Just another women's march post

I didn't attend a women's march this last weekend, but I wanted to.

I spent the day with a dear friend who has encountered some rough patches in her life over the last six months. We spent the day hunkered inside talking and eating cookies while our kids played. We ate tacos together, and our kids asked (again) if we were all related. I wasn't at a march because a friend needed someone to sit with her, and even though the day was tinted with a bit of sadness as we acknowledged all she has so bravely endured, it was a good day, one of healing.

But if I had gone to a march, I would've waved signs, held hands with my friends, and shouted loudly.

I wanted to march as a way to protest the hateful rhetoric--particularly towards women--that fueled our new president's campaign.

I wanted to march because sexual assault is as common as white bread on grocery store shelves. I wanted to march for Kelsey, a woman I went to high school with, who was beaten and then murdered by her husband a few years ago. I wanted to march for the Hispanic woman who showed up at a shelter I volunteered at, her hands shaking, her kids crying, her face red and streaked with tears. I wanted to march for that one time back in 9th grade when I said no to a boy, but he did not respect my no. I wanted to march to show support for the millions of women in our country whose no is not respected.


Winter rhythms

Today, the people of Nebraska are emerging from their homes after an ice storm halted daily commutes in the majority of our state. Due to the weather, I've been confined to the treadmill for too long. I was finally able to run outside this morning, but it was a slow and slick five miles.

I had to watch my step more than normal and kick the pace down to one minute slower per mile. This kind of running can be a bit torturing for someone like me who likes to just zone out and fall into an 8:30/mile pace. It was good for me, though, to slow down.

I could feel the cold air sting my lungs while the sun provided a welcome warmth on my face. To help slow my pace this morning, I downloaded an acoustic playlist on Spotify. It was slow and deliberate music. The kind of music one listens to while drifting off to sleep. Throughout the five miles, I noticed things like the way the ice glimmered like diamonds on the sidewalk--like that old Tom Waits song, "Diamonds on my windshield...tears from heaven." I noticed the birds and their warbles overhead. It seemed like ages since I last heard the birds. I noticed the way the grass bent in submission to the ice, a sort of bowing to its power. I noticed how quiet my neighborhood is after the morning rush. I noticed the crisp smell of winter giving way to the damp of thawing--the earthy smell of wet dirt.

One of the reasons why I love the Midwest so much is because of the seasons. There are, for the most part, four distinct seasons here. We have crisp autumns, frigid winters, rainy springs, and fiery hot summers. We Midwesterners have developed activities and rhythms for each season. During the winter, houses are shut up, curtains are pulled closed, and we all break out our favorite sweaters. We pour big cups of tea and stir pots of hearty soup. In the Midwest, winter produces a kind of slowing down.


I Have a Dream, 54 years later

Today is MLK Jr. day, and thanks to the ice storm, everyone in my house had a day off from school. (Side bar: I'm disenchanted with our town's main school district that serves 9,000 diverse students and my community college system that doesn't honor MLK Jr. day as a federal holiday.) So, we listened to Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech as a family. I've listened to the speech and read and taught Dr. King's writings many times, but today the speech came alive for me in a way it hadn't before. There were a few sections in particular that really jumped out at me, so for my daily writing, I decided to pull these from the speech and then write about them:
"I have a dream that [...] one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today."
My family looks like a picture of racial progress: two white parents, a brown son, and a black daughter. This fact is not lost on me. While we listened to a part of the speech today, my daughter stood by my side, holding my hand. Her dark brown hand rested comfortably in my white hand, and my eyes filled with tears. The fact that my family can even exist comfortably is evidence of progress, but as Dr. King said in 1963, there is still work to be done.

"This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism."


Saying goodbye to Sam

We had to say goodbye to our family dog, Sampson, yesterday. He was 10 years old, and his death caught us all off guard. Just a few weeks before he passed, he was tearing around the backyard with the kids. But at the start of this week, I could tell something was up with him.
Sam--lounging around last week on the arm of the couch
He laid around more than usual; he was slow to get up; and his food dish sat full and untouched. On Wednesday, I came home after my morning run expecting Sam to greet me at the door, tail wagging like he normally does. I opened my back door, and there was no dog to greet me. I hollered his name and listened for the jingle of the tags on his collar, but still...nothing. One of his favorite spots to go when we're gone is in the basement to lay snuggled on the bed, burrowed in my grandma's quilt. That's where he was, but when I called for him again from the doorway of the spare room in the basement, he only looked at me and then rested his head on his paws. I sat next to him, softly stroking his head. "What's wrong, bud?" I whispered. "Do you want a treat?"


Book chats with Danielle: Present Over Perfect

I just finished the book, Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist. Shauna was a guest on a podcast I listened to a while back, and listening to her talk about this book was compelling because I've suffered from a habit of hustle for most of my adult life.
The subtitle of the book really gives the story away--it essentially narrates her journey from a frantic way of living to a more sustainable, joy-filled life. At the end, Niequest writes,
"[...] I was on a dangerous track, where I was giving the best of myself to people and things 'out there,' while the tender inner core of my life and home were increasingly stretched, pressurized, brittle. And now they're not. Now the most beautiful, well-tended, truly nurtured and nourished parts of my life are the innermost ones, not the flashy public ones. That's just as it should be" (228-229).
This quote really is the heart of the book--how and why we must nurture ourselves.

I think this book likely speaks to many women since the expectation of women in our society is to do all and be all for all. For me, this book came five years too late. In my mid-twenties, I battled with these same pressures and eventually traded my frantic pace of life for a slower one when my husband and I welcomed our second child into our home.

There are ideas from the book that I'll be exploring in the days to come: Which emotional resources of mine have been depleted? How did they become so? Who did God create me to be? How do I fully embrace this? What am I attempting to outrun?

For the most part, though, it was a chore to even finish the book.


Technology: Setting boundaries to avoid gluttony

It's Friday, which means a long run day for me. About a year ago, I added The Sorta Awesome Show podcast to my listening line-up on long runs. Today's episode was all about technology and the ways it helps and hurts us--a topic I've thought of often. While I fall into the digital native label because of my millennial status, my family wasn't quick to adopt all the technologies.

I vividly remember when my parents got their first mobile phone: a car phone in a bag sometime in the mid to late 90s. I was mystified that my mom could make a call FROM HER CAR.

We even had a computer during my elementary school days, but I don't think we had internet at home until I was in junior high. My small Catholic elementary school got a tiny computer lab when I was somewhere around fifth or sixth grade, and it was a big deal. We played Oregon Trail and learned basic keyboarding skills, but I don't ever remember doing anything on the internet until junior high.

The technology I really loved, though, was my stereo complete with a fancy cassette deck. Music has always been my thing. I know the pain of rewinding and pushing play at just the right time to listen to a song over again. When I became interested in song lyrics, I often would listen to a 10-second snippet of a song, pause it, and then scribble down what I thought were the lyrics. Anybody else do this?!? Those were the good old days of technology.