I was out with the dogs on leash at 7:10 this morning. Almost balmy warm after a day of rain. The burning bush and bittersweet flamed in the early morning gray.
The thought was to just walk the roads. Just give Yogi and Nora a change in routine to appease their agitation this morning, wondering if was an after effect of this recent full moon that has had Yogi awake and whining incessantly at 4:00 each morning. Or if he has just gotten into a habit that needs to be broken with some sort of change.
The thought of keeping them on leash for an entire time outside is new. Walking on leash has always just been for getting to or returning from the woods. I could feel my mind closed to the idea of actually walking in the woods with their leashes on. It would be too hard. But as we approached the end of the dead end road that offers one of the many entrances we take into the woods, I couldn’t turn around. The dogs weren’t pulling like they could, weren’t making my decision to just continue onto our woodland path a difficult one at all.
We walked a short loop through a section of the woods I love, on leash. It was most likely an actual road at one point in time, now soft and spacious with the downed leaves that unified the ground. At this early morning hour there was an accentuated hush. Yogi and Nora indulged my many stops to just take in the stillness and beauty that seemed to be saying, yes, making change is good. Everything was so familiar from our years of walking this path path together, unattached and untethered. I can always see them and their way from a distance.
But maybe being here working together can work too.
Beliefs about being with the dogs and giving them what I thought they needed might be able to change because of this one conscious shift in routine. We can adapt. My rigidity about thinking the dogs had to have their off leash time with me in the woods each day to be happy dissolved. With winter approaching, it felt good to have some options.
Making change seems to be the issue. I have felt the stress of post election shock at just how much of an issue it is and to what lengths some might go to make it happen. Clinton was my choice for change. In the wake of so much despair over the reality of Trump being elected, I am trying to listen to other perspectives. I think making change is tricky. There is a logical way to approach it with known outcomes and there is an intuitive way to approach it without known outcome. I think about Ben who will probably never be able to make actual monetary change in an typical way. His brain just can’t do it. And yet, he makes brilliant changes in his life, changes that make a difference to his health and well being and relationship to others, every day because he wants to. There is no filter to what he feels. What he thinks and feels is completely transparent, supported, and respected. It is a different kind of logic that can only work if we are all open to it. He’s not wired for shutting down and hiding. I need him in my life to remind me of how important this is to having authentic dialogue. He needs me to support him maintain his motivation to live a productive interdependent life. We need each other.
A few days after the election I felt inspired to try to get a selfie photo of me and Yogi. But he was having none of it and ran off to his beloved water to romp. I turned instead and saw myself in the light of the moment on the path we were on and snapped. The change that happened for me that moment was in really looking at myself as I know others see me, instead of some limiting belief I have of myself that routinely prevents me liking any photo of myself.
The political divide that lives in this country lives in my own family. There has been very little communication between us since the election. Not because we don’t love each other, but because we do love each other. The divide is very deep. I finally sat down and wrote to them, my Beloved Family. And in doing so, I realized I could also be speaking to the family of citizens in this country I love and belong to. So I share this letter here too, in the spirit of opening to a new way….
Dear Beloved Family,
After days of reading and watching and listening and feeling the shock and dismay I know we all feel for one reason or another, I am finally able to try to clarify where I am with the election and the reality of a country divided.
I realize I’ve been lucky to have so much time and space to give to this. Having the ability to step back and make the choice to take it all in and truly listen is also a product of the choice I have made to live the way I do. I realized today that I have to stop apologizing, if only to myself, for my way. I have stopped thinking I should be doing more or thinking differently. I have stopped thinking I am a lesser human being because I do not have a life partner or live with a conventional kind of community and social life. I want to start asking questions and having real dialogue. We are a family divided politically and like what is happening in this country, I fear that love, while most critical on the road to acceptance, might not be enough. How an authentic dialogue can happen is still unknown to me, but at least I can start with sharing with you what I believe right now, knowing all too well that changing a belief, and the ability to change one’s mind, can happen in a heartbeat.
I believe in connection. I believe that connection with other human beings, with the Earth, and with my self all hold equal value.
I believe everything I do is work, whether I am writing, baking bread, making a quilt, making a home for my dogs, designing a building, or being a conscious human being. I’m lucky enough to be paid for some of it. I don’t take that for granted, and I don’t apologize for the privilege that my education and family support has provided me that allows me to make the choices I do.
I believe in personal responsibility. For my health, for my growth, for my ability to contribute to the world I live in in a positive way, and for how I treat other human beings. It pains me to think that there are so many in the world that are so defended and traumatized from life experiences that taking this kind of responsibility is impossible. All I have to do is look at Ben though and know that it is possible to overcome disability and take that responsibility, to the best of your ability, if you are motivated.
I believe that how we do relationship with others begins with how we ‘do’ family.
I believe that taking personal responsibility will always be in relation to something bigger than me or mine. I also believe in that dark night of the soul place that would have me make the choice between ‘me’ or ‘them’.
I believe in our constitution and the freedoms of this country. I believe it is a more complex world than when this young country was established and that a middle ground is possible between the protection of individual freedoms envisioned back then and the protection of our society at large now.
I believe that there is great deep seated fear, amongst both women and men alike, to women having the same power as men.
I believe that talking about what we don’t like or what we are afraid of can be a self fulfilling prophecy if that’s all we talk about.
I believe in being the change I want to see.
I believe in seeing the other side of any issue to the best of my ability, giving benefit of the doubt, and in never making assumptions.
I believe that the consequences of giving someone like Trump the voice to unleash the horror of white supremacy and acts of terror, unchecked, become the responsibility of every American to deal with right now, whether you voted for him, or Clinton, or didn’t vote at all.
I believe in listening and being open to change my mind. This is so hard though, and I am the first to admit how stubborn I can be. But I believe with all my heart that this is most productive thing I can do as a citizen of this country, and of this world.
It’s been a tough year for this family. I hope we can continue to find creative ways to keep sharing despite the gaps and the distance.
I love you all so much.