It’s been a week since the election. Despite the cloud of joy and hope I have been floating on since last Tuesday night, my heart still feels heavy with the weight of the recent political season. You see, the divisiveness of political races causes me an enormous amount of anxiety. I am saddened by the way our disagreements overshadow our shared struggles and joys and our common humanity.
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Over the past few years, as John and tried and tried to grow our family, I made deep and lasting connections with other women throughout this country and around the world. Similar challenges, experiences, and dreams caused our paths to intersect, and journeying together forged strong bonds – bonds built on understanding the heartache of babyloss and infertility. We mourned together and dreamed together and hoped together. We were a secret sisterhood – fiercely loyal and offering unwavering support.
And now, with Thea here safe and sound, new connections have emerged and old relationships have risen to a different level. We mamas [of living children] gather around each other too, at times offering guidance, at times simply providing support and encouragement. We share our experiences, our strategies, our struggles, and of course, our joys.
In both circles, we corralled around each other, our differences not as important as the bonds and shared experience that brought us together. And yet the differences were always there.
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I have a confession to make. Sometimes, for brief moments, I catch myself forgetting that not everyone else is just like me, that we are all so very different. I know, I know. I’m working on it.
But seriously, I sometimes find myself a bit startled when those who I share so much in common with - philosophies of parenting, for instance – end up holding starkly different opinions on other matters.
And yet the differences were always there.
We can travel a similar road and see the scenery in dramatically different ways. We can be fiercely loyal to each other, yet not see eye to eye on certain things. [Once again, this amazing post rings true.]
We all have our own history, our own journey, our own stories. Our similarities and our nuances are woven together into the complexity that is the human experience. Isn’t it the differences that add depth and texture to our existence?
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Elections have a way of magnifying our disparity, causing us to draw lines in the sand and huddle in our camps. But I think that what we have in common is of much greater measure than the disagreements that could divide us. Despite our differences, we all want similar things – to be safe and healthy and happy – to have our needs met – to protect those that we love and the values that guide us. We all want understanding and for our voices to be heard. We all want what is best for our children. We all want to mother them in the best ways we know how.
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Since I first heard them, Barack Obama’s words - “We are not as divided as our politics suggest” – have deeply resonated with me.
With all of my heart, I believe these words to be true.
So, in the days ahead, I will choose to look for ways to connect.
Last year, I joined the board of trustees for a fantabulous organization here in Richmond. ART 180 creates and provides art-related programs for young people living in challenging circumstances,
encouraging personal and community change through self-expression. In celebration of ART180's 10 year anniversary, there's a pretty nifty project happening. It's called Change for a Ten.
Here's how it works:
1. Download the Change for a Ten template here (or create your own the size of a dollar bill).
2. Draw, paint, write, sew, glue, color - or use whatever medium
you choose - to show the kind of change you’d like to see in the
3. Submit your creation along with a real $10 donation to
ART 180. (Click here for the address and for drop-off locations around town).
Need some inspiration? Visit the Change for a Ten blog to see what others have already submitted. And come back every day to see more!
[ And, if you have a blog and want to support this project, click here to download a badge to add to your blog sidebar. ]
My deepest thanks goes to all of you who responded to my "connection" post - for for engaging in dialogue, for listening, for simply making yourself known. Your presence means so much to me.
I always love to find out who is reading, and I never stop being amazed that people take the time to witness my journey and to offer words of kindness, encouragement, support, and hope. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about your stories too - to discover how our stories intersect, to be challenged, to be inspired, to feel the warmth of community.
I too have tried to be less of an observer and more of a contributer. I've tried to be less self-conscious and more courageous. I've tried to worry less about saying just the right thing and focus more on just saying something.
So, thank you for leaving your footprints - and by doing so, encouraging me to leave mine.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about writing. I've been thinking about the power of words - of being able to witness and share in the journeys of others as well as the importance of documenting my own story. Over the past two years, I've written about my own experiences of babyloss. And I've also compiled quite a lengthy list of blogs that I read regularly.
I read the blogs of people I know well, the blogs of people I know a little, the blogs of people I'd like to know better, and the blogs of total strangers who - other than a statistic on their site meter - will probably never even know it's me who's been there.
As I read, I'm aware of how I'm often simply a silent observer. It feels a bit strange to me to be peering into the lives of people and not making myself known. Most of the time, I want to comment, but I get held back by a lack of time or energy or by being so tired that I'm not able to string together a coherent thought. Sometimes, the authors' posts are so beautiful, moving, or inspiring that I feel like my own words are flimsy and pale in comparison. Often, a post has gotten me all stirred up inside, but I haven't really had time to process and connect with my reaction, and therefore, I'm not really sure what response to type. Sometimes I feel too shy or insecure to make myself known to a stranger.
Just this past week, the amazing Mel, author of the Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters blog, wrote about how she sees blogging as a conversation. She wrote about the importance of honoring the stories that are told and of acknowledging that a voice is heard. She wrote about listening. Mel writes:
Even when you don't have something to add, when you can't find the
words to respond, I hope this year that it becomes socially acceptable
and understood to simply write the phrase "I am listening"
and post the comment under your name. What does this do? Sometimes, it
helps to know that your words were read. That someone didn't click on
and click off of your blog without processing your words. Sometimes it
simply feels good to know that you're not alone, even if the other
person doesn't have a solution or deep comfort. Some people may think
this is lazy; a comment not worth the effort to leave or receive. But I
think it can be very powerful to know that someone listened even if
they have nothing to respond with in return.
I couldn't agree more.
So, I'm challenging myself to "delurk" - to make myself known - to offer a few words, even if they seem inadequate.
My friend Slash Coleman is teaching a class on marketing for artists. Here's the scoop:
Two business workshops for painters, artists, actors, performers,
artists, and writers taught by author and award-winning playwright
Workshop Names:Make More Money with Your Art & Marketing through My Space & Facebook You'll Learn to:
Pack Your Event, Get Your Press Release Published, Sell More Tickets,
Turn Your Contacts Into Cash, Get A Grant,Turn Your Art into Real Money
(AND THATâS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT ISNâT IT?) When: Saturday, June 21, 2008.
1pm - 4pm: Make More Money with Your Art 4pm - 5 pm: Marketing through My Space & Facebook Where: Crossroads Art Center 2016 Staples Mill Road Richmond, VA 23230 Workshop Price: $65 each. Advance reservation recommended by calling 804-278-8950.