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The Capitol. taken from our countries botanical garden.

The Capitol, taken from the United States Botanical Garden.

I haven’t done any writing except for making lists for the last week. Even my journal has been untouched. No, I don’t have writer’s block. There have been many times over the past seven days that I have wanted to write, but then something would change. Between hours of feeling little to no anxiety, waves of grief, fear, and depression came crashing through. I could be smiling and happy one minute. Then boom! One of those waves would hit. Words that had been gathering in my head would disappear in a sea of despair. I know I wasn’t alone.

I’ve needed time to wrap my head around what I believed would happen when I went to bed at 11 PM, last Tuesday night … that Hillary would lose. I had gone to the polls on Tuesday morning like most everyone else, and imagined the celebrations that would be happening that evening. When the first rays of light came through my window on Wednesday morning, my stomach started churning like a cement mixer. I didn’t want to hear the news. I wanted to close my eyes and fall into a peaceful slumber that would last forever. But being one who faces what’s ahead, regardless of what it is, I got up and listened and watched. It hurt. On my way up the street as I walked my dogs, a neighbor in tears, asked, “What happened? It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.” We hugged, feeling each other’s pain, then moved on into the day.

I’ve been watching what’s been happening on the news. As in the rest of the country, there have been incidences of hate in this city. And sometimes it’s felt like the end of the world has come. And in a way it has. At least the world as I knew it.

But it’s not the end. It’s about change and the beginning of something new. It happens every moment of every day, as time slips through our fingers and a new moment opens up. If it’s good change, we celebrate. If it’s bad change, we piss and moan, and stubbornly march ahead insisting that life will remain as it was or … what? Half of our population is grieving and are in deep pain. The others are happy and celebrating. Some of us ask what can be done to make it like it was before November 8th.

Change. We can’t stop it from happening. But even when it’s bad, I believe something good always happens as a result. Pain will still be evident and bad things will still happen. But change is what all of us had on our minds as we went to the polls on Tuesday. Whether it was equal pay for women, gun control, or simply wanting recognition that we exist. We all wanted change of some sort. And now we have it. Whether we like it or not.

I believe that the good part of this change is that we are being forced to wake up. There has been a smugness and entitlement afoot here in America especially among those of us who have enough to live comfortably. What doesn’t affect us is somebody else’s problem.  It has kept us from really dealing with issues that have needed to be addressed … education, equal opportunities in all phases of life, and a way to come together to work on how to bring our country and world to a better place and serve all of its people.

It’s easier said than done, and I admit I’ve been just as blind as everyone else. But this is an opportunity to really change things up. We can become aware of the people who stand next to us at the cash register or on line as we all wait to cast our votes. It’s time to share our thoughts without fear of being judged. It’s time to be kind to those who disagree with us and/or scare us. It’s time for us to listen.

It’s also time to allow ourselves to adapt to the changes ahead without being told we’re not moving fast enough or are pushing ahead too fast. We each have our own needs and ways of addressing what is ahead. I need to have time to contemplate what to do and how to approach what could be a more than a difficult time, without being told how to go about it.

I believe that what’s ahead is about being mindful of my own feelings and what I believe in. It’s about learning to be a good listener and being aware of what others need. It’s about staying awake and not making assumptions. It’s about reaching out to those who are suffering and needing help.

There are lots of things we can do. We can run for office, donate to a cause, sign petitions, join a group with similar issues, march in protests, or wear a safety pin. A friend of mine collects gently used used hats, scarves, gloves, and socks to hand out to the homeless in our town at this time of year.

But what we really must do is to stay awake, pay attention, make noise when it’s called for, and be kind. The rest is up to what each one of us is most comfortable doing.

I have seen two films this week that should not be missed and have helped me sort through my feelings and these dreadful times. The first is Moonlight. The other one is Arrival. I came home feeling as though both movies were made just for us, right now, at this time. Don’t miss them. I don’t want to tell you anything about them but they both lifted my spirits and gave me an idea of where I stand in the dilemma we all face.

Things will continue to change as they always do. None of us knows what will happen next. For me it’s about being as positive as I can and taking in the light shining through the cracks.


  1. I agree it’s a wake-up call, and though still stunned, I’m trying to be as positive as possible.
    I also have seen Moonlight and wrote about it a bit. It’s a wonderful movie.

  2. Thanks, Merril. I’m glad you liked Moonlight as well. Here’s to being Positive!

  3. Barbara Germershausen says:

    I needed this, Joan. Thanks. It’s been a rough week, and holding space for others while I am dying inside has taken its toll on my sanity. I, too, have wanted to write. I’ve written a few thoughts in my journal, but mostly I’ve been stunned, hurt, in total disbelief. And, as you can imagine, having flashbacks brought on by the apparent validation of abuse toward women. Some memories never go away.

    I agree that change is a good thing, even if/when it makes us uncomfortable. ESPECIALLY when it makes us uncomfortable. We never know what’s just around the corner, so this moment is THE moment to breathe it all in, to take the small steps in connecting with one another, to find space in our hearts for what is to be, whatever that is. And to move forward from our center.

    I choose to believe in the inherent goodness of people and that’s what I’m trying to focus on in each moment.

    Thanks for the movie recommendations. I need something uplifting.


  4. Thanks, Barb. I finally wrote in my journal today after having a massage and I feel so much better. I can’t imagine how you hold space for your clients when you are in pain yourself. You are amazing!

  5. Joan — I resonate with your observation:

    “But what we really must do is to stay awake, pay attention, make noise when it’s called for, and be kind.”

  6. Joan Rough says:

    Thanks, Laurie. I would like to add ” Be gentle with ourselves and our loved ones.”

  7. I absolutely agree with you, Joan and will blog about it on Monday. I’m looking for a reason to hope that good things will come out of all this chaos.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Kathy, thank you for your agreement. I’m looking forward to read what you have to say on Monday!

  8. Thanks for your faith and for recommendations, Joan. We had similar Wednesday morning last week except you walked down sidewalks and I walked on woodland trails. There’s a sense of despair and fear in my world. It pervades the atmosphere and also comes from my own belly. Last week I spent many hours volunteering at hospice. It grounded me in what matters. This week, I needed that grounding because my mother-in-law fell (again) and ended up in the hospital. It’s a good time to practice kindness and to stay calm. And to take action however we can. I agree we must be tender toward ourselves and everyone we meet.

  9. Elaine, Thank you so much for kind words and sharing the pain that fills so many of us. I pray your mother-in-law is doing well. I love the strength you share by taking time to work with those in transition to another world. Everything you do matters. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  10. A wonderful post, Joan. I love this: “I believe that what’s ahead is about being mindful of my own feelings and what I believe in. It’s about learning to be a good listener and being aware of what others need. It’s about staying awake and not making assumptions. It’s about reaching out to those who are suffering and needing help.” So well said! Thank you, and wishing you a lovely Thanksgiving.

  11. I needed to read this this morning. I’m so worn out from it all. I want to stay away from the fray long enough to catch my breath, but as soon as I’m almost there something snatches me up, a new appointment, an friend coming unglued, my children needing and wanting to make sense of it all. I long for a quiet mountain top or a long, peaceful rest by the ocean. For now, it’s putting one foot in front of the other, reading words like yours and remembering to breathe. We will get through this. Together.

    • Yes, Dorothy, we will get through this … together! I’m finding I need a lot of alone time and puttering around the house. Company is coming on Wednesday for Thanksgiving and it should be fun. I will take time for myself, though. and yes, Breathe!

      • Dorothy Sander says:

        In some ways the holidays couldn’t have come at a better time, and in others I think that’s the easiest way for things to slide on ahead unnoticed. But that’s fear talking. I’m visiting my sons in Kansas City and the change of scenery is welcome.