Sunday, July 1, 2018

Look for the helpers.

Let's start off with this - you have to see Won't You Be My Neighbor. I watched Mister Roger's Neighborhood as a little kid, so this film tugged at my heart strings in a very special way. It's a beautiful documentation of the philosophy of Fred Rogers, how he viewed the world, his passion for creating meaningful television for children, his love for humanity. 

In the second episode of Mister Roger's Neighborhood (1967), King Friday is building a border wall around his castle because he is so fearful of all the change happening in The Land of Make Believe. Mr. Rogers talks about how he decided to be present with his family during breakfast instead of being buried in his newspaper. The themes in his show are timeless. He made an impact in the lives of children over decades and decades, and yet, he frequently questioned if what he was doing was important, was actually worth something, was actually making a real difference. 

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" -Fred Rogers

I've always thought that political science was fascinating. The first time I took a Constitutional Government class, I was hooked. During "boring" political times, I still find the stuff super interesting. So, I feel a certain responsibility to remain politically engaged and active during these times that are so beyond boring or standard. I feel an obligation to help people know how to contact their representatives, where to rally and march, how to be an involved part of their Democracy. But lately, I've had this sinking feeling that none of it is actually worth anything. That we keep taking step after step after step backward and backward and backward. Spinning wheels spinning wheels spinning wheels. What's the point of even trying if the fear of difference is triumphing over any sort of love and empathy? Is my little voice worth anything? Are my little actions completely inconsequential? And yet, this quote has been rolling around in my mind, reminding me to keep my eyes open to the people that are helping, that haven't stopped helping, that are still a force of good in the world.

A couple nights ago, I was texting with a dear friend of mine about the upcoming rally for immigrant families and about how it's so difficult to know how to help and how to be part of real change. We talked about how it's hard to know what to say or what to do, wondering if what we do even matters. And she thanked me for how I speak up, how she often takes cues from me in times like these. I don't say that to pat myself on the back, but more to say this: the seemingly little things you do to embody love and to embody what you think is right - those things actually matter. Even if they make a difference for one person, that is still a difference.

Rallying and marching is inconvenient. Speaking up and speaking out can often create awkwardness. Volunteering my time for my community is tiring and isn't always rewarding. But, if everyone bent to the fear of discomfort, no one would march. No one would work elections. No one would call their reps.

That thing you're doing out of love and concern for your neighbor, whatever it may be, that thing is important. Even when it feels like you're spinning your wheels, even when it feels like it's pointless, even when you wonder if it makes even a bit of difference at all, know that your work is worthwhile. All of those little "inconsequential" things done out of love add up to a whole lot of goodness being put into the world.

I have to believe in the undercurrent of love and empathy that I see in the helpers. It's hard sometimes. It's hard a lot of the time. But it's important that we hold onto the light seeping through the cracks in the darkness. We have to keep doing the little things. Because altogether, maybe they're really not so little after all. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

time, what a thief

Since Brynlee was born, I've had this sense of time slipping away from me, like I want to commemorate every single little moment, every cute or funny or sweet thing she does, every new expression, every new sound, every new step. I see her grow and change and look different every single day and I want to just press pause and soak it all in. Sometimes I feel like if I don't snap a photo or take a video or write it down, the moment is somehow a little less significant or a little less cemented in my mind. It's a lot of pressure I put on myself, especially in this age of constant and easily accessible commemoration. Sometimes I feel like I should be doing a better job, like I should've filled up the little notebook I've been writing to her by now or I should have her first year baby book completed. That I should be keeping track of all that new teeth she gets or all her new "words" and signs. The feeling that I'm not doing enough to remember - it's a real tension. 

But there's no way to put into a picture or a blog post the feeling I had when she was three months old and would fall asleep on my lap after looking up at me like I was the absolute moon and stars. There's no way to commemorate the terrible sadness I felt when I was nursing her for the very last time and I knew it was the last time. There's no way to really capture that fleeting moment of complete contentment and strange ache I felt when I laid her down in her crib tonight and she looked up at me, smiled, and waved. How can I ever capture that? How can I hold onto that? 

That's the wonder of life. The change, the growth, the knowing that you will always remember that moment even as it flies past you. The ache of time slipping by yet the complete joy in knowing the sweetness the future will bring. What a very strange, beautiful, terrible, wonderful thing all of this is. Captured or not, I hope that I can bask in these perfect moments, knowing that they are part of her soul and mine and that we are tethered together forever. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

girls' trip to Boise

Bethany & I have been best friends since we were twelve years old. Somehow the three years when we lived in the same state were enough to cement us together for life. Before this trip, we hadn't seen each other in over two years and we hadn't met each other's babies, so this visit was long overdue. 

Look at these precious girls!

Brynlee caught a terrible cold right before she & I left for Boise so she was in the throws of being sick the entire time we were there. Thankfully, my Bethany is the best and understands better than anyone what it's like to have a little one whose needs have to be met before anything else can happen.  Despite having two needy little ones, it was wonderful to just be together, to explore Boise (a surprisingly great city!), to drink wine together and laugh about how we used to be junior highers dreaming about how our lives would turn out, and now we are raising two little girls at the same time. Life is crazy. Life is wonderful. 

I am so lucky to call this woman my friend after all of these years. If we can remain this close after sixteen years, through all the changes life has thrown at us thus far, I don't know what we couldn't get through.