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Small protests

Sorry, more politics.

Actually, not that sorry. Politics are personal. Politics impact us all. And lately, politics have been weighing on me heavily.

I’m not normally a march-in-the-streets kind of person. Heck, I’m not even a bumper sticker or yard sign kind of person. But these days, I cannot in good conscience do nothing.

My protests may be small, but they are full of good will, determination, and hope.

  • I am calling my representatives. This is reportedly one of the quickest, easiest, and most effective ways to have an impact. If you’re interested in doing the same, I highly recommend the site 5calls.org. It offers a brief overview of various issues you may care about, as well as the numbers of your representatives, and sample scripts to use when calling.
  • I am donating to causes and organizations that champion my beliefs. For example, tonight I donated to the ACLU in celebration of their success in halting the immigration ban. (There is much more left to go in that particular fight, but the court’s decision offered a swift jolt of hope.) There’s a lot of money going toward things I don’t support; it’s going to take a lot of money to counter them.
  • I am reveling in art that honors my experiences and my values. Because art reminds us of our humanity. Art broadens our humanity. Because art strengthens our empathy.

Tonight, in a stroke of serendipity, I happened to be watching Brooklyn, the quiet, moving story of a young Irish immigrant making her way in America.

I don’t know if this is enough. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as enough, right now. But I think that if we all do whatever we can, it will make a difference. I have to believe that.

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Thanks, Obamas

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)  This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.Ê

Today, this is what I choose to focus on: The Obamas are wonderful people who have, for the past 8 years, given us a shining example of family and leadership. I’m sure they will continue to do good work, though I will miss having them in the White House.

I will miss having a President who reads, writes, and thinks so deeply.

“Fiction was useful as a reminder of the truths under the surface of what we argue about every day and was a way of seeing and hearing the voices, the multitudes of this country.”

“At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted, the ability to slow down and get perspective, along with the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes — those two things have been invaluable to me.”

And I will miss having a First Lady with so much grace, passion, and intelligence of her own.

“Our glorious diversity — our diversities of faiths, and colors, and creeds — that is not a threat to who we are; it makes us who we are.”

“To the young people here and the young people out there: Do not ever let anybody make you feel like you don’t matter or like you don’t have a place in our American story because you do, and you have a right to be exactly who you are.”

Something better is always possible, if you’re willing to work for it, and fight for it.

They’ll never read this, but I want to say it anyway: Thank you, Barack and Michelle. Thank you.

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Resolve

On January 1, 2016, I was in the midst of trying to get pregnant. I wouldn’t have called it a new year’s resolution, haha, but it was definitely a priority. Now I have an amazing little girl, a living symbol of my love and luck, dozing beside me as I write this.

When she was born, my mother told me that I would have to work harder than ever, so that my daughter would be proud of me. At the time, I rolled my eyes, slightly annoyed. But my mom was right. I do want IB to be proud of me. I want to set a good example for her. I want to show her that dreams are worth working for. And, hopefully, that they can be achieved.

To that end, I have just one resolution for this year. In 2017, I am going to finish a new manuscript. Even if I have to write the whole thing with one hand in the Notes app of my iPhone. (No, really. That’s the only way I’ve gotten anything done with a newborn so far.)

Writing a book doesn’t mean selling a book doesn’t mean making a lot of money or getting good reviews or launching a successful lifelong career. I cannot control those things. I can only control one thing: the words I put on the page. But that’s where everything else starts. That’s the most important part.

There are other things I want to do this year — travel, read, exercise — but only two will take pieces of my heart. Only two will make pieces of my heart. My writing and my daughter. I hereby resolve to give them everything I’ve got.

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My favorite books of 2016

I’m sorry to report that I only read 12 books in 2016. Of those, 7 were audiobooks, and 2 were re-reads.

I’m going to go ahead and blame the baby, because it is her fault. In a way, though, she actually has me reading more than ever. I spend practically every free moment poring over the internet’s wisdom (or “wisdom,” in some cases) about pregnancy and parenting.

The good news is, over half of the books I read were diverse — in subject matter, authorship, or both. That’s a trend I hope to continue with all my future reading.

Here are my favorite reads of 2016:

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1) The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4) All the Light We Cannot See Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE features a halfie protagonist and was written by a fellow halfie, Heidi Heilig. I really enjoyed the lush settings and the sense of adventure.

THE RAVEN KING completes Maggie Stiefvater’s wistful and lovely Raven Boys series. Not perfect, but really magical. I aspire to write at this level someday.

Andy discovered ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE a couple years ago and urged me to read it. He said it was more like a work of art than just a book or story, and he was right. It took me a long time to read, but that time was well spent.

Technically I haven’t finished BRINGING UP BÉBÉ, but I’m enjoying the examination of different parenting styles, and I appreciate the practical tips.

Click here to see my favorite reads from previous years.

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Adapting

The past couple months have been a whirlwind, both personally and politically. For better or worse, the personal has kept me from dwelling too much on the political.

In typical newborn fashion, my little IB demands nearly all of my time, energy, and attention. It’s a big change, this shift from Person to Also Parent. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, the kid enters a new phase, throwing things out of alignment again.

“Every day is a different beast,” as my friend Ben said. (He has 5 children, so I assume he knows what he’s talking about.) I’m doing my best to adapt. Finding time for myself — and for my writing — in the spaces between IB’s needs.

One thing I’ve really been enjoying is capturing little moments every day. I’m compiling them privately in a sort of digital baby book for IB. One picture a day, accompanied by a few thoughts or observations. I might try something like that here too. We’ll see.

A new normal. I feel like we’re all searching for that right now.

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