I'm Writing the Post I Need to Read Today

The mental Reset button on my brain has been pushed. I was crushed the morning after the election.

Sometimes something so fundamentally strange and jarring happens that I can't even begin to process it right away. In these cases, I allow myself the feelings that bubble up, whether they're angry, humbling, or devastating.

Then I put one foot in front of the other.

I call on the best parts of myself:  the hope, the creativity, the faith in education, the understanding and the pure compassion. I meditate, make a cup of tea, hug a friend, immerse myself in art, and of course, write.

Since I have bipolar disorder, I have lots of practice waiting - not acting until I can see more clearly. This was one of those times. So, a few of days after Trump was elected to represent me, my daughter, and the rest of America I'll say my piece.

I haven't been loud about it in the past but I am a Feminist. 

I have always been a feminist, I just usually call it "being loving." I love myself enough to believe that I'm worthy of joy. This whole blog is me being a feminist. Staying at home with my kids is me being a feminist. 

I know that most men are thoughtful loving people who aren't afraid of women. They understand that raising the status of women doesn't take anything away from men, and is, in fact, one mark of a successful society. 

I wanted to make this statement because I have loads of friends that think differently than I do. They abhor the word feminist. Many of those friends suggested people should be quiet and stop complaining after the election.

Ummm . . . No.  I still love you, but No.

That's not what I do. It actually triggers warning bells in my head when people tell me to be quiet. That usually means I'm on the right track. I speak for women who can't speak for themselves. I speak for women who are tied to and dependent on good-old-boys - - the women who grew up being good girls and feel it's better to be ladylike than to have a dissenting opinion.

I've been reminded of how easily things change when we operate under the "might makes right" philosophy.

This magazine lives between my Kings James Bible
 and my Harry Potter books. I like to stay well-rounded.

I don't live in an echo chamber. 

I do the hard work of hashing out differences with people who are not like-minded. It's dangerous and insulting to stereotype people who disagree with me, believing they're universally racist or misogynist. That's overly simplistic and not at all accurate.

I'm one of the progressive liberals who heard the rumblings of discontent from secret Trump supporters. I still believed Clinton was the better choice and that meant she would be elected.

Some of my friends can't afford healthcare. Some of them believed voting Clinton into office would open the gates to Hell. I read an article written by a Muslim woman of color who voted for Trump explaining that she took the risk that the people wouldn't let him act on the hyperbolic statements he made during his campaign. She wasn't making it financially and was anti-establishment.

These are my questions: Who is the establishment now? Have we killed decency and equality hoping that things won't spin terribly out of control? 

I hope not.

I hope Trump and his team work furiously through this dark night and astonish us all with their plans for unification and progress.

That's where I'm putting my hope. More practically, just in case the hyperbolic and hateful promises Trump made actually happen, I'm preparing for battle.

When I started studying feminism seriously, I was presented with the old guard feminists who wanted to work within the system as it was to improve the status of women. There was another group that believed the current system was built on flawed ideas and needed to be burnt to the ground and reformed.

I tended to side with the old guard. I was young, peaceful, and hopeful. The unfortunate side effect of my own country electing a man who has sexually assaulted women (among other things) is that I'm reconsidering whether or not this system provides what we need.

The only thing I'm sure of, is that this is NOT the time to be quiet. If anything, I've been too quiet.

Poetry and lyrics can crystallize ideas. Here is a gem that amplifies what I'm currently feeling:

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
    purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

--Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words


  1. Your post makes me want to ROOOOOAAAAAAR!!! Huuhhh, that feels better. Rachel, you words are FIERCE and energising and I LOVE them. I'll be reading alot more of them. C x

    1. That's exactly the kind of solidarity I've been seeking. Thanks for commenting :)

  2. Rachel, I am glad to read this post. For now, I'm still quietly untangling the emotions and thoughts I'm feeling around the whole thing. And I also hope that, as you said, "Trump and his team work furiously through this dark night and astonish us all with their plans for unification and progress." Yes. And I loved the poem you shared-so poignant. Thank you!

    1. Makes me happy that it brought you something good. I was looking anywhere I could for the positive in the days leading up to this post. I finally just wrote what I needed to find. :)


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