"In the midst of winter I found in me an Invincible Summer." - Camus ...On exploring strength in its many forms:
strong people, strong writing, strong curiosity, obsessions, stances, and loves.
Strength as a concept wide enough to encompass fear, truth, vulnerability, and joy.
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Sundays in the New Reality
The world has changed. The world is always changing. Those sentences are both true.
In the current new reality, with a new leader in office for a mere nine days, the change feels exponential. A few hours off social media leaves me anxious that I've missed witnessing another atrocity. A few minutes on it leaves me itching with anxiety.
A Facebook colleague I admire posted: "Say what you will about Trump but the guy built a new generation of activists in a week." The countless, heartening photos of children alongside parents in protests this week aren't the only generation being activated by activism; the rather silent majority of introverts is also being called to action, me included.
I marched on DC in protest of the war in 2001 and 2002, but my activism took more of an armchair, donation-style to it in the last decade. The present reality has shaken the stupor.
But this new reality is not going away any time soon (enter "marathon not a sprint" metaphor here), so I find myself trying to quickly learn how to stay engaged while also refueling, stay curious while also remaining vigilant, being fierce while also being invitational, being an advocate while also being intentional about my involvement, and just plain being human because none of these categories are contradictory to each other. Every hour seems to hold the possibility of going numb or going crazy. And I want neither. To create real difference requires participation, but that participation takes many forms, and as anyone who finds themselves easily overwhelmed even by the fun things in life, it requires a healthy approach if it's going to last.
So, my current tools to balance protest and online engagement for maximum sustainability are meditation (I'm currently knee-deep in the "anxiety" pack of Headspace, and it's helping), connecting with friends (and sharing not just shared woes and fears, but also all the other things in our lives), aiming for good sleep and nutrition, and also trying to stay really present to the things I love, not just the things I'm afraid of. I suspect the tools will need addition over time. A niggling fear buzzing is that these are forms of denial, and in all truth there is a strong pull to go oblivious. But at the risk of not getting everything correct, but still making incremental progress, I claim them as necessities.
This new reality still allows for beautiful Sunday mornings, but the beauty looks different than it has before. The experience is different. It is evolving, just as I am trying to.
How are you caring for yourself while also caring deeply about what's going on?
I lost my mom twenty-one years ago today. She died from
complications related to a long battle with chronic-progressive multiple
sclerosis. I was a week away from turning twenty-one. Which means I have not
had her as long as I did have her.
It used to make me unique among my friends, to have lost a
parent at such a young age. But I’m no longer young and many friends have
joined this depressing club. The dues are astronomical and no one prepares
People, moms are important. Don’t let anyone tell you
differently. Whether you were once a child or are currently a mom. They are the
sun, moon, and stars, even when they are completely obscured by darkness.
I wish she mattered less. She doesn’t. She matters more than
almost anything: that first hit of love, that childhood sense of safety, that
initial understanding of what it means to be a woman in the world: mom.
Memory is funny when it comes to dead people: I can remember
her any way I want. Which means I can also mis-remem…
I inadvertently found myself in possession of an advance reader's edition of Elizabeth Strout's newest book, Anything is Possible. It's set to drop on April 25th.
Scrabble's response to the title:
Does this mean I can eat ten times a day?
It's a companion, a follow-up if you will (but not a sequel) to her last novel, My Name is Lucy Barton. Which was fantastic and spare and a perfect example of Strout's phenomenal carefulness in her writing. I loved it for all those reasons. I love Anything is Possible for completely different reasons.
It's a collection of linked stories, not unlike Strout's Olive Kitteredge. Each of the stories showcases a particular character referenced in My Name is Lucy Barton. In My Name, conversations with her mother over the span of a few days reference a host of do-you-remembers, and whatever-happened-tos involving offscreen characters that are delightfully interesting in their own right. Anything is Possible is full of these ri…
I make a decent attempt at gratitude on the regular, but I love how this season makes me think about it specifically. Even in the midst of all the holiday hoopla and the days of generalized anxiety we currently live in, there are genuine reflections of thankfulness everywhere. Way more so than say Valentine's day prompting people to really reflect on their love for someone. I've been keeping a list in my notes app on my phone to record the things that are currently immense suppliers of joy in my life. Here's an incomplete list:
My dental hygienist.
This is not a product placement disguised as gratitude. This is my genuine, heartfelt gratitude for a woman I see every six months who I have complete trust in, and who makes an otherwise unpleasant experience as humane and awesome as possible. Yes, yes, my dentist is also great. Absolutely. But making a teeth cleaning a pleasant experience is a gift not many hygienists possess. It's a combo of demeanor, the exact right amou…