Negative Hands

“I was here.”

Recently, I caught a minute or two of a TED Talk in which the speaker was discussing “negative hands”. I was really confused by this, having never heard the term before. It kind of sounds like some form of abuse to me.

But the speaker explained that back when early man started doing art on cave walls, one of the first innovations was to place your hand on a wall, then spit paint over and around it, and when you removed your hand, you left a “negative hand” painting on the wall.

I’ve been looking at photographs of negative hands for decades. They always make me wish I could go to the site and touch the hand, while imagining the artist placing his or her hand in the same spot. (It’s a wish I would never fulfill, though, because I wouldn’t want to damage the work.)

What an amazing feeling that would be. Standing right where the ancient artist stood. Touching her, his or their hand. That would feel like some sort of time travel conversation. Artist, in a faint, distant voice: “I was here.” Me: “I know! Thank you! Lovely to meet you!”

The motivation for putting negative hands on a rock wall is fairly simple to understand. I’m sure that for as long as there have been humans on this planet, we have all wanted to make our mark on the world. We all want to say that we were here. It’s as primal an instinct as an animal marking its territory.

We do this in so many ways. We create art. We tag walls. We name things after ourselves if we can, and after others if we haven’t quite “made it”. We write. We invent things. We make scientific discoveries. We pass on our genetic code. We mark graves. We teach others. We build things. We try to nurture and lift up the next generation so that they’ll remember us. We do good works. More and more of us, unfortunately, prefer to live in infamy.

We are all mortals, and so we reach for immortality in creative ways. But like it or not, it will be time to go for each one of us eventually. Some of us will be remembered much longer than others. We will hope those memories are fond. Some will be remembered without really being remembered, as their innovations morph into common household objects that get taken for granted, or when their descendants display similar quirks, or when their art is labeled, “artist unknown.”

Whether we succeed or not in making our mark, I’m glad that we are driven to try. It’s that instinct that brings about change, and, hopefully, improvement. Change can bring about beauty as well as destruction, so we must learn to tread lightly.

I hope, dear readers, that your marks upon this world are positive ones. When all is said and done, that’s all that matters. Either way, I wish for you a life well-lived, because, yes indeed, you are here.

ARGENTINA Patagonia Cueva de las Manos Cave of the Hands. Prehistoric rock paintings of human hands in red black and orange 13 000 to 9 500 years old. Wouldn’t these people be stunned to know that their hands are now seen on the internet by more people then they imagined would ever exist?

Are you wondering what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner? How about my book, Notes on Gratitude? Place your orders now! (Or any other time, since we’re on the subject.) And… thanks!

Doing Something Small

You are planting seeds wherever you go.

Recently, a friend shared this meme with me, and it really resonated.

First of all, I hate time travel movies. They all seem so formulaic, and an easy out for most writers. Don’t like the plot corner you’ve painted yourself into? Then allow your character to time travel! Problem solved! Literary laziness is what that is.

And I do believe that Back to the Future was the first movie that ever infuriated me. You sit through the entire thing, and then… wait. What? I have to watch another movie to see what happens? Are you kidding me right now? If I’m only seeing 1/3 of a story, I should only have to pay for 1/3 of the movie ticket! I want a REFUND!!!

But this meme does bring up a good point. If we are all willing to accept that changing one tiny thing in a timeline can change the entire future of humanity, why do we find it so hard to believe that doing one little thing in the present might make all the difference for the future? If you can buy into one premise, you should be able to buy into the other. And yet so many of us don’t realize how much our actions and words and beliefs matter.

A few times in life I have been told by people that something I said, or some example that I set, really changed their point of view. They viewed that interaction as pivotal to some aspect of their lives, and in most cases I can’t even remember the conversation. I don’t see myself as an influencer. I can’t even picture that. And yet I have been told this more than once, and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Happy tears, because I’ve only been told about positive situations.

But that begs the question: Have I ever changed someone’s life for the worse? And would that person tell me if I had? What would that conversation look like? What would I say? What would I do? Would it be possible to fix it? Would it be too late?

Just like everyone else, I’ve had bad days. I’ve said mean things. I’ve been tired and/or depressed and/or felt defeated or defensive or scared to the point of not caring about someone else’s feelings. We aren’t always our best selves. But those moments can be pivotal, too.

To make up for these things, whether they be real or imagined, I do try to leave positive marks upon the earth. I try to do good deeds and make positive changes and reassure people and encourage them. I try to be a force for good.

But when all is said and done, none of us can ever know our true impact unless we’re told. Perhaps that’s why none of us can predict the future. We can’t even see within the range of our own sphere of influence, let alone outside of it.

That’s why it’s so important to be kind. Tread lightly. Whether you know it or not, you are planting seeds wherever you go.

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Living in a Liminal World

Because we don’t know what’s in store for us, people are starting to freak out.

Can you feel it? Everything is different now, and none of us can figure out where we are going. For the past 6 or 7 years, we’ve been in this transitional state, somewhere between the land of “How Things Used to Be” and the land of “God Only Knows What’s Coming.”

It’s an unsettling place to be. We seem to be spinning our wheels. We can’t get any traction. We can’t seem to move forward, but it’s impossible to go back. We’re on the verge of something. We’re on the brink. We’re passing through this ominous borderland where the ground is shifting beneath our feet and we’re unable to see what’s on the horizon. Who knows what the future holds? Everything seems so unexpected and random.

We are living in a Liminal World. I feel sorry for the younger generations, because this is all they’ve ever known.

liminal
adjective 

lim·i·nal | \ ˈli-mə-nᵊl \ 

1 : of, relating to, or situated at a sensory threshold : barely perceptible or capable of eliciting a response. // liminal visual stimuli 
2 : of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional. //in the liminal state between life and death.

So many things have happened that we never anticipated.

  • A worldwide pandemic that would become senselessly politicized and therefore rage on to kill millions.
  • People so rarely sign their own names that their signatures are being questioned.
  • An insurrection in our Nation’s Capital only slightly less shocking than the war of 1812.
  • The election of a president (thankfully for only one term) who bragged of his penis size while campaigning, talked of grabbing women’s pussies, and claimed that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and still be elected, and it turns out he was right.
  • We find ourselves teetering on the edge of WWIII.
  • A pandemically-induced employment deficit is giving workers negotiating power for the first time in living memory.
  • It is becoming increasingly evident that we’re destroying the planet, and yet we aren’t doing anything about it.
  • Billionaires are going to outer space rather than dealing with the problems right here on earth.
  • Conspiracy theorists are taken more seriously than scientists.
  • Bitcoin.
  • Social media has exposed our gullibility, ignorance, hate and violent tendencies.
  • People are forgetting how to read maps and analog clocks.
  • Teens no longer rush to get their driver’s licenses.

Do I sound like a grumpy old woman who no longer feels she fits in the world? Well, yeah, I’m that. But this is much bigger. It’s more all-encompassing. People are starting to freak out.

Personally, I’ve been functioning under a level of stress that’s so intense that I’ve kind of forgotten that it’s stress. It’s time to do something about that. It’s time to find some solid ground again. My stability needs to be restored. Liminality is not a state where I thrive.

The thing about living in a liminal world is that it provides infinite opportunities for change. Change is scary. But we can insist that change be positive, rather than allowing it to be infused with selfishness, greed, and hostility. There’s untapped potential, here, to make the world a better place. We can break all those rules that haven’t served us well, and create a new way of living. The problem is that we can’t seem to figure out what that would look like.

Any ideas? Because I’m not going to lie. I’ve got nothin’.

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First Post of the Year: We’ve Got This.

Change happens.

Happy 2022, everybody!

Well, here’s hoping, anyway. I can’t shake the feeling that there will be more drastic changes this year, globally, politically, environmentally, and pandemically. I suspect yours truly will be hard-pressed to keep up with those changes in this forum, but I promise to do my best to shower you with my usual quirky and unsolicited opinions.

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. I haven’t in decades. My failure rate is too high, and there’s no sense setting myself up for said failure right out of the calendrical gate. And this year will be unpredictable, so it’s a lot harder to make any sort of a plan to reach any sort of a goal.

Frankly, most of the time these days I’m just sitting around feeling nostalgic about those kinder, gentler times when I could give out free hugs to strangers. Those days are gone. So maybe my goal should be to see everyone as germ vectors, yes, but choose to like them anyway. I think that may still be achievable.

On the day I post this, Dear Husband and I should have been driving home from a romantic mini-break in Victoria, Canada. But we decided to cancel, because there’s no predicting if the borders will remain open, there’s no predicting how bad this Omicron variant will get, and one of our dogs is displaying some worrisome but vague health changes. None of us are getting any younger. So we chose to do the responsible thing and mini-break in place. We weren’t expecting that. But, you know, change happens.

I think many of us have a gut instinct to fear change. That stands to reason. Knowing what the heck was going on was critical for the survival of our cavewomen ancestors. Their ability to predict is what has allowed us all to be here. I’m sure that instinct to desire predictability was passed right along to us. Now we’re having to squelch that fear of change in exchange for a heaping helping of flexibility, and some of us are better at that than others.

But I’m feeling optimistic today, and looking back on the past couple of years it’s very evident that we’ve all been through a lot. Change has come at us at a furious rate. And yet, here we are. We’ve made it this far. It may not have been pretty, but we did it. And I suspect that will be the case this year, too, as long as this pandemic is taken seriously.

I suspect that there will be many times this year when I’m tempted to post just one sentence: “I’ve got nothing.” Coming up with topics for this blog is a constant challenge, especially when all travel plans and new experiences seem to teeter on the edge of cancellation. But as I said up above, I’ll do my best.

When all is said and done, that’s really the most any of us can do, isn’t it? I believe that the majority of us are really doing the best that we can under these difficult circumstances, and because of that, I choose to continue to have faith in us. We’ve got this. Just you wait and see.

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Feeling Relief Instead of Grief?

You are not alone in this.

I was talking to a friend about her mixed emotions after the death of one of her relatives. This guy had made her life a living hell when he was alive. He was an abusive alcoholic who created nothing but drama in the family. He left financial devastation in his wake, and he was quite adept at dishing out emotional abuse. The man was toxic. I found him to be a horrible human being.

Since his passing, my friend’s life has improved substantially. Her stress levels have decreased and her health has increased. She gets more sleep. Her self-confidence is much more evident now. I’m really happy for her.

Sadly, she feels a little guilty for being relieved that the guy is finally gone. He was, after all, a relative, and she did love him to a certain extent. But she doesn’t miss him at all.

I can totally relate to this. When my stepfather died, I wanted to throw a party. But of course I didn’t. People would have been horrified. They would have thought I was callous. They have no idea what the man had put me through. The world is a much better place without him in it.

Relationships are complicated, and therefore the subsequent grief is bound to be complicated. There are many scenarios in which it would be quite understandable to feel relief and/or a complex mix of emotions at someone’s passing. You would definitely not be alone in this.

For example, if your loved one had been suffering for years, it’s natural to be relieved that that suffering is over. And if you were the primary caregiver for that person for what feels like an eternity, and that care has left you exhausted and depleted and stressed out, it’s okay to be relieved to have your life back again. If you have lost someone due to an easily preventable death, or due to suicide, you may have a lot of anger and/or guilt to process.

I’ve had several people broach this subject with me over the years. They tend to speak in hushed tones and look over their shoulders to make sure no one is listening. It’s as if they’ve committed a crime. I seem to be one of those people who silently signal that if you feel the need to confess this particular offense, then guuuurl… come sit by me.

Our culture causes us to have really strange ideas about what grief is supposed to look like and feel like. It’s supposed to be pure, sincere, and it should last for a year. (Longer than that, and people lose patience. Shorter than that, and something is wrong with you.) And if other family members are experiencing what looks like a more wholesome form of grief for the person you are thrilled to be rid of, then you are expected to suppress your feelings so as not to ruffle feathers. But make no mistake: you are grieving, too, in your own way.

Grief can’t be pigeonholed. Each person’s experience is different. In fact, your grief experience will most likely change over time, and it will be different for each person you grieve. Grief can manifest as depression or sadness or anger or numbness or an inability to concentrate, and yes, it can also include relief and even joy and a sense of freedom and release.

It’s not uncommon to encounter insensitive people as you work to process and adapt to this monumental change in your life. They often don’t realize they’re passing judgment by showing their confusion, impatience, or shock at the way you are feeling or behaving. Please remember that they don’t get to decide if you’re getting it right. There is no “right” way to grieve.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that not passing judgment should be a two way street. It does you no good at all to try to force your brand of grief down the throats of those around you, who may, in fact, not be feeling grief at all, or may be so devastated that they struggle to function. You can erect a shrine, but you shouldn’t expect others to worship at it. You can throw your own party, but no one should be forced to attend. You can wear all black for the rest of your life, or cover yourself in bright, shiny colors, but please don’t dictate anyone else’s physical or emotional wardrobe.

Another thing to consider is that you’re not only grieving a person. You are also grieving change. You may be grieving the life you never had because of the life you were forced to live while you were in a toxic person’s orbit. You may be grieving the fact that you were unable to improve your relationship with that person while he or she was still alive. You may be experiencing confusion and/or resentment and/or excitement because now you have to figure out what your life will look like moving forward.

A good rule of thumb is this: you do you. Feel what you feel and allow others to feel what they feel. Give yourself and others that gift.

And if you wish to support someone who is grieving, ask that person what they want or need. Don’t assume you know. Some people, like my friend, want nothing more than someone to listen to them express their relief without criticism. I’m glad she came and sat by me.

mixed_feelings_by_salyalaverte_d3d7y8t

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A Seven Year Reassessment

Sometimes I’m astounded that this is my life.

Seven years ago in August, I decided my entire life needed a do-over, so I packed up my two dogs and the rest of my stuff and moved 3100 miles from Jacksonville, Florida to Seattle, Washington. I had never been here before. I knew no one. I was 49 years old, and had absolutely no idea what the future held for me. I only knew that my present was dismal and I couldn’t imagine that any change could possibly make it any worse.

Fortunately I did have a job waiting for me on the other end, because the prospect of homelessness held no appeal. I also had a rental house, which I’d only seen in pictures. But other than those two solid-ish things, I felt as though I were jumping into an abyss.

During the 5 days that I drove across the country, I spent much of the time asking myself if I had lost my mind. One of my cousins (who knows me not at all) accused me of running away. I preferred to think of it as running toward, because what I was leaving behind was nothing of value, except for a few really close friends with whom I knew I’d keep in touch. My future in Florida was of me running on the same desperate, depressing hamster wheel I had been running on for the past 40 years. It had gotten me nowhere.

So, with equal parts trepidation, excitement, and hope, I approached the Emerald City, wondering what adventures it held in store for me. The not knowing was the scariest part. The not knowing was also the most exciting part.

I don’t think I realized what a culture shock I was about to experience. Seattle still feels like a foreign country to me to this day, although I’d like to think I’ve learned the language somewhat, as well as the lay of the land. Now I feel like an established expat. Back then, I felt like an alien from outer space.

I had to get used to driving on hills. I had to learn to dress appropriately for the seasons. I had to figure out which grocery stores to shop in, and while a lot of the products were identical, they had different brand names.

The first two years were particularly hard. I spent most of the time just going from work to home and back again, with occasional solo outings to explore the city. I was so lonely it was physically painful. My skin felt like it would atrophy due to lack of touch. That, and the supervisor of my bridge was a full-blown psychopath. Administration knew it and no one did anything about it. I was clearly in it alone. Work was hell, and at home I had nothing better to do than stew about work. Many’s the night that I cried and said to myself, “My God, what have I done?”

But throughout that dark period of adjustment, little glimmers of light kept creeping in. I loved the exotic sounds of morning birdsong, which was nothing like the birdsong on the east coast. I loved the changes in season. I loved the lack of bugs and the absence of oppressive, soul-sucking, sticky heat. I loved the flowers and the fruit and the neighborhood in which I lived. I loved the views from the bridges in which I worked. And I adored the paychecks. Union strong!

It’s hard to make new friends when you’re in your 50’s. People my age usually have established friendships and set routines. That, and the general vibe out here is very reserved. People also seem to be a lot less reliable. I got stood up a lot. I still do. That takes some getting used to.

But I discovered I had some really cool neighbors, and I picked up friends here and there. It was such a relief being able to count on the fact that most people here had my politics. In Florida I felt like a liberal turd in a republican punch bowl.

I joined a few groups and took a class or two. I even tried internet dating, but that was an unmitigated disaster. (I can laugh about that now, but it wasn’t so funny at the time.)

Little by little, day by day, I built myself a life. The psychopath retired. I published a book. I bought myself a house. I found myself someone to love. And now things are so good that they hardly seem real. Some mornings I wake up and I’m astounded that this is my life.

The other day I had a party. I invited 4 friends over to paint rocks and do crafts. We sat on my patio, my favorite room in the house, and laughed and hugged and commiserated and talked about reality TV and insulted anti-vaxxers and ate guacamole. We also talked about what an amazing husband and home I have.

At one point, and I hope nobody noticed, I got tears in my eyes. Happy tears. It’s just that my life has come so far in the past seven years. There were times I would have despaired of ever having a get together like this. It all felt so completely out of reach.

And yet, here I am, feeling the serenity and painting solid, colorful rocks to prove it. It was all worth it. Life is good and the future is bright. What a difference seven years makes.

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A Thought Experiment, Courtesy of My Subconscious

There’s a lot to be considered.

I woke up on the morning I wrote this with a sentence from my dream still echoing through my head. To wit: At the end of the world, will the last human left to die feel bitterness or relief?

Wow. My subconscious is profound. I’m impressed. My first instinct was to write that down so I could blog about it.

My second, of course, was to ponder the question. And it’s quite the can of worms once you pop it open. There’s a lot to be considered.

First of all, without knowing what caused the end of the world, it’s hard to gauge whether you’d be able to make a go of it, all alone, until a ripe old age. I’ve often said that I’d prefer to have a nuclear bomb land right on the crown of my head rather than trying to survive a nuclear winter. It’s a quality of life thing. Why prolong the inevitable?

Was the end quick in coming, or did humans have time to destroy everything on the way out? That would make a huge difference, too. If change is to come, let it be swift.

But what if the end of the human world were brought on by a pandemic and you found yourself to be immune? It would be lonely, but I think I’d like to stick around and enjoy the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees for as long as I could. I wouldn’t want to be in a large city, though. The smell alone would be horrific, at least for the first many years.

I would grieve for people, and for my past, no doubt about it. But I think the sheer size of that grief, and the finality of it all, might make the feeling implode under its own weight. There’d be nothing for it but to get on with things.

If I were absolutely certain that I was the last human on earth, I would have considerably less to be afraid of. Most of my fear springs from the actions of other humans. Nature can be harsh, and it would be a struggle to survive, but human violence would be a thing of the past. That might be nice, all things considered.

I hope I’d have a dog for a companion.

There’d be no more need for money. I’d become a scavenger, no doubt, and would have to move to a mild climate. Or maybe I’d migrate like the other animals, and have a summer home and a winter home. I’m sure I’d garden. I’d probably forget how to talk, but there’d be no shortage of books. And as an occasional treat, I’d break into a museum. Just to look around. I’d become adept at breaking and entering. First stop: The nearest Amazon warehouse. I’d raid it not for frivolous stuff, but for shoes and winter coats and the like.

I think it would be a bittersweet existence, punctuated by the constant need for warmth and food and drinkable water. But when the time came for me to shuffle off this abandoned mortal coil, I don’t think I’d be bitter, because there would be no one to blame. I might have a regret or two, but I think I would be relieved that I made it as far as I did, and that this particular journey was finally over.

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What Will the New Normal Look Like?

We have all been changed by this past year.

I’ve heard much chatter of late as to what the world will be like once we’ve finally developed herd immunity from COVID-19. Some people seem to think everything will revert back to the way it was when we were all more naïve about viruses, their transmission, and their impact. I don’t see that as a possibility. First of all, sorry to say, but COVID-19 will never be completely eradicated. And other pandemics are sure to follow sooner or later.

So this gives me the opportunity to make some predictions about our new normal. I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog post someday and either laugh at my foolishness or think, “Dang, you’re good!” (That’s one of the drawbacks of blogging. There’s nowhere to hide from your past idiocy. But sometimes you also get to say “I told you so!”)

The reason I’m fairly certain that we will not return to days of yore is that when my boss suggested that we’ll all probably be vaccinated by the end of the month and should therefore be able to revert back to our old shift-change-in-a-teeny-tiny-little-room habit, I had a visceral reaction. Panic, if I’m honest.

First of all, due to HIPAA, we’ll never know for sure if everyone has been vaccinated. Second, as of this writing, the scientists are not yet certain that vaccinated people cannot still be carriers of COVID, and even they say that these vaccines are not 100% effective. The news changes daily, but until I have more reassurance than that, I don’t feel like marinating in my coworkers aerosol, thankyouverymuch.

The smallest lesson from this is that a lot of us are going to find it hard to unmask. I’m struggling with the concept, and I HATE wearing a mask. I’m tired of my glasses fogging, and I feel claustrophobic. But I do it because I know that it has been the safest, most responsible thing to do. It will be difficult for me to gauge when that safety and responsibility is no longer needed.

We’ve all been changed in various negative and positive ways by this past year. We’ve slowed down. We’ve isolated ourselves a lot more. Many of us have worked from home. We’ve all learned that it is possible to do these things. Some of us have liked it, and some of us have not. I suspect that a certain percentage of those who don’t like it will find that they like it a lot more when it becomes voluntary, and they’ll adopt a sort of hybrid lifestyle.

I suspect a lot of people who have been telecommuting will resist going back to the office 5 days a week. That, and businesses will have learned that there’s a lot less overhead to pay when you don’t have to maintain as much office space. And, surprise! The work still seems to be getting done.

On the real estate front, many people who have been allowed to telecommute have sold their houses in the big cities and have moved… well, anywhere they’ve wanted to move. A lot of people have gone rural. It’s going to be really hard to persuade them to come back. (It’s sort of the opposite of, “How will you keep them down on the farm, now that they’ve seen ‘Paree’?”)

And now that I’m more aware of virus vectors, I don’t see myself ever being as comfortable going to large concert venues again. Don’t get me wrong. I miss live performances. I just don’t miss sharing my airspace with a thousand strangers.

I’ll never get used to being crammed into a crowded elevator or subway again. When people cough, I’ll feel a flashing red alert inside my head. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy long air flights again. (But then, they’ve been going down hill since the 80’s, anyway.)

Now, when I forget my mask, I don’t get very far. I feel naked and exposed and vulnerable. I’m horrified. I turn right back around and I get it. I think it will take more than a minute for me to get past that feeling.

I suspect that this virus has changed us in ways that we have yet to see. Personally, I’ve enjoyed not having a single solitary cold all year long. I wouldn’t mind continuing to wear a mask in more crowded places if I could stay on that path.

I suspect, at a bare minimum, a certain percentage of us will continue to wear masks, at least some of the time. I also suspect that those of us who do are going to get bullied for it by various factions. But we are living in a different world now, and that’s just a hard fact.

These are my predictions. What do you think? In any event, time will tell.

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Different, and yet…

There’s still much to do.

So, it’s the day after inauguration. If, like me, you feel as though you’ve just taken off a pair of shoes that were lined with ground glass, or, alternatively, it feels to you like this is the end of the world, here’s the thing: nothing has changed in our day to day lives, has it?

The sun rose this morning. It will set this evening. We will set about our daily routines (such as they are, in the midst of a pandemic). The people who loved you the day before yesterday will most likely still love you today. And if anyone now hates you, well, screw ‘em. They’re idiots.

Yes, gigantic changes are afoot in the overall scheme of things. Hopefully they’re not too little, too late. But here on the ground, where we are already working or not working, struggling or not struggling, dreaming or feeling hopeless… well… yeah. More of the same.

Because here’s the thing: as much as we’d like to think so, politics really has very little to do with you or me. It’s an elite power struggle, an ongoing battle to possess all of the marbles in the playground, players be damned. It was ever thus.

The air, to me, feels lighter, and I have a tiny bit of hope that I didn’t have with the last administration, and I didn’t realize I had been living with a gnawing pit of anxiety in my stomach until it went away. I’m also enjoying an end to the hateful tweets that can turn the world upside down on a daily basis. But the same obstructionists are still blocking the path forward for the average person. And those very obstructionists will also block any attempted reform to the system, because they like things just the way they are.

So, yeah, it’s a new dawn. But we have one of those every day. I’m trying not to get my hopes up. We still have much to do. But on a personal level, it sure felt cleansing to wave goodbye to the orange, tiny-handed shitgibbon and hear speeches, songs, and poetry of hope and a desire for unity, rather than rants peppered with hate, division, and paranoia.

Onward. Here’s a pretty picture.

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My Eighth Bloggiversary

Our world has certainly changed and grown.

I started this blog on December 1, 2012. I figured it would be a nice experiment, and a way to improve my writing, but I was sure I’d run out of things to say after about six months. Little did I know how quickly our world (and this blogger) would change and grow during all this time. I have yet to run out of things to talk about. In fact, I have even published an anthology of some of my posts which you can check out here. I should have done several more by now, but I seem to lack the follow through. Fingers crossed that I can get back to work with a little help from my very patient friends. It’s been on the top of my to-do list for years. I honestly don’t know what is holding me back.

I was trying to remember the person who sat down at that keyboard, with its several missing keys, eight years ago, and to be perfectly honest, I can’t. I even went back to my first blog post, entitled, “Nature is what’s happening while you’re not looking”, and that really only gives me a glimpse of her. All I know is that I’m a completely different person now.

That new blogger’s whole life revolved around her identity as a bridgetender. It was the one thing she could cling to. The rest of her life was a total shambles. She was very unhappy and felt as if there was no hope. I tried not to show that in this blog, but sometimes it would leak through.

I’m still proud of my job, and I enjoy it, but it’s not the only thing I’ve got anymore. In fact, I look at it more and more as the thing that enables me to live my life and also write this blog. And I’m extremely grateful that bridgetending happens to be something I enjoy doing. I know so many people who really hate their jobs, and given that a lot of their waking hours are spent doing those jobs, to hate them seems like a tragedy to me. I hope I never forget how lucky I am.

Now, I am a wife and a writer and a little free library curator and an exerciser and a traveler. I am a person who has hope and plans for the future. I have moved to the other side of the country to a place that fits me much more politically, albeit much less socially.

This past eight years has really taught me who my friends really are. It makes me realize that quality is so much more important than quantity. And something unexpected happened along the way: I made several additional friends because of this blog. What a gift.

It also occurs to me that I used to say “what a gift” a lot more often in my blog. I really need to start doing that again, because if there’s nothing else that this pandemic has taught me, it’s that so much about our lives and connections to others are precious.

I am also learning, slowly, that it’s important to establish firm boundaries with people. I am a lot less love-starved these days, and therefore I am not willing to tolerate cruel treatment that I would have once overlooked. I no longer have the energy for it, and I also know I deserve better. Some people are best seen in your rear view mirror. Onward!

Now I look forward to many more years of blogging. But there are no guarantees in life. Perhaps the person I will be eight years from now will not be a blogger. And that’s okay, too. But meanwhile, watch this space, dear reader, and thanks to all of you who have stuck with me over the years.