Tag Archives: setbacks

My Election Reflection

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This is not going to be my most popular post.

Like most things I write about, I expect some people will totally get where I’m coming from, while others won’t get me at all. That’s one of the beautiful things about life–we’re not all cut from the same cloth. How terribly boring and stagnant it would be if we were.

I once wrote that this never was nor will be a blog about politics. I hope you’ll forgive me for making an exception during this tumultuous time.

For well over a year, I’ve followed the course of events that led up to this most recent presidential election. I watched the debates, read countless articles and took in the some of the sound bytes shared on television and social media. My family, friends and I discussed our thoughts, beliefs and reactions when it came to the various candidates. I voted in my party’s primary. And I voted in the general election, as I have done every year since I turned eighteen.

My candidate for president lost. Actually, she was my second choice. She might have even fallen to third or fourth place if any of the parties had put up more candidates worth considering.

But it’s hardly the first time I’ve voted for the losing candidate. Hell, my presidential choices have lost more elections than won, which makes me think, maybe it’s me, maybe I jinx them. But whatever, I digress.

My vote was primarily based on the positivity, and on what I believed to be the more down to earth and inclusive platform, of one candidate, versus what I saw as the childish, petty, mean-spirited–sometimes even vicious–and uninformed positions voiced by the other candidate. I voted with both my head and my heart. And I voted for the person I thought would be the better leader for all of us, not just me personally.

So my candidate lost, and frankly, I’m not happy about it (OK, that’s an understatement). Like anyone who feels justified in her beliefs and feelings, and like anyone who has suffered a loss, I need a little time to process and heal.

But I’m not being given that time. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with gloating posts (ha ha, go ahead and move to Canada, see if we care) and lectures on how “the nation has spoken” and how I need to grow up, unite and sing kumbaya for the president-elect–the very man who has spent nearly a year and a half pitting us against one another.

I’m just not prepared to do that just yet. And, depending on what he does going forward, I may never get behind him.

That is my choice and my right as an American.

Look, for eight years I’ve watched, read and listened to hate-filled, anti-Obama rhetoric, including the place of birth falsehoods repeatedly voiced by our current president-elect. Their hostility, animosity and loathing bothered me, but frankly the Obama-haters were entitled to their opinion, and I am a firm believer in our First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Never once did I even anonymously jump into one of those online discussions and tell them to shut the f**k up. I just took the high road and didn’t engage with them.

Why can’t I, and the rest of the pro-Hillary and/or anti-Trump voters, be afforded the same leeway?

No, we’re being told that election protesters should be jailed (which, for those who are destroying property or engaging in physical violence, I would agree) and that we need to get over it or be viewed as unpatriotic (as if the vile name calling and rants done during the Obama administration was patriotic?). We are being told to put our rights on hold for at least the next four years.

Not only am I not prepared to do that, I refuse.

Sure, I am terribly unhappy with the candidate who won this election. I have been repulsed by his foul attitude towards women, his intolerance towards non-Caucasians, his mockery of those with physical challenges, and his flippant references promoting violence to those who didn’t agree with him throughout his campaign. I am actually embarrassed that he won.

But I’m not going to pin blanket, puerile labels on our president-elect either. And I’m not going to engage in pointless discussions where ideals and facts dissolve into hostile accusations and derisive put downs.

Just don’t count on me to simply fall in line with where this administration might lead us. Or tell me that my only other alternative is to move to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Mexico City. While you won’t find me standing in the streets shouting slogans, you also won’t find me passively accepting policy decisions that go against my values.  

Like I said in the beginning, it’s a beautiful thing that we’re not all cut from the same cloth. I simply won’t stand for policies that will rip us apart, either.

Beware the Silent ‘P’

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Have you ever noticed how many wonderful words begin with the letter ‘p’?

There’s passion, purpose, playfulness, plentiful, potential, poetry, prayer,  partnership, positive, peace. So many wonderful words.

Then there are the not so wonderful ‘p’ words. Psychosis, pneumonia, pseudo, ptosis, psoriasis, psittacism (yeah, I didn’t know what it meant, either). Notice what those have in common?

The ‘p’ is silent.

So I began to wonder—could we relate to the difference between the pronounced ‘p’ and the silent ‘p’? Could it be that, as years go by, through conditioning or neglect, so many of us lose touch with the things we feel passionate about is that we’ve learned over the years to silence them?

During my teens I wrote poetry.  The ones I remember most vividly spoke about hope, love and possibilities (ah, another wonderful ‘p’ word!).  

Then, as life began to present me with its inevitable challenges, disappointments and setbacks, my poems began to take on darker tones. I wrote of loss, frustration, heartbreak, disconnection. Eventually, I stopped writing them altogether.

Around that same time, I also began to lose sight of my dream to make a living as a freelance writer.  Months would sometimes go by between one writing project and the next; attempts to submit my work or query ideas grew even more staggered. I left a trail of half-written stories in my wake, along with a few that I even finished, but that never saw the light of day.

After college I snapped up the first stable nine to five job I could latch onto and, relieved to receive a steady paycheck and benefits, I hardly even noticed as the dream faded.  I had college loans to pay back, an apartment to furnish, a car to maintain and insure.  I was living the dream, right?  Never mind that it was not my own.  My life seemed fine.  My chosen path seemed safe. Most writers never make a living wage anyway…

My ‘p’ grew silent.

In Walden, Henry Thoreau famously wrote that most men “lead lives of quiet desperation.” A dismal worldview? Maybe…but look how it plays out in the “Thank God it’s Friday” existence that so many of us lead, lives where relaxation, adventure and fun are all packed into one or two weeks a year, or where we live vicariously through the success and joy of those who dared to do or be what we did not. These results stem from letting our ‘p’s’ go silent or, worse, by intentionally silencing them in order to gain the acceptance and approval of others, or through fear that we if we took a riskier path, we might fail.

I’m trying to decide how to bring this post to an optimistic close. The fact is, I continue to cling to the safe and familiar, and still need the approval of others more than I care to admit. So it’s not like I am a shining example of self-actualization.

But I guess simply being aware of that is a start. That’s the optimistic closing I was looking for and would like to share here because, as I am beginning to learn through the reading and exercises I’ve been doing lately, awareness changes everything. The first step in solving a dilemma is admitting that the dilemma exists.

Time to take the next step. Care to join me?

 

A (Better) Way to Look at Setbacks

This is actually a revised version of a piece I posted in another blog a few years ago. I found it while sifting through my online folders, looking for writing ideas. I have a feeling that it was no coincidence that I came across this now—that I, and maybe even you, needed to be reminded again.

images I recently heard the most remarkable story during my morning commute to the office.  It really didn’t make a point I’d never considered before, but it drove home that point in quite a memorable way.

I have a practice of listening to teleclasses and webinars that I’ve downloaded  from the internet and burned to CDs, and audiobooks that I sometimes buy when I’ve run out of the online freebies, while driving. The topics I listen to run the gamut, from how to promote my blog to how to manifest everything I want in life.

This particular story was part of a “how to think like a millionaire” CD set (I occasionally give another go at trying to wrap my middle class mind around that) that I’d bought some time ago and hadn’t listened to in ages.  Or maybe I hadn’t even gotten this far into the set before—it would seem I would have remembered this story if I’d heard it before.

As he told it, motivational speaker and writer Denis Waitley was in an airport a number of years ago, rushing to catch a plane for his next speaking engagement in another city.  To his complete dismay, he was told that he was too late to board it. Waitley tried everything from righteous anger to pleading in the hopes of getting on that plane, but even as he did so he could see the ground crew beginning to wave the plane into its slow, lumbering taxi.  He couldn’t believe he was actually missing his flight, would miss his speaking engagement, and would miss the large amount of money he would have made that evening.

He proceeded to go to find someone at the airport with which to lodge a formal complaint.  He never  made it that far, though; as it turned out, he heard that the very DC-10 he had a ticket for never fully took off.  Instead it crashed in its attempt to get airborne. There were no survivors.

It made me think of the countless times I’ve lost my head in traffic, percolated with anger over decisions I didn’t agree with at work, snarled about  news stories that I thought were ridiculous or unjust, or even impatiently chided myself when I haven’t accomplished everything I think I ought to have accomplished.  Although every once in a while I have been able to catch myself in the moment and think, “Maybe there’s a reason for this,” or “ Maybe you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be,” more often than not,  my immediate reaction is not so…mature.

I’m glad I heard that story this morning, because maybe it will help me begin to choose my reactions to life’s big and little bumps from a healthier perspective.  And I decided to write about it today, just in case you needed to hear this story, too.  Whether you’re facing challenges in your personal life, or you’re struggling to run and grow your business, perhaps those maybes could help.

Maybe there’s a reason for what’s happening.  Maybe you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be…for now.