Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Painful Progress

I have no idea what to write today.  There's so much going on that I just feel stuck.  Things too personal to share, things too overwhelming to articulate.

It's always incredibly hard to leave my sister and her family.  It's the most deeply painful illustration of how nothing lasts forever that I've ever experienced, and ever will until I have my own kids.  Whenever I go, it's for a full week, and I get immersed.  The outside world mostly ceases to exist.  I'm in baby land.  It's nonstop, it's exhausting, it's wonderful.   I know I can't stay there forever - I have my own life and a city that I truly love.  But when I'm in it, I want to stay there forever.

It was sort of a holdover, a respite from the stark and frightening post-election reality we find ourselves living in.  Coming back doesn't just mean back to work or back to a normal routine, but back to facing fully head-on the challenges ahead and how I can be of help.  It's overwhelming.  It's jumping back into the process of processing the results and what it means for the future all over again, only halfway through.

But - nothing lasts forever.  Life is change.  My heart breaks when I think about all the cute and funny things the kids say and do and how the next time I see them, some of them might still be but others will be outgrown.  Replaced by new routines.  Same kids, same personalities, but so wildly different from visit to visit.  When I leave, I'm not just sad that I won't see them again for a little while but that I'll never see that version of them again.

Marc and I were given a surprising gift coming back from the visit on Friday - our plans to meet our sweet month-old nephew Lucas and visit newly two-year-old nephew Caleb were thwarted by the nasty colds we got from Atlas, Zoe, & Kai - we wound up with a weekend together.  Two days in a row.  Off.  Together.  Not off with one of us chasing one kid in one direction and the other chasing the other two kids in two other directions, but off.  God knows the last time that happened.  A weekend to heal, to recover, to reflect on our wonderful week and the challenges ahead.  We did what any normal couple would do - we watched all six hours of the masterpiece that is Angels in America.

Everything it says about love, change, God, politics, family, relationships, New York City, America, good, evil, the world...it feels so relevant in every facet of life these days.  Go back and watch it.  Go back and read it.  It offers hope, comfort, catharsis, inspiration.  Go.

I'll close this disjointed, rambling, vague piece with one of the last monologues of Angels, one that never fails to bring me to tears.  Happy, sad - all at once.  Emphasis mine.

“Night flight to San Francisco; chase the moon across America. God, it’s been years since I was on a plane. When we hit 35,000 feet we’ll have reached the tropopause, the great belt of calm air, as close as I’ll ever get to the ozone. I dreamed we were there. The plane leapt the tropopause, the safe air, and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it threadbare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening. But I saw something that only I could see because of my astonishing ability to see such things: Souls were rising, from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning. And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles, and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were three-atom oxygen molecules of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them and was repaired. Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there’s a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that’s so.”


The world only spins forward, as Prior says.  Let's keep doing the good work.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Deep breaths

It shouldn't come as a surprise that we say, "Deep breaths" to ourselves and each other at Karma Kids Yoga all the time when we know we're about to encounter (or are in the midst of) a challenge. Maybe it's a trying parent or an event with 30+ crazy excited kiddos or spending hours of our lives on hold with Verizon because the Internet is slow again -

Deep breaths, we tell ourselves.  Deep breaths, we tell each other.

Never have I - never has the nation - been more in need of that advice than right now.

Deep breaths, because while there is a time to process shock and emotion and disappointment, we have to keep taking care of ourselves - and taking care of each other.

It often feels like laziness or cheating (because it often is!) when I simply use the week's blog post to outsource to other articles or videos, but today it simply feels like the only work there is to do.

We are about to be led by a man who has no regard for the freedom of the press, among many other things.  Seeking the truth and protecting the vulnerable has never been more important in our lifetimes.  Let's take a few deep breaths and go do the good work together.

There's a lot of overlap here, but they're all great resources.

27 Productive Things You Can Do If You're Upset About the Election
Buzzfeed

How to channel your post-election anger, sadness, and fear into action
Slate

The election is over, and here's what you can do about it
Chicago Reader

"If you're overwhelmed by the election, here's what you can do now"
Huffington Post

Michael Moore's Morning After To-Do List
Alternet

Finally, the phenomenal John Oliver finds the perfect blend of terrifying truth and desperately needed humor - as always.

Last Week Tonight

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Discipline of Gratitude - Election Day Edition

Anyone else excited out of their minds for today?  It feels like going to vote for the very first time!

In honor of where I first heard the term, "discipline of gratitude," and in honor of election day, my blog is getting outsourced to the original source of inspiration.



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Discipline of Gratitude

November brings with it my hands-down favorite holiday - Thanksgiving.  Food & Gratitude - two of the most beautiful things in life, in my humble opinion.

I heard a phrase that caught my attention a few weeks ago, and knew right away it was a thought/practice I wanted to explore.

The Discipline of Gratitude.

It seems like it deserves capitalization.

What I take it to mean at first glance is to not just take the idea of gratitude lightly - as the latest buzzword or the latest supposed key to instant happiness and contentment.  Keeping a gratitude journal is I'm sure a legitimately awesome tool for a lot of folks, but it can also turn very rote very quickly (or even start out that way).

We who are blessed to have enough in our bank accounts to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves all know in an almost dismissive way that we have a lot to be grateful for, and that everything else is all the small stuff.  But in the thick of day-to-day life, the small stuff becomes the big stuff, and we do sweat it.  In that context, it can be easy to write down that we're grateful for the Basics, but how often are we stopping and reflecting and feeling not just gratitude for it but feeling humbled with gratitude?

I've been pondering similar things a lot lately with my foot injury.  It hurts much more than I wish it did today, and since I'm waiting very impatiently for MRI results, my mind is left to its own worrying, worst-case-scenario-writing, self-pitying devices.  The discipline of gratitude, to me, seems entwined with the notion of perspective.

As my beautiful friend Laura often will remind me - we do not live in Aleppo.  There is almost no problem that we are facing in our blessed, blessed lives as New Yorkers - who, while struggle to make rent, are not living in poverty by any stretch of the imagination - that even compares.  The same idea of perspective, in my more mentally composed moments, is what reminds me that even if it takes much longer than I want it to (like it already has), I will get better.  Even though I struggle with the financial burden of my medical care and the work that's sacrificed, I have access to medical care and I can still do some work.  Even though not being able to walk normally/without pain is crushingly dispiriting, it's not like I'm going to lose my foot.

It's so hard to have the perspective that it's temporary, and sometimes I don't even want to admit to myself that it is because I'm stuck in that negative loop - and sometimes the negative mindset you know is much more comfortable, even when it's making you miserable, than the very frightening idea of hope and positivity.

There's a lot more I want to say about the discipline of gratitude, but - there's a lot more November to go.  I'll close this blog by taking the opportunity again to wish my beautiful big sister the happiest of birthdays!  I never have to dig deep to remember how grateful I am that she is my sister.