Monday, March 28, 2016

I Really Want To Judge You But I Can't

Image courtesy of

There’s one particular house in my subdivision that always has lovely seasonal decorations, and not just major holidays! I pass it on the days I take my longer loop through the neighborhood with my dogs. I so enjoyed the red sparkly hearts swinging from the tree branches in February, that I’ve been considering writing a note and taping it to the front door, to let the owners know their efforts make my walks a bit more pleasant. I think about it each time I pass, but then promptly forget about it until I approach the house the next time.

Last week I was admiring the giant Easter Eggs dangling in the trees and thinking Dang it, I’ve got to remember to write that note, when my eyes moved from a cute concrete bunny to a sign staked into the grass that read: TRUMP: Make America Great Again. My thought was Oh, son of a B, and my heart sank. I continued walking, wondering if I still want to write that note or not?

I automatically made a LOT of assumptions about that homeowner in a split second. That sign tells me all I need to know, right? 

That’s what I thought at first. But what if someone put that sign on a friend’s lawn as a joke? (Talk about a total dick move.) Maybe it’s a rental and the landlord put the sign out or perhaps one spouse supports Trump and the other doesn’t. Could they be getting paid to have the sign in their lawn? There could be a myriad of reasons as to why that sign is there... 

Of course the most logical (and “worst case scenario”) is that the person who lives in the house and hangs d├ęcor that brings me so much joy believes Donald Trump is a great choice for a leader of our country. 

I do NOT believe that. I see Donald Trump as a hateful human being and I fear for the future of our nation if he is elected President. 

However, my politics may differ from that households’ but clearly we celebrate the same holidays and enjoy colorful decorations. Surely we may have other things in common?

I was working on my initial thoughts for this post over the weekend, writing by hand at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table, my ten year old niece was across from me coloring. We worked in comfortable silence for a while, then she asked “What are you writing about?” I looked down at my pages in a panic. My initial  thought was Oh just stuff for my blog, but she deserved a legitimate answer. 

I pushed my notebook aside and explained. I was impressed by how intently she listened, smiling at my description of the decorations and nodding in appropriate places. I finished by explaining my blog and saying "I like to write about the ways people are connected that we don't realize. Like how that person's decorations make me really happy but they don't know it. Even though that person likes Donald Trump and I don't, it doesn't make me like the decorations any less." She tilted her head to one side while considering, then nodded and said "That makes sense."
And right then, I knew I had my answer. I need to write that dang note.

To be continued…

Monday, March 21, 2016

A to Z Challenge 2016

This year will be the fourth time I've tackled the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The challenge involves posting 26 blog entries in the month of April! It's one of my favorite things about blogging and I typically look forward to it all year. This year it snuck up on me. The thought occurred to me while I was in the shower last week (As in Oh sh--, it's almost April!) and I thought for a moment about skipping it this year: I usually like to prep ahead of time, I have a work trip coming up in April,etc. But when I sat with the idea of not doing the challenge, it didn't feel right. I like to choose a theme for my blogging challenges because it makes it easier for me to think of topics. In the past, my A to Z  themes have been my favorite thingssongs that move me, and last year I wrote about life lessons I've learned.

As soon as I made the conscious decision of Yes, I'm going to do the challenge this year, my idea for a theme hit me: I'll write about the books that have been significant in my life. I've been wanting to start regular posts about the books I read so this will be a great way to get on to the topic!

I only have a couple of friends who read as much as I do, and one of them happens to be a writer and the person who introduced me to the A to Z Challenge. I invited her to use the same theme and she agreed. I can't wait to compare our lists because even though we both read a TON and even swap books at times, our reading preferences vary quite a bit. We also vary greatly in our writing styles yet we do a lot of proofreading and critiquing for each other. That's part of what I love so much about books, about reading, and writing, there's something for everyone.

I hope you enjoy learning about the books that have been significant in my life. My friend's blog can be found here, so you can follow along with both of us! Keep watching for those posts to start April first! (And hopefully you'll hear something else from me in the mean time!)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Feeling All The Feels Is Hard Work

I went to a church service yesterday to see my husband sing. During the prayer at the end of her sermon, the Pastor referred to four victims of two separate tragic crimes which occurred in our town last week. I was tearing up as we said Amen. My husband's solo was immediately afterward and then the congregation sang Amazing Grace. Talk about a triple whammy. I couldn’t stop crying.

I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t look at anyone. All I could do was cry. And feel. All the feelings at once: proud of my husband, grateful for him and our marriage, love for his family who was there, and for my family that is far away, grief for the crime victims, grief for losses in our family, for friends fighting cancer. Each feeling was connected to the next until they became one giant pulsing emotion.

After the service, my husband received several compliments on his solo. “You brought your wife to tears,” commented one white haired lady with a smile. My sweet husband smiled and rubbed my arm. He knew the truth.

I don’t know the victims of the homicides in our town. That doesn’t make the violence any less senseless, the losses any less tragic and horrific. I think of their grieving families and my heart breaks.
At home, my husband came downstairs after changing out of his suit to find me lying on the couch weeping again. He came over to comfort me but didn’t speak. “You know what’s weird?” I sniffed, “Right now, I’m crying because I’m so grateful that everyone I love is alive.” 

He sat with me for a while, then left to make us some tea. I got down on the floor with my dog Charlie. He’s a very emotionally intelligent creature. (I have a friend who refers to him as a Buddha.) I curled up beside him and he touched his nose to the top of my head and we stayed this way for a while. I called to my husband to come and take this photo because this was real. This is what it looks like to be a sensitive, emotional human being who gets overwhelmed by feeling and thinking and loving. Sometimes I just can’t move. 

My husband is a sensitive empathic soul as well. He says “It’s a blessing and a curse.” I don’t necessarily think it’s ever a curse but it isn’t always easy or fun. 

Friends who read my blog and Facebook posts often compliment me on my positivity and gratitude practice. I appreciate that people notice. That’s the upside. I usually don’t discuss the flipside, but I feel called to talk about it today.  

As one of my favorite writers/self-help Gurus, Glenn Doyle Melton says, “Life is hard—not because we’re doing it wrong, just because it’s hard.”

When we live fully, when we love fully, when we appreciate life as much as we can, life is difficult. That shit hurts. When we drift through our days without looking around or being passionate about things, it can be easier. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve thrown up my head back and wailed “Why do I have to care so much?" knowing that if I cared less, I'd hurt less.

The thing is if I didn’t care so much, I wouldn’t be me. If I didn’t check cardboard boxes along the road to make sure there aren’t kitten inside, if I didn’t weep when I read the last Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book, then I also wouldn’t connect with the performers I work with or be in tune with my pets’ health. It’s all the same muscle. Is it my brain or my heart or my soul? Or a combination of the three? I have no idea but it’s real. 

I know I'm not the only soul like myself out there. We're trained from a young age to be ashamed of our emotional selves and hide them. So what do you do when the feelings get to be too much?

Friday, March 4, 2016

What the Trump is Going On?

I've noticed something interesting happening in my Facebook feed lately: People who usually don't discuss politics are going there. Big time. And the folks who do commonly discuss politics are RAGING.

I like seeing people get fired up. I enjoy seeing the people I care about passionately express their views. Even when I don't agree with them.

I have a lot of Facebook friends who are conservative, who are Christian. I might not I hang out with them on a regular basis, but they are people I like and respect. I am not Christian and I consider myself liberal but contrary to what you may think, I do have quite a bit in common with those friends. We all believe in a higher power, we believe in showing kindness and love to others. We understand that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round.

I usually don't chime in on political discussions on social media because I don't want to argue. I once ended up in a heated debate with a friend of a friend over the use of antibiotics so I can only imagine how I might get if the subject was a bit more "touchy." Occasionally I'll comment on a discussion, but for the most part I read what other people write and process that on my own.

Over the last couple weeks I've seen a comment more than once that has struck fear in my heart and made me realize I need to speak out. The comment went along the lines of "I'm disgusted with all of the candidates so I'm not going to vote," and was followed by a "Me too" and a "Me three" and so on. These particular folks were discussing the Republican candidates so I can feel their pain, however I don't think not voting is a solution.

I didn't say that on my friend's post. Now I wish I had, but it seems creepy to scroll back three weeks and comment. I saw similar posts from other friends, including comments about the Democratic candidates. I've had a real life discussion with an acquaintance who admitted apathetically "Oh I don't know that I'll even vote. I don't know enough about what's going on."

I didn't speak up to any of those people. I'm going to blame it on the fact that I'm a writer! I function better when I can take time to process my thoughts and express myself in writing. So here it goes:

Come on people, get your shit together and vote. If you're disgusted with all the candidates, write in the one you think would do the best job. If you "don't know what's going on," educate yourself. Every candidate has a website, go to it and read their positions on the issues. Do research. If you don't vote, you're perpetuating the problems.

The reason it's easier to be apathetic is because otherwise you need to look inside yourself and say "How do I truly feel about this particular issue (abortion, healthcare, war, drones, gun laws, etc,) and which candidate is closest aligned to my view?" It's not easy and I know I haven't done it about every issue but I took some time to look and said "Okay, now I know what they stand for so I'll think on it." 

Apathy is not the answer. Throwing your hands up and saying "Everybody sucks" doesn't change anything. I've realized that my saying "I'm going to stay quiet and not give my opinion" is a different version of that.  So let's talk about it.