Month: November 2020

News Articles Today

This happened today

Image of Washington Post headline: Joe Biden projected to be nation’s 46th president

It is a political development which makes everyone in my house glad. I’ve skewed liberal for decades and I never felt as appalled by a republican president as I have for the past four years. He did so much social damage. His existence combined with the pandemic brought so many simmering problems to the surface. Possibly that is a good thing for us in the long run, because now we see the work we have to do. There is a lot of work. This election means being able to settle in and do that work without having to negotiate with a leader who denies the work needs to be done. I am happy to work with people who disagree on how to solve the problems, but I can’t work with someone who denies the problem. Racism is a problem. Income inequality is a problem. The level of poverty in our country is a problem. How to handle immigration is a problem. The pandemic is a huge and urgent problem. The current state of policing and incarceration is problem. The cost of healthcare is a problem. We have lots of social discussion to do in order to figure out how to address these problems. We have a much better chance at actually having those discussions when we’re not constantly fighting a landslide of denial and misinformation from the very top.

This also happened today:

Utah Covid graph from 11/07/2020

I do not like the way that this week’s spike isn’t a lone day reaching high. It is solid and sustained across three days. This means the low is probably not going to dip down much, and next week we’ll have another set of new records. Particularly since the state guidelines haven’t changed and the weather is going cold. We still have kids going to school in person. Church meetings every week with up to 100 people in attendance. I got an invitation to a wedding reception (which I won’t attend) that had no information about quantities of people invited or safety measures. Sports events are happening. Youth activities are happening. People are planning to gather for Thanksgiving. Restaurants are open for dining inside. Gyms and fitness centers are open. None of that will shut down unless someone in government states clearly that they must. Until some of those things shut down we will continue to see increasing cases. The deaths have begun to roll in as well. I have friends and family who have tested positive.

So today I feel relief tempered with caution and an awareness that the work has only just begun.

Thinking on Four Years Past

I just went back and re-read blog posts from election week in 2016. The sinking-despairing feeling which permeated that week in 2016 is alluded to lightly by the words I wrote, but not fully expressed. I remember it so clearly, but I didn’t write it publicly because I was focusing my public face on finding ways to move forward. I reserved the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of anxieties for my private journals where I was free to say all the thoughts without hurting anyone else. That is always my instinct in the face of difficult things. I would rather say nothing than say a thing which would cause more harm. Yet much growth has come from those depths of emotion I felt four years ago. I learned that sometimes saying nothing can also harm. That I have to be willing to speak up for those who don’t have as much power as I do. The discovery of my own power was a revelation in itself, particularly when contrasted with how powerless I felt. We can never control everything. We’re always at the mercy of forces larger than ourselves. Yet that is not the same thing as being powerless. The situation is very rare where we can’t make choices to steer ourselves, our lives, our families, our communities. The river may be large with a strong current, but we still have a rudder on our boat. And of course, my mind immediately supplies “but what if the rudder is broken?” which is definitely a thing that can happen via disability, mental health challenges, abuse, etc. Every metaphor is broken by special cases, we sometimes have a tiny rudder, or no paddles, or maybe we have a giant rudder and gorgeous large sails. The key thing is that we almost always have some sort of choice about how to respond to our circumstances, even when we have no control over the circumstances.

The thing that strikes me most about 2016 and all the events that came after both personal and public, is that I am here in 2020, made stronger, surer, and more ready to face whatever is next. I’m also feeling a dawning hope that, when all the votes are counted, my country will have a president who will listen to advisers, who will make a coherent plan and stick to it. I may not always like the plan he makes, but he’ll behave as an adult leader who considers his words and actions rather than as a reactive, self-absorbed, person. My country still has to contend with deep divisions between people, many of those divisions were created in part by that selfish man in power who benefited from people being angry and scared. So part of my hopeful feeling is that his social power will wane along with his visibility. Yes there are plenty of other politicians who attempt to hold power in the same ways, tackling them is what all that learning in how to be strong and speak up is good for. I feel hope, not because now I get to relax, but because my country has some additional traction and less head wind for the further work that needs to be done.

Being My Own Guest

In the past week I’ve watched a couple of episodes of Stay Here on Netflix. It is a show that hits several aspirational living sweet spots. It shows before and after renovation, it has education about how to run a good vacation rental, and it teases with interesting travel destinations. It really succeeds at making me want to go stay in the places that are featured on the show, which I can’t do mid-pandemic with my current tight finances. However I can watch the show and dream about getting to visit, so the show falls into a comfort watch category.

The part of the show that keeps lingering in my mind is the section where the home owner is taught about how to create a setting that is welcoming and intriguing to guests. It had me thinking about my own home and how I might make it more welcoming. Of course we aren’t having any guests right now, probably not for a year. But I’ve always found it sad when someone fixes up their home so that they can sell it instead of fixing it up so they can enjoy it. I find myself thinking the same thoughts about these guest-welcoming amenities. How much lovelier my life would be if I treat myself as my own guest. If the me of today takes time to make the surroundings pleasant so that the me of tomorrow can be happy to walk into them.

It is a form of self care, this planning ahead to make my life pleasant. It is a form that previously puzzled me. On shows I see women setting up candles and an elaborate bath in order to relax, and it all looked like so much work. If I wanted to rest, that meant I wanted to stop, not plan ahead and organize a big display for myself. I misunderstood something in that process. If I wait until I’m in need of a break to set up one for myself, then I don’t always make the optimal choices for how to rest my mind and heart. Just like if I wait until I’m hungry to plan food, I’ll choose the things that are easiest rather than the things which are healthiest for me. Instead self care is planning ahead when I am at a high-energy part of day. It is me taking some of my focused time to plan ahead for when I am tired. This is the true form of self care. So that tired me can reside in a place of welcoming rest that is already prepared for her.

Setting up to make a guest of myself is going to take some time and planning. Some of it is clearing space by getting rid of superfluous possessions. Some is the remodeling we’re doing to make all our spaces more beautiful and functional. Some is re-imagining our rooms with “being welcoming” in mind. I’ll progress toward it a little at a time. It was what I was doing with our back patio without being conscious of it, because I was deliberately creating it as a space to welcome guests and in the process made a space that welcomes me. Now I just need to do the same for the inside of the house where the only guests will be people who live here.