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Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

I’ve never considered myself a political person. Nor would I consider myself a confrontational person. I hate arguing. I usually bite my tongue when I don’t agree with something, particularly if my opposing opinion would result in ruffling someone’s feathers. Because I develop severe anxiety in situations where I would like to express my feelings but am too afraid to do so, I have spent a great deal of this election cycle refraining from engaging in any political conversation. It makes me uncomfortable. Not because I don’t have beliefs… believe me, I do, but because all of the hate that has occurred has had me doubting who I could feel safe sharing my thoughts with. Social media has been the worst. I have wrestled time and time again with “liking” comments, or commenting on things I do not “like.” I have cried over posts I’ve seen shared by people I love advocating for hate. And I have felt desperate for hope for so many people who feel persecuted and fearful of what their lives may become. Through it all, I have remained virtually silent.

Not today.

Today, I feel a sense of obligation to share what’s been weighing on my heart. I am not able to attend one of the many women’s marches being held tomorrow, but I can say with confidence that my interests and my beliefs will be well represented in every corner of this GREAT nation. Let me first say, that I am a true Patriot at heart. I 100% respect the office of the President of the United States of America, and I believe that “equality for all Americans” should actually include ALL AMERICANS.

I believe in kindness and compassion.
I believe that black lives matter.
I believe that sexual assault survivors deserve to be heard, believed and protected.
I believe that EVERYONE deserves to have an affordable, quality education.
I believe that EVERYONE deserves affordable, quality health care regardless of preexisting conditions.
I believe that transgendered human beings should be treated as human beings.
I believe in equal pay for women.
I believe that women’s rights are human rights.
I still believe that this truly is the Promised Land, and we should do what is within our means to welcome anyone who is seeking a better life the same way our founders did.
I believe that despite all of the disagreements and harsh feelings that we are still one people… we are all Americans, and if there is one line from Mr. Trump’s inauguration speech I will cling to it is that no matter the color of our skin, “we all bleed the same red blood of Patriotism.”
And I believe that LOVE is LOVE.

Yes, I am a feminist, and those of you reading this may brush me off as just another angry liberal disapproving of the Republican agenda. But just like the Conservatives didn’t like being associated with rape culture, racism and Trumps unkind words about the disabled, I need to make something quite clear.
My heart is breaking a little bit in fear of what is to come. But NO, I do not approve of the violent rioters that are protesting this Inauguration. I also do not appreciate being called a “liberal crybaby” because I didn’t get what I want. You know what I want?? I want the American people to feel safe. I want my friends who are gay to live without fear of their marriage licenses being revoked. I want the 14 year old girl I know who just beat cancer to be able to have health insurance when she’s 26 years old. I want myself, my friends and future college students to have the weight of student loans lifted off their shoulders. I want black men to feel safe at ALL TIMES. I want the pay gap eliminated. I want adults and children with disabilities to be afforded opportunities that will enhance their quality of life, and I want girls to grow up knowing they are JUST AS GOOD as their male counterparts.

Here’s the thing. I did not vote for President Trump. He was not my first choice to run our country. If I’m being totally honest, he probably wouldn’t have made my top 10 (or 100). But there he is… holding the most prestigious office in our nation. So with that, I will end this blog saying that I PRAY that President Trump does an impeccable job holding this office. I may not believe he belongs in the White House, but I can say with complete and total honesty that I would love, more than anything in the world, to look back in 4 years and say, “Thank you, Sir, for proving me wrong.”

Sincerely,
A slightly terrified liberal feminist who is clinging to hope




My sincerest gratitude to President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle for their dedicated and heartfelt service to our Nation over the past 8 years. You served with dignity and poise and I am so proud to have born witness to your leadership and service.





Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sonder

Do you ever get a good look at a stranger and feel oddly connected to their life? I was driving today, and as I was making a left hand turn I caught a solid glimpse of a man in the left turn lane of the road I was joining. It was odd. I didn't recognize this man, and he didn't see me. There was just something about him that caught my attention. Immediately I found myself wondering how old he was, along with a myriad of other things:

Was he married? Did he have grandchildren? Was he a veteran? A business man? Did he make his living saving lives? Teaching piano lessons? Harvesting crops? Did he have a happy childhood? Did he love a lot? Does he feel loved? Where is he going? Why is he going there? Where is he coming from? What brought him to be in this tiny town of Whitewater, WI? Does he believe in God?

Nothing about this man was out of the ordinary. He was a white man, maybe mid 60s of age, driving a white SUV of some sort... I wasn't paying attention. What I did notice were his wrinkles. That's how I know there was a lot of life behind his eyes. And so, I wondered about his life. Because I think that by wondering about other's lives add a level of compassion to our own lives. If we are considerate enough to recognize that we are not the center of this universe... that each person we pass by is the lead character in their own story I think we gift ourselves the opportunity to deepen ourselves.

sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

I don't know the man in the white SUV. I may never cross paths with him again. But I can tell you, I'm grateful for his existence on this planet. His presence today gifted me with a sweet reminder that everyone has a story, if only you take the opportunity to uncover it.

To growth, gratitude and grace~

Allison


Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Year of Joy

Before adventuring to see the sea turtles. Such an
incredible day!
I've spent the past 19 days in the presence of some amazing people. People I love more than I could ever explain.

First there was the family vacation... four siblings, two parents, a handful of sea turtles, a dozen gourmet meals, 5 days in the sun and a [couple] of cocktails here and there... it was incredible.

Then, there was Christmas. Another week with the family full of wine, games and more time spent with my favorite humans on the planet.

Christmas Eve with my truest soul mates.
Finally, I had the privilege of standing next to one of my best friends as she said "I do," to her perfect match. It was a week full of love, laughs and so much joy. Congrats to Dani and Jeremy. I am so happy for you both!

I can't remember what life was like before these 4.
They are my brightest lights.
Naturally, I was flying high with all of these amazing experiences that were taking place in my life. It's always special spending this time of the year with people I love. Then, yesterday I started receiving messages wishing me a "Happy New Year!"

Wait a minute.

It's New Years Eve??

Shit.

Of course I was aware of the date on the calendar, but in all of the craziness, I had failed to give myself any time to process the start of the new year (If you know me well, you know that this caused my blood pressure to skyrocket... processing is kinda my jam). So naturally, I started to panic, because in this moment the introverted portion of my brain (approximately 65% of me) needed nothing but alone time. So, I gratefully said goodbye to the friends I was with and headed home to check in with myself.

I've never been a huge fan of resolutions. Until last year, I always made them and I always failed at them. it's not hard to fail at a resolution. As human beings, we're ambitious creatures. The promise of a new year can create big dreams and set high expectations. Excitement runs high on a holiday, and when we are feeling our best, it's easy to believe that we have what it takes to make some amazing change in our lives.

I'm going to lose 20lbs this year.

I'm going to save $10K this year.

I'm going to fall in love this year.

{Insert ridiculous hypothetical resolution here}

Last year, a dear friend of mine told me she hated resolutions, and instead of setting resolutions, she chooses an all encompassing theme for the upcoming year, one to keep at the forefront of her mind as the months go by. This theme, like an overall blanket of good intention is something that she focuses on, to keep her intentions and thoughts on track. I thought this was a brilliant idea. Instead of saying, "I will journal twice a week for 52 weeks," I could instead say, "I will write with intention when writing makes me happy."

With this concept in mind, I thought forward as to what may bring me joy in 2016. I had always been a very cautious person, cautious with my life and cautious with my heart. When looking forward at the upcoming year I decided to name 2016 the year of Bravery. I wanted to take risks, to open myself up to change, to make mistakes and to become someone I looked up to. For me, a lot of the people I look up to and admire seem carefree and open to new experiences... you know, brave. I wanted to be like that... so bravery it was.

This dream team has my whole heart. After 10 months of
working together online, sharing a space with them was
the definition of magical.
Last night, as I was looking back on 2016 I couldn't help but feel disappointed in myself. Bravery was not at the forefront of my year. Now, I'm not saying I failed completely, because I did grow in this department this year. I had several experiences that taught me how to face a problem head on, instead of just shutting down (something I would have done in the past), and I'm very thankful for that. I also made several decisions this year to do things for me. I advocated for myself, sought help when I needed it, and embraced some truly wonderful mentors to help me navigate through some terrifying unknowns. I did brave... and maybe it wasn't as intentional as I would have liked, but I did it.

My heart has never been as full as in this theater. I don't think
I've ever cried so hard, experienced so much joy, or felt so alive.
I think more than brave, this year was spent learning more about myself, acceptance and growth. I learned to turn every experience, positive or negative, into a growing experience. I would ask myself,
"what did this interaction teach me," "how could I have handled this better," "what do I need to do to move forward," and a myriad of other questions. I don't believe I failed in my year of brave, but that my year of brave may have transformed more to a year of understanding. Understanding myself, understanding my needs and being open to learning in every aspect of the word.

Strangers who became friends, friends who became family...
these women have inspired me beyond words.
This year I gave myself the opportunity to grow on multiple occasions. I stopped making excuses for not meeting my own needs and started taking my life seriously. I gave myself vacations, sick days and time with people who lifted me up. I flew to the west coast 3 times in 3 months because I wanted to show up for some important people in my life. Yes, I wanted to show up for them, but I NEEDED to show up for myself. These adventures gave me the opportunity to expand my heart and step out of my comfort zone and I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for those experiences.
2016 was hard. It was full of challenges, changes and uphill battles. I had inner struggles, outer struggles and fought alongside some special people who needed backup on their own front lines. Despite all of the ups and downs, I think there's promise in the turning of a page. 2017 is a blank canvas, for us to create whatever picture of our life we desire. The page we've turned is still there... we have the knowledge from it, the scars from it, and the joy from it, as we look toward the year ahead. And with that, I've decided to embrace the theme of Joy for 2017.

In 2017 I plan to make decisions based on what brings me joy. I will surround myself with people who bring me joy. I will do the things that make me the happiest. I will make time and space for joy on a daily basis. I will do my best to share joy with those around me, and I will make a conscious effort to remove the things from my life that do not. I know that I am the only person who can dictate my happiness... and this year, I plan to take that responsibility seriously.

My intention for 2017 has been set; The Year of Joy. It may only be January 1st, but I think that this is something I am capable of maintaining. However, should my journey lead me down another path, I will not consider it a tragedy, but merely a redirection of the path I'm on. Roadblocks occur everyday, but embracing gratitude and joy will help me to keep perspective in 2017. May you all experience boundless joy in 2017.

With growth, gratitude and grace,

Allison