The first thing I see when I enter the pink shed is the image of a young girl, dressed in pink, flying over her suburban neighborhood. I purchased it fifteen years ago to hang in my six-year-old daughter’s bedroom. Natalie, who turned 21 a few weeks ago, re-gifted it to me as she felt it would be perfect in my writer’s shed.
I know that flying is common in dreams, however I never fly. Actually, I fall in my nightmares. (I believe this is related to my severe acrophobia!) But, the painting was a simply lovely artistic representation of the hopes I had, and still have, for my daughter.
I imagine the young girl in the painting feels strong, free, capable, gifted, independent and joyful. When I was young, my Italian grandmother, Nonnie, was my cheer-leader. “Tutto e possibile,” she’d enthuse. I’ve tried to carry on that tradition with Natalie.
We all need someone to remind us that “anything is possible,”especially as we begin a new year!
My day started pleasantly which is not surprising. I’m retired and healthy, happily married with a successful college-aged daughter. My friends and neighbors are wonderful. I have a lovely home filled with shelves and shelves of books and bursting with dachshunds. And, yet half-way into my first cup of coffee, my husband looked at me and asked “What’s wrong, Michele?”
“I don’t know; life is good,” I answered. “I just feel so anxious and I don’t know why.”
That wasn’t the truth though. I knew why; I know why. I’ve felt anxious on a regular basis since November 8, 2016. On that morning, I rose early full of energy and ready to cast my vote for the first female president. The refrigerator held an expensive bottle of champagne and I couldn’t wait to pop the cork and toast her victory (our feminine victory)! Instead, I went to bed early after dosing myself with a couple Tylenol PM tablets.
I woke up still in shock as I know so many others did. We’ve elected an egomaniacal real estate mogul* to the highest office in the land. I was never prepared to forgive the man his former sins, but I was prepared to hope for the best. Surely, now that he’s the leader of the free world, his approach to leadership will change, I thought. And, yet, it continues. The insults, the lies, the ignorance, the incompetency and the narcissism laid bare for the world to see.
Since January, I’ve coped with the craziness of the new administration in an alternating fashion…get the news, eat too much or drink too much with friends…get the news, eat too much or drink too much without friends…laugh out loud with husband while watching SNL and Colbert…swear off the news to preserve sanity and waistline…begin watching news again…repeat. I’ve also tried to make a difference in the lives of others in small ways…donating, volunteering, listening and writing.
I watched our president today in Puerto Rico tossing out rolls of paper towels to the crowd. Tomorrow he’ll be visiting Las Vegas to offer solace to a city rocked by gun violence. I do not feel encouraged or consoled. There are people and problems that need attention. I’m worried. I’m afraid.
My husband understood. Yet, his concerns were slightly different.
“He was elected. He still has the support of most Republicans,” he said. “That’s my worry.”
We concluded our conversation in the same way it began. We are living through a difficult time in the history of this country. Divisions are deep and nothing is being accomplished. Suddenly I remembered what Michelle Obama said to Oprah shortly after the election, “This is what it feels like to have no hope.”
I can not allow myself to sustain the feeling of hopelessness, though. It comes and it goes, because I’ve always been an optimist and I’ve always felt proud to be an American. I continue to look for heroes and heroines and I find them each and every day.
Tonight I raise my glass to four courageous women:
Carmen Yulin Cruz, the San Juan mayor, who will not be cowed by our president and continues to fight for the survival of the people of Puerto Rico.
Gabby Giffords, who called upon Congress (again) to “find the courage” to address gun control in the wake of the latest tragedy in Las Vegas.
Katy Tur, the MSNBC anchor and author of Unbelievable, who devoted a segment to fact-checking POTUS’s claims about his Puerto Rico response
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said she was “heartsick” for the victims of gun violence and called for action NOW.
The sky is vibrant with the colors of another beautiful sunset as I finish this post. I could not wish for a better life here on the California Coast, and yet I know that I will continue to struggle with the fact that while my small world is so wonderful, my country is without a moral, admirable, competent leader. I’m holding on to my belief that America is the greatest country in the world. I will not give in to hopelessness. Will you?