The Burden of Hope


sunLike many, I’ve had a tough time with this election, my worry and fear culminating in the late night text from my best and typically most unflappable friend that read simply: ” May God Help Us All.”

Images from the Hunger Games and the Senate scene in Star Wars (complete with Emperor Palpatine’s smirking glare) have been dancing through my brain all night at the voting results…possibly a result of all the mainlined sugar. I woke up this morning with a horrible feeling of dread and a post-election hangover.  I didn’t want to get out bed.

I’m slowly moving out of shock. I’m saddened and sickened at the thought that so much anger and hatred exists within our nation, and I’m deeply worried at its direction and what the outcome of this election really means. I hate the thought of trying to find the right words with which to talk about it to my children.  I hate the thought that perhaps I am being overly dramatic, but somehow this really rocked me at the level of the soul.

I also feel guilty: none of this is new, none of it should have this power to shock me, and yet it does.  As someone who has struggled her whole lifetime with depression and anxiety, I’ve purposely shielded myself from a lot of what is going on in the world as a way of self-preservation.

And honestly, I have been able to do that as a straight, college-educated, white, middle-class female. While I’m aware there is a glass ceiling objectively, I’m not smart enough or driven enough to have hit it too hard myself.   I have suffered neither racial nor religious persecution.  I have not been a victim of violence.  I can still turn off my TV and my social media outlets and keep much of the ugliness at bay much of the time.

Breaking that habit over the last two days, in allowing CNN and the media and my own fears to turn me into a terrified, fearful and depressed little girl is on me.  I allowed that hated, those horrible words, and accusations to penetrate.  I allowed in that anger.  I listened to those speeches. I own that: both the shame I felt for our country and for my own helpless indignation.  Yes,  the stomach-churning anxiety and the generalized sense that something is horribly, terribly wrong is still here. But, post-Xanax and a few pounds heavier, it’s also opened my eyes and I am forcing myself through.

I’m a Christian.  I’m a Catholic.  I’m a Mother.  I’m imperfect as all heck at all three, but I know for sure if I search my heart I know there is more than this.  Not only do I believe there is the world beyond this one, but also I believe there is a better world *within* this one. We have fallen.  I have fallen.  I need to give more, take action, and speak up.  I need to use my hands to help.  I can’t hide from this any longer and still expect things to be different.

At the end of the day, hope is a verb.  Hope is a step taken.  Hope feeds the hungry, clothes the naked and protects the vulnerable regardless of race or skin type.  Hope is being uncomfortable in the unknown,  fighting the fear and being faithful that there is a plan.  Hope is getting up in the morning and taking a step and doing something. I can do more. I cannot expect more of my leaders than I do of myself.  I cannot change our culture, only my part in it.  I will be more.  I will be grateful that no matter what I think of the choice we made as a country last night that we had a choice…and that we can make better ones.  

So, I’m throwing out the Halloween candy I binged on last night, closing the wine cabinet, and putting on my big girl pants.  It’s a New Day.  I choose Hope.

 

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My Life-Changing Reads of 2015


2015 was an amazing year for me in many ways.  It was, as all years are, imperfect.  But the most life-changing and best parts of this last year all really stem from the changes in my mind and my perspective.  

To put it simply, my whole world has changed for the better, and it had nothing to do with external circumstance though I believe it is changing them too. 

Some of the credit for this goes to falling into some of the following books at some of the most-needed times.  They honestly just showed up when I needed to read them most!  

 If you are going through a tough time, maybe find the world to be more negative than positive, or maybe even just find yourself wanting desperately for your life to be better or even just to believe that it can, here are a few suggestions. 

Some of these I listened to as audio books so I could re-listen on my drive to work or while I was doing other things.  Others I read first and then downloaded audio.  I make it a point to keep listening. 

Keep in mind, I have had a strong history of skepticism, negativity, and a tendency to cringe at what seems hokey or overly optimistic. I suggest you adopt an attitude of suspension of belief. Just listen. Be open.  Take in what you can and leave the rest.  

  1. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero.  Non-religious, easy read.   

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne  – A little cheesy via audio but worth it.

 

  1. The Power of I Am by Joel Osteen .  This was a stretch for me: I am particularly suspicious of good-looking, perfect-haired individuals.  But this one called to me.  It continues to do so and have started listening to the podcasts too. 

It is my goal in life to share anything that I find good and helpful for me: the world is filled with amazing people that don’t realize they are amazing.  The world is filled with broken spirits.  I am imperfect but healing.  I want to share that.  So if you find this useful, please feel free to pass it on.

May your 2016 be far more than anything you can possibly imagine and beyond.  I wish you healing, contentment and a renewed sense of who you are and what you have to give!

The Hard and Beautiful Truth of Christmas


The Holidays and Christmas time can be overwhelmingly difficult for many.  Filled with emotions good and bad, memories and ever increasing expectations, it is a lot to try and process on multiple levels.  Not everyone has the blessings of a … Continue reading