Today, I Am Grateful

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Readers, I refuse to label today as a black-letter day. I am still a bit dismayed at how we arrived at this time and place, where the words “President Donald Trump” aren’t followed by a slap on the knee, a hearty laugh, and a “gotcha,” but nonetheless here we are.

Rather than allowing myself to think about all that could go wrong (my therapist would remind me that the future is where anxiety lives), I am going to focus on some of the positive things in the world and in my life specifically. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to eat my feelings today, but my theory is this: if we continue to focus on being positive, grateful for and reflective of what is good and right in the world, the more we will want those things to build and continue. 

Acknowledging what we have going for us will help us see more clearly what we have to fight for, protest, question, and challenge. Plus, happiness breeds happiness, right? It’s just like how they say that if you smile long enough, you’ll actually start to feel happier. Maybe this technique is a bunch of kumbaya bullshit, but it’s getting me through the day and that’s what it’s all about.

So today, I pledge to inject my life with positivity (even if it’s contrived at times) so that I can, in turn, create more positivity. Here are things I’m grateful for right now.

I am grateful…

…for freedom of speech.

Without it, I wouldn’t be able to post some of these hilarious political cartoons that have helped me cope with our current political landscape.

…for humor in general.

We are living in a bizarre time and sometimes the best way to deal with the absurdity is to laugh in its face.

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…for the integrity, vigilance, humor, and poise we saw over the last eight years with the Obamas and Bidens.

I truly believe history will look back kindly on this period as a time of progress and change.

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Thanks, Obama!

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…for the press who have and will continue to pursue the truth even when faced with blatant disregard and disrespect.

We are counting on you, press corps.

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…that I have the access and wherewithal to seek out the truth.

In this frightening Age of Ignorance, I commit to fact-checking, ignoring the abundance of fake news and confirmation bias, and supporting my arguments with the data and not opinion. Science and data matter!

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Last Week Tonight is a must-watch.

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…for democracy.

Though I (clearly) don’t agree with the candidate who was chosen to represent us at the highest level, I do very much support our democratic process. I appreciate that we live in a country where we have the ability to vote for our representation and have our voices be heard (even, I cringingly suppose, if they are influenced by the Russian intelligence community).

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…for my voice.

Similarly, I’m grateful that I, personally, can voice my opinion to those representatives. Just this week, I called both Illinois senators as well as every single senator on the HELP Committee to tell them to vote “no” for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. My voice might not carry far, but at least I can use it.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn): “You can’t say definitively today that guns shouldn’t be in schools?”

Betsy DeVos: “I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he was talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

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Wut.

(Here’s how to contact your senators to do the same.)

…that there are a lot of like-minded people right now.

Clinton won the popular vote by almost 2.9 million votes (with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to Trump’s 62,979,879 (46.1%)). This, as #45 would say, is yuge. It’s tremendous! It means that though he is now our president, the majority of Americans didn’t support him or condone his abhorrent behavior. We, the not-so-silent majority, must continue to band together to promote freedom, liberty, peace, love, and togetherness. We must help people understand that we are more alike than we are different and that fear has no place in America.

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“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” – Emma Lazarus, “New Colossus”

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 …that I’m proud to be a strong, empowered, and intelligent nasty woman.

I’m grateful that I live in a time where I am able to choose how to live my life. I can make my own choices about my body, my career (if not an equal paycheck), and my future. I’m proud to live amongst other strong women, and grateful that we can stand up for ourselves in a way women never could before. Women’s rights are human rights!

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…for my friends and family.

It goes without saying, but what would life be if not for the people in it? I’m grateful for those who love and support me, even if they don’t agree with my political views.

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A Little Reminder

Remember, in the United States, we stand together. We rise together and we fall together. I am the first to admit that I want our new president to succeed because I want our country to succeed. I hope our new commander-in-chief can change my opinion of his character and judgment, and pleasantly surprise me (maybe he’ll end up being a champion for human rights; it could happen). In the meantime, I’m never going to be silent, I’m never going to stop fighting for myself, for my family, for my rights, for the little guy, and for what I believe is right. What I am going to be is positive and forward-looking. Cheers, America, and may God have mercy on our souls.

BBB Positivity Challenge

You, dear reader, are hereby invited to join me in a little challenge this week.

Ready?

Try giving a genuine compliment to everyone you encounter over the next five days.

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That’s it. It’s incredibly simple and yet by the end of the week, you’ll feel reinvigorated. By noticing and voicing something positive about the people around you, you’d be amazed how positive you’ll end up feeling yourself. It’s kind of like how smiling improves your mood, even if it’s forced at first. The more compliments you dole out, the more freely they will start to flow. Positivity begets positivity, at least in my experience.

Plus, who doesn’t love making someone else’s day? You never know what people have going on in their lives, and your simple gesture may be a ray of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy sky.

Furthermore, it’s just plain fun to see someone’s face blossom into a smile after they receive a compliment, especially if it’s unexpected. As the complimenter, you can’t help but smile back. As cheesy as it sounds, smiling is contagious.

This week, let’s all try to focus on the good in ourselves and in others.

Go forth and compliment!

(And report back! I want to know if this makes you as happy as it makes me.)

An Open Letter to My Son

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Dear Baby Brown Bear,

Please, please, please be a positive change in this world. Let your legacy be one of peace, unity, and love.

Unfortunately I write this to you in the wake of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, where 50 people were killed and more than 50 more were wounded at an LGBT nightclub. It was a horrifying and hateful act. One which was sadly not altogether unexpected.

We live in a heartbreaking time where adults (and even children) are massacred and nothing changes. People who have the greatest power to affect change sit by and send their empty “prayers” and condolences on social media while families are destroyed and futures are senselessly ended. As Loud is Ladylike said, this issue is especially hard to unravel or even begin to solve as it is a sickening blend of gun violence, LGBT hate crime, and terrorism.

We also live in a time where heinous acts of sexual assault occur regularly and, again, nothing happens. In fact, only 0.6% of rapists are incarcerated. Most instances of sexual assault aren’t even reported (only one out of three is). Just recently, a rapist was given a sentence of just six months instead of the requested six years because prison “would have a severe impact on him” (he was a Stanford athlete, don’t we know?!). His father said even that was too harsh because his crime was only “20 minutes of action.” Even more disgusting, we are supposed to consider this a victory because, hey, at least he was convicted at all.

All the while, we are quickly destroying our planet. Human ignorance, denial, greed, and apathy are all contributing factors to increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Pollution is at an all-time high. It’s so bad that there is a garbage island floating in our fragile oceans. Animals and plant species are rapidly going extinct. Despite the growing evidence of dire consequences already occurring, behaviors are frighteningly slow to change. We collectively take and take and take from our precious home, and at a certain point we must face that there will be nothing left.

Needless to say, I am embarrassed by how badly we are failing your generation, Baby Bear. We have the means to make a real impact, and yet we are not using them. Yes, the discussions are happening and awareness is being raised. But that is not enough

By no means am I saying I am perfect. I try my best to think of my carbon footprint, but I can be wasteful. I try my best to treat others kindly, but I lose my patience or make quick and unfair judgments. I’m also absolutely overwhelmed when I think about the multitude of problems we face today and can’t help but succumb to hopelessness.

While I can honestly say I don’t know what the answers are, I do know that they are not to shut down, give up, or become afraid. I know that we must embrace each other for our similarities and our differences, now more than ever. I know that for every vile human being there are even more with love in their hearts, across religions, across sexual and gender identities, across political views, across the world. I know that we must each fight for Mother Earth so we can continue to exist as a species.

I know that change won’t happen with silence or inaction. 

I promise to try my best to instill in you a sense of appreciation, humility, respect, compassion, and integrity. Your grandparents taught me from a very young age to treat others as I would like them to treat me, and I hope to teach you the same. I hope you surround others with as much love as you are surrounded with yourself. I hope you will fight for those who cannot. I hope you will try to make each day better than the day before for the people, animals, and earth around you. It will not always be easy, but I hope to give you the courage you need to stand up for and do what is right.

Baby Bear, every single positive difference you make counts. Even small, nearly imperceptible change is change.

As long as I live, I will try to lead by example. While the atrocity that occurred today in Orlando makes me want to do nothing but cuddle you in my arms and keep you safe against me, I cannot. Instead, I must devote my life to bringing more love and peace into this world so that you do the same for your children one day. I must help you grow to be the good, kindhearted, and intelligent man I know you will be.

I love you with my whole heart, Baby Bear. You are my legacy.

Yours always,

Mama Bear