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Dear Upset American

detail-of-american-flag-11279635008nzanIt has been an unprecedentedly weird week in American politics.

There’s a lot to say about it, but honestly, I’m pretty sure it’s all being said. It’s out there. If you want more, there’s plenty to be had.

What I want to tell you isn’t about polls or data, it isn’t about graphs. It isn’t even about political platforms, strategies, or protests.

What I want to tell you is that we are all still here.

Anything you think you’ve learned about each other since Tuesday was true on Monday.

Anything you think you’ve learned about our country since Tuesday was true on Monday.

Anything you think has changed was true on Monday. There is change to come; I’m not denying it. But as of this moment, there is nothing new. There are no new opinions, no new preferences, nothing new. Continue reading → Dear Upset American

Maybe Those Invitations ARE for You

I’ve been telling my Facebook followers that I couldn’t wait much longer to start talking about Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior.  I did want to wait, though. I wanted to wait to give people a chance to read it themselves and I wanted to let it sink in after I read it. This book is so dense with humanity and wisdom that there’s a lot to take in. I considered doing a giant post on all the lessons in the book and decided that it would not do justice to either the book or to you. These lessons are rich and packed with meaning, not to be discussed in a sentence or two.

So instead, today I just want to sit with one idea, one quote from this book. It’s a dilly.

slide-1 In this part of the memoir, Glennon Doyle Melton is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, a reality for which she feels completely unprepared and of which she is certain she is not worthy. She experiences a turn, a shift, and makes a decision to believe something new. Her new beliefs, her new thoughts about herself and God and the universe led her down a new path. She explains: “I will stop deeming myself unworthy of invitations and trust the inviter. I will test out the ridiculous, nonsensical possibility that somehow, in some way I can’t yet see, I will rise to meet this call.”

This sentence stopped me in my tracks. Continue reading → Maybe Those Invitations ARE for You

How Busy Are You?

slide1Historically I’m a list maker by nature. It’s not the making the list that I enjoy. It’s the crossing it off, the checking the box; the little “done” bell that rings in my head when I complete an item on the list that I really love. I’ve so enjoyed this part of the list making job that I have retroactively added items that I’ve already completed to the list so that I can have the joy of crossing them off. Ding. “Done.” You get a gold star, oh yes you do. Look how productive you are. You are really doing it. Well, doing something. Well, doing lots of things.

These days, I don’t really make lists. I really don’t. Sometimes I’ll make a list of people I need to get in touch with, but I don’t cross them off. I’m noticing this change right now as I’m writing. I have stopped crossing things off lists. I’ve stopped ringing my “done” bell. Why? I think I’ve had a fundamental shift. And the shift has to do with busyness. Western culture hold busyness in very high regard. Busyness is productivity. Productivity is value. Value is worth. Ding. You get a gold star. Yay!!! Continue reading → How Busy Are You?

There Are No Fresh Starts

That’s right. I said it.

freshstartsI said it even though I can’t count the number of times I myself have wished for one. For me the fresh start wish is more like an anxious whimper that comes out as: “I gotta get out of here.” This is my reptilian go to mantra when my situation has become uncomfortable to a degree that I feel can no longer tolerate. My lizard brain mantra flashes into my mind, unsummoned, unwanted, and unconsciously habitual and self-reinforcing. When the fish hits the fan*, something in me says it’s time to go.

Go where? Anywhere. Because anywhere is better than here. Anyplace is not this place and when I’m there in the anyplace else, everything will be different. And herein lies the first problem with the “fresh start” approach to big life problem solving. Anyplace else WILL be different in many ways I’m sure. It will be different enough in lots of day to day ways that will be distracting enough to last for a while, especially if they involve a new job, new community building, and new housing. What WON’T be different, though, is me. I don’t know who said it, but “wherever you go, there you are” must surely have been talking about me in my 20s. Continue reading → There Are No Fresh Starts

The Disconnect: Pinterest Perfect

Technology.pngMy kids are in 4th grade. This, apparently, is the year when students can begin to bring their own devices to school. When I heard this at back to school night, I felt a little sick. The teacher, perhaps responding to my face, perhaps having anticipated faces like the one I was making said: “Technology is out there in the world. They should know how to use it.” Yeah. That’s the problem. Kids don’t know how to use technology. My kids get very limited access to the devices we have in the house and they can still fix stuff on my phone when I have no idea what’s going on. But even with evidence countering the reason the teacher supplied for letting kids bring these things to school, this academic argument wasn’t really at the root of my discomfort.

I couldn’t fully articulate my discomfort until a few days later when, as I asked more questions of my kids as to how devices would be used in the classroom, my daughter explained that in art class they would take a picture of their art projects, post them to a central site and then classmates could “like” them and make comments. UGH. It suddenly became crystal clear to me why I was so uncomfortable with the whole thing. One of the things I admire most in my children is their freedom to express THEMSELVES, their true selves. How many more art projects will there be before the desire to accrue likes changes the design decisions that they make? Must we so soon move into the world of competitive perfection and commentary?

Let me pause here and say that I am not against social media. I USE social media. I use it professionally; I use it personally. When the twins were little, I think I would have gone stark raving mad without social media to let me know that I was not alone and that other Moms were struggling too. But I’ve been thinking a lot about social media, the way that it works and what it does and doesn’t represent in our lives. I was fortunate to find a Moms group online where people actually posted terrible pictures of themselves and asked “stupid” questions that so many Moms have. They vented, complained, and sought advice. I’m so grateful to those women, because so much of the rest of the social media world doesn’t show ANY of that. Continue reading → The Disconnect: Pinterest Perfect

Boundbreakers

I was listening to the radio yesterday while making dinner (Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala, yes delicious and super fast) and there was a story about a woman named Pura Belpré who moved from Puerto Rico to NYC in 1921. She got a job with the public library and began telling stories to children at the library in English and Spanish. Got news for you, in the 1920s, there was no foreign language children’s book section at the library much less someone telling stories in multiple languages. Nobody was doing anything like what Pura Belpré was doing. She made puppets. She trained other storytellers. She incorporated folktales to make children who were raised in other cultures feel welcome and at home in the vastness of NYC. The story was fascinating and a lovely tribute to Pura Belpré and the work she began that continues today. NPR‘s All Things Considered ran the story as the first in an upcoming series they’re calling Boundbreakers, stories about people who made a difference, “well before the world recognized it.”

c13811518040e534020ca040a0704345I was really taken with that word, boundbreakers. I thought about Pura Belpré and others like her who are able to have such a deep impact on the lives of others. I thought about the boundaries she crossed in her gentle and powerful librarian way. Then I thought about who she would have to be to be a boundbreaker, and it occurred to me that in order to take great action, to have an impact like that on the world, to affect the beauty that is an increase in cultural compassion, a person would have to be pretty unbound internally (shocking, I know for the coach to go all internal here). For Pura Belpré to do what she did for the children of NYC, she needed to be fully herself. She needed to be unbound by judgments about the worth of her ideas. She needed to be detached from the possibility of ridicule and disdain. She needed to recognize, go through, and lay to rest (at least temporarily) the notion that she could not do what she thought needed to be done. This is the work a bound breaker does well before ANYONE has any clue they’re doing it. Continue reading → Boundbreakers