11-25-16 day 25
i am thankful for an unexpected extra 24 hours with my boy today, which was made all the more wonderful by his getting to spend time with rich’s daughter. we are missing some family members this thanksgiving, but having a couple of “our kids” together made it very special. i was reminded of when these two of our kids met for the first time almost 5 years ago, and the way they automatically struck up a friendship, regardless of their age difference. these two pictures, one from the day they met, and one from today, represent how it’s been between them all along. quinn has always taken it for granted that rich’s daughter of course wants to play with him, whether it was coloring dinosaurs, or comparing pokemon go stats, and she is a great sport and always makes an effort to give him attention when she visits. one of my favorite things about rich is what sweet, wonderful, genuine, kind people he raised, and i’m happy to count them as a part of my family!
11-26-16 day 26
i am thankful that i have at least 3 buyers of the book i haven’t started writing yet. that is going to buy me several batches of nacho ingredients, if this whole science career thing doesn’t work out, and certainly the current political climate doesn’t bode well for a long term biology career. it’s good to have a backup plan! i’m super qualified to write books, because i beat my little brother in words with friends at least as often as he beats me.
i’m also thankful for words starting with the letter q, namely quinn, and quilt love from grammy. and qi, because it’s worth lots of points sometimes. plus, you know, life force/energy flow and all.
11-27-16 day 27
today i am grateful for role models. i have spent the weeks since the presidential election not knowing what to say about it, and i am still mostly finding myself adrift in that unknown. it has been a struggle to write on many of the days of this gratitude challenge, not because i don’t have a million things to be thankful for, but because i know that at least a few people will read what i write, and therefore have been feeling convicted to write about Important Things.
in little ways, i have snuck in references to Important Things in my thankful posts, but tonight my “about” description on my fb profile page caught my eye, and it still says what i originally wrote, back when i first opened the account:
ecofeminist pacifist radical mama
“the world is absurd, and beautiful, and small” – ani difranco
i’m not sure i’m living up to my self-given label, if i’m only hinting at the Important Things.
luckily i have some role models i look to in times like these, ani being one of them, who recently was photographed holding a sign reading, “i am no longer accepting the things i cannot change. i am changing the things i cannot accept.”
jane goodall and barbara kingsolver are also women i count among my heroes. jane recently posted a remembrance of elie wiesel, another person i’ve admired all my life, and mentioning him at a time like this, amidst a turbulent sense of anti-semitism (and anti-islamism, racism, etc.) on the rise, feels appropriate.
finally, barbara kingsolver so graciously offered to “go first,” and so i will quote her here and her reluctantly radical mention of many of the Important Things.
“With due respect for the colored ribbons we’ve worn for various solidarities, our next step is to wear something on our sleeve that takes actual courage: our hearts.
I’ll go first. If we’re artists, writers, critics, publishers, directors or producers of film or television, we reckon honestly with our role in shaping the American psyche. We ask ourselves why so many people just couldn’t see a 69-year-old woman in our nation’s leading role, and why they might choose instead a hero who dispatches opponents with glib cruelty. We consider the alternatives. We join the time-honored tradition of artists resisting government oppression through our work.
If we’re journalists, we push back against every door that closes on freedom of information. We educate our public about objectivity, why it matters, and what it’s like to work under a president who aggressively threatens news outlets and reporters.
If we’re consumers of art, literature, film, TV and news, we think about what’s true, and what we need. We reward those who are taking risks to provide it.
If we’re teachers we explicitly help children of all kinds feel safe in our classrooms under a bullying season that’s already opened in my town and probably yours. Language used by a president may enter this conversation. We say wrong is wrong.
If we’re scientists we escalate our conversation about the dangers of suppressing science education and denying climate change. We shed our cautious traditions and explain what people should know. Why southern counties are burning now and Florida’s coastal cities are flooding, unspared by any vote-count for denial.
If we’re women suffering from sexual assault or body image disorders, or if we’re their friends, partners or therapists, we acknowledge that the predatory persona of men like Trump is genuinely traumatizing. That revulsion and rage are necessary responses.”
i highly encourage you to read her full post linked here.
if you, like me, are feeling overwhelmed with figuring out exactly which actions to take, here is a handy document that i plan to utilize as a jumping off point for this week, to help stave off the paralysis.
i have no intention of compromising my integrity, and therefore it is only after careful consideration that i share other people’s content on this here public forum, erring instead on the side of saying my own clumsy piece, where i can do my best to ensure that i am not, as charles eisenstein put it, “smuggling in hatred” in the form of name-calling, othering, blaming, belittling or shaming.
but remaining silent right now would also compromise my integrity. this was something i had to learn as a domestic abuse victim, because staying silent was often a survival mechanism, but when my survival was not in question, my silence only gave permission to the abuser to continue his rants, and by remaining silent i was complicit in the problem. i do not wish to suggest by my silence that i agree with anything that man is doing in the name of my beloved country and my beloved people of every race, religion, ability, sexuality, and gender. i’m one of the women who experiences his every word as a trigger, having listened to someone close to me speak in exactly the same abusive manner, and as such, i believe every threat he made during his campaign, because, as maya angelou (another hero) said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
also, i am thankful for you sweet, generous people for continuing to read these incredibly long-winded gratitude posts. you’re all great. thank you.
11-28-16 day 28
i’m thankful for dolphins! it’s day 28 and i think it’s time for a dolphin break. they make me happy. i’ll save the long-winded dolphin stories for the book.
11-29-16 day 29
the penultimate gratitude!
i didn’t really mean to extend these last two days of the gratitude challenge, but yesterday i admit that i was not feeling thankful. i could still sense out in the periphery that i have piles and piles of things to be thankful for, and in a distant way, i was still thankful for those things, but in the more immediate sense, i was under a dark cloud, and my thankfulness gland wasn’t functioning properly. i had a vague a feeling of “at least i don’t live in aleppo,” but that just made me feel guilty that i wasn’t getting an A in the gratitude challenge when i should, since i don’t live in aleppo. imagine being ungrateful for all the nachos i am blessed to be eating lately.
i’m thankful that one can become increasingly aware of the shoulds and have to’s, and begin to reject them as needed in order to preserve one’s sanity.
i’m thankful for lau reminding me that it’s possible to feel like crap when things are happening that are less than ideal but minor, and also possible to feel well-adjusted and resilient when really shitty things are going on, and for reminding me that she’s seen me do the latter. which helped me not be so fearful of feeling crappy outside of aleppo, and stop playing the what-if-shit-moves-fanward games with myself.
i am also thankful for long hugs from the person who puts up with my insecurities even though he’s never given me one miniscule particle of reason to doubt his love.
and finally, i’m thankful for e. e. cummings.
you shall above all things be glad and young
For if you’re young,whatever life you wear
it will become you;and if you are glad
whatever’s living will yourself become.
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
i can entirely her only love
whose any mystery makes every man’s
flesh put space on;and his mind take off time
that you should ever think,may god forbid
and (in his mercy) your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies,the foetal grave
called progress,and negation’s dead undoom.
I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
11-30-16 day 30
day 30! no pressure or anything. i guess i can’t do a one sentence post tonight? for some reason it seems like i should go out with more of a bang.
today i’m thankful for providence.
it’s a bit of an abstract concept, maybe not as tangible as nachos or fires in the wood stove. but i think it’s the best way to summarize the list of things that have come to mind today for which i feel grateful, many of which i forget by this time of day, given my penchant for short-term memory loss.
i’ve never been out to become wealthy or famous or get far ahead in life, i’m not a big competitor, i’ve always really valued a quiet, contented life, and i’ve always wanted to have the basics covered, to have just enough of everything i needed. i am not foolish enough to think i brought this all upon myself, instead i like to think there is energy/life force (qi? higher power of your choice?) that i can direct this thankfulness towards, for providing a $150 check when i had a $149 bill i needed to pay. when i say providence, i do not mean there is excess, but i do mean there is exactly what i need. and that pretty much describes my life, and i’m so grateful to be able to say that i have what i want, and want what i have.
i am going to borrow from past things i’ve written again, because i’m tired now, and because they capture what i want to say. while i’ve been feeling down, i’ve had the best possible support. this is something i wrote last year that explains why the person i’ve been given to go through this life with, and his mechanical analogies about flipping switches, is absolutely the right person for me:
now i have a man who validates and supports my whole being and loves all of me, containing my feelings by refusing to allow my self-loathing neural pathways to open back up. this is truer to the core of how i see myself (a person of integrity) than any desire to have my self-loathing “validated” in the ways someone else would “validate” it, by encouraging that self-loathing and feeding that monster.
“darling, you will not find
in the well into which you fall
what i keep for you on the heights:
a bouquet of dewy jasmines,
a kiss deeper than your abyss.”
-pablo neruda, except from his poem the well, from the captain’s verses
thank you all for following along on my impulsive, long-winded, rambling, gratitude practice extravaganza; see you all again next november 1st! and finally, i’ll close with this little ditty i wrote almost 5 years ago, about the things we envision for our lives, and the way the energy of the universe works its magic and manifests them; tonight’s gratitude was brought to you by the number 11 and the color red violet:
quinn’s favorite crayon at the moment is red violet. he has been choosing to color in bed before going to sleep most nights lately, and over the weekend i went in to turn off his light and he had red violet laying directly in the center of his chest, safely tucked there for sleep. it was always my favorite, too. i think i know why, now that i see it lying next to the heart of a sleeping child i love enough to burst my own heart wide open. red violet, the color of love.
i look up and see my man pull the almost-empty jar of pears out of the fridge and open it up with his big man hands and take a swig of the juice that’s left… getting to watch that sure beats my default method of tossing the dregs into the next smoothie. i don’t know how to say this, and it feels vulnerable to admit that all this time i’ve been writing about me and what i’m doing and what i want out of life… this was right up there on that list. it may have been unspoken… i may never have admitted to wanting someone who appreciates, as he calls it, my goofy hippie food. i know i did admit to feelings of loneliness a time or two, in rare instances when i paused long enough in my manic food-gathering endeavors to experience them, but underlying all the gardening and canning and fruit picking and cheese making and skill learning has been a secret longing for someone to share all of it with. i would never undervalue how important this process has been for myself, and in no way has man-getting been my primary motivation (there are many other motivations including my own health and sanity and quinn’s health and education being biggies, not to mention simply feeding ourselves sustainably, literally obtaining the calories needed to maintain homeostasis) but i find now that i am settling into this new phase of life with an enormous appreciation for the extra harvesting i did last summer and a permanent smile when i get to feed it to someone who has been on a vacation from cooking for some time. (surely he won’t be embarrassed if i publish on the internet that i removed a box of falafel mix from his cupboard with a sell-by date sometime in 1997, a bagel from 2008- can i say wow to the ingredient mold inhibitor?, and other items scattered throughout the decade in between).
i know i’m not the only one feeling this way… in a rare january occurrence of nice weather on a non-work day, i spent saturday afternoon pruning blueberry bushes, grapevines, and trees, and hacking away at blackberry canes in one of the garden patches that has been waiting for me to come along… next to a guy who has been waiting for me to come along and do this with. there were years and years of preparation leading up to us being in the same yoga class on the same night… years of fixing his own cars, to get him ready for when he would get to fix mine (and give me rides to work when the mechanic had to fix it more- hard to describe the weight lifted off my shoulders on just the one subject of mechanical stuff). years of me waking up to the farming instinct i’ve harbored since birth, to get me ready for when i would have space to let it loose on. years of us both getting ourselves sorted out and secure and in all other ways ready for this big love. i find myself gently detaching from the need to be entirely self-sufficient. i find myself able to lean on someone who is also gently leaning on me, because we can both stand up straight on our own two feet and have been for quite some time… the give and take is easy to open up to, and i couldn’t have seen that coming, for all my self-sufficient feminist single mama superwoman-ness.
a little over ten years ago, i got to do a retreat where we visualized our future self, ten years hence. my future self was alone, and the leader of the exercise remarked on the rarity of aloneness in that particular exercise. she said most people visualize their future family or friends around them, and i was just me, in a small room/house/yurt, feeling self sufficient and “just enough” and “whole” (words that resonated at the time and ever since that are still written in a prominent place above my desk) and yet with a sense of loved ones nearby (though they were not in the picture). when i left future me, i gave her a kiss on the lips and have wondered ever since, why i was to be alone all my life… why was it that i somehow had to do this whole life thing by myself when everyone else gets to find a mate and settle down happily ever after? you know, it never occurred to me one single time, in all the many times i’ve thought of that visualization (which has clung to me like water ever since), that year eleven would come along. but now i suddenly see the red violet writing on the wall…