The Gray of Winter

Alabama weather is strange. It was unseasonably warm yesterday and this morning I’m writing this on my screened-in porch wearing a winter coat and covered in a blanket. I’m not sure why I’m sitting out here. I think the rain is bringing in the cold weather and is leaving a strange energy in the air in it’s wake; and I wanted to bask in it while I wrote.

2016 has been a strange year. I finally got the help I needed and found a therapist that guided me in sorting out the pain I was in. This has been an overall improvement and had wide-reaching positive effects from my parenting to my marriage. But, I feel like that by clearing out the clouds from my personal scope, I have cleared my vision to see the world around me more clearly…and I’m not entirely sure the view is that great.

I have set down on the road to understand systemic racism and the ways our society has continued to hold down people of color. This started rooting in me a strange feeling of hopelessness as I realized how little I knew and that I am just one of millions of unaware white people sitting in a ruling majority in our country. I’m seeing the boundless efforts by certain parts of the country to limit the control a woman has over her body. I’m becoming more and more aware of the delusion that we all have the same opportunities to success, that our country (and especially my state) does not actually allow all people the same potential to succeed and that the trauma of poverty is not being addressed in families across the country.

The election did not help that feeling, the campaign trail and this age of “live” social media showed that on top of the systemic racism I’m just learning about, blatant racism still exists as well and I’m now feeling overwhelmed on top of hopeless.

And don’t even get me started on the sorrow that eats at my soul when I see the world at war outside of the United States.

There’s also this strange thing happening – where our society is now documenting charitable actions on a daily basis. And while a small part of me celebrates the power of good, a much larger part of me is feeling like a lot of this stuff would not be happening if there was not hope of a “viral” response to the action. I used to not be that jaded. I used to celebrate good deeds simply for good, but now it all seems to be tainted with a feeling of desperation as people are trying to win the award for Most Commendations From The Internet.

So while I’ve worked to heal my own depression, I find I’ve also learned a new sensation of hopelessness and distrust of humanity.

I bought a coffee mug from DFTBA records a few weeks ago. It’s designed by Hannah Hart, a wonderful YouTube voice of positivity and charity. It was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing as they were on sale and I liked the idea of it. I drink out of it at work every day and I find it’s become very useful in shaking this new pervasive hopelessness from my spirit. I want to buy a second one to drink out of at home.

I don’t like the feeling of hopelessness. I don’t like the realization that our society is filled with people who have no desire to open their minds to systemic racism or white privilege. I’m discouraged by the widespread notion that children living in poverty have the same chance for success as those in middle class America. I feel overwhelmed that so many people could so easily overlook Trump’s terrible rhetoric and attitude. I’m heartbroken that so many people hated Hillary Clinton so much, considering the decades of amazing work she’s done in this country. I’m just saddened by the state of things and I don’t like this weird change that I feel seeping into my soul. The year I finally start to work through my depressions seems like it should be the year I see the world in a brighter light.

Instead, it’s like I was so overwhelmed by personal sadness, that I couldn’t even see the world around me. Now I’m seeing so many things every day that eat at my soul. And this is just me focusing on US politics and government. If I allow myself to watch news from places like Aleppo, I struggle to shake the weight of the darkening despair.

So I sit out here as the cold weather rolls in. My fingers find it hard to type as they’re the only skin showing through my blankets and jackets. I feel the freezing rain and the gray outside and I feel it reflects the strange new pervasive mood that I’ve developed on the inside as well. Hopefully the despair in my heart will be as temporary as the winter and the Spring will come and lighten up the cold gray skies.

Until then I will practice relentless optimism as a way to combat the despair.

Or at least I’ll continue to drink out of the mug that tells me to do just that.

When All Else Fails – Talk Dumb Movies.

It’s another night before bed and I realized I hadn’t written my blog post for the day yet. This is the blessing and the curse of NaBloPoMo. I have to force myself to write but sometimes I’m just not focused enough to write anything coherent.

This is one of those days.

I’ve been really busy trying to catch up at work and try to organize a calendar and newsletter for our local Progressives (I know?! RIGHT!) and I’ve been trying to think a lot about faith and religion and how it relates to the future and fear (I had a good lunch with a friend today which got my brain traveling down that path) and I’ve been thinking about activism and complacency and I’ve been thinking about friendship and family and all of these ideas are just nuggets of blog posts but nothing really hashed out and I’m basically just staring at the screen and thinking: Maybe I’ll tell them about the amazing movie I watched last night?

The kids and I had a movie night since I didn’t see them at all over the weekend. We decided to watch the critically acclaimed: Central Intelligence.

AND IT WAS SO FUNNY. It was PG-13 – so it had a little bit of “adult” humor but it was basically mindless and goofy and it made me laugh and that’s what I needed. To laugh.

Anyway – I have a lot of seeds of profound blog posts, but nothing sprouting yet…so you just get my 5-star review of the dumbest, most awesome movie ever: Central Intelligence.

In The Nick Of Time…

I almost forgot to do a blog post today. I’m in bed and suddenly remembered Nablopomo – and I would hate to ruin my streak just because of an exhausting day. So here is my post for today letting you know I survived my weekend. 57.2 miles, two races, two states. I couldn’t of done it without my wonderful friends. I’m doing this entire post as voice to text in praying there are no horrific typos. I am also doing it from my phone and have no idea if this photo is gonna look OK. Thanks for sending me positive thoughts I will write more tomorrow !

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Phoning It In With A Post Bragging About Myself

I’ve done really well posting some quality content in the last week, don’t you think? Well…let’s keep that in mind because today I’m up at 3am (again) to try to catch up on life (again) and today’s entry is going to take minimal time and minimal effort and absolutely zero brain power. I haven’t even had time in the last week to run or do boot camp and that sucks because I have a big race weekend coming up! Totally unprepared! Woo! I do want to share something with you guys though…I was given an award!

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I’m on the board of our local track club and I was elected to the position last year and my primarily job has been to work to get the new website launched…which we did! I worked alongside our President who is one of those people who I’m convinced has a deal with the devil to get more hours in a day than I do. The award I got was one chosen for and given by him. It was awesome. He gave the best speech and I wish I had known he was talking about ME in the early parts of it because it took awhile for things to started clicking in my brain (I think I perked up when he said, “She’s not the fastest runner…” hee) but I know that once I tuned in thinking WAIT. THIS SOUNDS LIKE ME everything was so complimentary. I cried, of course. That’s how I roll.

Anyway…I have put in a lot of hours (still so much more to do – one of the million obligations I’m behind on this week) and would do it again even without the award. BUT STILL. So cool.

Mindful Holiday Spending Guide For Everyone Who Hates Leaving Their House

No matter who you voted for, you can not deny that there are people in need in your community and all over the world. I’ve been trying to think of a way to make my holiday spending have a charitable quality to it so I can feel like I’m making a difference for those who aren’t as blessed as I am this holiday season. I’m going to do two more “Mindful Spending” pieces – one for Gifts That Teach and one for Mindful Spending in the Rocket City. But today? It’s for people like me…who do all of their shopping from behind their computer.

Keep Doing What You’re Doing
I spent no less than HALF of my Christmas dollars at Amazon.com last year as I hate going to stores during the holidays. If you’re like m? Why don’t you make a stop at Amazon Smile first and find a charity that can benefit your spending. I choose to benefit the Food Bank of North Alabama because with every dollar of donation they can give out 5 meals. But make sure if you use this program you always start your shopping by going to smile.amazon.com first. I would recommend choosing a LOCAL benefactor as they tend to be able to do more with one dollar than bigger organizations.

There are other “charity mall” type sites that allow you to choose a charity and then shop where you’d normally shop. There’s a section in this article that mentions them, but let’s be honest: That’s not the most impactful way to be mindful on the holidays so I’m going to focus on ways that give you a little bit more charity bang for your buck.

Simply Make A Donation To Their Favorite Charity In Their Name
The easiest way to give a mindful gift is to make a donation to your friend’s favorite charity in their name. If you are worried your friend may be bummed by this gift, then you now know not to keep that person on your shopping list next year!

Just kidding!

Kinda. Because seriously, anyone disappointed in a gift of a charitable donation in their name? Is not someone who is probably adding the best kind of energy to your life. Come be friends with me instead! And then donate to The Trevor Project in my name. I’ll totally appreciate it unlike your selfish friend.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-4-21-44-am Instead Of an iTunes Gift Card
My wonderful friend Jennifer introduced me to Kiva.org gift cards. Kiva is a crowd lending marketplace where you help people around the world start fund their own businesses with micro-loans. If you give a gift card the recipient can choose who to lend the money to, and then when it gets paid back, they can lend it out again! Look at the impact of these loans!

One for One
TOMS popularized the idea of giving an item in to someone in need for every one item purchased. They started it with shoes but they also now sell sunglasses AND they sell coffee and give the gift of clean water on the flip side. And with their lead, you can now buy one, give one socks and buy one, give one Warby Parker eyeglasses and my favorite…buy one give one BOOKS.

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Exit At The Charity Gift Shop
Did you know a lot of your favorite charities have gift shops? While a cash donation allows them to make more of an impact, shopping from their stores allows you to help them out AND still give a gift to a person you love. I mean some NPR swag. Maybe you have a loved one who would like a bracelet that represents their support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital? I’m personally a big fan of the Love Conquers Hate collection at the HRC. Find your loved one’s favorite charity and just see if they have a gift shop.

Fair Trade

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MetoWe Shop – allows you to buy some really cute and unique gifts and then choose a way to contribute to a partner community (like giving school supplies) and then you can track your impact. I especially like the Rafiki which are made with Fair Trade practices.

Punjammies – We have entered a fashion era where we’re all trying to figure out how to wear pajamas all day. Whether it’s yoga pants or fancy leggings, we’re upping our PJ game so we can be comfy all day. Why not do that and support women in India who have escaped human trafficking?

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-4-25-29-amGlobal Goods – Global Goods Partners (GGP) is a nonprofit that creates economic opportunity for women in some of the world’s poorest communities by providing access to the US market for the fair trade, handmade products they produce. They work with communities all over the globe and there is a HUGE range of products from Stuffed Narwhals to gorgeous totes to embossed leather journals. If you can’t find a good gift from someone at Global Goods? I can’t help you.

Do you have any ways you like to Spend Mindfully from the comfort of your own home?