Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Winter Break.

It's 10:25am. I'm on the couch in pajamas, a ponytail, glasses. I've been up for some time but I've just had a breakfast of coffee, cottage cheese, and Triscuits. I can hear Eli playing upstairs-- something somber and pretty. I wonder if our neighbors can hear him too. We don't have plans until tonight when we will celebrate Hanukkah with friends and family. Maybe we will walk to the cemetery-- one of my favorite places. Maybe I will ask him to go to the art museum to see the Van Gogh exhibit

When I was in school, a scheduled break felt like a reset. Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer, school was so great. Late each Fall, I'd work really hard to finish up projects and sit for final exams and then have a couple of weeks to sleep and play and get ready for fresh challenges in the New Year. I don't have two weeks this year, but I did carve out a week between Christmas and New Year's Day to reset. To me, the holidays are always a bit stressful, even when they're going well. It has been nice to have some days at home-- to sleep, to play, to go on long walks, and go out for late dinners. I really love my job and I am rewarded with kindness and insight from my clients nearly every day, but caring about people in such a deep way, and feeling so responsible and raw all the time makes me soul weary. Part of this is me, I know. I am getting better. But, I think I could probably stand to take more breaks, and I am certainly thankful for this one. 

Like many, I will be glad to see this year go. I know that all of the sadness is not and has not been 2016's fault. I do not think the year has been cursed although I have truly felt this at times. Still, I am looking forward to 2017. I will turn 30 in 2017 which seems very strange. I remember when 30 felt so far away. I will become eligible and apply for an independent social work license in 2017. I will, I hope, continue to read and walk, and even blog on occasion in 2017. ;)

I hope that you are well and that you have found some rest this holiday season. I hope we can collectively reset. 

We have a lot of work to do. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Like many, I am still reeling from The Election. I have been reading and watching a lot but generally trying to avoid posting about politics. NPR challenged me to "read the book that's not for you," and I will. In my case, this is Strangers in Their Own Land (about Tea Party conservatives in Louisiana), and I managed to get our Book Club on board (thanks, you guys). Still, even as I search for understanding and connection, I know there is so much to be afraid of, and to be disappointed in. I am thinking of ways to be a force for good. I welcome your suggestions.

In an effort to distract myself from the above and in light of the holiday, I have been trying to focus on the many things I am thankful for. The list is very long. Included on it are my families in Columbus, Cincinnati, and beyond, my very special and long-suffering partner, my talented, passionate, and creative friends, my clients who teach me how to open my mind and my heart a little more each day, my health, travel, literacy, means enough that money is not always on my mind, song, warm meals, new challenges, changing seasons, and our shy and kooky little wolfcat. Perhaps most of all I am thankful for hope.

I feel very lucky when I reflect on my gratitude. I hope that you do too.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Election

I almost hit a deer on my way home from work on election night. The deer ran out in front of my car, I slammed on my brakes, and then I worried that the car behind me would run into me. Instead, thankfully, the driver swerved around me and the deer. For a moment, I thought I was going to get hit again, and I was terrified. Several hours later as the votes were being counted, I felt like I had been in a different sort of accident. 

Initially, Hillary Clinton was not my candidate of choice. I thought she was not progressive enough. When it was clear that she would become my party's candidate, I embraced her. I watched all three debates. I watched her speak, and I read more about her positions and her long history of fighting for children and families. I came to believe in her conviction. I voted for her happily and with confidence on November 8. I believed that she would win because that was what the pollsters and media had been predicting, and I had been obsessively checking fivethirtyeight for days. I think, too, that I did not want to believe that so many of my fellow Americans support Trump's sexist, racist, xenophobic rhetoric. I wanted to believe that we're better than that. I guess I still do believe that, although my faith has certainly been tested. Further, I allowed myself to actually believe that we could elect a woman as our president. I was excited about what this could mean for other women and especially for young girls-- how validating and encouraging it would be. I wore a white sweater to the polls to honor the suffragettes. I wore a multi-colored necklace, too, to try to honor women of color who did not get the right to vote until 1965. 

I wore black on November 9. I was in mourning. When she did not win, I felt angry. How could we have missed this? How are we so out of touch with one another? I was angry with the pollsters. I was angry with the so-called protest voters and with the millions of eligible voters who did not show up. I was angry with Trump supporters. I was angry with Trump himself. I was angry with myself for not supporting Hillary's campaign in a more formal way. I know that the fact that she is a woman played a significant role in her defeat, and I am very angry about that too. I feel that pain. 

I have also tried to understand the Trump voter's perspective (the hopefully large subset that I must believe is not motivated by hatred). Admittedly, this was the first time I tried to empathize with the other side. It had been so easy for me to dismiss Trump and his supporters because of...all of it. Once again, I find myself agreeing with Bernie Sanders about some of the reasons Trump won and where we can go from here. Here is his statement from November 9. 

BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 9 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Wednesday after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States:

“Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media.  People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids - all while the very rich become much richer. 

To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

I do not believe there will ever be a perfect presidential candidate; however, I think we have missed a great opportunity. I think Hillary Clinton could have helped us. I watched her concession speech and felt it was very graceful and moving. I thought it was very presidential. I am sad for this loss. I am also deeply saddened by the hurtful and frightening message we have sent to immigrants, African-Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, women, LGBT people, people with disabilities, and on and on. I am concerned about ongoing violence and hate crimes in our country and our reputation abroad. I have talked with so many people who are afraid for our future, and I can definitely identify with that fear. Several of my clients have asked what will happen to their health insurance. I don't know. I don't know how it all will play out. 

What I do know is that I will continue to try to live my values every day and to fight for what I believe is right. I agree with Hillary on this...fighting for what's right is always worth it. 

Finally, in case you are interested, here is a list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-Earth, anti-bigotry organizations that are likely to suffer under a Trump presidency. We must face this reality and figure out ways to protect and support one another. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Last weekend in Yellow Springs

Yellow Springs is a village near Dayton, OH; per wikipedia (so you know it's legit), the name comes from a nearby natural spring that's so rich in iron ore it turns the rocks yellowish-orange (but mostly orange as you'll see below). It's an artsy, progressive community right next to a nature preserve. Life seems to move more slowly in Yellow Springs, and I absolutely love it there. 

I originally wanted to go for Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday but blah blah blah for boring reasons it didn't work out. I had a lovely birthday party at home with some friends and we decided we'd try Yellow Springs again in a few weeks. I was not super proactive about planning the trip; at the end of most weeks I feel like I could sleep the entire weekend and be perfectly happy. Eli insisted that we go, so we went. I think he knew we needed it.

Friday night we checked into our adorable (and super cheap) Airbnb loft above a local family's detached garage and headed straight for Yellow Springs Brewery (#priorities). We ate some really great meals at Sunrise Cafe and Winds Cafe and took a couple of long walks in the woods. Each morning we walked by an old building that had been converted to office space and art studios. Eli kept insisting it was haunted, but I was daydreaming about uprooting my life and opening a private practice inside; I'd walk to work and set up my desk underneath a big window with a woodsy view. On a Sunday morning whim, we drove down the street to Young's Jersey Dairy in search of pumpkins.  They had plenty lined up for sale but we decided it made more sense to hop on a wagon full of young children and wade into a muddy patch to clip our own pumpkins off their vines. We wrapped up the weekend with a swirl of soft serve at Corner Cone

Occasionally a client will tell me that he or she is too busy for therapy. I explain that sometimes adding another thing to your plate doesn't necessarily add fact, therapy can help to relieve stress in a number of ways. That's how I felt about our trip. I'm not home as much as I'd like to be and we'd travelled to our friends' wedding in Pittsburgh the weekend before, so at first I wasn't necessarily into the idea of back-to-back weekends away. In the end, I felt refreshed. I had a really pleasant and relaxed extended hang with my partner. 

Basically, if you can go to Yellow Springs (or anywhere that calms and inspires you), you should.