Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Case for Love

 I. Love. Valentines Day. 

It has always been my favorite holiday. 

I can vividly imagine the colors of construction paper used to make valentines- starchy red, light pink (dark pink if you have the fancy stuff), and that creamy white. I use to use paper doileys. 

I had a book about valentines that I would sit on the floor of my room in early February and read over and over again. 

I'm positive it was one of these or a few of them. 

Upon reflection, I wasn't a particularly cute child. I was creative, and weird. And probably in my head a lot. I had friends at school but not a ton of them. I think my love for valentines started in Elementary school. Yeah, eating red-iced cookies and getting to have a party in the middle of February was fun, but what stood out to me was the yearly excitement of creating my own box, decorating it however I wanted, and receiving a note from every single kid in my class. AND getting to pick out my FAVORITE pre-printed cardstock valentine pun from the grocery store to give to my big crush. Nevermind that he didn't talk to me. Or that 20 years later he would send me an unsolicited dick pic, without having spoken to me within that time period. I can only imagine that he could tell from the extra hearts I wrote on his valentines in 2nd and 4th grade that he was my favorite, and that when lonliness struck decades later, I was easy prey? But that's not the point of this post. 

It’s an interesting tradition to once a year require students to just “be nice” to all the other students. And perhaps knowing that it’s a lot to ask of young children, niceness is reduced to punny greetings on a folded piece of paper. And if you’re lucky, the piece of paper comes with a tasteless heart-shaped red lollipop with white ink around it that dissolves the moment it hits your tongue- which is about 5 seconds after most kids open their valentines box. I however, savored my valentines. I would wait until I got home and read each one, noting the way they signed their name and if they wrote anything extra.

I remember being disappointed when the box of valentines tradition didn't continue through middle school. Most years since then, I have still written, designed, created or at least purchased and signed a little valentine for friends and lovers. Because I LOVE Valentines Day. 

Valentines Day gets a bad rap. It's like if Halloween was reduced to a holiday where you wear masks and eat candy. I admit that as a child that was the extent of Halloween for me, but as I got older, I learned about the historical importance around All Hallows Eve and why that time of year is significant for spirits. So Halloween is the holiday in which we honor and celebrate the dead. (And kids dress up in costumes and eat candy). In contrast, Valentines Day is the day we celebrate love. What other holiday is given to celebrate an emotion? And what emotion is more powerful than LOVE

You can feel love. You can love a color or a song. You can be in love. You can adore, like, have passion for. If you love someone very much you can enter into an intimate relationship with them, which is loving someone so much that you trust them to be vulnerable around them. Not everyone will love that deep. Not everyone will have their heart broken. Not everyone will be married for 50 years or more. But every single person on this earth today and that has been on this earth in the past can love. And I think that's lovely. 

Whether you love your car or your cat. That feeling that wells up inside of you of pride and agony when your beloved parents drop you off at college and make your bed and then get in the car and drive away, and you wonder if you'll ever see them again but feel grateful that you have them in your life and that thy brought you so far and taught you so much- that's love. I'm told that you can feel the "heart strings" taking root when holding your child for the first time-- that's love. Crying as your best friend kisses the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with and knowing she's going to be treated well and supported-- that's love

It doesn't matter what langugae you speak, although the words for love in different language are impressively unique. On the Acoma Pueblo, I was taught that their word for love feels deeper then ours. It's not "just a feeling" but a description of the warm bubbles or butterflies that well up from your stomach and attempt to stop your heart. 

So, maybe in 2021 this day has been resigned to be a corporate holiday about candy and expensive greeting cards. But I say we take it back. This year more than ever, we need to celebrate LOVE. Even if it's just for one day. It doesn't matter if you're married, gay, asexual or single. I've had highschool boyfriends cheat on me and a fiance that passed away less than three weeks before we hoped to get married, and you know what got me through it? Love. A song I loved. a meal I loved. friends. Clouds. My immense love of the sky and the changing weather and the warming spring. I'm capable of feeling it because I am capabale of LOVE and so are you. 

So whether you are IN love or out of it, celebrate the face that you CAN love, you HAVE loved and you ARE loved. Even if it's just by your cat. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

A Lesson

I have been struggling. I know I'm not alone. Living in a pandemic, with persistant social injustices, increasing environmental injustices, and a sudden lack of agreement on what TRUTH even is-- is... stressful. 

And like many I'm sure, my struggles have been layered. 

  • Tensions amongst those you live with who suddenly fill new roles for you, and expect you to fill new roles for them. 
  • Feeling like the world is spiraling out of control
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Constantly changing routines make it hard to keep habits
  • Things being cancelled or moved to an online platform that is confusing or not fulfilling

I'm going to get pretty personal here (something I default to but have lately been working hard to limit). 

I've tried a few things...
-busying myself to the point where procrastination isn't an option
-(re)subscribing to online therapy

For months I looked forward to the New Year, as if I expected the ball to drop and the bricks to lift off my shoulders. But here we are, 10 days in and as the last week passed by, I became more and more aware that the same habits were at play, and thus more frustrated at myself, and less productive, and then repeat. 

As I have done for the last several months, I looked forward to the weekend. I had a relaxing Friday night that I felt I didn't deserve (because of not checking off to-do list boxes during the week), and I committed to doing ALL the things I couldn't muster the motivation to do during the hours that someone might hold me accountable, during the freedom of the weekend. Particularly this one BIG project that I have had MONTHS to work on, but have only barely tapped into. For this big project, which was created from an idea that *I* pitched to a company across the pond that knew nothing about me, we have been meeting every other week to check in. Two weeks ago my world was turned on its head so I cancelled that meeting in anticipation that I would finally do the work in the coming weeks. 

So, Saturday morning I awoke and drove to meet my boss for my first ever cross country skiing experience! It was horrifying but awesome to try something new! I reaffirmed that I am not good with hills and that my boss is an excellent teacher. Then I went home to start my project. But instead I got distracted with doing the dishes, cooking dinner, feeding the chickens, and walking the dogs. Oh, and cleaning my room so that I could focus on my big project. 

So this morning I woke up and made coffee, and walked the dog, ready for my big day of projecting. Then I made breakfast. And then I did some research on what new coat I should buy. And then I dove into this book I've been wanting to read for months, but finally got the motivation to. 

And this book- Trauma Stewardship- that was recently championed by the principal at the school I work with... had some incredible insight into my struggles. The procrastination, the adding to-dos to the list that weren't necessary, the feelings- like I have the world on my shoulders and I must do everything always or the world will collapse, species will go extinct, the rainforest will get cut down, children wont go outside, and god forbid, my dogs wont get a walk. All of these are normal reactions given my history, my beliefs, my experiences, and the fact that we're in a pandemic. 

Now, since I had a big project to work on-- I didn't get to the next chapter about how to overcome those behaviors. But I did clean the chicken coop, take the dogs out to play (and clean up their play area), organize some things in my journal that I had been thinking about for days, sign up for a webinar about water in my state, take a survey about outdoor education, send cute pictures of my dogs to my mom, watch videos of my friends' kids play in the snow, take a shower, make an awesome egg salad sandwich, brew sun tea, wash dishes, grade all submitted assignments, send an email I've been planning for two months, do 5 pullups and chin ups, and watch a TedTalk about a business mogel in Babalyon and another about procrastination that wasn't as insightful as I had hoped. 

So all in all- it wasn't a bad Sunday. As I was cleaning the bathroom before coming to my room to settle into my project-doing headspace, I remembered in college when I asked my English teacher to assign me a fake essay so I would clean my bathroom-- because even then I realized that there's nothing like a deadline to accomplish anything else. So, for the record, I sat down at 9:00pm and opened my computer to send an email explaining that I couldn't make our normal time because I had neglected to inform them that I'm now teaching a class at that time (and deeply hoping that this would allow me to get another day, another week? to take advantage of all my clean rooms and get something done.). But when I opened the last email sent in 2020, it said, "no hurry. Let us know when you have something to share." And just like that, my deadline vanished (well, postponed). And just like that, instead of feeling this immense guilt for the one thing I didn't do, I feel sort of accomplished for all the things I did do. 
And just like that, I'm motivated to take the energy I was expecting to spend in the next few hours making something rushed look like it was well thought out, and instead
-Write this blog
- Reflect on today in my journal, and plan out my week (with imaginary deadlines?)
- Email my boss my plan for the week to hold myself accountable
-Get on to the next chapter about how to change my behaviors

For the last few years I have been hoping to write in my blog more regularly. This seems like a silly thing to write about, but here it is. The best thing that happened to me today (aside from my deadline vanishing) was reading about the rut I'm stuck in and realizing that I'm not the only one. So if sharing this makes you feel less alone, it's worth it. 

Now, close this window, get off facebook, and write your own blog. I expect to read it in 24 hours ;)