I've practiced meditation, centering prayer, and deep stillness for more than 25 years. But this week, I got an app for my phone - CALM - that teaches meditation to beginners.
It turns out that a Trump Presidency is good for my spiritual life.
I prefer to think of it that way, rather than further upsetting myself by agonizing about how distraught I've been since early November 2016. It's called 're-framing.' I choose to re-frame the distress of slipping into anxiety and fear in a way I haven't for the past decade, and view the slippage as an opportunity to deepen my spiritual practice.
So setting aside ego ("I've been doing this for a quarter of a century, and now I need beginner lessons?"), I admit to finding great benefit from the new app on my phone.
Meditation and stillness are important aspects of my pain management practices for chronic migraine disease. So it helps that I already know and cherish the relief they bring, already have tools and inner understanding to bring to the programs on the app.
And there's another strange benefit to all this: I have new sympathy for Americans who have been feeling left out and distraught about government and power. I do not for one second agree politically or emotionally or intellectually with a vote for Donald Trump, or with the racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and hatred some of them espouse. YET, I recognize that, as distressed as I have been about Trump, others in the country have been feeling about Obama and Democrats.
I've been thinking about coal miners and coal company office workers who've lost their jobs; factory employees whose companies have pulled up stakes and moved abroad; people who look around at the country they love and feel they don't recognize it any longer and that they have been forgotten.
They have been as upset, worried, fearful and appalled as I have been these past seven months.
If nothing else, it's all made me less judgmental. More sympathetic.
Of course, the disconnect and disenfranchisement, fear and upset we've been feeling in more recent history pale in comparison to the plight of African-Americans since the first ships brought Africans here for enslavement. This is also a point of deep empathy for me, though it's one I've felt since I was a teenager, and so is not new like this emapthy for Trump voters.
The upshot of all this is that I experience new movement in my spirit - movement toward empathy for myself and others, deepening commitment to the spiritual practices of peace and compassion, humbling understanding of how easily I fall into rage and dislike of those I don't agree with.
And I have Donald Trump to thank for it.
Nowhere Else I Want to Be is Carol Marsh’s heart-wrenching memoir of her time living and working at Miriam’s House in Washington, D.C. She founded Miriam’s House in 1996, as a place for homeless women suffering with AIDS and addiction to receive the care, shelter, and safety that they so desperately needed. In providing for these women, who came from backgrounds incredibly different than her own, Carol had to learn to face her own shortcomings: privilege, discrimination, poor leadership skills, and an overwhelming, yet often denied, desire to be liked. In doing so, she, along with the staff and residents of Miriam’s House, transformed it into a safe haven for victims of AIDS and their families, saving dozens of lives in more ways than one.
In terms of content, Nowhere Else I Want to Be is certainly not the easiest book to read. It is rife with tragedy, from abandonment to parental neglect, devastating illness to inevitable death. It weighs on the heartstrings in a manner that most books cannot achieve, largely because the stories Carol Marsh shares are all real. These “characters,” who often seem larger than life in some respects, existed once, and now, do not. It’s an awful feeling, to fall in love with each quirky, lovable woman as Carol did, only to be forced to face their eventual demise. However, the tender tone in which each woman is described is admirable and honorable, shining a spotlight of love and acceptance on an otherwise horrific life. It’s devastating, but profound, in all the best ways.
Nowhere Else I Want to Be is not a book easily defined, as it balances perfectly the qualities of humor, love, sadness, disdain, and acceptance, combined into one spectacular memoir. Carol Marsh takes her readers on the same journey she once walked, alongside society’s forgotten as they struggle to better themselves, contribute to communities who continuously reject them, and just survive, at any cost. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy, but it is forever worth it. Nowhere Else I Want to Be is a treasure as much as it is a tragedy, if for nothing else, for Carol’s bold, dignified, and honest approach to a truth best not left forgotten.
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.
Link HERE to original post
Because I'm appalled at the lack of cooperation and compromise in Congress, I've been very intentional about opening myself and my facebook page to differing points of view. It seems important to practice what I preach: listening in a way that admits and allows for change in my thinking, responding in a way that supports understanding.
But today I un-friended a conservative facebook friend. I've known this person since high school, and was happy when facebook reconnected us several years ago. He's conservative, but for a few years we were able to comment on each other's posts without rancor.
That has changed recently and, as I said, I've unfriended him. But it wasn't for political reasons. It wasn't because he derided Obama at every turn and now accuses me of hatred when I criticize Trump. It wasn't that we don't agree, at all, when it comes to politics.
I have unfriended him because he is yet another man who engages with me only to (1) tell me how wrong I am; and/or (2) make unflattering comments. I want to be in dialogue with people who don't agree with me. But, as a woman, I won't stay in a one-way, contemptuous and patronizing conversation. And it's not like I didn't tell him exactly that although, of course, he didn't listen. I messaged him before unfriending, not because I think I'll get him to understand but because it was the respectful, honest thing to do.
(NOTE: there are plenty of men in my life who listen and converse respectfully with me, my husband chief among them. I appreciate the heck out of these men.)
But too many men still refuse to see that their need to compete and over-ride and argue and be superior and the One With All The Answers destroys authentic relationships with women.
And where authentic relationships cannot flourish, prejudice and cruelty and exploitation will.
I'm angry about that. I'm angry about Bernie Sanders rolling his eyes and talking down to Hillary during their primary season debate. I'm angry with Mitch McConnell for his patronizing, smug, "and yet she persisted."
I'm angry at the PBS news story I heard this morning about tech companies offering less money to women for the same positions men get more money for. I'm angry with women who say "she should just get over it" about a woman claims assault or harassment. I'm angry that girls are trafficked and prostitutes go to jail while the men who use them melt into the night, free.
I'm angry that some religions keep women from leadership and even from being in the same space as men, or from being seen at all. I'm angry that girls are kidnapped and spirited away one or hundreds at a time and it happens over and over and over and over.
Would these things occur in a world where women were accorded the respect and equality that is naturally theirs, but suppressed by men and other women with internalized misogyny?
I don't want to be self-aggrandizing here. After all, it was only a small act, a simple click of the "Unfriend" button. Yet unfriending that man was an act of feminism. Because it's all linked, in the same way a butterfly moving its wings in the Amazon rain forest contributes to a snowstorm over Siberia.
It was a small act, but not a trivial one, personal yet symbolic because women's rights are human rights and until we all stand up - in whatever large or small-but-not-trivial way we can - for the rights of women and girls, we accept and are complicit in our current reality and our future fate.
To find out about how to manage the unrelenting heartache, headache and pain of this Trump presidency, talk to someone who manages chronic pain.
I have chronic migraine disease, which means I have a only handful of hours per month without pain. The pain varies, and I'm not always collapsed on the bed with an ice pack in a dark room, but every single day, I'm managing pain.
Yesterday, while fighting a bad migraine and preparing for a meal and meeting with the women's spirituality group I've been in for fifteen years, I suddenly realized that a lot of my skills for managing pain were assisting me with my Chronic Trumpache. So I thought I'd share my strategies and tools with others who may be, as I am, in constant pain about the state of governance in this country right now.
Chronic pain gets you down. And all the well-meaning though scream-worthy advice about just getting over it (or it will get better soon, or just give it time) makes not one scrap of difference. Treat your Chronic Trumpache seriously, intentionally, but without wallowing in it.
1. Turn off the radio, TV, and electronic screens. Go news-free for a while. Walk around, listen to music, smile at the cute kid in the stroller.
2. Balance being busy with being slothful. Whatever slothful looks like for you - a guilty-pleasure book or magazine, a bubble bath in the middle of the day, a couple hours in the sports bar (drinking in moderation, of course), meditation, prayer.
3. Get exercise. I'm better able to manage my pain since I joined the Y three years ago - even though I don't get there as often as I wish I could. Exercise doesn't make the pain go away, or even lessen it. But it raises my low spirits and strengthens my muscles and enhances my self-esteem - all important in pain management.
Chronic pain can be isolating. Ranting on facebook or twitter or in an email may help a bit, but having a friend who understands and who will have a cuppa with you when you're stuck is much, much better. For Chronic Trumpache, there are also outlets for resistance and action that will help in reducing those feelings of helpless rage.
Here are links to the action pages of a few sites I like:
Organizing for Action
Southern Poverty Law Center
Your self-care goal for chronic pain is not to eliminate it, but to manage its effects on your body and your spirit. Even moving to Canada will not eliminate your Chronic Trumpache. So it's best to accept that it's affecting you. Your anxiety, fretting and agonizing only make it worse, only tighten your muscles and fracture your spirit, adding stress upon stress upon stress. When you accept that it's chronic, you are free to choose your self-care.
Then you can go back over the list above (turn off the news, balance busy and quiet, get exercise, meet a friend, resist and act) and begin actually managing the pain of Chronic Trumpache.
We all know what happened to the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination made by then-President Obama in January 2016: the Republican-controlled Senate refused even to give him a hearing, never mind allow a vote. It was an unprecedented, un-Constitutional move. Republicans, who now feel vindicated because they got their conservative nominee from Trump, are convinced, I'm sure, that they did the right thing.
And it was the right thing, if protecting a party's power, politics and influence at all costs - and at the expense of two centuries of precedent and the Constitution itself - is right.
But it's not right.
I'm so infuriated and frustrated with the Republican obstructionism and refusal to pay even minimal homage to good governance practices that we've seen since 2010 that I can't watch or listen to Mitch McConnell and his ilk without shouting at the TV or radio. i can just imagine what Democratic Senators feel. Surely they are sorely tempted to give the Gorsuch nomination as difficult a time as they can. Surely they wish they had the power to do Gorsuch what the Republicans did to Garland.
As an article in The Atlantic says, "Senate Democrats must now decide how hard they are willing to fight over the high-court seat that Republicans blocked President Obama from filling after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year."
Of course, it doesn't matter how hard Democrats fight. They don't have the votes to win, and they risk forcing Republicans to eliminate the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees: a change that will surely come back to slap them in the face in the future.
But aside from the possibility of future face-slaps, it's not right.
Understandably, the temptation is to do to them what they did for us. Eye for an eye, etc. Yet if it wasn't right or good governance or Constitutional for the Republicans to block the Garland nomination as they did, neither is it right for the Democrats to use any means possible (however ineffective it may be, ultimately) to obstruct and fight the Gorsuch nomination.
That's not to say that Democratic Senators shouldn't question and argue and do all they can to reveal any real reasons to fight this nomination. Their responsibility is to vet nominees.
The Republicans tossed principle over the Potomac. It wouldn't serve the Constitution or the Senate or the country for Democrats to, in their own way, do the same. It seems to me someone needs to stand up for constitutionality and principle now and I hope that someone is the Democratic Senators.
I can't shout righteously at Mitch McConnell if my side goes as low as his side did. And frankly, righteousness is about all I have, just now. Righteousness in the form a belief in power that gleans instead of plows under, and in civic duty as encompassing compassion, inclusion, and fairness, and in a kind of governing that welcomes compromise and behaves tolerantly
Stay righteous, Democrats.