As I embark on a Shakespeare unit with my students, nine graders reading Romeo & Juliet and AP Lit reading Hamlet, we start with questions. Questions Elizabethan thinkers might have pondered in 1598; questions we still ponder in 2018. I am struck with our timeless preoccupation over destiny: Are we the masters of our own fate? I ask students to think and write about their beliefs on this topic. Certainly, these teens, like those penned by Shakespeare, want to believe they are, indeed, in control of their outcomes, while I, I who have screamed up at the Heavens in distress, frustrated by the unpredictability of chance, those ‘why me’ moments; “O, I am Fortune’s fool” situations. As if we are pulled by strings invisible to our own hands. Just when we want/need/hope for a different outcome we must settle for what is… but as I look across the classroom at my students, into their hopeful eyes, their exuberant optimism, I see their uniform belief that yes, they are masters of their fate. They aren’t phased by headlines or politicians’ lies; they see their own trajectory as it slants up and beyond, straight into the starry night. Straight into heaven.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for no other reason than it is January… so be smart about it! Enjoy my loves, xxoo
Despite what most journalists and bloggers are writing about on this busy week, I’m focusing on food, yes delicious food. I guess getting ready for the Women’s March just makes me hungry. And not only hungry, but longing for smells and tastes that bring comfort and nostalgia along with warm and satisfying feelings that are so so so very needed during this time of upheaval and uncertainty. How about you? Spending more time in your kitchen than usual? Is there anything that brings your household together more than tomato sauce simmering for the afternoon?
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Today I was a pallbearer for an aunt who loved me, and her and him, and countless others like you. Today I swam in the deep blue ocean with my uncle who showed me a rainbow and together we saw that effervescent light. Today I laughed and cried with many and knew who I was yet still wonder what tomorrow might bring.
Today was forever and still not long enough. Today reminded me to live with faith and forgiveness and fortitude, and joy whenever it slips in the cracks. Today was quite a day… one to hold dear. A gift.
During this very first week of January, I hold off the temptation to look too far ahead, in order to pause in the threshold for a short moment and savor the past year. Looking back though my weekly blog posts, I am reminded of the small moments that make up one’s grand life: the way we keep ourselves present, fluid, and in touch with the important stuff. I offer the following tidbits, photos, and links from 2017, as a reminder to you of all we have been through, and just how resilient we all are despite the difficulties. 2018 may present challenges, but with the strength inherent in our past, what can we not overcome?
In no particular order, here are 5 posts I am glad I revisited. Hope you will be too.
After a blue sky day, when the sun drops behind the ridge and our mini-fire-pit reaches a heated pitch, we glimpse heaven on earth as snowy yard goes from blue to pink to purple. We stand witness and declare, weekends are the best! Afternoons outdoors, chatting about nothing, sitting silent for a few fleeting moments. Living beyond the work week is all we’re really after, right? Fire and sky, feet on the earth, with time on our side, now that’s a Saturday worth remembering.
4. Guiding Star
Find yours. Whatever it is. Your yoga practice or your rabbi’s words, your divining rod or your guardian angel, regardless, set a course toward your best self, and use your own spiritual beliefs to glimpse what that just might look like. Solo or with your congregation, catch a glimmer of those hopeful and healing and healthy and divine rays with regularity.
As I flew back east in the early dawn, over rivers and mountains, farmland and city, I was reminded of the greatness that is America. Not the politician’s slogan or the sound bite, but the genuine people below, who tirelessly work this vast and diverse land and still gather for holidays, spread cheer regardless, and continue to hold each other close. After the turmoil and destruction of 2017 what better way to end this year than to come together for these last days and extend the always hope? Promising newness in 2018.
May this year truly open doors. Allow for health, and discourse of a genuine manner. Freedom from strife, and past failures. Brighten our windowsills and lighten our souls. Grow our gardens and our creativity. Move us forward, into what America has already become. Just take a look, and believe. For realz.
I will hold out for all the best, for all of you, and nothing less, for all of 2018. I raise my glass. And my heart.
“In the five years since the shooting, which transformed a fairly anonymous Connecticut town into a buzzword in the caustic national debate on gun violence, armed men have killed people at a nightclub, an outdoor music festival, a social services center, movie theaters, a church in South Carolina and a church in Texas.
The displays of grief follow a familiar routine: Candlelight vigils and makeshift memorials. National offerings of thoughts and prayers. Pleas to tighten gun laws, immediately trailed by calls to avoid politicizing a tragedy” (
Hard to stay shiny and bright when Trump just fucks our sense of homeland safety with regularity, when our GOP lead Senate, who left their morals back home, continues to let the NRA cut us down like locust, and when we ALL consume like it’s a privilege to destroy our Earth. Fires are raging once again through homes in the west while hurricane devastated populations struggle to rebuild water lines. Watching the evening roundup of sexual predators requires Xanax and wine. Seriously, everyone I know is standing on shaky ground just getting from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon never mind a full work week. We may hunt for truth from our journalists wisdom from our preachers and understanding from our teachers but still find nothing except Russian bots fueling hatred via every media outlet. Oh world, during these darkest nights, where might we find even a shaft of soft light to sooth our fear and anxiety?
What is happening in Jerusalem? What about Myanmar? Don’t look any further than the drinking water in Flint to fuel your helplessness. The list of injustices are miles long and in review my mind migrates to devastation like water flowing to a low point. But, yet, somehow, religions from Judaism to Christianity to Hinduism to Paganism remind us tis the season to believe in the goodness of mankind despite all the mounting evidence that proves otherwise. Can this be why we should illuminate our homes with renewed passion and earnest dedication each December? From neighborhood to neighborhood we string bulbs we light menorahs we shoot off fireworks we burn candles. Without a doubt this year we may need to light up a bit more. Promise to make hope visible. Garner all the twinkle we can for these dark hours. And rise with renewed dedication to face the sunset. Hold each other. Give each other something extra. Remind ourselves relentlessly. Day will follow night. Always. Dawn will break the black with gold.
In this season of transcendentalism let us believe for a moment that divinity can transform us. Believe in what we can’t see. In the latent goodness that lays dormant far too often. In joy. And love. In cheer. In the laughter of innocence. Scrooge may reside in our frailties, and despite the fact we have chained ourselves to greed and all the sins, we can break free and live an altered life. Yes, we can. Shine On You Crazy Diamond.