Pollyanna’s Pissed

For the past couple of years, and weeks, I have yo-yoed between the consumption of constant news and social media concerning our current political situation and then, after the nausea, anger, and anxiety take over, backing away, going into withdrawal, consuming none, and feeling better. I struggle with the need to feel informed and the reality that the news and social media seem to lead me in circles, frustration consumes me, and nothing is actually accomplished.

I recently saw a post on Instagram that said “I am no longer accepting the things I can not change but changing the things I can no longer accept.” As a frequent utterer of the serenity prayer,

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

and though I appreciate the sentiment behind the Instagram post, I was left feeling slightly panicked about where to begin. I can not control the patriarchy and people who vote against their own self interest repeatedly. I can’t control the electoral college and climate change and the white misogynists who currently run our country.

It feels too big. Injustice so huge that the entire foundation of our country needs to shift in order for it to change.

So, once again, what can I control?

Where and how I spend my money, whether I vote, how I volunteer, contribute, am involved, and educate myself, how I creatively interact with the world, the energy I bring to all situations, my choices, whether or not I choose to see the glass as half full or half empty, and whether or not I wake up each morning and decide to try all over again. For fear of sounding like a Pollyanna, always looking for goodness, and as someone who is not comfortable with anger (I’m working on it), sometimes it really is just a shit sandwich and I have a hard, if not impossible, time finding any beauty. But, I keep looking. (I know some of you are rolling your eyes. That’s ok.)

At the moment I am grateful for the anger which will hopefully encourage more people out of their complacency and to the polls on November 6th (check your current voter registration even if you have never moved and always vote in every election), for the comedians, journalists, and artists who every day come up with new material to help me process, laugh, and think my way through the day, and I’m grateful for the courage of Dr. Ford.

No matter how ugly it is, none of it is new, but we are waking up and finally turning over the rocks. Only now, after it’s been exposed to the light, can things change. And they have only ever changed once a bunch of people were fed up enough to say “Nope. Time’s Up.” Never has that change started at the top.

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Tests. Serenity. Cracks.Ugh.

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se·ren·i·ty
səˈrenədē/
noun
the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

What can I control and what can’t I control?  How can I be calm, peaceful, and untroubled when so many around me are hurting and very troubled? How can I best be of service?

These are questions which I began asking myself in earnest three years ago and which, just when I thought I had them down and was acing my serenity tests, have come back with a vengeance over the past ten days.  In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, I find myself reactive, confused, angry, annoyed, pessimistic, optimistic, hopeful, and fired up.  How can one person (or country) be such a soup and what do I do with all that is rising to the surface?

While I was asking these questions on a very personal level three years ago, it has become clear that while the context may change, the answers actually remain the same. I can control myself, my actions, my words, and (with practice) my thoughts. I can not control anything else. End of discussion.  How can I be calm and peaceful when so many around me are hurting? Well, how is my not being calm, peaceful, and centered going to do anything to help others or to better the situation, whatever that may be? It is only with a calm and centered mind that I will be able to act without reacting and to communicate clearly and kindly.  How can I best be of service? Like the previous answer, only when I have taken care of myself on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level will I be able to assist and help others.

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Tonight I turned off the news and went for a walk.  I could see some sort of a sunset filtering in through the curtains and realized it was my responsibility to my own wellbeing to go look at it, get some fresh air, take some photos and breathe.  It was when I realized I felt some kind of guilt for turning off the news, afraid to be deemed uninvolved, complacent, or an irresponsible citizen that I realized how far off course I have become lately. What exactly do I hope to do with whatever it is NPR will tell me tonight, besides get upset?

While on my walk, I saw a bougainvillea in full bloom, a hawk sitting on a power line, a sunset, a wall decorated with hearts, and two bird of paradise flowers that looked like they were having a conversation.  I came back, turned on some music, ran a bath, and poured a glass of wine.

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Life has a way of sending us the perfect situations to test foundations we thought were solid and, until they really are, will continue to do so. I have been shown many cracks in mine lately and, as Leonard Cohen wrote,

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

It is an ongoing practice to remember that I am the only thing/person/ place/etc that I can control and that it is only by taking care of myself first that I can then be of service to others.

 

 

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