Hi. My name is Annis, and I’m a hope-and-positivity-aholic. But I won’t lie. These last ten days have thrown me down. Down is foreign to me, as foreign as a speck in my eye, as foreign as Greek road signs. Down is heavier than a lead suit.
I gave myself a day to wallow. I sobbed in disbelief and sorrow. And I took the defeat personally. While out for a walk, I scanned the faces of approaching hikers, wondering whether they had voted against “me.”
My daughters phoned. They happened to be together in D.C. that week. “We just wanted to see our mama,” one said. Then, the three of us sat on Face Time, shaking our heads, moaning our disappointment, trying to fathom what had just happened.
On Day Two I started doing the things that usually get me through a crisis. I talked to Judy about my feelings and fears, spoke with like-minded friends, and wrote in my journal. I walked, meditated, saw an inspiring movie, surrendered to the power of poetry. My coping mechanisms started to work. The gloom began to lift – but, as my mom, Ms. Ruthie, would say, as “slow as molasses in January.”
Donnel posted a poem by David Whyte on Facebook, “Despair”. A couple of safe Facebook groups, in which people wrote of their fears and feelings, shared their stories, and propped each other up with encouragement and validation, sustained me.
New friends from the summer writing workshop, Glint of Light, began to share poetry. Zia, one of our Canadian friends reached out first with a poem by John O’Donohue, which she offered as a blessing. Its beautiful ending, “May your soul calm, console, and renew you.” And soon more of the group wrote, sharing the poems of Neruda and Piercy, and telling of their own feelings. Each post became a soothing balm for my heart.
Time with my local writing groups, my buddies, buoyed me up with their words and friendship -- and a bit of wine and cheese and homemade cookies.
And finally, I am able to write without ranting. Ten days. Ten days passed before I could sit down and be that hope-and-positivity-aholic again. I sure missed that woman!
As horrible as these past days have been, I see actions that send me back to HAPA-land. People are talking. Conversations about the government, the political system, and the fact we have become complacent and lazy, leaving the heavy lifting to others. Groups are mobilizing to create change, long-needed change, at the local and state levels. Our attention has been grabbed. School boards, city councils, state and US congressional representatives will hear our words.
Folks are saying, “I will be bolder. I will stand up for other people. I will be a safe person for anyone who is harassed or afraid or needs a safe harbor.”
A small and commonplace thing, the safety pin, has taken on new meaning, has become a symbol of solidarity, love, sanctuary. A middle school teacher reported one of her students asked about the safety pin she wore. “It shows I‘m a safe person and here to help anyone who needs it.”
Her explanation opened the door for him to tell her he was hungry, his parents hadn’t filled out the necessary reduced lunch application, and he had no money. Now, this teacher began to understand him. She had an idea why her student was behind in his work, didn’t complete assignments. She bought his lunch. Within days, he appeared with the forms.
Clearly, the safety pin is not merely – as someone in the blogosphere wrote – “a way for White people to make themselves feel better.” It’s a signal of solidarity, compassion, and love for others. It’s a small thing that can have an impact.
Standing strong and together, we can make it through these frightening times, through inevitable upheaval and chaos. Let our enthusiasm reign, our voices be heard, and our good intentions transform into actions that support and uphold each other. Commitment. Conversation. Hope. Positivity.
~ xoA ~