As I shared on a previous blog, I mostly stayed off of social media for many months over this past year. As our political climate heated up, so did our Facebook feeds. I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to spend so much time dwelling in the rage and upset and sometimes hate that I saw posted online, from both sides. For many years I was part of a movement called “The Sufficiency Movement.” It was a group that practiced “being enough.” Our thoughts are incredibly powerful and shape how we view our world. If we choose a scarcity mindset, what we will see all around us is what’s missing, what we lack, what we don’t have. In the practice of choosing a sufficiency mindset, we focused on believing we are enough. We pointed out the constant reminders from media and corporations that we need something more than what we currently have in order to be okay (prettier, thinner, more wealthy, etc.). We practiced gratitude for what is currently so in our lives.
It may sound simple, but to really embrace this for myself every single day was not so simple. As a Harvard graduate who speaks three languages (however rusty they may be at this point), I often felt that staying home with my children was NOT enough. I did a lot of work to disentangle stories in my head about the choices I made as I became a parent. I used to joke that I would be the working mom and my husband would be a stay-at-home dad. But is that really what I wanted? Would that really be the best choice for our family? Or is that me rebelling against conversations I saw unfolding in our American culture? These were the questions I had to ask myself. It was never an easy choice for me, and I struggled with that choice for much of the past decade. In January 2016 I can remember finally mentally and emotionally choosing the life I had physically chosen back in September 2006. The rest of that time I dabbled in conversations about what I “should” have also been doing, or where I “could” be right now if I had chosen a different career path than mother and homemaker. What I learned is that there is no power or peace of mind in the gap that exists between “this is where I am” and “that is where I should be.” That’s not reality, and it’s not a fun side trip to the land of make-believe. It’s where doubt and worry and dissatisfaction dwell. The fact is: YOU ARE WHERE YOU ARE. I AM WHERE I AM. Pretending that anything different is the case is just madness and will lead us all astray.
Here’s the good news: when we acknowledge where we actually are, we can make a plan to move somewhere different—if that’s what we actually want.
When things got so heated with last year’s election, I remember feeling sadness that this is where we were as a country. Sadness because it seemed that that which divided us had grown so much larger and louder than that which united us. When I spend time online among my “friends” I see many different sides to many different conversations. Sometimes I see sides that I don’t really like of people that I do really love. It’s hard to un-see that. I found myself feeling angry when someone I like would post something I really didn’t like. I found myself saying things like “I bet he voted for _____” when I saw someone do or say something that felt offensive to me. I started creating political divides with people when they were actually just exercising their right to free speech and their right to vote for whomever they chose to vote for. I stopped liking the way that I was viewing people. I felt healthier in my own mind, body, and life when I got offline and stopped watching so much political news (although it’s hard to escape it entirely) and got back into the real world.
It hit me one day in March of this year when I went to pick up the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby trophies. I had been communicating via phone and email with a woman at the shop. She was very kind and helpful, and I was a grateful customer. We passed each other as I was entering the shop and she was heading out on her lunch break. She greeted me very pleasantly as she walked by. I did the same in return. And right then I understood why I had taken a break from social media starting with the election: I LOVE PEOPLE.
Here’s the thing: I actually love humans of all kinds. I bet you do too. I love my fellow Americans. I love people who live in other countries too. I love them so much that I studied two other languages as my college major. I wanted to be able to travel and communicate with people in other countries. I love the illegal immigrants that I taught English to way back when I was 22. I know how much they sacrificed to come to this country for a better life. It was my honor to teach them what “PB&J” and “mesclun greens” meant so they could move from dish washer to salad maker at the restaurant where we worked. I love immigrants with green cards. One of them raised me into the woman I am today and instilled me with the belief that I could be anything I wanted to be. I love people who have wildly different religious beliefs than I do. Some of them are in my family. I love people who have different political ideas than I do. I welcome them into my home and share wine, tea, and conversation with them. I love Veterans. I was raised by a veteran and I’m grateful for his service to our country even though it wasn’t his choice. I love people in the LGBTQ community. I have some of my fondest memories with people who fall into that group. I grew up seeing people of ALL abilities, as my father worked with these people. I grew to love them even though as a 5-year-old I didn’t fully understand. I love people from different races, nationalities, and economic backgrounds. These people are my neighbors. They teach my children. They fix my car. They are some of my dearest friends. They are me.
What concerns me the most about what is happening in our country right now is this: we seem to be trading in a love of humanity and our unity as a country for a world that is filled with hate and divide and oppression. I’m very clear that not everybody likes people as much as I do. Not everyone chooses Smurfette or Rainbow Bright for their Halloween costume; some of us prefer the Grim Reaper. That’s cool. But what if, moment by moment, we all chose to love our neighbors? What if we chose to love those “friends” online who are sharing views that make us cringe? What if we chose, even just for a moment, to love that person that we could very easily hate right now? I’ve heard it said that, energetically and vibrationally, love is more powerful than hate. It will win EVERY SINGLE TIME in a showdown. We live in a culture that is serving up hate, division and negative energy on a platter. What will WE, THE PEOPLE choose to foster in our country? What will we consciously add energy to, day in and day out? Will we feed the healthy cells? Or will we feed the cancerous ones? Moment by moment, day by day, we have a choice. That is our right as Americans.
This post is dedicated to my mom and dad. I’m so grateful for you both. ❤️