It’s probably not completely doomed!

“It is probably not completely fucked and doomed. At worst, it’s only slightly fucked and doomed.”  Mantra by *Sam Lamott (@samlamott) (*Offspring of one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott!)

Is it me, or does the world feel a little bit chaotic lately? Pretty sure that this week we moved up a notch from You Gotta be Kidding Me to This is Getting Pretty Bonkers.

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Chaos galore. We’ve got hurricanes!! 3,000 dead people miraculously coming back to life from said hurricanes!! Taking money from the people who help during hurricanes so we can detain more children! (Although…if we can bring the dead back to life, maybe we don’t need FEMA??)

It’s all got me thinking: What do we do with chaos? That is, other than respond with fear. (Or booking a one-way flight directly to Justin-Trudeau-land.) 

All I know is that I have a predictable pattern I use when the latest crazy drops from the heavens and into my news feed.  And–because you’ll notice one of the below steps is writing (HA!)–I’m gonna write about it and share with you

Let’s call it, Sarah’s Seven Steps™ to Responding to the Chaos: (fictional trademark and everything.)

  1. Denial. Muttering over and over How is this HAPPENING? This can’t be happening! 
  2. ALL-CAPS STAGE. (AKA seeking validation from those who see it the way you do.) Post to facebook with crazy emoji faces that basically scream “OMG GUYS DO YOU SEE  THIS IS?!” *Yes they do unless they don’t and in that case your article won’t make them “see” it.  (Not that I heed this advice, I do this ALL THE TIME. See the all caps??!)
  3. Fight or Flight.  Responding with, “I’ve gotta do something! There are kids in cages! “OR,“Nope nope nope. Can’t deal with the crazy today! Gonna binge watch Making-It.” 
  4. Grapple with existential angst. Chocolate helps. So does talking aloud to beagles. 
  5. Surrender. Sweet, sweet surrender. You know, facing the feelings under it all. Having a good cry about the children. Discovering that you feel a lot better after facing the feels.
  6. Magic! Transmuting/alchemizing the pain. (Which auto correct wants to change to “Schematizing” – sure that works too.)  You feel the feels, you eat the chocolate…now what? For me, I transmute the pain through art or writing. I take the pain and turn it into joy. It’s basically magic.
  7. Repeat.  Again and again and again. The world is at bonkers-level crazy after all. And maybe bit by bit…our creations of joy build a beautiful new world out of the chaos.

THAT’S ALL I GOT. (OH: and vote in the midterms. Do that too! Register to vote and/or request your vote-by-mail if you haven’t yet!)

What about you? How do you cope with the crazy? Did I miss any steps? What level comes next you think?

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Pursuing joy

At some point this past year I decided I wanted my life to be about pursuit of joy rather than reduction of suffering. And to paraphrase Frost, it has made all the difference.

For me it looks like embracing my inner artist. I was born an artist but along the way morphed, conformed, forgot. It’s all good. The journey back to myself has been so sweet! I’m leaping into fear, taking an undergrad art class with students who are literally half my age. Fear and joy! Fear and joy! Even the smell of art supplies makes my heart sing.

Are there any small ways you can increase joy? Share you victories below!! I’m so happy to give virtual high fives to you brave souls.

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!