"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?
The exciting (or at least the inevitable) conclusion of Part One and Part Two of Icelandic awesomeness....
Day Six: Ekra Cottage/ Lagarfljótsvirkjun to Höfn
This day was all about epic scenery. Kilometer after kilometer of stunning beauty. The ever-shifting sweeping views afforded us herds of wild reindeer, giant snowy fjords, a mossy valley, snow blowing across the road like dry ice, lava rock, waterfalls. It was a total feast.
Our halfway point was Djúpivogur which houses a collection of giant roadside marble eggs, each one fashioned after a particular type of bird's egg.
We arrived in Höfn and checked out the harbor and the free museum (a welcome respite from the windy harbor) before checking into our guesthouse. Which we had all to ourselves. We made one last meal of fusilli and bell pepper (fusilli meal #4 for the trip for those keeping track - I'll be taking a good long break from fusilli now) and read. I found a left-behind copy of The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurðar…
The end of the second quarter snuck up on me: it feels like only three weeks have passed since my last quarterly report. Part of the speedy passing of time was from all the good books I've been reading lately. I've already told you how much I loved re-reading The Magic Summer. Here are my other favorites from this season:
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach. This gem is from one of my favorite local authors. Mary Roach's sense of humor should really get it's own zip code, it's so wonderful. I learned a great deal, sometimes about things I wasn't sure I wanted to know (like how to properly use flatus in a sentence), and I can't tell you the amount of times per week I find myself thinking about the nutritional content of my dinner compared to my cats' on account of this book.
As a delighted listener once said at a reading she did: "You keep writing books about exactly the thing I'm most interested in, except I didn't know I…
Five years ago I traveled to Iceland for the first time. I arrived already smitten with it, having fostered a curiosity about the place through various books I'd read. It did not disappoint. I used my emerging obsession as an excuse to research and write and my travels in 2013 fueled the novel I just finally finished revising last month. I loved living in the world of that novel while working on it as a way to stay connected to such a magical place. I had hoped to go back someday but didn't quite believe it would happen (there are so many other countries on my to-visit list, re-visiting a place seems a radical luxury and...inefficient?). But a plan was hatched: the hubs and I were long overdue for a real vacation, had yet to travel out of the country together despite being together for eight-plus years (I know, scandalous), and were craving some quiet and darkness. Again, Iceland did not disappoint. Early to mid-January in Iceland boasts a grand total of 4 1/2 to 5 hours of da…