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Friday Five!

Friday Five2

The exclamation point is for hope.

I enjoy seeing stories like the ones below. We may not like the hand we’ve been dealt *cough*dealtourselves*cough* but I like stories about people doing something other than just throwing their hands in the air.

  1. Joaquin Castro may run against Cruz. That would be exciting.
  2. Stephen Colbert is funding every existing grant request on DonorsChoose.org  made by South Carolina teachers.
  3. Since DeVos is going to be Secretary of Education, people who don’t like that are running for their local school boards.
  4. Biden’s daughter is making hoodies and I’ve never wanted a hoodie more.
  5. I want to do this to the entire state of Texas – cool off without using refrigerants.

Bonus – in case you’ve ever wanted to hear a conversation between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde (and if you haven’t, you should. You should want this) – here you go.

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When all else fails, raid the recycling bin.

January was intense. A lot has happened in our world and to my friends this month. While I have been active and keeping informed, I’ve also enjoyed some downtime.

Books

This month, I finished up some books I had started and read another book by someone who is becoming one of my favorite authors.

I enjoyed The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery (Cron and Stabile). That is, I enjoyed it after reading the part about Ones, which I am now 97% certain I am. I can’t really call my experience through that chapter “enjoyment,” but it was helpful.

My favorite book I’ve read this month is Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. I have a whole separate post planned about this book, but for now I want to talk about this author. I love his characters and how he develops them. I need to buy all of his books and study them with fervor. I want to write characters that well.

TV

This is Us. I am firmly seated on this bandwagon. Stupid awesome show. It makes me cry and cry. I love  them all, but Randall is my favorite. Also, I am happy to see Milo Ventimiglia and Justin Hartley throwing off shirts again. I support this.

I’ve also been on a superhero kick (I mean…even more than usual). So clearly I am rewatching/binge-watching Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and Smallville. For some reason, I see the need for heroes these days. And by heroes, I do mean Cat Grant, Iris West, and Felicity Smoak.

Life

I had…fun? That’s not exactly it. I had moderate anxiety and the tiniest of panic attacks graciously buffered by camaraderie and humor and overwhelming kindness and the joy of seeing both old and new friends at the Women’s Rally/March in Denton. I enjoyed lunch and dinner with friends to talk about it, and my hope was given a little boost by those conversations.

My parents visited last weekend. We ate a lot, and my mom and I watched romantic comedies, and before they went home, my friend Margarett brought them a puppy to take with them. His name is Butch, and he is corgi/shepherd, and he has got that whole puppy eyes thing down. I’m sure there will be pictures aplenty in the months and years to come.

I’ve taken up my seasonal knitting habit again. It’s so calming. This year, I’m obsessed with blankets. If you visit, I might try to pawn one off on you. Many of them will be going to supplement the United Methodist Church’s donations to homeless shelters, because how many blankets do I really need? I am currently working on one in blues and grays that will act as a bedspread:

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Writing

I totally skipped my January newsletter this month, but I had something to share at my Mastermind group, so there’s that. I am working on about four very different projects. I think I can finally admit that having several projects going at once is the key to my sticking with a writing schedule and ever getting anything done. I am exhausted, exhilarated, and happy.

What I'm Into button

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – hop over, read what others are into, and share your own post!

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Friday Five2

I got sucked into the Internet this week, and I was not my best self. It will surprise no one here that I have many opinions with lots of passion and intensity, and that’s why I don’t Facebook actively because as it turns out, people are not so much persuaded by being overwhelmed as they are driven to drink and binge-watch on the Netflix while avoiding my texts.

Ahem.

To that end, the first two links I have are some tips on being in spaces with people who get your dander up (like me, perhaps) and how to do the work of getting past all of that and still have meaningful conversations.

  • How to Survive in Intersectional Feminist Spaces 101 via CrossKnit – This is a great place to start if you read the title of the post and said, “What do those words mean?” or if you have a negative view of what those words mean to you. It’s also a great refresher and reminder to those of us who think we know everything. Keeps us humble. Also, her follow-up post makes me howl with a weird mix of respect for her for owning up to things that people confronted her with, self-recognition, humility, glee, gratitude, and inspiration.
  • How to be a friend to the LGBTQIA+ community – from GLAAD and from Carlos Maza via the Washington Post archives. Absolutely engage in these behaviors yourself. But if you see other people engaging in these behaviors and your behavior gets called out as a result, know that it’s not really about you but rather their desire to support and defend people they see being mistreated.

More things for your reading enjoyment/thought provocation/action-taking:

  • Obama via The New England Journal of Medicine discusses the dangers and irresponsibility of repealing the ACA without something workable to replace it.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates via The Atlantic – My President was Black.
  • DeVos is not a suitable candidate for Secretary of Education. Here are a list of Senators who are key in making a decision on DeVos on Tuesday (first numbers are their local offices; 202 numbers are their D.C. offices). If your senator is listed, give them a call, but if not, call one of the others:Susan Collins (ME) 207.622.8414; 202.224.2523
    Lamar Alexander (TN) 615.736.5129; 202.224.4944
    Lisa Murkowski (AK) 907.586.7277; 202.224.6665
    Johnny Isakson (GA) 770.661.0999; 202.224.3643
    Orrin Hatch (UT) 801.524.4380; 202.224.5251
    Richard Burr (NC) 336.631.5125; 202.224.3154; 910.251.1058; 828.350.2437
    Michael Enzi (WY) 202.224.3424
    Dr. Bill Cassidy (LA) 202.224.5824
    Pat Roberts (KS) 202.224.4774
    Tim Scott (SC) 202.224.6121
    Rand Paul (KY) 202.224.4343

And a bonus post for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, including a remembrance of how it all started.

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Saturday was awesome. I’m not generally a march person. I don’t do crowds well; I get panicky. But it was local (so, familiar) and I went with friends who would have understood if I’d needed to run away for a bit. I attended the women’s rally in Denton, had lunch with some friends afterward to talk about it, and then met for decadent waffles and coffee with another friend who had her reasons not to attend but was eager to hear the reasons I did.

Yesterday, however, was one of the days I had to get off Facebook to retain my sanity.

It wasn’t all bad. I had several friends who posted why they chose not to march. While wow, we’ve had very different life experiences and disagree about a lot of things, I respect that, just like I do, they do not shy away from the responsibilty of acting according to their convictions. I even clicked “like” on a couple that were particularly well reasoned and eloquently stated. I’m thankful that they shared.

Then there were the others – some original, some reposted from another source. They listed lots of reasons they didn’t march, but they also listed many disrespectful assumptions about us marchers. And most of them ended with some version of the condescending sentiment, “Oh, but go ahead and have your little march if it will make you feel better. Bless your hearts.”

 

Incredibly, many of the people posting these messages are some of the same people I see calling for unity. Hmm. Maybe it would be more unifying if they listened and tried to understand the positions of others instead of automatically dismissing them as stupid and whiny. Just a thought.

More to the point, I get that people feel compelled to explain why they didn’t march. After all, I often feel compelled to explain why I don’t do something others see as important. It’s very human to want to be understood and to feel defensive when we’re not. As one who marched, let me assure those of you who didn’t that you don’t owe me an explanation. We all have different work to do, and if this march wasn’t part of your work, then that’s your decision. I am happy to listen if you want to explain anyway, but you owe me nothing.

[Aside – your other friends who marched may feel differently. Don’t assume I speak for everyone, because I do not.]

If you do explain, however, be careful. There is a thin line between “This is why I didn’t,” and “This is why people who march are stupid.” And most of the posts I saw in my feed crossed that line from disagreement right into disrespect. I understand the draw. I’m certainly not innocent of it. Acting petty is super gratifying – cathartic, even. Some of my favorite people are petty by default. And it is a whole lot easier to dismiss people who disagree as unintelligent or uninformed or just plain unlikable without going to the trouble to listen long enough to discern if those things are true.

The problem is that when we choose to take the low road by insulting whole groups of people, there are probably going to be people who read or hear it whom we would claim to love and respect as individuals and who also happen to fall within that group. It lands on them just as if we had said it to their faces. If you are fine with this, well…you do you. On some level, I get that, too. I’m certainly working through some of my own feelings of betrayal and anger, and I hope Jesus and I work through them soon, because they are hella stressful. I want you to have space to work through it, too.

Just know that, if you posted one of those messages, it landed on people you call friends. It landed on me and my friends (which frankly, is more offensive than it landing on me. How dare you. My friends are awesome, and you would be lucky to know them).

If that’s the message you meant to send me – that you neither like nor respect me – then okay. Not everyone does. So…why are you here? Stop torturing yourself. Unfriend me, unfollow me, and stop reading. Life is too short, and the steady rise of your blood pressure with every word you read is making yours even shorter. Save yourself. Just go.

If, however, that isn’t the message you intended to send, let’s see if I can help us work our way back from it.

First, full disclosure – those calls for unity? I’m not even close to there yet. Before you get judgy, I want you to reflect on our time in the Obama administration. Think of how long it took you to say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s our President, and it’s still our country, so I’m going to make peace with it.” How long did it take you to get rid of the opposing candidate’s yard sign and take your “I didn’t vote for this Obama-nation” bumper sticker off your car? How long did it take for you to stop posting snarky and often hateful memes poking fun at the First Family on social media, and how long after that did it take for you to stop liking those memes or finding them funny? When voicing your opposition to Obama’s healthcare plan (which is an opinion you have every right to voice), how long did it take you to stop calling it Obamacare and refer to it by its actual name, the Affordable Care Act?

Was it two months? Six months? A year? Eight years? Be honest.

Take that measure of time, add it to January 20, 2017, put it on your calendar, and mark it as the first day you have any moral ground whatsoever to ask me for unity. You may get it well before then, on account of my annoying, stubborn idealism and the inconvenient fact that achieving the goals we marched for – freedom for all – will ultimately require some semblance of an all. But in the meantime, stop asking people to do what you yourself could not.

Second, while I don’t owe you an explanation either, if you are still reading (and good on you – this is a long one), I’d like to tell you why I marched. It’s possible that you might even find something here to agree with, and I suppose that’s a start.

The equal rights we allegedly all have on paper are not fully practiced in reality. Equality is not just a legal issue; even more than that, it is a heart and attitude issue. Lack of a heart and attitude for equality is still a big problem in our country. I marched to protest that reality.

We just swore in a man who, through all his years in the limelight and throughout his campaign, actively displayed a heart and attitude of inequality. He has disparaged women, people of color, military veterans, people with disabilities – basically, anyone who has ever appeared to disagree with him. And he’s not dumb. He has been in the public eye his whole life, and he knew exactly what he was doing and exactly the effect it would have. He knew his open ridicule would embolden other people to act out their similar hateful biases in more extreme ways which he could then publicly denounce, passing himself off as reasonable by comparison. He will make promises and tell people he is on their side, and then betray them to get what he wants. Then he will turn around and ask them to be friends again and pout (or tweet) when they understandably decline. As long as I’ve known who he is, these have been his signature moves. This is not friendship or leadership; it is a cycle of abuse that he has, to date, shown no intention of breaking. I protest that.

If he were to want to show intention to turn over a new leaf, I’d be happy to see it. A good way to do that would be to enforce the equal rights we are supposedly guaranteed by law. You know, instead of threatening to repeal those laws or to cut funding/defund agencies that exist to protect them. I protest that, too.

I marched to be part of an audio-visual reminder to the president and the country that, while he may have been elected by a different group of people, upon taking that oath, he works for all of us now. An across-party-lines calling for that is a unity I could maybe think about starting to get on board with.

Barring that far-fetched possibility, the march also served as a not-so-subtle reminder that those who oppose inequality, particularly the inequality that laces the president’s words and actions, are not the small, docile, silent minority he would like to believe we are.

And finally, I marched in repentance for white feminism. White feminism is a larger discussion but for our purposes here includes all supposed freedom work that pursues one group’s freedom at the expense and exclusion of the freedom of others, particularly the freedom of women of color. I can believe we still have to protest this shit, because we cannot free and oppress at the same time, and that’s what a lot of the work of white feminists has done. It has tried to take a step forward by pushing others back. Freedom and oppression are opposing forces. No wonder progress has been slow, because much of it simply has not been progress.

On Saturday, I know we did a whole lot of getting things right. The rally in Denton seemed peaceful and inclusive. Having said that, if someone told me that they were excluded from it, I would believe them, because with its roots in white supremacy, white feminism is pervasive as hell. I marched in recognition that we still have so much work to do and that a lot of that work was created by our own selfishness.

Marching isn’t the only thing we’re doing, or even the most effective. Of course it isn’t. I know a lot of people who didn’t march because they were doing important work elsewhere at the time. That’s great – more power to them!

The march did spark hope in me again. If you are one of the people calling for unity, and you truly want it, this should give you hope that one day I’ll get there, too.

 

 

 

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Friday Five2

“Five” is more of a guideline, really.

Because I believe in reaching beyond limits and breaking all manner of ceilings, I’m not going to limit my links this week to five. I believe we can all benefit from going beyond our limits today (and also tomorrow…and for the next four years…). Going beyond our limits and doing and being more is something it would be good for us all to learn to practice.

Things I saved from the Internet this week:

  1. Happy birthday to Michelle Obama on Tuesday. BookBub lists five books she has mentioned loving, because reading and knowledge are power. And I love people who read to kids. This year, I want to follow her example. Reading to children is the only thing I miss from working daycare.
  2. Off the Shelf compiled a similar list of what has been on Barack Obama’s bookshelf.
  3. Ann Patchett wrote a touching goodbye tribute to the Obamas.
  4. My friend Bola has created a character that I can’t wait to see on the screen. A black mermaid? Yes, please. Follow The Water Phoenix on Facebook.
  5. I am not your Teachable Moment – from Everyday Feminism.
  6. Dallas is getting a new independent bookstore – Interabang Books, coming in May!
  7. Another reason to get a piano – studying/playing music is linked to increased civic engagement, improved reading comprehension, and better math skills. While I am firmly in the camp that believes that defending the study of music because it’s good for other things is “like defending kissing because it gives you stronger lip muscles for eating soup neatly,” I also recognize that it is good for other things. And we may need it to be good for other things…
  8. …because Betsy DeVos. Tell your senators no. Here are some ways.

And my favorite thing I’ve read this week – it’s long, but so worth it. To Obama, With Love, and Hate, and Desperation.

Edited to add – my friend Jamie Wright Bagley has a poetry e-course that is up on her website. It’s free, but it’s only available for a limited time. You want to do it!

 

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Friday Five2

We’ve been training this week on a new program to implement to fight interpersonal violence on our campus, so there were several quotes that we heard throughout the week from inspirational sources. When we saw the quote from Obama’s Super Tuesday speech in 2008 – “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek,” I almost had to leave the room, because I am a damn professional and I recognized that it’s unsettling for others for me to sob in training. This week has been emotionally rough, in part because of the subject matter of our training, but also because saying goodbye to this administration is incredibly difficult.

Most of the time, blog posts are for you. Yes, they are navel-gazey and all about me, but I hope there is something that you can draw from them, and that’s usually my intention in writing them. But this one is just to mark the week. Maybe you need it, too, but it’s here because I need to pause and say thank you to the First Family for their service to our country.

  1. Obama’s farewell speech (complete with transcript for those who are in public and can’t watch video. But also with video because take your earbuds to the library and watch it.)
  2. One Last Time – Hamilton at the White House
  3. The Bush sisters write the Obama sisters (do not read this in public – it has a high probability of making you ugly cry. Unless you like ugly-crying in public, and then…you do you)
  4. Biden honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom (his little face!)
  5. People tell Michelle Obama what she means to them (and then they get surprised – I would straight up fangirl all over the place)

Thank you to the Obamas and the Bidens for the last eight years. I’ve been proud to call you our leaders.

 

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So…thanks

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My tree is up and slowly being decorated. I haven’t seen this weird little ornament that I made during childhood in years. Thankful, step 1.

Many of my friends are talking about how hard it is to be thankful this year with so much going on that is not good.

Part of me is sympathetic – pain does make thankfulness more challenging. Another part of me is whistling to the tune of “Welcome to my world…” This is how life feels all the time when one keeps up with the news – when one chooses not to shut out the brokenness of the world to protect oneself.

After a while, you get used to holding all of it. You get used to the both/and of opposing realities. It helps to have someone to talk to (a professional, that is). It helps to actually do the things that someone suggests. It helps if you are not as stubborn as I am.

At first, you might have to take thankfulness in steps. They don’t take a lot of time, so you don’t have to ignore the ongoing developments in the DAPL protests or Trump’s bad administration choices. You don’t have to sacrifice the time it takes make calls and meet needs.

You need ten minutes. Ten minutes to list what makes the world worth saving.

Your list will look different from everyone else’s list, and no one gets to tell you what should be on your list. In fact, just throw that word “should” out the window. You won’t be needing it here.

Your list does not have to be for public consumption. Only the highlights of mine are usually public. The apartment. The space. The relative peace and quiet of a neighborhood with an older-than-college-student demographic. Friends. Family. The specifics are personal.

My readers are on my list. I’m thankful for you. So…thanks.

Feel free to share any highlights from your list in the comments.

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