Monday, December 15, 2014

Through the Trees: Author Nina C. Palmer and The poetic end to a toxic relationship

by Michael Strickland

A poetic journey through the emotions we endure at the end of a toxic relationship, Through the Trees: The poetic end to a toxic relationship uses nature and metaphor to express each stage of grief.

I first met author Nina C.Palmer at a group signing run by the Idaho Authors Community. Immediately striking was her passion for poetry and a particular cohesiveness between her presence, our chat and her work.

NinaEach chapter of her book is a stage, each poem a part of a the journey taking you through denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. *** Written from personal experiences, it truly captures the occurrence of verbal and emotional abuse experienced in a toxic relationship. Whether your loss is a friend, husband or wife, a brother or sister, mother or father, these writings will hit home with all. A truly inspired collection of work, it relates with the heartache of the loss but also uplifts and inspires. This poetry acts as an emotional guide leading you through each stage and leaves you at the end with the courage and strength to move on.
I sat down with Nina last week at a coffee shop in Boise, to learn more about this  intriguing journey.

“Writing the book was part of the process, but publishing the book is the closure,” Nina said. “I needed it, because, being in a toxic relationship, there is a lot of shame and guilt … so by publishing, it really speaks out against it. So it’s a final way of being able to stand up and take that part of myself back.”

Nina’s childhood home was nestled in Matilija Canyon, a remote area outside of Ojai, CA. Her home was secluded which granted a unique and enchanting place to grow up. It is no wonder that her work is filled with its imagery. Her earliest writings of poetry began as early as elementary school. It is a realized talent that has remained throughout her life.

I asked Nina why she chose the art form of poetry as her outlet.

Growing up I had an undiagnosed, but definitely … either emotionally handicapped or mentally ill mother. I didn’t have a lot of privacy in my home, so I didn’t really have a way of expressing myself without any kind of persecution for it. So when I wrote poetry, it was like being able to talk about those feelings, almost like in code … because it didn’t pinpoint the exact circumstances that brought out that emotion, but it clearly represented the emotion. So it was a way of being able to speak about something without getting in trouble.
Nina is now currently working on her next collection of poetry, to be titled Reaching The Castle Wall a composition of heartache and love poems derived from the fairy tales we all grew up with. It is scheduled to be released for Valentine’s Day 2016. In the meantime, a series of children’s books are also underway.

trees“Palmer’s poems depict through natural imagery of rain, sunshine and forests what it is like to live within and then gradually to be able to leave a toxic love relationship. Palmer’s poems radiate wisdom that can guide others along similar routes out of suffering. The poems in Palmer’s [book] are at once immediately accessible and at the same time deeply enlightening. If you have been or are now involved with someone who has toxic impacts on you, and whether you think of yourself as someone who reads poetry or have never read a poem before, I highly recommend this book.” -Psychology Today
I asked Nina what she meant by the “persecution” in her home, and what would happen when she expressed herself.
I just wasn’t allowed to. would be the best way put it. Kids were supposed to be quiet, and in their rooms, and out of the way, and to do what their told. A lot of the things that happened to me when I was younger, wouldn’t make sense to even an adult, to treat a child that way.
Nina went on to talk about how her experiences were abusive, even though many things that happened could not fall onto the traditional chart when experts track and talk about abuse.
“I have been truly inspired to write this collection of poetry,” Nina said. “It is my hope that these works with inspire your heart to embrace every stage of grief and not only find peace, but the strength and courage to move on.”
Amazon Review:
So many of these poems hit home through the hurt and sorrow I’ve endured through my own relationships romantically and friendship wise. The empathetic passages really perked up my spirits knowing that this is normal to go through all these emotions. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone happy or going through a depressing time. One poem or many of them will pull you in and wanting to read more!
There is much of a hero’s journey sketched-out in these words. Nina’s electric collection massages the heart, and nourishes the mind and soul.

Friday, December 5, 2014

UPDATED: Idaho Government Website Links to Raul Labrador Donation Request

by Michael Strickland
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID)
Campaigning on a government website, Raul?
UPDATE Dec. 5, 6:08 a.m. MST:  
The Associated Press has picked up this story. And here is elaboration from the Spokesman Review:
Daily Kos, a liberal political website, noted the link in an article Wednesday morning, suggesting the state was improperly using its website to drum up donations for Labrador. Less than an hour after Gov. Butch Otter’s office was alerted to the issue by a Spokesman-Review reporter, the link had been changed. According to the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine,” the mistaken link had been live for more than two years. “We made a mistake,” said Bill Farnsworth, manager of the Access Idaho contract for the state Department of Administration.”
 UPDATE Dec. 3, 11:14 a.m. MST: 
Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review picked up this story Eye On Boise: Link to Labrador campaign donations page removed from Idaho’s state website
An article on the website Daily Kos today charges that Idaho’s official state website is being improperly used to drum up donations to GOP Rep. Raul Labrador. The article notes that a list of links to news for various government officials, including Idaho’s congressional delegation, links to their official page of press releases – except for Labrador’s, which links to his campaign site. The page that pops up has a prominent red button saying, “DONATE TODAY.”
UPDATE Dec. 3, 10:37 a.m. MST:  
Dan Popkey is on things. They just changed it. I saved two JPEGs of the original scourcecode. One appears below. And thank you Kevin Wilson for providing the archive.
The site was last archived by the Wayback Machine on June 25, 2014. At that time (and in previous archives) the link pointed to Here's a link to the archived copy of the page:
Idaho statutes prohibit use of government facilities, websites, etc. for campaign purposes. But if you go to the official site for the state of Idaho, and click on the link for press releases, a surprise ensues. Here is the link: and it shows: Press Releases State Elected Officials Governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter State Controller, Brandon Woolf Attorney General, Lawrence Wasden Treasurer, State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Luna Congressional Delegation Senator Mike Crapo Senator James E. Risch Representative Raúl Labrador Representative Mike Simpson
Image capture of the Sourcecode from 9:14 a.m.
... among other things. Try using the original link above, and click on Representative Raúl Labrador. The other officials have links to their press releases as officials and the related activites and news as they represent all citizens. But the link for Congressman Labrador goes to his campaign website: And one of the first things you see is a big, red DONATE NOW button. This is clearly a violation. I wonder how long this "mistake" has been there. Who is accountable? Idaho Governor Butch Otter should investigate.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why I support Holli Woodings for Idaho Secretary of State: The Rational Choice

Every once in a while, there is an election in Idaho that is so critical to the welfare of the state, that anyone concerned about our overall well-being must stand up and take notice.

"I’m running for Secretary of State because your freedom to vote should not be infringed by anyone’s agenda at any time. Voting should be easy, fair and open, period. That’s what I signed up for when I registered to vote for the first time and that’s what I want for my children and my grand children. Easy, fair and open voting for all." Holli Woodings

In all my interactions with this great candidate, she has been "spot on" about issues, concerns, and the needs of Idahoans.
Who is this stellar individual?

I am one of those fortunate souls who's life has been filled with great female leaders. That joy makes me think of this quote: “I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures." said 
Jane Austen, in Persuasion.  "None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives."  

Holli Woodings is shaking the waters.

Woodings  grew up as the youngest of three sisters in a Southern Oregon logging family. Her mother, Julie, was a hairstylist and raised the girls in Eugene while her father, Chuck, was an auto parts salesman who settled in Boise. Spending holidays and summers with her father, Holli fell in love with Idaho and chose BSU after graduating from high school. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. 

After graduation, Holli went to work as a project manager in Idaho’s renewable energy industry. She had a knack for wearing multiple hats within the industry; working development, public relations and public policy issues before founding Woodings Group, an energy development consultancy. Active as an organizer for TechBoise and co-founder of Energy Drinks (a networking group for energy development professionals), Holli developed a passion for the economic development issues facing Idaho. Community involvement was an inevitable choice from that point on. 
Holli served three years as President of Boise’s oldest neighborhood association while starting a family with her husband, Ryan, founder and CEO of a local technology company. She helped grow the family business from 5 employees to 26 and win several “Idaho Best Places to Work” awards along the way. She helped pass the Yes! For Boise Schools supplemental levy and was elected to the State Legislature in 2012. In 2013, she was named an Idaho Business Review Woman of the Year. Holli serves on the State Affairs, Energy, Environment and Technology, and Commerce and Human Resources committees. 

Her work focuses on providing high-quality education, growing innovative businesses, preserving personal freedoms, and increasing accountability in government. She has served on the Idaho Council on Industry and helped found the Idaho Clean Energy Association. Holli lives in Boise with her husband and two children, Mary and Arthur. They enjoy hiking, camping and snowshoeing with friends and family.

Also, I love her positions on the issues. Here are just a few of them
Protecting the Freedom to Vote
We were very fortunate for many years to have strong non-partisan advocates—Democrat and Republican—as our Secretaries of State. They did a great job putting fairness and the interests of the people first because they recognized that voting is a fundamental freedom where partisan and special interest politics have no place. In their view, ensuring that our elections are easy, fair and open was a moral responsibility they were sworn to protect.

And that is exactly how she looks at it too. Woodings is running for Secretary of State because your freedom to vote should not be infringed by anyone’s agenda at any time. Voting should be easy, fair and open, period. That’s what she signed up for when she registered to vote for the first time and that’s what she wants for her children and  grand children. Easy, fair and open voting for all eligible voters. 

Investing in Education
There is no more important issue than education in Idaho. We rank dead last in the country in education spending per child. Only 35% of our children have access to pre-school or educational daycare when the national average is almost 50%. Only one in ten of our high school freshmen eventually graduates from college. Which also makes us dead last in college attendance too. This is not putting us on track to fill or attract the skilled jobs our modern economy needs right now. And every year Idaho falls a little further behind. That is nothing to be proud of. It’s an urgent problem that needs an even more urgent solution. The Secretary of State is one of five members of the Idaho Land Board, which has a constitutional obligation to administer state lands for the long-term public good. One of the specific beneficiaries is our public schools—which over the years have been starved of millions of dollars from the Land Board. All of us are looking for ways to make our schools better That’s why as Secretary of State, Woodings will push to use excess revenue from the Land Board to reinvest in our schools so that we can attract more businesses and good-paying jobs to Idaho.

Growing the Economy
Woodings is the rational choice
Woodings deeply believes that the greatest investment Idaho can make in economic competitiveness is through education. Yet there is also much we can do to make our state more business friendly. Simplified business licensing, easy-to-navigate online filings and state agencies with a commitment to can-do, problem-solving business assistance are a low-cost way to start. Seamless partnerships with the Idaho Tax Commission, the Department of Commerce and Bureau of Occupational Licenses (just to name a few) will help small businesses navigate the system and get down to the business of serving customers faster. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we need to help them in every way possible, every day. Less paperwork, more service. 

Holding the Special Interests Accountable 

One of the key responsibilities of the Secretary of State is monitoring lobbying activities in our state. Woodings believes lobbying should be transparent, legal and ethical on every level, and she will fight to keep it that way. Safeguarding the openness of our political system, protecting your freedom to vote and ensuring that our lands are managed for the benefit of all will be my job description from Day 1.

On 10/5/14 The Idaho Statesman Endorsed Holli Woodings:
Our concerns about Denney revolve around past partisan dealings and future plans to tinker with voting. Denney's failure as speaker to take action against former Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who stole state timber and refused to pay $600,000 in back state and federal taxes, has us questioning his impartiality.
His priority, if elected, "to work on measures to enhance the security of the election process, such as new technology that scans either signatures or fingerprints," is a solution in search of a problem. Denney seems too willing to spend money on phantom voter fraud and authorizing expensive second legal opinions that bolster the belief that Idaho has standing to take over federal lands through lawsuits.
Do not miss this election. Vote for Holli Woodings. Idaho's future depends on it.

I'm voting for Nels Mitchell. You should too. Now, you can vote early!

He is clearly the best candidate. - Michael

Skip the rush and vote early!
The Voter Resources section of our website is updated with new tools to assist with early voting. You can now search for an early voting location with the Polling Place Locator plugin! Information on voter registration status, absentee voting, and your polling place for Election Day is also available.
Remember to like Nels Mitchell for Idaho on Facebook and follow on Twitter!
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dear White People ... Justin Simien creates a film seeking a sincere dialogue about race

Issues of race, class and gender are never easy. And among them, the mere mention of race can inflame people's passions.

Dear White People.jpgDear White People, a film that started with a self-funded concept trailer for an immensely successful crowd-funding project, is getting a lot of talk these days, according to Web Pro News. The film is a work by a new and impressive director, Justin Simien. It follows characters on the fictional college campus of Winchester University as they interact in different racially charged situations. Dear White People centers around the character Samantha (Sam) White, played by Tessa Thompson, a provocative radio DJ who hosts a show called Dear White People.

Coming on like a fresh breeze amid the hot air that so often accompanies talk about race, "Dear White People" is both a conversation piece and a calling card, announcing writer-director Justin Simien, in his feature debut, as an invigorating voice, someone original from a new generation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

 From the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., to the media dust-up over an essay on television in the New York Times, the broad subject represents a minefield no matter the arena. The playfully incendiary satire of "Dear White People," set amid a racially charged college campus, takes it on, head-on, while diffusing tension with wit and humor.

 Cast of 'Dear White People' hopes the satire makes people think Cast of 'Dear White People' hopes the satire makes people think Saba Hamedy Opening Oct. 17 in limited release from distributor Roadside Attractions before a national rollout later this month, the film won prizes at the Sundance and San Francisco film festivals and was selected for the prestigious New Directors/New Films program in New York City. A companion book of essays written by Simien, with the lighthearted subtitle "A Guide to Inter-Racial Harmony in 'Post-Racial' America," will also be published this month. 

 Dear White People met with critical acclaim from critics upon its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 100% rating based on reviews from 9 critics, with an average score of 7.1/10. Justin Chang, in his review for Variety, said that the film "provokes admiration for having bothered to ask some of the hard questions without pretending to know any of the answers" and praising the cast said that "Williams, Thompson, Parris and Bell all make strong, distinctive impressions, with Thompson perhaps the standout as the film’s sharpest and most enigmatic figure." Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter praised the performances of cast, saying, "Thompson’s conflicted student activist, which she pulls off with practiced composure.

Williams manages to consistently dial up Lionel's nervousness and bewilderment throughout the film to a point of heightened tension that necessitates decisive resolution. As lovers, then rivals who must eventually seek mutual accommodation, Parris and Bell understand that for Coco and Troy, discovering humility is just the beginning of these characters' realigned journeys." He further added, "An edgy premise and memorable cast make for a potent first impression." Zeba Blay of Indiewire gave a positive review and said, "With its vividly drawn world and characters, the movie doesn’t presume to encompass the entirety of what it means to be black, but it does give one of the most entertaining and honest depictions of black life in a so-called “white” world in years."

Terence Johnson of gave a positive review to the film and said that "Dear White People is a perfect film for today’s generation".

Monday, October 6, 2014

Shirley Ringo is is running for Congress to be a voice for Idaho’s working families in Washington, D.C.

Shirley Ringo is a retired public school teacher now finishing her 14th year representing the people of Moscow in the Idaho House of Representatives. She is running for Congress to be a voice for Idaho’s working families in Washington, D.C., and to restore responsible leadership to the House of Representatives. 

Shirley is a teacher, an organizer, a public servant, and a proud Idahoan. Shirley's values are Idaho's values. Give everyone a shot at the American Dream. Reward hard work. Build an economy that's fair and lifts everyone up. Insist on accountability in government. And protect Idaho, the best place on earth, for future generations.

Shirley's a leader for all of Idaho. After 14 years in the Idaho House, her colleagues chose her to co-chair the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee -- even though she's a bright-blue Democrat in a deep-red state.

In my latest blog, Shirley takes the lead: Election 2014: Shirley Ringo Points Out Labrador's Severe Flaws.

There is also the glaring fact that Conngressman Labrador Agrees: Americans Don't Know What Republicans Stand For.

Therefore, Shirley Ringo will give Raul Labrador a Real Fight.

The doublespeak being spewed by her opponent, Raul Labrador, is bad for Idaho.  In 2011, Congressman Labrador cosponsored legislation that would direct the Department of Defense to transfer at least 10% of eligible military equipment to state agencies including a drone called the MQ-9 Reaper.

And in September, Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson (GA) introduced legislation called the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act after the horrific violence witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri. Congressman Labrador is a cosponsor on the bill.

“In an act of political expediency, Congressman Labrador has demonstrated what he will do get elected. One year he cosponsors legislation to arm law enforcement agencies with tactical military equipment like missile firing drones, and this year he cosponsors legislation to limit access to tactical equipment,” Shirley said. “He either has truly changed his views or he is playing politics.”

“I must point out that the legislation was penned by a Democrat, who had the foresight to seek
bipartisan cooperation,” Shirley said. “The leadership shown by Congressman Johnson is what Idaho needs. I support the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, and I bring will high quality ideas to Washington D.C. and provide for bipartisan collaboration.”

Congressman Raúl Labrador is pursuing an extreme agenda, chasing the national media spotlight, instead of focusing on the challenges of Idaho's working families. Let's send Shirley to Congress, and send Raúl packing. The only way to do that is with an outpouring of grassroots support. It starts with you.

(Questions? Contact the Ringo campaign at 208-301-2272.)