We Belong To Each Other

Credit: Kimothy Joy

This week, when I read this quote, my heart felt a familiar but persistent insistence to speak. So I opened my computer and began to write. But the result was a lot of swear words and ALL CAPS sentences because I am mad. Like really mad. And also, so, so heartbreakingly sad. This is not a new feeling. It’s been bubbling, roiling, and building up for weeks, months, years. So, yeah, swearing and all caps seem appropriate.

Our world is broken. Incredibly, terribly, horribly broken. (This is not new). 

Our planet is suffocating, dying. People (I am guilty) are prioritizing comfort and convenience over the future of our entire world.

Credit: Giovana Medeiros

Racism is ever-insidiously-rampant. This week, we learned the name of Ahmaud Arbery, who was murdered in cold blood for jogging while black. Black and brown people have been suffering and dying by white hands and white systems for centuries. (I am complicit. So, my white friends, are you.)

Courtesy of Illinois People’s Action

Coronavirus is highlighting ugliness and inequity everywhere. On social media, I see my childhood friend and your relative and that one guy from my college classes and your neighbor down the street (and… and… and… and… ) prioritizing their “freedom” over the survival of their friends and families and neighbors. I see them disregard science, preferring to perpetuate conspiracy theories and blatant misinformation. (This, by the way,  is not new, either. We are seeing it under bright lights now and can quickly – so terrifyingly quickly – see the consequences of ignorance).

Credit: Artist Lacuna; Berlin, Germany

I see politicians (and thus, their followers) prioritize capitalism over human lives, often equating or conflating the two. (Again, this is not new. This country was essentially founded on the prioritization of capital over human lives. We were built on the backs and the bodies of black and brown people. This did not stop with the end of slavery and it did not stop with the end of Jim Crow laws and it has not stopped today).

I cannot list all of the ways in which our world is broken. And I don’t think it would help to try. 

But. 

(Open your eyes).

(I believe this, I truly do).

We belong to each other.

“My humanity is bound up in yours for we can only be human together. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.” (Desmond Tutu)

We are not acting like a “we”. 

We have forgotten.

and so

we have no peace.

I do not have the answers to fix our broken world. 

And yet.

If we can imagine ourselves as “we” instead of “me” and “you” or “us” and “them”… 

If we remember to value one another as precious and wonderful…

If we can hold all lives as sacredly as we hold our own… 

If our actions can reflect this…

Then maybe there’s hope. 

Perhaps, since we have all been complicit in the world’s brokenness, we can also be part of the work of healing.

I have a lot of work to do. We all do. 

From the 2018 Seattle Women’s March. I may not be able to march right now, but I can still write. I cannot be silent anymore. 

Write hard and clear about what hurts.

I was doing mostly fine, honestly I was. I was just barely surviving at work after several discouraging and exhausting months. I was starting to feel pretty significant shame and uncertainty about whether my body was healthy enough to get pregnant. I was tired and burnt out from managing a chronic illness. But, really, I was fine. I was functional. I was okay. Ish.

I heard about coronavirus on the news every day, but it was difficult to understand the impact. The number of confirmed cases and deaths climbed daily. It sounded scary, sure. But it also sounded familiar. I still remember other epidemics like SARS and H1N1. The world survived that. How different could this be?

But then, a whisper. Of course, there was only one person here in Washington. And he was quarantined, so there was no need to worry. They caught it early. Everything was fine. Then there were a few more. But still, it was fine. Seemingly overnight, the panic began. 

I started operating under the assumption that everything I touched was contaminated. My mind began playing out worst-case-scenarios: Losing my husband. Getting sick and my blood sugar going crazy and being unable to get medical care. Over and over and over these scenarios played out in my mind. But I was still required to go to work. And be present and compassionate for those I work with. And function like an adult. 

I could do it. Sort of. But I was falling apart at the seams. 

As someone with Type 1 Diabetes, I am among those listed in the “high risk” group for COVID-19. Very suddenly, harmless things became possibly deadly. Doorknobs, high fives, grocery stores, card readers, gas pumps. All potential threats. All terrifying. I was perched on the edge of a kind of existential panic, and yet required to masquerade as functional. I knew I couldn’t manage for long.

I still feel guilty about the relief I experienced when school was cancelled for over a month. I know the implications for the students I work with. I understand that systemic inequities perpetuated within our society and our education system are being magnified a hundred fold. I know there are people who have no choice but to continue living “on the edge of existential panic”, day-in and day-out, because if they don’t, their families won’t eat. Or because people are relying on them for care. I get it. 

It is unfair that I get to feel some relief when others do not. We should all be able to stop and focus on keeping our communities well without fearing a loss of income, of food, of shelter. (Can I get a PSA for Universal Basic Income & Healthcare for All & Mandatory Paid Sick Leave? Do we understand that these are human rights and that we are better off as a community if all people are given basic human dignity? How can we possibly see this more clearly?)

We already have so much work to do to begin healing. Wounds that already ran deep in our communities are now festering. The path forward is unclear, but I believe we are resilient. I believe we will grow stronger as we lean on one another. We have to. It’s going to take all of us.

I’m doing my best to continue supporting local businesses, to donate to relief funds and food banks, to protect my community by staying home as much as possible, and to check in with friends and neighbors. I still feel helpless and afraid and a little like I’m falling apart. But we are in this together. Despite everything, I still believe in humanity.

Please let me know if you have more ideas about how to support our communities during this crisis. Because I am in a high risk group, I can’t go out and volunteer, but I can’t sit and do nothing while I watch this unfold.

Stay healthy. Stay connected. Stay compassionate for those who don’t have the same privileges you enjoy. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Wash your hands. Stay home if you can.

Deep breaths. I love you all.

A picture of Finn to make you smile

2019: The Good, The Bad, & The Other

Hi. Hello. How are you?

It’s been a while, but I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve just been distracted. And tired. But I’m back for the annual wrap-up. It’s going to be a long one since I haven’t posted much this year, so buckle up!

Like most years, 2019 has been wonderful. And exhausting. And gratifying. And ugly. And discouraging. And boring. And beautiful. And painful. (etc.)

On that note, it’s time for…

(cue theme music and live audience cheering)

2019: The Good, The Bad, & The Other:

  • We survived Seattle’s Snowpocalypse” in February. And by “surviving”, I mean we lounged around in our pajamas for a couple of weeks, watching Netflix, and cozing on the couch.
  • Immediately after Snowpocalypse, we left for a week-long vacation to visit my friend Emily in Maui. It was a-maz-ing… the warm rain, the sunsets, the sea turtles, the whales, the food. Everything was perfect. (…well, everything except for the part at the end where I got a migraine that lasted our entire flight home plus about 48 hours. That part I could’ve done without.)
  • I TURNED THIRTY (what?!?!) and discovered that this might be the age when you start to forget how to respond when people ask you how old you are. 
  • We said goodbye to Waldo, the dog who has been a part of my family since I was in middle school. He lived a good long life and we were lucky to be a part of it.
Waldo, circa 2013
  • In June I attended a retreat for people with Type 1 Diabetes. It was incredible to be in a room full of others who intimately understand the relentless daily struggle. Also, being in a room with other cyborgs whose device alarms sound exactly like yours is – to say the least – confusing. But also hilarious
  • Also in June, I finished  up a pretty challenging school-year. I stressed a lot and grew a lot and learned a lot about how much I still have to learn. (How does that saying go?  “The more I learn, the less I know.”)
  • In September, I started an even more challenging school-year. It’s been utterly exhausting. Full disclosure: I have struggled to maintain my mental and physical health. Self-care and boundary-setting have become (even more) essential to survival.
  • We’ve continued our obsession with cooking classes at The Pantry in Seattle. Favorites included The Spanish Table, The Icelandic Table, Chicago Pizza, Summer Farmer’s Market, and Salvadoran Pupusas. 
  • Some time over the summer, we started hosting our friend Chris for Monday night dinners. This has been a highlight of the year for many reasons… Chris has always been close with Walker, but sharing a weekly meal has really made me feel like he is part of our chosen family. Also, Chris is vegetarian, so I’ve really enjoyed eating more veggies and expanding my veggie cooking skills. We also used these dinners as an excuse to watch all the Star Wars movies in narrative order before the final movie was released last week. It was epic and felt equivalent to the nerd version of Monday night football leading up to the Superbowl. 
  • As is pretty obvious, the blog fell by the wayside at some point mid-year, which makes me feel sad. I think the truth is that I’ve been exhausted (I blame my job) and haven’t prioritized many of the hobbies that bring me joy. I hope this year is different.
  • I was finally fully initiated into Nerdom. I started playing Dungeons & Dragons over the summer with Walker and two of our good friends. My character is a forest gnome druid named Ydania (Edie) Cheeh Wazogloh who forgets everyone’s names, loves animals enough to become one (or two or three) on a daily basis, has a tendency towards impulsiveness, and hopes to avenge the deaths of her parents. 
  • In August, I visited my sister in Boise and met her darling dog Mia. It made me wish we lived closer. We would certainly have some shenanigans. 
  • In September, my parents and sister flew to Seattle and drove with us to Victoria, BC. Before this, I hadn’t really been on a vacation as an adult with my family as an adult, but this road trip was wonderful.  Highlights included Butchart Gardens, High Tea, and an outing on an eighty-year-old passenger sailboat.
  • In October, we attended the annual SHUX Board Game Convention in Vancouver, BC with two of our good friends. It was hands down the best convention I’ve ever attended. Just imagine a convention center full of thousands of introverted nerds (mostly) quietly playing board games for three days straight. It. Was. AMAZING. (Also we stayed on a FLOATING HOUSE. Which was maybe the coolest place I’ve ever slept. 10/10 would recommend.)
  • [Still] no shame: I watched a lot of TV this year, including (but not limited to) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and dozens of episodes of the youtube show Binging with Babish.
  • This year for Thanksgiving, we went to Washington, D.C. for a week. We stayed with my brother (who will soon be moving abroad) and Walker’s good friend (who just adopted a son). It was wonderful to spend time with all of them and (unsurprisingly) made me wish we all lived closer to one another. (We also did a tiny bit of touristing, including walking down the National Mall, visiting the Library of Congress, seeing Obama’s portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, and catching a glance of the U.S. Constitution.)
  • 2019 was the year of many of our friends having their first babies. It was really lovely to watch them become parents… 
  • … it was also the year of us beginning to try to grow our own family. We aren’t there yet. The monthly cycle of trying, then being disappointed (12 times now) has been disheartening, but we are still hopeful and making a point not to stress about it. 
  • I’ve been riding the Type 1 Diabetes struggle bus for several months. I’ve found it pretty challenging to stay on top of blood sugar management during stressful months (and months and months) at work. Balance has been difficult to find, but I’m working on it.
  • I [still] failed to keep in good touch with many people I love. I’m [still] sorry everyone!
  • I also [still] struggled to maintain an exercise routine, despite several started and restarted attempts. 
  • In January, we stopped using Blue Apron meal kits and started meal planning better kitchen adventures. We had a lot of fun exploring new cookbooks (our favorites were Jerusalem and Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi and Tuesday Nights by Chris Kimball).
  • I achieved a personal goal of reading 36 BOOKS IN ONE YEAR! Here are the stats: 15 were audiobooks; 10 were e-books; 11 were physical books. 11 were non-fiction; 25 were fiction. Best book of the lot? Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Click here for 2018: The Good, The Bad, and The Other.

2018: The Good, The Bad, and The Other

Every year around New Years, I write a “List of Good Things” in my journal. At first it’s difficult to think of anything noteworthy, but eventually, the list grows longer and I realize – Holy shit, my life is actually pretty okay. Pretty great, even.

But (obviously) life isn’t just a list of good things. There is always a list of “other” things. Boring things. Painful things. Tiring things. Nothing things. My guess is that the “other” list is at least as long as the list of good things. With that in mind, here is my [belated] list:

2018: The Good, The Bad, and The Other

  • I got married to my favorite human on the planet.
  • I saw Hamilton! (Twice! What kind of amazing world do I live in?) Also, the Hamilton soundtrack has been stuck in my head since February.
  • My first school year in a new district was HARD and EXHAUSTING and nearly did me in. I questioned everything: Do I even know how to do my job? Why is it so hard to make friends? Do all my coworkers hate me? Do I even want to be a school psychologist? Am I making any difference at all for any of these kids?
  • We discovered the glorious world of cooking classes at The Pantry. We made more delicious food than I had thought possible!
  • We bought a home that we love.
  • Two of my best friends moved out of the state in July. They’re both doing amazing things and having new adventures, but I miss them terribly.
  • I started this blog, for no one else but me. I needed to scratch the itch to write and it has been wonderfully freeing to be unapologetically me here.
  • In September, I set a goal to wear my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) every day. For the most part, I’ve stuck with it, and it’s made a big difference in my diabetes management.
  • Also in September, I changed responsibilities at work to focus entirely on counseling. I know I’m qualified, but often feel like I am making it up as I go (which is terrifying). I am learning and growing and making mistakes and very slowly figuring it out.
  • I started trying to meditate. I don’t do it every day. I’m maybe only about 40% consistent, but it helps a lot with anxiety and stress and depression. It’s definitely something I want to do more of, because it makes a noticeable difference.
  • Walker and I went to Chicago for a weekend away. It was fun exploring a city I’ve never been to!
  • I found a therapist who specializes in helping people with chronic illness and who actually has Type 1 Diabetes. It has been game changing to talk with someone who understands.
  • I crossed an item off my bucket list and saw Broadway’s Lion King! It wasn’t on Broadway, but it still counts!
  • I failed at keeping in good touch with a lot of people I care about, family and friends included. In a perfect world I would talk to all of the people I love at least once per week. In reality, it’s closer to once per month, or even every other month. I’m sorry everyone!
  • I gained a bit of weight and have some complicated feelings about it. I feel frustrated and ashamed and embarrassed and a little confused.
  • I read (or listened to…) 25 books!
  • No shame: I watched a lot of TV. Including (but not limited to) the entire series of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I loved it.

 

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This quote from Doctor Who partially inspired this blog post. Doctor Who is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. If you don’t watch it, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. Because it’s brilliant and has given me hope and happiness during some pretty difficult times. It’s fantastic

 [High five for anyone who caught those not-so-subtle Doctor Who references.]

Sacred

It’s no secret that I’ve been all over the map in terms of my religiosity and spirituality throughout my life. I was raised Catholic, considered myself atheist for a couple of years in high school, and joined the Mormon church during my freshman year of college. I was Mormon through all of my college years, even serving as missionary in Texas for 18 months between my junior and senior years. By the time I was 24, I found that the scale had tipped. The church was doing more harm than good in my life, so I did the only thing I could do. I left.

 

Where does that leave me now?

My first answer is that I don’t really know… and I’m okay with that.

 

But, my second answer is…

I believe there is not one “truth with a capital T”, but many. I believe there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all. I believe that people should seek out what works for them.

I am learning that all things can be sacred, if you want them to be. To be clear, when I say sacred, I don’t mean god-like, or even something that should be worshipped. To me, if something is sacred, it is important enough to take seriously. Important enough to think deeply about. Important enough to seek out.

The more we hold things sacred, the more they give back to us. I think I’ve been surprised to learn that I don’t need religion for that learning and growth to occur.

 

To me, these things are sacred…

 

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Time spent with my husband

quality time
Quality time with loved ones

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Caring for my dog, Finn

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The smell of rain… Can imagine it from this picture?

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Books…

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… especially Harry Potter

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Baking

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My collection of personal journals

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My body

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Nature

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Childhood

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Quiet

What do you hold sacred? What does it bring to your life?

 

Shout-out to the wonderful podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text for helping me stretch my thinking about what it means to hold something as sacred. 

Voice

I remember wanting to be an author from a very young age. My first book was called “Snow, snow everywhere.” It was winter in Utah and presumably I looked out the window, saw snow on the ground and just went for it. Inspired by the repetitive texts of Hooked on Phonics, I wrote something like this:

“Snow on the grass. Snow on the swings. Snow on the house. Snow, snow, everywhere!”

Apparently, it was lost on me that my last name was Snow and I could have done some clever word play with a book exclusively about snow. No wonder it was never published.

Next came the journals. I started and never finished several in elementary school, though most of those only have a few pages in the front with writing. I was never a consistent journal keeper until 8th grade when I started writing about all the shit that hits the fan during the years I refer to as the universally smelly armpit of childhood. Since then, I’ve probably fill up about a dozen journals.

I’ve also tried to blog before. One was called “The Epitome of Possibility” which was supposed to chronicle my “adventures” as a young adult. Since I generally feel like a boring human, I never had many adventures to document. It didn’t take long for the possibility to peter out. I also attempted to keep a “weight loss” blog in the name of personal accountability. Ha! That also lasted for about a month, only slightly shorter in duration than my diet.

So, when recently I started getting an itch to write and thought about a blog, my instinct was to doubt. I’ve been there, I’ve tried and failed at that. But I kept thinking about it.

What if I had a diabetes blog? A school psychology blog? A body positive blog? A personal blog? A baking blog? A blog about my dog?

I greeted each of these idea with a “No, nope, definitely not.” Mostly, I told myself I could not write about these things because I was not good enough at any of them. Blogs are for people who know what they’re talking about, I thought. Not you.

And then this idea came.

What if I had a blog about adulting?

Okay, this is not a novel idea. There is literally an entire BOOK titled Adulting. Yes, I’ve read it and I own it… wait, so maybe it is a “NOVEL” idea…? Get it?

Anyway, surely there are hundreds of internet blogs with this theme. But why not one more? Because adulting is all of those other ideas wrapped into one ambiguous catch phrase. Which gives me the freedom to write about anything I want.

Adulting is…

  • Dealing with chronic illness and confronting your mortality.
  • Having a job that you might love, but maybe also hate
  • Taking care of a lot of boring shit even when you don’t want to
  • Having a dog that you treat as your child.
  • Maybe someday also having a child…?
  • Trying to have hobbies, even though you feel too busy
  • Working on making peace with your body
  • Confronting mental illness head on.
  • Making room in your life for the people you love
  • Trying to be well.
  • Failing. Often.

The truth is, I don’t think there are enough words on the internet about how FUCKING HARD it is just to be a functioning person, but more than that, how often we fail at that goal.

And that’s the voice I want to bring to the world. That adulting is hard. And often I fail. And that’s okay.

Truthfully, on day 1 as I begin writing this blog, I don’t really care if anyone reads these words. I am here because I have something to say. I am here to find my voice. I am here to fulfill my childhood dream of being a writer. I don’t need others to read my words to accomplish any of that.