The Geography of Hope

Hellllooooo friends.  Apologies for the LONG silence. My busy life got busier and I gave myself to it – but through it all – this blog has been calling me – whispering in my ear and wondering when I would reappear to set my thoughts in motion.  That day has arrived and here we are.

I have a new year tradition that I’ve cherished for many years.  Here it is. 

I spend as much of the day as possible (on January 1st) in my art room – the room that my boys once shared with a bunk bed in the corner and glow in the dark stars on the ceiling.  Now, the shelves that held their school books hold fabric, art books and photos, the closet that housed their clothing is filled with more fabric, beads, handmade paper and all manner of art supplies.  There’s also a shelf with boxes of letters, old photos, birthday cards from years past and a collection of quotes, poems and articles that I’ve found inspiring. Every year a new box is added to the collection.

First thing I do is clean the room – put away scraps of fabric from projects now done, change the blades on my rotary cutters, throw away dried out markers and paints – making way for new projects.  Then, I take out one of the beautiful pieces of paper in my collection and consider my resolutions which – have – for the most part been variations on the same theme which I will leave to your imagination.  My favorite part of this day, I save for last.

I sit on the couch (where the bunk bed once stood) surrounded by the boxes of letters, photos and cards and revisit my life.

There’s something about holding a card, written by a grandparent who is long gone from this world but living in me still, a mother’s day missive written in large letters by a small hand that was still learning to write, an old article about the importance of women friends that somehow felt important enough to keep, a letter from a childhood friend, a neighbor’s child, an old boyfriend, another boyfriend who became my husband, a faded and torn photo of a young woman who grew up to be my grandmother, notes from my parents, an original recipe on an old tattered index card and and a tiny black & white photo of our first puppy – that remind me in a concrete way of who I am and how I got here.  There’s always something that hasn’t appeared in years – something or someone I’d forgotten about – a surprise that sends me on a quest to reconnect with a person or a part of myself that slipped from view.

It’s an indulgent and luxurious tradition that seems to be “all about me.” But, at the end of the day, I always find myself thinking about this big, sad, beautiful world and how I want to engage with it.  I’ve pulled out a number of quotes and poems to share with you in the weeks and months ahead – pieces from the boxes – my past and now our collective future.  Here’s one to start with – written on a scrap of paper in handwriting that looks like mine from about 20 years ago.

We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.  For it can be a means of reassuring oursleves of our sanity as creatures, as part of the geography of hope.

Wallace Stegner

Thinking metaphorically, there are many ways to “drive to the edge” of “that wild country” and it’s different for each of us. Whatever your traditions, rituals and customs, I hope that in this new year, you will find ways to reconnect with your own geography of hope.

Ideas • Information • Action

I never would have imagined that things would become more divisive, negative and difficult – but all those things are true.  It feels surreal.  At a rally not long ago, a young woman was sandwiched in a sign that said on the front “UGH, Where Do I Even Start?!” and on the back was an enormous list of all the things that have/are happening that seem impossible in our so-called democracy.  Here are some ways to engage:

Daily Action is still going strong making civic engagement easy with one action sent to you each day.

If you get the NYTimes briefing every morning or if you don’t but want a clear sense of what’s happening every day check out Wake Up To Politics by 15 year old Gabe Fleisher.

Want to join the Department of Arts and Culture between January 25-February 4 in creating a People’s State of the Union?  Check out their toolkit, ritual and action.

peoplesstateofunion

Grab Your Wallet is up to date with a list of companies who support Trump’s agenda and contribute to his personal wealth.

What to expect from Congress in January from our friends at Indivisible.

Upset about the budget?  Here’s some suggestions from One Thing You Can Do.

Laugh out Loud

While this is not the tone that I generally strive for in this blog – this holiday video by Liz Plank, made me laugh out loud and immediately feel so much better…I hope you enjoy it.

Hope is Evident

I have been amazed by the #MeToo movement.  Finally, a tipping point has brought down many powerful men. But – I’ve also wondered about all of the women who are not in high profile positions, who can not speak out because they can not afford to lose their jobs – janitors, nurses, workers at farms, factories, restaurants and hotels. Then, yesterday, in my inbox, came a note from Go Fund Me with a link to the Legal Defense Fund’s Time’s Up Campaign. Raising money to make sure that all working environments are free from abuse, discrimination and assault – supporting the less privileged. Check out the recent article in the NY Times about this effort. #TimesUp and #TimesUpNow

TimesUp

And finally,

Happy New Year.  May 2018 bring a better world for ALL.

Here’s to you, here’s to us – all in it together.