In many ways and in many different times this has been said. When life goes “not as planned” and then you wonder “Well, what do I do now?” I’m finding that at 26, I have done and not done a lot of things out of fear of failure. I have played it safe and taken the path of least resistance to avoid failure, backlash, or heaven forbid, making someone angry or disappointing them. But in my early 20’s I was nothing but driven. I had dreams and plans and to look at some of them now, I’m envious of who I used to be. When I “got into the world” I got a bad taste in my mouth for discomfort. I didn’t ever want to fall on hard times and I didn’t ever want to put faith in my own ability to make a successful life. I just wanted to be comfortable, safe, and secure. Well I’ve been that for about 4 years now and I’m miserable. Where is my life? Somewhere along the lines I forgot about living and just worried about money. My thinking converted from adventure to the almighty dollar. I feel like its a fairly common occurrence, but that doesn’t mean that I need to accept that as is and continue following that same path.
After coming back from Nicaragua, there has been a sense of “What more can I do?” I am so grateful for that opportunity.I renewed my sense of self-empowerment and I have a new found drive to make my life and the lives of people around me better. I am starting with me first. We shall see where I can go from here, but I believe in good things and I believe that good things are going to happen. Not amount of money, or people, or careers, or opportunity can provide me with happiness if my internal view sucks. I have felt like a butterfly tacked to a cork board for awhile now and when I take the time to reflect I realize that the life that I am currently living is made for someone else. Anything that I’m ever going to do or be starts with the internal question of “Am I living in my full potential?” and up until now, I haven’t been, but that train stops here. I’m excited and scared and both are valid.
In my tiny town, you don’t have to look far to find the differences in people. It’s also not difficult to see the similarities, but I have been conditioned to see what makes someone unique first. As I sat at the Market Place surrounded by a mixture of races, ages, students, and town folks. I could tell by the facial expressions which ones wanted to be there and which ones were getting extra credit. I also noticed the lesbian sitting beside me and how we both had on stereotypical garb and tiny black journals. It’s what I like to call “Tools in your Lesbian starter pack”
The poet covered all the bases from his childhood to Syrian refugees. He covered racial issues and he said something that I’m glad of. He said I am going to try to read this poem and explain my point of view coming from a place of white privilege. That’s a hard thing to admit, but for me it felt like it gave me permission to talk openly about race without the feeling of “how would she know” I may not know, but I do sympathize and I see what is happening in the world and I don’t agree and I may come from a ankle deep pool of diversity, but Appalachians are categorized in terms of status. I see it all the time and I live that life daily. I thank him for being vulnerable and reminding me that it’s okay. I had forgotten what it meant to be transparent and open about things that bring me true joy and things that make me angry. I don’t know where along the lines I made the subconscious choice to be a 1950’s housewife with no regard for my own feelings. I also want to thank the little baby who sat in front of me that made me laugh at her giggles. This is a continuing my journey of firsts.
Here’s to the rest of the firsts throughout my lifetime.
In a time where I feel like I can’t do anything on the massive scale that I would like. I start to reevaluate to a smaller “me sized” scale. I can start making little changes in my life that have all the potential to snowball into big changes. I HAVE WAGED MY OWN WAR ON STUFF! Inspired by the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. I’ve started step number one of “Refuse”. I’ve been a minimalist in progress for about a year and a half now and while I can feel the change in myself and my outlook on the world from not being consumed my STUFF, I also didn’t want less stuff to mean more in the garbage. So recently I’ve made small changes.
- Exchanging paper towels for cloth towels
- Exchanging tissues for “hankies”
- Signing up for online statements for all my bills
- Receiving my tax forms and filing my taxes online
- Using reusable shopping bags at the store
- Signing up for eRecipients at the major stores I shop at
- Buying products with little to no packaging
- Making requests to companies that don’t offer eRecipients
- Compost all my food scraps
- Donate a bag or two every couple months with clothes and other miscellaneous items that no longer serve a purpose for me.
- Taking my own cup to places that use paper cups
Now with that there still comes a lot of room for growth and improvement. Things that I do that I’m not proud of in this area:
- I don’t recycle (my town doesn’t offer recycling and trying to take it all to another town is just not something I’ve put in my arsenal yet)
- I ask cashiers to throw away my receipts. For the places that still use paper receipts I figure that as long as I don’t have it, it’s fine. But, I understand that just because I didn’t throw it away personally, doesn’t mean it still didn’t end up in the trash.
- Buying harmful chemical cleaners instead of buying or making my own safe plant based cleaners
- Waste water (Showering, how I wash dishes, cleaning, etc.)
- I had eliminated all plastic kitchenware in my home last year, but then I wanted to try meal prepping…..well meal prepping lasted about 2 weeks and I now have a lot of tupperware
I’m a work in progress, but this is a battle I don’t intend to lose!
After I started a new chapter in my life I made a list. This list consisted of 30 things that I wanted to do before I turned 30. Some things are things I want to do. Some things are things I want to accomplish. And some fall under the area of personal and spiritual growth. This past weekend I not only crossed some things off my list, I became a part of a movement that moved me so drastically and I didn’t even know I needed it. Friday night I went to a drum circle. It was just something I added as an after thought to my list. I went with my djembe and an open mind. The experience was so personal. The setting, the movement, the unity; it was beautiful. Watching parents dance with their children around a dimly lit room with only a circle of lights in the middle was so beautiful. I found myself trying to use all my senses. I would close my eyes and hear each individual beat and smell the sage that the room had been smudged with earlier. I would look around to see each person from all walks of life and all ages just feeling alive! This is just want and needed to be able to handle the events of the next day.
I hopped in a car with my new found feminist friend at the WV border and we headed to DC for the Women’s March. From the time we hit the MD line, there were pussy hats all over the interstate. There were buses and cars full of men, women and children all heading in the same direction. It was so beautiful and powerful to be among so many people all there for different subcategories of reasons, but all united under a blanket of a need for equality. Everyone was so kind to police and armed forces that were there. Even the folks that came to protest against the protest were treated with respect. Because phone lines were jammed, I didn’t know just how many millions of people around the world had joined in the movement. This movement that was started as a Facebook event by a handful of women became a world act of solidarity and I am so proud that I was able to be a part of it.
This is only the beginning my friends. Our voices are lifted and we will not be silenced. Equality for all!
As I browsed through the bookstore today, I saw an older couple walking in and I immediately felt self-conscious. I looked at the books I was holding and tried to hide them. Not that they were anything to be embarrassed of (A copy of Paine’s Common Sense, Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, and Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance), but over the past 18 months there has been a cloud looming. A cloud of division and misunderstanding. As I hid my books along the other side of me, I realized how stupid I was. Not only had I judged them for thinking that they could be potentially judging me, I tried to hide books out of fear! I was thinking that when they passed by they would say under their breath “Look, another liberal girl trying to cause trouble” I think that way because that is the picture that has been painted. I have seen too many examples of anger and misunderstandings from both sides when there shouldn’t be sides at all. I do believe that for the majority, there is common ground and a sense of understanding, but the ones who only see black and white are the ones who’s voices are heard the loudest. I have always had a natural curiosity about what people think about me, but I have never let it cause me fear. Now, there is so much fear among people who are different. There is fear from any community that isn’t predominately that of white males. I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to think that I may have to defend myself and who I am or my beliefs just because someone else doesn’t like them.
I don’t want to, but I will.
I come from the school of thought of understanding. Even if I don’t understand all the rudimentary ideals, I can still appreciate the diversity. That what makes life so bountiful and beautiful! But here we are on the eve before the inauguration of our 45th president and I’m scared. Just because I am scared doesn’t mean I’m just going to put my head in the sand for 4 years, but it does show for some concern. Will he be able to do all the horrible things that he said he was going to do? Are the members of his cabinet (I.e. Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, etc)able to do to jobs that they have been appointed to do? Will he actually bring jobs back? Only time will tell, but so far I feel justified in my concern. With all that being said, I will continue to love and try to make this world a better and more beautiful place. I pray that I will be able to share my ideas openly and continue to have faith in our government. I pray that new and different ideals can still be shared. And most of all, I pray that my concerns will not come to fruition.