Category Archives: more than meets the eye

1000 ferris wheels

I once read that about people who make and fold 1000 origami paper cranes.  Some do it for luck or longevity or luck or wishes or hope.  Some do it for love.  Some do it for peace.  I assume some do it for the same reason I make ferris wheels.

I make them over and over again, from tiny kits that arrive in small envelopes whenever things get difficult.

bloggesswheel

I turn the small metal tabs in.  I fit the speck-like tabs into the delicate, almost invisible slots.  I place 100 tiny metal pieces -like forgotten shavings- together to make each car, each strut.  It’s comforting to me when I need comfort most.  When life gets too large.  When the world is too loud.  When my skin is to raw and sensitive to be touched.  It’s then that I go into this tiny world I have perfect control over.

The work is both challenging and mindless.  I close a tiny door.  I add a hanging car.  I straighten a spindle.  I imagine myself in this little world, an invisible guest on this fragile and exquisitely imperfect wheel.  It does not spin exactly but the cars gently sway.  One car breaks loose and plummets to the floor.  I find it, a minute later, hidden in the seam of the tile and I rescue it and return it to it’s place, giving the metal tab an extra twist with my tweezers and holding my mouth just so as if I am casting a spell.

Stay put, I command in my head.  You are where you belong.  To everything there is a place.

And I line the pieces up into their places.  I make them right.  I make them fit.  I put things the way they are meant to be, even if only in a tiny world that rests in the palm of my hand.

In the morning I show my daughter the shiny metal ferris wheel.  She oohs and ahs and rocks the small cars, probably imagining real ferris wheels she will ride one day when she is grown.

I lay the tiny wheel down, my invisible anxieties and worries sitting calmly on each seat.  I say a prayer to keep each worry in its place.  To glue it there.  One for “fear of going under water.”  One for “one day she’ll leave me”.  One for “I’ve forgotten something important that I can’t remember”.  One for “paralyzed with doubts”.  One for “broken”.  And those small passengers all sit in silence, quieted at last, as I place the wheel with all the others.  And there it will stay while I take up life again.  Until, that is, the next week when I can’t think for all the worries and anxieties and angry voices screaming in my head.  And then I will place last week’s empty ferris wheel on a sidewalk  or tree branch for a small child to find, and I will open the thin envelope in my desk drawer and slip out the new metal sheets waiting to be cut and folded and pinned and pressed into life.  Into fear.  Into both.

And the wheel comes around again.

ferris bloggess

Note: I know many of you have noticed I’m not quite myself this month.  I’m fine…just crawling out of a depression that has taken more out of me than usual.  I’m coming back, but slowly.  Thank you for being patient.  Thank you for being you.

 

This is my house.

The greatest gift in the world is to grant a kindness to another. The amazing thing though is that the aforementioned gift is one you give yourself. It may be a small thing. Leaving a flower for the tired woman at the coffee shop. Telling a stranger that they have such kind eyes. Listening happily to a story told by an elderly friend or relative who has told you the same story a million times. Nodding in solidarity even when you don’t completely understand. Letting a friend or a stranger yell hurtful things at you because you hope it will help them let go of a small part of that anger…that it will open up room in them for the greater things that they deserve.

This is the way the world goes. Small, mean acts affect the next person who in turn amplify that anger or sadness and take it out on others who suffer as well. Then small, kind acts of grace work their magic and pull the world back into balance. Those acts echo into the world. They reverberate long after we are gone. And sometimes? Sometimes they bounce back to us in unexpected ways.

I’ve been writing for years and it’s only in the last year that I’ve let myself feel bad about what I write. Well, not about what I write exactly. I write about my life. I write funny stories that I hope make people smile. I write books that I hope make others laugh loudly and inappropriately in airplanes. I write honestly about difficult things I’m haunted with, like depression or self-harm. And occasionally I veer off into strange waters where I don’t quite know if I’m the best person to say something, but I know that I’m the best person to say the things that I think. You sometimes get small glimpses of those things but in such light amounts you could be forgiven for missing them. If you look closely you probably know that I’m a feminist. That I’m a big supporter of gay rights.  That I don’t believe in church but do believe in God. That I believe racism is institutional and exists far deeper than we see. That I don’t deal well with authority. That I have eternal hope in goodness. That I am quick to anger and quicker to forgive and that I don’t believe in picking sides because the world is flexible and moving and ever changing. The only side I pick is the one with less assholes, but even that is fluid because people change. Sometimes the assholes are later the people who have come so far, and who we revere for their ability to change. Sometimes we find that our heroes were undercover assholes, hiding amongst us until they let down their guard. Sometimes the assholes are us. In fact, if you aren’t prepared to recognize that occasionally you will look back at your life and think, “Wow. That was a real dick move. What the shit, me?” then you are the most dangerous of all the assholes.

This is a long post but in my defense I’ve been very quiet for the last week while I sorted this out.  I do have a point and I’m coming to it.

In the time I’ve been writing I’ve had thousands of people send me emails or links or tweets asking if I would weigh in on something, or support their cause, or ask everyone I know to donate to their personal fund or charity. I’ve read other blog posts by friends who tell me if I don’t write about their personal beliefs then it means I don’t care. Then I remind myself that if someone would potentially not know where I stand if I’m not screaming it on my blog then perhaps they aren’t as good a friend as I thought. I’m asked to stand up for people being bullied. I’m asked to stand up for the other people who are being censored and being called bullies. I hear:

“How can you not go to our Gay Pride parade when you yourself are bisexual?”

“Today is International Suicide Awareness day. Why aren’t you promoting it?  Don’t you care?”

“You’ve spent time in wheelchairs and hospital beds from your autoimmune disease so why aren’t you promoting our walkathon for chronic pain awareness?”

“If you don’t publicly take a stand against racism on every platform you have then you are a racist.”

“If you don’t write about 9/11 every year the terrorist win”.

“If you don’t write a post explaining that most Muslims are peaceful and lovely then their blood will be on your hands if they are killed.”

“If you don’t write about my personal version Jesus Christ then you’re sentencing your readers to everlasting hell.”

“If you don’t promote my kickstarter about my journey to adopt 56 Chinese orphans then all orange kittens will spontaneously lose all their legs.”

These are all real things said to me in the last year, except for the last one which I suspect is probably just stuck in my spam filter.

Here’s the deal.  I just can’t. I can’t use this blog to tell you that testing makeup on animals is bad or that if we don’t reduce our carbon footprint our children will suffer the consequences. I don’t have the stamina or willpower to denounce every shitty thing in the world that I assume everyone else here already agrees with. I don’t have the strength to write about ISIS and kidnappings and poverty and children starving and bombs and other terrible things because I know I will become fixated and depressed and unable to function.  I know my limits and I know that without self-care I will fall into those dark holes of depression where I’m no help to anyone.

And I’m okay with that because I don’t have to tell you that Nazis are bad and mass murderers are fuckheads and that racism is bullshit and suicide should be avoided and rape is shitty and water is wet and cats will scratch you if given enough time. This is all common sense. If I have to say this out loud for you to get those things then you are in the wrong place. Mostly because I’m typing and so I can’t say anything out loud, but also because if you know me, you already know these things. We may disagree on the finer points. I may have a looser definition of what it means to be a feminist. I’m in the middle ground when it comes to gun control so if I ever decide I’m educated enough to have a salient point of view worth sharing out loud we may disagree. I suspect I view racism as being more of a problem than the average American (or average white Southerner at least) and occasionally I’ll say something about it and lose followers…both those who are angry that I believe racism is systemic and deep-seated, and those who agree but who are mad that I don’t say even more. And that’s okay. Sometimes they come back, later, with open minds and less fear or anger. Sometimes they are replaced by others who are here to laugh and smile at the ridiculousness that comes out of my head. Sometimes (mostly) it’s read and then forgotten. Just one tiny voice in a world that won’t shut up. In a world so busy speaking that it can’t hear.

I had a point and I’ve strayed from it a bit but this is it: I appreciate the links and suggestions and tweets and probably half the time my posts come from something one of you has sent me because you know me and you know what fuels me. I read what you’ve sent me and laugh or cry or learn. Sometimes I write about it.  Sometimes I keep it for myself.  Sometimes there isn’t a better way to say it so I’ll just retweet it, or forward it to others who I think might need it or be inspired to write more about it. But I will never tell those people that it is their responsibility to write about what I want to read. And that is the difference.

Please keep sending me links. Tweet things you think I’ll want to see. Email me your thoughts, or posts. Or share them here. But there are two things you should know: One– I almost never share fundraisers because if I do one then a million people will ask why I don’t share their equally valid fundraiser and then I’d suddenly turn from a writer to a very annoying PR person who only tweets fundraisers.  No one wants that.  And two: I will never write about something because someone else is trying to shame me into it. I have plenty of my own shame and guilt over here myself, thankyouverymuch, so I don’t need you dropping yours on me. Not only is it shitty, but it also makes me question everyone else writing about whatever that current event of the week actually thinks, and that’s not fair to anyone. Are they just writing what they think people want to hear? Are they pandering because it’s fucking easy as hell to say “I’M NOT FOR MURDERING GAY PEOPLE” and “CANCER IS NOT WHAT I LIKE”. Not only that, but if you aren’t saying something thought-worthy then you are adding to the roar that is the world and while it’s a wonderful thing to have the nation rise up as a whole against bullshit, it sometimes has the unintended action of  making it that much harder for people who DO have brilliant and amazing things to say to be heard. People have a limited attention span and if they spend their lunch hour picking through posts that say nothing new or personal because they are written solely out of fear of missing out on the topic du jour are going to miss the chance to read the people out there who have something unique and intriguing and personal and brilliant to say. Those posts that make you say, “YES. FUCKING EXACTLY. THIS IS WHAT I WAS TRYING TO SAY BUT I COULDNT FIND THE WORDS FOR IT.” They are the posts that make you say, “Oh. Oh, shit. I get it. I get it now and I didn’t before and now everything has changed.” The posts that are so beautifully written that you immediately link to them on the Facebook disagreement you were having with your great aunt Agnes and she reads it and says, “Hmm. Well I never thought about it that way. I guess I’ll have to think about it.”

Those brilliant posts exist. I hope I’ve written a few. Probably not nearly as many as I’d like but I’m limited in my areas of expertise. I get humor because that’s how I survive. I get family because I’ve been blessed to have a dysfunctionally functional group of people who challenge me and make me laugh. I get mental illness because I survive it. I fight it as a regular demon and I haven’t a choice but to become a savvy warrior because that’s how you live. We don’t always get to choose our causes. Sometimes our causes choose us.

There is another thing I write about on the regular and that is kindness. Because we can’t live without it. Because it keeps us afloat. Because it keeps us worthy of survival as a species. Because it helps me forgive people who demand that I use my voice for their words because if I don’t it means I’m unworthy or low or their enemy. Because it helps me remember that that kind of anger comes from pain or fear or desperation that no one should have to feel. And because that same kindness is what I depend on and hope for from them when they read this.

This is my house. You are welcome here. You are wanted. You are allowed to leave links of posts or articles you think this community would say “Oh, I needed that” to. You are welcome to talk and visit and make friends and to realize that each of us is flawed and human and (in the grand scheme of things) knows nothing. Because I’ve come to know that the only thing I really know is we could all do with a little more kindness. Both in giving and getting.

Be kind to one another. And more importantly, be kind to yourself.  You deserve it.

PS. This post scares me a little to post because I know a thousand of you will think “Shit.  She’s talking about me” but I can assure you that 127 different people have asked me to share their stuff within just the last 24 hours (not an exaggeration) so I’m really not paying attention to names, and also there is a tremendous difference between suggesting that I write about something and demanding I write about something.  Still,  I feel a bit bitchy, because in a way I realize I’m sort of saying, “Stop demanding that I join you in your brave and valiant crusade, you well-meaning and good people with absolutely wonderful causes which I wholeheartedly agree with you on” and that’s not what I want to say at all, but it’s the closest thing I can say other than this:  I can’t always sing your song with you.  I listen.  I share.  I think.  But if I’m always singing everyone else’s song then there’s no room for mine.  I have a song to sing.  A terrible one about why Jesus is a zombie and the time I found a severed boobie on my lawn.  A song about horrible things and about wonderful things and mostly silly things that make the day a bit brighter for those twisted enough to appreciate it, or those offended enough to be able to use it as a terrible example to others.  A song that sometimes is out of tune and seldom rhymes and is sung loudly in the dark and in whispers when I’m not quite myself.  A song that sometimes overlaps with yours as we find ourselves unexpectedly sharing a chorus we never knew we had in common.  A song that sometimes captures minds and hearts and changes the world in good and bad ways…but most importantly, a song that is uniquely mine.  One that’s given silence to reflect and write, and information to grow, and that changes as I change.  It’s the same song you sing.  But different.  And all of those songs are beautiful…even the discordant ones of our enemies that inspire us to work harder to prove them wrong in hopes that one day they’ll find themselves accidentally humming a strange tune they’ve picked up along the way…a tune of joy and kindness and love and equality and acceptance.  Or at least something by Prince.  That man is a bad-ass.

PPS.  It occurs to me that I talked about those posts and stories and essays and books that make us yell “YES!  THIS EXACTLY” and that those lovely things are the things that it would be nicest to hear over the roar of kleenex advertisements and selfies, so I’m going to share a few of the ones that hit me personally because maybe you need to see them too.  And maybe in the comments you can share your own. A book, a song, a post, a quote that makes you strong or anything that makes the world a better place…anything that you keep coming back to as a reminder that you’re not alone or as an anthem to keep you going when it’s hardest.  Share your song.  Because I want to hear it.  And maybe, one day, we’ll find ourselves singing along together and you will know it’s because I am with you wholeheartedly, and not just because it’s the easiest thing to sing.

Okay, here are a few posts that stick with me:

This one is fairly recent but I used it so often recently when in discussions with people who didn’t understand why what Rachel Dolezal did is not okay and why it has nothing to do with Caitlyn Jenner ~ From Awesomely Luvvie:  About Rachel Dolezal the Undercover Sista and Performing Blackness

Someone sent me this years ago and it stays with me every day.  I even stop people in the middle of my next book to tell them to read this first:  From Christine Miserandino: The Spoon Theory

Which of you sent me this originally?  I don’t know but when I read it I screamed “YES!  YES, THIS!”  Boggle the Owl on surviving depression.  Boggle the Owl on Anxiety.

Okay.  Your turn.  Share.  Give me something you think needs to be heard.  Something that breeds kindness and makes the world a better place.  Sing your song.  We’re listening.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to just have to be aware of mental health one month a year?

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month so some people expect me to write about mental health, except that if you read here you’re already perfectly aware that I’m mentally ill so this feels a bit pointless.  But what if we change the game a little?

Share with me.  In the comments, or on your own platform, or both.  Almost everyone will battle mental illness or will be impacted in the struggle to help a loved one with their mental illness, so “awareness” isn’t really the issue for me.  Cures, support, feedback, tools that work...those are the things we reach for in the dark.  So let’s share…

How has mental illness affected you personally?  What did you learn from it that might help others?

I’ll start.

How has mental illness affected me personally:  I have a host of issues but I’m most affected by Avoidant Personality Disorder which is like anxiety disorder on speed.  It’s scary to talk about.  When I tell people I have a personality disorder they try to convince me that I don’t.  This is not helpful.  It’s perfectly well-meaning but it’s like saying “You couldn’t possibly have anything so terrible as that” when in fact, I do.  And lots of other people do too but they don’t say it out loud because they’re afraid of how they’ll be perceived.  Then it becomes even harder to say it because everyone else is too afraid to say it (with just cause) and I can’t even blame them because being afraid to admit you have a personality disorder whose main symptom is crippling fear is a catch-22 and pretty fucked up.  It’s like having to raise your hand to ask for help in attaching your prosthetic arms.

What did I learn from it that might help others:  I’ve learned I’m not alone even when I feel completely isolated and like a failure.  I’ve learned that depression lies.  I’ve learned that when I’m not affected by my fucked-up brain chemistry I can see that my brain is not to be trusted so I write notes to myself when I’m out of the hole to remind myself that I’ll be okay again soon.  I get sun.  I take meds and therapy.  I laugh loudly and often when I’m out of the hole because I know the importance of appreciating the good and the joy when it comes.  I let myself be sad when I need to be.  I watch ridiculous tv and listen to happy songs.  I practice creating an invisible mental barrier around my body when I feel overwhelmed by other people’s energy.  I call the suicide hotline if things get bad.  I donate to suicide hotlines when I can.  I allow myself to say no.  I reach out on the internet because I can find friends to talk to or to inspire me who understand when I’m too afraid to even pick up a phone.  I find a family member to help me when I think I need extra supervision.  I thank people who help save me.  I try to save them back.  I hide in blanket forts with my cats and a collection of funny books or kick-ass comics.  I share what helps.  I learn from others.

I apply kittens directly to problem areas.
bloggesshuntersthomcat

Your turn.

PS.  This is my playlist that keeps me upright when my head is full of marbles.  Feel free to share your own.

Bravery by any other name.

Last week I posted a video of me face-planting into the water.  I thought I’d dip my toe in but then I realized how cold it was so I tried to back out but the water was not cooperating because it was all “I’m a not solid, idiot.  You can’t push off of me” and I was like “JESUS LIED TO ME”.   (Turns out I just wasn’t reading that part of the Bible well enough and I guess only Moses and Jesus could keep from falling into pools.)

Hailey recorded my ridiculous plunge and insisted I share the video online, and since she’s always letting me post pictures of her it seemed only fair.

I tried to embed it here but it doesn’t work so you have watch it here.  Or here’s a series of stills if you can’t watch videos of children laughing at their parents:

faceplant

But what was weird was that someone called me “brave” for posting a video of me in a bathing suit.  First I thought they were just trying to insult me but then I realized that they weren’t.  I asked twitter, “Did we change the word ‘brave’ when I wasn’t looking?  ‘Brave’ is for saving orphans from a burning building made of bees.  Wearing a bathing suit to swim is ‘normal’.

Most of twitter agreed.  My friend Popehat added, “Honestly I think it was questionable judgement to house the orphans in the bee building in the first place.”

Other’s disagreed.  Like Justin Gibbs who countered, “Please use more realistic metaphors.  Everyone knows buildings made with bees are fire resistant.”

And then I went on to talk about diseased popsicles (later renamed Poxiclespatent pending) but later I was dragged back into the conversation by a few women who pointed out that to some, posting a video of themselves in a bathing suit would be much less frightening than running into a burning bee building.  This sounds a bit insane.

But they were absolutely right.

We all have weird fears.  Some of them are universal.  Some of them are odd.  All of them are valid as emotions even if they are irrational.  I don’t have a problem with a video of me in a bathing suit because I’m old enough to not care anymore…but I have an anxiety disorder sometimes makes me terrified to leave the house.  It’s completely irrational, but it’s me.  But sometimes the thing that gets me out of the house is seeing how easily everyone else does it.  They leave their room.  They talk to people.  They come home.  No one laughs at them.  They don’t think what they do is brave, but to me it’s inspiring.

So maybe that’s the way it is for some women in bathing suits.  I could tut-tut at them but being afraid of having your flaws exposed isn’t nearly as crazy as being afraid you might have to make small talk with the mailman, so I think we’re probably even.  We’re all a little crazy.  We’re all irrationally afraid of something.  We all project our own fears onto others sometimes.

So I’ll keep wearing my bathing suit if you keep leaving the house.  And maybe with time you’ll realize that posting an awkward faceplant into the water while your child video-tapes it and laughs hysterically at you is way more embarrassing than being an imperfect woman wearing appropriate swimming attire.  And maybe in time I’ll realize that strangers aren’t going to eat me, and that leaving the house is fun and good for me even when every molecule in my body screams otherwise.

Let’s go outside.  And talk to the mailman.  In our bathing suits.  And set bees on fire so we can rescue orphans from them.  Pick one.

We can work up to the scary ones together.

Looking for happiness

Yesterday I had a shitty night and I was starting to fall into the darkness.

This morning I woke up to see slightly more positive and happy news on my Facebook thread than bad news and it reminded me that things are not as bleak as my head sometimes says they are.

Thank you for sharing your lovely, happy moments as well as your hard ones.

I often see an apology that’s added with the happy or proud announcements – as if we’re embarrassed to admit good things have happened to us or that we’ve accomplished something or that we’re proud of ourselves or our family.  I do it myself.  It seems like tempting fate or bragging to share those happy moments.  But it’s that good and positive news that adds up and makes such a profound impact to battle back the negative and the scary and statuses that remind us how fragile and broken we sometimes are.

It would be easier for me to write the things that I feel are wrong right now, but instead I’m going to write the good, because that’s the best way I can practice self-care right now.

  • Dorothy Barker is finally going to the bathroom outside slightly more than inside.  If you don’t recognize how awesome this is, you’ve probably never had a puppy.
  • Last week when I was sick my daughter insisted on putting me to bed.  Then she brought in a book and read me a bedtime story.
  • Your amazing response to my new book turned me into a puddle.
  • We’re working on surprising Hailey with tickets to see Matilda this summer.  She’s wanted to see it for years and we know all of the songs by heart.

Your turn.  Tell me something good.  Something you’re proud of.  Something that makes you happy.

No apologies.  Just goodness.

I was considering teaching this dog to dance but she already dances better than I do.

I was considering teaching this dog to dance but she already dances better than I do.

Shitshitshit

I’m overwhelmed.  By the end of the week I’ll be fine but right now I’m dealing with massive deadlines, and Victor is out of the country, and Hailey has been really sick, and I feel like I’m stuck in quicksand.

I know this will pass.  I know my anxiety disorder is making me paralyzed and giving me a false idea of how bad things are.  I know that in a few days I’ll be back to normal.  But until then I have to just say that if you’re feeling overwhelmed and full of failure you are not alone.  Keep breathing.  Keep breathing.  Keep breathing.

I’ve been listening to angsty music that speaks to me, but honestly, today I need something to push me out of this, and pep-talk me into the sun and maybe you do to, so here you go:

PS.  If you hate being forcefully cheered up and instead you need to cry and feel like you’re not alone in being crazy then here are the angsty songs that have been my company this week:

Sending you love.  We’re in this together, y’all.

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

We’ve come far, but we have so much farther to go.

Sometimes I get mad about how far we are from equality, but I can’t recognize that truth without also recognizing that the ability to see racism, injustice and inequality is something learned…and that being able to see how far we are from true equality is a gift.  A terrible, but important gift…one that we’ve been given by past generations who struggled to create the history we now have the privilege and pain to learn from.

It’s hard to write about something as serious and difficult as injustice, and harder still to have conversations which often end with hurt and raw emotions so I’m not asking you to speak, or comment, or anything else.  Just to do one thing today.  Look at your life and think to yourself, “Could I do one thing better?  Could I do one thing today to help?”  And if so, do that one thing.

Maybe it’s forgiveness, maybe it’s listening to something that makes you uncomfortable but needs to be heard, maybe it’s just allowing yourself to realize that everyone in the world has prejudices but that we can’t truly grow until we see them and confront them.  Maybe it’s reading To Kill a Mockingbird or Brown Girl Dreaming to your child, as you try to find a way to show them life that exists beyond themselves.

Maybe it’s writing and rewriting a few awkward sentences on a blog that isn’t built for this sort of heaviness.

One step at a time.

 

thetimeis alwaysright

“We go together like teenagers and low self-esteem.” That about sums it up.

This is a follow-up to a post I wrote one month ago about my shy 15 year old niece who plays the ukelele and is full of stars.  I shared a few songs and you guys filled her tip jar and her mailbox with magic, and music, and access to instruments she wants to learn.

So today I’m sharing Gabi’s latest song (which she recorded with one of her new instruments) as a way to thank you for being so supportive.  And it’s especially lovely because so much of it is exactly how I feel today about you guys.   Full circle. Thank you for being my worm.  Or my dirt.  Your choice.

PS. She doesn’t sell her songs.  She just plays them for happiness.  You can download them for free.

Lovely ~ UPDATED

My niece Gabi is 15 years old and is sort of my hero.

gabibir

That sounds weird and I can’t really explain myself without telling stories that aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you that she’s so much like me it’s a bit eerie.  The difference is that instead of retreating from the world, Gabi reshapes the world to work for her. While I was writing dark, angsty poetry at her age, Gabi has skipped forward to look for the light.  I sang in my bathroom so much that it drove my family nuts.  Gabi taught herself the ukulele and performs original songs for strangers in parks.  She sews her own clothes and costumes, and constructs elaborate dragon wings, and makes zombie sock-puppets and is quietly and unapologetically herself.

A few weeks ago I heard a song she wrote and recorded herself and it made me cry…possibly because I’m an extraordinarily proud aunt, but also because the sweet words she said were what I needed to hear…what I needed to remember.  And I’m sharing her song here because maybe you need to remember too.

She didn’t have a video so she just clipped together footage from Skype sessions and homemade videos with her brother and sisters and friends, but it’s a bit perfect.  If you like it, you can check out the website she made this week.  I tried to convince her to sell her stuff on iTunes but she’s content to share it online for free and put out an online tip jar if you want to pitch in for ukulele strings or blank sheet music, or other musical instruments she hopes to buy and learn.

Thank you, Gabi, for reminding me of how lovely things can be.

UPDATED:  I fucking love you people.  Have I mentioned that?  Because it’s true.  Gabi was amazed at your wonderful responses.  She received over $1,000 in tips (which she’s earmarked to pay for a drum kit and actual music lessons) plus help and advice from other artists.   She just updated her site so you can download her music, and she’s currently in the park writing a song about this whole experience.  If you want to keep up with her progress you should follow her page on Facebook right here.  Thank you for being awesome.  All of you.

Compassion is painful. That’s how you know it’s working.

I’m sad about last night for a lot of reasons.  And if you are human, and allow yourself to be so, then you probably are too.  Maybe it’s the verdict that upset you, or the destruction afterwards, or the long and difficult path that has led us here and has shown us we have so much further to go before we get to the place where we want to be…a place where kindness and compassion and vulnerability are the things which can be lauded and seen and encouraged and felt.  Or maybe, like me, you’re upset about all of those things and you feel too defeated to want to care anymore.

But if you’re like me, you can’t switch those emotions off.  It’s so much easier to turn those feelings of vulnerability and hurt into a shield of rage.  Rage feels powerful and strong.  It feels good.  And rage is important.  But not at the cost of compassion.  If, like me, today you woke up weary and wanting to become numb, or turn away, or lash out angrily at everyone involved then I feel you.  But I encourage you to keep compassion at the forefront.  Remember humanity.  Remember that your words and actions make a difference.  Remember that the majority of us are so much better than the worse things we see in the news, and that so many of us are leading a quiet revolution to be kind, and compassionate, and to listen to the hurt, and amplify the things that will make a positive difference in our world.  It’s a quiet revolution that will never be covered on CNN.  It’s a movement of people who redirect anger to kindness.  Who listen even when it’s painful.  Who take the hurt of others on ourselves and feel it so that we can become better people.  Who wade into horrible online threads and inject compassion and reason because we know that it can become contagious if done the right way.  Who hope that reason and empathy will somehow lead to a place which is safer for our children and grandchildren.

Yesterday someone sent me this photo and it’s stayed with me, and it helped.  If you’re like me, maybe it’ll help you too.

hope

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant? ~ Henry David Thoreau

I don’t usually write about serious things like this because I think of this blog as a place for us to get away from the crazy bullshit of the world.  A place to laugh and heal and be ridiculous.  But sometimes healing comes in different ways and I need to write this so I can let go of some of this angst and refocus on what positive things I can do next.  Like donating to the Ferguson Library, which has served as a quiet sanctuary for so many children and adults.

Tomorrow we’ll be back to ridiculous cat pictures and possibly a story about an alligator in my toilet.  And tomorrow we’ll still feel compassion for the people who are struggling, and will continue to do our best to enact positive changes in our own ways.

I hope to God both of those things are true.