Monday, January 30, 2017

From the Shadow to the Sun

I have multiple posts sitting in my drafts folder that I just can't seem to finish. They're all things that I really want to write about and I know that the words are there somewhere deepdeepdown, but I just can't seem to find them. Nothing I write seems right and all of the words colliding in my brain cannot find meaningful order. 

I've found that I'm really struggling post-Inauguration Day. In the days after the election, I was ready to mobilize, ready to resist, ready to fight. I didn't feel the deep sense of despair that seemed to be permeating my social media feeds. In retrospect, I think this was a classic case of denial. I wasn't ready to believe that the worst case scenario had actually happened. (Which I realize is extreme privilege in and of itself.) And the more the policies of hate and extremism and xenophobia that are enacted, the more hopeless and lost I feel. 

I am finding refuge in the pages of books. Reading is all I want to do (even more so than usual). Graphic novels, biographies, literary fiction, memoirs, YA lit, audiobooks, poetry--the list goes on and on. I'm falling head-first into worlds that offer a respite from the chaos of my current one, but also provide stunning and insightful context that cannot be ignored. 

The poetry of Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde and Langston Hughes give me words to repeat when I am struggling. Still I rise, still I rise, still I rise. It gives a heartbreaking perspective to the fight for equality that has been ongoing for years and years and years with little resolution and makes me want to scream, "Why weren't we listening?!"

The infallible story of John Lewis's stand for nonviolence and civil rights told through the series of graphic novels, March is a powerful reminder to stand on the right side of history. Kamala Khan: Muslim, the child of immigrants, and a true super hero (in more ways than one) tells her story through the comic series Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and truly shows the importance of representation in all mediums and genres. 

The stories of powerful, kind, and intelligent women told in the books Brown Girl Dreaming, Hidden Figures, The Notorious RBG, Year of Yes, and Shrill remind me to be brave, to speak up, to take up space. These stories make me proud to be a woman. 

The fictional worlds created by Nicola Yoon in Everything, Everything and Zadie Smith in Swing Time weave stories of women trying to navigate life and love and heartache and happiness. The Earth End trilogy by Gillian Anderson and the classic tales of the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery provide different kinds of escapism--in an ancient land that never existed and in the simplicity of yesterdays that (almost) did--give me moments to smile at the improbability of it all. 

And so I continue to read. To give myself the grace of solitude for now. To resist through words and writing and listening and understanding and learning from the voices of those who have been silenced for so long because of their sex or their race or their religion or their desire to go against the status quo. For them, I am eternally grateful. For them, I will strive to do better, to be better. 

One day I will march. One day I will yell. One day I will fight. Today, I will learn. Today, I will listen. Today, I will try to understand.

Today, I will read. Tomorrow, I will rise. 

Reading is the highway from the shadow to the sun. 
Maya Angelou

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 Beginnings

Millennium Park, Jan 2017

I typically experience difficulty getting back into the swing of things after an extended break from routine; whether that be the holidays, a long vacation, or a few extra days off. I'm struggling a bit today, so I thought it would be a good idea to take a few moments to think about my goals for 2017 and where I want this year to take me. 

I've found that I become more and more scattered-brained with each passing year. The piles on my desk accumulate, I procrastinate, which leads to feeling unprepared and over-stressed. When it comes to my professional life, I need to make a concerted effort to focus. Eliminate distractions. Do what I can to stay on top of deadlines, make reasonable lists, and delegate. Be in the moment more and multitask less.

I want to continue hiking (and snowshoeing!) every week and practicing yoga regularly. I also want to get back into exercising more on a daily basis--walking, stretching, running, lifting, etc. Anything to get moving and feel the earth under my feet. 

I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in 2016 and I want to continue as much as possible in the coming year. Whether that's traveling across the country, across the state, or even just exploring new parts of my city, I want to see new horizons and breathe new air. 

I want to simplify in many areas of my life this year: my possessions, my wardrobe, the food I eat, the emails and papers I save, the media I consume, how I devote my time.  I want to establish boundaries and understand that "no" can be a complete sentence. I want less of what is weighing me down and more of what makes me feel alive.  


Whether it be blogging, a 10 minute journal entry, short stories, poetry, or sending cards to friends, I want to write more words this year. When I was younger, I would write constantly. I called myself a writer. I clung to that identity proudly. In recent years, that identity has become lost in a flurry of emails, academia, and self-doubt. I want to write words and memories and stories and dreams and frustrations and lists and anything and everything. Ultimately, I want to write for me. 


I hope these ideas and goals are able to guide me throughout 2017 and beyond. I'd like to continue practicing mindfulness while striving for strength and kindness in all situations. I want to remember to be kind to myself as well and know that I am enough. 

I'm grateful that every day is a new beginning and I hope to live each one to its fullest.