Culture is like Traffic

I haven’t had a car for over ten years – I gave up my 1986 Volvo when I moved to Seattle and have been reliant on public transit ever since – but even I know how bad traffic has gotten in my city in the last few years. I mostly know because everyone is constantly complaining about it. Public transit is subject to traffic, too, though, so I also experience the rush-hour-levels at 1:30 on Sunday afternoons or at 8 o’clock on a Monday night. I was thinking about this on the ride home recently; it’s actually not that we “experience” traffic, we are traffic. And the same is true for culture.  Continue reading Culture is like Traffic

How to Be Healthy: The New Uncertainty Principle

plastic-spoons-and-forksI’ve been doing a fiendish amount of research into health lately. Many of the people I’ve encountered in the irksomely named health and wellness “space” got there because of a personal health crisis. They had a crash-and-burn-level health problem that forced them to quit their sugar-laden, sleep-deprived ways and start respecting their bodies. I started this journey (another irksome word, sorry!) because I was freaked about getting sick after the second of my two parents was diagnosed with a serious cancer before age 60. And, in the process of discovering some pretty great resources that have been able to answer some of my questions, instead of getting well – or, better than I was, which wasn’t catastrophically ill – I got sick.

Continue reading How to Be Healthy: The New Uncertainty Principle

I think a title is supposed to go here.

black whiteI am tired. I am tired of asking for help. It’s not the vulnerability that’s difficult for me – my nature gives me no choice but to be embarrassingly and shamefully vulnerable almost all the time. It’s the astounding lack of follow through on the part of others. I’ve been thinking over and over how to follow the advice to writers out there – how to create good content that people actually want and need, how to find an agent, how to land a book deal, etc. – and I just can’t do it. None of it feels right. I can’t get any of it to work. So, I guess this blog is just for me, then. I guess, after all, even though one of my deepest desires is to write for others (I mean, I write “for myself,” too, but that’s called journaling, and not at all the same as what I think every Writer actually wants), maybe all this is just for me. Continue reading I think a title is supposed to go here.

Can We Please Talk About How We’re Talking About Stuff?

typewriter-keysWe hear a lot about how narratives are powerful, that if you want to move someone, tell them a story, that we are creatures of story. As a writer, I’d like to eat all that up. But our culture is rapidly composting story into gossip and substance into insincerity. Journalists claim to “go where the story takes them;” what if that story is of a dangerous hate-spitting buffoon who doesn’t even really want to be president but gets himself elected anyway? Is there no moral obligation to do more than repeat ad nauseum atrocious and odious things he does and says, thereby normalizing them and desensitizing the public to them? Continue reading Can We Please Talk About How We’re Talking About Stuff?

The National Suicide Hotline

friendshipDoes this post look familiar? “Would at least three of my Facebook friends please copy and repost? I am doing this to prove that someone is always listening. #SuicideAwareness 1-800-273-8255.” It’s been making the rounds on Facebook lately and it’s heartening to see that many people care about those the incoming government is planning to leave behind. So I mean absolutely no blame or shame with this post. From someone who has attempted to call and use the National Suicide Hotline, you need to know that encouraging people to call it is not the most helpful thing you could be doing. This is a difficult time of year for many people and things are about to get a lot rougher in general in the coming months, but this is why we need to do much more and much different than directing people in mortal pain to talk to a stranger (who may or may not be available anyway). Continue reading The National Suicide Hotline

Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era

foot-stompThe only response I have to America’s election results last Tuesday is this. Those who are against everything Trump stands for can show it by looking out for all who this election has just made much more vulnerable. On some level, who that is is obvious; these are people whom Trump has specifically targeted – pretty much everyone but straight, cis, wealthy, white men (which, no, is not “just as sexist and racist” as Trump. If I see only white men doing something, it’s not sexist and racist for me to call out white men; it’s speaking the truth. Also, reverse racism is not a thing and reverse sexism is not a thing. It’s the epitome of privilege to demand that the term sexism or racism be applied equally without fighting for actual equality among all). But, really, if we truly mean it when we say “we have to look out for each other,” we need to start paying attention to those who are silenced, endangered or invisibilized when: Continue reading Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era

Vulnerability, stop one: to breed or not to breed

angry-babyIt’s been a few months since I’ve written anything here; my last post attempted to wrestle with the loss of a friend, not through death but through abandonment, the second “lifelong” best friend to tell me I’m not good enough. I’m angry, I’m tired of being set up and I want to rant. But the refusal to be vulnerable, to admit our fears (outsourcing them as blame or shame instead) and to strive to remain connected and responsible to each other is, among other things, exactly why this country is so close to electing an extremely dangerous man as our president.

So I’m doing a new thing with this blog, which I’ve retitled Burning By Heart. Vulnerability is hard; anger is hard; fear is hard; change is hard. My hope is to explore the connection between vulnerability and fear, to strive to heal my own anger and to invite those who are willing – who think listening, carefully forming opinions and learning is more important than asserting the right to think whatever you want – into the kinds of conversations we seem unable as a broader culture to have but really need to. I’m going to start with a raw topic for me and, since I’m not claiming to be perfect, I’m unable to talk about this without getting at least a little mad. Continue reading Vulnerability, stop one: to breed or not to breed

If No One Died, Can I Still Be Sad?

parting waysI have, these past several silent weeks, been searching for a way to process grief. Most of what I’m finding follows a back-and-forth formula of the dehumanizing expectations of emotionally stunted and immature Western culture and the reality of those who have lost a loved one. The bit about our culture being emotionally damaging and even abusive is validating, but the large majority of articles I’ve found on grief are not helpful. No one has died recently in my life. I am mourning the loss of three core friendships. And our society has so discarded or misused the word “friend” that, if you find it a struggle to get over the ending of a friendship, you’re weak, “too” sensitive, codependent and just need to get new friends. Continue reading If No One Died, Can I Still Be Sad?

Sad Lady and the Halfway Point

 

wandering2016, the year I was warned would be the hardest year of my life, is half gone today.

Should I think of it as the top of this gnarly crag and it’s all downhill from here? It’s been harder for me to hike down a mountain than up it; I’m not only shaky-tired from the climb up, but my jello joints can’t withstand gravity’s suck nearly as easily as they brace for my muscles’ pull against it. Continue reading Sad Lady and the Halfway Point

Mental Health Awareness Month, Part 2

How about holding out hands instead of pointing fingers?
How about holding out hands instead of pointing fingers?

Last week, I saw a post by a mental-health advocacy Facebook page: a short video featuring “shirtless hunks” (this is how the video referred to them) – soldiers who’d returned home and lost fellows soldiers to suicide. “More vets commit suicide every year than die in wars,” the short video said, and then called for compassion and “action.” I commented, protesting the objectifying language, the use of the word “commit” and the frustrating vagueness of the unspecified call to do something. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month, Part 2