A few years back, I learned the easiest way to achieve a goal is to make it not something I should do, but something I WANT to do. So when I started to think about a 30 day challenge in April, I knew that it wouldn’t be “eat a salad every day” or “delete all social media”, but something that lit me up. I’ve brainstormed a list and narrowed it down to things I know I’ll delight in doing every day for a month.
Once a top 10 list, but in the typing process some didn’t feel very delight-y, so here we are:
- Make just for the fun of it art
- Walk outside
- Organize, purge, spring clean
I don’t know which one it will be.
We’re almost done with the bathrooms. We have some bits, bobs, and fiddly things to take care of, and plenty ahead in terms of staircase and what not, but we’re settling in and it feels lovely.
I have things I would do differently with the information I have today, but who knew that the toilet I really wanted with the a 12 month lead time would have been a realistic choice back when I was deciding those things?!? This remodel was almost comically cursed, but Violet and Abram were wonderfully good, we survived, and c’est la vie. I’m enjoying the process of slowly unpacking and moving back in, daydreaming about the details of organizing and decorating.
Outside of my little corner, I am sad and angry and frustrated. I wrote a whole thing about genocide, and Nazism, and how I remember being in 4th grade and thinking Mr. Wyns was wrong when he told our class that despite thinking we would stand up to the Nazi’s, most people actually wouldn’t. Then I hit publish, panicked, and am publishing this instead.
We’re watching how a genocide happens in real time but if you say that out loud, at least in certain places, you’re deemed uncredible. And so I’m scared and sad and angry and frustrated. While also being joyful and hopeful and silly. Feeling all of that is a lot. So I’m exhausted. I’m scared and hopeful and sad and joyful and angry and frustrated and silly and exhausted. That’s a lot, but I can handle a lot.
And while I want my family and friends to feel joyful and and hopeful and silly and happy, I need them to feel sad and angry and scared at what they are seeing. AND I need them to speak to that (and vote against it). Because what’s happening is hurting people I love, while other people I love are staying silent, which means I feel joyful and sad and scared and hopeful and frustrated and angry and silly and exhausted and alone. And that…that alone part? That is too much.
Oh, Kate. This brings me to tears. Your fears for V, your pain about being the person you used to be; it’s so hard. I know how vulnerable it makes you to share these things openly as you have here. Selfishly, I am so grateful that you have. One thing I haven’t lost faith in is the need for us to tell our stories to survive this time. I don’t know that our story-telling will change anything, but I think it will help us get through it. Knowing that we aren’t alone in our suffering gives us strength to keep going.
I want to say that I can’t believe where we are, but that would mean I’m a certain kind of asshole I don’t want to be. Why wouldn’t we be here? We aren’t that special, are we? You do not lose credibility (in my book) for naming what is happening; you gain it. (I spent too much time in 2015-16 not calling things as I saw them, for fear I would not only be seen as crazy/hysterical, but because it would mean I actually was. One thing I’ve gained in the intervening years is trust in my own perceptions.) This place we are in is depressing and demoralizing and utterly terrifying. I can only imagine how it is for you, to be so geographically close to states where people are doing things that threaten your child. When I think about the implications of our next national election, of what it might mean for all states if the Republican party regains control of the executive and legislative branches, my fear feels paralyzing.
I think we all (those of us who feel similarly) are trying to find some kind of balance. I know we have to live our lives and find happiness and joy in order to endure what we are enduring. And because we only get this one life, and I refuse to give it away to only suffering. You and I began at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but I, too, have lost belief in so many things I once believed in. Foundational things. It hurts, even as I think I’m becoming a better person for the understanding I’m gaining. I think the way through is going to be experimentation and reframing. I love the idea that a goal to improve your life might be choosing something that lights you up. I would so love for us to lose our ideas about pain and gain.
This post made me think about your blog name, Oh Katie Joy. Those colorful cabinet pulls and lights are joyful. A wall of pink tile and a pink bubble light fixture is joyful. Your challenge contenders are all joyful. I think if we focus only on joy, on our own joy, our own lives, we are assholes. But we do not have to lose our joys to protest and mourn. It’s both/and, just like this post, just like all of life.
Your comment helped me cry. I needed it and am grateful you saw an earlier version. (Even as I panicked and changed it and am grateful for that too.)
And while you are right that we are not that special, and I’ve even taken comfort in the thought a time or two, my heart breaks that we really aren’t. I had hoped we were better. I really wanted to believe. I STILL want to believe that we learned from the stories we heard and most of us, if given the choice, would do better, be better. To steal from a Ted Lasso episode, “It’s the hope that kills you.”
Thank you for bearing witness with me to the last 8+ years. For changing like/with/beside me. For both/and. For the words “I think if we focus only on joy, on our own joy, our own lives, we are assholes. But we do not have to lose our joys to protest and mourn.” You are a friend, Rita and I am grateful for you.
I’m grateful for you, too.
In high school, I had a class on 20th century European history. One day, our teacher lectured about the ordinary, everyday Germans who lived near the camps. Some asked why no one did anything, and others assured us they would have. I thought about what those who protested would sacrifice, and what the likely outcome of their sacrifice would be (no change in what was happening) and I was the lone voice saying, “I understand why they didn’t do anything.” Everyone looked at me like I was speaking heresy. I guess, in a way, I was. And still, STILL, I secretly hope that we are going to be better. Somehow.
I get why they didn’t and I get why saying that is considered heresy. You’d have to be very brave to look inside and acknowledge that you might turn a blind eye. Just like you’d have to be very brave to go against the law to protect those being harmed. I used to think most people would be brave to be good but it’s really hard to be brave.
Yes, it really is. (Also, last week I published and then went back and deleted. I get that, too.)
Ally Bean says
Being the person you used to be. I get that feeling from time-to-time and wonder… if this a good or bad thing. So much hope has been drained from my life over the last few years and I don’t feel like I know what to do about it. Maybe nothing, maybe shout it out? I know you live in a place that is as reactionary as where I am. It’s frustrating for me and I don’t have children impacted by it. I figure the best I can do now it to watch attentively and just say NO to the bigots and zealots, while voting for better. Is that enough? Beats me
I think being attentive, saying NO, and voting for better is A LOT, Ally. Definitely feel you on the hope draining, but not quite feeling like it’s all lost quite yet.
Sending you love, Kate. I know what it is to panic over words, and I know what it is to feel alone. I can’t find the link, but a couple of years ago I read about a study that showed that ostracism triggers the same neural pathways that are involved in physical pain. So if you’re the type of person who sees all the things—all the connections and the natural consequences and the hypocrisy and the cruelty—and who feels compelled to speak out, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s deeply personal and affects your child, only to face denial or justification or crickets . . . well, that’s really, really, really hard.
I second everything Rita said, especially this: “I think if we focus only on joy, on our own joy, our own lives, we are assholes. But we do not have to lose our joys to protest and mourn. It’s both/and, just like this post, just like all of life.” And I’ll add that I think those small things that bring us joy can actually keep us sane or in some cases literally save our lives. (I’d elaborate, but those are words that I can’t put out there without panicking.)
Your bathrooms are gorgeous, Kate. You have a great eye. Yesterday we went to visit our daughter and her partner. They moved to their current place last September, but this was the first time I’ve been there. I helped them hang their pictures and rearrange some furniture and plants, and my daughter was so happy with the difference it made in how their place feels. Home—and the work that goes into making a home—is so often disparaged, and yet if everyone had a safe and comforting home, maybe we wouldn’t be seeing quite so many fucked-up adults who only care about power and who seem to delight in cruelty.
I hope you’re able to keep speaking, Kate. It takes a huge amount of bravery, and I admire you for it.
Thank you, Marian. For all of it. Your kindness, your words, the love you sent.
I know you are right that the joy keeps us sane and can literally save our lives.
And that a lot of ills could be solved if everyone had a safe and comforting home. I’m so glad you got to help your daughter and partner set up their new home! My mom helped me ages ago and I have such fond memories of that!
I don’t know that I feel brave, though I appreciate you saying that. I mostly feel like if I stuff all these words down much longer I’ll explode. I know you know how hard this is and I appreciate you seeing me. And for all your goodness to me over the years. ♡