Give light and People will Find the Way.

“On Friday we wept, on Saturday we marched, on Sunday we rested. Today we get to work. What will you do today?” – Valerie Kaur

I live in the very, very Southwest corner of Florida. Not near Miami, or Orlando, or Tampa, where you might find some blue dots in our red state. No. I live where it is not weird at all to see a dude driving his pickup around a parking lot with a shirtless dude in back waving a flag larger than my garage that says “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.” Totally normal. Totally happened in my local Ace Hardware parking lot.

Because of this lack of blue dots in a very, very red area of the state, I almost didn’t attend my nearest sister march for the women’s march. I was certain that it was going to be me and the usual twenty aging white hippies who usually show up at these things.

Illustration based on a photo posted on Facebook by the baby’s mom Jenny Sowry. This is #wokebaby. Marched in Charlotte, NC on Saturday with her crayon-scribbled sign. Can you handle the cuteness? (Follow my instagram @100daysofhope for daily art like this.)
I WAS WRONG.

As I approached the march location there was a fair amount of traffic. There were tons and tons of cars parked on lawns illegally. There was no way this was because of the march, I thought. Not in this long-established republican stronghold where the last democrat to win the county was Adlaid Stevenson II in 1952.  (Source: Wikipedia.)

It turns out the crowd, the traffic, it was in fact all for the march.The organizers expected 300: At least 2,500 people showed up.  

YES, that is right. Over two-thousand people in our sleepy little vacation town showed up to march. Thousands of people marched and chanted past the tony vacation homes and high-end boutiques. The retirees in sports cars gawked. The passer-bys on their way to brunch bristled.

It. Was. Amazing. 

There were elderly marchers being pushed in wheelchairs, young marchers being pulled in wagons. Families, singletons, teens, twenty-somethings. Men! Women! And yes, a lot of white sixty-something women. But not just the aging hippy-sisters-who-paved-the-way oh-so long ago. We couldn’t have been here without them, but we need more than just them to move forward.

The best part was that the tone of the crowd wasn’t angry (though we were angry, yes); it wasn’t sad, or defeated or gloom and doom. No, it was…joyful. Jubilant even. It was downright spiritual: we were transmuting our pain with art, with dancing, with music. And levity! (The signs were hilarious, no?)

(And in case you missed it, the baby marcher with her crayoned-protest-sign. THIS. This is what we need.)

Let’s keep doing it. Let’s keep showing up for each other. Let’s keep giving light so others will find the way. And let’s do it with much rejoicing.

Did you march, sisters? (And brothers!) Tell me your stories! 

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Be like the Painted Bunting

When a male painted bunting feels threatened it sings out a loud, clear, beautiful song from its perch, all the while dazzling in a bold palette of red, blue, green and yellow.

You can do this too. When facing darkness and fear, dare to show your bold colors and sing your beautiful song. Sing it into the void. Pierce the darkness. Display your beauty in an act of radical love and joy.

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Male painted bunting. https://flic.kr/p/jdsVky “Painted Bunting” by Andy Morrfew is licensed under CC BY 2.0

*A female and male bunting have been visiting my feeder this week. Highly unusual for my location in Florida. They aren’t even scared away by my loud three year old or my barking beagles. Can you believe it? It all defies logic and makes my heart sing. These birds fill me with such joy and hope!

My Kicking, Crying Child Was All of Us Today

 

My daughter had an epic tantrum at Target today, and I’m pretty sure she did it on behalf of all of us. I mean after this week, who doesn’t want to flail on the floor kicking and screaming while flinging Target Optical business cards in all directions?

We were at Target to buy a bike helmet. We found one that had cat ears and rainbows on it and that filled us both with joy. Then we wandered the Christmas section and delighted over the plush birdy ornaments and santa clauses and snow globes.It was the magical snowflake of Target trips. Until the FINAL FIVE MINUTES.

All I know is that I was in line frantically using my cartwheel app trying to scan the most expensive items for coupons, and my daughter took off. She ran to the drinking fountains. I yelled her full name get back here this minute and she came back with a little smirk. Oh yeah. This wasn’t looking good.

We finally checked out and I thought we were through the worst of it, but no. Something just snapped in my child. She wailed and screamed and at one point was lying on her back on the ground, her skirt flipped up, her face beet red, wailing. MOMMMMMY NOOOOOOO!!!!!

I tried to carry her out of the store, a colossal failure and one that I could have predicted but I tried anyway because what else could I do while pushing that ridiculous cart with the huge added on seats for children to have leg room and harnesses and whatever nonsense. God I love those carts though.

Well, the three-year-old kicked and screamed and in the process knocked over my iced coffee. I did not realize it but we were leaving a huge iced coffee trail behind us.

Insert the f. word.

It was the longest mile. I mean, seriously. How was I going to get out of this store?

Well, that’s when Jeanine came over. She was a fifty-something Target associate who was braver than the other three associates who were staring at the whole scene in disbelief. Dear sweet Jeanine put her arm on mine. She asked if there was anything she could do to help.

“There is nothing you can do” I said as I began to cry. Right there. Near checkout 10. Families silently rolled past me, their children staring.

What I wanted to say? 

“Jeanine we are all DOOMED! What the hell happened to our country! I’m so angry and frustrated and I feel so helpless. And yes I get why people want to give a middle finger to the establishment but really, electing he-who-shall-not-be-named??? It’s all too much. And why won’t my kid just sit. in. the. damn. cart?”

Of course, I didn’t say any of that. But Jeanine JUST KNEW I NEED HER TODAY. She quickly went work, fetching a a brown paper bag with little handles that she offered to my daughter.

“Would you like this special bag? Can you put your things in here and carry it all by yourself?” Then Jeanine pulled out her roll of stickers, commenting on each one as she placed them over each Target bullseye.

As if this wasn’t enough to earn her angel wings, Jeanine saw my empty coffee cup and she offered to get me a new coffee. SHE OFFERED TO GET ME A COFFEE. I told her it was ok, I hadn’t purchased at the in-store Starbucks–but I am pretty sure had I asked she would have gone and gotten a new one for me anyway.

I think we are going to need a lot of Jeanines moving forward. Neighbors, colleagues, mothers with stinker-butt children, if you are struggling, I promise to be there for you. (Assuming my child isn’t it booking down the street.)

Let us not forget, we belong to each other. Thanks for the reminder, Jeanine. 

 

 

 

The doing will come

Today my daughter woke me up while I was in the middle of a dream. In my dream I was urgently helping and doing. I was a woman of action. When I woke up I quickly reminded myself that there is no doing. Not yet. The doing will come. But for now, it is being. Being with shock and grief and anger and despair and fear. There is no way out but through.

Last night I went to choir practice and sat among friends. There was an unspoken agreement that we wouldn’t talk about it. What would we say? What we were lacking in words could be sung. 

 

Why Donald Trump Compels Me to Speak

Do you hear the quiet hum that is slowly rattling the china? The whistle that is building to a roar?

For some it was the bragging about sexual assault. For others, the name-calling and body-shamingFor me, it was Jane Doe’s story

Jane’s story was largely buried, for to speak of it was to admit it was possibly true and that defied comprehension. Her claim was universally viewed as so outrageous to be deemed a falsehood from the start. But in her fits and starts, her reluctance to speak for fear of life, and her silencing, I saw myself.

Our stories differ in the details, as they always will. Jane Doe was raped at 13 years of age;  I was raped at age four. Jane says she was held against her will after promises of a modeling contract and then was raped by strangers (one of whom is running for president of the United States); I was assaulted by a member of my extended family. Jane sought justice in court. My perpetrator is now deceased and was never held responsible for his crimes.

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Despite the differences, all Jane Does understand certain truths.

I understand how speaking can be or feels like a matter of life and death. My own memory of being held at my neck (certain I would die) followed by a verbal threat of death if I did tell. Every cell in my body screaming to never. speak. of. this. again. I didn’t for over three decades. Precisely thirty-four years of silence.

I understand the desire for anonymity. My childhood was a practice in hoping not to be noticed. My pre-teen years involved a sexual repression so deep that I endured homophobic slurs.

I understand the risks in speaking. I know what fall-out looks like. In the telling I have grieved the loss of an entire branch of my extended family, its limbs denied oxygen and light and left to wither in my hands.

I understand how others recoil, deny, and turn away. The blaming, the name-calling, the assumption of lies. Or simply the deafening silence. I understand how the act of believing a survivor is a radical act. How it requires bearing witness to another’s horrific, unimaginable pain. To face the shadow side of our families, our communities, our criminal justice system, our notions of masculinity, our religious beliefs. To admit that the people around us—family, friends, coworkers, strangers—could not protect us or did not protect us. there-is-know-greater-agony-than-bearing-an-untold-story-inside-you-maya-angelou

All of this begs the question: in the face of all of this, why speak? 

To speak is to evict the the panic and fear that were stored in your cells as part of your surviving.

To speak is to fuel a living, breathing rebirth.

To speak is to transmute pain, to alchemize fear. 

To speak is to write your own ending.

You speak for the silenced, muffled, mocked, and maligned.

You speak for the mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers. You speak for the sons and daughters. 

You speak to heal family, community, and yes, country.

You do all of this humbly, with the recognition that you are one of the lucky ones. With loving parents. With resilience built into your bones. With white skin, advanced degrees, conforming gender and sexuality. With the love and support of spouse and friends. 

You do all of this because the alternative is a repression of spirit and mind and body so extreme it is to watch your repressed truth manifest in disease, dysfunction, or yes, even dystopia.

You speak because if the shadow has been laid bare, then so must our truths. 


Thank you for reading. I couldn’t have written this without the loving support of this WordPress community. 

 

 

The Dream

There is a large hall full of people, but I initially chose the small side room. I was there by myself, surrounded by plates and plates of hors d’oeuvres. The restaurant servers kept delivering them to me. (My late mother–who was not present because, hello, deceased–had pre-ordered these hors d’oeuvres for everyone. Which if you knew my mom is so my mom.)

It got lonely in this little room. Plus, all this abundance to share. I could not consume it alone. 

I came into the great hall only to discover a series of long tables full of friends and family who had been waiting to see me.

At this point I tried on several different outfits until I found what is comfortable on my skin (ahh–to be comfortable in our own skin) and then I spent time catching up with everyone. So much time had already been lost! 

Dreams, ammiright?

 

Sweaty Palms and…Joy?

Yesterday I did something that made my palms sweat and my heart race.

I shared my story (the one I told you about yesterday)…publicly on Facebook. With my FRIENDS. AND. FAMILY.

I know. Can you even believe this?

If you are anything like my sister you are laughing a little. My sister is the yin to my yang. An open book to my locked diary. A heart on a sleeve to my hidden tattoo. (I don’t have a hidden tattoo but if I did I WOULD NOT TELL YOU ABOUT IT.)

My sister called me shortly after I posted the article on Facebook and our conversation went something like this:

Sister: “You posted your article! I didn’t realize your article talked about your miscarriage.”

Me: “YESIDIDSHAREANDYESITDOESBUTISTHATOK?HOLYCRAPDIDIOVERSHARE???”

Sister: “Sarah, anyone who knows you would never accuse you of oversharing.” Ok that is a paraphrase but essentially she reminded me of the fact that I am not exactly easy to read. 

She also pointed out how I wrote privately in this blog for a year before even going public. So yeah, baby steps for me.

I’ve been writing for almost another year on my now published blog (yay!) and those baby steps all led up to yesterday. I knew I was ready but still: sweaty palms. (Plus I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder so trust me, sweaty palms are basically my jam.)

So I shared it and…everyone was amazing. Overly amazing actually. And of course they were! But then something unexpected happened:

  • First I felt tears
  • Then I felt…joy?!

What was this? I work from home so I did what I usually need to do in situations like this: I talked out loud to my beagles.

“Beagles….I am crying but I am not sad. Am I relieved? Kind of. But, I think I feel joy. Yes, joy. And love. BEAGLES I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!”

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The beagles: great listeners, but not much for conversation.

Relief, yes. And the relief wasn’t even because people liked it and were being so kind and loving — that was wonderful but there was something else to it. I felt relief that my story had been told.

And joy, definitely joy.

I still didn’t get the joy bit. Frankly it took me by surprise. I did some googling for Brené Brown quotes about vulnerability. Because if you have a question about vulerability you have to ask Brené. (LOVE ME SOME BRENÉ.)

Well, lo and behold I found this little gem:

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Image source.

Yes, exactly Brené! When you are vulnerable and share your story about loss and grief and miscarriage, it is not crazy to feel joy apparently. Because sharing your story = connection = joy = being seen.

And then, because I am obsessed with Brené, I kept looking through quotes and found this one. And I was all, YES PREACH IT BRENÉ!

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Image source. .

That is it: I was walking inside my story. That is why it felt good. The sweaty-palm bit, well that is what happens when we put ourselves out there. I know that. But the joy from telling the story, from connection…I wasn’t expecting that. Icing on the cake, my friends.

(And, to those of you who read yesterday and have known me for a zillion years and were so kind and loving…thank you. I love you.)

Yours in sweat and tears and, yes, joy,

Sarah

Have you experienced this before?! I’d love to hear how your own sweaty-palm-moments led to joy. Because wow, right? 

 

a bit of housekeeping. And: I want *your* instagram links please!

Hello – some updates!

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copyright of Instagram. 

1.I am now on instagram! Well, I have been for a while. But I kinda forgot about it. But then I remembered. And now I shall be an instagrammer galore. Let the fun begin!

And with that in mind…a request! Please leave your instagram handle/name/link/whatever-it-is-called in the comments. I would love to follow all of you lovelies!

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copyright Keeping Mum.

2. I am going to have an original piece posted on a new blog called Keeping Mum. The site is a place to share stories from motherhood for “mums without mums” – said in a British accent because the founder is British. Check out the site, and stay tuned…I’m excited to share more details soon.

3. My daughter put little nail polishes in my shoes and I found them this morning. So sweet and funny. (And, practicing using instagram so yay.)

that is all for now. Don’t forget: leave your social media links so I can follow the heck out of you crazy kids!

~Sarah

Dueling pianos

All the moms need to see Bad Moms, not because it’s that funny (it’s a little funny! Kristen Bell you guys….she is my immaginary BFF). But because you gotta go out with the girls and then go dance to Outkast at the dueling piano bar. Seriously. The best. I gotta go, they are playing Purple Rain!