gratitude and change

Life lately: figuring out how to move forward with a clear sense of what I can do to better improve and positively impact my environment, my community, my family, my friends, everything I touch. Starting with a puppy photo, because, obviously everyone could use a dose of cute pug faces these days.

I went to a yoga class the other night and saw a good friend. He asked how I've been, and I did the whole "oh, good, you know" head nod thing—followed by a joke about life being different post-November 8. And then, as we moved into sun salutations in a packed room of people getting their pre-Thanksgiving flow going, the instructor talked about habits. About being mindful. About how once you start taking that step back to notice your patterns, that is your opportunity to make a different choice.

So. While much of my life is the exact same lately, which is incredibly privileged, I am making some different decisions. 

Like:

Speaking up to voice my opinion, and rooting those thoughts in fact to the best of my ability.

Asking specific questions instead of making vague assumptions.

Showing up to understand, listen and learn—particularly from those who do not share my exact same sentiments, loved ones and strangers alike.

Standing up for what is right: tolerance and equality as the foundation of everything else in this world.

Googling who my local political leaders are, and making a point to educate myself on where they stand regarding policies that matter to me personally.

Calling my Congress men and women to demand opposition to bigotry, sexism, racism, xenophobia, etc.

Writing advocacy letters on behalf of refugees in need.

Donating $5 when I can, because let's be honest, if I can afford a coffee on a given day, I can afford to donate to someone in need.

Donating $100 when I can, to an organization that strives to build change.

Signing up to volunteer in my community, and actually making the time.

Reading more critically, instead of automatically believing every article that floats my way is 1) recent, 2) accurate, 3) non-biased. 

Checking my privilege, big-time, on a daily basis.

Staying in uncomfortable conversations that challenge everyone present.

Protecting my strength as a woman and lifting up other strong women.

Not reverting to complacency, rationalization or justification, simply because that's easier.

Remaining vigilant with shreds of optimism rooted in realism.

Trusting in the overall goodness of humanity, even in the face of horror, evil, fear, apathy.

Being grateful for the many, many blessings of my life.

And practicing self-care in the form of yoga, online shopping for cozy sweaters, wine, all the Biden memes and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat. I am aware that self-care is a privilege in itself; there are plenty of people right now who are unable to do so. I try to view it this way: it is mandatory, now, that I take care of my body, brain, heart and spirit so that I can step up, show up, speak up differently. Being politically active and socially aware is mandatory, rather than optional; it must be built into the very fabric of my days.

If you are feeling helpless these days, take a big breath, and then take action. There is so much work to be done. There always has been, as many of our fellow Americans already know. But this Thanksgiving, I am filled with thanks for my husband, my child, my freedom, my security, my identity, my education, my travel experiences, my diverse friends, my beloved family members—and I am filled with resolve to contribute to active change in the world rather than standing on the sidelines crossing my fingers that it happens.

Rise up
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up
Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up
— Hamilton: An American Musical
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