Processing

30, Flirty, And Thriving (Cancer Aside)

When I was 13 myself, the movie 13 Going on 30 was released. A classic rom-com mirroring my own coming of age time frame, starring Jennifer Garner, struggling with the all-too cringeworthy embarrassing plight of being an unpopular and awkward teenager, who manages to literally wish herself into the future, as she so anticipates being “30, flirty and thriving” – a mantra not only repeated throughout the film, but now echoed by the masses who have witnessed it, manifested in everything from 30th birthday theme decorations to internet memes. (And the award for the longest sentence goes to…)

Fast forward to 2020, the year in which I arrive at age 30. I had always been told that the decade of your 30s is the best; one without hesitation to look forward to. The decade of some of your best milestones. I had lofty goals for what I wanted my life to look like by age 30, most of which were unceremoniously derailed by COVID19. Like, what is up with this virus assuming that any of us had the luxury of giving our goals a whole year off?

Not only did I feel a sense of failure, mentally I was not in the best headspace either. I was feeling the strain of spending half the year on half my salary due to an unstable survival-mode crisis at my place of employment, coupled with the most unsuccessful job hunt I’ve ever endured. I must talk to three recruiters per week. Each time, this peak of your emotions feeling like you might finally have your next opportunity ahead of you, met with the feelings coming crashing down by the constant rejection and/or an unwillingness of the company to pull the hiring trigger. I’ve always thought that I will be met in equal measures of success with outcomes that reflect the effort I put into them so it is difficult to experience that being completely not the case. Additionally, I was lonely, fearful, worried, angry and a cocktail of myriad negative emotions related to the constantly changing news cycle, as well as not having my normal methods of stress relief such as being able to really sweat it out at the gym, breathe deeply into hot yoga, or just the physical touch and presence of being around loved ones. I could very much feel social distancing, living alone and being half employed yet fully unproductive having a major effect on me, and I became concerned with the psychological possibility for long term impact. SO CLOSE TO 30, SO FAR FROM FLIRTY AND THRIVING.

As go the peaks and valleys of life however, I found that once I really sat with the emotions and let them run their course, feeling and processing it all (rather than trying to reject or deny or slap a stamp of false optimism on anything), that this meant I was able to take the necessary action to dig myself out of it. A bit of grit to get back on the ‘30, flirty and thriving’ plan.

As for the thriving part, the time afforded from working from home without a commute allowed me to take on a handful of both ongoing and one-time freelance projects. I replaced all lost income and then some. Thriving financially! Most recently, a website for a Pilates instructor who is compensating me with biweekly strength training sessions that I am adding as cross-training to my half marathon running plan. And did I mention I converted my spare bedroom into a weightlifting zone with pink and purple and teal barbells and dumbells and resistance bands and a bench? Thriving physically!

So there’s that. And then, there’s also this guy. Who, in a display of highly questionable judgement, has bewilderingly elected to appoint himself my boyfriend. I mean, of all the unexpected twists and turns of 2020 this just may be the most shocking to be recorded in the history books, that I for once successfully navigated the lost world of #datingwithChar to have produced a favorable outcome. I suppose I will have to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge that I must be truly FLIRTY after all!

Despite a cancelled summer Europe adventure and travel ban, I was able to visit Seattle for the longest time I’ve been back since my freshman year of college and it was honestly one of the best trips home I’ve ever had. I indulged in a Palm Springs getaway with the girls in which we overdosed on sunshine, laughter, and forced quesadillas (‘you must order a FULL MEAL with EACH DRINK’), as well as Catalina and Laguna Beach getaways with the man.

Next, I’ll get to host my brother + dad in a rare visit from them. My company scored some emergency grant funding that will keep the lights on, I closed the door on a couple of overhanging battles that had been weighing heavily, the Orange Buffoon got COVID, and all things considered, it all seemed like the year had turned a corner and I was finally tapping into the elusive magic reserved for the stuff of chick flicks!

At this point in the movie version of my life, the mood board is equivalent to those laughing salad stock photos, and you would see this montage of me confidently doing all these thriving, flirty things while this song is playing

But you know in every chick flick, the protagonist always faces a seemingly unsurmountable obstacle, right? That moment where the record skips and the frame freezes and the character is suddenly realizing there is a reason for the phrase ‘it’s too good to be true.’

In the version of life where I’m the protagonist, this setback comes in the form of a possible breast cancer diagnosis, nbd. Essentially my routine annual women’s wellness checkup resulted in a large lump. The conversation went a little something like this:

Dr. C: ‘Do you feel this? Anything more than pea size we are concerned about.’

Me: ‘Omg yes, I feel this…it’s not a pea…it’s a full GNOCCHI! THIS IS VERY CONCERNING!

If 30 is for being flirty and thriving, I’d say 40 is for being glammed and mammogramed (Jennifer Garner will spend the next decade I imagine preparing for this career defining role I have just invented for her in the upcoming 13 Going on 30 sequel). But mammograms are not for your 30s! That is the territory of the 40s. In your 30s, the breast tissue is still too dense to show much in the way of conclusiveness via imaging so there is honestly not much point to the mammograms….

However, this week I visited the Memorial Care Breast Cancer Center where the mammogram and ultrasound appointment confirmed there is in fact a very significant lump, that, whether cancerous or not, will most likely require surgical removal. That full anesthesia, stitches, pain, scar tissue, non-routine medical bill glory of it all. But first I will undergo a core needle biopsy. In the case of cancer, then comes a series of further diagnostics to discern if/where it has possibly also spread to, and whether the removal surgery is enough, or if I will need to undergo additional treatments. The documents uploaded into my patient portal estimated the risk of cancer to be 24-33%. The lump is 1.4”. The cost of the visit is $1,970. While the Affordable Care Act did deem mammograms to be 100% covered without any out-of-pocket expense, apparently that is only for ‘routine’ mammograms. A cancer scare at age 30? Most certainly NOT routine, and NOT covered by insurance. Always a loophole that benefits big pharma. Our medical system literally makes money off of us being sick and encourages detrimental health outcomes so that they can profit.    

As I laid on an ultrasound bed, half naked and shivering, waiting for a doctor to come explain all of this to me, suddenly the rest of 2020 up until this point felt entirely trivial, like comparing the woes of an emotional and angsty 13 year old to the real life problems of a 30 year old who the universe has decided to gift with a seemingly disproportionate abundance of ‘life experience.’ I found myself wishing the reversal, that I could just transport back in time to age 13 and be a bit carefree for a while.

My biopsy appointment occurs on Election Day which I have now dubbed the Day of Potentially Catastrophic Outcomes. I’m hoping that by the end of that day, both myself and the White House will be pronounced free from cancer. Can you imagine the state of my body if it had been inhabiting me for 4 years? I learned as I began her book during my waiting room time, that Kamala Harris’ mother immigrated to the United States with the sole aim of finding a cure for breast cancer. I wonder how anyone could look down upon immigrants and think that we are somehow above finding room in our country and our hearts to accept those who strive not just for a better life for themselves, but to make society as a whole a better place. Honestly think about the people around the world who are vying for an opportunity to come here and make our world thrive, and ask yourself can you really justify turning them away? If the answer to that question is yes, then let’s see YOU develop a cure for cancer, because that is something that could ACTUALLY make America great again.

Anyway, my point with all of this was not to get political, but to catalogue some of the observations that have come with this medical scare:

Firstly, my community is hands down just the best and most incredible. I have never felt the presence of those who love and care about me as much as I have in the last few days – from the people who are closest to me that I speak with anyway on a daily basis, to people I haven’t heard from in years, even decades. I am humbled and grateful. This is such a lesson to me in how people develop strength in these types of situations: it really is afforded to them from the outpouring of prayers, well wishes, check-ins. I imagine these people and these communications as rays of sunshine beaming towards me and I’m absorbing each and every one, allowing it to help me glow brighter. There are so many to consider, but a few that have stood out:

  • The fact that I could have rented a minivan to include everyone who offered to drive me to my appointment, and despite not being able to have any visitors inside, I had two friends sit outside and wait the 2 hour length of my appointment to keep me the least amount of alone as possible.
  • People who I have met ONCE expressing to me their deepest personal vulnerabilities, then saying, ‘I know what this is like,’ so ‘know that you’re being covered by prayer from me.’
  • A simple ‘hi’ gif just to check in.
  • Two different people actually thanked me for sharing my story because it gave them the opportunity to care about and pray for me and that was astoundingly beautiful.
  • People who have vowed to keep my calendar busy with friend filled activities to distract me in the time in between appointments.
  • The friends who are not afraid to ask ‘how are you really feeling about everything?’ and have the strength to absorb the answer and accompany me into the difficult thoughts and dark places even if it may be heavy.
  • My brother sending me cute animal photos on the daily to cheer me up, notably his roommate’s cat Pumpkin who was rescued from a dumpster, but is now being referred to as ‘Doctor Orange’ a reassuring medical persona offering affirmations that everything will most certainly be okay.

All in all, I have found that no gesture is too small, no context is wrong. This will stay with me regardless of outcomes and next steps, as a reminder that if something is on your heart, just speak it. Say the bold things, or say the things that are less bold without fear that they will be insignificant or unnecessary. Sometimes that is a challenge I face. I doubt: why would this person care what I think when they are clearly going through something so difficult? or What if I say the wrong thing? That’s not at all the point nor a thought that has crossed my mind at all. I’m just so thankful for it all.

Second, and the main reason I chose to share more deeply and publicly about something so personal, is that in conversing privately with so many women in my network, they ALL had a story. Their own stories, as well as stories of those they knew. To paraphrase: ‘Don’t worry! This happened to me! It is just something they don’t tell women with big boobs, that we all go through this at one point or another’ or ‘I tested positive for the gene mutation and elected for a double mastectomy as preventative care’ or ‘I actually just made an appointment because I found a lump in my own breast that I want to go get checked out’ or ‘Two of the women in my family beat it, but are very adamant about reminding me to do my self-checks.’ I convinced my mom to make the mammogram appointment she had been putting off. A woman in my network shared she too will be having a mammogram on Election Day and I promised to send messages of positive vibes and titty solidarity to her that morning.

The prevalence of everyone’s stories communicates a couple of things to me. Foremost, prompting this blog post at the deepest level, is to encourage anyone who has not scheduled their mammogram (40+) or annual ogbyn visit (21+ I think?), pull a Nike and JUST DO IT. The reason why all of these women had stories to share is because we have understood the importance of early detection and have checkpoints in place to be able to reveal the early indicators. We just have to tap into them. I always knew I *should* do a self-exam and never really did, mostly because it just feels sort of weird, but you bet I’m going to be the biggest proponent of it now.

But at a level outside of just breast health – health in general. I have spent the majority of the year being pretty heavily plant-based. Like, the no gluten, no dairy, no grains, no meat, no soy, no sugar kind of plant based. I’m finding creative ways to maintain fitness during COVID and have always prioritized working out and eating healthy. I have no family history of cancer, I was never a smoker, I love my supplements, and I’m always down for a yoga, meditation, massage, cryotherapy session or other such wellness activity. I’m allegedly 30, flirty and thriving, after all. How could I be affected?

But I think that exact ‘it can’t happen to me’ mentality is something I have learned sets an expectation that in turn results in more emotional upheaval and devastation when it is not proven to be true. This year was so hard for me to process because COVID upended things in a way that I never predicted could be, precisely because I presumed I was in control of my life, yet my sphere of control never factored in a contingency plan for the whole centennial deadly global pandemic catastrophe thing. There is a lot in life that we cannot control, but our health is one thing so precious that we can safeguard and steward. Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, sexually and entirely holistically. To quote the signoff of one of my favorite podcasts, “take care of yourself, and, if you can, take care of someone else too.” I just want to encourage and motivate people to learn about their bodies and what feeds and nourishes them from belly to heart to soul to mind, and to love themselves enough to put that into practice with the choices that they make. It may not halt cancer or pandemics but it will be so valuable in blessing you as you weather whatever life throws your way.

Back to another takeaway from the prevalence of the stories…we are all so complex, experiencing so much life so deeply. These are the moments where we see things revealed and understandings arrived at that we would not have ordinarily been privy to. The moments that allow us to relate to others on a deeper plane because of the vulnerability they can unveil. The moments that create patterns worth paying attention to for the insight they can add up to. We are not naturally accustomed to inviting others into these worlds, but it is such a beautiful thing when we do. So that’s another call to action: to share your own story. Share the deep things, the difficult things, the things that keep you awake at night. It is not shameful or weak. There is so much strength in having the maturity to be able to wrestle with life’s difficult moments and allow yourself to be shaped and taught by them, rather than trying to live above it and pretend that everything will work itself out, or ignore the lessons the universe is trying to urge you toward and only publish your social media highlight reel of the good things. No. I want to share my hardship to let it be grounds for better ministering to people and helping them through whatever they are struggling with. In a conversation I was having last week, this concept arose: a current definition of art as the creativity of survival. I love that. There is art in presently engaging through life, with less of a need to define it or answer the cosmic ‘why’ or be able to predict every future outcome…just seeking the beauty in the experience itself. And the deeper you have to seek to pull it out from, the better it gets. Not the obvious surface level beauties of life, the really raw ones.

I’m not sure the conclusion that this chapter or year has in mind for me, but I do know this: there is nothing so far that me and my fabulous boobs have not been able to overcome, and whatever this biopsy reveals will not be any different. I remain committed to being thirty, flirty and thriving – cancer aside.

CHAR IN QUARANTINE


Two years ago today, I roamed Calcata, Italy, an abandoned commune built into the side of volcanic cliffs. Photographs recollect a sleepy medieval era village seemingly inhabited by more cats than humans, where uneven stairways meander past charming facades; signs of life on empty paths absent. I was struck by how unoccupied the town was, particularly juxtaposed with lamenting the impossibility of capturing an image in central Rome without a sole tourist interrupting the frame a day prior.

The memory was unearthed via a journal I keep: One Line A Day. Each April 11 reveals a stack of April 11s above, showcasing snippets of life years prior. The one liners weave a great source of reflection. What aspects are unchanging? What has seen transformation? The motivating factor that perpetuates the habit relates to my obsession with the implications of a Zora Neale Hurston quote: “there are years that ask questions and years that answer.” In a given year it may not be obvious which way it swings, but as pieces fit together one line a day a truth emerges which I find necessary and rewarding to contemplate.

In comparing 2018’s empty street moment to today, much of the world has adopted a Calcata shut-in lifestyle, flagging empty streets a reoccurring theme. April 11, 2020 signifies 4 weeks of solo quarantine, an absurd amount of time to be trapped in the rabbityhole recesses of Char’s Mind, which is currently working OT to process it suddenly being a year of majorly WTF questions. I could do a modern take on ALICE IN WONDERLAND called CHAR IN QUARANTINE and you wouldn’t believe how much trippier it gets past stripey smiley cats and hookah caterpillars. For I confess in the depths of my depravity I’ve even contemplated going live on IG and enlisting in the military. DEFCON 3000. To absolve myself of any potential wrongdoing spurred by a perpetually overactive mind, I’m attempting via the only best way I know, to let my thoughts run a course through longwinded exploratory prose that I hope has insight about where we find meaning, beauty and purpose in this moment.

The first two weeks of quarantine I felt essentially every negative emotion under the sun. There was the immediate panic as a result of an initial wave of furloughs at work, including the pain of having to release the best hire I’ve ever made. Non-furloughs were reduced to a 50% capacity in terms of working hours and salary, though having now absolved the duties of my coordinator, working half time to cover the jobs of two people while navigating entirely new protocols for what my job looks like is totally unrealistic. There is uncertainty in the long road ahead that we can sustain this and I worry about the prospect of a 0 hour, 0% salary. Desperate, this speculation kickstarted a frenzy of job applications and frantic emails to recruiters coupled with the awareness that nobody is likely to be hiring in this environment, and wondering if even once the immediate crisis clears and we are able to resume normal movement within society, will the economy rebound in a way that is sympathetic to job opportunities within the apparel industry? Will I have to go backwards in terms of responsibility, salary, title to find my next steady employment? Why does my career path seem to be a neverending process of starting over?

Next, a spiral of fear I could be out of work for the long haul. Solemn resolve to begin a crisis management budget and strategy. Doubt about the choice I made to pursue to such a rocky sector. Echoes of scoffing in my head I have not relieved since college about fashion being a stupid career move, though this was avenged when all the designers converted their production sites into mask making facilities, and vindicated, I triumphantly declared outloud to my plants: “AND THEY TOLD ME FASHION WOULDN’T SAVE LIVES!” Regret, anger, denial, exhaustion, confusion, sleeplessness, frustration. The humiliation of the unemployment application which I completed at the advice of my employer, ushering in my lowest low. Then I felt incredibly selfish that my worries were centered around my situation when there were other people who were worrying about whether or not their family members were going to live, how they were going to put food on the table for their children; other preoccupations of a greater magnitude than my own. While I know there is not a hierarchy to suffering I also feel so fortunate to be in the situation I am in despite how it is not exactly what I would call ideal, and I should be more grateful about counting those blessings.

As I began to settle into my bizarre new existence, a quarantine routine, the haze from this series of negative emotions cleared, replaced with a resolute determination to weather this crisis nobly and productively. It occurred to me I had just circumvented the phases of grief. I tried to tap into the root of this sentiment – what am I even grieving?

I guess sometimes it seems as though a lot of doors I’ve tried to go through in life have shut in front of me particularly as it applies to family and romantic relationships specifically. This has always been acceptable for me because I’m still able to knock down so many doors in my professional life and see consistent success in this realm. I don’t feel lacking for not being called to life as a wife or mother or living down the street from my parents and seeing family every weekend because I have my career success to keep me focused and busy (not that these things are mutually exclusive because I don’t think so at all; these are simply the justifications and frameworks I have applied to my own life to help me make sense of it). It is because in the occupational realm, input matches output. I can work so hard and see a direct impact in the success of that, whereas in other realms my level of input has not been matched in the outcome. So the grief seemed to stem from the slamming of my primary door and this question of where to turn to when all the doors are shut? And further, when all typical “keys” to “unlock new doors” have been temporarily suspended due to “shelter in place”? I began thinking, if your work and your output are the fundamental sources of inspiration, success and worthiness, how do you sustain meaning and purpose from life when everything has been stripped away by an order to stay at home and do a whole lot of nothing? In set a pressure to replace that sense of achievement by figuring out a temporary goal with which to distract myself, such as trying to train for a marathon or learn a new language.

In processing this on a call with a friend, she was struggling to understand my frenzy, asking “why do you feel like you need to PROVE or DO anything to feel accomplished and worthy? Why can’t you see that you are worthy and enough simply by just being?”

Sincerest apologies to my poor network of friends as I work my way through my phone book subjecting them all to my burdensome unanswerable questions in desperation to feel some type of resolution and understanding. But it really is just the coolest, having people who GET you enough that they just hit you back with these equally unanswerable and amazing questions. And then say, “you should go WRITE, Charlotte.” DAMN. I am known.

One of the most helpful pieces of media I’ve interacted with amidst this crisis begins to answer exactly that. Krista Tippett really is always peering into my soul and speaking my heart. In this case, a 10 minute dialogue from her Living The Questions series, which is inspired by another favorite quote of mine from Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into an answer.”

In the meandering minutes of this particular piece she is exploring a question submitted by someone whose sentiments are exactly what I had been pondering. Raised to believe that success is defined through achievements in intellectual and occupational pursuits, she was struggling to reconcile her self worth while quarantined. “If I believe we are all inherently worthy just by being human, how can I feel that way when I’m doing ‘nothing’?” The transcript and audio are here; if you choose to interact with it I recommend listening rather than reading as it is much more powerful in that way.

Krista does not answer the question directly. Instead she explores ways of starting to build into an answer. Being kind to yourself, getting settled into yourself, remaining soft. I love her closing line: “and it’s going to be a piece of us cultivating depth and calm and resilience and even, I think, creativity for this long work ahead.” ❤  When I think about who I want to be known as, hands down it would be a person of depth, calm, resilience and creativity, willing to dig in to the long work and be kind and soft in the midst of that.

Another struggle for me has been the notion that you can work your ass off arranging your life as soundly as possible: having the recommended emergency funds in the bank for being out of work for extended amounts of time, contributing to a retirement, being debt free, living below your means and all these other ways of being responsible and setting yourself up for success. Applying CONTROL makes me feel so good! Perpetuating a consistent illusion that I am IN CONTROL is such a KEY part of my identity! Yet how fragile this identity really is, if it can all be completely upended by circumstances entirely outside of our control. In some ways I have this feeling of acceptance that we all need to experience this collective humbling right now, and I’m looking forward to the potential of that while knowing how difficult it will be to face.

Alas, as I can only hope from any of my writing and thinking, finally it starts to add up a little bit.

Is it perhaps more productive to think about how to replace our fragile frameworks and preconceived beliefs on what success looks like with something that cannot be toppled? For lack of a better analogy the ‘American Dream’ concept, and all of those it has any level of a grasp on, needs a life coach to help it figure out how to redirect towards what really matters in life.

I think about this virus that is powerful enough to topple economic systems, to inundate our medical facilities, to alter social programming in the way we go about tasks such as grocery shopping and hygiene and our day to day jobs; all these really macro level changes simultaneously. And then the devastatingly individual micro scale realities too: a virus that strips away human dignity by rendering its victims to die alone, gasping for air, surely never having imagined this would be their end. How much beautiful soul work in this world was yet unfinished by those whose lives have been lost? The virus ruined that immense potential too, and I hate that.

Perched to usher in so much destruction at so many levels I wonder what could possibly be more resilient than this virus? In a scientific and medical sense, a vaccination. But what was the point of any part of going through this entire experience if we are not equally committed to figuring out a vaccination for healing humanity itself? This is what I am starting to think about: how do we develop a collective humanity resilient enough, that, unlike our economy and our broken healthcare system and the nuances of what we arrange our days and priorities around, is strong enough to be the victor in this and any future battle?

If I could summarize a common thread between the above mentioned input from Zora and Krista and Rilke, they seem to understand this idea that I am living into with more ease the older I get: we are not owed answers, but instead, we owe ourselves to seek the answers out, because the process of seeking propels us into a transformational process. It is better to not have a concrete and immediate answer to the questions because that would negate any process of searching below the surface; admittedly this is also vastly more challenging. But when you come out the other end of it, the consequences of the journey vibrate at a higher level than the question itself which then in turn loses its sense of urgency. In this moment rife with unending uncertain asks, where and how do we pivot to start navigating our way into answers? I can’t expect to know how this is all going to unfold or what the point of it was, but I can open myself up to exploring that. And this is where my exploration has led me…

If I take my own transformation in the last month as an example, it can seem easy to get caught up in the negative emotions which all boil down to fearing death. Death in the very literal sense as a result of COVID19 for ourselves or for anyone we know. Death of so many small and large businesses that won’t survive. Death of productivity, death of industry, death of income, death of physical progress in the reduced ability to exercise, death of prior ways of doing things. This was unproductive and unsustainable for me. Instead, I want to think about what gives me LIFE. At the risk of sounding like some cliché Buzzfeed listicle, some of what that means to me —

  • The friends that meet my tough questions with both tougher questions and a gentle presence to come alongside me as I work my way through them. Being able to do that back for people.
  • Through acts of service being someone relied upon to ease the burdens of others. The person who fields the late night text “are you awake? I just ended it with him…can I over? I don’t want to be alone.” Or the “a family emergency has me needing to leave town in a couple of hours, what am I going to do with my dog?” I’ve got you. The closure of certain doors in my life is an insurance policy in maintaining my ability to be a person always willing and ready to say yes to helping any way I can. HERE for that.
  • Synchronicity, and those moments where something so coincidental happens that you feel like for just a split second, the world was made for you. Like hearing a word as you see the object, or receiving a text from someone in the moment where you are actively thinking about them, or experiencing déjà vu, or a decade later running into your childhood neighbors at a tourist site in Paris. The NO WAY moments of life.
  • And TRAVEL. How travel is a secret portal to entirely new patterns of thought and forever alters how you navigate your own existence in the world. The bewildering possibility that it is actually an endless source of expansion in consciousness in that way; you could live forever and never stop traveling and seeing new things and learning about yourself and the world via all of these fresh horizons that is literally WILD! Any time you experience a shift in perspective and priority. Nudges and inklings to recharter a course even if the destination is unknown.
  • Trying something new even if you’re awful at it. There is a distinct variant of confidence that results from trying something new that allows you to push yourself forward with a little more self kindness and purpose. Being able to laugh at yourself is another moment that feels really good.
  • Passion. To choose one word to stand alone in this listicle without necessitating further explanation: passion.
  • The summit of a hike; there is so much potential here. The resulting landscape visage an immediate reward for the output of having physically challenged yourself. Sore muscles; hiking soreness is my favorite soreness. An awareness of insignificance in a good way, that everything is more incredible than you remembered and how fortunate we are to see and experience these things. I find life in any moment like this in nature, not just hiking but seeing shooting stars and the moonlight reflecting on the ocean and animals doing animal stuff and weather doing weather stuff and just marvelling at the incredulousness in how we’ve inflated our importance to deny the need for these beautiful reminders of more. It’s really hard to put into words what I mean by all of this. Hiking was the last time I’ve participated in an activity IRL with anyone and if COVID19 got me I’d rest easy knowing that was the note I exited on.
  • Random acts of kindness. A month ago, I was consuming every piece of news possible about the state of things, thinking knowledge was power, and being ‘informed’ translated somehow to security. That is total bullshit, FYI. Now, the articles that compel me most are ones that illustrate the extraordinarily creative ways humans are using their kindness to adapt to what is going on.
  • When two people experience some unexpected moment of hilarity together, and there is that caught off guard style of laughter. Surprise laughter is the best kind. That symbiotic knowingness of someone having the same interpretation of a situation as yourself without having to vindicate that in dialogue.
  • When hours have whittled away the contents of the bottle and the fire is reduced to a fading glow of coals and the conversation goes quiet and you’re thinking about having just spent the evening sitting around a fire in the company of the people with whom your soul feels at ease and your personhood is safe, just what a blessing all of that is. Those moments of good conversation and good people and good food and good wine that just make you feel a little more alive.
  • Different interpretations of a work of art, whether literature or film or poetry or fine art or music, and the inferences art evokes about our individual worldviews; using art as a tool to understand ourselves and each other better through the conversings it provokes.
  • Those moments when life has perfectly styled itself (or actively arranging them) when each sensorial activation is stimulated at once. I’m talking about when when it’s snowing outside and you’re curled up in front of a fire place with a glass of wine and a book and nowhere to be and the playlist fits the vibe. Or driving up PCH with all the windows down and smelling the ocean air and feeling the warmth of golden hour absorbing itself into your skin and realizing this is the most alive you’ve felt all week. VIBES just straight up vibes I love vibes.
  • Compliments that are so powerful they stick with someone all of their life: that you identified something so core to their essence and verbally affirmed it, and it was in this moment that they finally accepted it as a non-negotiable aspect of their existence. Making others feel seen.
  • Finding the courage to speak from a place of complete vulnerability, and having that fear mitigated when the response results in a deeper level of awareness between two people.

I have begun to find comfort in, provided we survive the immediate danger of staying alive, ALL of these life giving things will still be here when the fog lifts, even if our jobs and bank accounts and the pasta aisle are decimated and the road ahead is looking frighteningly uncertain. To me, these are the moments that I would describe as that resilient collective humanity that so intrigues me. They are my dreams to chase and places to turn to for security, purpose, wisdom and hope moreso than our economy, occupations, systems and routines. Once we resume life as we knew it, I hope we will seek them out with a more insatiable persistence and relish them all the more. I am aware that there will be moments where they don’t seem like the perfect stronghold to counteract the magnitude of what we are facing…though is that not a lesson in itself, that we seem to give more power to what is bad than what is good?

I don’t presume to be an expert in therapeutic exercises or ascribe to a generalizing view of what may or may not be helpful for everyone, but I will say that taking some time to reflect on what I see as life giving in Char’s World gave me some peace of mind. If you allow yourself the liberty of escaping into that place of contemplation for a bit I’d love to hear about what gives you life, too.

So April 11th ends and the streets are empty, but I’m realizing that my reoccurring symbol is not about being shut in, it is illustrative of a blank path ahead of us that we have the opportunity to choose how to navigate. Stay the fuck at home until you’re prepared to do it justice. Just kidding, but only kind of. I’m just a girl in the world asking you to think about what it would look like to proceed down a path focused on highlighting the life giving moments you see as resilient to disease instead of getting caught up in that which is not sustainable in times of pandemic. And for everything you do to move from that place. Work from there, love from there, ask from there, learn from there.

2.16.17 – Meeting Mary

If you have not yet realized, here on my blog is where you will find me sharing my heart. And because I just had an experience that broke my heart, I feel compelled to record the story.

I was popping by the drug store this evening. On my way in, I noticed a woman lingering outside. When she was still there on my way out, I approached her and asked her if she needed assistance. As I was doing so, she began to wince, trying to offer a smile, but it was clear she was conflicted, and words were not coming to her.

I recognized exactly what was happening, because I myself have been plagued with the same feeling so many times: when you just need help, but it is way too difficult to ask.

She must be new to this asking for money thing, I thought to myself, because it honestly seemed like she had no idea what to do or where to start.

I dug into my wallet, apologetic at my measly $2 offering; I am notoriously awful at having cash on hand. As I did so, she suddenly began to pour her story out to me. For 30 years, she had been employed at the same company. She unzipped her sweatshirt to show me the logo T-shirt of the company. Her pride was apparent as she told me how in her 30 years, she worked hard enough to go from $7 an hour to $9 an hour.

“But recently, I think they got afraid. They told me I couldn’t work there anymore, because they didn’t know what was going to happen, and this new president, I would get them in trouble. Because I am illegal.”

Have you ever watched someone admit that they are not a legal citizen of the United States? The way she said it, THAT was the moment that my heart broke. (If someone wants to send a powerful message, compile a video of people admitting they are “illegal”). My heart broke because of the shame apparent in her body language and how she downcast her eyes as she uttered this confession. She was a hard-working, contributing member of our society, who took pride in her job and wanted to work. Yet because of where she had been born, because of circumstances entirely outside of her control, she was being sold an uncompromising lie about who she was as a person: that she was somehow lesser, somehow dirty, somehow unwanted, somehow a liability, and that somehow 30 years of loyalty and service and hard work could all just be forgotten and reversed. That she could be rendered homeless simply because of the fear that our new president has ushered in.

And yet…she was still SO proud of her story, and still clothed in the T-shirt they had given her. When, at the end of the day, despite the fact that she was “illegal,” this employer was not even paying her a state mandated legal wage, so for them to shame her so hypocritically for something they were guilty of in their own way…oh, the irony of the entire situation…

This narrative we are currently immersed in, and the leader who perpetuates it is in direct contrast with a different leader and a different narrative that I know. In the narrative I ascribe to, we were all created equal in the image of God. And because ALL were created EQUAL, it does not make sense to me that we would build a hierarchy to contradict this equality, and try to play God ourselves by thinking that we are somehow better than others, when if we would just look at a fundamental human level we would realize where we stand. And because we are ALL the image of God, for us to cast judgment and want to shut out our brothers and sisters in Christ because of circumstantial differences – that just does not make a whole lot of sense to me. If He tells us we all have merit in Him, why would we try to find ways to challenge the merit of our fellow brothers and sisters? The leader I know filled his days with endless ministry and unconditional love poured out upon the marginalized and all those on the fringes of society. The homeless, the refugees, the immigrants, the widows, the children. It seems to me like there is a very clear interpretation presented here: “And if a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. But the stranger that dwells with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

If you don’t ascribe to my narrative, that’s fine. I’m not here to try to tell you to believe the same thing. I don’t find it productive to sit on social media and debate politics, and my intention is not to sway opinions, spark a comment war or anything along those lines. I think that no matter what your opinion is, you should have the freedom to believe and share it.

However, I DO think – and I would think this no matter who was our commander in chief — we are living in a world that is broken, hurting, lost and hungry for more love, more compassion and more people to pause and share stories and resources in any way they can.  And I DO think it is productive to engage with your community and learn from every situation you find yourself interacting with, rather than keeping your head down and ignoring the woman outside the drug store. My intention is more along those lines: to spark some train of thought, to provoke action, to ask you to dig into your community and plant roots and water the growth, in the hope of ministering to each other in love and warmth, to build a little bit more beautiful of a vision each and every day. Even if you are in total support of our current president, and you side with the employer in this anecdote, and want to deport the woman I spent the evening talking to immediately — even if that is you, I ask you to engage with those around you, to learn the stories of strangers, to have a heart for the broken and to generously offer your resources to them. Try not to see people as labels — illegal, legal, Muslim, woman, homoxesual, Christian, Atheist — try to see beyond the label, and see instead the soul that was so lovingly crafted by our Creator, so intentionally put upon this Earth to serve a divine purpose in the Kingdom. Love doesn’t choose sides. Love isn’t red or blue. Love laments the aggression of the bipartisan landscape and calls us to something greater.

YOU BETTER BELIEVE THIS EXPERIENCE MOVED ME, BECAUSE YOU BETTER BELIEVE THAT CHAR DON’T PREACH. It makes me very uncomfortable, actually.

I asked this woman what her name was. She told me, “You know the mother of Jesus? You know who she is?” I said, “Yes ma’am, that would be Mary.” And she said, “Yes, that is my name too.” I asked Mary if she would be comfortable with me praying for her, and she started to shake her head laugh.

“Whenever people ask to pray for me, either I cry and then they cry, or they cry and it makes me cry. And I don’t want to cry. We always cry.”

I told her I understood, but that if it was okay with her, that I would pray for her later tonight when I was at home. She said yes, that she would like that very much. I told her to take care.

I had made it maybe about a dozen steps away, when all of a sudden she shouted, “WAIT!”

I turned around.

“What is your name?”

“Me? I’m Charlotte.”

“Charlotte, can I pray for you tonight too?”

“Yes, Mary. I would like that very much.”

Mary didn’t assign me to a category. She didn’t write me off as “legal” or her “enemy” or her “opposition.” She looked outside of her own bleak and challenging circumstances to extend grace and prayer to a stranger.

And let me just tell you: I’d much rather have people like Mary as my co-worker and my neighbor than those who would cast her out.

I’ll close with a couple of paragraphs I wrote at the end of 2016, part of something more personal and separate, archiving my sentiments on the transition from 2016 to 2017. Because what would my blog be without being utterly jumbled? Though disjointed, they relate to the ideology:

I think that regardless of your beliefs on an array of different topics, the way we choose to address and interact about these topics often makes me question the level of humanity within all of us, and if we are selling ourselves short by not living up to our fullest exploration of outward reach of love towards others. And I would hope that no matter what side of the fence (and please let it be just a fence, not a wall) that we align with, we can all see that an aggressively partisan environment is not conducive to a harmony that allows us as a society to all bring out the best in each other. There is no compassion in our disagreements these days, yet I do believe compassion is a better vehicle for change than aggression.

But I guess compassion and increased levels of humanity, these are not traits born in a vacuum of a perfect utopia. These are character developments painstakingly cultivated by difficult outside circumstance that cuts in deep enough to expose vulnerability, then the healing of the wound leaves that muscle memory just a little bit raw to remind you not to go forth and damage or cut into the world in the same way. So I guess when I look at how difficult life seems right now, I have to be careful about how I choose to compartmentalize 2016 in the archive of years I have been involved in, or the exhaustion I choose to let permeate my 2017. I am not living in a utopia. However, rather than dwelling on in its far-from-it reality, rather than shunning an entire year as an atrocious smear in history, I think that I need to try to choose to acknowledge it for what that type of environment is capable of ushering in. Let’s, as we close the door on 2016, and look towards 2017, let’s acknowledge the potential it has to teach us about compassion. Let the muscle memory be raw, let us not continue to lash out and harm each other.

xxxxx.

DISCLAIMER: written amidst peak flu, while overdosed on DayQuil, not long after hallucinatory dreams of giant cricket-humans cloning and zooming in and out of perspective, sort of like those kalidescopey scene-change moments on That 70s Show.

8.17.2016 – Entropy, Street Art, Memoir by Char & More

My weekends are generally spent attempting to balance the tension I feel as an introvert perpetually fronting as an extrovert, who loves having a social life, yet is also plagued with the chronic condition of pathological independence*.

Don’t worry, I have filed that sentence under “things I would def NOT open with on a job interview or first date.” It is fine for here though, because I don’t really think future boyfriends or future employers read my blog. Quite certain my primary demographic is moms I am friends with on Facebook, plus accidental randos from other countries…

Weekends, though. Looking at the ones to come, I’m out of town for three of the next four, and working at least two, potentially three of these four; the same story as July. So this last weekend, I needed a pause from my restless inertia to retreat into my creative space and work on processing the world, totes alones. This involved a textile hunting trip in the fashion district of downtown Los Angeles.

Ah, downtown Los Angeles, where equally unrelenting are the cliche catcalling construction corners, and the putrid wafts of baked urine.

Unpleasantries aside, I quite love breathing & heartbeating with the city ecosystem of this subset of LA. It was the initial neighborhood my career landed in for the three years immediately following college, so it was the backdrop for an insane amount of growth and development. Going back to the neighborhood brings a fondness and nostalgia, and also a heightened sense of awareness and inspiration because it is a proven environment of catalyst for change in my life.

One thing I always notice when I am in DTLA (or anywhere, really) is the street art. My old office used to look out at a Banksy original. (Ironically, the PARKING artwork has been concealed by some high rise development now being built over parking lot). I’ve written before about downtown’s sidewalk stencils, and I would frequently spend my lunch breaks strolling around just noticing the artsy quirks of the city streets.

As I wandered and absorbed during my trip this weekend, I realized that my draw to street art goes beyond the message or the visual appeal and is more rooted in the beautiful ideology that persists behind it…

For a while now, I’ve been joking about writing Memoir By Char. As I piece together my introduction to my book, it reads more like the opening statement for the defense in a court of law. This meaning, I feel compelled to justify my memoir writing due to the fact that nothing has exactly happened in my life to warrant there being a noteworthy work to publish to the world. I was delaying the execution of my goals with, “I’ll write a memoir once I am famous, or when I am at least established or have figured life out.”

Unfortunately this actually contradicts my entire philosophy on art. During my time in Europe, I was blown away by the authenticity, the desire to create, and the fulfillment of personal journey that all seemed to be the motivators, the driving force behind the contribution of art to society. I was struck by the contrast to here in the United States, where so much of it seems to be about critical acclaim, financial improvement, competition, revenge or other materialistic and external factors.

Like this European sentiment I tapped into, street art is so pure. It is fleeting; it can quickly disappear should the neighborhood decide its presence violates the order of the space. As is a zeitgest — the spirit of the times — which fluctuates with the external factors that are always morphing around it. The artist is not there to see its reception. While a legacy is not guaranteed, at least in a physical sense, it is like this admission of prophetic, untapped potential into the universe, waiting to be discovered by someone who just may weave an element of it into their worldview, however temporarily or permanently. Whereas generally we seek an immediate value proposition for anything we face, with street art, the guarantee is not necessary to warrant the effort to create it. The driving force is based on potential alone. 

“Prophecy. It touches a common key. What prophecy actually is, is not knowing whether the bomb will fall in 1942. It’s knowing and feeling something where someone knows and feels in other ages. And maybe articulating it in a hint that they will pick up on it in a hundred years.”

Are we tracking? Convoluted, I know. Take a breath, because I’m diving again.

Street art gets criticized for interrupting the order, like it is unauthorized somehow. To which I say, the world desperately needs more Robert Mapplethorpes and Allen Ginsbergs and European study abroad professors to show us that a work of art’s worth is not contingent on its broader societal acceptance, and that everywhere should be a space for us to learn about each other and our world through the expressions we choose to portray.

In fact, I think that when entropy prevails over order**, it offers this unexpected authenticity in the way things are NOT, rather than the mundane way we expect things to exist. It is in this zone of zero expectation and optimistic curiosity where everything has a lot more to offer than it generally would be given credit for. There is this generosity of output, an artistic currency that provides value for both maker and consumer. Nobody is afraid to create, because worth is not dependent upon sensibility within the system. And rather than trying to shape symmetry and order for the purpose of understanding the world within our strict frameworks of expectation, what would it look like to embrace entropy in order to learn about the world through the looser, creative, exploratory frameworks of what others are trying to communicate via their chosen manner? 

I mean, this is why I am drawn to creative outputs in all forms. Literature, culinary, film, photography, fashion, music, bodies, architecture, dancing, identity, design — whatever the outlet is for our expression, any time we are creatively ministering through that vehicle of expression, this is where we see the most authentic version of people for who they are and how they view the world around us. It is SOUL MATTERS. It is embarrassing blogs that may or may not get seen by anyone, and alleyway markings that may or may not be seen before they get painted over, and side projects that may or may not get accepted to the publication, and all these other dreams that we take the courage to act on despite the fact that we may never receive the recognition we as a collective society perceive defines their worth. And sadly I think that most of the time we do not even offer these dreams enough of a chance because we extinguish the spark before it catches, thinking that we must conform to an existence within the order rather than the entropy.

The weekend taught me that I shouldn’t have to rationalize Memoir by Char. I guess I don’t think it fits into the same league of output offered by those around me who I appreciate the declarative candor by which they share themselves, in a manner that is just COOL. But there shouldn’t be a comparative order to expression regardless.

Yesterday, I found myself laughing at the general absurdity of my life, and I said, “I know that the stars are aligning, I just can’t tell if the alignment is going to propel me into a new universe of possibility, or if it is going to render me lost to a black hole vortex where I am extinguished in the abyss.” And at the time, of course, I was really hoping for the new universe. Yet after processing my thought train through the release of order in favor of disorder, at this point I am almost ready to embrace the potential of the black hole.

 

*If someone happened to invent pathological independence before me, which I highly doubt, I still claim rights to being the poster child.
**I mean this all in a way totally artistic definition of disorder — not disorder like The Purge or anarchy or anything.

10.06.2015 – Hurt People Hurt People

At the Long Beach Trader Joe’s I frequent, I often come across a man outside. He sits with a sign saying he is homeless, laid off, hungry and grateful for assistance. He does not seem too much older than myself. As you walk by, he does not ask for anything – particularly not money, alcohol or cigarettes. He is not on drugs. He is not shouting at patrons of the store. He is not following anyone inside. He keeps his head down unless you interact first.

Recently, I asked him, “how can I help you today?” And it was difficult for him to even look me in the eye as he thanked me and requested a salad. Heartbreakingly polite and humble about the fact that he needed assistance.

A couple weekends ago when I went to Trader Joe’s he was there again. Only this time, Trader Joe’s had parked right beside him a sandwich chalkboard proclaiming something along the lines of the following message:

“Trader Joe’s just not support the solicitation or loitering of anyone outside of our store. Please feel free to ignore such persons as you go about your shopping!”

Part of me really wanted to take a photo of this. The other part felt like that would deny dignity to the man sitting right next to the sign, whom the message was obviously directed at. The exact wording escapes me, but the part I am sure of, the part that has haunted me for weeks now, was:

feel free to ignore such persons

Written in a cheerful, flowery script, with an exclamation mark following the phrase.

Trader Joe’s felt the need to give people permission to IGNORE HUMAN LIVES.

Without getting too charged up, let me tell you that I find this attitude absolutely more offensive than the homeless man’s behavior. Shame on you, Trader Joe’s. Shame on you, patrons of Trader Joe’s who complain about the presence of a homeless man sitting outside. Shame on you, because ignoring human lives is exactly the underlying root of so many of our society’s problems.

On a related tangent, recently, as I was walking through downtown Los Angeles, I noticed someone had stenciled on the sidewalk, “HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE.” This is such a heartbreaking reality. When we think about people who hurt people, whether it is mass shootings or crime rates or violent transgressions, who are the people that are lashing out?

It is the hurt people.

Where does this hurt begin? It commences the moment we isolate, ignore, dehumanize, marginalize. It blossoms in the moment we strip away dignity, human rights and respect. Anyone subscribes to an attitude of thinking they are superior to those in different life circumstances is fostering an environment of negativity and disconnect.

Connected, positive, happy citizens are generally not disrupting society. Those who are participating in these actions are those who have been shut out of community, denied love and told they are not good enough. We look down on India’s caste system, but at a different level we definitely allow similar ideals to prevail in our society, without recognizing them for what they are.

Among approximately seven other books, I’m working through The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell right now. From it, I was reminded of the Broken Windows theory (something I half slept through the first time around in Intro to Sociology circa 2009). Essentially this criminology theory postulates that urban disturbance (shout out to my own alliteration) is this downward spiral progression of self-fulfilling prophecy, where little crimes such as broken windows or graffiti are what cause big crimes such as murder and illegal drug business. As the book puts it, “the graffiti was symbolic of the collapse of the system.” Little indicators that the system is broken make way for people to break it further. If there is graffiti and broken windows around, it signifies to criminals that nobody cares, so a crime done in this setting is less punishable. I guess it is kind of like: which are you more likely to handle recklessly and carelessly — a brand new Tesla, or a junker clunker?

The “hurt people hurt people” stencil coupled with reminder of Broken Windows Theory actually led me to apply the theory to the human psyche. In my theory, the small transgressions like graffiti or broken windows correlate to small missteps like failing to acknowledge an interaction someone sends to you (which is incidentally the number one cause of marital dissatisfaction), or saying something insensitive and not caring to correct yourself. I firmly believe that interactions either build or break – there is no grey area here – so every time we do not act intentionally with love and compassion, we are breaking windows. The more broken windows there are, the more broken hearts and broken souls and broken spirits we create, which is exactly what destructs our society. The hurt people are hurting people. But we are all responsible for hurting those hurt people in the first place.

Another book I’m currently reading is Blue Like Jazz, 74 years behind the curve, I know. I am only a couple chapters in, but one thing that stuck out to me really insanely powerfully was the following statement:

“the path to joy winds through the this dark valley. I think every well-adjusted human being has dealt squarely with his or her own depravity…I think Jesus feels strongly about communicating the idea of our brokenness, and I think it is worth reflection. Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror.”

(The Congo reference I loved because Heart of Darkness is one of my favorite reads of all time, but I think what he’s getting at is the extreme darkness of political turmoil, genocide, civil war, rape and other atrocities taking place there; using it as a catch-all of kind of some of the worst degradations of humanity).

But, back to that quote. It is saying, and I agree, I have been trying to get at this point in so many of the pieces I have written on here…any of the larger changes we hope to befall our society are never going to click into place unless we can face ourselves squarely in the mirror each day and commit to stop breaking windows and to stop hurting others, however directly or indirectly.

I am not sure what this means in your life. It could be offering more grace to your spouse, or ceasing to ignore those who are homeless, or letting go of your ill thoughts towards your co-worker. What is that area of your life that you are feeling convicted about right now? Who do you know needs a little bit more of your compassionate heart, and not your hard heart?

I know that my idea of love and community and connection, a society where we are not hurting one another, is radically idealistic in today’s society. My vision is complete compassion, total devotion, absolute affection, undying attention, unquestioning support, extreme selflessness. I fail at each and every one of these aspects every single day. But I believe so strongly that I need to keep trying.

I know this, because I’ve suffered a few broken windows in my own life.

On more than one occasion I have been told by people that I am one of the strongest people they know. Let me tell you something. Strong people don’t just happen. They are built from the circumstances around them.

My strength is both found and destroyed in the loneliness and isolation I often feel from my radical vision of love and connection not being met. I would venture to guess that on occasion I feel just as dehumanized and devalued as the homeless man sitting outside of Trader Joe’s. The difference is that theoretically I “have it made.” I’m completely independent, I’m paying my bills, I have a vehicle and a job and a great apartment and money to spend on hobbies and outings. I grew up in a white middle class family and have never known struggle in the way many of us would define it. While I experience broken windows, I guess because I have material security and basic needs met, it is easier for me to cope. I would never lash out against society, and I hope I never hurt others in the way that I have felt hurt. However, because of my capacity to feel so lonely and hurt, I can absolutely empathize with the hurt people who hurt people.

Without the depths of the lows I have felt, I would not possess a capacity for the potential of the heights I strive for. Science doesn’t make sense to me in an expressly scientific context. But Newton’s Third Law, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? That makes so much sense when you apply it to hurt and love. Apply Newton’s Third Law to life and what you find is that the most broken people are the ones with the most potential to love. Yet we never give them that chance because we are too busy keeping them down with the ways we ignore them and marginalize them. And, I would conjecture that it is just as dangerous to OURSELVES to deny love to those who need it most, as it is dangerous for those who are being denied.

So I’m vowing to stop. I’m vowing to acknowledge that often the people who cause us the most hurt are the ones who need the most love back. And that as painful as it is to open yourself up to the rejection that comes from loving them, there is no other way to live. I am vowing to approach each interaction with the intention of building rather than breaking – something I vow time and time again and always need to be better at. I’m vowing to be the kindness that comes along and sweeps up the broken glass from the windows of others who have had their hearts shattered by a world that doesn’t offer them the compassion and attention and affection they need. I’m vowing to use my strength built out of my brokenness to inspire others to raise themselves up and help repair the glass of others. I am vowing not to ignore a single human life or possibility for interaction. And I’m extending an invitation for you to join me. Please join me.

There’s two more points that I couldn’t get to fit in anywhere here without going off on majorly unrelated tangents, which I’ve already done enough of. But I will just briefly highlight them for you to consider yourself:

  1. If you operate on a religious basis, the model I am striving for in terms of loving others and deliberately avoiding creation of broken windows, even when it is hurtful and not always easy? That example comes DIRECT FROM JESUS. We are always shattering our own windows and the windows of others with the transgressions we make, and we are LOVED ANYWAY, and we are called to do this as well.
  2. If you are skeptical of how much I’ve emphasized the need for connection, community and compassion, and all of my long winded analogies do not make sense to you, just look at the way we prioritize social connection via our smart phones. If the way we perk up at a notification does not equate to a cry for more connection, albeit in an entirely misplaced and devastating way, I don’t know what does.