Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 21, 2016 / January 21, 2017


On January 21, 2016 I was in a 5-car accident in which my 5-month old car was totaled. It was a low point as you might imagine. I was very scared and sad and felt alone in the weeks that followed. I remember the specific date so well because of the subsequent insurance paperwork-- that process is ongoing. As far as I understand it, the insurance companies representing the two cars that hit me are arguing about how much damage (to my car and to my body) each is responsible for. A year has passed-- I bought a new car and saw a chiropractor for a while--and still I am often frightened when driving or even riding in cars. This lingering vulnerability really pisses me off because I have worked very hard for years to cultivate bravery in myself. I am trying to have faith in the process of time. Le sigh.

I have always been somewhat of an anxious person (I come by it honestly-- it's in the genes), and certainly the accident and my therapy work have contributed to my current uncomfortable, heightened awareness. Additionally, The Election-- Trump's victory--has impacted me (and many of us) greatly; I am truly concerned for our democracy and for the rights and welfare of our people. Someone close to me-- an immigrant from an oppressed country-- has said many times that Americans have been so coddled by democracy that we won't notice warning signs until it's too late. I feel like this is already happening. Every day there are unnerving and appalling developments. 

...

On January 21, 2017 I marched in Cincinnati at one of hundreds of sister marches around the world linked with the massive and beautiful Women’s March on Washington. Collectively, literal millions of people in our global community stood up to fear and hate and expressed our values in a peaceful, democratic way. I have not heard of a single arrest resulting from the march. We marched because women's rights are human rights, because black lives matter, because climate change is very real, because we are a nation of immigrants, because healthcare is a basic human right, because public education is fundamental, because love is love is love is love, because we reject President Trump's platform of hate, and because it's up to us to exercise and protect democracy. I felt empowered and lifted during the event. I felt connected. I did not feel alone. I felt hopeful and encouraged that we can use this resistance-- that the (good!)will of the people will not be ignored. 

I rode the positive energy through the afternoon and evening, but as I lay in bed last night I started to feel anxious again. Yesterday was HUGE, to be sure-- a giant and colorful show of global unity around these important human rights issues. But...what's next? We can't afford to normalize Trump's words and actions. We have a long road ahead and we must be vigilant. We must live our values every day. I am still figuring out what that looks like in my life. One of my goals for 2017 is to be more conscious about my spending-- I plan to donate more money directly to causes I believe in and to purchase items with social benefit. I will march again. I am also working on breaking down my empathy wall which, admittedly, has been somewhat difficult. We read and discussed Arlie Russell Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right in book club and that helped me to better understand the feeling narrative (the "deep story," as she says) of the other side, but my liberal views remain strong as ever. 

Friends, do you have other ideas? How can we better live as activists? 

I'm all ears. 







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 Break...man, 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

Thanksgiving

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.