Stray Thoughts Sunday

I’m back this Sunday (how is it already Sunday?!?  I only have exactly one week of Spring Break left now!!!) for some more of my Stray Thoughts.  Hope you enjoy them.  Please share your Stray Thoughts in the comments or by linking to a post of your own!

Stray Thought #1 – Loss is hard.  

This week was my mom’s birthday week.  For those of you who have not followed this blog, I lost my mom about a year and a half ago.  She was very sick for a very long time, so that made her passing a bit easier as it was a relief of sorts.  But, I still think about calling her multiple times a day.  I still think about all the things she would have loved to hear about with my daughter and how much she would have enjoyed the school play this year.  No matter how much of a relief, loss is hard.  Most of the time, I think she sees it all from her place up above and is laughing and enjoying it more from there, free from the pain and suffering and anxiety she had here on Earth.  But, it is still hard to be without that contact. Miss you and love you Mama!

Stray Thought #2 – Biopsies are hard, too.  

This week is my DD’s annual heart biopsy to check for any problems with her transplanted heart.  She used to have these on an even more frequent basis, but now (thankfully) it is only once a year.  She stresses out about it quite a bit. She doesn’t really say anything, but she gets moody and cries easily about things that would otherwise not make her cry.  She seems tired, but really she is anxious.  She doesn’t know how to tell the difference at this point.  She had a bit of a meltdown last night before bed and told me she didn’t want to do the biopsy.  It made me cry, because I would give anything to be able to say, “you know what, let’s just not do it then!”  I’m not one to let her quit things, but this thing, I would be happy to let her quit.

It isn’t horrible.  It is same-day.  We arrive early in the morning, check in, get all the vitals done, go to the pre-op, she gets Versed (which has been a source of problems and as ironically as it seems, is the anxiety prevention med that gives her as much anxiety as the biopsy), we roll down a loooooooooong hallway as the Versed takes effect and we leave her at the door of the OR.  We go and eat and hang out, hoping the whole time that everything is looking good and going well, but not really knowing.  About an hour later, we get called back to the family waiting room, talk to the doctor, and then a short time later, get called into the post-op area to see her and deal with her as she wakes up, scared and angry, from the anesthesia.  Once she has woken up and has received an EKG and Echocardiogram and seems to be doing okay, we get sent up to the Short-stay Unit, where we do our best to keep her from moving around too much (which is hard most of the time…she has to lay flat and hates it) and she gets to eat a little something.  We then get released about eight or nine hours after we arrived and we drive the four hours (often in horrible Bay Area traffic) back home.

It is exhausting, stressful and annoying.  We are heading down on Tuesday to stay the night by Half Moon Bay and go tide pooling and eat good food and try to enjoy ourselves despite knowing what is coming the next day.  It is our thing we do.  Distraction.  My in-laws are coming up from the Central Valley to do the whole thing with us (which is amazingly kind of them, but is also stressful in some ways – I feel somewhat responsible for making sure they don’t have a miserable time despite it being a miserable time).

We will get through it.  All of us.  We always do.  But, I must admit that it is not something I’m looking forward to.  Not at all.

Stray thought #3 – I’m thinking of writing a book.

There, I said it out loud.  Well, wrote it out loud, in black and white.  I haven’t got it all figured out yet, but it is the first time I feel like I have something I could realistic start AND finish.  I’m not sure about doing it all quickly, but I am excited at the prospect.  We shall see.

Stray thought #4 – Blogs, blogs and more blogs.

There are so many amazing blogs out there.  I’m a little overwhelmed by all of them.  I will share some of my favorites in the coming weeks!  But, I’m trying to make this one a little better and a lot more successful this “year”.  By which I mean, this month until March of next year (because I didn’t really get started on this seriously until this month).

My last Stray Thought this week – Spring Break is awesome.

I am very excited to NOT have to go teach tomorrow.  I am very excited to be able to read, clean my house, organize my thoughts, and not feel like I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off to accomplish all the crazy amount of things I have to accomplish each and every week.

So…what about you?  What are your stray thoughts this Sunday?!?

Five Minute Friday – Abandon? Yes!

Once again joining Five Minute Friday over at Kate Montaug’s blog, Heading Home.  It has been a bit of rough week, but I am now on Spring Break officially, so things are looking up!

Here we go:

I refuse to abandon hope that my life will get better.  Even though I seem to live through the same rough times year after year after year (with other, additional rough times sprinkled throughout), I refuse to abandon the hope that I can overcome them and live a better, less stressful life.  Maybe that makes me naive?  Maybe that makes me unrealistic?  But, maybe it just makes me someone who realizes that I am responsible for most of these rough times and if I choose to live differently, life WILL be different.  So, what do I mean by living differently?  Well, here are the things I WILL abandon in order to not abandon hope:

First, I will abandon the thought that I can do anything on my own, but will instead look to God.  I look inward and focus on myself way too often.  I don’t listen nearly enough.  I need to abandon the need to do it on my own and start doing it with grace and with God.

Second, I will abandon the wants and aim for the needs.  This is something my DD learned as a First Grader last year and as a family, we are not very good at doing this.  I am constantly focused and acting on my wants rather than my needs.  When you get right down to it, needs are pretty darned limited.  But, it is easy to get caught up and forget what those needs really are.  I am going to challenge the wants and focus on needs.

Third, I will abandon the busy.  I have been really aware of how busy I am and how no matter how much I do each day, I am still busy the next.  I have too much to do.  I am going to focus this Spring Break on abandoning some of those to-dos.  I have three interns this semester, but I don’t have systems in place to make it easy for them to do things for me.  So, I end up doing most things myself and they end up learning nothing.  So, I’m going to work on systems for some of the things I do and passing those systems on so I don’t have to do it all myself.  I need to do the same in my home.  I really need to work on delegation, systems that others can use and ending the busy.

Finally, I will abandon lack.  This is a biggy for me.  I have lived a life of lack.  So, I focus on lack and I often sell myself short on financial capabilities.  But, I need to abandon that lack and expand my fortune.  I will embrace being fortunate enough to make and have a “fortune”.  A “fortune” is not necessarily monetary, but simply recognizing and being thankful for all I do have.  If I can do that, I think that I can get my finances under control.  I want to bring more fortune to me and my family, but that means focusing on what God has planned for me instead of what God has not given me.

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There you go – my abandon goals!

Stray Thoughts Sunday: Planning for a REAL Break

It is unbelievable to me that in one week I will be on Spring Break.

And this year, I’m going to work really, really hard THIS week in an attempt to not work at all next week.  I have a lot to do.  I have a lot to do for work, at my house, and for speech and debate.  But, I really feel like if I push myself to get things done this week, I can take a real week off next week.  My plan is to check email once a day during break and that is it.  No grading.  No class prep.  No dealing with crises.  Just having it all done and relaxing, reading a lot, watching some movies, binge watching some TV, taking my DD in for her annual biopsy with a fun night in the hotel and swimming in the pool, etc. and a fun trip with friends to Turtle Bay (not the resort, just a small park with recovering wild animals and open space and some educational things).  That’s it.  But, that is going to mean I have to push myself this week.  I have to be productive and focused and probably skip some sleep.  But, it will be so worth it.  I have not taken a real Spring Break in quite a while.  I am so ready for one this year.

And here is where the stray thoughts come in this Sunday:

I am also contemplating where I am going with my life right now.  I really feel like I’m tugged in about 50 different directions and need to figure out what I want to spend my time doing.  I am considering taking a year off of coaching (if I can shift my job to just teaching for a year) to focus on other things and allow me a little (perhaps a lot) more flexibility.  I feel like I’ve been doing Forensics for some 20 years plus now and I haven’t taken a year to just be in all that time.  There are always tournaments happening and research to be done and paperwork to be finished and preparation and travel planning.  It really is a year around activity.  And I think a year off would allow me some perspective.  But, I’m afraid I will take a year off and never want to go back.  It is not an easy job and I think being away from it for a year may just give me a taste of freedom.  A taste I would want to continue to savor.  We’ll see what the remainder of this year brings and what some of my options are for moving forward in a more sane way.  I just feel like I’ve reached a point where what I’m doing is no longer sustainable for me.  I want options.

I also realize that I need to tame my grading monster.  I am going to really look at what I need to be grading and what I can make more automated and what doesn’t need to have a grade attached to it.  Right now, I just have too much that requires my attention each week.  I need some automation.  I need some systems.  I need routines.  And I need to minimize my teaching like I need to minimize my possessions.  I need to figure out what really matters, what really helps the students and what should and should not have points attached.  And then look at it even more closely and get rid of some more.  Minimalism should work with teaching like it works with managing the household.  I need to prioritize, purge and focus on what matters.  In class and at home.

So, yeah.  Mid-life crisis perhaps?  What do I really want to be when I grow up?  Or grow old, as the case may be.  I love so many aspects of my job, but it is also really hard to do and takes so much time away from family and my teaching and living life.  I just am not sure what to do at this point.  But, the REAL Spring Break should be helpful in my being able to sort some things out.  And if I am honest with myself, being more organized and on top of my stuff would make my job much easier, even with all the travel and planning and time away.  So, in part, I could fix the problem without having to take the year off.  But, a year of weekends at home sound really, really good to me right now.  Perhaps that is a Mid-Spring semester crisis?

Minimize, Energize and Get Wise

I have felt overwhelmed and frustrated lately.  I am either doing work, doing housework or running errands constantly lately.  I feel like my job(s) have taken over my life and my family is suffering from it.  I also feel like I am constantly consuming things.  I buy groceries, clothing, craft supplies, more groceries, housewares, more craft supplies, cleaners, more groceries.  Sigh…it is insane.  I feel like I’m living this video:

and I’m not happy about it.  So much stuff.

I realize I’m not the worst.  I buy a lot of my clothing second hand.  I buy a majority of my household goods second hand.  I try to give away things I am getting rid of instead of just throwing it out (although, sometimes I get really frustrated and just throw things out).  But, I am still consuming at rates that are ridiculous.  And I am guilty of wanting more, constantly.  I have so much food in my refrigerator, freezer and cabinets that I don’t even know what is there.  As I spoke about earlier in my Five Minute Friday Purpose post, I often don’t plan with purpose.  I don’t live on purpose.  But, I’m hoping that is going to change.

I had a moment of kismet earlier tonight.  After thinking about how I feel so overwhelmed and completely incapable of doing what needs to be done around my house and work and finances, I received an email from one of my favorite bloggers, Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom about another favorite blogger’s new program for people like me.  The Humorous Homemaker is starting a new program called the Home Management How-To (affiliate link) that sounds like just what I need.  And Money Saving Mom is hosting a Facebook group that will be following the program and will offer a place for ideas, support and probably a bit of venting (or maybe that will just be me?).  The things that attracted me to the program was the first line in the description: “If you’ve struggled to find a routine for your home that works, there is relief to be found.”  I have struggled.  Oh, how I have struggled. And I need relief.  NOW!  I also appreciated that she includes bonus material designed for people who work outside the home.  And crockpot recipes.  And laundry advice.  And kitchen cleaning advice.  And how to establish routines for your family.  And so much more that sounds like just what I need.

So, I’ll be posting once a week on my progress (perhaps tied into the Facebook group check-ins) and maybe I will see some of you along for the ride?!?  I really hope that this is helpful.  I am really in need of it at this point.  And it is coming at a good time because I have Spring Break in only one more week, which means I will have some time to really work at establishing systems and routines before jumping back into school, travel for work, etc.

Wish me luck!

Five Minute Friday – Purpose

I’m joining up with Five Minute Friday again this week. I encourage you to join this supportive writing community each week and right now, they are finalizing spots at their summer retreat in Kansas City MO.  I won’t be attending as it is the weekend of my 2nd annual camping trip with friends and family but I am sure it will be a great experience!  If I weren’t camping that weekend, I would be trying to go to the retreat for sure.

This week’s prompt is “Purpose”.  Here we go…

I struggle to live each day on purpose.  I am often dealing with issues, putting out fires and trying to avoid tragedies. Much of this is self-created because I am not living each day on purpose.  I go from fire to fire or emergency to emergency, without a plan or a strategy or…should I say, a purpose?  And it is exhausting.  So, I try to make plans.  I try to create strategies.  But, I am not always good at follow through.  But, maybe if I can think of living and acting “on purpose” instead of thinking about it as some kind of disciplinary actions, I can be better.  If I wake each morning and tell myself that I will only act “on purpose” that day, so I will eat breakfast “on purpose” not “if I have time” and I will dress “on purpose” not without any idea of why I’m wearing what I’m wearing, I will make better decisions and feel better about my life.

Living “on purpose” will take time and effort though.  I feel as though I put in a lot of effort for others, but not always for myself.  I often tell my daughter that simply saying sorry for something you did after doing it is not good enough if you aren’t thinking about your actions and making decisions “on purpose” because your lack of thinking is causing others pain or discomfort.  Well, my lack of making decisions “on purpose” is causing myself discomfort and pain.  So, maybe I can live by my own rules…


That’s it – five minutes.  I had not thought about this particular subject when I started writing, but I like the idea of living “on purpose” – so we’ll give it a try!

Hope to see you over at Five Minute Friday!

Politically Correct or Simple Respect?

 

Today in my class, we were discussing euphemisms and doublespeak.  One of my students raised his hand and asked if political correctness was a form of euphemism or doublespeak.  I quickly started to answer no and then rethought that response and asked him to define what he meant my “political correctness” as I felt that there were a number of different ideas about that phrase.  He provided the following definition:

It is a change in language based on some perceived social injustice that is forced on others.

I probed a bit further, asking him who the social injustice was “perceived” by.  He explained that it would be the person or people demanding the change in language.  I asked if that perception was “wrong” in his view.  He stopped to think about it and said, “well, I just think they are overclaimed.” I nicely asked again, “but, do you think the people perceiving it that way are wrong?” He thought about it and said he didn’t know.  I told him that because of that, I think of political correctness, not as a euphemism where I’m trying to make something sound “nicer,” but not really changing the underlying thing, but as a form of respect for others.  In their view, there is a social injustice perpetrated on them through the use of that language and we should respect that viewpoint, even if we challenge the reality of the effects of that language use.  I asked if I were an African American and requested he and others not use the N-word around me if that was political correctness.  He hesitated.  I said, “don’t you think it is politically incorrect to use that word?” and he said, “yes.” and I said something like, “but you would respect that request because YOU agree that the word is not acceptable.  So, the question is not whether some language is offensive, but whether it is offensive to YOU.  So, I always think it is better to err on the side of respecting what others find offensive because I realize I experience social injustice differently than others.”  I did say that I thought that outright “forcing” people to change their language is not acceptable, as I am not one for censorship.  We also spoke about whether “shaming” is a form of “force” or “coercion,” to which I said that I did not think they were the same because you would be making the decision based on social norms and expectations in the case of shame, and that is still YOU making the decision to change your language.

I’ve thought a lot about the idea of political correctness.  I have a hard time not using the term “guys” and I have been corrected by feminists in the past for using it to reference mixed groups or groups of females.  I sometimes struggle with using non-gendered terms to refer to what appears to be gendered individuals.  I am not perfect.  But, I do not think that the individuals asking me to change my language are “forcing” me into anything.  I do not judge people for using language that is not politically correct, but I do judge people for “fighting for the right to be politically incorrect”.  I think of that as basically saying, “I am fighting for the right to offend others and show them disrespect without any societal repercussions.”  That is ridiculous.  You have the right to be offensive.  Others have the right to tell you that you’re offensive and react to that offense.  Many times those ridiculing political correctness are the first to say that they should not have to listen to messages or see things that go against their beliefs or “offend” them. And often, they will tie those wishes to legal demands, which goes far beyond the societal guilt and shame that is attached to political correctness.

I thought this was an interesting discussion and hopefully one that helped to open some different lines of reasoning in not only this student’s mind but others as well.  I hope that this post does the same.

Tuesday Truth: “March”ing into the Future

The truth is, I am exhausted.  I am feeling quite overwhelmed.  I am wanting a life different from the one I am currently living.  It isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way.  If you’ve read much on this blog, you know that this is a regular thing for me. The question I have is why? Why can’t I get my life in check?  Why can’t I rest?  Why can’t I stay organized and get things done in a timely fashion?  Why can’t I live a better life?  Why, why, why?  I’m not sure, but something has to give.  Tomorrow is March 1, 2017.  I am in my “later years”.  Hell, I’m almost 50.  I don’t like to say that, but it is true. I feel old.  I feel tired.  I feel like maybe I’ve created a life I can’t live up to.  I have an eight-year-old.  I am a Girl Scout troop leader.  I have one and a half jobs and coach a competitive intercollegiate speech and debate team.  So, where do I start?  How do I create the life I want instead of drudging through the life I’m currently leading?  That is the question.

I guess the first step is figuring out what I want my life to be like.  Here is a brief snapshot:

  1. Time to rest and relax, including sleeping well at night for between 7 and 8 hours and downtime each day.
  2. A clean house that feels welcoming and comfortable.
  3. An organized life that has me getting things done before their due instead of after their due.
  4. A healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthy and exercising.
  5. A family-focused life that has us spending meaningful time together and enjoying each other.
  6. A financially secure life.  Period.

This list reminded me of my 2014 new year’s goals.  Although some of those areas have improved (friends is the one that has really improved a lot and knowledge is pretty satisfying at this point), most of those areas are still struggles for me.  It isn’t hard to figure out what happened to these very well thought out resolutions in 2014 when you read the bottom of this post where I talk about my Dad’s health.  He passed away soon after that in 2014.  At least I’m not going through that this year.  So, maybe these five life goals will work out.

Right now, I need to go to bed if I am going to have any chance of meeting the first goal (the rest are already a bust for today, but maybe I can get one in!).  So, good night.  Wish me luck as I “march” into the future this March.

Five Minute Friday – There was no control

Well, the first week of the Spring 2017 semester is over and done.  I am in St. Louis at a Speech and Debate tournament and I’m up way too late.  But, I decided I would at least get my Five Minute Friday post in this week.  If you aren’t already participating in Five Minute Friday, you should go give it a link.  This week they are focusing on participants finding those who are new to Five Minute Friday, so you’ll get some visitors and commenters as a newbie!

The prompt this week is Control:

Control is something I gave up in my life long ago.  Actually, I really gave it up almost exactly eight years ago.  Almost eight years ago, I went in for a regular checkup during my pregnancy and ended up in the hospital.  I was there for only a few hours before I was on a helicopter flying to a bigger hospital with a NICU.  In all honesty, I don’t remember a ton about it.  I don’t feel like I totally knew what was happening.  But, I arrived in Sacramento on a helicopter, was placed in a room and hooked up to monitors.  Originally, we thought I would be spending the rest of my pregnancy there (I was only 32.5 weeks along at this point, so we were looking at another six weeks or so).  But, the next day, it was decided that the baby had to come that day.  An emergency C-section was scheduled for that evening.  So, I went from eight weeks away to six weeks away to less than 24 hours away from having a baby.  There was no control.

Once Bean came along, she seemed to do well considering how early she was.  She was tiny.  She had to be in an incubator, like the eggs we used to have in our classrooms when I was in elementary school.  I couldn’t even go see her for the first 24-36 hours because I was still unstable with severely elevated blood pressure.  I was brought pictures and told about her, but I couldn’t actually go see her in the NICU.  It was all so surreal.  There was no control.

We brought her home three long weeks later.  She was still tiny.  We had to get a special car seat, one that held a baby smaller than five pounds.  We didn’t have any baby stuff yet, because we had six weeks and a baby shower still to come.  Our friends got us a bassinet so she would have somewhere to sleep.  We had vitamins and tiny bottles and tiny clothes and a bassinet.  We went to the pediatrician and the lactation counselor.  We thought we had made it through the worst.  But, there was no control.

After three weeks at home, we ended up in the hospital with a diagnosis of RSV.  I moved into a hospital room at our hometown hospital in the pediatric wing.  Bean moved into another incubator.  They would come in and give her breathing treatments every so many hours.  She wasn’t getting better.  My husband would come in during the day to let me go home and shower.  I would come back to the same.  Finally, on the fourth night with no improvement, a nurse seemed to be annoyed and told me that we should not still be there.  I didn’t know what she meant.  But, the next morning, we got news that there would be another helicopter ride.  This time, Bean would fly by herself and we would meet her back in Sacramento at a different hospital and she would be in the Pediatric ICU.  We went home to pack.  There was no control.

We received a call while driving the hour and a half to the hospital.  Bean had arrived.  They had to intubate her.  She had stopped breathing for a time.  A reaction to the Kedamine most likely.  But, they had her stabilized.  They wanted to know if anyone had talked to us about her heart.  No one had.  The doctor told me it was five times the size that it should be and was crushing her lung.  There was no control.

We spent that week in the PICU.  They had her on heart medications and an intubator and a feeding tube and so much more.  She was still tiny.  She was covered in tubes.  She looked like some sort of rag doll.  It was surreal again. We watched TV.  Family came and visited.  We slept in recliners.  We sometimes went to my sister’s to sleep.  Cardiologists came and visited.  Finally, she was stable enough for them to do a heart catheterization.  It was scheduled for Friday morning.  They would know then if it was a structural problem causing the heart size.  The news came back that it was not structural.  The doctor told us he thought she needed more than they could do and suggested Lucile Packard at Stanford.  We agreed.  Another helicopter flight was scheduled.  Then cancelled because the size of the helicopter from Stanford could not land on the roof of the hospital we were in and the drive to and from the nearest place would be wasted time.  So, they would send an ambulance instead.  There was no control.

We drove down and slept a bit before going to see her at Lucile Packard.  We walked in to a group of doctors and nurses and pain specialists and fellows – about 11 people standing around her room talking about her condition.  It was both terrifying and humbling.  We were told what they were going to do to figure out what treatment would be best.  We were told she was very sick.  There was no control.

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It has been much longer than five minutes, but once I got on a roll with that, I had to keep going.  I feel like I could go on like that for pages and pages and pages.  So much has happened and continues to happen that is out of my control.  And despite the horror of the news and the frustration at the situation and the feelings of victimhood (why us?  why her?), we have made it through.  She is not just surviving but thriving.  I am here.  I am making it work.  But, when I start to retell the story, I realize I need to cut myself some slack.

It hasn’t just been my daughter’s story, but my dad’s quick degradation into Alzheimer’s and then long suffering before death.  My mom’s cancer and loneliness and depression and then her death.  My own biopsy a few months ago (that came back negative).  If there is one thing I know, it is that I have no control.  The doctors have some control, but even they don’t have total control.  They don’t always have the answer.  At some point, we have to realize that we have a very small sphere of control and even that is not ours.  As hard as it may be to admit it, we are not able to control our fate or the fate of those around us.

But, we do have the ability to live our lives with love.  We do control what we choose to put out into the world.  Love and light and understanding.  So, that is what I choose to focus on at this point.  There is no control over what happens TO us, but we can control but we do TO and FOR others.

 

Five Minute Friday on Sunday

I’m a little late to the party this week.  But that’s fashionable, right?

I am joining Five Minute Friday again this week, although a bit late.  I have been going through a blog move this week (which I will talk about more sometime in the future, but long story short, I moved from wordpress.com to wordpress.org this past week), so I’ve been a little light on posting.  And this next week is our first week of classes at both campuses where I teach AND I’m traveling to St. Louis on Thursday, so this might be another light week of blogging.  We shall see.  I need to get my weekly rhythm figured out and then stick with a routine based on that rhythm.  So, in four weeks or so, I will hopefully have it down to a regular schedule of posts.  For now, I’m going to do what I can without stressing myself out too much.

This week’s word for Five Minute Friday is “Refine”.  Here goes:

I went to church today for the first time in a while.  We had friends go who don’t typically go and it was nice to have someone to sit with.  The music was raucous.  Both the Gospel Choir and the Contemporary Ensemble were playing and the music was fun.  I’m always pleasantly surprised with the music at church when I go as I remember the music not being so fun when I was younger.

The message was also very welcome today.  It was about Knowing, Living and Loving. I had already been feeling a bit in need of a focus on love as of late.  There is so much anger and hatred and volatility in the world that it can easily create fear and outrage.  But, instead, I am attempting to focus on loving and caring.  I posted this on my Instagram yesterday:

So, the message at church fit in well and helped me to refine my outward goals, but also my inward goals.  I need to refine my vision of life.  I need to rest in God’s grace and know that He will see me through whatever comes my way.  The last eight years have been rough, but they have also been blessed in many ways.  Refining my vision of knowing God’s word, Living as Jesus would have lived (if He were me, as our pastor so aptly put it…so, if Jesus had been a college professor and parent and Girl Scout leader, what would he have done?), and loving as Jesus has asked us to love.  He has asked us to love our neighbors, our enemies, our family members and ourselves as He has loved us.  We are a work in progress, not at all refined in these skills, but they are there.  The possibilities are there for us to achieve these great goals.  And that will be my focus going forward.

Time’s up…

Hope you consider joining Five Minute Friday this week if you aren’t already there!

Why I can’t be a protester

I am not a Trump supporter

Let me get this over up front.  I am terribly disappointed that Trump is our President.  I think he is a horrible person who lacks any sort of skills at important traits for civil service such as compassion, empathy and a basic understanding of our political and legal processes.  So, I am by no means a Trump apologist.  But, I will consider myself a Trump-supporter apologist.  And the two are vastly different to me.  So, although I would love to make a cleverly worded sign and adorn myself in a feminist phrases t-shirt on Saturday, I will instead be standing at a table for the Union, answering questions and providing information about the importance of labor protections.  Let me tell you why…

im-not-marching

Eight years ago

Eight years ago, my Facebook feed was filled with a former students’ postings on how the awful the Obama presidency was going to be.  The posts were overly dramatic and often filled with hyperbole.  I’m sure most of you have read some of those claims over the last eight years (and perhaps wrote them yourselves).  I liked Obama, so her posts struck me as ignorant and hurtful and totally out of step with reality.  Hers were not the only comments like that on my Facebook feed, they were just the most extreme.  It was easy to dismiss her feelings because I didn’t share them, but I remember being shocked that someone could actually feel that strongly negative towards a President-Elect.

On the other side

Eight years later, I sit on the other side of the fence.  Now, I’m not comparing Obama to Trump.  Lord knows that Obama has about 100 times more class and compassion and empathy in the tip of his pinky finger as Trump.  But, so far today, I’ve read on Facebook friends’ posts that we should support violent protests in Oakland and other places, including breaking glass and setting fires, in the name of resistance.  We should stop supporting Girl Scouts because they have troops marching in the inauguration and are supporting it by saying it is a tradition.  We are entering a post-apocalyptic era (I think that one was a joke, but I can’t be sure).  We should not only not watch the inauguration tomorrow but that we should turn on our TV to a channel NOT showing the inauguration to truly bring down the ratings.  The list goes on and on.  Half of the information is based in half-truths.  The other half seems like the rantings of lunatics.  They are just lunatics who happen to agree with me politically.  If Hilary had been elected, I would be seeing many of the same posts, but from those who I disagree with politically.  It just isn’t healthy the way we seem to frame the debate so anyone who disagrees with us is deserving of wrath and ridicule.  It is all focused on us vs. them, often for the sake of divisiveness, not solutions.  It exhausts me and saddens me and sometimes even angers me.  I feel like I have to constantly try to be the voice of reason.  I am drawn to find points of compromise or to point out when arguments are flawed.  But, that also makes me sound like an apologist.

I am a bad __________.

Fill in the blank.  Progressive.  Liberal.  Feminist.  It all works.  But, I just can’t bring myself to march in Saturday’s protest.  I have a lot of friends who are marching, both in DC and their localities.  And I totally support them.  I don’t think the protests are wrong or should not happen.  In fact, I am thankful that some do feel compelled to participate.  But, it just isn’t for me.

The problem with protests

Protests are all about fueling those feelings of us vs. them.  They are all about drawing distinctions – those who are protesting, those who support the protests and those who do not support the protests.  But, that is really an oversimplification.  I guarantee you that there will be groups of women at the protests that I will totally agree with on most, if not all, things.  I also guarantee you there will be groups of women at the protests who I totally disagree with on most, if not all, things.  There will be some involved in protests who use the us vs. them feelings as a justification for violent acts against police or store windows or cars.  I can not condone this.  There will be some involved in the protests who want to claim the moral high ground and display their oppression as a badge of honor, while ignoring their privilege in many other instances.  There will be others involved in the protests who do hold the moral high ground in their day-to-day activities and who change the lives of people daily and recognize their privilege readily. There will be some involved in the protests who see it as their “chance” to be “political,” as if we don’t have and make those choices daily.  And because I feel like all of that nuance is lost in the format and purpose of a protest, I can’t find it in myself to want to participate.  I guess I am less afraid of looking like a bad _____________ than I am of supporting something or someone I don’t believe in or support.

My plan to “resist”

I definitely don’t support Donald Trump as President, but I don’t think of protests as demonstrating a lack of support for someone, I think of them as showing support for something else.  At this point, I’m not sure what that something else is.  I feel better waiting it out and trying to make my daily choices more compassionate, empathetic and with knowledge and understanding of our political and legal processes.  But, that means I have to be compassionate to Trump supporters as much as I am to Trump haters.  It means I have to be empathetic to those who do not see the world the way I do.  And it means that I have to recognize that as much as I hate it, the political process deemed Trump the winner and he is President.  We shall see what that means over the next four years, but hopefully, our political process will be able to withstand this low point in political decision making.  I think it will.  I am not preparing for a post-apocalyptic world.  I am preparing for some backtracking in civil rights and, ironically enough, protections against government interference and control, but I am also prepared to see our political process work against extremism, as it was designed to do.

Long-term View

I may eat these words.  I may wish that I had marched with the protesters and drew a more solid line between me and the Trump supporters.  But, at this point, I can’t find it in myself to take that stance.  So, Trump supporters, I will be seen as an apologist for you.  I will try to come from a place of compassion and empathy.  But, Trump, I will not be an apologist for you.  You need to change your ways and act more interested in your constituents than yourself.  You are not our CEO who can hire and fire us.  We are not your employees or your “apprentices”.  We are your constituents.  We expect you to figure out how to do your job without using Twitter storms as a agent of threat.  We expect you to deal with other countries as if there is peace on the line.  We expect you to choose individuals who can do the jobs they are chosen to do.  So far, as President Elect, you’ve done a pretty poor job of all of this.  But, now you are the President.  So, step up and act like one.  Please and thank you.