I Am Who I Am (And Politics Is Just One Tiny Piece of the Puzzle)

In the last two days, I’ve been called a low-life for who I plan to vote for, and I was accused of “caving because that’s the norm for those of your mindset,” simply because after a long back and forth exchange, I told the man that I believed neither of us were going to convince the other, so we’d have to agree to disagree. To which he commented:

Jan Marler Morrill, knew you’d cave….. you have no credible accomplishments. But you see, i knew that. And knew exactly your response to that. That is the norm for humans of your mindset.

If you’ve read any of my recent blog posts (see links below), you already know who I plan to vote for and why. But for this post, who I plan to vote for is not important, because I see name-calling on both sides.

The amazing thing is, neither of these two name-callers knows anything about me–except that I’m not voting for who they think I should vote for.

So, I thought I’d list a few things about myself, to show that I’m more than the vote I’ll cast. Perhaps you’ll learn a few reasons why I can’t vote for Trump.

Name-callers will rarely read anything that doesn’t massage and stroke their ideas of what’s right and what’s wrong, so it may be moot for me to publish this post.

We’re all concerned about, maybe even afraid for, the state of our country. Lately, I lean toward afraid. But my fear is not related to the policies of either candidate or which judges they’ll choose. We have and will continue to survive that. Instead, my concerns revolve around what I see every day on social media–hatred surrounding our differences, whether racial, religious or political. There are many people–with very loud voices–who seem to believe we all have to be and think the same.

Donald Trump is fuel to that fire. That’s the biggest reason I can’t vote for him–I don’t care if he is a Republican.

In my list of puzzle pieces, I hope you’ll see:

  1. We have a lot of things in common.
  2. I’m more than a Republican and certainly, more than my vote.

We will never, ever all be the same–no matter how angry we get, no matter what names are called. And so, I’ll close with this quote–in case you don’t make it to the end of my list.🙂


  • I am the oldest of five children.
  • My mother was a Japanese-American Buddhist Democrat. My father is a red-headed Southern Baptist Republican. As you might imagine, there was a lot of conflict surrounding this diversity during my childhood, but I’m grateful for the open mind it gave me.
  • I wrote  The Red Kimono, a historical fiction based on certain events in my mother’s life–most importantly, her internment as a Japanese American during World War II. I’ve also written three other books: Life: Haiku by Haiku, Doll in the Red Kimono, (a collection of essays) and Creative Characterization (a writer’s workbook.)
  • The priorities in my life are Steve, my two grown children and my two little grandchildren. And there you have my “excuses” for why I still haven’t finished the sequel to The Red Kimono.
  • But I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo in November!🙂 Except not on the sequel.😦 (Are you?)
  • I love a good conversation with someone with whom my opinions differ.
  • Speaking of which, I’m blessed to have some of the best friends in the world–and our opinions differ on a variety of topics!
  • I am a Christian who often asks myself, “What would Jesus do?”
  • I’ve been a waitress, a telephone operator, a supervisor, an author, a manager and even a vice president. But the best job in the world is the one I have right now–Grandma.
  • I love my country, and though I think there are things that need to be fixed (ie, Obamacare) I don’t think it’s the awful, dark place that is being portrayed on one side.
  • What do I love? Our diversity, our freedom to think independently, the checks and balances of our government.
  • What do I dislike? The divisiveness, polarization and refusal to compromise that has brought our government to a standstill.
  • I have a degree in Business Administration, but often wish I would have pursued a degree in something I’m more passionate about–like art, history or writing.
  • I am an artist.
  • I’ve been in relationships with narcissists.
  • The biggest regret of my life is being afraid to say what needed to be said to a friend.
  • I’ve committed many sins in my life, therefore can’t judge anyone for theirs. My decision on who not to vote for has nothing to do with past sins.
  • I’m a news addict and a politics junkie.
  • My pet peeves are: hypocritical finger-pointing, name-calling, refusal to admit wrongdoing, changing plans at the last minute, lack of responsibility.
  • I’m in dire need of a manicure.
  • My favorite food indulgence is a chocolate milkshake. My least favorite is licorice.
  • I love to travel and have been fortunate to visit many countries on many continents. I’ve yet to make it to Antarctica, Australia and Africa. Maybe someday!
  • I love to go to the movies.
  • I need to exercise more.
  • There are rarely enough hours in my day.
  • My greatest weakness? My lack of willpower and discipline.
  • But on a positive note, what’s my greatest strength? My ability to “let it go.”


If you’d like to read more:

Politics and Relationships: How to Love a Liberal

Principles Over Party

The Logical Reasons Behind My Emotional Vote


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Principles Over Party

Oprah Magazine, Nov. 2016

Oprah Magazine, Nov. 2016

I’ve worked on this blog post for almost two days now, and a few times, I’ve almost deleted it, because I realize most people, like me, are sick of politics. But, after reading the above quote, I decided to post it anyway. You can read it or not. Believe me, I understand if you don’t.

There is very little that keeps me awake at night and I count that as one of my many blessings. But in the last few nights, politics, the chatter swirling around it and my fears associated with it have–like a solo cricket I can’t find, or a barking dog I can’t shut up–kept me awake.

A few days ago, I read David Brook’s New York Times article, “The Governing Cancer of our Time.” Though it was written in February, I only recently happened upon it in a Twitter retweet. It becomes more relevant as each day passes in this bitter, divisive campaign cycle.

If you don’t want to read the whole article, here’s a list of bullet points that struck me most:

  • There are essentially two ways to get things done in a diverse society: politics or some form of dictatorship.
  • Politics recognizes the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions.
  • “Antipolitics,” or the move toward dictatorship, “tramples the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making.” It does not recognize anyone with a differing opinion, refuses compromise and wants nothing short of total victory.

And in walks Donald Trump. ~~David Brooks


If you’ve read any of my recent political posts, you already know I’m a lifelong Republican, and have always voted Republican, at least for presidential candidates. You also know that this time, I can’t.

In this election, I think for the first time, I considered two different criteria about the candidate before I’ll vote for him/her:

  1. Is he/she a sane, principled human being?
  2. What is his/her platform?

Before Trump’s candidacy, I don’t recall having to be so consciously and completely concerned about #1. Here a few reasons why I’m so concerned about Trump:

In his book The Art of the Deal, Trump said: “When people wrong you, go after those people, because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. I love getting even.”

  • He lies constantly. True, most candidates lie. But one can hardly keep up with Trump’s lies, and most of his self-contradictions can easily be discredited by looking at his past tweets or videos.
  • BREAKING NEWS 10/12/16: Four Women Accuse Trump of Forcibly Groping, Kissing Them. You may ask, “How do you know it’s true?” Because Trump himself confirmed it in past recordings. He either truly committed these acts, or he blatantly lied about committing them in these recordings. Either way, he’s not the person I want for president.

Then, there are my concerns with his platform/policy:

Oh, heck. This post has gone on long enough, so I’m not even going to get into the details of the platform part. But generally, my concerns lie in the fact he doesn’t seem to understand world politics or the Constitution, including the checks and balances of the three branches of government, as evidenced by his belief that “he alone can fix it.” So my point is, the platform part doesn’t matter to me if the above foundational criteria hasn’t been met.

Trump has gotten so far because people are angry at what Congress has not gotten done. I get that, and I’m fed up, too. But I think the muck in which Congress wallows is made of partisanship, divisiveness and refusal to compromise. They (aided by the media,) have set the example for the rest of us, and THIS is the cancer about which David Brook’s writes in his article referenced at the start of this post, “The Governing Cancer of Our Time.”

Donald Trump is NOT the candidate who will begin to heal this cancer. Many say Hillary Clinton will do no better, and I’m certainly concerned many in Congress will refuse to work with her. But, here’s the difference as I see it.

I don’t think she will refuse to work with Congress.

Based on what I’ve seen of Trump in this last year, he will refuse to work with anyone who disagrees with him. Instead, as we’ve already seen, he will go on a “scorched earth” media frenzy.

David Brooks closed his article with a quote by Harold Laski:

We shall make the basis of our state consent to disagreement. Therein shall we ensure its deepest harmony.

We need a principled person to be our president. Sadly, both candidates are lacking, maybe even void of the principles I’m looking for. Which brings me to what I believe our country most needs now, and that’s the ability to negotiate and compromise. I know for certain, based on what I’ve seen and learned from Trump, that he is NOT that person. I can only pray that Hillary will be better. If you don’t believe in compromise, how can you believe in democracy?

I could care less about party affiliation when so much is at stake.

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Politics and Relationships: How to Love a Liberal


I am a lifelong Republican. Steve is a lifelong Democrat. We love each other.

I used to wish I could be a fly on the wall in the home of James Carville and Mary Matalin. How could they could be married with such strong, opposing political opinions?

Steve and I met on match.com, and from our first email communication, I took a liking to him. He was funny and intelligent, and like me, is an artist and writer. And so, we exchanged a second email. And a third.

About then, I began to wonder at what point I should admit to him that I was a conservative Republican—kind of like wondering when I should let him know I had some sort of contagious disease. After all, he’d written in his profile that he was a liberal Democrat, so I figured he might be opposed to dating anyone outside his circle of comfort. Heck, I had nothing against liberals. Some of my best friends are liberals.🙂

Still, I hesitated. Should I admit it in the beginning? Or wait until he’s so in love with me my political persuasion wouldn’t matter?

I decided I should tell him sooner than later, and so, I confessed.

“Steve, you probably should know something about me…I’m a Republican. A conservative Republican.”

Fingers trembling, I pressed “send,” and wondered if I’d ever hear from him again. (Okay, maybe there’s a bit of creative non-fiction there.)

He wrote back, and the rest is history.

Today, with politics growing more divisive and partisan with every passing day, you might wonder how we’ve made it through the last three years. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing—we’ve gotten into a couple of doozy arguments. (Topics included the government’s role in student debt, the role of the military, George Bush…)

But those were in the beginning of our relationship. I think we’ve learned some lessons since then. Here are a few:

  • Talk policy, not politics – When we talk politics, in other words, when we recite the soundbites we’ve each heard from our often-biased news sources, it has only served to ramp up the argument as each of us tries to outdo the other. Yet when we’ve limited our debates to policy—more in-depth discussions with details and not soundbites, we have often been surprised about the areas in which we have some agreement.
  • Appreciate your differences – I try to both respect and appreciate Steve’s opinions that differ from mine. 


When did it become such an outrage for someone to think differently? I can’t believe the hatred and vitriol I see on Facebook and Twitter, just because someone disagrees. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve been sucked into it myself. But I rarely see any benefit to the unending threads of soundbites passed back and forth. Nobody is really “listening” to each other on social media, instead, we’re all trying to think of our next soundbite. 

I respect Steve’s intelligence. If his opinion differs from mine, I may not always like it, but I’m willing to listen. Sometimes, it’s moved me more to the center, sometimes, admittedly, even to toward the left, at least on social issues.

Both Hillary and Trump bloviate about problems they’re going to solve—immigration, health care, college tuition, blah, blah, blah. What I want to know is, what is the candidate who wins the presidency going to do to get Congress to work together? The continued and worsening partisanship has brought our government to a standstill on more than one occasion.

  • Focus on what you have in common elsewhere – Too often, we use labels to describe ourselves. Just look at my first two sentences! But beyond being conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, Steve and I are artists, writers, travelers, readers, exercisers (he more than I), food connoisseurs (I more than he), etc., etc. We have plenty to occupy our time and discussions beyond politics.

Our political climate reminds me of a sport–a game where everyone takes sides and there must be a winner and a loser. Politics inspires passion, and we all want to win, sometimes at any cost.

But in the big picture, this “tribalism” has only served to create a divisiveness and partisanship that’s made our government ineffective.

“If you want to make a society work, then you don’t keep underscoring the places where you’re different. You underscore your shared humanity.” ~~ Rachel Yehuda in Sebastion Junger’s Tribe.

  • Understand that talking politics doesn’t always mean you’re trying to change the other – This one is pretty self-explanatory. But it’s easy be defensive when someone brings up a highly-emotional topic like politics.
  • Realize it takes “two to tango” – In other words, there is no wholly “good” side and no wholly “bad” side. All candidates and both parties have flaws.

I began this post a bit “tongue-in-cheek,” perhaps to lighten the political feeding frenzy of recent days (which I admit to dabbling in myself). And though the title of this post is “How to Love a Liberal,” it’s really about loving (or getting along with) anyone who thinks differently, and goes beyond an intimate relationship.

More and more, I’m disturbed by our seeming inability to get along with anyone who is different from us, or who thinks differently from us.

We have so many similarities. We love our families. We love our friends. We want what’s best for our country. If we have different ideas, why can’t we share them, rather than curse them?

Think about the quote above by Dale Carnegie:

“When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary.”

I’d rather be in a relationship with someone with whom I differ. I’ve learned a lot, and we’ve had some lively discussions. Steve and I disagree on many of our political philosophies. But there’s no doubt each of us loves our country and wants what’s best. Besides. It might be boring if we always agreed.

Or, maybe not. We do, after all, have other interests.🙂

A few other related posts I’ve written:


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The Wind and the Wolf

Keiko Matsui has been one of my favorite artists for more than two decades now, and tonight, for the second time in as many decades, I get to see her perform live at The Kessler in Dallas.

I first heard her music when, in the early 1990s, I visited my sister, Cyndie, in California. Living in Tulsa, I hadn’t had much exposure to “smooth jazz.” But on that trip, smooth jazz became, for me, the musical representation of the California I’d missed since moving to Oklahoma right after high school.

Since then, Keiko Matsui’s music has touched my life many times. The first, and most profound time was during an uncertain and painful time in my life–the year preceding my divorce from my children’s father, David. I don’t like to talk about my divorces, because frankly, I’m ashamed to be divorced twice. But, like it or not, they are a part of who I am, of who I’ve become.

For a couple of years before our divorce, I struggled with perhaps the most difficult decision of my life–to break apart our family. I felt selfish for wanting to leave a marriage I could no longer make work, as well as scared about taking care of myself for the first time in my life, in addition to caring for my children.

The mere thought of telling David I wanted to separate was like jumping off a cliff–a point of no return.

One day, I was driving through Yosemite and Keiko Matsui’s “The Wind and the Wolf” began to play.

I still remember feeling the power of the song, the realization that I was strong enough to do whatever I needed to do.

That night, I had a dream. I dreamed I jumped off a cliff, grew wings and flew.

The year following my divorce, I was hired by a company based in San Diego. The position “required” me to be in training in San Diego for three months. As you might imagine, I was thrilled to return to California, even if it was only for three months.

While in San Diego, I attended my first Keiko Matsui concert at a winery in Temecula. I still remember how happy I was to be sitting in the California sunshine, enjoying wine and listening to my favorite artist.

It’s no wonder then, when finished writing The Red Kimono, I decided to use one of Ms. Matsui’s songs in my book trailer. I requested permission to use “Deep Blue” and was thrilled to receive an email that said “yes.” I believe its haunting piano melody–its soft beginning and crescendo toward the end–is the perfect soundtrack for my book.

  • Who is your favorite artist?

  • Is there an artist whose music has inspired you or been there during profound moments of your life?

  • A soundtrack for your book?

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Macabre Sanctuary: Prepare to Be Spooked!

It’s almost Halloween! What better time for the release of an anthology that is sure to make you shudder, guaranteed to send goosebumps along your spine? Just looking at the cover gives me the chills!


I don’t usually write horror, but in 2009, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and enter a contest with a horror story I’d written. It was a flash fiction category at the Arkansas Writers Conference and I figured I could handle the 250 word limit. My story was titled “Initiation,” and it won 2nd Place.

A few months ago, Staci Troilo of AIW Press sent a call-out for an anthology of horror stories. “Why not?” I thought, and decided to expand “Initiation.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Bradford Jones paced between Jake and Todd, sneering. “I’m not so sure either of the two of you are man enough to be members of the Skull and Jones.”
“Oh, I am, Supreme Chairman.” Jake nodded, eyes cast to the ground, lest the founder of Rockview High School’s secret society sense his fear.
A so-called farm club to the infamous Skull and Bones of Yale, the Skull and Jones, too, was so exclusive and clandestine, nobody knew the name of a single Jonesman—that’s what the members were called—except of course, everyone knew the name of the founder.
Who more appropriate to be Supreme Chairman of the society to which every freshman hoped to gain entry than Bradford Jones, a senior from Rockview’s most well-to-do family, quarterback of the football team, and presumptive valedictorian. Word on campus was that Bradford Jones would be leaving podunk Rockview, headed to Yale in the fall.
Todd replied in a deeper voice than Jake had recalled ever hearing before. “Supreme Chairman Jones, I have never been more ready for anything in my life.”
Oh, great. Jake’s reply might as well have been a lowly beetle, now squashed beneath Todd’s foot. Only one of them would be granted access to the Skull and Jones and Jake had to admit he was off to a shaky start. How he was even selected for such an organization, he’d never know. Todd was president of the freshman class and a star player on the junior varsity basketball team. What did Jake have to show for himself, besides taking honorable mention in the science fair?
Still, according to anyone who knew anything, acceptance into the society guaranteed success, possibly for life, especially if it would help him get into a school like Yale.
“Now, here’s the first test, plebes. What’s our motto?” Bradford Jones asked.
They both replied, “Anything to be a Jonesman.”
“Say it again.”
“Anything to be a Jonesman.”
“Again. Louder.”
Jake deepened his voice, though it cracked once. “Anything to be a Jonesman. Anything to be a Jonesman.”
Bradford Jones hovered over Jake, hands clasped behind his back. “You do understand the requirement to successfully complete an initiation of my choosing before you’ll gain entry into our ranks?”

If you’d like to read the rest of the story, or one of nine other spooky short stories by nine talented authors, click HERE to download the Kindle version.

FREE for a limited time!

For information on other authors:

Joan Hall: http://joanhall.net
Mae Clair: http://maeclair.net
Jan Morrill: http://janmorrill.com
Staci Troilo: http://stacitroilo.com
Pamela Foster: http://pamelafosterspeakerwriter.wordpress.com/
Stacy Claflin: http://stacyclaflin.com
Michele Jones: http://michele-jones.com
K. E. Lane: http://ke-lane.com
Harmony Kent: http://www.harmonykent.co.uk/
C. S. Boyack: https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/ (Lisa Burton)

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