Be Grateful for Our Healthcare Heroes

Happy Thanksgiving readers (all five of you! j/k). This will be a super short post today, but I wanted to stop here and remind you all that even though this has been a difficult year for us, we can always find something—however small—to be thankful about.

Cultivating a spirit of gratitude has been proven to improve low spirits and change attitudes for the better. It’s not easy, I know. But even the acknowledgment that there are still blessings to give thanks for and hope in the blessings that are still to come your way can make a difference.

I’d like to say that all of us especially in the United States are hunkering down in our own homes and eschewing our normal larger celebrations. But unfortunately, all the warnings about making some sacrifices this year have fallen on a lot of deaf years. Shamefully, there’s only been a 10% drop in travel for this holiday.

So, who can we really give thanks for this past year, right now, and in the months to come? Our healthcare heroes. They are the ones still working today at hospitals and clinics everywhere. They are the ones taking and processing COVID tests, and they are the ones that are holding the hands of loved ones as they slip away from us. All at great personal risk to themselves.

I’m grateful for every last one of you. You are the real patriots in every nation of this world. You are the people keeping your countries alive—literally and figuratively. You are the bravest, the baddest, the boldest; the best of humanity.

We love you and need you and we are sorry that there are so many dingbats ignoring reality and making things harder for you. But please know our prayers go with you and surround you.

Thank you for all you do!

P.S. If you are a healthcare hero e-mail me at, tell me the name of the hospital or medical practice you work for and what you do (nurse, PT, RT, physician, etc.). I’d love to Venmo you some coffee cash just to say thanks. 🙂

Canceling the Bell Peppa Lady

There’s this young, Staten Island mom on Tik Tok that amassed 2.7 million followers in a matter of months just from being herself.

With a strong Staten Island accent, she was unabashedly open about her life, her baby son and his health challenges, and the thing that put her over the top—her penchant for stuffing bell “peppas” with cream cheese and various other seasonings. She quickly moved on to noshing on her beloved mother-in-law’s chicken cutlets smothered in melted cheese and barbecue sauce, Valentina hot sauce, Tapatio sauce (which she couldn’t pronounce for the life of her), and Tajin seasoning.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I ordered Tajin (a Mexican lime and chili seasoning) solely on her recommendation. Her videos—part-mukbang/coffee addiction/real talk—quickly catapulted her to verified fame faster than most content creators. It wasn’t long before she ventured into POV territory as “Aunt Amanda,”—every teenager’s dream aunt—talking through tough topics over snacks and coffee with no judgment and total understanding.

Describing herself as decidedly unpolitical, followers found in her a safe space from the divided and toxic culture of election seasons, and her account was a place where she laughed at herself for her mispronunciations, lack of knowledge on some topics, and devotion to Dunkin Donuts iced coffees with their many flavor combos.

But election day changed everything. While the rest of America either voted through mail-in ballots or waiting in long early voting lines, Aunt Amanda stayed mum on the topic until November 3. In an emotional post from the morning, she agonized over voting because she didn’t want to engage in the judgment and toxicity of the democratic process of choosing new leadership, she said. In the end, she cast her vote, reported on it, and went her way. Until that night.

Loyal viewers—many of them from the LGBTQX, LatinX, and liberal communities—were appalled to catch her Live from a Trump election night watch party. With her boss dancing in the background clad in head to toe American flag and Trump gear, she laughed hysterically at comments calling her out for what many felt was a huge betrayal of trust. Later on, she flat out told people to just unfollow her if they had issues with her choices.

And that’s all it took—by the next day she had lost thousands of followers, other Tik Tok creators made videos “auditioning” for the new Aunt Amanda vacancy, and her husband took down his account altogether. The backlash went fast and furious with countless “#cancelamanda” -type hashtags popping up with record speed. In the two weeks since the debacle erupted, she turned her comments off and made a couple of videos trying to apologize and explain herself. To date, she has not been forgiven, let alone her gaff forgotten.

Possibly on track to have become a Tik Tok content creator with lucrative sponsorship deals of the kind that could have snowballed her to Tabitha Brown-level fame, Aunt Amanda appears to have been cancel culture’s latest brutal victim.

So, what exactly does cancel culture accomplish? For the wronged, it is swift vengeance. And for the wrongdoer, it can certainly be the kiss of death for a burgeoning influencer career. But is canceling a creator or other person of fame the best way to teach a lesson or make some sort of point? Or do those doing the canceling come off looking like unrepentant destroyers of someone’s reputation and livelihood?

In the case of criminals, vitriolic celebrities, and otherwise harmful people, cancel culture is justified, in my opinion. But what happens to ordinary people who happen to gain a following on social media who quickly turn into internet-famous villains? The domino effect is real for them. Sponsorships disappear, potential clients back away, and the hate comments explode causing some to experience severe challenges to their mental health. For these types of creators who don’t have the backing of an already famous name and body of work behind them, what happens can destroy lives.

Is that the goal of “canceling” people? Can those who offend be taught a better lesson in a better way? I’m not completely sure.

So, here are some questions I leave you with. Is cancel culture the way forward? Is it just cruel or tough love? Have you been part of canceling someone?

Because Representation Matters

On election night 2008, I watched in awe when the TV screen projected a picture of Barack Obama and the simple caption, “44.”

I voted for him that morning but didn’t believe the country would put him in office. I was flabbergasted when he won and glad to have been proven wrong. I remember taking to Facebook as all the networks shared in collective shock and awe; watching people I knew erupt in joy in all their posts (the digs from naysayers would come a tad bit later). In elation, I posted: “Now maybe my son can be president too.”

You see up until about 11 p.m. November 4, 2008, I bought into the falsehood that the highest and second-highest offices in the land would always be held by elderly, white males. And I accepted it.

That’s what happens when you grow up a brown girl in America in the 80s and 90s. I can’t complain too much about my childhood and formative years. One was spent in suburban New York, and the latter was all about blossoming in laid-back Southern California. It was a great way to grow up (minus some stuff here and there, of course). The toys, sitcoms, and popular culture of the 80s; the music, fashion, and finding oneself in the 90s–good memories. But I looked at leadership around me and saw all the white faces and thought, “That’s how it is. Americans don’t look like me, so I’ll never be up there on TV or anything like that.” Maybe it was because my aspirations were never anything groundbreaking. I vacillated between paleontologist, writer, and lawyer. President or even Vice-President? Not interested. Why? Because I never saw a way.

Back to election night 2008. I have a daughter and a son. Why did I default to my son as the one who could now fly to the White House one day if he wanted to? Why didn’t I include my also capable daughter in those lofty goals?

I have to look to internalized misogyny, sexism, and racism as the reason why. Not that I was ok with any of it, but more because I had no faith that any of that was truly changeable. And since my life and my goals were safe inside my bubble of comfort, I didn’t think I needed to see anyone looking like me in places of power or fame in America.

How wrong I was.

I lived this American life since we came here when I was two years old. But as I reflect on my childhood and teen years, I was present and participated in many things without ever feeling like it was about me or for me. I could be there, but not completely. But again, I didn’t question it.

My dolls were white (except the one year we found Indian Barbie, though her skin tone was more olive at best). The shows I watched—and loved—had no one on them who looked like me. Magazines featured white and sometimes black women. And makeup? It took some creativity to find ways of making available color palettes work for my skin tone. And that didn’t bother me.

Sheesh, as I write this, I see that I was tucked away in some oblivious trance for too long. Perhaps it is the nature of my personality as someone content to fly under the radar that it didn’t bother me if I was represented or not. Thankfully, I see the folly of that now.

So, when Kamala Devi Harris—who grew up eating a South Indian’s weekday standby meal of rice and dal as I did—is inaugurated January 20 as the first female, black, and South Asian Vice President of the United States, I will celebrate.

I will celebrate because in all those years I lived in oblivion, I never dared to dream of this day. Now I fully see: This is my country. I do have the right to be part of its leadership. I have ownership in the United States of America. I am not just tolerated, but accepted. There is now a female vice president-elect who looks like me and millions of other girls. And now we all see that the top jobs can be ours just as much as our fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons.

Thank you, Madame Vice President Kamala Harris, for the wake-up call. You are a walking message I am glad future generations of young women—of any color—will never have to question.

Grace in Defeat

One of the finest examples of courage and class in the face of crushing disappointment is the example of George H.W. Bush in 1992. He was a popular vice-president under Ronald Reagan and sailed to victory in the battle for the White House at the end of Reagan’s eight-year term. But in his bid for a second term, he was bested by a little known (at the time) Democrat from Arkansas, Bill Clinton.

It’s tough to lose. Especially when you are a senior statesman with pedigree, experience, and endorsement. But lose he did to a much younger man who didn’t share his background but carried his own impressive track record of making himself into something from humble roots.

On the day Clinton entered his new place of work—the oval office—he found a letter addressed to him on his desk. Bush had handwritten a note of congratulations and encouragement to the nation’s new president, underscoring the fact that Clinton was the nation’s leader, not just for his party. Bush threw his support behind his successor wholeheartedly, wishing him well, praying for him, and saying he’d be rooting for him.

Later on, in the many biographies and documentaries that emerged on H.W., it was revealed the loss was a brutal one—a deep wound that took a great while to heal. No, Bush wasn’t over it by mid-January 1993. But here’s where the class enters in. He put his feelings aside for the good of the country he loved. For Bush, it was going to be country over party all the way. And he wasn’t going to offer a terse “congratulations, best of you luck to you,” message to Bill Clinton. No, he dug deep into his well of decency and courage to reflect everything good about America. He chose to buoy the man who beat him to do his best for the country with the knowledge that his powerful predecessor had his back.

Thus began one of the sweetest and most empathetic traditions in American politics—personal notes to incoming leaders from outgoing ones ( Bush to Clinton, Clinton to Bush, Bush to Obama, Obama to Trump.

But now we stand at a point in American history where class and dignity inherent in a peaceful transfer of power have vanished.

Official concessions are more of a tradition than an actual mandate. So as long as Biden’s victory keeps checking out in all the rechecks, certifications, and validations that are customary in all American presidential elections, the results will not change.

And just to offer clarification, the Associated Press reports the following: “The Homeland Security Department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has slapped down rumor after unfounded rumor about voting malfeasance and joined with state election officials in a statement declaring the election to have been the ‘most secure in American history.’ By secure, they meant there was no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changes votes “or was in any compromised.” That was a clear repudiation of Trump’s unfounded accusations.” (

Two days after Trump won the 2016 election, he and Melania were guests of the Obamas at the White House. Michelle graciously toured Melania around her new home, while Barack and Donald had their convo. The Bush’s did the same for the Obamas, and so forth.

Will such a thing happen now? It doesn’t look likely, though things can always turn on a dime. Would it be a nice gesture? Absolutely. But it isn’t needed. Because for the Bidens, there is no love lost. After all, they’ve already been in the White House—many, many, many times. Does Jill need Melania to show her around? Not when Michelle already has.

And does Trump need to talk to Joe Biden about the gravity of the presidency? Rhetorical question.

In the meantime, teach your children well—buck up and accept your losses when they happen. Extend sincere congratulations to winners. Realize we can’t win all the time but rising above disappointment with dignity always puts you in a position of strength. And if you’ve had problems with this as an adult, it’s never too late to try the “take the high road,” course of action.

A little note to the president: refusal to accept defeat with grace makes you a bigger loser than you already are.

What Have We Learned?

I’m going to preface this post by saying if you are distressed by the events of the last several days, skip reading this. But if you want to see if there’s anything too good to glean from things going south, perhaps this will help.

I remember well the sense of despair that covered me the day after the 2016 election. I hoped that Trump’s campaign rhetoric was nothing more than just that. And that within the walls of the White House, decency, commitment to country, and the gravity of the presidency would prevail.

Well, we know how the story turned out. But in reflecting over the last four years, we’ve certainly learned many things. This list, by no means comprehensive, shows us that there is something positive we can draw from rough moments (or years).

  1. You can choose to see the good in people or convince yourself everything is bad. One option will keep you sane, the other will give you digestive problems.
  2. Some days you might have to force yourself to believe the sun will shine. Do it.
  3. Memes making fun of nutty presidents are good.
  4. Look to your late-night comedians (Jimmy, Jimmy, Trevor, and Steve) to find something to giggle about.
  5. Those late-night comedians will help you feel less alone.
  6. Focus on the people that matter. They aren’t going anywhere.
  7. Become an activist for people without much voice. There is strength to be found in that.
  8. Kindness, integrity, and honesty are by far, makes you look a lot better than cussing out irritating people (even if you really, really want to).
  9. Obama’ing yourself is a good plan of action: when they go low, you go high.
  10. Don’t get complacent. Always look for the next bit of work that needs to be done; prepare for it, roll up your sleeves, and dive in.
  11. Don’t lose your sense of humor.
  12. If things don’t go your way, don’t blame God. You need Him.
  13. Doing things for others will make you feel better.
  14. Don’t complain if you aren’t willing to get involved to solve a problem.
  15. Look back throughout history: what happened to Mussolini, Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc.? The people rise, help comes, the sun shines again.
  16. We are stronger than we think.
  17. Good can and will prevail. Even if it takes a long time.
  18. No one can take your faith from you.
  19. There is more good in the world than bad. The bad just gets more coverage.
  20. Life always moves forward.

What else would you add to this list?