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Since January 2009 (just days before Pres. Obama was sworn in to his first term), I launched Leap Little Frog. I needed a place to chronicle my own personal successes and failures, on and offstage. Today the stakes are higher. It’s time to look beyond my own creative bubble:

Like I said, I started Leap Little Frog as an online oasis–a space where I could safeguard and refine my habitat, my creative pursuits, my travels, and ultimately my parenting pursuits.

img_0230Since launching Leap, my husband Matt and I have had a son who is now a wildly creative artist, Lego builder, and wordsmith. He has the heart of a rebel. He loves climbing the “Panther Cave” in our local forest preserve. He can sing a melody after hearing it just once. At 6 years old, he has a keen sense of sarcasm and humor.

Since launching Leap, my cousin and his husband’s marriage is (finally!) legally recognized in their home state of Wisconsin. Fair play to Josh and Jay for standing by Wisconsin, even when Wisconsin didn’t treat them with respect. They are such an asset to that state.

Since launching Leap, our country has implemented health care reforms which have enabled so many of us to have care (which leads to a deep peace of mind, which in itself promotes wellness). The only critics I know have a lot more money than we do. I worry about all the much poorer people who might lose health coverage (and food stamps) in the coming months.

Since launching Leap, I have traveled the globe as an Ambassador to a country with a poised, intelligent, compassionate leader. Through much of Obama’s term, we’ve had a Congress which publicly dedicated itself to blocking all efforts and initiatives. (Imagine if I just refused to perform music–would I still be paid for my concerts??) But throughout it all, Obama has remained calm, eloquent, and respectful in his language and behavior. And the fact that President Obama happens to be biracial is also pretty great: it’s been a beautiful and powerful symbol for the wildly diverse population the U.S. President serves.

Since launching Leap, I’ve had amazing contributors, who have shared thoughts about nesting, traveling, and parenting. My deep thanks and admiration to Jessie Voigts, Zara Bode, Clare Tallon Ruen, Matt Heaton, Lissa Schneckenburger, Emilie Amstutz, Erika Adkins, Sam Amidon, Laura Cortese, Kerstin Otten, Brian Miller, Derek Sivers, Leo Hsu, Emily McClennan.

And since launching Leap, a woman received the nomination from a major party to run for U.S. President: a strong, pantsuit-wearing woman with a decorated political career, who lost the electoral vote to a reality TV host who has never held office. (And of course, every politician/person has skeletons in closets, but this wealthy Pres. elect has openly declared bankruptcy, evades taxes, had a rape trial dismissed just days before his electoral college nomination, said “I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” and in 2011 called a lawyer disgusting for taking a break from a trial to breastfeed.)

I breastfed my kid for 3 and a half years, and nursed him in restaurants, concert halls, and airplanes on three continents. There is nothing disgusting about breastfeeding. It’s powerful to nurture and raise a kid, while also tending to a strong, creative career. I believe that leaders can emerge, whether they are moms, dads, or don’t have kids.

So, how do I continue to leap, soar, and sing with a figurehead who says/does demeaning things around women–and whose current wife won’t even live with him in the White House?

National morale is low and cultural turmoil is high. Through turmoil, maybe we’ll be pushed to do better–to take better care of our friends, neighbors, the planet. To understand and reject racism and discrimination. To WAKE UP! To show up and vote–and NOT just for the Presidential election.

I can still tell important stories about stuff that inspires people and brings us together. (I’ll do that in the coming months with my Irish Music Stories podcast–it’s my new show about traditional music, and the much bigger stories behind it.)

I suppose it’s also important to dig into stuff that pulls us apart. I need to LEARN MORE about why people who feel overlooked would put support behind a candidate whose policies will actually harm them. For the first hundred days the new U.S. President is in office, I will read and educate myself. I started with this Mother Jones article about how marginalized groups were targeted and mobilized to make the election of a non-politician a reality. It’s fascinating to hear about a bunch of white MEN who feel unsupported and disenfranchised. Instead of feeling incredulous and frustrated about it, I aim to learn more.

One of my husband Matt’s simple and powerful acts will be to write a new welcome song for the kids he sings for: an overt anthem to let ALL people know they are welcome here (at the singalong… and here in America). Because Matt Heaton sings many times each week for a population coming from all over the world, this is his way to be an ally to ALL Americans, including immigrants who help make America great.

Of course, so many Irish immigrants have made America great, and have greatly changed the course of my life as a performer of Irish traditional music. There’s a thing with Irish songs, tunes, dance steps, and stories about sharing and always evolving. As Irish poet Louis dePaor said in his beautiful interview with me, “when we talk about tradition, we’re talking about something which is given. It isn’t static; it’s dynamic. There will always be brawling elements in the tradition–we can call them conservatives and progressives, even though very often the conservatives are the real radicals in holding on to something against prevailing fashions.”

So there’s room for diversity, for discussion, for clashing points of view. And there’s no reason for sexist, mean remarks throughout this discourse. My thanks to my Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, to my Representative Katherine Clark, and to my State Senator Patricia Jehlen, for fighting for policies that serve women and minorities. And for dignifying, not demeaning Americans.

As for my Leap blog, I’m letting you take the lead. Got any reading recommendations for me? Got any smaller nesting, creating, traveling, or parenting topics you think are worth considering in 2017? I’m going to let you guide ME.

Thank you for reading and connecting over the years. I hope you’ll leave a comment and share your wisdom. Let’s leap together!

Leap, Little Frog

a musician's musings on nesting, being creative, traveling, and parenting