Let’s use this fire-breath to bring down the patriarchy! (Or something…)

Something in me cracked open.

It seemed to come out of nowhere. But let’s be real, it had been building for weeks. (Precisely three weeks and five days…if you get my drift.)

Like all fine Americans, I got angry reading something on Facebook. But it wasn’t the orange one who set me off, or the skinny-tied-one or the gum-chewing-one or any of the other underlings. 

Yes, it wasn’t Trump per se that had me fired up. It was the response to the crazy. People I knew to otherwise be kind, loving individuals–it was their defending of Trump that seemed to be the final straw. mountainsmove

Something in me snapped. Actually, no. Snapped to seems to imply a reckless breaking. This was a crack. A crack like an egg hatching. A crack of shifting tectonic plates.

I’ve been fuming so much that I’ve written three draft posts in three days because there was SO MUCH FIRE in me that, well, I needed to let it simmer down a tad before I could hit publish.

We have this man (orange) who is the archetype of a predatory male. The embodiment of patriarchy. The creepy dude from the office who forwards racist, sexist conspiracy theories and is the guy whom we generally can all agree is unhinged.

But wait, maybe we can’t all agree on that fact. And there is the rub.

I’ m not different than so many other women whose body and psyche have been deeply harmed by someone who resembles Trump. To be a female in this world is to at some point feel unsafe in our bodies because of a predatory man.

Yes–this anger goes deep and is a fire breath I want to use to bring down the patriarchy! (Or something.)*

I understand that part of this anger is about my own deep wounds. My own story of harm by a mad man–and the perceived betrayal of the otherwise sane people who knew better than to believe a madman and ultimately align with a mad man.

This is also what I know about being wounded: there is no greater pain that not being seen. We don’t expect a mad man to see or understand our pain. He’s not capable of it. But the ones who we know are capable of empathy and love? We except better.

Yes, something cracked open in me the other day.

This anger feels deep.

Like the women of all the ages were standing as mountains within the earth, holding me up.

Who knows, maybe they are.

The question is, what to do with the fire-breath? We can’t keep it in–to do so will burn us from the inside out. No, this fire must be expelled. Unleashed. Art. Story. Dancing. Resisting with joy and humor and yes, righteous indignation too. Who knows? Maybe in the process we will burn down the patriarchy

*(Huh, maybe my daughter does get some of her flair for the dramatic from me after all…)

Are you ready to roar? Breathe your fire-breath with me!

Stitching it back together with love

I am sitting here in my favorite oversized sweater that smells a little bit like beagles, but maybe that makes me love it more. I wore this sweater while studying for exams in law school. I wore this sweater in the drafty farm house in Iowa as my belly grew larger and larger when pregnant with my daughter.

I don’t get to wear this sweater as often anymore in Florida, but I woke up chilly and even the dogs are snuggled together in a puppy pile. It is a brisk 58 degrees (seriously I am not trying to rub this in–I know that everyone else in the US is dealing with arctic temps) and my first thought was, at long last I can put on my favorite sweater. And more importantly, at long last I can write.

I don’t even know where to begin with what has unraveled these last few weeks. Unraveled has a negative connotation but I mean it as a neutral term. Merriam Webster defines unravel as to disengage or separate the threads of :  disentangle b :  to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of; to resolve the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of :  clear up <unravel a mystery>.


That has been my last few weeks. Resolving the intricacy and complexity of challenges and clearing up mysteries. It involved a coming apart in the sense that it is no longer longer knotted up.  It has been untangled and laid bare so I can see it for what it is and begin to slowly and lovingly stitch it back together. It turns out that my healing and my daughter’s growing pains seem as intertwined as the DNA that we share.

The way I write makes it sound so dramatic. It isn’t. Nothing large or scary happened. It all felt large in the way that things often do when we are triggered or afraid. And the stitching back together felt large, but it too was not. It involved daily acts of love (which makes it sound easy but it was anything but easy), done in minutes and hours and days.

Those small things done with love are the hardest parts of parenting. It is a slow slog that surrenders to trust in the process. Trust that many small steps will add up and make a difference. They do and it is beautiful.

I will write more about the untangling and the stitching back together. But for now I will wear my oversized sweater and drink hot coffee on the lanai. I will prepare to go Christmas shopping with my husband, and then later I will listen to my daughter sing Christmas songs at preschool. My heart is full.

America’s Latest Mass Shooting was Local—and I Refuse to Stay Numb

This morning I found myself standing in a strip mall less than a mile away from where I used to live, a dozen roses in my hand and more than two dozen reporters in my face.

I was standing at the site of America’s latest mass shooting.

A reporter asked me was why I was there.

I’d thought about this as I purchased a bouquet of small yellow roses at my local Winn-Dixie this morning. (What types of flowers are suitable to leave at memorials for mass shootings? I wondered. This is now a question we have to ask ourselves in America.)

I’d thought about gun violence as I made the twenty-three minute drive north from my home, driving past my church that only five short weeks ago had hosted a vigil for the Orlando mass shooting victims. I’d thought about gun violence as I exited the highway, one sign pointing toward Fort Myers (this way to the latest mass shooting site) and another pointing toward Lehigh Acres/FL-844 (this way to the home of the fourteen year old basketball star killed in aforementioned mass shooting.)

I’d thought about gun violence as I turned onto Winkler Avenue–now only two miles from the mass shooting site–and drove past the apartment complex that my husband, daughter and I lived in when first relocating to Fort Myers. The home where I nursed my baby to asleep located at the same intersection where a teen girl would be killed a few months after we moved out. (So many memorials to gun violence now within this mile radius.)

The reporters asked me today, why are you here at the site of the mass shooting.

If any of my interviews make the evening news you might hear me say that I was there to offer my condolences and to join my pastor in prayer (whom I’d just missed seeing at the scene). Or you might hear a clip that makes me sound angry and political (both of which are true), as I declared loudly, “When will this madness end?” Perhaps a reporter will focus on the fact that I am a mother who used to live less than a mile away and that I pray for my child and all these children. Or you might hear the reporter ask me about my small yellow sign said (it says LOVE WINS) as I explained how we can’t let fear and anger rule our hearts, and that we must show up for our children and fight for change.

All of those answers are true. But the truth is that I came to the site of this latest mass shooting because when twelve year old children at a dance party — with armed guards present, nonetheless — are killed and injured, we should all show up to grieve and mourn and rage, because there is no such thing as “Other People’s Children.” 

Even if this latest killing rampage was due to gang violence and not terrorism — as though that somehow lets us off the hook, or should somehow reassure us that this could never happen to our children (but what of the children who do live among this violence?) — this does not matter.

The reporters asked why I was there:

Because I refuse to stay numb.

Because I believe broken hearts are a good thing. (Five short weeks ago I attended a vigil for Orlando victims and it broke my heart. I do not want a heart that is no longer shocked by the horror of a mass shooting.)

Because I refuse to remain silent.

Because I am tired of this madness.

Because even though I know that gun violence is not solved with vigils and flowers, the process just might begin with open, broken hearts that refuse to accept violence as ordinary reality in America.

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