Tag Archives: action

Starting Today

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It has been 87 million years since I have written a blog, mostly because I have been busy living my life, and Facebook has satisfied my need for attention and approval in a more immediate way. Ha! Also, ever since my brain has kind of healed from all the drugs I damaged it with, I find that I don’t feel as compelled to use my blog as therapy the way I once did. I have an actual therapist for that. But, this past few weeks, I’ve been itching to write a blog, and this morning, I almost had no choice.

Something has happened-you may or may not have noticed- but there is this guy from Celebrity Apprentice taking the place of Obama in the White House. I don’t know about you, but I find this very upsetting. Like, VERY upsetting. Not to mention scary as fuck. But I don’t want to go into all of the reasons it’s upsetting, scary, enraging, fucking backwards, and plain out wrong. If you live near a television, have the internet, can read, and have a whit of sense, you have already figured all that out. If you aren’t scared, upset, and enraged, then there’s no explaining it to you, anyway. Trust me, I have TRIED. And you are probably reading the WRONG fucking blog.

I have thinned out my friends on Facebook, deleting a bunch, unfollowing some that I couldn’t bear to delete. It took me a long time to do this. For a while, I thought I could convince people with facts, appeals to their common sense, or, failing that, their common decency. That didn’t work. So lets not go into how upsetting it is to realize that some people, people I thought were smart and good, kind of shattered that illusion by supporting Trump. Because, I’m sorry…if you support someone who has no respect for women,who is racist, who lies every time their mouth opens, who mocks the disabled, who believes sexual assault is okay, who…you know what? I’m going to stop the list there, and just say, if you support someone who embodies those terrible qualities, you are supporting those qualities. And that makes me think less of you. I can’t help it. But that’s not what I want to talk about, either.

As disgusted as I am over everything that is happening in our government right now, I have had some strange and hopeful thoughts about it, and I want to share them with you. They are sort of new to me, so hopefully, writing them out will help them make more sense to me, too. First of all, I’m kind of grateful for this past election season. It was awful. It made me madder and more disgusted than I have ever been in my life. It was a total shit show. But you know what? I paid attention, I REALLY paid attention, for the first time in my life. And because I was paying attention, I learned. I learned a lot of things, not the least of which was this: I learned what my values are. I learned what really matters to me. I learned that I am a feminist, that I believe in equality, TRULY, and that I am a bleeding heart fucking liberal, and proud of it. If Trump hadn’t run, and hadn’t been such a side show, I might not have ever learned about who I was. So something good kind of came of it, right? I mean, I have talked to a lot of people, and so many of them have learned so much about themselves and their values through this. We have discussed it with wonder on our faces- “Wow. I am REALLY a feminist! Thanks, Trump.” (We don’t say that last part. Give me a break.)

Anyway, my really weird thought is this: What if this is happening exactly the way it is supposed to? We just had eight easy, comfortable, happy, relatively peaceful years with the Obama’s. We could relax, for the most part. We took for granted that our rights were our rights, and no one was messing with anything. Then Trump won. I still don’t get it, but it happened. And everyone freaked out- especially here in California, where I live. I mean, we are pissed off! The world we thought we were living in got shaken to the core. And out of the deep rifts that resulted came a lot of ugly, nasty stuff. Racist, hateful shit popping up all over the country like festering boils. “Oh my God!” we thought, “Look what Trump has caused!” And it would be easy to blame him, because, lets face it, we just don’t like him. He’s a horrible person. But the truth? That stuff has been there, all along. He, much the way a hot compress on a boil brings all the shit to the surface, just brought it out into the light. And you know what happens when you expose the worst things to the light of day? You can deal with them head on.

I have never before been a political person, let alone any kind of an activist. I have learned a lot recently, but not as much as I need to know. I can tell a fake news story from the facts, usually, and I know where to look if I am having doubts. But there is much to learn. Today, I will be taking part in the Women’s March, here in my town, much like women are doing all over the world. And I am stoked to be doing it. But I also want to help in more meaningful ways. I want to protect my rights, and the rights of others, in a more direct way. And I don’t know exactly how to do that. However, I am willing to learn. And I have lots and lots and lots of friends who are just like me- they didn’t know, before, that these things mattered to them, but now they do, and they are pissed off, passionate, brilliant, and full of piss and vinegar. I almost feel sorry for the Trump administration. Almost.

There are a few things that Americans do so well in times of crisis. We come together, and we fight like motherfuckers. Today, I am going out to find my people, and get ready for whatever comes next. Look out, world.

 

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Shifting Gears, Changing Lanes

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This will not, contrary to what the title so misleadingly suggests, be a blog about driving. Nope, sorry, no cars will be mentioned beyond this sentence. Besides which, it’s been so long since I’ve driven a stick-shift, I’m not even sure I could shift gears if I needed to. Nope, I’m talking about the internal, metaphorical shifting of gears and changing of lanes that we go through as human beings on the road of our lives- sometimes we do this intentionally, sometimes we do it without even noticing (Like when you pull into your driveway and have absolutely no recollection of the drive home whatsoever.), and sometimes we do it because we have no choice- some other “driver” runs you off the road, or you find yourself unable to get around one road block or another. Sometimes you just can’t stand the stretch of highway you are on anymore. So you put on your blinker (although what this would be, metaphorically, I have no idea) and you get the hell out of there.

What a liberating concept, huh? That at any time in our lives, when the way things are leave a little (or a lot) to be desired…we can do something else. This applies to pretty much any situation, at any point in time, period. Even as I write these words, I feel the part of me that has been molded by the polite and acceptable rules of society going into a panic.  If it had more control over me (and it sometimes does) it would be destroying all evidence of this entire thought process- that’s how nervous the notion of change makes this predictable, safe, facet of my personality. But that doesn’t make my statement any less true. I know that I can change nearly any aspect of my life, anytime I want to, to any degree I want to, just BECAUSE I want to.

I used to know this well, and take full advantage of it, often, when I was younger. Then I got a little more grown up and realized that I wanted my life to look more like other people’s lives. I wanted a better job, a credit card so that I could rent a car if I needed to, cable TV, and more money. So I did what most people do when they wait what they feel is “too long” to settle down- I panicked, and went after the life I thought I could fit myself into rather than the life that fit me. I chose stability, safety, financial security and the chance to finally make my mother happy over the much riskier, less certain life of pursuing my dreams. Most people would see nothing at all wrong with that- as a matter of fact, it’s probably the norm for about eighty percent of the employed population. We put our dreams in the backseat, the closet, or tucked in a drawer somewhere, and we tend to our families, our bank accounts, our dental appointments, and…everything else, first. We intend to get back to those dreams, once things mellow out, or the kids get a little older, or just as soon as this happens or that stops happening. We may realize, one day, that we have been better at keeping our promises to everyone else then we have to ourselves. Some people dismiss their most cherished hopes for themselves as “kid stuff”, and toss them out.

I don’t want this to be my story. I don’t want to give up, or finally have the right set of circumstances to start being who I really am…only to find that it would have been easier, better, more enjoyable, if only I had started way back when.

I don’t really know how to do it. I mean, I know that what I want to do is write, I know that I am a writer, whether I am known to millions of people, or only to myself- I was a writer the first time I scribbled out a horrible poem at the age of seven or eight. I have been enchanted by words, by the amazing, magical way their arrangement on a page could make the most incredible adventure begin, or bring the hidden, inner life of someone to beautiful light, nearly all of my life. But I am very uncertain about how to navigate the path from here to the best-sellers list. No matter how many books and articles I read on the subject of queries and revision, on genre and agents and submission guidelines, platforms and outlines, I still feel unprepared to take the next step. I am starting to suspect that I will continue to feel this way no matter what.

SO! I’ve decided to just go ahead anyway. I am thirty eight years old, and I don’t want to wait any longer to “feel ready”. Yes, I am not brimming with the confidence of someone either totally prepared or completely, blissfully, ignorant, but I doubt I am the only one who has ever felt this way. I am just not willing to let my fear stop me anymore. I am making some very big changes, and all of them are geared towards helping me get to where I want to be. Because I don’t want to live a pretty okay life anymore, and the strain it is causing me, this weird, pervasive unhappiness that makes me feel like such an ass (oh, poor you, with your incredible job, boo-hoo) is heading me straight for consequences I definitely don’t want.

I have mapped out a plan. Part of that plan is to commit to a minimum of two, but a goal of three, blogs per week. I would also like to get back to my original purpose, at least in part, which was to write about navigating the treacherous waters of being a (gulp!) middle aged woman and learning how young middle age really is. Because it really, really, is. So expect to be hearing a lot more from me. And at least a little more of that particular subject, although I reserve the right to also go off on tangents in totally unrelated subjects.

Change can be alarming, and make you lose your sense of equilibrium. Change can be unwanted and painful, hard to get through. But change can also be an absolute necessity, something you might be willing to give up everything- your job, your money, every comfort in your life- for. Sometimes it is not enough to wait for change to come close enough to you to grab. Sometimes you get up off your ass and start creating change right in the middle of your own kitchen. Which is what I have decided to do. It doesn’t mean I’m not scared half to death of what might happen…I’m just more afraid of what can NEVER happen if I don’t try.

What Can We Do?

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The pain, for me at least, has not really gotten better. Judging from the conversations I have had out in the world, and the things I see on Facebook, the things I am seeing here on WordPress,  it is not getting better for anyone. If anything, the shock has worn off and it hurts even worse.  The pictures of all of those beautiful babies smiling, just another arrow through our collective heart. The whole world is walking around, wounded and heart sick. What can we do? There is nothing that can be done…I keep hearing myself say these words, that awful, helpless feeling welling up in me. We cannot go back in time, we cannot give these children and their teachers their lives back, we cannot even truly ease the pain of the people left behind, longing and mourning for them.

Still, the desperate best in us has come to the forefront again, the way it always does when a tragedy of this magnitude unleashes itself upon us. There are petitions to sign, tributes made, candle light vigils held across the world. Our compassionate, beautiful sides, too tender, we think, to reveal all the time, are the faces of most of us right now. Yet I wake up in the morning afraid and tired, still feeling like my hands are tied, that none of this really HELPS at all. I know this is not really true, on a certain level, and that any kindness and compassion we pour forth now is a gift that the world desperately needs- the truth is, this world has become a place too dark, too individualized, too alienated from it’s own humanity. If that weren’t true, it wouldn’t take a tragedy so horrific to bring us back to earth again, finally able, for the briefest moments, to remember the gift of right now, right here, what we can see, smell, touch, taste, hold close.

There is beauty everywhere, too. We forget so easily. How many times have you been face to face with a beautiful sunset, purple and pink and orange and yellow, and barely registered its existence, so worried about traffic or hell bent on getting back to your empty house to get the dishes done before dinner can be started? How many times have you run out to grab something from your car, and the full moon shone down, but you were too tired to let it take your breath away? I live mere blocks from the beach, and sometimes days pass before I can even be coaxed into looking up, taking it in. Last night, I sat on the couch, absorbed in a book, and I looked up to find my two year old staring at me solemnly with her enormous green eyes, just looking and looking. My heart lurched in my chest because I could see that her eyes were telling me the story of her longing to be near me while I sat there, a thousand miles away. I picked her up and held her in my arms, kissed her cheeks and buried my face in her golden brown curls, and thought about all of the parents in Newtown who would give their own lives, without a backward glance, to have the chance I had nearly passed up. We are a peculiar animal, humans. Great with big concepts, while failing miserably to see what is right in front of us.

This morning it occurred to me that perhaps there is something I can do. There is something all of us can do. We start at home. We take full responsibility for our lives and how we conduct them, agreeing that the example we provide is as important as the advice that we give. For me, this means being present, not being afraid of my teenager when she acts up because I am afraid of all of the discord. It means putting my foot down, not accepting unacceptable behavior. It means following through with predetermined consequences, no matter how much better things seem, or how much work it is for me.

I can make the world better by being a better mother and raising better children. I can make the world better by taking better care of myself, trying not to die of lung cancer or emphysema due to my inability to reign in my own addictive behavior. Killing myself is not going to help my kids at all. This sounds stupid, but if you really think about it, it’s a great example of what I mean- thinking of the ripple effect, the things we do that are not really just to ourselves, but effect everyone around us. It is high time we take responsibility for ourselves and for each other.

The first step is ourselves. The next is our families. Then we need to learn to widen the net, to put down our phones, shut off our TV’s and laptops, and begin to know the people around us. This means our neighbors, our children’s friends, their friends parent’s, the people at church, at the grocery store, at work, at the gym. We need to keep our eyes open and see what is happening in the world around us- so that maybe, when one of us is very, very ill, next time, we can see it. Next time, maybe someone will see what another could not.  I think it could be the difference between life and death. These little changes, the difference between existing and living.

Please, let me know what your thoughts on any of this are. I would really love to know what your mind has been whispering to you about what has happened and who we are or have become, as people.

Thanks.