Ordinary Hopes by Vanessa Kroll Bennett

I was fine.  I really was.  I was getting through my days.  Meeting my deadlines. Being a decent parent.  Being a mediocre spouse.  OK, the alcohol and chocolate intake was higher than it should be, but generally I was fine.  Then I voted and I didn’t feel so fine.  The worry, the anxiety, the sadness of everything that has happened this year seemed to seep out of me from the seams of my body.  Strangely, my kids actually do seem fine.  They are jolly.  They are upbeat.  They are getting their work done, talking to their friends, smiling and laughing. I envy them right now.  But given the choice I would much rather they be fine and me be struggling.  I myself have spent several nights reading trashy novels on my phone while huddled in the corner of the couch, wearing the same leggings and sweatshirt for days.  I am afraid of what I will do with leftover Halloween candy at my disposal.  

What I really want is to do is hope.  I want to hope that our country will be healthy again.  I want to hope that the political turmoil will settle peacefully. But I think it’s my fear of hoping that is bringing me so low, because I have hoped in the past and been painfully disappointed.  Why risk hoping when it’s safer to assume things won’t turn out so well? I’m clearly not alone in my fear of hoping because none other than Stephen Colbert talked about people trying to protect ourselves from the pain of lost hope.  But I miss hoping. I am (normally) a hopeful person.  I am (normally) an optimist.  I am (normally) a “glass half full” type.  I don’t want to lose that side of myself, for my own sake and my family’s sake, but I am too scared to hope and have my heart broken.   

So this morning, while scarfing down an everything bagel smothered in cream cheese, I decided to come up with some things for which I am hopeful that are not tied to the current political or public health reality.  It took me a while to come up with these, but I’m really happy to have something to look forward to that won’t feel devastating if it doesn’t happen.  I’m calling these my ordinary hopes because they are short term, they don’t depend on incredible good fortune or unrealistic talents.  They are small and lovely and safe.

  1. I hope I am able to make a delicious Thanksgiving turkey.
  2. I hope it’s warm enough for me to see my parents outdoors this weekend.
  3. I hope I find some wonderful novels for the winter months.

Nothing spectacular or earth shattering here, just some small things for which to hope when hoping for bigger things feels like too much of a risk.  What are your ordinary hopes?

Borrowing Joy by Mary Pat Draddy

I tried out a new meditation this morning which was focusing on cultivating joy in this moment. We were asked to imagine someone we know, whether it be a person or animal, who has recently expressed something joyful. And, I must admit, it took me a minute to think of a moment. I then thought of my dog who, when we walk anywhere with her, my kids and I joke that she always behaves like a four-year-old going to a birthday party. We even narrate her walking “Wait where is the party? We are going to a party, right? We must be going to a party. I can’t wait to go to a party.” (Yes, I have an active mind during meditation.)

As the meditation progressed, I thought about what in my pre-Covid life brought me joy and I was brought back to my Thursday Dynamo Girl class that I have been teaching for four years. I was transported to the joy that entered my body during each class when bearing witness to the children’s own joy. Watching kids run around, try new things, squeal with happiness and share their deep and honest thoughts was a regular Thursday activity, which I now really miss.

As I enter this next week, I am going to keep a keen eye out for joy that I can borrow. Whether it’s from one of the many new puppies in the neighborhood or the sound of my kids having a shared moment of laughter, I will latch on to those glimmers of joy. And, I bet, I in return will have some that someone else can borrow.  What moments of joy can you borrow from the world around you?

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