learning to live and love from a new perspective

The Last Four Years

The 2020 Election is over. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won. There were simultaneous victory cries coupled with sighs and tears of relief all over the country. I feel like the news is still sinking in.

Many people are speculating about what comes next. I feel like before I look forward, I want to look back. My children were both in elementary school when Trump was elected president. They spent four very formative years living with the chaos, hypocrisy, and cruelty that was part and parcel of this administration.

Four years ago, I worried so much about the effect that Trump’s “leadership” was going to have on my children. As a parent, how do you reinforce the importance of caring for all people, telling the truth, and respecting differences when none of these things are modeled by our nation’s leaders?

As I reflect on the last four years, I realize how impactful living through the Trump era has been- both for my children and for me. For me, I’ve never been involved in politics beyond the local level. However, I spent the last four years active and engaged. It’s been inspiring and motivating to connect with activists from around the country and to be involved in a movement, “The Resistance”. As we’ve seen a small blue wave grow into a tsunami, I feel proud of our accomplishments, and hopeful for the future.

For my children, I think they are forever changed. They are global citizens now. They have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of a corrupt and heartless government. They’ve also witnessed first-hand the impact that individuals can have in changing the course of this country. They’ve learned that the actions they’ve taken have made a difference. These are powerful lessons, and ones I’m glad they’ve learned.

Honk if you love democracy!Honk, honk, honk, honk, honk!!!!!

Yesterday, Charlie Baker (the governor of MA) announced that all schools in Massachusetts would remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

No proms.  No graduations.  No end of year field trips.

Just a promise of 11 more weeks of isolation.

Our kids took the news with more equilibrium than I expected.

We’re getting through this day by day.  We’re finding moments of joy and beauty, and real true connection, even amidst the isolation.

But it’s very hard on our collective souls.  Every day the stories fill the news + social media.  Loved ones dying alone in hospitals where nobody can visit them.  Nurses and doctors declaring death over and over and over again in one shift.  Families worrying about their dwindling resources.  One parent at home caring for children, while fearing for the life of their partner who is at work at a nursing home or hospital.

Every morning I wake up and feel the weight of all this sadness.  Then I pull myself together, and remind myself of my beautiful family, and my commitment to keeping them safe and as unbroken as possible.  I remind myself of everything I have to be grateful for.  I put one foot on the floor, and then the other.  And I start my day.

Why Are You Snowflakes Crying About?

My mind keeps drifting back to that awful night in November, 2016, when Donald Trump was declared the winner of the presidential election.  I crawled into bed around midnight.  They talking heads on the news hadn’t declared it with certainty, but it seemed inevitable that the foul-mouthed, corrupt, morally bankrupt buffoon who’d been clogging the airwaves for months was about the become our next president.  I couldn’t bear to watch it happen in real-time.  After an hour of tossing and turning restlessly in my bed, I returned downstairs and turned the television back on.  It had happened.  Donald Trump had been elected as President of the United States.

I don’t know how long I sat in stunned disbelief that night.  It felt like hours.  My stomach hurt.  I felt dizzy.  Then I started to cry.  I think I cried the rest of the night.

In the morning, I discovered that many people the world over had the same reaction as me.  They cried all night.  They cried until there were no tears left.  It didn’t change the fact that Donald Trump was still president, but it helped to know there were people in the world who cared.

My feelings changed by nightfall.  I heard the word “Snowflake” used as an insult for the first time.  “What are you Snowflakes crying about?”

I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time.  What were we crying about, exactly?  The fact that a racist, sexist, idiot was going to be making policies that affected all of our lives.  The fact that a greedy, incompetent criminal was going to be in charge of our national finances.  The fact that a xenophobe was going to be in charge of immigration policy.  While I couldn’t play out the exact scenarios, I had a sense of what would come.  My heart and soul were in turmoil imagining what our next four years would be like.

And then came immigrant families being torn apart-  parents deported while their American-born children were left behind.  And then came children in cages at detention camps along the border.  And then came neo-nazis with torches, and comments about “good people on both sides”.  And then came black churches burning.  And then came shootings in synagogues.

And I cried.  And people in my social circles cried.  And each time I thought to myself, “You still think I’m a snowflake, don’t you?  You’re not crying yet, are you?”

So, here’s what I want to know.  Are you crying yet?

Hundreds of thousands of people have died.  They’ve died from the spread of a disease that we had plenty of time to prepare for.

Millions of healthcare workers are putting their lives at risk every day fighting a disease that should not have spread like this in the first place.

Businesses have shut their doors.  Many of them will never reopen.

Children are home alone while their front line working parents are off at work and schools are closed.

People are dying alone.  Mourners are attending funerals on Zoom because they aren’t allowed to travel.

And what I really want to know is…   are you crying yet?  Do you see what you have done to us?  Your idiot president, who YOU elected.  What was he doing while news of the pandemic was being shared with him?  He was minimizing.  He was downplaying.  He was off to his resorts to play golf.  And meanwhile, millions of factories were going about business as usual when they could have been mass producing masks.  Millions of Americans were going to work and school when they could have been home, slowing the spread of the virus.  Millions became infected.  And it was largely preventable.

It’s not that I’m wishing you pain and heartache.  I’m not.  I’m really, truly not.  But I want to know…   are you crying yet?  What is it going to take for you to join me in recognizing this as the tragedy that it is?   Will your business have to fold?  Will you (or a member of your family) need to become infected?  Will you attend a funeral alone, because none of your family members can travel to be with you?

Probably if any of those things happen to you, then you will cry.  But will you recognize that this was preventable?  Will you vote differently next time?

I hope yes….  but I fear the answer is probably not.

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Weekends are a little easier than weekdays.  No work…  just trying to stay occupied.

We tried to think of a place we could take a nice, scenic walk that wouldn’t be too crowded.  I thought….  of course!  All of the college students have gone home.  And so began the first stop on our COVID-19 College Tour.  We spent the afternoon at Brandeis.  It was a beautiful day to explore….  although the campus was like a ghost town.  It made me sad to think of the students whose semester was cut short.   Some day, they’ll get to return.  And their lovely campus will be there to greet them.

We did a good job social distancing throughout our hike:IMG_7655

 

Here we are, at the end, demonstrating how NOT to do social distancing.

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Be well, everyone!

Each day, we’re creating more of a routine.  Our morning routine now includes filming the day’s challenge, filling out the day’s schedule, and today we added watching CNN 10.  We also added a daily playdate with James for virtual chess.

It was remarkable what a relief it was to finally reach the weekend after a full week of isolation.  During the week, I felt completely torn between family and work.  Over the weekend, David and I both put work aside.  Even though there were so many limits on what we were able to do, the fact that we could devote a lot of attention to our kids made a huge difference.  The highlight of the weekend was a trip to the outdoor sculpture park at DeCordova Museum with the Penn family.

Even though we’re slowly losing our sense of time, somehow everyone knew today was Friday.  A long week coming to an end.

Here are some things we did today:

  • Shira and David cooked Shira’s bagels.  Like honest to goodness, boiled them and water and baked them in the oven.  They were AMAZING!!  One of the highlights of the day.
  • Last night, I went out to Staples and stocked up on whiteboards, markers and erasers.  Today I created the most beautiful schedule in the history of schedules.
  • As usual, my highlight with Gabe was working on our challenges.  Our audience continues to grow, and I’m enjoying making the videos with him and sharing the experience with others.
  • I had my first virtual therapy session on the phone.  Here are some MAJOR takeaways:
    • It feels good to feel loved.  It feels GREAT to feel LOVING.  All of the small acts of kindness we are doing for one another at this time are nice for the recipients, but when you do an act of kindness, it has a huge impact on YOU.  I knew this, but now it’s in the front of my mind and will stay with me at this time.
    • It’s okay to feel some happiness.  I’ve been feeling guilty over the joy I’m getting out of Gabe’s challenges, Shira’s reading to TS Staff kids, walking outside, baking….  But, as my therapist said today, “What good would it do for the world to be anxious and worried all the time?  Feel anxious, mad, sad, angry if that’s how you’re feeling.  But if you’re feeling joy, that’s okay too.  It’s more than good.”

 

The day ended with a virtual Shabbat with the Kasdon family, followed by Virtual Shabbat Services with Temple Shalom.

That’s all for today.  Wishing you find some happiness and joy this Shabbat.

See you on the flip side!

I hope I’m not speaking too soon….  but we seem to be falling in to a bit of a rhythm.

In our house today:

  • I had a lengthy meeting with my team.  We’re planning how to take our how Sunday school program on-line, and also how to provide social opportunities for our teens.
  • David worked a full day from the basement.
  • Shira and Gabe were champions at entertaining themselves.  They rented a movie together (The Secret Life of Pets 2), and did most of their other activities alone.
  • Gabe and I continued our daily challenges.
  • Shira made BAGELS from scratch!  (We haven’t baked them yet.  I’ll let you know how they turn out…..)
  • Three of my colleagues have young children.  I offered Shira’s online babysitting services to them.  Two out of three took her up on it.

The two highlights of the day were Shira doing her virtual reading + Gabe giggling his head off over the submissions to today’s challenge.

We’re only six days into this thing….  and we’ve already lost all sense of time.  Here’s our favorite joke in our house:

Person 1:  What day is today?

Person 2:  Today is Purple.  It’s also the Fred day of Winter.

In other words…  words describing time have lost all meaning.

 

Some things we did today:

  • I had a zoom call with adult staff from Camp Ramah.  At the same time, Gabe and Shira played Virtual Ramah Bingo.  Note to self….  Gabe is a highly competitive Bingo player.IMG_7531
  • Gabe had virtual Small Group Hebrew.
  • I met virtually with the TS Madrichim.  It was funny, because Shira was on the call on her phone in a separate room.
  • Gabe and I went for a walk with his friend Sam.
  • David and I went for a walk.
  • David and Shira played soccer.  David is wishing he stretched first.
  • The Lobron family ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together.
  • Shira had a virtual voice lesson.
  • Gabe ran his “At Home Challenges”.  He posted a video at the beginning of the day with the challenge, solved the challenge himself, then made another video at the end of the day announcing the winners.

And so it goes.  One day at a time.  Trying not to feel overwhelmed.  Trying to be kind.  Trying to not be too hard on others….  or myself.  Trying to appreciate the small things.  Trying to express the immense gratitude I feel for the many wonderful people in my life who I’m connecting to in new ways.

One day at a time.

How are you doing?

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