For a while now (November 2016 perhaps?) this country has been a difficult place to be. And this summer, politics has reached a crisis level. The news is very very very difficult to contend with. Daily, gruesome cruelty towards people trying to enter this country, and the near constant gun violence, due to the fear, racism and the misogyny of those who support this administration, have been a terrible, dull, drumbeat. For a person like me, a woman who lives in a very comfortable world for the most part, this is such a heartbreaking and confusing time to be an American. I’m very anxious, like so many are, about where we are careening with this dangerous administration at the helm. It can be hard to just keep doing your regular thing, doing your best to parent and work and live with joy. I say this as a reminder to myself, when things I’m doing or thinking about seem futile and self-serving. It’s really just hard sometimes to exist in both places. My life is actually good and lucky right now, and yet more people are openly suffering and struggling than I’ve ever been aware of.
There is no snappy thing to say here, no immediate answers, other than that I am doing what I can to make sense of this moment. We have lost our way, but we all have to keep going, listening, learning the truths, amplifying the good, and hopefully we will get through this terrible time.
This connects to my work on MILK. Though I’m taking a selective look at loss, through the guests and ideas and stories that are available to me, I’ve realized the transformational power of writing and talking through pain and grief, and creating narratives that are ours. The last several episodes of MILK have focused on storytelling and how writing or telling another person about your loss can help not only you, but offer a salve to others.
An organization like The Moth, a revered, powerful live storytelling organization, is run by artistic director Catherine Burns, and does such wonderful work. I was so happy to talk with her about working in a space where she can coax healing stories out of people, and watch them transform a live crowd, and later, offer those stories more widely to people listening intimately to The Moth’s amazing podcast. Catherine has been through her own losses and shares her beautiful, optimistic take on her community and the joy she takes in her job.
Molly Rosen Guy is a writer/editor/teacher/ who is using Instagram as a forum to write about her father’s illness and death, the end of her marriage and of her very popular wedding business. She is unflinching in her sharing, and tells the truths that she needs to tell. I loved talking to her about books, leading workshops, her own writing, about mothering two daughters, and about her dad, Robert. She is working on a memoir about him, and I look forward to reading it.
Nadine Haruni has taken her experiences and used them to write books that help kids deal with transition and loss. Her Freeda the Frog books help families deal with divorce, with blending families, moving houses and schools, and losing a loved one or pet. Nadine had always wanted to write books for kids, and worked hard to do so while practicing law full time, and raising two children after her divorce. She’s a force!
Speaking of loss, I left my little boy in New Hampshire last weekend at overnight camp with his sister, who is there for her 5th year. It is the weirdest feeling, knowing that your kids exist in the world without you. This too, is of course a type of loss – from the time they are born, every phase and stage that helps them find their independence and move away from us is truly that. I miss them, but know the experiences away from us are important for us and them.
So, I’m connecting dots with this Loss Season and the other work I’m doing. Having the kids out of sight for the few weeks is helping me to do that. Kids are distracting! But, we can learn so much from them! I recently hosted a new, wonderful podcast series called “How to Raise a Parent.” It’s a branded project from Slate Studios and Dairy Pure. I interview experts about how we can get back in touch with the purity and innocence of our own childhood, and what we can learn from our kids in the process. I got to work with my kids on some of the promos for the podcast, you can hear one here:
It was a blast and I’m proud of the series. You can see and hear the podcast here:
Also, In case you missed it, my episode of ZigZag Podcast with Manoush Zomorodi ties together a lot of the topics I’m thinking on, and interviewing MILKs about this summer. The episode is about commodifying motherhood and what success means to me, the loss of certain media industries and how I’m personally pivoting. Its very open and honest and it made me think and make connections.
Yours, in loss, love, success, honesty and parenting.