I recently read somewhere that we are made of get-up-again muscles. I love that! Since we’re all destined to be slammed by heartbreak and disappointment at some point in our lives, toning our get-up-again muscles seems wise. According to resiliency theory, our bounce-back ability flourishes when we have feelings of control and competency, as in “I got this…”, when we nurture our coping skills (pause, breathe, rest), by feeling connected to others and believing in our character, and finally by having an opportunity to contribute to the general well-being. This all sounded well and good to me, and then the shooting happened at Robb Elementary School.
How in the world do those families, children, and teachers, crushed so hard by violence and loss, locate their get-up-again muscles? Resilience seems pie-in-the-sky when the landscape feels barren of hope for change.
I know we are all thinking of them, and we may feel hopeless. I do. Maybe we can look at some of those words, connect, contribute, control, cope. I’ve got some solid opportunities at the end of this letter. Meanwhile, here’s a quote from Pema Chödrön, the American Buddhist nun that may help.
Compassion is not a relationship between the wounded and the healed.
It’s a relationship between equals. It’s knowing your darkness well enough
that you can sit in the dark with others.
I am right here, beside you.
Mary Laura Philpott’s essay collection, BOMB SHELTER, Love, Time, and Other Explosives, starts with a health crisis. Her son suffers a seizure in the middle of the night, she and her husband wait for an ambulance, then navigate the mysteries of brains, electricity, and our limited capacity to make everything okay. What I love about this book is Philpott’s generosity. She’s kind to the turtles who live in her yard, to college kids that can’t get home due to bad weather, to exhausted mothers behaving badly in public, even to SUV drivers who won’t get out of the way for an ambulance. Lucky them, she muses, they’ve never white knuckled the phone, counting the minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
She’s also kind to herself, which is often the most jagged pill. “I don’t mean to muck up the beauty about now with my tears about later. I’m sad because I’m so happy, see?…What I do know is that the stability of right now will not hold.” I feel seen! Philpott is funny, smart, insightful, someone I’d love to invite to dinner, but not too often because I fear her anxiety would feed mine. Ultimately she leaves us feeling hopeful:
I am always looking for some gratitude, warmth, or hope…
when I see something that makes me feel joy,
you’re damn right I applaud. Way to go adorable cat on a leash!
Thank you server who brought my pizza hot!…
I say yes for things that offer some pleasure.
Yes for people who choose to be friendly.
Yes for any glimmer of light through all the darkness.
I mean that yes. I need it. Seriously.
What did you say yes to today?
THIS TIME TOMORROW, by Emma Straub, is fluffy, and has teeth. Just what I want in a summertime read. Stuff happens, it’s fun to read, there’s female friendship, time travel, delicious class satire, a loving relationship between father and daughter, a cat named Urusla. And in the midst of all the fun there are lovely truths about human nature that stick the landing. I listened to the audio book and honestly, it was a joy.
Just a quick reminder, I’ve created a read.write.eat. Bookshop Store, where you can find many of the books I’ve recommend in the newsletter.
Play is a crucial part of healing. I want to create an opportunity. Consider this write section like a game of pickle ball, but better! It’s a fun time spent w/o purpose and no threat of pulling your Achilles tendon. Get some words on the page. Be free. Be without judgment.
- Write about being frightened at an amusement park
- Write about breaking the law as a kid
- Write about excessive heat
- Write about a your anti-dream house
- Write about a cup you broke
- Write about a lost toy or a found toy
- Write about the grocery store your family shopped at when you were a kid
- Write about waiting for someone who never arrived (see Exquisite Pain, by Sophie Calle)
If these prompts seem like fun, are fun, if time whizzed by and you stood up from your desk feeling refreshed, consider joining me for 6 WEEKS, 6 STORIES. We’ll meet over zoom on Saturday afternoons, we’ll do some writing together, read some short stories, chew the fat on craft topics, and we will listen to one another’s work! It’ll be great. There are a few seats left. I’d love to work with you!
For more opportunities to work together, check the updated TEACHING page.
I think we all need dessert right now.
- 2 pints strawberries, washed and stemmed
- ¼ c sugar
- ¼ c orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- 1-pint good quality vanilla gelato
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Slice the strawberries. In a large bowl, toss three-quarters of them with the sugar and orange liqueur. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to macerate.
- Put the gelato in the refrigerator to soften.
- Place the heavy cream and half the macerated strawberries in a chilled mixing bowl (or in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment) use an electric mixer, whip to soft peaks, about 12 minutes. Carefully fold in the gelato.
- Spoon the strawberry cream into six bowls, or four bowls, or just two bowls if you’re having this for dinner. No harm, no foul! Mix the plain sliced berries with the saved macerated berries. and place on top of the strawberry cream.
A little program note: I’ve been writing and sharing what I love for nearly 3 years! I love it and many of you write to let me know how much you enjoy my thoughts and recommendations, and for that I am truly grateful. Honestly, it makes my day to hear from readers. Also, it takes time and consideration to put my thoughts together twice a month. Maybe you’d like to show appreciation buy clicking below:
VictimsFirst (a network of families of the deceased and survivors from over two decades of previous mass shootings) have started this fund to make sure that 100% of what is collected goes DIRECTLY to victims and families.
Write a letter of condolence and mail to:
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
408 Fort Clark Road
Uvalde, TX 78801
Robb Elementary School
715 Old Carrizo Rd.
Uvalde, TX 78801
Here’s some help with how to write a condolence letter, how to speak to the unspeakable and offer comfort. It is important for the people suffering from this tragedy to be reminded that they are not alone, give them the support and show them love.
If you live in the area and are in need of counseling, here is a resource.
Mom’s Demand Action
Text “act” to 64433, they will get back to you, plug you in where you live
Call the US Senate Switchboard: 202.224.3121
Here’s a list of Republican Senators who may vote in favor of a compromise gun safety bill:
Please, only call if you vote in that district/state. If live in another state and you’d like to help out, post the information on your social media. Here’s a link.
97Percent, whose mission is to reduce gun deaths in America by changing the conversation around gun safety to include gun owners, conducting original research to identify common ground, and leveraging technology to make our communities safer.