This morning I got on rollerblades for the first time in almost a decade. It was a very happy moment for me. There was a time when, because of a health issue, I didn’t think I would ever be able to do such activities again. That’s a story for another day. Right now I want to tell you about the effervescent feeling of rolling along the sidewalk. Gentle breeze on my face. Sips of cool, clean water from my camelbak while cruising up a little hill. And you know what? Even the moments when I looked a bit silly, if anyone happened to be watching, when I hit the sand and grit and flailed my arms so I wouldn’t lose my balance, even those were glorious. Because I am trying, and I am doing it. Have you heard the phrase “action cures fear!” ? (Shout out to Passion Planner for sending me a sticker that says this, so I have a constant reminder!) Action is certainly a good antidote for many things, and that’s what this post is all about.
One of the reasons it felt so important to do something joyful when I woke up is because I got home from my younger brother Ryan’s birthday party last night and saw the U.S. news for the first time since Friday. The conflict and division in the country I was born into are so deep and old and raw. Like many of us who care immensely about the state of the world, and about our fellow humans, I asked myself for the millionth time: what can I do? For one thing, I can not pretend that my “lifestyle” is separate from my activism. That’s one reason I decided to call this a “conscious lifestyle” blog, so that from the get-go it is clear that I am going to tell the whole truth, from my perspective. I am going to do my best to be a good global citizen, and to model what that means to me.
Here’s a glimpse of that: I see resistance as a spectrum. Some days, “simply” maintaining a little hope in the face of despair is my contribution. Some days, creating beautiful art is my contribution. Other days, making sure I survive, tending the sustainability of my own life, is my contribution. One of my favorite writers, Audre Lorde, said that self-care can be an act of political warfare (I’m paraphrasing), particularly for anyone who is under attack from the dominant paradigm. Some days, nourishing myself, laying still and resting, refusing stress-without-end, is my contribution. Sometimes sitting with grief or rage is the contribution. Paying attention to joy so that it grows, rather than fanning the flames of hatred and the deathdrive culture, is also resistance. So go create, cook, meditate, breathe the sunlight, dance, sing, love each other, celebrate life. Give yourself permission to celebrate life. Yes, celebrate life, even with its devastation.
Of course, you could also attend a vigil, organize a rally, join an activist group whose cause you believe in, write an op-ed, talk to your senators and representatives, write letters, educate your acquaintances who are willing to listen, or take any other number of possible actions. If you are a consumer, tell the companies you buy from that the social and environmental responsibility of their practices matter to you. It is true that hate cannot drive out hate, that only love can do that…and yet love can be incredibly strong and unbelievably ferocious in the fight against oppression. What does that look like for you? The most important piece is to do something, anything, whatever you are personally called to do. It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact it will not be perfect, it only has to be your part of the work.
This blog is part of what I am called to do. This post is part of what I am called to do. There is valid fear amongst bloggers and influencers that “being too political” will turn off brands from potential collaborations. Especially for someone who makes most of their money from blogging, this is a huge concern and cuts to the root of economic survival. At the same time as I believe everything is political, whether we acknowledge it or not, I also have empathy for people who struggle with this reality; how sad is it that the culture of profit has been set up thus, to place individuals in such a position? It is one thing to hone a focus on beauty as a survival skill. It is another thing altogether to feel silenced, and like one’s voice must be circumscribed in order to get by. In a way, I have the luxury of saying that any brands I want to partner with are brands who will be glad I speak honestly and care this deeply. I have the luxury because I am also a grad student, and have other income. So, I can keep a primary commitment to my heart, and to creating business as I see fit, rather than feeling forced to go along with business-as-usual. Luckily, there is a growing movement of ethical bloggers and influencers. I am currently exploring two groups, The Ethical Writers Coalition and The Ethical Influencer Network. If you have time and inclination, check them out as well as their members. They give me so much hope, not just for my own blog, but for the potential of people to band together and make change.
As I rolled back to my house earlier, after discovering it took me only 20 minutes to get to my fall internship site while on skates, I passed by my little car in its parking space. On the bumper is a sticker that says “nonjudgment day is near.” With that sentiment in mind, I want to make one last statement…this one in favor of holding awareness of both “call in” and “call out” culture. Let’s be kind if not all-out gentle with ourselves and each other. Even when we disagree! We all have moments of hitting the grit, flailing around, not knowing exactly what to do, making mistakes, stumbling into the grass, struggling to balance, and so on. What’s important is that we try, that we keep learning, that we practice dialogue — listening and sharing.
Healing a whole history, a whole overwhelm of histories colliding, is certainly on a different scale than getting over — or rather learning to live with — a health issue that prevented me from rollerblading. But I want to tie them together marginally, by ending on this thought: what appears entirely impossible for a stretch of time can be part of creating the conditions for what comes next…which, with some good hard work, can be the very thing that once looked impossible. In other words, the seeming impossibility of a thing can very well be part of fighting hard enough to attain it.
From my IG earlier today: