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To My Friends Who Voted for Trump: I Don’t Understand You, but I Love You.

The truth is I am mourning today.

When I began yoga teacher training in July I read a brief overview of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The first limb, the yamas, govern our relationship with others and the world. My teacher asked that I pick which of the five yamas came easiest to me and which was the most difficult. I chose satya, or truthfulness, as the easiest.

I have really grappled with this throughout the presidential campaigns. Because satya does not just mean to tell the truth. It means to speak the truth in a kind way, even when it’s difficult. It also means to understand when it’s best not to say anything at all.

I’ve had to block friends on Facebook because their angry political posts upset me too much. I know everyone has. I’ve probably liked and shared posts that are less than kind. Some have probably blocked me.

Many of my friends began Facebook posts with, “I don’t usually post about politics, but…” as if avoiding the topic is something to brag about. I probably did too. And I understand why so many do avoid the discussion. We don’t want to be that angry person. We don’t want to create rifts in our relationships.

Yet often we are that angry person. Even if only among like minded friends or inside ourselves. And I get that too. I feel that. Today I must acknowledge that. This election was an angry one. No matter what side we were on.

Where do we go from here? How do we connect? I mean, really, how do we do it? I hope that most of us at least recognize that we must listen to those we disagree with. We must really listen. We must see each other as human, as complex beings, with storied lives that build and influence our beliefs.

BUT HOW DO WE DO THAT?

I watched the clip of Trump casually alluding to the 2nd amendment people taking care of Clinton. I saw the video of the unfiltered voices at Trump rallies, full of racism, sexism and discrimination against other religions. People say they like how Trump “tells it like it is” so I’m not going to lie. I think to myself, “What the fuck is wrong with these people???”

Is this really “how it is”? Is this who we are as a nation? Racist, sexist, violent and angry? Angry, yes. We are angry. I am angry.

How do we fix this? Really, I am asking. How do we fix this?

I am asking this of myself today as I grieve. We overlooked a segment of our population that is hurting. Instead of pointing at them with a finger of “wrong” it’s my responsibility to listen and attempt to understand. I do not agree. I will never agree with this kind of behavior and ideology, but they are desperately yearning to be heard and we must listen.

And to my friends and family who do not sound like the unfiltered voices. Those of you who didn’t really like Trump but voted for him anyway because you couldn’t bring yourself to vote for Clinton, because placing conservative values on the Supreme Court was too important to you, because you wanted a change.

Here is my truth. Here is my best attempt at practicing satya.

I see you as more than your vote. I see you as mothers and fathers, loving and caring deeply for you children and families. I see you as friends, opening the doors to your homes and hearts, offering a shoulder to cry on. I see you as disciples, devoted to serving a higher good, passionate about bettering yourself and living a life that aligns with your values. I don’t always understand you, but I see you. I see and love your whole and beautiful self.

And I ask you. Please. Let’s get to know each other better. These sides of ourselves that we often hide for fear of discomfort. Let’s work together to end the hate. Let’s make that our top priority in all things.

Photo Credit: School diversity many hands held together by Wonder woman0731 is licensed under CC by 2.0.

Settled

It’s surprisingly warm. I’m sitting on our back deck writing, at a table that we didn’t own when we moved to Colorado in March. We bought the table, six chairs to go with it and a fancy umbrella with LED lights just before Ollie’s first birthday.

We had been living here for about two months when we invited friends and family over to celebrate. The oldest of friends: parents of my childhood schoolmates. Old friends from high school and college. New friends from down the street. A melting pot of time represented.

Ollie sat quietly in her high chair as we sang Happy Birthday and presented her with her very first and very own cake. We all watched expectantly, crowded into our outdated kitchen, eagerly awaiting the moment she would dive in, smearing frosting onto her face and into her abundant, two-toned hair.

Five months have passed since that day and now the leftovers of another cake sit in our fridge. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The words, “Happy Birthday, Dear Daughter Laura,” half eaten. My mom’s words.

We spend a lot of time together, my mom, the girls and I. At my parent’s house Ruby likes to use Grandma’s fine tip markers to color mandalas made for adults (and Dora the Explorer) or play with the second-hand dollhouse in the basement. Ollie likes to chew on the tiny, plastic toothpick cases that are surprisingly prevalent and any remote control she can find. Both girls like bouncy rides on the big, green exercise ball. It’s now off limits because it’s just too much fun and Ollie has yet to learn the concept of taking turns.

In many ways it doesn’t feel like my mom is sick. It’s easy to live in denial, to believe that we will just continue on in this way uninterrupted, celebrating birthdays and the small, everyday moments of life.

But reality has an ugly way of reminding you of her presence. My mom’s peritoneal cancer, shrunk with chemo, a major surgery and then more chemo, managed to sneak into her brain. Apparently this is not normal. Nor was the appearance of two additional tumors just 6 weeks after treating the first with localized radiation.

A breeze is blowing through our backyard, turning the umbrella in such a way that I cannot find a suitable temperature, the sun too hot on my back every other minute. I’m reminded of a Sesame Street book on seasons shelved in the girls’ playroom:

In fall leaves turn colors, red, yellow and brown.
Then cool winds blow and they fall to the ground.

The seasons are changing. Yellow leaves cling to my neighbor’s aspen tree, the one hugging the fence between our yards. A splattering of dried leaves blend into our deck, the brown of death camouflaged against a muddy red finish, cracked from wear and weather.

Everything is changing. The wind. The weather. Life.

People ask if we’re settled. But there isn’t really such a thing, is there? Our boxes are unpacked, our furniture placed just so. But there’s still a pile of tchotchkes huddled atop a bookshelf with nowhere to go. We never got around to organizing the storage room and I don’t expect we ever will.

This concept of settled is just an illusion. The girls continue to grow up, the rhythm of our lives subtlety shifting each and every day to accommodate their development. My mom drawing nearer to death even as she debates what to have for dinner.

And here I am. Filling my days folding laundry, making peanut butter sandwiches and cutting strawberries into tiny cubes, driving Ruby from here to there and back again, so very settled in this new life. And here I am. Working on starting my own run coaching business, going to yoga teacher training, contemplating the circle of life and my place and purpose within it, silencing my so capable and logical head in order to listen to my gut. So very, very unsettled.

Reading data

You would think my first post after months of not blogging would have some significance. Or at least be newsworthy. Well, you would be wrong. All this is, really, is too long for a Facebook post.

I finished two books this week, which led me to reflect on what I’ve read this year… and in years past. Well, most notably since 2012 when I started using Goodreads.

Now it’s worth noting that when I was a kid I never read by choice. We did go to the library and I did categorize and rate all the books we checked out using various criteria in order to determine which book to read first. Of course, I never did any reading. So it should come as no surprise that here I am analyzing my reading data. I’m still just as geeky now even though I do read by choice. Wait a minute. I guess that probably means I’m MORE geeky now.
Anyway, a few key takeaways:
  • I read 16 books/year on average.
  • I read roughly 50% fiction and 50% non-fiction.
  • About 50% of the non-fiction books I read are either memoirs or read like memoirs.
  • Which makes memoir the genre I read most.
  • Even though fantasy is the genre I like most.
  • Surprisingly, science fiction is the genre I like least.
  • Actually, that’s a hasty conclusion. I’ve only read one science fiction book: The Martian, which I did not like because it was SUPER boring. Yes it was.