A Note to Everyone Struggling in the Wake of the Election

I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency feels apocalyptic to so many of us, not to mention unjust and unfathomable.

How can a nation who elected our first black President just eight years ago suddenly endorse a man who is blatantly racist? How can the large majority of this country feel comfortable supporting someone whose values represent a clear devolution of human rights? How can Americans place their own economic agendas ahead of basic human decency and progress?

I have so many questions, but none of the answers make sense.

Today, I feel sad for the LGBT+ community, minorities, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and my fellow women, all of whom have had to endure gross levels of hate and prejudice at the hands of an influential person in power.

I feel sad for young girls and boys, who are being taught by their country today that there are no consequences to bullying and sexual assault. I feel sad for police officers, who may be emboldened to also be reckless with their positions of power. I feel sad for the conservatives and Republicans who fought adamantly against a Trump presidency, and whose very real ideals and principles are now sullied with hate.

I feel sad for the teachers and parents who will have to explain to their children why racism and sexism still exist in this country. I feel sad for the millions of activists who work tirelessly every day to promote equality and secure a better quality of life for Americans who've been disenfranchised and made to feel less than. 

I feel sad for Hillary, whose tenacity, compassion, grace, and dedication to this country’s betterment have been overshadowed by ignorance and hate.  

I feel sad for all of us who feel like we’ve lost a dream today. 

A death of sorts has taken place. The picture of justice and equality we had is shattered. The America we thought we knew does not exist. 

This loss is real, and we are allowed to feel deeply saddened, scared, and upset as we navigate these uncharted waters. We are allowed to feel despair as we absorb this new reality and the pain that comes with it. We are allowed to grieve.

But only for a little while.

We can’t be self-indulgent for too long. The world is counting on us. It’s counting on the millions of us who have proven, with our words and votes, that we value human rights for everyone. That we value Mother Earth. That we value compassion and generosity and courage and respect. That we value equality and growth. And that we value love above all.

We have three choices today, the same three choices any of us ever have in this life.

1) Accept what is.

2) Resist what is.

3) Leave.

We can jet off to Europe, apply for citizenship elsewhere, or tune out and hide away from the world. Cut ourselves off from politics, ignore the plights of people we don’t know, and shut ourselves away in an Internet-free bubble.

Or we can resist. We can spread blame. We can lash out in anger at anyone whose beliefs differ from ours. We can cut people out of our lives and refuse to take enjoyment in anything. We can let ourselves be destroyed.

But neither of those options accomplish much. Nor do they empower or strengthen us.

The best thing we can do is accept this change with dignity and hope. We have to accept it, then we have to move forward. And as we move forward, we cannot forget the convictions we held or the vision we saw for our country.

We have to push onward to fight for what we believe is important and just. To fight for a future that supports, empowers, and celebrates the millions of people Donald Trump’s candidacy dismissed and devalued.

Now is not the time to say fuck it and stop trying. Now is not the time to crawl back into your corner and keep your opinions to yourself.

Now is the time to stand up, speak out, and take action.

What does taking action look like?

It looks like you, reaching out to the people in your life who’ve been most affected by the hate in this election and expressing your solidarity. It looks like you, promising — verbally, not just behind your computer screen — to participate in important conversations about serious issues, even if the issues don’t directly affect you. To vow to actively call out racism, prejudice, and sexism when you witness it. To agree not to cower away from confrontation when people’s lives hang in the balance. To admit to your privilege (if you have it) and educate yourself about the issues that affect the lives of your friends, neighbors, and fellow Americans.  

It’s no longer enough to be nice and mind your own business. To stay quiet and keep to yourself when people across our country are experiencing oppression and powerlessness is irresponsible and shameful.

I urge you to use this trying time as an opportunity not to sulk, but to show the world what you stand for. What do you want to be known for? Who do you want to be?

Do you want to be shattered and bitter and disillusioned with humanity? Or do you want to be optimistic, brave, and resilient?

If you’re devastated by Hillary’s loss, be a force of calm and strength for those who can’t yet comprehend the election results. Be a model of compassion, empathy, and unconditional love. Be a beacon of light and hope. Be an activist.

Protect the people who aren’t as safe as you. Speak out for those who have no voice. Have respectful, civil dialogues with people whose opinions differ from your own. Keep your mind open and your heart full.

We can’t control what happened, but we can control how we choose to react to it. We can control how we choose to walk through this world, and the mental state we inhabit as we do. 

We can choose whether to have faith or fear.

Use this fragile time to think carefully about how your beliefs and decisions will affect the people of this country. Use this time to send words of gratitude to those who stand for equality and kindness. Use this time to fight for love. 

As Hillary said today in her concession speech, “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

It’s always worth it.

May we be strong. May we find peace. May we love one another. And may we carry on, however wounded, with a sense of hope.

Love and light,

Paige

P.S. Here are some links I'm finding helpful right now. I hope they offer you a glimmer of peace and comfort today if you need it. 

Hillary's Twitter account: "To all the little girls watching...never doubt that you are valuable and powerful & deserving of every chance & opportunity in the world."

A powerful message from Liz Gilbert. "Nobody gets to take your emotional state away from you, unless you give it to them."

Here's what you can do after the election

*Photo above is from Hillary Clinton's Twitter account. Not sure who took it, but it's a lovely shot.

One-Woman Book Club: October

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It rained a few times during October, which made reading indoors even more fun and cozy than usual. I loved most of the books I read this month, but for the first time since I started this series, I have a couple less than glowing reviews to dole out.

Despite that fact, I hope you still find some inspiration to take from it!

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon Doyle Melton is the woman behind the hugely popular blog Momastery, which covers life, love, relationships, and parenthood. Her book is no different. It’s a memoir where she talks about her upbringing, her early experimentation with bulimia, her later alcoholism, her unexpected pregnancy, and her lukewarm marriage.  

If that sounds depressing, well, it sort of is. But it’s also extremely inspiring and incredibly redeeming. Glennon writes beautifully, with simple, vivid descriptions and relatable yet profound insights. She’s a sharp, self-aware, highly sensitive, and very emotional person. If you tend to roll your eyes at those types of people and the epiphanies they have about life and love, this book may not be for you.

It explores the dark sides of ourselves we all struggle with, but also demonstrates — through the way Glennon overcomes her many personal battles and crises — how important is it to love yourself and rely on your own strength to carry you forward in times of difficulty.

I really loved this book. It was powerful and engrossing. How revelatory you find the message will, I think, depend on your familiarity with self-development concepts and your own personal history with practicing self-love and mindfulness. But regardless, I think there are beautiful nuggets of insight everyone can take from her story. I highly recommend it if you’re in the mood to read a story about how a lost, broken woman empowered herself to become her own warrior. 

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

I picked this book because I was head over heels in love with Paula McLain’s first book, The Paris Wife, plus I love a good historical fiction novel.

This one tells the story of Beryl Markham, an English woman raised in Kenya. She was a professional horse trainer, mother, author, aviator, and certified badass, but what she’s most known for is her status as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west. I assumed the book would focus mostly on her flying career, but it barely touched on that. Instead, it covers her childhood and young adulthood, exploring the ups and downs that shaped her into the person she was right before she developed an interest in flying.

The descriptions of Kenya are stunning, and the characters are intriguing, wild, and a bit Gatsby-like in that 1920s “Let’s spend our money on dressy clothes and booze and parties” kind of way. There’s also a fascinating love triangle that keeps you curious throughout the story.

But what I loved most, even more than McLain’s elegant, vivid writing, was Beryl herself. She’s independent, fierce, self-sufficient, courageous, and extremely smart. She makes some questionable choices with men under the pressure of society in that time period, but overall she’s seriously powerful and ambitious.

It was a lovely, compelling read and I highly recommend it.

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

This book is about Joe, a college student struggling to pay his way through school and care for his autistic brother, who decides to interview a dying elderly man named Carl for an English assignment. The catch? Carl is a convicted murderer. Cue the dramatic music.

What follows is a twisted story about murder and sacrifice and redemption and the distances people travel to cover up their most shameful secrets.

It’s suspenseful, well-written, and compulsively readable. The only issue I had was with how soon the main plot twist was revealed, which was about a third of the way through the book, maybe even a little earlier. There are a few other twists and turns that happen afterward, but they don’t seem as shocking. I still couldn’t put it down, though.

The story takes place in Minnesota during November and December, so everything is snowy and bleak and freezing, which somehow made it more fun to read during fall in Southern California. If you want a good mystery to get into as you cozy up this fall or winter, pick this one.

Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett

Oh, Ann Patchett. I can’t quit you. I picked this book solely because I’ve loved the past few Ann Patchett novels I’ve read (see here and here) and I assumed this one would be no different.

Unfortunately, it was. I wanted so much to adore this book, but it fell flat for me. It tells the real life story of Ann’s friendship with fellow writer Lucy Grealy, who died in 2002 of a heroin overdose. Lucy is known, if not for her poetry and her memoir Autobiography of a Face, for her battle with jaw cancer and the subsequent grueling thirty-some facial reconstructive surgeries she underwent as a result.

The reason I didn’t love the book is because I didn’t really love Lucy or Ann — or at least the way Ann portrayed them both. Ann’s personality is seriously lacking throughout the story, and Lucy’s neediness, self-absorption, and co-dependence becomes tiresome around page 60.

There are some beautiful passages about vulnerability and friendship, however, but on the whole the book was a bit slow and difficult to get through.

If you’re a major Ann Patchett fan and want to read the book for a more complete picture of one of her most important relationships, go for it. Otherwise, I’d stick to her fiction novels, which are all gorgeously written and utterly compelling. 

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

I fell in love with Colleen Hoover’s fast-paced, emotionally driven books over the last couple months (exhibit A and exhibit B). Her content and writing style reminds me of what I’d find in a more mature young adult novel (even though Barnes & Noble doesn’t stock them there — I checked!), so her stuff definitely isn’t for everyone.

If you happen to like stories about love and heartbreak and sex, I think you’ll enjoy her work. Reading her novels feels like watching a 90-minute romance film with a bit of comedy tossed in there to keep it light and contemporary.

Ugly Love is about a nursing student named Tate who moves in with her brother in San Francisco to finish her degree. She begins a purely physical relationship with the sexy neighbor down the hall, but when he closes himself up emotionally, things get tricky. Does that sound like the plot of every rom-com you’ve ever seen? It kind of is.

There’s some heartbreak and serious emotion in there, but the cliches, lack of character growth, and rushed ending of this book didn’t quite do it for me. The protagonist is totally one-dimensional and only exists in scenes with the male character. That said, I still couldn’t put the book down and I finished it in a matter of a few hours.

It’s nothing groundbreaking, nor is it particularly empowering to women, but it was a fun way to pass an afternoon. Six stars out of ten.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? Any book recommendations for me? I love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. You can find the rest of my book reviews here.  

How I Learned to Come to Terms With Where I'm From

How I Learned to Come to Terms With Where I'm From

Home: the place of Hurley surf contests and clean, trash-swept streets. Of middle-aged women with breast implants, sandals in January, and gyms so large they have their own hair salons inside. Of community yoga classes in grassy parks, outdoor shopping malls with acoustic guitar concerts, and “Closed” signs slapped to locked glass doors at 9pm. Of hilly running trails, foggy June mornings, and fish tacos so tender they ruin you for life. Home: a place I have loved and despised in equal measure.

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In the Face of Terrorism, Why It's More Important Than Ever to Travel

A lovely painting by Jessica Durrant. Find it here.

I wrote an article yesterday in response to the recent terrorist attacks. Here's a snippet: We have a responsibility now more than ever to know the world intimately and to break down the racial, cultural, and stereotype-based obstacles that stand to divide us.

It's published here if you'd like to read it. The image above is a lovely painting by Jessica Durrant. Find it here.

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.
— Nelson Mandela