Apology

I came across this poem and felt it so deeply, I couldn’t help but share it.

Sorry!
An apology from Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) to humanity

We are sorry for everything
That we have caused humanity to suffer from.
Sorry for Algebra and the letter X.
Sorry for all the words we throw at you;
Amber, candy, chemistry, cotton, giraffe, hazard,….

Please click through to read the entire poem.

Twelve Transformative Trans Folks

Check out this fantastic illustration highlighting the work of twelve trans activists who are changing the world, day by day.

Click here to see the whole thing!

A Radical Response to Refugees

A heartbreaking and inspiring look at how some countries are responding to the Syrian refugee crisis.

“In Austria, the mood was one of pride – for the way the government had responded to the crisis and for the overwhelming response from people ferrying donations of food, water and clothes to train stations in Vienna and Salzburg. By Saturday afternoon, officials in Vienna had to ask people to stay away from the station, which was heavily overcrowded with well-wishers bearing donations.”

Read the full article here.

Does Advocacy Stop at Marriage?

Meredith Talusan offers her take on Jennicet Gutiérrez’s interruption of President Obama’s speech for Pride month. She offers a scathing critique of the administration’s deliberate dismissal of critical, life-threatening issues that trans folks experience in America.

“As I watched Jennicet Gutiérrez open her mouth to interrupt President Obama’s Pride Month reception address Wednesday night – because, she said, as an undocumented trans woman she couldn’t celebrate while LGBT detainees are being abused in US detention centers – I thought, That could have been me.”

Read Meredith’s full article here.

Music Crosses Boundaries

Religious boundaries, physiological boundaries, emotional boundaries… music reaches deep. “For a split second, we became one person.”

Watch Naomi Feil sing her way into the heart of a woman with Alzheimer’s. You’ll need tissues.

Bear Witness

Today my heart is (still) broken for the Charleston community, and for our greater national community. My heart is broken that so many of our American people are still marginalized and oppressed, even after all the work we’ve done. I’m devastated that this happened, and even more devastated that it just keeps happening. I don’t want to feel like this.

I don’t want to see the picture of that young man whose path took him to the doors of that church. I don’t want to read his terrible manifesto. I don’t want to imagine how this man sat with those good people for a full hour before he killed them. I don’t want to know he even exists.

I don’t want to see the posts and comments from people I know who are minimizing or ignoring the role that racism plays in this incident, and in so many other similar incidents. I don’t want to witness more of this willful ignorance about racism and violence in America. I don’t want to hear about how he’s a “lone wolf;” how he is one bad apple in a sea of yummy ones (he isn’t).

I don’t want to read this article in which Felicia Sanders, who lost three family members in the shooting, describes her dead son as a hero. I don’t want to read the names of the people who died; I don’t want to know about who they were. I want them to be alive and well and to be comfortable knowing our paths might never cross. I don’t want to imagine the ripples of their loss, the sheer number of people suffering because of this.

I don’t want to read about the stupid confederate flag. I don’t want to read about how big businesses are having to use their influence to bring attention to the indefensible problems with government agencies displaying the flag. I don’t want to know that so many people are willing to look the other way, that there is still a vocal minority of conservatives that maintain power over this issue. I don’t want to feel this rage at the sudden media attention on this problem, after generations of activists have fought and died begging for someone in power to pay attention.

And let’s be real. I don’t have to. I could take those posts out of my feed. I could pretend it didn’t happen. I could scroll past, I could delete, I could skim and move on to the newest kitten gifs. There are so many people who can’t turn it off, who can’t escape the brutal daily reality of racism in America, and the fact that I can is a disgusting example of my own privilege as a white person. And that makes me sick too.

So what do I do with this?

I choose to bear witness.

To witness is passive. To bear witness is active. I walk toward my own discomfort and pain because I know it is nothing compared to others’. I willingly keep my eyes and ears open, even though I hate it, because these injustices deserve and demand to be witnessed – especially by white people. It is our moral obligation to witness and respond to this.

So I will bear witness. I will read the articles. I will look at the pictures. I will be sad every day. I will talk about it. I will write about it. I will listen. I will do my best to help others bear witness too. I will work to amplify the voices that are so often silenced.

The hashtag #saytheirnames has brought me to tears today, multiple times. So I cried. And said their names, out loud. Will you say them with me? It’s okay if you cry too.

Cynthia Hurd, 54

Susie Jackson, 87

Ethel Lance, 70

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49

Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41

Tywanza Sanders, 26

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74

Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45

Myra Thompson, 59

Bear witness, and share what you witness.

I Might Have Tears

Melissa Atkins Wardy, with permission from her son Ben, writes empathetically about his social anxiety and the kind of adjustments she has made to accommodate and honor those times Ben “might have some tears”.

“My kids freeze. They have panic attacks. They drop out of first grade in favor of homeschooling. They can walk up to a group of new kids at the park to make friends and start a game of play, but they cry over things that seem really little or insignificant and I don’t get it. I’m more like a Golden Retriever: everything’s a party and everyone is my best friend. Ben makes me pause, reframe, and see situations the way his little heart see them.”

Uninterested in making Ben fit her own mold of life, but equally understanding of her responsibility to raise him to look after himself, Wardy demonstrates the ways children can learn from their guardians how to develop their own agency and self expression, on their own terms, without being stuffed into a box of confining expectations arbitrarily determined by gender.

Read this beautiful story here.

Power Girls

“Powerful girls grow up feeling secure in themselves. They learn to take action, making positive choices about their own lives and doing positive things for others. They think critically about the world around them. They express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings and thoughts of others in caring ways. Powerful girls feel good about themselves and grow up with a “can-do” attitude. Of course, strong girls may (like all of us) have times of insecurity and self-doubt, but these feelings aren’t paralyzing because the girls have learned to work through their problems. Powerful girls will grow up to lead full, valuable lives.

Here are some of our experts’ ideas to help you raise powerful daughters.”

Read the article here.

Be Where You Are

I’m learning a new song on the piano – it’s one of the hardest and most beautiful songs I’ve ever tried to play, and I have dreamed of playing it ever since I first heard it. I’ve had the sheet music for it since then, but its complexity and majesty have made it difficult for me to pick through and learn.

My brother is getting married in a week, and I have the most incredible vocalist  a pianist could dream of, so I decided it was time to tackle it. I even went so far as to add to it, bringing my favorite sax player in on it to make it even more powerful. It’s a big mountain to climb. It’s been frustrating.

I’ve pushed through with practicing, and can make it through the whole song in super-slow-motion, with a few stops and starts along the way. I feel victorious when I start at the beginning and end at the end, even if the middle is a mess. But I’ve noticed something.

Every time I stop playing I say (either out loud or in my head)

“That was awful!”
“I’m never gonna get it!”
“I’m so bad at this!”

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I’ve had mixed experiences with yoga throughout my life, but have particular difficulty with it now because of chronic muscle spasticity problems. There are significant limits to what I can do in a yoga practice, and I’m usually pretty self-conscious in a yoga class because I can’t ever keep up.

But I’m working at a yoga studio now, and have supportive awesome people around me, so I’m giving it a shot. I started Monday, and spent half the time in child’s pose because I couldn’t do what the class was doing. The other half of the class I was able to do at least an approximation of the poses, and the instructor gave me lots of modifications and encouragement, so I didn’t feel as self-conscious as I have in the past.

When I made it from the beginning of class to the end, I felt victorious, even though the middle was a mess. But I noticed something.

In my head, I was thinking

“That was awful!”
“I’m never gonna get it!”
“I’m so bad at this!”

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This week I’ve been thinking about what it means to be where I am. I realize that the only way I won’t be terrible at something is if I give myself permission to be terrible at it for a while. I have to let myself be a beginner.

But, if I am terrible at them for a while, and my inner voice is trying to convince me that being terrible is a bad thing, then why on earth would I want to keep doing these things? Both activities are difficult, so if it’s not an enjoyable experience, where does the motivation to do the hard work come from? I might as well have my childhood piano teacher with the mean pointy fingernails standing over my shoulder scolding me (at the piano OR at yoga – equally terrifying).

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So now I’m practicing challenging that voice. Every time the thought enters my head to say something negative, I’m going to yell an opposite response as loud as I can (in my brain, not out loud).

“I’m getting it!”
“One step at a time!”
“This is great!”
“I can tell I’ve improved!”
“Just make it to the end!”
“I am doing just fine!”

With that said, I’m also going to allow myself to feel frustrated. It’s hard. I get aggravated. Those feelings are valid too, and I don’t want to squash them with false positivity. So when it’s hard, I’m going to say that in a way that doesn’t de-value my work and my effort.

“I’m so frustrated!”
“Whyyyyyyyyy does it have to be so haaaaaaaard!”
“GRRRRRRR!”
“I hate this arrangement/pose!!! I’m just gonna improvise!!”
“Hand me that gallon of ice cream please!!”

So that’s what I wanted to share with you today. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you’re doing fine. Allow yourself space to be terrible in order to get better. Celebrate your progress, don’t question it. Challenge the voice that tries to undermine your effort.

Be where you are.