Holding the Space for Connection Through the Hard Conversations, Part II

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Today I watched this video of Trump supporters at his rallies.  Their words, actions, and expressions represent the basest human emotions.  I posted the video to my Facebook page, commenting:

(Donald Trump incites rage and hate) in his followers. He stokes the worst in people. He provokes the emotional states that preclude rational thought and reasonable behavior–he is the king of emotional hijacking. Nobody ever makes a good decision while emotionally hijacked; that is when relationships and connection are destroyed, often violently and permanently.

And here’s another irony:  We non-supporters are similarly hijacked by his belligerence.  He and his supporters incite us to rail against them all, collectively and wholly as individuals, as racists, bigots, idiots, haters, etc.  Name-calling is the easiest and most convenient way to separate ourselves from what we disdain, what we fear, and what’s too uncomfortable to tolerate.  But how does this help anything?

On my last blog post I wrote:

I intend to avoid:

-Speaking and writing in sweeping generalizations

-Following snap judgments about groups, or individuals based on their group membership

-Labeling and shaming people or groups as ‘racist,’ ’ignorant,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘lazy,’ etc.

Today I wrote about Trump’s supporters:

I’m trying not to label and pigeon-hole these people, trying not to judge them and discard them, just by what I see here.  That only advances the exact mentality I seek to reverse: more separation, more hatred, more “you are less than me, you don’t matter.”

I guess I have to keep reminding myself.

I can hardly imagine what it would be like to sit down, one-on-one, with someone who sincerely supports a Donald Trump presidency, and have a conversation about it.  But I can easily imagine talking to a Trump supporter about the trials and joys of parenting, the breakneck evolution of technology, and a mutual love of Marvel movies.  Who knows, maybe I already do.

I think most of my friends know my political persuasion.  Most of them also share it.  But probably more than I realize don’t share it, and we avoid talking about it.  Why?  Because it’s uncomfortable.  We don’t trust ourselves to avoid the emotional hijacking.  We’re afraid we’ll say something we’ll regret and damage the relationship.  Or (and), we see the only objective of such conversations as trying to change the other person’s mind, or having our mind changed, which feels at the same time futile and scary.  So our avoidance of the hard, uncomfortable conversations is an attempt to maintain connection (with ourselves as well as one another).  We intrinsically understand that our relationships are important.  So we limit our conversations to topics on which we agree.

At this time in our human evolution, however, we are called to do more.  It’s too easy to live in the echo chambers of like-minded friends and media sites.  It’s too easy to filter our perceptions through repetition and reinforcement, to think that our point of view is the only one, or worse, the only right one.  It’s too easy to label others as wholly racist, sexist, bigoted, idiotic, communist, misogynist, mindless, right-wing, extremist, or evil, based on impulsive interactions in comment sections on a blog or Facebook post.  It is simply too easy to fall victim to premature judgment and conviction based on skewed and incomplete evidence.  We are called to so much more.  We are called to the hard conversations, the interactions that require effort and persistence.  Why?  Because the rewards of this work are understanding, compassion, empathy, connection, and love.

My friend wrote to me, “We have to do this work for your beautiful children.”  Yes, my dear friend, for all of our beautiful, innocent children.  Let us model for them what it means to Hold the Space for Connection, even, and especially, when it’s hard.  This is the work we are called to do.

Holding the Space for Connection Through the Hard Conversations, Part I

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Hello again, friends!  I hope this post finds you happy, peaceful, and connected to the most important people in your life.  Looking back on the 26 days since my last post, I can honestly say that the last is always true, but not necessarily the first two.  Often these weeks, I feel challenged, tested, vexed, and conflicted.

Last weekend I had two prolonged and agonal Facebook conversations with one friend.  Tears were shed, consciousness distracted, identity challenged.  Suffice it to say, my friend persisted in his noble effort to help me look deeper into myself.  He helped (goaded?) me out of my comfort zone, challenging me to really empathize with the suffering of others, specifically of blacks in America—to put myself in their shoes, something I may have never truly done before, or a least don’t do often enough, I’m humbled to say.

I have always thought of myself as an empathetic person.  I can almost always relate to my friends’ and patients’ stories of loss, struggle, and suffering.  I can imagine, one-on-one, how I would feel in their shoes.  But I have also been careful not to say things like “I know how you feel.”  Long ago I learned that those words overstep the boundaries of truly shared experience, and I came to view them as presumptuous and negative.  As a result, I’m quick to acknowledge that though I can usually imagine, I cannot truly know the unique suffering of another.  My dear friend helped me realize last weekend that in my effort to respect and defer to other people’s suffering—again, specifically black people—I inadvertently separate myself from it, and from them.  And that, ironically, undermines the very connection I try so hard to cultivate every day.  I talk and write all the time about our ‘shared humanity.’  But it was not until the hard conversations last weekend that I realized—or was reminded, I’m not quite sure,  maybe I knew before?—what that phrase truly means.  Because of him I’m now far less likely to see current events as happening to Muslims, Blacks, or Asians, but rather as happening to fellow humans.  I have always understood this intellectually, but now I feel it, emotionally, viscerally.  And maybe that is where true understanding originates.  I am so grateful for this insight.

My last post was about listening…  Rereading it and looking back now, I see that in my Facebook conversations last weekend, I sought initially to be heard more than to hear.  And that’s okay.  Sometimes we need to stand up for ourselves and in our own truth, at the same time that we Hold Space for others.  Fortunately, both my friend and I stuck with the hard conversations, striving to be heard, eventually also listening (reading), and in the end we both felt understood and accepted.  It was painful and frustrating, and totally worth the investment.  Our newly deepened relationship will synergize our respective efforts to make the world better—we have pushed each other higher, we are stronger, because we are connected.

* * * * *

Playing My Part

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Hello again, friends! Feels good to be back…  3 weeks since my last post of the Blogging A to Z Challenge, holy cow!  At the end I thought, ‘Hey, I can do this!  One post a week, no sweat!’  …And then crickets…  How Fascinating!

Though I have not posted in three weeks, I have written like mad, mostly journaling. Today I suddenly realized how much I have missed corresponding with my friends on paper.  How long it’s been since I wrote by hand to someone other than myself!  As I sat this afternoon and wrote, on stationery, with colored gel pens and stickers, to some of my best friends, a tremendous sense of connection and gratitude filled me.  Much of this post was born of those spontaneous letters to my fellow conscious, cosmic journeyers.

Given the awesome support network with which I am blessed, I feel an impulse to do something more with my writing—to amplify and project all this love and connection back out onto the world for some positive purpose.  But how can my words possibly make a difference?

The A to Z Challenge showed me that I have the capacity to write often and much—and to produce better-than-crap results! It also taught me that I can take more risks with my writing, in both format and content.  Now I want to take my writing a little more seriously, lend more credence to my own abilities.  In the framework of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, I know my Why: to cultivate positive and constructive relationships in every realm of life.  This blog is another What to my Why.  But since the Challenge ended, I struggle with the How.

I think night and day about so many things:

  • My own individual relationships—spousal, parental, sibling, other familial; colleague, patient, student, friend, stranger.
  • Relationships I observe between others, and their impact on those of us around them.
  • Healthcare and medicine in general, and specifically at my own institution—miracles, bureaucracies, opportunities and pitfalls.
  • Leadership and organizational culture—examples of effective and ineffective models, and what makes them so.
  • Social justice and discourse—with an urge for movement toward acceptance, inclusion, mutual understanding, and cooperation.
  • Education, parenting and role modeling—integrity, walking my talk, inside and out.
  • Physician self-care and care of one another—individual and system issues, and their interface.

What am I called to affect? I live a conscious life in all these realms, or at least I try.  I have opinions and positions on various issues, some which I hold with deep conviction.  And I struggle with whether and how to express them—for what purpose?

Finally, I have an idea. Though I have opinions and positions that I hold strongly, I plan NOT to use this blog to promote those views.  There are plenty of people doing that already, a multitude of voices trying to win one another over, or, more precisely, trying to drive one another into silence with ever louder, brasher, and more vociferous language.  My voice can be one of moderation—of collaboration, connection—maybe a bridge for a few who seek one…  Or maybe just one stilt among many others, helping to hold up one such bridge.  I will strive not to criticize or proselytize, not to berate, blame, shame, incite, or inflame; and also not to concede or abstain.  I can, at the same time, hold my positions with conviction and passion, and also listen for the convictions and passions of others.  I can practice curiosity and openness.  I can question, explore, Hold the Space, and stand strong and tall, without feeling threatened.  I seek others who strive to do the same.

Voices of moderation are muted these days. The great orchestra of discourse has lost balance and harmony.  The most strident strings, horns, and drums play for their own promotion, rather than as a contribution to a symphonic collective.  The resulting dissonance makes us want to cover our ears and run away.  In order for a symphony to engage and inspire, each player must not only know her own part and play it well, but also listen carefully for other players and their movement.  Maybe we can all do this a little better: maintain our own distinct voices, while integrating with those around us.  The best orchestra functions as one entity, breathing and moving in a quintessentially integrated fashion.

My instrument is language. The past seven weeks have shown me my part in the online verbal orchestra.  This blog is where I will practice, record, and offer my contribution, not to overpower any others’ words, but to meet, align, and resonate.  The harmony of consonant contrast plays on, somewhere.  Maybe I can help find and amplify it, so more of us may enjoy the music of life among one another.

#AtoZChallenge: Presence and My iPhone: A Poem

IMG_0313In this Post-Post-Paleo Parenting Period

The Prevalence of devices Purturbs me

iPhones, iPads, their Pervasive disruptions

Of Personal interactions and attention

 

Even as I Persevere to Prevent myself

From Peering at the screen

I lose Precious time with my Progeny

Whenever I look away from them toward the Phone

 

Away from the Petite and Precocious Mei

Away from the Pensive and Pragmatic “Guh” (older brother)

They are mostly Patient

Sometimes Peeved

 

They deserve more than a Perfunctory Parent

They are Primary

They require my full Presence

 

I hereby Proclaim and Profess

To Practice Purposeful Pauses and

Curb my Propensity for screen-Peeping

 

This is my Parental Pledge

 

So Please, my Peers, be also my Patrons

Pass not your judgment

But Provide your Pardon

And Partner with me on this journey

As we all Proceed to Pattern

For our children

The People we wish for them to be

 

#AtoZChallenge: Opposition and Openness

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Image from Google long ago; I can’t find the link anymore, sorry…

OH, this is a hard one.  Okay, Okay, I just have to write it.  And OMG, I am now two letters behind!

Oppose, Dictionary.com:

  1. To act against or provide resistance to; combat.
  2. To stand in the way of; hinder; obstruct.
  3. To set as an opponent or adversary.
  4. To be hostile or adverse to, as in opinion: to oppose a resolution in a debate.
  5. To set as an obstacle or hindrance.
  6. To set against in some relation, especially as to demonstrate a comparison or contrast: to oppose advantages to diadvantages.
  7. To use or take as being opposite or contrary.

There is so much Opposition in our world now.  I’m thinking specifically of politics.  Like many of my blogging friends here, I eschew writing about politics because it can have unintended consequences and distract from the intent of this blog.  I have alluded to it (Obtusely) here, and commented on another blog here.  Mostly, I don’t feel qualified to comment on politics.  But a Facebook post I wrote a few days ago keeps nagging at me to be shared, and I have struggled around the best way to present it.  So here goes.

When I look at the list of definitions of oppose, I feel tired.  When I think of the energy it takes to constantly stand against something, I feel listless and drained.  Fighting, resisting, combatting, Obstructing, standing in the way, hindering, disputing, dissenting, contradicting—it’s exhausting.  I think of times when I meet someone new and all they talk about are the things they hate, that they can’t stand, that they want changed.  I cannot wait to get away and find levity.  There are two main consequences of the oppositional mindset that put me off:

Polar Isolation

Oppositional mindset pushes people apart—to extremes.  I think now of my Facebook friends who post incendiary words and images.  They blame, shame, ridicule, mock, and degrade Others.  By others I mean those who do not share a common economic background, political ideology, religion, skin color, profession, or even parenting style.  When I see these, I conduct an internal debate.  Part of me wants to engage, to call my friend out for posting something Offensive, distasteful, unprofessional, or unkind.  I try only to be friends on Facebook with real-life friends, so I know these people are not offensive, unkind people in general.  But each time one of them posts something deriding a group to which I belong, I feel hurt.  So I want to ask them, what are they really thinking?  Would they say these things to me in person?  But I know that social media is a poor venue to hold these conversations.  So I almost always scroll over.  Every time, though, there is residue on my figurative shoe from stepping over these posts.  I have to work harder to think of my friend in the same positive light.  I wonder whether we really do share values like I thought we did—because one of my highest values is to be kind to others.  I feel a distance now that I have chosen deflection rather than engagement.  It feels sad and lonely.

This is not to mention the escalating verbal wars waged by our politicians today.  Suffice it to say, I have stopped watching the news and listening to the radio.  I curate my information in small doses and avoid sensational headlines.  Everybody is out to paint the Others as dangerous, untrustworthy, less than.

When all we hear from our Opponents is how much they hate us, how stupid they think we are, how they wish we would shut the f*** up, we will do one of two things.  We will disengage, or we will engage with acute and increasing hostility.  Either way, we push one another further and further apart, and we end up living in polar opposition.  And as we know, conditions at the ends of the earth are harsh.  It’s a desolate and heartbreaking way to live.

Rigidity, Immobility, and Stagnation

The other consequence of a singular focus on that which we oppose is a complete and total lack of progress.  Two examples come to mind:

My child is jumping on the sofa.  “Stop that,” I say, “don’t jump on the sofa.”  She stops momentarily, then starts again in a few minutes, moved by a spontaneous joy that I have long since forgotten.  I keep repeating, “Stop that, do NOT jump on the sofa!”  The focus remains on what I do not want.  I keep a lookout, and each time she repeats the unwanted behavior my frustration mounts.  I may employ negative consequences—the next time she jumps, I take away screen time, or a stuffed animal.  The stakes climb and everybody gets tense.

I hate my body.  I am 20 pounds overweight, I feel sluggish, none of my clothes look good, and it undermines my confidence.  I keep thinking, I don’t want to be fat, I don’t want to be fat.  So every time I’m faced with donuts that someone brought to work, every time I go out to eat with my friends, I brace myself to guard against behaviors that I know will make me more fat.  I succumb sometimes.  I feel shame.  I keep thinking to myself, What’s wrong with me, why do I keep doing things that will keep me fat, when I don’t want to be fat?

There is a saying, “Energy flows where attention goes.”  I don’t know who said it first.  When we focus on what we don’t want, there we remain.  Even when it’s what we oppose, if we continuously attend to it, precious little energy remains to spend on what we do want.  This constant vigilance and guarding keeps us preoccupied with the problem, and impairs our ability to develop solutions.  What if I changed my focus with my child, and let her know what I expect from her?  “The sofa is for sitting.  Can you please sit nicely on the sofa?  How long can you sit still?”  Now I’m generating movement toward something desirable.  I’m making it a challenge, it could even be fun.  Tension is diffused, and I might tap into that long lost joy a little.  My self-talk around weight could also benefit from a subtle shift.  The difference between I don’t want to be fat and I want to be healthy can be profound.  The former keeps me fixated on and entrenched where I am.  The latter helps me move toward a goal, gives me an aspiration.  What does a healthy person do?  She avoids the break room when donuts arrive, finds alternate routes to the bathroom.  She takes the stairs rather than the elevator.  She chooses salad more often than burgers.  I start to envision my best self, and I feel motivated to pursue it (me).

Letting go of my oppositional mindset allows my creativity to shine through, and a world of possibilities may Open up before me.

 

Open, Dictionary.com:

  1. Not closed or barred at the time, as a doorway by a door…
  2. (Of a door, gate, window…) set so as to permit passage through the opening it can be used to close.
  3. Having no means of closing or barring: an open portico.
  4. Having the interior immediately accessible, as a box with the lid raised or a drawer that is pulled out.
  5. Relatively free of obstructions to sight, movement, or internal arrangement: as an open floor plan.
  6. Constructed to as to be without cover or enclosure on the top or on some or all sides: an open boat.
  7. Having relatively large or numerous spaces, voids, or intervals: an open architectural screen; open ranks of soldiers.

Letting go of opposition means Opening ourselves to new possibilities of thought, engagement, Outcomes, and connection.  I believe my friends are kind and generous at heart.  I can still oppose their offensive expressions.  If I do it with an open heart, ready to hear their point of view, withholding judgment and honestly listening for understanding, then I can maintain our relationships, even deepen them.  If I can make them feel seen, heard, understood, accepted and loved, despite our differences, then they will be more likely to extend me the same courtesy.

Being open means being vulnerable.  Just because I Offer openness and understanding does not mean my counterpart will reciprocate.  I could be rejected, ridiculed more, hurt more.  These are the risks and costs of openness.

But what of the benefits?  What if my openness actually creates a space for communication and mutual understanding?  What if my friends and I can lead by example?  Could we start a movement toward taking time to hear one another, seeing different points of view, and holding multifaceted perspectives?  Humans and our experiences are complex.  We cannot easily be distilled into soundbites, headlines, cartoons, and labels.  We should not accept such oversimplifications—we should Oppose them.  And at the same time we need to stand Open to the validity of our fellow citizens’ experiences.  We need to remain Open to the possibility—the certainty—that we really do share common values, goals, and hopes.  We need to work harder to hold our hearts Open to one another, reach out and come in from the cold, polar regions, and strive together for a better world for all of us.  We cannot hold hands with clenched fists (another quote, no?).  I would rather hold hands.

***

Here is the video that triggered my Facebook post of April 15, 2016, and the actual post:

I love Bernie. Also, though, I am starting to notice that his severe criticism of ‘the rich’ and his characterization of them as greedy as a group, oversimplifies.  It does so IN THE SAME WAY AS DOES THOSE WHO CHARACTERIZE POOR PEOPLE AS LAZY.  There are greedy rich people. There are also lazy rich people. There are also greedy and lazy poor people.

I agree with Bernie’s core values and his consistently stated vision for our future. I understand that his proposed policies may be unrealistic and unattainable in the foreseeable future, or maybe even ever. But he gives me something deeply meaningful to strive for, and that is the kind of leader I will follow. Even if we never get there, I will happily trudge the path *in the direction* of said future, because it’s where I want to go.  I do not hear or see a clearly stated vision or aspiration from the Republicans.  Bernie inspires me to be a better person, to make my best contribution to society.

We all have a desire to make a contribution. Psychology research over literally DECADES tells us that human nature is wired to be both productive and connected. So these premises that some of us are innately lazy and live for handouts, and others of us are conversely inclined to accumulate wealth only for ourselves and for its own sake, are not only severely misguided, they are dangerous. These toxic assumptions are exactly what keep each side permanently entrenched in opposition. Assumptions turn into accusations, which then engender mutual defensiveness, then offensiveness. It’s no wonder we have devolved into the current political morass.

I want Bernie to soften his language and invite the rich into conversation, collaboration, innovation, and creativity around solving the problems of inequality and disparity.

I want Republican leaders to moderate the voices in their party who blame the poor as personal failures and the sole architects of their downtrodden situation.

I bet most rich people really do care about the poor, just like I believe most poor people really do want to work and be productive members of society.

How much more could we do, how much better could we be, how much movement could we achieve, based on these assumptions instead?

Warrior Pride, and a Plea for Preserving Our Connections

My heart feels unusually heavy this weekend. Two years ago today a beautiful young girl named Claire Davis lost her life to gun violence and her schoolmate’s rage.  It happened at my alma mater, Arapahoe High School, in Centennial, Colorado.  It had been almost two years to the day after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, and not 18 months since the horrible theater shooting just across town, in Aurora.  I remember thinking then, what is happening to us?  How does this kind of thing happen so often, and what kind of pain moves people to commit such violence, against others and then themselves?

I remember high school with great love and (Warrior) pride. Classes were challenging but not overwhelming.  Our volleyball team never had a winning season, but we had fun and learned teamwork.  Our speech team, on the other hand, won consistently, and competed at State every year. The excellence of our choir concerts and musicals rivaled professional companies I have seen (no help from me).  Some of my best friends are teachers I met at Arapahoe.  Their dedication to education, of others and themselves, even now in retirement, inspires me.  I had my core peer group (fellow nerds), but I was friendly with people in almost every social cluster.  I was one of maybe seven non-white students in my class of 462, but I never felt singled out or threatened.  Looking back, it was the relationships, as usual, that made my time at AHS special.

Today, I see so much more vitriol and violence in our world than even just 2013. Our relationships deteriorate faster than ever.  We oversimplify our political views to post on social media, looking for the most searing and aggressive words to make a terse point.  It’s as if we think 140 belligerent characters will make someone with an opposing view say, “Oh, of course, you’re right, I change my mind.”  We reply to others’ combative posts impulsively, defensively, and with hostility.  What good does this do anyone?  It certainly does not lead to any meaningful discourse or mutual understanding.  We write things on social media that we might never say in person, or at least not without thinking twice.  As a result, we feel indignant, offended, and angry.  We ‘unfriend’ one another on Facebook, narrowing our relations to the echo chamber of those who share our exact views, collectively deriding those who don’t.

There is no substitute for a face-to-face conversation, and the time and energy it takes to have one. It requires a certain degree of tolerance, and an unspoken contract of civility and courtesy.  We must choose carefully with whom we are willing to undertake such a venture.  And perhaps most importantly, we must be clear about our objective(s).  Do we really expect to change someone’s fundamentally held political or religious beliefs?  How realistic is that?  What other purpose, what other good, could possibly come from such conversations?

I propose that we seek these personal interactions to deepen and strengthen our relationships—our connections.  Social media, and probably media in general, constantly work to divide us.  We need to sit down with one another to reunite, find our common ground, and rediscover our shared humanity.  I believe this can only be done in person. It gives us a chance to practice our best skills in patience, curiosity, and withholding judgment. We must listen to understand, and not merely to reply or refute.   In the best of these conversations, we ask more questions and make fewer sweeping, generalized statements.  We avoid accusatory language, and say more, “Help me understand,” and, “What makes you think that?”  The key is to really mean it, though—we need to honestly seek to understand our counterpart’s point of view.

In the best cases, we each walk away feeling seen, heard, understood, and accepted—even loved—despite our differences. We pledge to continue the conversation, seeking always mutual understanding, bringing always mutual respect.  Let us start with our real friends.  Let us make it safe for those closest to us to express their views without fear of ridicule and contempt. Let us request the same of them, and practice openness and reflective listening in the harbor of established connection.  Emboldened with the courage to stand firm in our own beliefs while generously allowing others theirs, then maybe we can venture out into social media again, and serve to bring openness, generosity, and respect to our virtual relationships.

Maybe you feel confused—how did a post starting with the shooting at my high school end up as a plea for kindness on social media? I suppose blogging is, at times, an exercise in stream of consciousness.  Thank you for sticking with it to the end.  Your willingness to do so gives me hope that we can all move toward patience, generosity, and compassion.

Facebook Fast, or Coming Home

November Gratitude Shorts, Day 21 (Late entry)

Thank you, friend Donna.

We had one of our usual soul-feeding brunch meetings on Friday.  I expressed excitement, intensity, diversion, passion, apprehension, exhilaration for all kinds of things, and also concern that in all my ambition to achieve my professional vision, I would neglect my family.  We talked through all the connections between my activities, my values, and the world at large.   You helped me explore my inner world, slow down and examine the concerns that I might otherwise gloss over.  I described my urge to be home, pay attention to the kids, be present.

Conservatively, I probably spend 3+ hours on Facebook, email, or WordPress per day. You suggested I do a social media cleanse–what was it, a week?  A month?  Whoa nelly, let’s not get carried away!  But it caught my attention. I’ve been struggling for a while with FOMO, as David Brooks calls it, or Fear of Missing Out. I scroll through my Facebook feed for articles. I check my WordPress stats to see how many views and visitors, comparing one day to the next. It all diverts my attention from the family, when I’m with them. I’ve tried to implement limits, like no Facebook after 9pm. That lasted maybe a week. It’s become a habit, a compulsion—walk by the phone, pick it up, check this, then that. A multi-day cleanse seemed a bit drastic. But maybe a fast? Just try, we said. No pressure. See if I can go 24 hours without checking Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress, and look at email minimally. We agreed I would try Saturday—today is as good a time as any.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I feel liberated and reassured. Turns out I can live without Facebook for a day, and I don’t dissolve into cold sweats and tremors. I meant to post my November Gratitude Shorts on time, but I let up on myself for those, too. I knew I’d get them done. It’s not the end of the world if my daily posts are a little delayed.

I spent time with the family. We watched a movie together, decorated the Christmas tree, and had some good friends over for a potsticker party. I didn’t miss out on anything, and all is well. I still may not be ready for a week-long cleanse, but I can definitely make fasting a regular practice. As I continue to pursue my professional mission(s), I can use social media as a source of ideas and information, and I can also put it down and engage in person with those around me.

Thank you, friend Donna, for the invitation.