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Faint Flashes of Hope

Yesterday, the news media called the 2020 United States presidential race for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. This morning as I meditated, I began by saying “I unlock joy. I commit to action.” After a few minutes, I admitted it wasn’t working.

With the stress of this bitterly divided election layered on top of the stress of the summer uprisings and the deep-seated inequities that fueled them layered on top of the stress of COVID, all woven through with personal stress from my job, my joy feels very limited and hard to access these days. Especially since, as adrienne maree brown noted in a fantastic and sobering video yesterday, this transition period may be the most dangerous phase yet of Trump’s presidency, especially for BIPOC folks. It’s hard to find joy when the worst may still be yet to come.

So I tried this instead: “I unlock hope. I commit to action.” That still felt hard, but it felt better. There’s a lot to feel hopeless about, that’s for damned sure. The current occupant of the Oval Office is a petulant fascist man-child who cares about no one but himself. His most ardent supporters are heavily armed and have few qualms about resorting to violence against their fellow humans if we don’t get in line. Despite the party’s talk of diversity and justice, Joe Biden is still a cishet white Christian man, just like 44 of the 45 presidents we’ve already had. There may still be recounts and legal challenges in our futures, to say nothing of the needless malarkey that is the electoral college vote on December 14.

And yet, not everything is awful. Despite COVID and nationwide effort at voter suppression, voting was at all-time highs in some areas. Stacey Abrams, Nse Ufot, Helen Butler, Rebecca DeHart, Deborah Scott, and Tamieka Aitkins (to whom we owe a massive debt of gratitude and a lot of political power) and their coalitions of mostly Black women organizers and volunteers delivered Georgia, of all places, to the Democrats. We’re going to have an honest-to-Sagan woman vice president – and a woman of color, at that. And unless Trump really, truly, stages a coup,* he’s outta here come January.

Over the coming days, weeks, and months, as we move through this fraught transition period, you may see a lot of people telling you that it’s okay to celebrate and feel joy even if you still have worries about what’s going on. That’s true, as far as it goes. But in case you need it, I’m here to remind you that it’s also okay not to celebrate and feel joy if you just can’t find it in you. But maybe, just maybe, you can find a little hope here and there. And a little hope here and there ain’t nothing.

*I know this is not outside the realm of possibility.

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Kind Birthyear to Me

Yesterday was my birthday. It was an up and down kind of day. Leora and I spent a few hours with friends at the Como Park Conservatory, and then lunch out, which were nice. But the conservatory had been a fallback because predicted thunderstorms put the kibosh on spending the morning morel foraging, and the weather left me enervated for the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t even talk to my parents, because I was feeling a strong need not to interact with any more people for the day. And it wasn’t great, but it was kind of nice to think, It’s okay; it’s my birthday. I can do that.

A couple weeks ago, this conversation happened in my Instagram messages:

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TRANSCRIPT:

Me: As usual at this time of year, trying to balance wanting to squeeze as much adventure as possible into my birthday (the 18th) with wondering why I put so much pressure on a single day of the year.
J: Aren’t we humans silly creatures
Me: What would life be like, I sometimes wonder, if I were as kind to myself every day of the year as I am on my birthday?
J: Oh try it I triple dog dare you 

I’ve been thinking about that ever since. What would my life be like if I were as kind to myself every day as I am on my birthday? I don’t mean as indulgent. Birthdays for me often mean certain food, money, and time management choices that I wouldn’t even want to replicate the other 364 days a year. But I do usually treat myself with more kindness. I allow myself to express strong personal opinions and make definitive decisions without worrying that they’re going to disappoint someone. I forgive myself if things on the to-do list don’t get to-done. I listen to my body, even when my heart and mind still want to go go go! Even when the day doesn’t go the way I’d hoped, I still usually feel good about things in general, because I let myself feel good about myself.

Then May 19th rolls around, and I go right back to being indecisive and self-critical. It sucks.

So for this, The Year of Being 41, I’m going to try it. I’m going to (endeavor to) spend an entire year really being nice to myself. I don’t know how it’ll go. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even entirely clear on what it looks like. But I’m going to try it. The world is full of unkindness; the least I can do is not replicate that behavior in myself to myself. 

Wish me luck!

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heART Postcard ~~ Kindness, by Gemma Grace. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)