On feeling deeply


I feel more deeply now that Clark is here. Many of you possess this superpower without having kids. You are next-level feelers and empathizers. I salute you, and assure you that I don't think this ability belongs only to parents. Yes, I've dedicated much of my professional and personal time to social justice but I have to be straight with you, it wasn't because of a particularly deep human connection but rather a vague framework of and belief in justice and fairness and equality. But Clark came along, and now when the newspapers show photos of babies who died from sarin gas or from drowning trying to flee their country or starving from government-created famine, I see Clark's face. I see his little chubby hands grabbing up for me and I hear my whispers that I'll always keep him safe, always. I think about what it must be like to know with absolute certainty that I won't be able to keep that promise. I think about not being able to feed him or protect him from violence. I see his innocent eyes twinkle and picture them looking at me as bombs drop or the boogymen come. Many of you have always been able to see this, to feel this, but it's a new experience for me. Whether I want to or not, I feel everything so deeply and painfully these days.

Which is why I call bullshit on the border wall and the refugee ban and the lack of empathy and compassion being broadcast from the highest levels of government in our country. You can't take military action in Syria and pretend it's to save Syrian babies, and then deny them and their families refuge. You can't cut off foreign aid because you believe that American babies are worthier than non-American babies. You can't slash social services and health care because you believe poor babies deserve less than middle-class or rich babies. You can't make the choice for a woman about whether or not she even has a baby.

Today, I stand with #womenforsyria. I mourn for the mothers who can't protect their babes in Syria and also in Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia and South Sudan and here in the United States. I mourn for the mothers in my own country who think that these other babies deserve their starvation, trauma and fear, who don't yet feel the tug of sisterhood imploring them to act with compassion. I mourn for the damage that nationalism continues to inflict on our world and our neighbors.

I've always lost sleep over "world news".  But now my mind plays a reel of Clark's face in every desperate situation, and then it's the burning anger when I think how if he were a different race, religion, from a different country or born to another family... the world might turn a blind eye to his suffering. That is as unacceptable for my baby as it is for babies and women and men all over the world.

Photo above of my beautiful, smiley, delicious baby boy who is already eight months old. Parenthood is a time warp, and I feel like time is slipping away from me like never before. Every day I feel more urgency to not only write, but to share, to search for common ground, to tell truth, to dismantle shame and to let light shine in. So, less editing, more publishing. Maybe.

Precious lives

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It's been a tough few weeks in the world, but I know that every week brings with it violence that is often not reported, or at least not reported here in the U.S. My heart is heavy for those who suffer violence, for the black men who have died at the hands of police, for the police officers who died at the hands of cowardly snipers, for those who died in horror at their safe haven in Orlando, for victims of terrorism in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Baghdad and countless of other places in countries I've never been to, for the women and girls around the world who are used as pawns in bloody wars, for those who face physical or emotional violence every day just because of who they are or love. Others will say and do more than I can right now, but I will continue to hold space and light for those suffering today.

thanks, gloria

My mom and I met Gloria Steinem. What?! If I didn't have this super blurry, crazy photo you wouldn't even believe me, would you?

Earlier this month, we stood outside in the cold for an hour waiting in line to see Gloria speak as part of the fantastic Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. The topic was β€œThe Progression of Feminism: Where are we going?” Good question, eh? We listened and whooped and nudged each other and soaked up some serious wisdom from a serious role model. Closing in on her 80th birthday, Gloria was just as captivating and well-spoken and inspiring as ever.

She lit a fire in me to write and speak out and advocate. I just need to figure out how to do it. This post was originally nine rambling and far-reaching paragraphs long, trying to cover everything from leaning in to fighting double standards to reclaiming childbirth and whether or not to take your husband's name or how to correct the leadership vacuum in Fortune 50 companies. Maybe a bit too much to tackle in one post? Yes, I think so.

Here's to college internships at feminist organizations, to reminiscing about protest marches in DC, to self-publishing as a feminist act and to Ms. Gloria Steinem. As I continue to voraciously consume essays and articles and books and tweets, I'm re-energized and reactivated.

So thanks for the reminder, Gloria.

If you're interested...
Makers profile on Gloria Steinem
Feministing, one of the best feminist blogs out there
The most spot-on article I've read about Beyonce & feminism (worth it, if you have some time)
Ellen Page asks, "Why are people so reluctant to say they're feminists?"
And a great interview with Gloria from a few years ago

this week

4.09 miles for those impacted at the 4:09 hour mark in Monday's Boston Marathon.

There is nothing presently to say about the events in Boston this week, either those past and those continuing to unfold. My heart aches and I wring my hands, at once trying to absorb all of the news I can while also distancing myself in order to stifle my growing anxiety. Like so many of you out there, I feel paralyzed by this violence and the fear. I want to find a way to acknowledge the heartache and destruction, to honor the heroes and the acts of kindness, to recognize the terror that people all over the globe face every day, to not allow the presence of suffering elsewhere to diminish anyone's particular suffering because suffering and hardship is not a contest with a winner, to not jump to conclusions, to be informed but not obsessed, to be kind and fair, to seek peace, to deal with anger and fear and shock in ways that promote love not resentment, to be silent and thoughtful, to speak out with light and hope, to find a path through these contradictions that can help make us whole again.

In the absence of anything concrete to do, I will be sending as much healing energy out into the universe as I can. I will run a half marathon this Sunday with the Boston Marathon in my heart. I will think before I speak and try not to fuel the fear-based frenzy creeping in the media and online worlds. I will pray for peace.

Also- "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."

oh atlanta

I spent most of last week down in Atlanta for Habitat for Humanity's National Affiliate Conference. It's the same conference that I presented at a few years ago. The difference that two years makes! In 2011, I attended by myself as a presenter and as a Board member. Our local Habitat affiliate was building a few houses a year. Last week, in 2013, I attended as my affiliate's Director of Development and traveled to Atlanta with seven of my colleagues. Last year, we built ten homes and broke ground on nine more. This year we will complete at least fifteen homes and break ground on an additional twenty. Things are changing, friends, and it is exciting.

I'm lucky that my position is one that constantly requires me to keep an eye on our larger mission, on why we build. Even though I tell this story to others on a daily basis, gatherings like the national conference still offer such an important reminder of the big picture. I returned feeling inspired and well-equipped and ready for action. I also returned feeling totally gushy about my coworkers and the opportunity we have to do important work with people we really like.

And now for a few non-conference photos from Atlanta :)

I went for a windy, wandering run through Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta.

A few of us stayed an extra day to soak up the southern sunshine and Mexican food.

A fancy blue tropical drink while we watched Atlanta spin by us in the circular, revolving Sun Dial Bar and lounge.

I'm thinking of reformulating things around here, adding a few bits and generally revamping this blog's mission statement. If 2012 was a banner year for major life changes, then 2013 is the year of settling into new roles and plunging ahead fearlessly. Stay tuned.