Tag: Personal

Choosing the Back Porch

Choosing the Back Porch

At our last family gathering, my aunt asked me how life was going in Austin. I told her that traffic & increasing cost of living are pain points for me, but it’s still the lack of diversity that always bothers me most and keeps me from feeling totally at home here. Even though I grew up in a suburb, it was near Houston, which is the most ethnically diverse city in the U.S.  So as a white, middle-class kid, I was probably exposed to different races, religions, and perspectives more than my counterparts in other American cities. It was a stark contrast when I came to Austin. And it’s only getting worse.

Despite growing 20.4 percent between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, (Austin) was the country’s only large, fast-growing city to record a decline in its black population.”

My aunt, who is my dad’s sister, reminded me that they (my dad, my aunt, their younger sister, and my grandparents), all lived in Austin in the 1960s. (Actually just two streets away from where I live now.) She said she remembers having a good friend from the neighborhood who was black, and they would walk a few blocks to a burger place nearby sometimes to grab sodas from the takeout window. One day, my aunt suggested they go inside for food instead and her friend shook her head and pointed to the door.

“That’s when I noticed the ‘Whites Only’ sign for the first time.”

She said she read it and then her mind started putting together all these instances that had felt weird to her over the years- times when her dad didn’t want her friend to come in their house, or when neighbors stared at them playing. She said she was sure there were other things, but they never really registered to her. She ate on the back porch with her friend that day, and then always ate on the back porch after that, until the signs came down and restaurants integrated a few years later.

It’s not a coincidence that my aunt now stands out in my family as a vocal supporter of equality and human rights. At ten years old she chose the right side when other adults around her did not. And if her choices had only been guided by what she saw in her own home, she would not have.

All the people that lived here back then: What did they pass down? What did they teach? Did they eat on the back porch, or did they go inside and leave their fellow citizens outside? Did they even think about it? Do they care? This is where we are now: Yesterday, Nazis rallied in Charlottesville and murdered and assaulted Americans. Changing a sign and changing a society are two very different things, and the work to stay aware, make the right choices, and be compassionate is constant.

Photo credit: Behind the Tower

The Light & Dark of It

The Light & Dark of It

It’s a new week. And I’m still here.

  • Yesterday morning I missed a crucial left turn driving to work, so I had to drive about 10 minutes out of my way to turn around. I’ve never missed that turn.
  • My eyes have been twitching on and off for over a week now. At first I thought it was something with my contacts, but then I stopped wearing my contacts…
  • I’ve been going to bed about an hour later and waking up about 30-45 minutes earlier every day for the past couple of weeks.
  • Lately, I feel perpetually behind on tasks and over-booked for activities. It’s a daily struggle.
  • I forgot my office keys at home today. I’ve never forgotten my office keys.

It’s a new week. And I want to be here.

  • Despite feeling exhausted, I’ve been setting time aside each day to draw, read, or work on a project I enjoy.
  • I’ve also been making time to just sit and watch something that makes me laugh, like The Larry Sanders Show (which I finally discovered), Tiffany Haddish telling a story, or 30 Rock on Netflix.
  • I’ve also been making time daily for 10 minutes of mindful meditation. Overall, this is beneficial, but specifically it helps me check-in with my brain & make sure I’m not telling myself too many negative stories.
  • Yoga with Adriene – 7 minute stress relief, remains essential to my weeks.
  • I decided to start therapy again to work on the sources of my anxiety & depression. I realized last week that I have told three people this month about how much therapy has helped me, so I’m going to take my own advice, and reach out for another source of help.

List: Hard Times

In my last post, I mentioned having a hard weekend. This is what “not doing great” usually looks like for me:

  • Netflix, lots of Netflix. Lately I’ve been watching so much Grey’s Anatomy I could tell you exactly how many different hairstyles Izzie had in s03. (six)
  • Wallowing on the couch
  • Crying suddenly at odd times… like when Meredith Grey has a breakthrough in therapy. (Yes, I see the irony in this.)
  • Taking another shower
  • Too many cookies
  • Lying on the floor while watching Netflix
  • Planning to get out of the house
  • Not getting out of the house
  • Planning to wake up early
  • Sleeping in

I have a lot of techniques I learned through therapy, books, and trial & error that really work for me to combat these depressive behaviors. I’ve done really well in the past couple of years to overcome the feelings that lead to weekends like this, but it’s important to acknowledge that progress doesn’t mean I’m okay all the time. It just means that when I’m not, I understand myself and can be more forgiving & hopeful later on.

Writing Helps

Writing about something creates a record of your truth at that moment. That’s a hard thing for me since I’ve never been very forgiving of change or mistakes. So I struggle with this box when it comes to sharing about my life. It’s way easier to post a photo of my food or talk about a TV show while keeping most of myself off record. (Plus, I am an unabashed over-editor, which makes it harder to hit “Publish.”) But that’s hardly helpful (or healthy). And I’ve been helped a lot over the years by the personal writings of strangers on the internet who are braver than I am.

So this is me posting something personal because I want this space to be more personal, and to reflect who/where/what I am more than it does now. I don’t know what that looks like yet but if it’s messy/uncomfortable/confusing, this is me saying that’s okay.

giphy

I had a hard weekend. I moved to a new city four years ago to get on a better path and infuse some momentum into my life. After two jobs, a financial level-up, and a year in therapy, I think I accomplished some positive growth, and I’m proud of that. But there are some lingering not-so-good parts of my life that feel, well, terrible right now.

It took me a long time to get to know myself and start making real, deliberate decisions. I’ve spent too much time feeling lost and like I was pretending in most situations. I don’t want to do that anymore, but big change doesn’t happen fast, so it’s like I’m straddling this line every day between living as myself and for the things I want, and still being stuck in this life of misguided past choices. It’s tough but I’m working on it and staying as positive as I can. It’s just scary and sometimes I have a hard weekend.