The Kind of Person I Want to Be

“Did you get the offer?” the woman said.

I noticed her because her jacket was not zipped. Having secured myself a seat on the Red Line at rush hour, at each stop, I glanced around to see who was standing in front of me. I like to do this to make sure I am not the jerk who is keeping a pregnant woman or an elderly person from sitting. She held her phone to her left ear, her jacket ajar and letting in the bitter January air.

“Oh, so you did not NOT get the offer?”

I looked at her again. Her head was thrown back, tears twinkling at the corner of her eyes.

She continued with her conversation, and I, completely ignoring my book, glanced up every few seconds. The tears were gone, but there was worry on her face as she tried to understand the person on the phone.

This put me at a crossroads. I could pretend I didn’t notice her emotion and keep reading, or I could say something. It’s easiest to ignore, right? It’s none of my business. I don’t know her. I really don’t know what’s going on.

She ended the call, saying they would discuss it further when she got home, and with one hand, began jabbing at her phone. She lifted her the device to her head again, as if she was calling someone to repeat what she had just heard. My moment to inject had passed.

There is the Bing commercial from years ago featuring brave women – Gabby Gifford, Malala Yousafzai, Margaret Thatcher – but the part that always makes me cry, even now when I rewatched, is the highlight of Antionette Tuff. When a gunman with a AK-47 and 500 rounds of ammunition walked into a school, Antionette was able to talk him down. Not a single person was injured that day. I often think about the bravery and empathy Antionette has, how there was likely a voice telling her to not get involved but she did and it saved hundreds of people’s lives.

Now, I am not sure that I have that kind of courage, but I do know that when presented with an opportunity to engage in ripe humanity and empathy, I want to be the kind of person who embraces it. I want to be the kind of person who is polite to the cashier. I want to be the person who brings you food even though you said you were fine. And, I want to be the person who comforts a stranger who is crying on the train.

A couple of conversations this past week have made me look hard at what it is that I really want in my life. I was told to name the specifics of my life three years from now: the kind of house I would own, the types of books I would write, and the joy I would embrace from being my best self. It was scary and stressing and afterwards I hunted for chocolate to ease the uncomfort.

But when that woman on the train did not enter into another conversation, the person on the other end not picking up, I knew I was given a second chance to either say something or ignore. There are times when I have not acted like the person I wanted to be, leaving friends and strangers alike alone, and I know I can’t always be there for everyone, but this moment was fresh and it was an opportunity.

“Excused me,” I said, setting my book down in my lap. “I don’t mean to be forward but are you OK?”

“Yes.

“Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes.”

“OK,” I nodded and smiled. She paused for a second and then told me that her girlfriend was soon going to be offered a job in another city.

“It’s a good thing, but it’s also sad.”

“It is,” I replied.

Our exchanged last a few more seconds as she got off at the next top and I wished her well.

I share this story not to brag, but to remind myself of what it feels like to ignore that throbbing NO and invite the small yes into existence. I share this to remind myself that, in this way and in all ways, I have the power to be who I want to be.

You Don’t Belong

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“Can I wear this to the opera?” I lifted up my arms and looked down at my own body, dressed in black leggings and a plaid shirt underneath a green sweater. My co-worker, who goes to the opera frequently with her husband, nodded slowly before we both broke out into laughter. The answer was not really.

A few weeks ago, a staff member for the mentoring program I volunteer sent an email offering discounted tickets for mentors to take their mentees to a show in mid-December. I scanned the email and assumed, based on the season, it was some kind of Christmas play, so I signed my mentee and I up to go. The day of the show, though, I read the description more carefully and realized that it wasn’t a play and it was not holiday themed. Rather, it was an opera at the prestigious Lyric Opera House. I was in a hurry to get to work that morning, but I contemplated throwing a dress in my bag and ultimately decided against knowing my mentee would be coming from schools and likely wearing jeans.

I didn’t give my dress much thought until the end of the day, when making conversation with my co-worker. I had never been to the opera or the Lyric before, and now I had a small worry that  would be undressed and out of place.

When we arrived to the theater, a large man in a top coat and cape ushering us in from the cold, we both immediately noticed the dress of those around us. Men wearing suit jackets, leather shoes, and large gold and silver watches. Women were doned in sequined slim fitting dresses and large silk skirts. At one point, a woman in a fur coat rushed past me, and I could feel the straps of my cheap backpack (which had a small stain of dill cucumber sauce from my lunch) get tighter. There were other patrons in more casual dress, but not as many as those who put in the extra effort to look different for the show than they did, say, for biology class. As we moved through the lobby, I felt eyes on my stocking cap and backpack. We most certainly stood out.

Taking our seats was a relief from the awkwardness. As we waited for the show to begin, I ruminated on how I did not belong there. I did not have the wealth or refined tastes for a woman who goes to the opera. I do not know the difference between Bellini and Puccini. And, I do not own a gown. I was faking it by being in this beautiful opera house, and not well.

Recently, E and I’ve experienced some setbacks that have changed our finances, and every day I am accosted by the things I can’t have because we can’t afford it. A membership at a nice gym, tickets to a live taping of one of our favorite podcasts, a dog trainer to help Annie with some of her separation anxieties. The other opera attenders were more representations of things I am not allowed because of money. I assumed they all had nice condos in Lincoln Park and took yearly vacations to somewhere tropical. They didn’t have to worry about shopping between the cheap and more expensive grocery story. They could go out to eat before the opera and not give it another thought. These people were not me.

The opera started and immediately I was enamored with the story, the flowing vocals and dream-like instrumentals. The music hung in the air like a thick fog, and I sat on the edge of my seat for most of the first act.

At intermission, I got up to use the restroom and was again self-conscious about my clothes. I watched women with designer blouses and skirts wash their hands, assuming they were judging me (even though I am not sure if they noticed me). That voice—the one screaming “You don’t belong here”—started up again, but this time I challenged it. Where was this idea coming from? Who says that I belong or do not belong at this opera? No one has pulled me assigned and said, “Miss, your leggings are atrocious, and you need to leave.”

No, I am telling myself I don’t belong and the interesting part is that I also get to tell myself that I do belong. I get to say that I belong not just at the opera but also on stage with those other remarkable storytellers or in my writing group or that party with fascinating people. I am the one who decides that I belong, not anyone else, and I am really tired of not belonging in nearly every place I go.

So, that was that. I belonged. I washed my hands, returned to my seat, and loved every minute of the rest of the show. Thoughts of feeling out of place did not plague me for the rest of the night.

You Don’t Like Me, And That’s OK

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On Friday night, Ethan and I met up with friends for dinner and a show, and it was really special to me because I haven’t been out of the house much in the last six weeks. I was so excited for the evening that I put on a dress and heels. The food and show were wonderful, but the best part of the evening was laughing and catching up with our friends. Walking up to our apartment at midnight, I had a big smile on my face until I saw Ethan stop at the door. He threw is head back and said, “You have to be kidding me.”

I’ve expected this for some time, to be honest. Maybe it was really a matter of time or maybe I manifested this action with my worry, but it happened. Taped to our door was a very passive aggressive note from an unsigned neighbor and an article about separation anxiety in dogs.

Our puppy, Annie, is a wonderful, friendly dog, but she does not like being left alone in the house. She whimpers and barks, occasionally destroying whatever is in the kennel with he, like a blanket or toy. Ethan and I know this is a problem, and it really does stress us out, but we’ve been unsure how to handle it. The situation has gotten worse because, since my surgery, both Ethan and I have been home with her all day every day for six weeks. She loves us, but she erupts into anxiety when we are gone. We’ve tried music on in the background, keeping her in a room instead of the kennel, and giving her enough treats to forget that we are gone. None of it truly works. We’ve figured that it takes about 20 minutes for her to calm down, and then she is OK. It’s not ideal, but we have to be able to leave our house, so we leave with her crying and hoping she’ll calm down soon.

Well, apparently our neighbors are not a fan of her barking. My guess is that she cried for some time on Friday, calmed down, and then started again for a few minutes at a pretty late hour. This prompted the passive aggressive note and a deep panic for Ethan and I.

Ethan and I have had some big life setbacks the last few months, and while we are trying to work through them, our emotions are a bit high. This note made both of our minds run wild. Our neighbor could report us to the landlord, who might say we need to get rid of the dog or we move out. We are not in a position to move right now, but Annie is our family so we can’t imagine getting rid of her. While we completely understand where are neighbors are coming from, this felt like yet another blow in a series of tough events.

The next day, we started making a plan to how we were going to handle Annie, in both the short-term and long-term. We made promises to each other and already started to do some exercises with her. Even so, neither one of us could stop thinking about that note. I ended up throwing it away, but I have it memorized. Because I do not know the sender, I can’t have a conversation with the person so I have no idea if their words were a polite suggestion or angry and spiteful. I don’t know the tone or the intentions behind it, just that someone in our building doesn’t like us.

Even if we curb Annie’s barking (which she only does when she is alone), our relationship with our neighbors will likely always be strained. It’s kind of what happens when people live in close quarters and don’t actually have a relationship with each other. The opposite is true of another neighbor whose dog we found roaming in the back alley and brought into our place until she got home—that neighbor and us we’ll have a general positive relationship until we move out.

Knowing that someone doesn’t like me is my greatest agony. Throughout the entire day, I kept telling myself, “If they only knew what what we were going through” and I jumped back and forth from wanting to defend myself to hating them. I thought that if I could give my side of the story we could patch tensions between us. The truth is, though, even if we were able to talk to the neighbors, they likely wouldn’t magically be upset at us for having a barking dog that disturbs them. We are just their neighbors, not close friends or family, so they don’t owe use that slack. They could be understanding, but maybe their patience is worn too far. Just like they don’t know what’s going on in our lives, we don’t know what stresses and pain they are experiencing.

While I think it is good to do what you can to repair relationships around you, there are times when people will just dislike you. Ethan and I may be the neighbors that this person (or persons) complains about with friends on social media, and I have to be OK with that. It’s not that I want to be disliked, but I think far too often I spend good energy trying to patch things over with people that don’t matter. I can work with my dog to make her a quieter neighbor, but making her less anxious when I am not around is more important to me.

This may seem like a selfish attitude, but my obsession with pleasing other people and getting them to like me has left me empty and wasted. I never want anyone to be mad at me, but I also can’t control how people react to me and my actions. I’d much rather put more effort and bravery into resolving a conflict with a co-worker or friend, than I would someone I don’t know. I can still try my best to be a good neighbor, but I can’t make everyone like me. So, I have to move through the world knowing that someone doesn’t like me and try not to desperately fix it.

It’s OK for me not to be liked by everyone. That is not an indication of who I am as a person, just that I am human.

I feel a little less South Dakotan today

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I’ve been in a mood all day.

One of those moods when my coworkers can hear me complaining down the hall. When I set the treadmill a little higher on my mid-day run because I am currently not drinking and need to relieve the stress some way. When you just want to hit the fast forward button and get the day over.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I tried to write but all the things I wanted to say but they needed more courage than what I was willing to give. I refreshed Twitter and read comments on Facebook posts and news articles. I fed my emotions with dark ramblings on the Internet because I couldn’t think of anything else to do.

Yesterday, the legislature in my home state of South Dakota passed a controversial bill that would regulate transgender children to use the bathroom of the gender identified at their birth. It’s a crummy bill and I am not interested in debating the merits of this bill. I know why some support it and, while I disagree, I am also no longer a South Dakota resident or voter so mine is just another voice of someone who left the state.

No state is perfect and, even the one I currently live in hasn’t had a state budget in eight months, but South Dakota is a magical place to me. It’s my up bringing, my childhood. When things happen there, I feel them deeply.

Ever since I left South Dakota I have tried to be its greatest ambassador, partly because I love my home state and partly because I’ve always felt a little guilty for leaving. How could I love a place so much but choose to build a life somewhere else? In all honesty, politics have little to do with it. I do miss my friends and family there, and sometimes I have dreams of South Dakota so vivid that I wake up longing for it. For me, I wanted to experience our big world. I wanted to find homes in other, unfamiliar places. That doesn’t mean that I love South Dakota less, rather that I wanted to take all that it’s given me and spread it around to the places I go.

My friends know that I love South Dakota. They often tease me about it. I get such a rush for declaring my statehood when people ask me where I am from and I use that small talk to inform them about South Dakota. I tell people that Crazy Horse is a better monument than Mount Rushmore, that the Black Hills are America’s best kept secret, that prairie sunsets are more beautiful than ones over oceans and mountains. All of that should take them to South Dakota, but what will make them stay is the people, I say. Honest, good hardworking people who know their neighbors and rally to support each other in time of need. The people there, I say, are some of the best you’ll ever meet.

I woke up this morning feeling a little less South Dakotan. I was afraid my coworkers would bring it up and I didn’t really want to talk about it, although I was the one who brought up the subject several times because I needed to give the lump in my chest some space. It’s not the first time residents from other states have poked fun at my allegiance to my home state or I’ve had to respond to stereotypes and misconceptions. I stick by South Dakota in those times, admitting there are small things that I do not like about it, but in general it’s a good place. But something feels different today. I can no longer be a fierce defender of my home state and its people. When they choose to govern in a way that treats others as if they are not human, especially youth, I cannot be a cheerleader for South Dakota anymore. It’s like the most authentic part of my identity has been challenged.

I hope that this is a temporary feeling, because I still believe in South Dakota and its people. I know many good, wonderful people who live there and want to make the state an accepting, warm place to live and visit. My friends and family are still there. It is still, no matter what happens, my home.

But, today I am sad. I am not going to try fix my sadness with political debates or shaming. I am not even going to declare that I will not go back. I am just going to be sad and hope that the love and compassion I know to exist in South Dakota will shine through.

A letter to myself on Valentine’s Day 2015

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My love is coming to me. My love is coming to me.

He will be here by the end of the year. …

Clean up your heart to be ready for your love.

Rest assured, he is coming.

No need to seek. Just live. …

Oh sweet, Heather, I wish you wouldn’t torture yourself. You are an incredible light.

These are the words you scribble into a journal on February 14, 2015. Right now, you are sitting at a coffee shop, writing this post. Valentine’s Day has never really been one to make you cry, but on this day in this year, you cry multiples times. You shake hard from crying, under a blanket. Tears drip down your red hot cheeks as you talk to a friend on the phone. You cry so much in this day that you break a blood vessel on your cheek.

You feel dark and unworthy on the inside but when you try to express your feelings they come out selfish and foolish. Nothing about your life is truly catastrophic, but yet you feel so sad.

You’ve been sad for some time, haven’t you sweetheart? You’ve been holding out hope for something, wishing it around each corner. You excite at a new stranger. You imagine it in every experience. Still, that deep love hasn’t come. Maybe it hasn’t really been that long, your waiting, but I know how endless it feels, especially matched up next to other’s sweet little love stories. Grand love is the thing you’ve always wanted in the world and every goal outside of it was doused with potential of leading you there. I know how bad you want this, honey. I know that your desire for this big magical love is something you’ve kept hidden, but now it’s starting to boil and break your seams. Your disappointment can’t be contained in your own little heart any more. That’s OK, sweetie.

Today is not going to be a good day. You will cry more. You’ll be forced to sit at a bar and order cheese bread because your roommate failed to tell you that she and her boyfriend were planning to make a romantic dinner at your shared apartment. Sitting at a bar stool, you’ll sip wine and try to predict the stories of the other unaccompanied people in the small room.

The evening brings friends and a break from your inner demons. You’ll have a drink with a friend in a gay bar in Boys Town and you’ll share stories of unrequited love. Then, you’ll take an Uber together to your friend’s circus performance show. You’ll drink more and more. You will be in awe of the human body. After the show, you’ll go to an all-night diner. You’ll order fries. You won’t get home until 3:30 a.m.

Your lonely tears will not stop here. There will be more.

But your strength will meet the challenge. The courage you needed to say goodbye to people and pieces of yourself that are holding you back will be found. It is not gained or borrowed but rather you had it all along and you were waiting for the right moment to use it. That momentum will propel you forward, staying on the course to what your heart desires. When false promises and self-destruction try to lure you off, you’ll have the wisdom to continue on.

And, like you wrote in your journal with only the smallest of hopes, your love will come. He will not come with a big flashy story, yet soft;y and unannounced. He will practically sneak into your life, as if you looked away for a second.

He will not chase away your insecurities. He will not remedy your fears. He will not fix you.

He will, though, be what you most need. He’ll get up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to drive you to your team run meeting spot. He’ll hold your hand when you learn that someone you love is sick. He’ll be patient when you realize you forgot your keys.

His presence will remind you of your family.

No matter what the future holds for you two, you will be a better person because of him.

I am writing to you not to tell you to stop crying or let the pain go. The pain will be crucial in recognizing your love when you meet him. You absolutely can not welcome him into your life until have undergone that pain.

It’s the last line you wrote on that February day that I am writing to you about. Heather, you’ve always been the hardest on yourself and even as I write this I am finding ways to judge and scold us. But this is one true time in which you do not need to belittle who you are. All the choices you have made, the good and the bad, led you to this moment writing in your journal in the cafe. Then, to this one where I am writing from the couch of my studio apartment. You don’t have to be more or less; you as you are is all that you need.

So, please cry. Call friends and laugh into the wee hours. Tomorrow will be better. But do not for one second doubt yourself and all the things you’ve been given. Show yourself empathy and stay on the course. Deep down, you know that you will find what you are looking for, so keep going. It’s there.

Be

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and talking about my future.

Actually, that statement simply put makes it seem like the process is graceful and poetic, as if I was sitting near a windowsill with a hot cup of tea and staring out into a kind world. Rather, it’s more that I am panicked on the inside, constantly hashing out possibilities, frantically seeking one that seems to fit, even if snuggly and disproportionally.

We all think about our futures and wonder what is next; it’s a common process of growing and evolving through life. We all want to chart a path that seems strapped to our destiny, but also feels within our capabilities. For me, the digging to find that roadway has become an obsession.

It started about six months ago at a staff retreat for work when we were asked to consider our goals, not only for our roles at the agency but for life. My goals didn’t readily pop onto the paper, and shame tugged at me as all I could think was, “I don’t know.” I wanted to know though, and so I let the ideas simmer for a few months while I had conversations with colleagues and friends. I had hoped that one day the magical goal – the one I know that deep down I should be fulfilling – would appear and then I would have all the courage and knowledge to chase it.

In the last few months, I’ve ramped up the search for my calling. While I am not on any grand timeline, my job comes with an expiration date (an agency-wide term limit that is applicable to all employees). Even though I am still far from the predicted end date, I still have this nervous feat that I should figure out my life sooner rather than later. It’s come to a point that on days I think about it too much, I make myself sick with nausea and headaches.

But as I ask people their goals and ambitions, no matter where they are in life, I’ve come to understand two things.

No one can predict the future. Even the most successful people couldn’t have anticipated where all their hard work and drive would have led them. Most people have ideas and ambitions, but very few can pick out specific paths they want their lives to go and then follow them exactly. Instead, our lives move in waves and sometimes we find ourselves on shores that we could have never anticipated. Those unexpected ventures are sometimes moments and sometimes they are part of a redirection. And only long after the tide has gone in can we see how it all made sense.

Most people I know do not have it figured it out. We are not alone in our confusion, and even in the stress about confusion. Most of the people I talked to made decisions not full heartedly but with just the right amount of fire in their heart and faith in themselves to leap at something that feels a bit different than the other options.

The second thing I’ve realized is wasn’t really something someone told me rather a reflection in my life, a simple matter of history. I will be OK. I have always been OK. When I didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t see the future and the ambiguity shook my entire core with fear, I struggled a bit but then my world solidified and calmed down. Because everything eventually worked out, I have no reason now, or in the future, not believe otherwise. Faith in yourself and that idea of being OK is really the only answer to fear. Even if I fail and take a leap that seems shattering, I get to learn and then try again knowing more than I did before.

Those two realizations all added up to an audacious thought: let it be. Let the ambiguity and uncertainty be. Do what I can right now, but appreciate each insight for what it is and then take another step tomorrow. Let all the moments add up to the thing inside of you that is just waiting for it’s grand reveal in the most spectacular of timing.

It will come and when it does, looking back, it will make sense. It may take time and missteps, but if I keep searching for the OK it will eventually appear. For now, though, my heart doesn’t need the stains of anxiety and fear because only when I plant in love I will grow in it. That means allowing myself to be right now and trust that when it comes time to make the move and say the word I will know exactly what to do. Till then, I keep listening and growing.

 

 

 

Be there for the world

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It’s a beautiful mid-November day, almost so lovely that you can’t believe in a few months harsh winds and heaps of snow will make all interactions with outside nearly intolerable. As I walk home from the train, I listen to an episode of Lena Dunham’s staggeringly good podcast, Women of the Hour. This episode is about bodies and woman after woman explains her own journey to accepting her body. One woman, the filmmaker Rachel Fleit, talks about having alopecia, a disorder where her body rejects hair. She describes having to accept her condition as how she was meant to live and using that to “be there for the world” as she is.

Be there for the world.

That phrase echoes in my mind and I think about what that means. Sometimes it’s being who we are and believing that is enough. Sometimes it’s being kind and gracious to at least one human.

It’s not always easy to be there for a world that is an ugly, unsafe and destructive place. We feel scared, unwanted, too small to make a difference. We are all hurting a bit after some unspeakable acts occurred in multiple cities across the world in the last few days. It’s not only painful, but now we have a deeper fear that wasn’t present a week ago.

We all want to do something, but feel powerless. We changed our status, we call to question decisions made by our leaders, we point out other situations that also need our attention and prayers. We want to be there for the world but this is all we’ve got, or so we think.

When things like the attacks that happen this weekend occur, I often try not to read too much about it. I like to get the basics, but I do not allow myself to read up on each detail and click through the horrific images. .

Instead, I try to be just a bit better in my daily life. I smile harder at the cashier, I call my mother, I compliment someone. These are all very small things but it’s how I process and grieve the injustices.

The world really needs us to be there for it right now. No, a woman sitting at her computer in Illinois probably can’t stop terrorism or eliminate poverty or even shame her Facebook friends into caring about the same thing she does, but she does have the power to be a good person right in the moment. She can be herself and be kind doing it. That’s all the world has ever asked of her.

Maybe we can’t change the world as individuals, but we can all be better humans. Let’s hold doors open. Let’s not post shitty things on the internet about people we disagree with. Let’s smile more at strangers. Let’s forgive. Let’s seek out understanding. Let’s remind the people we love them that we do.

Better people means a better world.

3 1/2 Minutes

I have a knowledge gap of events and news that happened between 2011-2013. It’s mostly songs, movies or light news that came out between those years, but there is two year’s worth of things that I missed because I was living in a hut in rural Africa. Big news, such as the Boston Marathon bombings or the 2012 presidential election, made it to me but much didn’t and, two years later, I’m still catching up.

It’s because of this knowledge gap that I didn’t know who Jordan Davis is, nor his story. It’s possible that I did hear the story and forgot, but I wasn’t exposed to the constant news cycles about Jordan Davis the way I was with stories about Michael Brown or Freddie Gray.

Last evening I attended a screening of the documentary “3 1/2 Minutes 10 Bullets” about the death of Jordan Davis and the trial of Michael Dunn. The story, as it intertwined from the evening Jordan was murder to the final guilty verdict of first degree murder, was all unfamiliar information to me.

After the movie, Jordan Davis’ mother and father, along with the film’s producer, took questions from a moderator and audience. His parents have bravely used their situation to be on the front lines of igniting change when it comes to gun laws and racial tension.

I wanted to ask his mother, Lucy, a question. For several minutes, I thought about getting up to the mic and waiting until it was my turn. With a shaky voice, I would start by thanking her for courageously sharing her story and then I would ask her the one question that burned through me as I watched the film: What can I do? I didn’t and just listen to the other questions.

While I was in Lesotho, I once got a ride from a couple from South Africa. The man was Afrikaans and the woman, as she told me, was Indian but her family had been living in Durban for years. As we talked, the woman started to make very racist comments about “those blacks.” It led to a discussion about an apartheid and I started in about Civil Rights and the changes in the U.S. since then. Part of me knew I was talking without good information, but I truly believed, in my own little world, that the U.S.’s racial issues had improved since the 1960s.

“You Americans, you think you are so much better than us,” she turned around from the passenger seat to look at me in the back. “You are not. You have just as many issues as we do and racism is still a major issue in your country.”

I wanted to refute that, but I knew there was truth to it. I wanted to argue that Civil Rights was several decades prior while apartheid was only two, but I couldn’t because I truly didn’t know the racial climate in my own country. Or, if I did, I chose to ignore it as a major problem.

The discussions on racial tension and gun violence in our country have opened wide up since I returned. Every time a Michael Brown or Sand Hook is dragged into the news and everyone’s fingers point in opposite directions, I go numb. I notice it until hurts, almost like touching a burner to see if it is hot, and then I turn away. I don’t post much about it on social media and I’ll mostly just listen as people bring it up in social conversations.

For most of my life, I’ve kept my opinions to myself out of fear of how I will be perceived. It’s so much easier to be a mute than be the one everyone rolls their eyes out. But as I stared at a woman and father who unjustly lost their son I realized I can’t do that anymore. My heart is so broken from the way we treat human lives in this nation that I can no longer pretend it is not happening.

I don’t know what I am going to do forward, except look for opportunities. Where I can led my voice I will. Where I can be involved in the conversation I will. Where I can be involved in the solution I will.

What can I do? I can stop ignoring.

A resurrection

i said, “Let us walk in the field.”
He said, “Nay walk in the town.”
I said, “There are no flowers there.”
He said, “No flowers bot a crown.”

I said, “But the air is thick,
And the fogs are veiling the sun.”
He answered, “Yet souls are sick
And souls in the dark undone.”

I cast one look at the field,
Then he set my face to the town.
He said: “My child, do you yield?
Will ye leave the flowers for the crown?”

Then into his hand went mine
And into my heart came He,
And I walk in a light divine
The path I had feared to see.

– George Macdonald

Lent is the preparation for death, the opportunity to look at what is not serving us and give it permission to die.

Easter is our rebirth into grace and light and love.

Let us begin anew with faith and so so much love.

You matter

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Do not let you someone treat you like you do not matter. People can tell us that we are wrong and that we are undeserving but they are not allowed to to conclude that our existences is irrelevant.

The thing is, though, that there will always be people who do not care if we are in their lives or not and the love and grace we have to share is only an option. Unfortunately, that’s just how it goes in life and we can’t control our roles in other people’s lives. Yet, we can control how we internalize and react to those who just simple do not care that we exist.

One day I stopped at the beach during a run to take in the warming waves of Lake Michigan. My thoughts were tangled up around a situation where I felt like I was treated that I didn’t matter. The person imposing such feelings had done this more than once, but I continue to show up for this person for reasons that I can’t explain other than that I am human and sometimes I don’t put my higher good at the center of my choices.

As the waves roared with spring anticipation, I thought about carry this feeling throughout my day. Not only did my existence feel minimal, I also was angry that I put myself in this position yet again. It then occurred to me that I did not have to bear the weight of such heavy emotions and that I didn’t have to react or fight for attention from this person. I could simply choose to not let this person or the situation determine my self worth. I could never convince this person to see me differently, but I could not put so much value on it. If it did bother me, it was because I chose to let it bother me and I didn’t have to stop caring for this person – because that is much harder – but I could stop victimizing the person’s treatment of me.

As I was thinking about this person, I started to see the faces of other people. The people who do make time for me, the people who put up with my crazy and love me for it. It hurts to feel like you are just an option, but there are so many people in this world who see me, and you, as imperative in their lives. I get kind of crazy when people can easily expel me from their lives because it challenges me as person and why I matter, but often in these times a whole round of people come to remind me that they want to be in my corner and want me in their corner. I want to be grateful for those people and cherish them, because when I can do that then the others who do not care really do not matter.

Life is heartbreaking in that we can’t be we want to be for all people, but we can be so much more for the people who count. It’s always been difficult for me to remember that, but I’ve come to see that loving myself means loving the people who don’t just want me in their lives but actively chose me. And loving myself also means letting the rest go.