To those who fear:

I make dinner. There is a zucchini in the refrigerator from Monday’s farmers market and some rice in the cabinet. I cut the green vegetable into thick half-moons and listen to them sizzle in the oil, sliding over each other in the pan. The rice is boiling. Sporadic bubbles appear and are instantly gone beneath churning currents. I cover the rice and season the zucchini. It’s a warm and sticky Sunday evening, hours before another week. Tomorrow is another day.

There is little in the daily news that inspires hope. Recent personal events make me question the ifs and the whys in life; these two words have burrowed deep within my stomach. I feel the words beginning to rot, yet answers never come. Great trepidation for the future of which I have no control. 

What is this fear that seems to surround me? 

Zika. Terrorism. Death. The future. Family. Security. Money. Cancer. The “other”. Hillary. Muslims. Trump. Western thought. Death. Sickness. Guns. No guns. Climate change. The wrong choice. Betrayal. Loss of sanity. Loneliness. Inadequacy. Loss of love. No love at all. 

The zucchini is done. Using my wooden spoon, I gently flip each slice and check both sides have browned. The rice needs water. I use the electric kettle and add more steaming liquid before replacing the lid. My lunch for the week is nearing completion.

I wish we the inhabitants of the world could hold one another and ask forgiveness for all the things we’ve ever done or said and have yet to do and say. The longer I live in this world, the more I realize how the Many suffer.The Many have been abandoned by their parents, rejected by society or left to function with less than a whole self. The Many go to sleep wrapped in fury at those who have made them feel, in some way, less than. Less than loved. Less than smart. Less than respected. Less than human. 

The zucchini, rice and chickpeas are finished. I split the ingredients into two plastic containers: lunch for Monday and Tuesday. Snap goes the red lid. A mundane task completed for another day. Snap. A sound so complete. Snap. A moment without meaning. 

Snap and death, a thick black period at the end of a thought, a final punctuation on all that has come before. We lament the future that never will be. Now, we cry, when there is so much left unwritten? But the pen has come and accentuated the dot in permanent black ink. We watch it dry on the page and still we tear at the paper trying to erase what is already done. We think we need the story to continue. We weren’t prepared, didn’t have time to close to the book and place it on the shelf. We don’t know how we will go on.

Tonight before bed, I will imagine a bright star in the night sky, high above the street lamps and traffic lights. On this star, I will wish for the next president of the United States to have compassion, grit and superb listening skills. I will wish for all family members who have witnessed profound tragedy and grief to experience temporary freedom and peace. I will wish for a moment of clarity among the Many who feel life is cheap and tainted and unclean. I wish for you, dear reader, and all your precious beautiful moments that lay ahead. They will come again.

Tomorrow is another day.  

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The New Sneakers Feeling

(def.) New Sneakers feeling: the feeling that occurs directly after putting on a brand new pair of squeaky new sneaks.

As a child, it was the feeling of unwavering confidence that directly followed a trip home from the sporting goods store. I distinctly remember removing my new shoes from their box and tying the laces just like my parents taught me. Right there on the grass, I would jump and prance on the lawn before taking off down the gravel driveway and fly fly flying on shoes made for Hermes. I was the faster girl in the world and nothing could slow me down. 

After high school, the New Sneakers feeling was more contained. Instead of running circles around my dad’s legs, I would lace up and take an extra long run or get on a treadmill with seemingly untapped reserves of strength. But the feeling was short-lived. I knew better by now. Shoes weren’t magic; they were just shoes. And I was the same old me. 
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And then, the New Sneakers feeling began manifesting itself in different ways. I recognized it as the feeling that accompanied a big change or start of something new: the day before my trip to Europe, my college graduation, my 25th birthday party. At each of those moments, I once again felt like I’d laced up a new pair of cleats before the championship game. The world was my oyster and nothing could slow me down. 

Once again, I have the New Sneakers feeling. As of Friday, I’ll be leaving my current company for a new opportunity. And once again, I’m taking a risk and reveling in my newfound freedom. 

We spend so much time worrying about the future. We learn to fear change because of the unknowns that lie ahead. What’s the best move? What if we fail? What if we let someone down or have regrets?  I understand those fears. These fears keep us from making impulsive decisions and help us validate our current path. But these fears also keep us from the New Sneakers feeling we so desperately need to feel alive. 

Do you remember the feeling of your feet in new sneakers for the first time? There was no question of where to go, how fast or for how long. There was no fear of failure or defeat.

You already had the potential to fly

 

Hopeful Thankful Season

‘Tis the season– the season for seeing the first dusting of snow, filling shelves with bottles of Cab & Merlot, building fires in the wood stove, and casting stitches for knitted hats, mittens and scarves. The radio stations praise jingling bells and baby boys and Black Friday enthusiasts are setting their alarm clocks across America. Reserve a turkey and plan the menu. The holiday season is here.

This year my Thanksgiving, as many in the past, will be held at my parents’ house. The morning begins with fresh coffee, breakfast bread and the low hum of parade commentary drifting into the kitchen where preparations are in full swing. As cars arrive, hugs are delivered and tinfoil dishes are slid into the oven. Tradition is butternut squash soup served in hollowed turkey-shaped dishes and Grandpa’s pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream. The dining party is small–five wooden chairs arranged at the table–but the quality of the company far surpasses the quantity of faces and names.

I am thankful for these people around my table and seated elsewhere throughout the world. I saver their unyielding support and generosity as I do my braised carrots and mashed potatoes, thyme and time again. Behind everything in my life that I am thankful for–my job, my home, my travels, my future– there is a friend, family member or stranger who contributed to my thanks.

Who are you thankful for?

Giving thanks often begets feelings of guilt. The Philippines will not easily recover from their country’s devastation. Wars are being fought, children shot and voices left unheard. Who am I to sit in a warm house with a full stomach and fuller heart while others struggle for so much less? But guilt does not help the world. Guilt neither feeds the hungry nor protects future generations. It is hope, not guilt, that arises from thankfulness and paves the way forward. Hope is the kindling that fuels the fire of change. Hope pulls us from our beds each morning and tucks us in every night with the promise of a new dawn.

This year on November 28th, wherever you are and whoever you are with, give thanks for all the people and moments in your life that have made you who you are today. And with this thanks find hope in things to come.

photo (13)Want to have a sustainable Thanksgiving? Check out last years blog: Giving Thanks Sustainably.

Vignette 2: Reaching Upward

Already our trip to the D.R. seems like years ago. The tulips and blooming cherry blossoms on campus bear little resemblance to the palm trees and coconuts of the far away island nation. Classes are winding down and each of us has settled back into the routine of an American college student: study, eat, exercise, drink, plan for the future.  Our weekly B.A.C.E.S (changed from A.C.E.S.) meetings on Thursday at 5pm is the only time our group is back together, planning and reminiscing about the trip that changed our status from strangers to close friends.

Vignette 2: Reaching Upward

The Cabon school took 15 months of planning, funding, and hard work before its completion in July 2009. The school, located in the community of Cabon, can now hold 100 students in addition to a computer lab, multiple classrooms, two finished floors and bathrooms. The light blue building stands as a beacon of hope for the children who are fortunate enough to enter inside.

Behind the school is a large open field of green grass surrounded on two sides by concrete walls. These walls depict the heartbeat of the community: large murals of old men, children, and rolling hills illuminated by a setting sun. Proferio, the leader of ACES-DR, tells us this area used to be a toxic abandoned site that was recently cleaned up for the school children to play. There are no shortage of traps for children in the DR, physical and otherwise.

Today, the field is covered with boys and young men flying kites high above the green carpet beneath their feet. The kites are ingeniously engineered–supple wooden beams in the shape of a cross, held together by a garbage bag tarp pulled across the frame. The long white tails made of twine or plastic whip and flutter in the breeze. It is the perfect day for flying kites and they skitter above our head, swimming in the cloud-smeared sky. 

One of the kites gets caught in a tree on the opposite side of the road. The boys yank and jerk the string but cannot free it from the gnarled branches. The kite appears to be lost forever, visible yet out of reach. I’m reminded the Cabon school behind me, the only link between a life grounded in poverty and one of endless opportunity. The sky is the limit.

There is commotion as one boy wearing jeans and flip-flops begins to shimmy up the tree. From the ground, we watch in awe as he finds delicate foot holds in the smooth trunk. He climbs effortlessly despite the breeze and thinning branches. I shade my eyes as he continues upward, 40 feet about the ground.

Poised in the crook of the tree, the young man begins to shake the branches on either side of his body. I am certain he will fall but cannot tear my eyes from the limber form silhouetted by the sky. The men on the ground take turns yanking on the thin white line until finally, the kite escapes the tree’s clutches and dances into the open air. I can feel those around me breath a collective sigh of relief.

I believe each of us is born holding a kite, opportunity stretched between thin beams of courage and strength. For some of us, our kites leap instantly into the air and are carried upward toward the sky and the stars, dancing in the warm breeze. For others, the string is twisted, the structure bent and the kite flails before collapsing in a heap of broken dreams and damaged pride. There are trees with sharp branches and sudden squalls that threaten to break the delicate string tied between small fingers.

Don’t give up, little kite. Someday you, too, will soar.