Faith, Hope and Love

Confession: I’m vaguely embarrassed at how much time I’ve spent in the past two weeks thinking and writing about a man. I’ve been pretty decent at making daily time for writing these past two weeks. Not all of it is writing for the blog – sometimes it’s an article I’m working on, or a policy piece. But every day, the first thing that pops in my head is, “Do I need to write about him today?” Not want; need. That’s … weird to me.

While part of my sense of urgency is the girlish infatuation at which I have excelled since I was a girl, there’s a deeper level to what’s happening here. After so many relationships where I’ve been hurt – and so many terrible narratives I’ve constructed about what is wrong with me that causes me to keep getting hurt – having romantic feelings for someone isn’t fun anymore. It’s awful. It’s just become something to fear, something where I wait to see what new emotional trauma is on the horizon. I feel hope and joy for like, a day or two; almost everything after that is spirit-crushing doubt and despair.

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Win Some, Lose Some

It’s amazing how quickly you can go from feeling like a great organizer to a terrible organizer in the space of a few hours. I’m trying to remember that everyone makes mistakes and that part of taking risks is also erring and failing and then taking time to reflect on the lessons you learned. So this is me trying to reflect instead of wallow.

In the organization I work with, we do this practice called agitation. It’s a way of creating tension to help someone make a decision to change an attitude or behavior that gets in the way of their building power. It can be a very effective tool in the context of relational leadership development; I’ve experienced significant transformation through agitational training.

But “context” and “relational” are key words here. Agitation is something you plan to do as part of an ongoing public relationship you establish to build power together. You have to understand someone’s self-interest and have clarity around what they need to be agitated on and why. Even in an agitational training, trainers review the reflection forms of trainees and think about where they may need to be agitated in relation to the content.

The point is, you don’t do these things ad hoc, like I did today.

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Inertia.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. I try to stay in motion, because sometimes I’m afraid if I stop, I won’t have the energy to move again.

Today was a day of running around a lot: between events, to and from the train station. It’s also been a lot of people time, which isn’t always easy for an introvert. When my colleague and I finished our meeting this evening to prepare for tomorrow’s training, I made the mistake of sitting down on a comfortable couch in the house where I’m staying. There’s a non-zero possibility of me just sleeping here so I don’t have to exert the extra effort of going upstairs to the bedroom.

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Making space

I’m always trying to figure out how to be “disciplined with my time.”

There’s real value in this. I’ve been realizing over the past several months that I’m always talking about wanting to have time to do the things that keep me healthy, but saying that I can’t find the time. And then I realize: well, I just spent two hours browsing Facebook. I’m pretty sure I could have used that time to write, or exercise, or cook, or any of the things I’m always saying I don’t have time for.

So when I got back from my leadership retreat last week, I was very serious about calendaring. I was very rigorous about allocating time to the things I kept saying were important: for prayer, for writing, for spending time with family and friends, for sleep. It felt a little weird to schedule my sleep and my chill time, but it also felt comforting to know that I had actually set aside that time and that I wasn’t just leaving those things to the whims of however my day went.

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Falling in… something.

I met a man I like, and now I’m terrified.

I can’t stop thinking about him. So that’s the first thing I’m afraid of: that I’ll be so overwhelmed and distracted that I won’t get anything done. I’m too busy to be distracted. I rigorously blocked out my schedule for the week, and “daydream about a boy” was not on it.

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Keening

I never really understood what this was – until this past week.

Of course, I’d heard of the practice: people crying, wailing, making all manner of sounds to vocalize their pain and grief. I understood that it often was a cultural practice at funerals. But that’s how I understood it: as some anthropological note about what other people do with their grief. It was academic, and wholly disconnected from my middle class American existence.

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I am a writer.

I’m WAAAY overdue on a #readingwritingresistance post, due to travel and life. It’s all outlined in my head; I just have to get it onto the screen.

But right now, I’m pausing to reflect on how much I love my blog. I came in here to quickly look for a couple of writing samples, and I got lost re-reading old posts. And you know what? I really like my writing!

I think my style is fun to read. I think I’m occasionally pretty insightful. I like seeing how my reflections on a topic evolve over time. I appreciate the markers of life events that my blog posts provide.

I enjoy the confirmation that I’ve been mulling over justice issues for years and years; that’s not a front, that’s really and truly me. And I confirmed something else after reading through all this: I am a writer. I’m not always a polished writer. I’m definitely not a consistent or disciplined writer. But I produce content, with some regularity, and at a decent level of quality.

I’ve been loath to claim that label. I’ve always felt that I wasn’t a “real” writer because I wasn’t doing it as often or in whatever way I thought a “real” writer should. I’ve done this multiple times with different labels over the years: always assuming that however I did things didn’t count because it didn’t look exactly the same as how others did it. Never recognizing that it is a way of being and engaging with the world – in this case, processing and communicating my thoughts through the written word – that are at the core of these identities, as much or more than a particular form of activity.

Perhaps this will be the year of finally getting over my BS lack of confidence and being willing to claim my skills and talents without reservation. I am a designer. I am an organizer. I am a leader.

And yes, indeed, I am a writer.