had the chance to listen to in on audio. Her take: “
For an intimate memoir a la
by Michelle Obama, Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most prolific writers today.
Between the World and Me
is written as a letter from Coates to his then fifteen-year-old son, where he talks about the history of race and what it means to be black in the United States. Growing up in this body has caused Coates pain and frustration throughout the years, but deep within his narrative of the painful history of the U.S. is hope for a better future.”
“Ellie 2.0 Radio” Podcasts/Shows:
“Ellie 2.0 Radio,”
airs on Twin Cities-based AM950 every Monday from 7 to 8 a.m. CST and can be live-streamed by clicking here. Ellie 2.0 Radio highlights various historical and contemporary idealists and my work as a “practical idealist” trying to change the world for the better. I recommend my December 2 show where I interview Gene Weingarten, the author of
One Day: An Extraordinary Day in the Life of Ordinary Americans
, which highlights my gender transition story. I also suggest what might be my best show yet—December 9
, a live show to commemorate our 100
’ episode. It’s with one of my all-time favorite guests, Dr. Kurt Nelson and we talk about kindness and how humans very can be influenced to be kinder simply by being around other kind and compassionate people.
Writings by Me:
Here is my November 20th
, “Mattering.” My thanks to
editor, Chris Tarbox, for giving me 1500 words for this issue (double the normal allotment). I think you will like this one.
Writings That I Like:
You may recall Ken Burns, the documentarian; here's a
about how he believes we can get past what divides us. Interestingly, just as I speak about in my "Bridging Divides" keynote, he concludes there is no "Us" vs. "Them." Instead, there's just "Us." Love it!
Please Follow Me on Twitter—The Goal is 1000 Followers:
This year I have a goal of doubling (to 1000) the number of people following me on Twitter (my follower number was 502 on Jan. 1; currently it’s at 880). Would you please follow on Twitter me @elliekrug—with your help and that of many others, I just might make my goal? Thanks! (I know, she has high hopes…)
Please Follow Me On Instagram:
Would you please follow me on that as well? (I know, I sure ask a lot from you…) The Instagram handle is @elliejkrug. Make sure to include the “j”; otherwise you’ll start to follow a 23-year-old blonde Victoria Secret model—sadly, that would not be me!
By the Numbers:
We started 2019 with 6235
recipients; this issue is going out to 8990 humans. Someday, if I have my way, this newsletter will go out to 100K people. Call me a dreamer…
Holiday Giving—Want to Support My Work Toward Fostering Greater Compassion and Human Inclusivity?
I’m doing more pro bono (and low bono—reduced fee) work so that my message about compassion gets spread in the greater Midwest. If you’d like to support this work, please consider donating to
Human Ripple Works, Inc
., a nonprofit that others have set up to fund my expenses (but not my fees) to do work in places/for organizations that can’t afford to pay for training. (I work with nonprofits or under-funded agencies for free or at a greatly reduced fee in these locales.) Thanks for considering this!
is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!
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