Fearless Friday: A Journey of Little Battles and Victories

Yesterday, I was saddened to hear of the poet Mary Oliver’s passing. For years, I’ve referred back to her poem “The Journey”. It speaks to one’s internal struggles, while framing that process in a wild, wooded journey.  Most of us do not have lives chock full of drama. We’re ants, just trying to drag that big crumb up the hill, each of us with our own particular battles along the way.

As the cold, gray January drags on, my own particular battle is to not sink into a deep, dark depression. My inclination towards depression means that I honor the smallest of victories. Yesterday, just getting myself out for a walk on a rare sunny day was enough to shift things. A tiny victory that lifted me out of a slump. We each have our own little battles and victories. The trick is to honor our own while maintaining perspective and awareness of others’ challenges.

Welcome to Fearless Friday.

Feacanstockphoto13410470rless Fridays are about lives lived in spite of our fears, living a life that is about curiosity, compassion, and courage. If you just got published, something wonderful happened to you, you witnessed an act of kindness or bravery, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share.  These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.

This week, I’d like to introduce Ranga Rajah, who blogs at Letting Go of Baggages. She sent me her story about a little internal victory she celebrated.

I decided to get some shopping done for my winter essentials. The store I picked had some excellent selection of jackets, shoes, scarves, trinkets, and quality handbags on sale. I picked up a few including a cross body bag.

Before going for the handbags, I had picked a few trinkets and had to hold them in my hand because the cart had large open squares at the bottom. I decided to put the jewelry into one of the bags I was buying.

canstockphoto1878776A salesperson who was arranging the bags saw me putting the jewelry inside the handbag. Comes up, and asks in a very rude manner, “What did you just put inside that bag?”

I showed the inside of my bag. They continued on, “You be careful, there are cameras all over the place. They are on all the time and I am not joking.”

I was taken aback but gained my composure and said, “No cameras can look deep enough and stop people’s intentions. I did not think about negative stuff till you brought it up.”

The salesperson should have taken a moment to think that I put the trinkets in the bag in front of them. While checking for more stuff, that encounter kept coming back to me and I told myself I should leave the cart filled with my shopping, go elsewhere and continue.

I knew I was too upset, therefore decided to divert my attention the books section. I had calmed down by then and decided to end my shopping spree.

But I needed to share my hurt; therefore I mentioned it to the cashier without identifying the salesperson. The important thing for me was to emerge as an emotionally balanced, and a better person. I think I managed it that day.

Thanks, Ranga, for sharing your story.

Normally in this space, I’d add a few blogs that fit in with the theme of this week’s Fearless Friday. Today, though, I’ll share the Mary Oliver poem I referenced at the beginning.

THE JOURNEY

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shoutingcanstockphoto0108300
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver, from Dream Work, 1986

Fearless Friday: Learned Empathy

This morning I did my best to avoid a particular cashier lane at the grocery store. My local grocery store proactively employs people with differing abilities, whether physical, learning, or social. There is a young woman who bags and likes to have loud, occasionally inappropriate conversations with anyone, anywhere. I am a jerk in the morning. I don’t want to talk to anyone, anywhere. I tried to pass by unseen, but the cashier called out to me. “I can help you here!” I smiled weakly and turned back into the lane.

canstockphoto3618060She yelled down at me from the end of the conveyor: PAPER OR PLASTIC? and I silently handed her my cloth bags, already feeling the irritation grow. WHAT’s YOUR NAME? MINE IS _____. I mumbled something about not being awake yet. NOT AWAKE YET? THAT’S A FUNNY NAME. I could feel my face grow hot as people in the lanes next to us turned to look. I’m simultaneously ashamed of my self-consciousness, lack of compassion, and growing hostility towards this woman, who obviously could not read social cues. Where was my empathy and understanding? I suspect it was in a cup of coffee and a few hours of silence. In the moment, it completely abandoned me. I could hear her yell as I exited the store. BYE NOT AWAKE YET!

I think about empathy a lot and how a true master wouldn’t ration it. Wouldn’t pick and choose who was deserving of engagement based on whether or not I’d had my morning drug of choice. Empathy is a skill that, like any skill, grows with practice. And practice is sometimes uncomfortable and forced and against all our inclinations. Empathy allows us to flip the script. I wouldn’t have been doing her a favor by engaging – she was not the one with the problem. I saw in a flash, that I was both insecure and petty and it made me less empathetic and kind than I like to believe I am. Next time, I have a chance to do better.

I think we all have empathy.

We may not have enough courage to display it.

Maya Angelou

Welcome to Fearless Friday.

Feacanstockphoto13410470rless Fridays are about lives lived in spite of our fears, living a life that is about curiosity, compassion, and courage. If you just got published, something wonderful happened to you, you witnessed an act of kindness or bravery, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share.  These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.

One of the gifts of reading is increasing empathy. Hearing or reading about another person’s experience and perspectives, letting them sink in, without preemptive judgment, is a gift to oneself. This is the wonderful thing about the blogging world – so many worldviews being shared. Opportunities abound for us as readers to expand our world, understanding, and empathy for fellow humans. So today I’m sharing some of the blogs that have expanded my worldview.

Robyn at Blog Woman! Life Uncategorized is a citizen of the Cree and Michif Nations. She is passionate about indigenous peoples issues in Canada. I’ve learned a lot from reading her blog and now, her Twitter feed as well. “What’s Under the Fight to Do Right?” encapsulates why she does what she does.

RJ at RJsCorner describes himself as “an Independent thinking highly functional person who is deaf and has some Aspie traits.” He has himself on a rigorous blogging schedule, with each day covering a different theme and a wide range of subjects. His post “Never Stop Learning” is part of his 10 Pillars of life – not only has he continued to learn, but he is unerringly, a teacher as well.

Randall at Midlife Crisis Crossover blogs about traveling, comics, and movies. Here’s the funny thing – I’m not particularly interested in comics or movies, but I really enjoy reading his blog, which is often a breakdown of exactly those things. But strong writing and his obvious enthusiasm for his subjects are a winning combination. As someone who likes to keep up with things a bit, I especially enjoy his roundup posts like “My 2018 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Least Best“.

Torey Richards, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida, writes at LMHC: Sharing Information and Exploring Human Behavior. The blog is a hybrid of clinical information, case information, and the writer’s personal experiences, which makes for interesting reading. Sometimes the posts are about intense, potentially-triggering issues. But blogs like these, about mental health conversation and information, are part of the antidote to the stigma and silence that have plagued our society with regard to mental health issues.

These are just a few of the blogs I follow that have broadened my perspective. Thank you to those bloggers and the many more who open windows to their worlds.

What’s your empathy look like? And where do you go to broaden your world view?

Fearless Friday: The Power of Poetry

In a world where things sometimes seem dire, where does poetry fit in? How does it feed the starving? Find the lost? Rehabilitate the criminal? De-traumatize the victim? How does it stop corruption and hypocrisy? What is the point if it cannot automatically be processed, packaged, and monetized?

canstockphoto3647287.jpgBut then what is the point of anything, if we cannot have the joy of words, music, paintings, artistic movement? Why does any of it matter if we have nothing that fills our soul, connects us with our fellow humans, makes us imagine the what ifs?

Today, I’m focusing on poets who wield the power of poetry.

Welcome to Fearless Friday.

Feacanstockphoto13410470rless Fridays are about lives lived in spite of our fears, living a life that is about curiosity, compassion, and courage. If you just got published, something wonderful happened to you, you witnessed an act of kindness or bravery, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share.  These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.

Poets Writers Readers Bloggers Spies (maybe not spies, but how would we know?)

Poetry takes all forms and there are readers here who run with that. Some poems are stories, leaving us to divine the message. lifecameos from New Zealand tells all kinds of tales. Read her latest “Tea Party Chimps“. For Haiku, jokes, and fun art work, visit Steve at Heed Not Steve. And I’ve introduced her before, but Cate at Meditatio Ephemera just wrote about her own foray into poetry in the post “Donkey“.

And I’d like to welcome and introduce some new readers who are poets. I enjoyed reading “long Languished Days” at the Harp of Vega and a high school poet at Writings of Lexie, who reminds us of the intensity of school hallways.

The Necessity of Poetry

23649600Tim Miller at word and silence has served as an excellent resource for rediscovering poetry. His long narrative poem “To the House of the Sun” has long been on my reading list, but I wanted to finish Ovid’s Metamorphoses first, which is an undertaking. Recently, Tim felt compelled to respond to a critic in “Defending One’s Strangeness: on To the House of the Sun“, in which he says a lot about the nature of poetry and art and the choices he made.

You asked me about necessity, and I’d only say that it would have been spiritual death for me not to write the poem.   Defending One’s Strangeness: on To the House of the Sun

I’ve been thinking a lot about the rawness and profundity of that statement. It’s a reminder to stay connected with why we do what we do – a stalwart defense against cynicism.

Some of my favorites

Writing and music feel like part of my character. When someone asks me who or what my favorites are, I hesitate. I have an innate fear of always being too ordinary, too pedestrian. But if I’m going to talk about being fearless, I need to shove my cowardice and insecurity aside.

28014763Many years ago I tracked down a tiny book called The Gardener by Rabindranath Tagore. In my American way, I read a snippet and thought I must have that! It took awhile to arrive and when it did, I excitedly sat down to read it in full. Excitedly was the right word. It’s foreplay – sensual and romantic, quite unlike the random snippet I’d read.

We hasten to gather our flowers lest they are plundered by the passing winds.

It quickens our blood and brightens our eyes to snatch kisses that would vanish if we delayed.

Our life is eager, our desires are keen, for time tolls the bell of parting.

Rabindranth Tagore, The Gardener

With all the plucking and plundering and sighs and fluttering, I can’t help but hear Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” when I read it.

The first poem that I ever memorized was William Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. I will always love the lines: And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. Melancholy and sweetness and gratitude. Who couldn’t use some of that?

I enjoy poems by Mary Oliver, W.H. Auden, Rita Dove, and Billy Collins. There are so many others – a poem here and there that lands just right, a balm, an inspiration, a truth. And if, in that moment, you cannot find what you need, it might be time to write a poem of your own.

Online Resources for Poetry

The Poetry Foundation

poets.org

Poetry International

Poetry International Web

Do you have a favorite poet?

Is there a line you always remember?

TGS Writers’ Book Club Reminder: The June Selection is a collection of poetry, Afterland by Mai Der Vang. Follow the blog for updated selections, writer-reader guidelines, and discussions. The July selection is There are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry (Short Stories).

Fearless Friday: Tested Integrity

Adding a weekly feature to this blog a month ago was like assigning myself homework. I was never a great student, usually saved by my test-taking skills and overcompensation on writing assignments (imagine that). So here is my caveat – I’ll do it when I can and sometimes it will look strangely like me working out some issues.

canstockphoto7663084This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about anger and integrity. I’ve always been a pretty intense person, but the last couple of years have tapped into a social/cultural and political anger that has magnified because of the sheer crudity of the discourse. And I’m tired. Sometimes it’s exhausting to sustain the belief that I, as an individual, have power or can make any difference at all on the larger landscape.

For the last couple of years, I’ve slowly talked myself into doing all sorts of things I wouldn’t normally do. I’ve joined a political party, become a member of a voting rights organization, and forced myself to be more engaged with others than I want to be. I’m an introvert, but with a fierce belief that if I do nothing, I have to keep my trap shut. And that’s not happening.

canstockphoto39922182The thing is, I’m still working within systems within systems. And these are the very systems that have made the wealth-pillagers our political leaders. I’m also working from a very comfortable place – I am white, have a home and health insurance and enough money to buy chocolate when I want it. The system supports this life for me.

Over the years, I’ve gotten on my high horse about voting. I still believe it is an important right, but the elections of 2000 and 2016 showed me that many of our votes don’t matter, due to an antiquated system that gives undue weight to land mass over people. The system itself is flawed. Is my participation in it akin to collusion? I don’t know.

I’ve begun to think about what it really looks like to stand for one’s beliefs, to be assertive about integrity, and what dissent means.

Welcome to Fearless Friday.

Feacanstockphoto13410470rless Fridays are about lives lived in spite of our fears, living a life that is about curiosity, compassion, and courage. If you just got published, something wonderful happened to you, you witnessed an act of kindness or bravery, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share.  These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.

Meaningful Patriotism

Wcanstockphoto55158483hen thinking about the courage it takes to dissent from prevalent culture or politics, we don’t have to look any further afield than Colin Kaepernick,  whose small gesture created a cultural firestorm. LitHub ran an excerpt of Howard Bryant’s The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism. Mr. Kaepernick sacrificed his athletic career and monetary gain for his belief that he could not stand for injustice.

It is likely that he had no idea what that small gesture would entail, but even as the cost became apparent, he was steadfast. As a veteran, I am grateful for someone who stood against knee-jerk patriotism – all that “thank you for your service” nothingness and magnetic bumper ribbons. If the flag and anthem mean something, make them really mean something today – like justice and equality in our society, and judicious use of military lives abroad.

Radical Rudeness

canstockphoto19013767Stella Nyanzi is a Ugandan dissident. We have a lot of issues in America, but when it comes to courage, we often work within parameters. There are countries that make it a crime to criticize their leaders or government. Ms. Nyanzi’s favorite insult is calling someone “a pair of buttocks“, which has landed her in all sorts of trouble. The for-profit prisons in our country would fall over themselves for laws like that here, because most of us would be in prison.

I think about her choices – to be quiet in the face of injustice or to be loud and defiant and have the full weight of the government come down on her. What choice would you make?

The Fearless Fourth Estate

The most tiresome phrase used by the president et al is “fake news”. That people are so willing to throw multiple babies out with the bath water is laziness personified. Lately I’ve been listening to a New York Times series called Caliphate. Listening to Rukmini Callimachi as she interviews former ISIS fighters and goes to dangerous places in more ways than one, makes me tremendously grateful.

Despite the national derision and specifically the canstockphoto51852868mortal danger, journalists and photographers risk their lives to tell us the stories we would never know otherwise. It matters and it is important. Shrieking “fake news” all the time is just dumbed-down cynicism – an indicator that critical thinking has stepped out for a smoke. And really, critical thinking is all you need to figure out what is likely factual news.

Leaving Hypotheses Behind

I keep thinking about the fact that I need to do something that is not easy or convenient for me. I go to a lot of meetings these days with a notebook. I hate meetings. I have volunteered to chair committees and research initiatives, also a rather loathsome task. So there’s that. But I keep asking myself the question: how far would I go for my beliefs? These are the days we live in – where the possibility that my answer may be tested.

 

TGS Writers’ Book Club Reminder: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward is the May Reading Selection. Discussion forum opens on May 15th. The June Selection is a collection of poetry, Afterland by Mai Der Vang. Follow the blog for updated selections, writer-reader guidelines, and discussions.

Fearless Friday: All Creatures Great and Small

PeteandOwney.jpgThere’s a lot of little routines in our household driven by a lumpy old tomcat named Pete and an irritable tortoiseshell named Owney. Each night when I lay down to sleep, I hear a series of thumps. Pete comes down from whatever perch he has been flopping on, pads across the wood floor, leaps onto the bed, and plants himself firmly on my stomach. If I don’t get to the petting, he taps his paw on my face.

canstockphoto9615339As spring arrives, fashionably late, the cardinals, norther harriers, black-capped chickadees, finches, and dark-eyed juncos busy themselves all around our house. At this very moment, a male mallard has plunked himself down in the middle of our yard, while rabbits nibble about its edges. This is all to say, we’ve learned to coexist in a way that means our furniture never remains pristine, my gardens have a gnawed-at appearance, and animal food is always on our grocery list.

The most painful thing about sharing our lives with animals is that we will likely see them to the end of theirs. The cost and anxiety of dealing with aging animals is high. At some point, we have to measure their quality of life against the extraordinary means available to prolong it, and ultimately, in many cases, decide how they die. It’s a heavy responsibility and an unwieldy gift.

Welcome to Fearless Friday.

Feacanstockphoto13410470rless Fridays are about lives lived in spite of our fears, living a life that is about curiosity, compassion, and courage. If you just got published, something wonderful happened to you, you witnessed an act of kindness, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share.  These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.

Poetry in Furry Motion

LLuanne Castleuanne Castle is a poet and the companion to many grateful furry bodies. You can find her at Writer Site for a delightful mix of poetry, animal stories, and book reviews. She talks about how her latest cat found her (to both their good fortunes!).

My latest cat, Perry, wandered into my backyard one night, and I was determined to get him inside where he wouldn’t get eaten by the pack of coyotes or huge bobcat that live in my neighborhood. That’s how most of my animals have come into my life—me trying to protect them from danger or homelessness or hunger. Then I end up falling wildly in love with them. I volunteer for a local no-kill shelter. It’s wonderful for a shelter, but no place to call home.

Sleepy boy Perry
Sleepy Perry.

Besides helping cats find loving homes, my greatest joy has been busting a few cats out of there and offering them my own home.

My connection to animals really didn’t show itself clearly until I was in my twenties. I began to volunteer time to help both local and national animal welfare organizations. And because charity begins at home, I adopted a dog my mother-in-law found on the street. Then one I found on the street. Over the years, my husband and I have adopted many dogs, cats, and even a very sweet rat who was living in a stressful classroom environment.

Castle_Luanne_KinTypesWinner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Doll God, Luanne Castle’s first collection of poetry, was published by Aldrich Press. Luanne’s poetry and prose have appeared in Phoebe, Copper Nickel, Six Hens, Story Shack, The Antigonish Review, Crack the SpineGrist, TABRiver TeethLunch TicketThe Review Review, and many other journals. Luanne’s 2017 chapbook Kin Types, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press, was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Contest.

Taking the Lead

DeborahTaylorFrenchDeborah Taylor-French is a novelist, arts educator, and full-time dog companion at www.dogleadermysteries.com. She is passionate about the care and safety of dogs, writing about everything from canine food recalls to adoption issues.

Deborah writes Dog Leader Mysteries that are full of positive dog leadership and animal rescue stories. She serves as Author Support Facilitator for Redwood Writers, the largest branch of the California Writers Club. Red Sky at Night, the first in her series of Dog Leader Mysteries will be published in June 2018. If you sign up on her email list you receive free updates, freebies, book launch invites and a free The Skinny on Dogs newsletter.

It’s Not All Cats and Dogs

sc1
Cate’s light Brahma hen, Cal.

I’ve never thought much about chickens as pets, but Cate’s poem “Meet Me in Heaven” is heartbreaking and illuminates a relationship with these feathered creatures.

Cate at Meditatio Ephemera is a former journalist and runner who raises hens in the Colorado Rockies. Cate’s blog is a potpourri of one shot photos, poetry, and essays on a wide range of topics.

*****

Silence has now stretched across our household. I have about two hours before the noise canstockphoto18941416starts again. They’ve got me scheduled for treats. I’m pretty sure it’s a coordinated effort as they both manage to rouse themselves from naps and conveniently begin walking about the house meowing loudly.

Owney: You go first, gray lump. Do that low wail that makes her think something is wrong and makes her get up.

Pete: Yup. What if that don’t work?

Owney: Well, it’s my baby cry meow, then. How many times do we have to go over this, you dimwitted ogre?

Pete: No dimwit does speed bump way I do.

Owney: Anyone can walk in front of a human and flop over suddenly.

She licks the top of Pete’s head, followed quickly by a hiss and head swat.

Pete: Ack, arphh, glumph, cough, cough. Hairball. I go over there. She blame you.

Owney: Victory – she’s getting up from her chair! I don’t understand what she’s going on about. I wonder what hairy bastards means. Probably more treats.

TGS Writers’ Book Club Reminder: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward is the April Reading Selection. Discussion forum opens on May 15th. The May Selection is a collection of poetry, Afterland by Mai Der Vang. Follow the blog for updated selections, writer-reader guidelines, and discussions.

Have a great weekend!

 

Fearless Fridays: A New Feature at The Green Study

These days a person can wake up feeling small and anxious. I often do. This morning was a good example. I’ve been nursing a hamstring injury for over a week and the first walking hours are the worst. The sky is dark and cloudy and it is predicted that we’re getting 10-14″ of snow tomorrow. My daughter has been sick the last few days. Those are local issues. Add all the political turmoil and malevolence in the world and it’s a quick spiral to the bottom of the mood barrel.

It’s my nature to go dark. I have to resist it on a pretty regular basis. I am a practiced skeptic and cynic, which has served me well in many ways, but sometimes it shuts out the joy and the gratitude. Now, if you’re like me, gratitude feels like a trigger word, having been beaten to death by the Pollyanna meme-making journalers of the world. I feel gratitude in a hundred small ways, but talking about it feels like bragging. What doesn’t feel like bragging is talking about the great things that other people are doing.

Feacanstockphoto13410470rless Fridays are about what happens when we don’t let anxiety rule our lives, when we stay open to the good things in the world, and take time to recognize them. On Fearless Fridays, I’ll talk about the awesome things other people are doing. If you just got published, or you witnessed an act of kindness, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share.  These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.

To kick off the weekly feature, I’m sharing some good news and giving a shout out to a couple of friends.

Congratulations to Lisa Ciarfella at Ciarfella’s Fiction Corner: Writing Fiction Now

LisaCiarfellaLisa recently earned her MFA from California State University, Long Beach. Her writing slants dark, towards the Noir, crime fiction and hard-boiled, channeling inspiration from greats like Jim Thompson, Paul D. Marks, and Paul Brazill. She’s been featured on PulpMetalmagazine.com, Nowastedink.com, Ashedit/.com, and will be soon at OutoftheGutteronline.com. By day, Lisa shepherds high school kids with their daily grind, and on the weekends, likes throwing Frisbees around the beach with her pups and catching ball games. canstockphoto4927438

Lisa has just published a couple of stories – congratulations!  Check out her blog or one of her published pieces at “Last Night’s Lift” at Near to the Knuckle.

Thanks and Best Travel Wishes to Sandy at A Mind Divided

I met Sandy through blogging. Over the years, we’ve met for coffee and emailed and texted. Sometimes more than others. She is one of those people who I admire for her tenacity of spirit and her persistent dedication to creativity. My favorite thing about her is her laugh – it’s an honest laugh that makes you feel like you earned it.  Several of her gorgeous, quirky handmade cards grace my study.

canstockphoto1542595She decided to take a big step and move to Oklahoma to be near family after living in the Midwest for many years. For most people, this is a life stressor, but for Sandy, who has lived with literal ups and downs of bipolar disorder, this is a leap of faith. Sometimes those journeys that seem so ordinary are really these amazing feats of courage. I wish her the best in her travels and that she finds great joy in her new home.

Sometimes You Just Have to Be Kind

One of my best friends has been having a really tough last week or so. I thought about her today while running errands. I was feeling very grumpy and yelled at least once at no one in particular Get off your goddamned phone and drive! These days I recognize not only how toxic my anger can be, but also how frequently it arrives. I pull myself back and try to imagine the person I’m yelling at – what kind of day are they having?

canstockphoto34597907It’s funny how we’re all sympathy and light for those closest to us and can be so unkind to strangers. I had the weird thought of what it would be like to see that person’s day, to be in their body with all its twitches and pains. What was their work like? Was it backbreaking or soul-crushing or a little bit of both? Was one of their parents or children ill? Is their spouse cruel or indifferent? We become so incurious as to they and them, when they are us and we.

Kindness is not only something we extend to others, but also to ourselves. My friend is a widow with a 14-year-old son who has autism. He is nonverbal. He bites her sometimes and has a laundry list of triggers and compulsions. She knows them by heart. She has built a life for the two of them with a lovely home and routines that comfort her son.

canstockphoto53672507Sometimes she berates herself for not doing more, for not being a better parent. But she doesn’t see what I see. She doesn’t see how amazing she is to get up each day, taking care of his needs while trying to meet some of hers. She doesn’t see how persistent she is – that even after weeks of the flu or one of his meltdowns, she plows forward. She doesn’t see how very capable and loving she is, despite the challenges of the day. I see it and I wish she would, too. It’s the oddest human quirk, how we can easily see in others what we don’t see in ourselves.

So that wraps up Fearless Friday. Share your stories, thank your friends, be kind to strangers. And drop me a line so that I can share your stories here.

Wishing you all a Fearless Weekend!