Posted by: scintillatingspeck | December 26, 2009

Some thoughts, because I actually have time to think.

It’s after midnight and I have a cold, so I should really be in bed right now.  We had a busy day here in Boston, Lily, Tom, my parents and I.  There were presents under the Christmas tree; we had a lavish buffet brunch at Cafe Fleuri; we celebrated my mom’s birthday; and then we lolled about and my sniffles became steadily worse.

I’ve had more time to think today.  The experience has been a bit tempestuous.  I want to mention some things weighing on my mind, maybe just to put it out into the ether so I can finally get some sleep.

1. I’m experiencing a lot of ambivalence around my recent activism.  Rather than being simply energizing, it has forced me to confront some painful stuff.  I don’t want to get into all the details, but it has led me to a dark place and I need to take care of myself.  Not sure if I can do it.  Probably at the very least I should put all the activism on hiatus, but I’m worried that this will exacerbate my frequent experience of intense isolation.

2. I’m worried that some of my neighbors may be making erroneous assumptions about why Tom and I have decided to move.  I’m worried that people may be projecting their own beliefs or insecurities onto me/us.  I’m worried that people may be reducing such a difficult, complex decision into something simplistic and dismissive.  I’m worried about being profoundly misunderstood.  I’m worried about trying to correct possible assumptions and ending up even more misunderstood and hurt.  I’m worried about the cloak of isolation that this lays upon me.

3. I wish my dad could really hear me sometimes and not say dismissive things.  I wish my mom wouldn’t explain it away as him being “closed-minded” and her being the only one who “gets” it.

4. I think I need a break from Energy Bulletin or something.  Even though I rationally knew that probably not much would be achieved in Copenhagen this month, it was still so devastating to witness the failure of the talks.  And it is continually devastating to witness endless denial in the face of real suffering and injustice.  Over and over, I am forced to think about moral responsibility, my own and everyone else’s, and the weight of it is simply enormous.  This is combined with a pervasive sense of general powerlessness and ineptitude that I struggle with mightily.

5. I have been thinking a lot about relationships and family and friendship, and while I am enormously grateful for the amazing family and friends that I have, how painful it is that I still feel so alone so much of the time.  This is not in any blaming sense, but an observation, a painful one.

6. I want to be calm and peaceful and grounded, for Lily’s sake as well as my own and everyone else’s, and this feels like a very elusive goal.  Something needs to change drastically, I think, for that to happen.  What to change, exactly, I don’t know.  Some ideas are to cut out any activities that don’t feel directly nurturing to me and my family; taking a long break from the Internet; avoiding the news; avoiding most people; spending a lot of time outdoors.  This raises all my fears about feeling cut off, out of the loop, and further isolated.

Okay.  So I just listed all that stuff to get it out of my system; now it feels important to end on a brighter note and recognize some things I’m grateful for today.

1. I’m grateful for Lily.  She is a blooming flower.  Today she sang so gorgeously, and was so lively and happy, and every second of her existence is a blessing.  She is whole and genuine and my alpha and omega.  Recently I was thinking about a few babies who lost their lives, and their mothers, and it reminded me to bear witness to that profound grief and also cherish Lily as deeply as possible.  It seems that part of my job on earth is to be awake to the suffering of others; this seems to also carry the moral imperative to experience deep gratitude and joy.

2. I’m grateful for Tom.  He is such a good listener and chooses his words so mindfully.  He is a devoted dad and husband.  I’m so lucky to have him in my life.  We choose each other again and again and again.  I adore him.

3. I’m grateful that my parents are alive and that I got to spend Christmas with them.

4. I’m grateful that my body, despite this cold and a pulled muscle in my neck, is functioning quite well.

5. I’m grateful that I have the freedom to post my thoughts onto a blog, and the ever-increasing freedom that comes from recognizing old habits of mind as well as the constraints and myths of my culture.

6. I’m grateful to be a person who feels deeply, even when it hurts.



  1. I love all the things you are grateful for, especially the last. A facebook friend of mine said she walked to church with her sons Christmas eve, and one of them said to her, ‘gee, Mom, it’s like you’d never seen stars before.’ Like Kathy, you don’t let adulthood completely dull you.

    I’m also grateful for 3 and 1 and 2, but I notice that three out of four of the people you love love love the most in the world can make you a little crazy, just being their own lovable selves.

    And the time and energy it takes to make wider connections that would make you feel sane and safe, you don’t easily find–I think that will get better as Lily gets older, really.

    Hang in there, sweetheart. You’re on the right road. Hugs!!

  2. so THERE with you on number one! For the last, well, many years, i’ve felt like “activism; can’t live with it, can’t live without it!”

    Something i’ve decided though, is that one of the most important functions of activism is that it is supposed to FEED YOU. If it’s not, then something is wrong, and it’s important to reconsider what you are doing and why you are doing it.

    i’ve stopped feeling guilty (most of the time) about not participating in campaigns/events etc that do not feed me, even when i know they are important and i agree with them or truly want to see whatever it is come to pass. because i know that i will not be able to do good work if i feel resentful about having to do it for whatever reason. there are always ways to step back, participate in smaller ways, even if it’s only passing a message along on facebook. it’s not really activism, but it’s better than nothing, and it doesn’t take enough time or effort that it sucks the life out of me.

    anyway, hope any of that is helpful.


  3. Jen, I love that you can be an open book on here.
    Thank you I so value people being real about what they are feeling. It’s gold to me.
    I remember the phase where I was very involved in activism. The area we live in a delta farmland fishing small village was being encroached on from every side. Our last protest was a funeral march literally dressing in funeral garb and processing down the street with a coffin parodying the death of our community and wildlife and land and and and.

    Where that all led me was to the couch in a state of Overwhelm, all I could do was knit, which I can’t actually do but I felt if I was going to sit numb I had to be productive. The old cultural messages can be so pervasive! My partner put me in a rowboat and rowed me across to a very small island that is a ten minute journey from our house. When I stepped on the island and my feet sunk into the mud along the shore I literally felt the earth mother creeping into my body. Since that time I’ve had ups and downs more ups than downs and more times of gratitude than not. What it taught me was the constants are the five elements, earth air, water, fire, spirit. The touchstone for me now is always reconnecting to one of those. I can trust those they are what give life.

    These times are so overwhelming if you look at the Big Picture I am learning to shrink it down to my life what can I do what can I create what can I change that is in service of beauty and truth and love. The rest I work to let go of over and over sometimes several times a day if necessary.

    One tool that really helps is NOT listening to the news any news online alternate news mainstream news. I feel I know all I need to know as far as information. There is still so much to learn though in the natural world, foraging for example something you are doing. What a brilliant way to connect and teach your Lily to connect to.
    I feel you have some creative strategies Jen run with them.

    love & light Vivienne

  4. love it!

  5. Oh, love to you! My favorite phrase here is “we choose each other again and again and again.” It is a deep blessing to have a relationship like that. And to know that your struggles are the same struggles many of us have. And I must second the advice to turn off the news! Hope to see you soon, and hug you in person.

  6. CT, Dena, Vivienne, Rachel, Adrie: thank you. It means a lot to me to read your comments.

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