It’s the last weekend of summer - try to acknowledge and be present for it.
Lettered with a sharpie.
Playing at Maggie Daley Park, my oldest son happened upon a painted rock. As an avid "treasure" hunter, this made his day. He loved it, and when he showed it to us, already had the idea to paint rocks for others.
About a month later I came upon a write up of the Kindness Rocks project in a magazine. So, we decided as a family to participate. To maybe make someone's day by giving them a chance to find a treasure. Using some old acrylic paints left from college studio days, and some Sharpie paint pens, we went to work one Saturday - painting on smooth landscaping stones.
The kiddos had a great time getting messy, and creating messages. Todd and I had fun putting some thought into each stone that someone might come across. There is now a box of hand-painted stones in our mudroom. So when we visit a playground or a park as a family, we take a few with us. We drop them or hide them where others can find them (some easily, some not so easily!) It's a small gesture, but one that was rewarding to make and hopefully is joyful to find.
I am lucky to be a part of a group of intelligent and thoughtful women who want to challenge themselves and have hard discussions about important matters. The way we do that is with a monthly book club. This past month we read The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays by Megan Stielstra. I haven't made this many notes from a book in a long time.
The series of essays explores her life through a number of fears - from the seeming inconsequential to the life-halting. She's humorous and engaging, and being a Chicago writer, I appreciate the local connection. Some of her clever lines border on Mark Twain-esque : "I am a midwesterner: we always worry about everything" and "Nothing is as awful as doing something you hate to pay for a waste of your time." She is beyond transparent. You feel her emotions - you are scared with her, you grieve with her, you savor life with her. But what struck me the most is how she cataloged her own growth and development about the way she sees the world. She laid open her own prejudices and inadequacies, that we may find similar ground, and also grow.
A huge topic for her is race and privilege. She lays bare her own ignorance, when she first learned some of the real stories of the LA race riots: "'Why didn't I know about this?' I said, incredulous, not yet understanding that it was my responsibility to look." This resounds with so much of what I'm experiencing lately - finding ways to educate myself on an entire world that was obscured to me. Stielstra says, "At some point our education no longer belongs to our teachers. It belongs to us." I've been attempting to vary the media I'm exposed to, and the stories I surround myself with. I've intentionally sought out diversity in my Instagram feed (Rachel Cargle is a saint and tremendous resource!) and my media (Dear White People streams on Amazon Prime). White people must do this work ourselves.
Stielstra asks, "When do you think about your privilege?" and this is a question that cannot be asked enough. Because once you recognize it, you can begin to use it. She says:
I teach writers. It's on me to show them the weigh of words, how they can perpetuate or elevate.
Privilege isn't blame or shame or fear.
Petitioning us (not only her students, but us as readers) to use our platforms to make change, no matter how small, is a reoccurring theme. As well as listening, and looking.
I cannot recommend this book enough - and not just for anxiety-prone white Midwestern women who like literature. The content here is universal.
We have to keep doing the work.
I'm not quite sure why Amazon chose 7.16 as Prime Day, since it isn't a Prime number. But regardless, as a prime member I'm happy whatever day it is.
I don't think that 5 years ago anyone could have convinced me how much I'd come to rely on Prime in my day to day life. It's become a convenience and a habit and a life saver. I assume without children, I'd still be an avid user, but with my inability to get to a store alone, the need to bargain shop, and the apparent urgency of wants and needs, I can't imagine parenting without it. And now with the extra deals at Whole Foods as Prime members, it's getting even better.
If you are one of the few people who don't have Prime, use the link to get a free month. And if you don't yet have Prime Pantry, I'd recommend at least a trial. It was a great time saver for us, and you can always cancel if you end up not liking it.
But, Prime Day. Lots of good deals, if you are in the market for it. I put together a list of my favorite Prime-shipping lettering supplies. Stock up!
I feel so far away from the border. So unable to help. But these atrocities have really shaken me. I can’t stop thinking how the separated families at the border must feel. And not only that they are separated, but then the continuing trauma they are subjected to.
If you aren’t fully educated on the subject, I’d recommend reading this explainer by Vox. And, this post by Elizabeth Warren, detailing her visit to detention centers at the border, is a must read. It was posted to Facebook, but she is also submitting it as a letter to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.
All of this can make one feel helpless.
But also the crisis isn’t as far away as the border. The children have been transferred to detention centers all over the country. Pro Publica has created a map and is asking for help gathering details.
And remember that there are ways to help in your own community, even if it isn’t directly for these families. Find your local refugee resettlement group and volunteer. Seek out a foster care organization and see what support you can give local children.
The more details come to surface about these atrocities, the more horrendous and horrifying it is. But there are small intersections and acts of resistance one can take. And keep talking about it. Keep being horrified. Don’t let this become common place or hidden in the news cycle. Keep being a human feeling for other humans.
Harriett Beecher Stowe was likely talking about abolition or women's rights when she wrote this, but it feels prescient to any task requiring effort.
I stumbled across Darling magazine a few years ago. Looking for a more "grown up" or nuanced woman-centric magazine with a feminist lens, I subscribed. Though somewhat of a luxury, due to the expense, this quarterly is worth it's very hefty weight. One of the tenants is that no woman you see on its pages, in original content or advertising, is retouched. It seems so simple and yet it is so bold.
Recently the magazine founders launched an entire media company with the same ideals, to spread their messages beyond print. I'm excited to be a founding investor in Darling Media. And the below is part of their mission statement.
One of my favorite months! The #write_on challenge has begun for April. I love that this month ramps up my handwritten correspondence. I love assembling the supplies almost as much as dropping a thick stack of envelopes in the box.
On this International Womens Day, we must remember those of us with the harder fight. Those who so often are our voice of reason. Remember to stand up for black women's voices; let those voices lead us. We are all sisters, and there is much we can do to hold each other up.