Category Archives: Day of Rest

Day of Rest

These lines of a longer poem from Rumi have been coming up a lot for me. It feels so important, especially now, to take care, to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. And that first line is so essential: sit, be still, and listen. May you find the space to do so today, kind and gentle reader, and may it be useful.

Day of Rest

I posted this picture yesterday on Instagram with the caption, “I’m a mess but I don’t give up.” Then today someone shared this quote from John Welwood, “You are flawed, you are stuck in old patterns, you become carried away with yourself. Indeed you are quite impossible in many ways. And still, you are beautiful beyond measure.” Sounds about right.

Day of Rest

I am craving spring. And it is fast approaching, with the windy days, occasional rain, the tips of iris stalks and new grass poking their way out of the ground, along with crocus and mini iris blooms. Even the “spring forward” of Daylight Savings time is a sign. Soon it will be time to clean up the garden, making space for the return of what is already there and getting the ground ready for the new things we’ll plant.

This particular spring is a mix of hope and anxiety. Yesterday I attended a livestream of the ACLU’s “People Power” Resistance Training, (you can watch it online here — it’s a great watch, inspiring and informative, even if you have no plan to be active in this particular movement). There were 100 other people there with me. I took nine pages of notes, clapped from time to time, and even cried a little. I went in part because it makes me feel better to be doing something, anything, and to be surrounded by people who want the same.

The ACLU describes themselves this way, “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The fact that there are people who disagree with what they do, actively resist and criticize it, and still insist they are active and concerned citizens of the United States baffles me. And yet, in another way, it doesn’t surprise me at all. If we are honest, our Constitution’s preamble begins with the phrase “We the people of the United States of America,” and was written in a time when “we” very clearly meant “white men.” The Constitution as originally written wasn’t intended to apply equally to all people. Women and people of color were not considered “equal,” then or now. In that light, I shouldn’t be surprised that so many are intent on maintaining white supremacy and the patriarchy, and can be so violent and vile in their defense of such ideals.

Faiz Shakir, National Political Director for the ACLU, spoke twice during the event. He is the son of immigrants and a Muslim. Early on the first time he was on stage, he said, “This is not the America we want to live in. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. We cannot be bullied out of our humanity.” One thing he said later that really stuck with to me was, “As Donald Trump is going about his hate agenda, we need to live our love. We need to live our values… Whatever he’s doing, let’s have an equal and opposite reaction.”

On this day of rest, with spring on its way, I find myself doing just this — living my love, not allowing myself to be bullied out of my humanity, making space and getting the ground ready for what’s to come.

Day of Rest

Profile poetry, created in a workshop with my friend Chloe'

Profile poetry, created in a workshop with my friend Chloe’

How to take care of myself:
Get enough sleep
Drink lots of water
Eat fruit and vegetables
Stretch
Use the roller to work out what can’t be stretched
Get massaged regularly to work out what can’t be stretched or rolled
Listen to music
Read
Make art (easy stuff, like art journaling and collage, things I can do without much skill or prep or clean up)
Take walks
Do yoga
Have sex
Shower or soak in a tub of hot water, or both
Clean sheets and clean pjs
At least once a day, pay close attention to each dog — pet them, talk to them, give them all my attention
Do the same with Eric
Spend time with smart, creative, kind, funny people
Sit still without doing anything at all
Mediate (which isn’t the same as that last thing)
Wear good shoes
Put on a sweater and/or socks if I’m too cold
Go to bed early so I can stay up and read
Pack a lunch, preferably leftovers from last night’s dinner
Trust my first thought, my instinct, my gut, because I’m almost always right
When I’m hurt or angry or confused, say so instead of swallowing it
Say thank you
Admit when I’m wrong and say I’m sorry as soon as possible
Lower the bar, because my tendency is to do too much
Give myself credit
Celebrate the good things I do, and the good things that happen to me
Say “no thank you” when they want to weigh me
Follow all the smart, wise people on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, the more color the better
Unfollow the people who aren’t helping, aren’t even listening, don’t even care
Make bran muffins, use the dried raspberries from Trader Joe’s
Brush my teeth
Breathe
Feel what I’m feeling
Let all of it break my heart
Keep my heart open
Don’t give up

Day of Rest: #terriblesandwich

sundaymorningbluepracticeI subbed a yoga class this morning. I talked about how the full expression of a pose in yoga isn’t about getting into an exact particular shape, but rather finding a balance between effort and ease, practicing in a way that’s not too loose and not too tight. As is often true with any kind of teaching, you teach what you most need to learn, and finding this balance between effort and ease in my life off the mat is something I’ve been trying to figure out.

It will come as no surprise to you, kind and gentle reader, that I struggle with figuring out how much to serve and how much to take care of myself. This equation has turned into some terrible sort of space alien algebra since the election, with every day since being a dizzying barrage of awfulness. I can’t look away and yet it’s just too much. It’s burning my eyes, breaking my heart, and no matter what I do, it never feels like I’m doing enough. But the reality is, it couldn’t ever possibly be enough to balance the horrors of history mixed with the particular nastiness of now. There’s no way I can fix what is wrong, but I also can’t give up — so where does that leave me?

Danielle Ate the Sandwich at her recent album release party

Danielle Ate the Sandwich at her recent album release party

Last night I went to Danielle Ate the Sandwich‘s album release party. We were right in front, really great seats, and it was such a good show. She was amazing, as usual — an amazing musician, singer and songwriter, as well as a super funny and vulnerable human in all the best ways. She started on stage alone, singing her song “Peace to You Brother,” and I barely could keep from crying.

Listening to her sing, interact with her band and the audience, reminded me that there are still good things, people doing good work. It reminded me of what I keep hearing lately about how important art is in “a time like this.” In John Pavlovitz’s recent post 10 Acts of Resistance on Inauguration Day and Beyond he lists “Create” as one of the ten, saying “Remind yourself that even though there is real ugliness grabbing the spotlight and the headlines, that things of great beauty are being born too. Let your art be your defiant resistance.” And Paul Jarvis published an article he titled, Art is a powerful tool for change in which he says “Art and creativity — they’re easily dismissed as just ‘something pretty’. But art is a powerful tool. It has a knack for humanizing emotions and vocalizing injustice in powerful ways.”

The hashtag Danielle used for her show, for people to tag videos and pictures so she could find them later, was #terriblesandwich. It’s a mashup of her new album title, The Terrible Dinner Guest, and Danielle Ate the Sandwich, but it seems like such a good way to categorize the current state of things: a terrible sandwich. Which reminds me of the part in Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear where she says that, “if you love and want something enough—whatever it is—then you don’t really mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it.”

terriblesandwich

I eat the shit sandwich that comes with all my regular practices — Writing, yoga, meditation, and dog. Writing is hard, trying to get to the truth and then maybe even create something that would be interesting to anyone other than myself, working my way through all the layers of what’s difficult and scary and boring. Yoga is hard when my body isn’t “perfect” or even entirely healthy, and when I can’t seem to let go of expectations, my own agenda. Meditation, and by extension Buddhism, is hard because it asks so much of me, specifically that I get over myself, show up with an open heart, stay with whatever might arise. Dog is hard when they need so much and I don’t have it to give them, or when they need something but I can’t figure out what and they can’t tell me, when they get sick or hurt, when I love them so damn much and they die.

Add to that the current state of things, and it starts to feel like what the military refers to as a “cluster fuck.” I have a hard time  iguring out how to practice, to be, in a way that balances my effort with ease, not too loose and not too tight, soft and supported, sustainable and workable, wise and compassionate, requiring both doing and not doing.

There’s work that needs to be done, but there’s also the laundry. There was a post recently on Facebook that was a list starting with, “If you’re busy dismantling the patriarchy, you don’t need to know how to fold a fitted sheet.” Its intention was to say that if you are doing important work, that other stuff doesn’t need to be perfect, and yet — that other shit has to get done eventually. We want to be a part of the resistance, but we also need to go to work and it would be nice to do so in a pair of clean underwear. We are constantly negotiating how to balance our effort with ease.

Day of (Un)Rest

#womensmarchonwashington #whyimarch #engagedcitizen

A post shared by Rachel Cole (@rachelwcole) on

 

I didn’t march yesterday. There are all kinds of reasons: my bum knee, as an introvert the thought of all those people in one place terrifies me, and I had mixed emotions about the whole thing, mostly because of what I was hearing women of color say about the participation of white women. For example, (go here to see the whole thread):

mayaangeliqueontwitter

And this,

And this,

I’m still trying to figure out the right way to show up, and marching yesterday just didn’t feel like it was it for me. Although, I did spend way too much time on Facebook yesterday, looking at pictures, reading posts, watching videos, and sharing what seemed important. I’m so grateful for all of the people of color in my Facebook feed, consistently pulling me out of my privilege bubble so I can see things more clearly. I’m also grateful that so many did march, because I think that the number of humans that showed up makes a statement. And yet, I can’t help but worry now that the “fun” part is over many of those same people will go back to their lives and not continue the effort.

It wasn’t that I didn’t do anything yesterday. I signed up to support the continuing good work of the Obamas through their newly formed Obama Foundation. Then I signed up for the monthly “E-Ally Box” from Safety Pin Box, “a monthly subscription box for white ppl striving to be Black Liberation allies via support for Blk Women & completing measurable tasks.” A quote from their welcome packet nails exactly why I signed up, “Understanding and being willing to dismantle whiteness is the only real cornerstone of white ally work.” This opportunity seemed like a really good continuation of the other classes I’ve been taking, 37 Days of Activism, and Hard Conversations: An Introduction to Racism, and Healing from Toxic Whiteness.

Another reason everyone needs to keep showing up: the menu on the left is the While House website issues under Obama, the menu on the right is only a half hour after the inaguration

Another reason everyone needs to keep showing up: the menu on the left is the While House website issues under Obama, the menu on the right is the change that happened only a half hour after the inauguration

And like I said on Facebook yesterday when I shared links to the two new things I’d signed up for, I was not posting (there or here) to congratulate myself or to apologize for being late, but rather in case you want to show up too. I know I’m not the only one trying to figure out how to do that. It’s clear that I have spent a lot of my adult life choosing my own comfort over justice, and I am ready to not do that anymore.

It’s important to note what has actually changed: now I’m ready. Sure, some of the fuel is Trump being elected, but more than that I’m now finally strong enough, confident enough, able to show up, willing to be wounded, able to meet the discomfort with sanity and compassion — most of the time. I was raised, not just by family but also by school and church and culture, to be nice and friendly and compliant and quiet and pleasing to look at. This was what it meant to be a “good girl,” this was how I would earn love and be successful. I’ve spent the last ten years slowly unraveling myself from that. It was really clear the damage it had done to me personally, but I’m only now realizing the bigger issue — me being a “good girl” meant I was not showing up for other people who needed me, needed me to be strong, to stand up and help them.

The other thing I’m still working out is how to be so angry, so upset, but also practice compassion and wisdom.

 

This poster sums it up pretty good. I contemplated it most of the morning, and then I saw this quote from Angel Kyodo Williams, “Anger is capable of pointing us back to love. It arises as a result of an offense to what we love. If we can use anger to reconnect to love, then that anger—the response that we have to injustice, pain, and suffering in the world—can be a generative force rather than a destructive one.”

I still don’t understand how to work with the bullies. I never have, even though it’s been a constant theme in my life. The other day on Facebook, I shared a link, 10 Acts of Resistance on Inauguration Day and Beyond. It’s a list that includes things like help someone, pray, create, rest, and cultivate gratitude. Another friend shared it, and her friend shared it too. Friends of the final person to share skipped past their friend’s post to find my friend’s post, a person who was a stranger to them, and started to bully everyone on the thread, saying protest on that day was childish, a sign of both emotional and mental instability. I posted the definition of an internet troll to be clear what he and his few friends who had followed him where doing — “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.” My post was met with more harassment, and my friend blocked the people from her page when it became clear they were not at all interested in an actual dialogue.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service "Community Dialogue Guide: Conducting a Discussion on Race"

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service “Community Dialogue Guide: Conducting a Discussion on Race”

Women of color in my Facebook feed keep asking that white women “talk to your people.” The implication is that we can talk to our family and friends and cause some shift, some change. But then I think about people like this man (who is white), and other bullies and racists and such that I’ve known in my lifetime — friends, family, and otherwise — and I don’t see how. I’ve never been able to say a single thing that would change their worldview. A tweet I saw the other day expressed it so perfectly.

whyyoushouldcare

So there it is, kind and gentle reader. The things I am figuring out, what I’m doing, and what still confuses me. As always, I’m open to any suggestion you might have, anything you know that I don’t. May our effort ease suffering, in ourselves and in the world. May we continue to show up, not give up.