It just doesn’t get any better than a crackling fire on a crisp fall night. (Actually I believe it was a four way tie between the fire, the roasted oysters, the cupcakes and the company).
Walking into my polling place yesterday I was greeted warmly by a neighbor who had just finished voting and was on her way to work. I checked in with the friendly volunteers and took my place in line. My neighbor who brought amazing beer and coffee and bread and sausage within a short walk of my house (via the Hoppy Dog) was in front of me. A former student was in line just behind me. The strangers next to me chatted pleasantly. I watched as another neighbor who likes to have coffee at the same time as my husband and I most Saturdays (and is blind) was guided to a booth and given headphones. I thought about those women years ago who fought hard to win the right for me to be at the polls at all. And then I thought about kindness and positivity and hope.
Thanks to my decision to cut way back on social media time and my lack of easy access to television I was shielded from a great deal of the election-related negativity. But I knew it was there. I heard other people talking about it. I caught snippets of when the television was on at the gym, bar or hotel. I couldn’t miss it on an occasional scroll through facebook. It’s impossible for something so big and national not to permeate.
I know that campaigning is all about winning and that one certainly has to play the game to win. But as the election season winds down I find myself weary of a game that involves both sides dodging questions and focusing on polarizing issues instead of concrete plans. I find myself hoping for some bipartisan political kindness. Not kindness in the sense of “playing nice” or “all getting along” but simply in a committment to listen more and call names less. To move towards progress and healing and away from intentional divisiveness.
So tonight, for the neighbors, volunteers and strangers I voted alongside yesterday. For the women who fought for my right to vote. For our country. I hope.
I distinctly remember a picture of myself dressed as a butterfly as a very young child. My wings are made out of some sort of white fabric (perhaps a pillowcase) and are delightfully hand-painted. The next costume I remember is this amazing mouse one that my mom made for me. Since I was never a fan of masks, the head of the costume was basically a hood that snapped under my chin. The next year I wanted to be a cat, so off came the mouse ears and on went the cat ones. I believe it may have gone on to be a bunny before finally becoming a donkey for a church Christmas play (it may actually live on in this incarnation to this day).
The majority of costumes I have worn as an adult have had much more in common with that butterfly than the crazy-amazing mouse/cat/bunny/donkey, in that they are typically extremely homemade (i.e. no pattern or sewing machine involved) and mostly last-minute. There were a number of years as a hippie (a pair of red John Lennon style sunglasses + things that may or may not have been a part of my actual everyday wardrobe at the time). This was followed by a number of years as the ever popular Someone from the 80’s and/or Punk Rocker. More specific costumes have included the Drunk Bridesmaid and Princess in Training. Then there was the year I just happened to be wearing my glasses at a Halloween party and told everyone I was Tina Fey.
So if you’re still working on that costume for tonight – fear not! I’m sure there is an old pair of jeans you can slash up or a bridesmaid dress you can spill something on (seriously, you aren’t going to wear it . . . no, not even to that holiday party someday). Need more inspiration? I leave you with this awesomeness and the Princess in Training:
*I just realized that this costume is actually Tina Fey as a Princess in Training – even better!
Some time over the course of the last nine years I became the kind of person who exercises in the morning. Don’t misread – I’m still not a morning person. I have just learned to enjoy starting my day this way. The fact that this has become who I am is most evident when I don’t do it.
Today for example, I decided to run my four miles (8K training) in the evening. I started lamenting the fact that I rolled over for that extra hour this morning on my walk home from work: It’s going to be 7:oo before I’m done, this sucks. When I got home I decided to charge my phone (so I could listen to music while slogging it out on the treadmill). I emptied the diswasher. Went through the mail. Finally I left.
When I got to the gym I lamented not getting new running shoes a month ago before those calluses turned into blisters. I wished I had remembered band-aids. As I logged onto the wireless network and scrolled through my Pandora stations I thought about creating a more upbeat one. Four miles. On the treadmill.
And then the music started. There’s only us. There’s only this. Forget regrets. Or life is yours to miss.
Exactly what I needed to hear. At exactly the right moment. A chill ran up my spine and a humbled smile pulled at the corners of my mouth. I am running four miles because I can run four miles. People are having babies, mourning the death of parents and for the next forty minutes all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other.
And so I did. I took a deep breath and started running. I finished and came home. I made dinner and poured myself a glass of wine. I read good things that fed my soul and didn’t give rolling over in bed this morning a second thought. Because this is the only shot I have at today and it deserves better than that.
Yesterday a friend casually mentioned getting “rush” tickets for a Virginia Rep show. Did you all know about this? How did I not? (Maybe it was on facebook.) Just in case you’re in the dark too, Virginia Rep is now selling tickets for same day shows, 2 hours before the show for a (significantly) reduced price! Here are the details.
So last evening we went to see Night Blooms, for nearly half price on a random Thursday night. While I love a planned evening at the theatre, there’s something equally sweet about a seeing a show I hadn’t even thought about over breakfast that morning. The show itself was well-written and well-acted. The relationships between characters were grey and complicated; the ending hopeful while resisting tying the whole thing up in big fluffy bow.
Today I was getting ready to sit down and write something about how awesome this one little unexpected surprise was, when I realized I’ve had a week full of them. From the big (seeing elk at the end of a long hike in Rocky Mountain National Park last Thursday) to the small (that delicious bowl of carrot, coconut, curry soup on Monday). I suppose it’s actually not so much about the awesome things, as it is the open-ness to seeing the awesome.
There’s an awesome dialogue about health and wellness and whole-ness going on here. After reading it I feel enlightened. And embarrassed. Why? Because the concept of fat talk is something I never thought about.
My personal philosophy on life embraces kindness to self and others as its overarching value. My education in counseling taught me about encouraging strength in people. Yet I had never considered the impact of my internal and external dialogue about weight. How many times have I thought or said things like, those three miles I ran this morning totally off-set that cinnamon bun I just ate? How many jokes have I made about my beer belly? How much have I talked about the fact that the apple I ate is totally counteracting that chocolate bar? Or lamented I’m so bloated?
This was never directed at others, always at myself (though I’m sure I haven’t contradicted others when they have uttered these phrases about themselves). But why is this the dialogue? Why not say instead: I’m so proud of myself for running three miles today. Or damn that was a good cinnamon bun/beer/apple/chocolate bar. Or I should probably drink some water; that creamy soup didn’t sit so well.
Even more important for my dialogue to change since my professional role involves being a trusted resource for college students. And while I am appalled at this counselor’s terrible response to a serious situation and can’t imagine what would possess someone to say that, I can’t ignore my own vocabulary.
So I pledge to be more aware. To stop the fat talk. To start instead the health talk. The wellness talk. The whole-ly, beautifully, uniquely me and you talk.