Saturday, November 12, 2016

Searching for Hope

 Ever since waking up Wednesday morning to a world that feels like we've slipped through the veil of reality into the terrifying depths of  the Upside Down, I've been a mess. I am angry and confused and fearful of a seemingly insurmountable divide in my country. While those feelings are valid and very real, I know that I need to simultaneously allow myself to feel them and prevent them from consuming me. Like oxygen, food, water, shelter, and LOVE, Hope is one of my basic need. I need to feel hopeful to be a functioning human so that I can show up and fulfill the roles of my everyday life - mother, wife, friend, volunteer, neighbor, daughter, sister, etc....  

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."

So I began my search - for hope, for the helpers, for acts of love and kindness, evidence that the beliefs I hold true are shared by many. I've been sifting through music, quotes, essays, poems, blogs, images and trying desperately to only linger on the ones that provide comfort.  It's been REALLY HARD because I also believe in being knowledgeable and informed of the world's events, but for sanity's sake I have to find a way to balance the negative emotions that come along with that knowledge.
Here is a small sample of what has brought my comfort and refilled my heart and soul with hope, love, and even glimmers of joy. 

1. Elizabeth Gilbert Facebook post about taking control over our emotions. She discussed the idea that the only thing we really can control is our actions and our reactions. By asking yourself, "Who do I want to be in this situation?" you are returning that control to yourself. This concept is something I've personally been working on and struggling to do consistently for YEARS. Reading her reminder to herself, helped me feel less alone and more in control. I encourage you to read the piece. It really helped shift my perspective and mood.   You can read her full post here
Dallas Clayton is one of my favorite artists. His words never fail to fill me with hope and wonder and I followed his frequent advice to get outside.

2. Getting outside. The weather Wednesday and Thursday was unseasonably warm and sunny for November in Michigan. Harper the Humongous and I went for long walks, appreciating the beauty of our neighborhood in fall and soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible before winter sets in. 
Harper loves the pond even more than I do. 

3. Music. Loud music. Music that releases the negative emotions and comforts. The song Holy War by Alicia Keys has been particularly helpful the last few days. I first heard this song last week and have been a little obsessed with it ever since. Keys'  lyrics have been echoing through my head, like a mantra repeating: 

So we can heal each other and feel each other
We can break these walls between each otherBaby, blow by blow and brick by brickKeep yourself open, yourself openYeah we can heal each other and feel each otherWe can break these walls between each otherBaby, blow by blow and brick by brickKeep yourself open, you openMaybe we should love somebodyMaybe we could care a little more
Maybe we should love somebody
Instead of polishing the bombs of holy war

A reminder that the forward is through LOVE. 

4. Children. Not only my child, but her classmates and schoolmates. Wednesday afternoon I went to Emy's elementary school to help her Art teacher take down student art work and be a second set of hands during Em's art time. I arrived a bit early, just as the other first grade class was preparing to leave. I was greeted by enthusiastic cries of delight, "It's Emy's MOM!!!" One of our neighbor friends came running to me and gave me a gigantic hug. A hug I desperately needed at the moment. And a couple other little friends followed suit. 

I love our school community here. We haven't even lived in Ann Arbor a year, but our neighborhood school is a small, diverse, close-knit community. Many of the students and their families are from all over the world, living in Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan, work at the UofM hospital, or one of the many international companies around town. I am so grateful that my daughter attends a school that embraces the philosophy "We include, not exclude" and she has the opportunity to learn with and from so many varied backgrounds and experiences. And I get to participate in such a vibrant community as a volunteer. We are very lucky. 

5. Smiling Bulldogs. Seriously? Look at Ruby's face. No explanation needed.

6. People. It may seem a little odd given how horrid some people have chosen to behave this week, but the people who are choosing to speak out of love, do good, spread kindness, show up, be an ally, work to support positive change - THESE PEOPLE are filling me with so much hope. I truly believe the path forward is through love and requires the incredibly challenging work of choosing LOVE over hate, OVER and OVER again.

7. The Book With No Pictures. This book is a favorite in our house and my perceptive little girl busted it out Thursday evening knowing we were all need of some laughs. She made us all read it out loud, laughing hysterically with every reading. Here is a snippet of her version. Warning, it gets a little off the rails but she is ridiculously adorable. 

In the days and weeks to come I will continue searching. I know there will be moments that I want to give up and give in to the anger and despair. I'm a pretty optimistic person but I also struggle with depression and anxiety. I pledge to be kind to myself and all those I come in contact with. I will push through the dark to find the light. I am committed to attempting to find a balance between being informed and staying sane. I will take breaks. I will surround myself with people who are committed to spreading love, kindness, and hope and engage in activities that do the same.

Sending you love.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy 6!

Today you are 6. I am unclear as to how this is possible as I am fairly certain just last week, you were 2 and singing the Swing Song at the top of your lungs, squealing with delight at the sensation of flying through the air. That was 4 years ago you say? Sigh. It's so cliche, but it does really go by in a blink of an eye.  

6 though? SIX? Losing teeth, riding a two-wheeler, skipping monkey bars, tall enough to go on water slides, reading, writing, SIX? You're a for real big kid now. In a couple of weeks you'll be done with kindergarten and you're already talking about how, when you are in first grade, you won't need me to walk to school with you anymore, because you'll be 6 and in first grade, and you know the way, and can do it all by yourself. I have zero doubts that you can, my fierce independent girl. But I can tell you, without a doubt, that there is no way Mommy will be ready for that kind of separation come fall,. Nope. So we'll just continue with the illusion that you need me for at least another year, okay? Great, thanks.

This year has been a year full of change and transition. Starting kindergarten, new town, new house new neighborhood. new school, new friends there has been SO MUCH NEW in the last year. Yet you honed your ability to adapt very early on and you've handled all the topsy-turvy chaos change brings with so much grace. I'm constantly in awe of you. "Don't worry Mom. It'll be fine Mom. I've got this Mom." You sure do kiddo.

Daddy and I are so proud to be your parents. Proud and profoundly lucky. You bring us so much joy and we will never stop being grateful that the three of us get to be a family. We love you. Forever and Always.

Happy 6 Emeline Joy!

May 27, 2016