"I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself." -CS Lewis, The Great Divorce


Thing #90: PURPLE.

This morning, I woke up to the news I had hoped to hear.  I, of course, seemed to be reading Facebook and Twitter posts from every angle possible.  And all of them seemed vaguely ANGRY.

I am hurt.  We forget that politicians are a small portion of the people who have a say in the nation's goings-on.  The people who truly make a difference are rarely the people in office.  We think only they must be held to a standard of change while we continue to bash one another in the same manner they modeled throughout the campaign season.

People, we are BETTER than this.  We must be, or my lack of faith in politicians should not lie in them but in US, the US who I thought could rise above political rhetoric, above shaming one another, above hate.

I recalled this map from 2004 this morning.  In 2004, I was saddened by the ultimate declaration of the defeat of the Democratic candidate, but I saw this map, and I was heartened.  We are not red and blue as the maps we saw last night or this morning indicate.


Today, I am grateful that I can remember that the line is so closely (and sometimes seemingly arbitrarily) drawn between Democrat and Republican that our nation turns purple when we consider percentages of the vote.

I pray that we can remember the purple.  I pray that I can continue to remember - regardless of the nasty social media posts - that we are not so different after all.


Thing #89 - A FREE country

I am a Christian woman fiercely convicted that education will make or break this nation, politicians must focus on bipartisan solutions, economic situations do not fix quickly, and we should worry about the "least of these."  I believe all people deserve the right to have their voice heard regardless of their native tongue or sexual preference. And they should be able to be legally married regardless of what you think YOUR religion has to say about it.  I come from a long line of Democrats on both sides of the family tree; I think like they taught me to think.  I do NOT vote like my husband, and it is not a quiet subterfuge; he knows that I disagree.

And today, I got to vote anyway.  Despite the fact that I declare an allegiance to a God and not a country (true, I won't say the pledge); wear a bra and jewelry to mark my gender; am married while maintaining a job and my own view of the world; and will declare my liberal upbringing to the world - THEY LET ME VOTE.

I am priviledged.  I am lucky.  I am rare in the long view of the world.

We are FREE.
Please, let us behave as though we are.


Thing #88: I AM

Yesterday, I came home from the youth fall festival and turned on OWN.  I am rather shamelessly in love with the programming (and I may be one of only a few).  Oprah's Life Class was on, and I normally don't watch, but something she said at the beginning caught my attention.  On this particular episode, Joel Osteen was the "expert."  I don't really like him.  There's something about his smile that creeps me out in ways only televangelists can.  Regardless, the overall message was "what you say after 'I am' becomes your reality."  Often, we say "I am slow, fat, tired, hungry, angry."  "I am the brunt of the world's badness."  "I am useless."  "I am nothing."  What we speak comes back to us, and that is the message we hear most loudly.  It seemed so simple. 

Last night before I went to bed, I wrote five "I am" statements that I want to be true.  These are not things that are always true right now, but I want them to be.  I want to BELIEVE them. 

I posted them on my mirror this morning. 

I realized that I needed to add, "I am THANKFUL" first of all.  It is the most powerfully true statement, and I need to be that first.


Thing #87: hope

Admittedly, today was rough. I dealt with my personal demon, anxiety. It sneaks up when I think I should be in control and am not. So, when it was very loud in the narthex waiting for church, when I didn't know what to do when we ushered during church, and when the youth were asking me what to do and I didn't know what to tell them, I felt VERY anxious.

But I realize there's always hope. I have been reading poetry from Garrison Keillor's Good Poems, and a few have spoken to me in particular. This one, entitled "Hope," really captures my feelings about knowing tomorrow can be better. My favorite line is "it is the singular gift/we cannot destroy in ourselves."

No matter how much damage I do to myself today with anxiety, self-hate, and anger, I cannot eliminate hope from my future or outlook. Today, I am so thankful for that small (but rather large) truth.


Thing #86: the long run

The last three weeks have been insanely packed with school stuff, fun stuff, and tough stuff. Unfortunately, they haven't included almost any running stuff.

Today, though, included a great long run. After not running more than 5.5 miles for three weeks, I had some anxiety about a long run and definitely about the Richmond half next weekend. Today, I ran a glorious 10 miles. It was chilly but great weather for a run. The average pace of the first 8 miles was an easy 11:15, but for the last 2, I picked it up to 9:23 and 9:07 pace. It felt so good.

So while I'm thankful for the long run, I'm also glad to have legs that'll take me that far, a beautiful state park to run in, and the blue sky to run under. It's good to feel like I'm fully alive.


Thing #85: Good Literature

I've seen all these posts on Facebook about "Thankful Thing #1" and apparently this is some November thing.  I'm guessing it's someone's idea, probably someone famous, and likely someone faithful or religious or something.  Whatever.  I don't know how it started, but I know why.

I am VASTLY under-thankful for the wonderful things that make up my life. Yesterday, I left work early in an effort to avoid a nervous breakdown over stuff I can control.  Instead, I find that this stuff often controls me, or I let it control me, or, well, something like that.  And so I saw all these posts about people being thankful, and I thought, "well, great, isn't this nice?  Now I feel guilty for feeling crappy and that nothing will ever get done ever, and there's still nothing to be grateful about.  Bah humbug."  So whatever, I was wrong.  And negative.  What's new?

Blah blah blah. Whiny Katie.  Blah. Blah.

It turns out that today was a good day.  Today was a day that reminded me why I teach, which is particularly shocking because as I was getting ready to go to work this morning, I thought, "I don't know why I even do this job.  I am not having fun.  I'm tired of it."  The students were witty, insightful, funny, clever, cute.  And I LOVED talking about The House on Mango Street, a book I'm teaching for the first time.  I'm a nerd, but it's because I'm a nerd that I know it's all going to be ok.  Because I got to geek out about the tone of a really great piece of literature.

Whatever.  No big deal.

No big deal at all.