All the people in this house deal with anxiety. Even our littlest one, nearing seven is having the anxiety bug drop in on her. It runs in the family. However, we are becoming masters of anxiety management thanks in part to this book.
Seriously--if you're muddling through your child's chronic anxiety, this book is a super hero. Not everything in it works for both kids, but there's something that works for each of them in that little gem.
Last night, Amelia and I were talking about how much we love visualization, and I led her through a traditional visualization exercise. You know the bit: water, a tree, flowers, wonderful breezes, and glorious peace. Then she asked for a turn! Sure, I say, and settle in for what I expect will be a repeat of what I'd just said.
Close your eyes, she says, and imagine you're standing in front of a corner store. You go in, she says, and buy TEN packages of bacon. Then you go home and invite all the people in the neighborhood to your house. You eat bacon, she says, and play and enjoy all the people.
There were more details, but I can't remember them, because I was laughing too hard. At first I just found the whole thing funny, but then, the genius of my daughter's thinking sunk in. The answer to anxiety is not always peace and solitude and gentle breezes. Sometimes the answer to anxiety is pleasure and joy and people.
Oh, yes. They keep teaching me with their wide open hearts.
Wishing you peace, solitude, gentle breezes, pleasure, joy, and lots and lots of good people today.
Oh, and bacon. Don't forget the bacon. ;)
Hearts are stretching everywhere. All day yesterday, my mantra was double down on love. Willfully choosing love is becoming my habitual response to these events. My shock turns to horror turns to rage turns to sadness turns to love for all people. Just, seriously. Our hearts are stretching deep and wide.
Do you remember that song? Deep and Wide? There's a fountain flowing deep and wide. That one has come back to me lately. I'm so grateful there is room for all of us in the fountain. All of us.
Last week, Fierce Solidarity had some of its first events at one of the world's hidden gems. Camp Skyline is a fountain of its own. It lives and breaths Love into campers and employees every year. I'm so blessed and grateful to get to call the directors of the camp my friends. Shana and Matt are beautiful, grounded, heartworking people, and they've just begun their big summer work for the year. During the busiest time of year, they made space in the camp schedule to bring me in to talk with counselors and to host a book launch, both of which were invaluable experiences for me. I feel so supported I can hardly take it all in.
But what I feel most of all is honored. Being gifted with this work feels like the best of all honors to me. That I get to do it, and that others choose to support me as I do is humbling in the best possible way. The debriefing from my first events (made so thorough by theamazing notes my husband took during the event he attended--lucky me to have such an invested partner) has looked and sounded a lot like a raspy, tear choked thank you followed by even grittier determination to press on.
So thank you, thank you, thank you. And, what's next?
There's been a lot of talk about victimization in the news. The hush and scream tide of the conversation on rape is firmly in a season of screaming this week. On one hand, I'm glad this splash is being made. On the other hand, it is just horrifically sad. When the scream is over, the hush returns, and still, we'll be living in a culture that can't stand to look at its own state of violence long enough to create necessary change. Still, I am chronically hopeful. Maybe this time, I think again, a few more people will keep their eyes open. Surely, a few will. . . a few at a time until the critical mass is reached.
And it will be reached.
My most fierce desire is to keep my eyes planted firmly on the goal of healthy human interaction everywhere. Kindness, compassion, goodness. I question over an over, do we really need to see this again? Do we really need to look at our ugliness? Well, yes, I'm afraid so. Because right and wrong battle bitterly in the gray zone these days, even for things that should be obvious. Like rape. Like abuse. Like sexism in general.
My heart is crying out with everyone else this week, but being in this for the long haul means that patience has to live in the push. It's embodiment of new truths we're after, and that takes time. So every push has to be fueled by endurance. We can do that.
If you, like me, are looking for a space to safely place your anger, rage, disbelief, sadness , will you join me in spending just one day committed to a light filled life? I've been saying a written prayer every morning, lingering especially over this line, "Only that which is light shall go out from me." It's an acknowledgment that every action I take is a choice I'm making. Affirming in the morning that I'm choosing light today fuels my hearth, and I'm reminded all day long when the phrase pops into my head. I am angry, but I can choose kindness. I am disappointed, but I can choose forgiveness. I am enraged, but I can choose the long vision of hope.
This practice matters because when I consciously take responsibility for my every action and reaction, it affirms humanity's responsibility to chose goodness. We are not just feeble minded wrecks who don't know right from wrong. We do know it's right to be good to each other. We just have to be brave enough to admit it and hold ourselves accountable.
This isn't about trying to be perfect. And it isn't about stuffing or avoiding negative feelings, it's about allowing them to come and go without judgment, and without amplification. Feel the rage, the indignation, but focus on the solution. The solution is equality--so move through your life like you're equal in every way. The solution is kindness--so magnify kindness in your life. The solution is responsibility, so take responsibility for your choices. The solution is honoring worth--so treat everyone, including you, as though they are worthy of the highest blessings. Be so humane that people wonder what the heck is wrong with you. Then, when you screw up, work through forgiving yourself and proceed with grace as the soft wind at your back.
Look, I know this sounds simplistic, but this is the patience element. It's the steady on, long term, momentum building element of push and progress. Try it out for a few days and see if it changes the way you feel and think.
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.