Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Step Away from CNN.... Put Down the Facebook

So, the world feels pretty bleak right now. It is. But always/nevers and extreme ways of seeing things can make things feel even heavier and worse. We all need a break. Like Gordon said in his e-mail yesterday, please take care of yourselves. Here’s a few things that have helped me (personally) this week:

Activate with others:
·         10 Actions in 100 Days Seattle

Take A Break:
·         Plan your vacation time and communicate it responsibly so it goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved

Laugh….if you can…even if it’s laugh-crying?
·         The Daily Show is a go-to for me
·         “What to do when you're so overwhelmed by the Trump presidency you can barely move”
·         Escape into a (non-dystopian) book or movie!

Remember that we’re in this together even if it looks a little different:
·         When everything feels so divisive:

Share positive local changes that affect your work!
·         Changes are happening in Seattle; Seattle approved two open-use sites (but lack funding and locations)
·         People Experiencing Homelessness are Connecting to Estranged Family Due to Startup “Mircale Messages”
·         We have some folks in office who won’t be bullied

And even stories that aren’t local but remember all the good work around the world! Remember the arch that bends toward justice and acceptance:
·         Lesbian Church Minster near White House
·         100 Years of Planned Parenthood

And cuteoverload used to be my go-to, but here’s some things that help now:

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Welcome Newcomers!

Dear newcomers to political action,

First of all, welcome! You likely went to the march, are paying more attention to politics since DT was elected, or are simply fed up with people who are protected by law getting treated like shit. So let me welcome you! :) Now, you may be hearing people complain that you haven't shown up til now, but that's for another post and I think it's great you're here NOW. Better late than never! (Which is why I'm habitually late to every event...just ask my frenz....) So, let's get back to topic and talk about 4 steps to get you headed in the right direction.

(1) Reflect on what you feel--is it angry or guilty or empowered or like you want to stomp on an old white dude's throat because he told you what to do with your body for the 1000th time? Or maybe you're the son or daughter of immigrants! Or maybe your best work friend is your first friend of color and they just told you they were afraid to leave their house and you were shocked. Whatever it is! Reflect on the moments that brought you here. And now, I encourage you to sit with that icky feeling and to work through it on your own or with fellow newcomers. And the next step is key!

(2) If you listen to, read about, and, most importantly, BELIEVE the experiences of people you want to help, you will learn about how THEY have asked for people like you to step up. This is critical that you don't just willy-nilly go off and do whatever you like. There may be undertones of ignorance in your plans, so you should read up on what people most affected are saying is the best move forward!

(3) I know you want to get out there and get your hands dirty but hold off just one second! Seek out and talk about it with someone who looks like you. (If you want to pounce into action, please follow the lead of an experienced organizer in your area of advocacy.) Hear me out! If you don't have people in your immediate friends or family, seek out groups online who seem to hold similar experiences and values. This means white people talk to fellow white allies who are a little further along in understanding anti-racism work. Women speak with feminist women, men with feminist men, cis people (people born with genitalia/anatomy that matches their gender) with cis people who support trans rights, heterosexual with heterosexuals who support LGBTQ* rights, Christian with Christians who welcome other religions , etc. Do not burden people who feel oppression by asking them to teach you about their oppression--there's a whole world called "The Internet" for that. Do your research!

(4) Lastly, GET MOVING! DO WHAT YOU CAN. Time's a wastin! Get a lil uncomfortable. Remember that your discomfort is less than what others are suffering, so push yourself. If you don't want to start with a march? Afraid to jump in that deep? Okay! Here's 26 other things you can do to support your community in these times! Please pass and share with others! It's important we use what we have for those who  who have not. Thanks for standing with us!

Love and solidarity,

PS If you're interested in some other actions, here's a bunch at varying engagement levels:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This Movement is a Marathon---Not a Moment!

This election and march from this past weekend helped energize many. Let's keep this momentum moving. Remember this movement is a marathon!

You'll need:
-to train....your brain. Read up on issues that matter to you--books, articles, published reports, and personal stories that indicate the personal and collective impact of your cause. Read diverse authors and perspectives. Sign up for newsletters.

-to cross-train. You'll be strongest in your focus area if you exercise other muscles to help retain your overall balance. Don't narrow EVERYTHING to just one issue. Understand the intersection of systems of oppression. It will help round out your understandings and strengthen your resolve.

-to get a good night's rest. Make sure you're sleeping! Regularly! No one performs their best when cranky and tired!  And no one wants to march on front lines with a whiner who is tired instead of someone energizing the people around them!

-to find a crew to support you. Find your people. Go volunteer. Show up at council and community meetings, set up sign-making and postcard and letter-writing parties....get organized!

-to find your pacer. Get a buddy to volunteer with! Help each other out when you're feeling the drain, but know when they need to drop back and that's okay too.

-to walk if you need to. You can't sprint the whole thing or you'll likely burn out early. Maybe you need to step to the side and let people pass you. You'll catch up eventually! We're all heading in the same direction. :) (Well, most of us in the movement.)

-to take frequent breaks for the bathroom before you think you'll need them.
Give your body little breaks! Even 5-10 mins alone can help you clear your mind and help rebalance your energy. Being antsy and knowing a portapotty is coming up soon helps relieve built up tension. Don't say, "one more mile before I stop" because you know that 9/10 of that next mile will be spent focused on that portapotty! Go early! Go often!

-to find healthy ways to refuel and stay hydrated. I love liquid relaxation, but the i influence of too many adult bevs and carbs can make me feel sluggish. You need to have the best energy for this marathon, so feed your body well!

--to realize that, if you get injured, resting your mind and body will give you the time to heal if you need. Step away for a bit and come back when you're ready. We'll be waiting.

Here are some other tips!

Feel free to share others!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Response to "Shifting Philanthropy from Charity to Justice" by Dorian O. Burton & Brian C.B. Barnes


We need a new framework for giving to address America's economic, social, and political inequalities.
My wonderful friend Rashid posted a link to this article. Below are my more detailed grants-focused responses to many of the theoretical issues he brings up:

This is something my Resource Development and Communications departments have talked a lot about. I've been learning over the past 7 years about the shifting philanthropic narrative: from deficit-based to strengths-based, from set paths for recovery to personal autonomy around focusing on problem A or problem B, and from charity to justice, and from mass #s to individual impact (with some impact and ROI language to back it up). All these changes have a huge potential to propel the sector's stability, longevity.... and overall ability to resolve these issues. These issues all point back to the nonprofit industrial complex at its base, tho... but that is for another discussion.

Certain donors are farther along in their acknowledgement of privilege and identity awareness. And, to be honest, the means by which they came into their money (or fortune). It's no wonder it's called "fortune" as some people feel it's because "luck" is involved and others feel it's "hard work," and those of us who understand social constructs (like racism, classism, ableism, etc) understand it's likely more related to those historical privileges. Some donors want to feel like they are doing charity/god's work....and they are afraid to support justice (I know! I know! It's problematic! Who doesn't want justice!?!). But if their money is used to create justice and along the way, I have the opportunity to support their learning about privilege, justice, and social constructs, then I will most certainly do that. Not everyone is movable on this point, but everyone's money could still help the cause. 

For example, it's hard for me, as a grants manager, to know when to move the discussion with donors into the justice realm. We have taken this shift in the majority of our grant proposals, appeals, blogs, acknowledgments, and other communications, but writing words that are sent to a person and having a live conversation about justice and power are two very different situations. 

A trustworthy foundation is necessary to have courageous conversations, especially with people in power (ie, people with money from whom we're trying to get said money). I personally think a middle ground between the  problematic "charity" language and the somewhat activist/polarizing "justice" language is "community investor." Investing in one's community for the better is rarely disagreed upon. It's a "safe gray space" if you will. It opens up the conversation for folks who aren't quite ready to be on the front lines of rallies but allows them to dip their toe into the pool of understanding political and economic dynamics that influence their world.

I think everyone can be brought closer to the justice narrative---it's a long and tenuous arch that sometimes could backfire if not handled appropriately. Which can and does and has happened. (This backfiring also doesn't bode well for our bottomline goal.) Then again, we think about whether or not "those" people who do NOT want to support justice are the appropriate donors to our agency. One could argue that plenty of other places do good work and that they would be happy to take their money. I would argue that if an agency is operating without the knowledge of the intersectionality of privileges, that they aren't actually being as impactful and helpful to society as they could be. And that the work they do could be more damaging to the populations served.And, to stretch it farther, that the money being given to negligent or unreflective agencies is far more damaging than not giving at all.

I've wrestled with these and other ethical questions so much more than I ever thought I would in fundraising, and these questions and the constant reflection on them keeps me on my toes. In addition to my own personal beliefs that tie me to my agency's mission, the fact that we grapple with questions like these and set aside time to discuss them---these are some of the reasons I stay in the fundraising field and, specifically, at Solid Ground. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


I haven't posted in forever, but I will write again some day. Promise? Anyway, I just wanted to post something about how this election feels as heavy as the Obama-McCain election of 2008....where I was nervous and hanging on by our every breath where I fear for the future of the elected. Namely that (Madame) President Clinton (holy shit there's going to be two of them now) will have something awful happen to her. It's the same way I felt when Obama was elected. Like I was so happy and that I was praying no one would harm a hair on his head.

So, in a few short hours, there could be the first female president. I never thought America would see a black man as president, or a woman, and I'm so eager and excited and scared...I'm basically her:

So here's to waking up tomorrow and plugging onward and upward!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Telling Dreams

I had a VERY telling dream last night. I went to some island. I was escaping the zombie apocalypse...AGAIN...and somehow there was this part of the island that had a great coffee shop where I had to go to training.  (IRL, I was supposed to wake up for a 7AM online webinar, but kept hitting snooze, so this part is dreams imitating life imitating dreams.) It was a two-story coffee house with soft yellow walls, pane glass windows--like this:

It was bright and sunlight shone through the windows into the rich wood and buttercream walled space. There was a training room in the back of the basement or second floor. I couldn't tell--it kept flipping floors.

So I kept drinking coffee after coffee but kept falling asleep on the couch where a group of my colleagues were gathering. I was ordering drip coffee and switched to lattes and then I got full.

I went to the basement to use the bathroom (?) and there were 3 separate bathrooms and none of the doors were locked, so I kept walking in on people sitting on the toilet and being embarrassed. So, I waited until someone came out, and I went into one. A woman walked in bc the lock on the plastic accordion door didn't work. I remember thinking how the door didn't match the style of the space.

I met some woman in the bathroom and then went outside (?) where I saw a man running away with what I thought was my TJ's bag with my wallet in it. My colleagues and I chased him down, and he kept coughing. They were mad at him and wanted me to call the cops on him, but I didn't. I wanted to talk to him. I tried to bargain with him to make up the fact he stole my bag (which wasn't actually my bag after all.) He was very sick. I made him go back to the coffee shop where I could investigate the bag. He was an attractive young 20s man, but was very sick. I told him that he had to stop acting like he was or his cirrhosis was going to get worse. I made it my mission to convince him to get better.

My friends left me to talk with him in the basement gathering area of the two story house-style coffee shop. I spent time talking with him and his friends. He didn't seem interested in helping himself, but after many hours of chatting and listening, he agreed to stop stealing and acting up and to take care of himself.

Then looked over at the other couch where my ex Jeremy from my freshman year of college was. I was taken aback and overcome with happiness that he stumbled into the coffee shop, and I went and sat on his lap and hugged him. I said how worried I was that I couldn't find anything about him online and how happy I was that he was doing well. I wanted to care for him and just kept hugging him and was happy that he was okay.

Someone mentioned that the carpet in the basement felt like there was a hole underneath. We tore up a piece of the carpet and realized that there was a false floating floor and that the true floor was far below and, if opened up, could give another 5 feet of headroom in the basement. The owners said that they were selling the place because they couldn't afford to keep it open anymore. There was a leak and cracks in the foundation, and they had to rent out the back rooms for trainings to make money since the cost of WIFI and coffees weren't covering the costs for everything.

I thought about what I would do if I bought the coffee house. Just then, the back room opened up, and the training was over. My colleagues came out and said they were worried about me. They said I missed the training. I tried to start copying the words on the wall post-its but it was obvious I missed everything. Then my boss/CEO said I'd have to pay back the money to the agency I worked for for wasting their $, that I'd have to take PTO and then sign up for the training again and pay with my own money. I said fine and how much. They said, "$250. Times two." I gulped and said that was fine.

Then I thought more about buying the coffee shop and starting my own business as such. Just then, Jeremy got up and had to leave for the night. We went outside and said goodbye. He was studying at the local college. I rode the light rail down a road that curved and showed me the most beautiful Hogwarts-style college that had its doors shuttered due to the zombie apocalypse and that the schools were all closing their doors.

And then I woke up drenched in night sweats.

So...from this:
I am not connected to my job. I am wasting their time and money and my own.
I want to help broken men who don't want to help themselves.
I can't get over the past and I find myself still deeply emotionally connected to men from my past. No matter where they are now.
I want to branch out on my own.
I see beauty where others see broken-ness.
My education is beautiful but empty.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Let's Get Cultured in Seattle!!!

I've been collecting stuff for my friends and I to do when they visit. Here's that list. It's awfully centered on where I live (walking distance) and excludes Ballard and Georgetown (my fav parts of town) bc people may not have cars when they visit. 

Italics = I've already been there but would gladly go again!

Toward Madison Park:
Two Doors Down:Burgers and beer

Essential Baking Co or Belle Epicurean: coffee and danish
Essential Baking Co
Bell Epicurean

Queen Bee: Literally across the street from me

Cafe Flora: brunch

Japanese Garden

Madison Park: 

Cactus: tacqueria next to Lake Washington

The Harvest Vine: Fancy dinner

Toward Madrona/Leschi: 
Hi Spot: Brunch 

Bottle House: wine and cheese and tapas

Red Cow: steaks and frites

Toward Central District:
The Neighbor Lady and Uncle Ikes: beers and buds

Fat's Chicken and Waffles: shrimp and grits, fried chicken

Cafe Selam: hole in the wall/excellent Ethiopian food

Cafe Victrola

Between Cap Hill and CD:

Oola Distillery:

Bar Sue (dive bar):

Elysian Brewery (best beer in town?):

Skillet: Brunch

Cafe Pettirosso: Pretty Italian (?) Coffee

Two Big Blondes: plus size consignment shop--I got some great work pieces here!

Toward Cap Hill:
Oddfellows (brunch):

Bait Shop (drinks or fish and chips):

Rachel's Ginger Beer (local and tasty mixed drinks with RGB):

Starbucks Roastery (the fanciest Starbucks ever):

Montana: (hard liquor mixed drinks on tap)

Cap Hill Shopping:

Below is a little far for walking:
Toward Fremont:
Fremont Brewing:

Up north:
Green Lake (walk/run around)

El Chupacabra (Tacos near there):

Cuban Food near there:

And here's stuff by topic without caring about how close it is:

Music Venues:

Cultural Shit:
Seattle Art Museum (downtown):
Seattle Public Library (downtown):
Seattle Asian Art Museum:
Theo's Chocolate Tour:
Best Coffee in Town: 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Fight out of the Flory

Well, Seattle may have officially made me soft. It's been happening since a string of bad decisions in my 20s led me to black eyes and patchy hair from a fight at the Vogue with Alicia, the candlestick dented the wall behind my boyfriend's head when he wouldn't help me with my taxes (!!!), and I chased a colleague up the stairs to fight about periods at the end of references for linking in FDA submissions. Since then, I've decided to swallow my pride and bite my tongue in disagreements at the office...because I'm a professional? Because confrontation and bullying is just a ridiculous amount of energy to exert that I seem to lack more and more each year. But TODAY officially marks the day I've taken an official sigh and realized the fight in me may be gone.

After my colleague repeatedly berates me and my coworkers at the office and I bite my tongue.

After a meeting where I know the answer to a question and sit silent because I know no one wants to hear from me and I should "know my role" and even if I DO answer a certain way, it won't be well received because it didn't come from someone at a higher pay grade.

And finally, today, after I'm parked and texting on my phone before heading out for my run, and a chick in a Fiat hits ME while attempting to park, and I DO NOTHING IN RESPONSE TO HER CUNTY COMMENTS.

Pre-Feisty Flory

Peak Feisty Flory

 Post-Feisty Flory

Maybe it is age. Maybe it is maturity. Maybe it is reserving my emotions and energy for other places. But this is where I am. Is it beaten down? Not quite. Is it apathetic? Not quite. Is it exhaustion? A little.

Let me describe the scene: 
I'm sitting, parked, in my car before my group running on Wednesday night. I'm typing the group text about something inconsequential when *FABUMP* I'm pushed forward into my wheel. I look up into the rearview to see a blond girl (20s) cover her mouth as her Fiat hits my car. She looks apologetic in that brief second. I give her a look of "Really?" and get out.

She steps out of her car also, "Do you have whiplash?" she says in a snotty tone, sauntering forward and PAST me as I look at my bumper.

"It's... fine," I say.

"I knew it would be," she says as she continues onto the sidewalk without stopping to acknowledge me or apologizing.

I look at her flowing cape bellowing in the wind, her platform black booties stomping on the sidewalk, her spunky bleached and grayed blonde hair, and I'm too SHOCKED to say anything.

Now, I don't know if it was the fact I was been having a fairly craptastic day up to that point and was celebrating rock star parking, or just was in sheer SHOCK, but I really wanted to kick this girl's ass....but couldn't. This scene flashed into my mind: 

Also, in the back of my head I wondered about what I'd say... "WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME, YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE CUNT?" as I snatched her hair from behind and ripped her back to where I was nose-to-chest with her, pressing her back up into a wall.

I thought about my "fluffy" frame standing up to this twig who stood over me by at least half a foot (mostly bc shoes). I clearly outweighed her by at least 60 lbs. And I thought about backing her up to her car, an ensuing fight where her friend stood in awe and then pulled me off of her as a slackjawed PNW crowd gathered, not used to seeing any sort of REAL confrontation. And then the cops would come, and I'd be sitting on top of her, pinning her shoulders to the ground and threatening to break her nose if her friend stepped any closer.

Of course, I immediately also thought about me sitting in my CEO's office with double black eyes and a broken hand (which happens to be necessary for typing as a writer), having to explain how I managed to knock out a major donor's bratty kid and how that behavior is unbecoming of a fundraiser and not representative of our company's ability to problem solve and then getting fired.

And so I stood there, MY JAW AGAPE and watched her saunter away.

I took a pic of her car. THE UGLY BROWN FIAT that it is. I thought about calling the cops just to come and tell her not to be a snot, but they would likely yell at me for wasting their time on a snot-nosed bitch when they had real issues to deal with.

I thought about driving home, removing all my ID, and coming back and keying the fuck out of her car.

I thought about all the TERRIBLE things I could do to her...while watching the back of her head walk into a store that sells $200 t-shirts. And so I turned, and went to running with the group of women 40-and-better that I run with and relayed the story to them. They were in awe that I said nothing also, likely having confronted younger snotty girls at some point in their lives, but mostly having children of their own, so they knew how to snap back more quickly. 

Told them of the bravery I WOULD have had back in the day. Told them, "I would have said to her, 'DON'T FUCK WITH ME, I'M FROM CHICAGO.'" (Knowing that I'm actually from a small town in Indiana but lived in Chi for 10 years and somehow that gives me a little bit of truth and street cred but not really.) Oh, bravery in hindsight.....

And I wondered if I had finally lost that last spark of Giving Fucks. 

Has the fire been zapped from The Flory? No longer fiesty, what characteristics do I possess to make me an individual? Who am I, who have I become, and who will I be in another 20 years? Am I already one who can be pushed around? 

This all came to fruition a few days later, when Nurse Nick asked to call me. In my mind one good, one bad, and one neutral thing: he is interviewing in SEattle, he or someone we love has an incurable disease, or my ex got engaged. 

"Are you sitting down?" And I knew immediately. 

I got news that the ex is engaged. My response, "Oh. Okay. Good for him. I hope he's happy."

No anger, no tears, no sadness, no animosity because I'd cried my last tears for him months ago when I confirmed he was, in fact, with the girl he swore he wasn't leaving me for....the same girl he's engaged to today. The same girl that I told my friends (immediately after he and I broke up in October 2014) that he would be engaged to in a year and a half, 2 years max, and they denied it. And, once again, I was right.

It's as if I haven't been the girl before the engagement 7 times now. Sheesh. I am getting good at this, guys. And it's completely okay. I don't regret that relationship, nothing about it, and certainly at this point not about being broken up and him being engaged to someone else. 

The only thing I wish would have gone differently is that he would have told me the truth that he was leaving me for her, like I knew and accused him of, and he denied to my face. Because for a YEAR I blamed myself of being selfish about wanting a baby---his reason why we should break up. I believed I was a terrible person for pushing away "the love of my life" for wanting a child. And I believed that-- partially and partially knew he was likely leaving me for her--his employee who constantly texted him outside of work hours while he lived with his live-in girlfriend of multiple years (off and on). The girl who started at his job who "was kind of a free spirit," he said with THAT smile on his face. 

I saw that smile on many of my exes faces. I know THAT smile. I know it, and yet don't believe it every time I see it. I see it, and if I accuse them of liking the girl (as I have in the past), then I look crazy and that I "must have been snooping" (or other accusations I've faced). Not that I broke in that half second---felt the gravity of a black hole in my chest, because I see that they see what is missing in our relationship in someone else. 

No one wants to believe that they are less wanted than some fresh, new toy who knows nothing of the mommy issues, money woes, fights, joblessness, supporting someone while they "find themselves," alcoholism, addiction to drugs, or any handful of other issues that I've gladly embraced for hopes of being there on the other side of those struggles. 

I am an outspoken person. I know exes won't believe it, but OH THE WARS WE HAVE AVOIDED because I have learned not to stoke certain fires at opportune moments. The way I have chosen my battles and bitten my tongue when I KNOW we disagree about music, climate change, feminist issues, and the millions of times I just DON'T GIVE A FUCK about whatever they think they are so right about and I feel exactly opposite and that I feel so right about my way. And now....THAT smile. And in that moment, as a woman I was broken--foreseeing the way the future would and did unfold. The way I grabbed so tightly at the end, trying to move a glacier in any direction but down.

And each break up and recovery is a chance for me to redefine myself. To remind myself who I am. What is at the core of who I am and what makes me fucking rad. And I am happy. I am so much happier alone, living in Seattle, living my life with friends, hiking, cooking, going out, and struggling to rub two nickels together, than feeling alone in a relationship with someone who wasn't the right fit. Alone with a person who doesn't celebrate me. 

Companionship would be nice--don't get me wrong. Dating is the pits in your late 30s. I used to blame my ex for taking the "last good years" of my life--thinking I can't have kids and buying the thought that I am an undesirable troll and I might as well start searching the classifieds for apartments under bridges. 

But I go out. I get sexy. I wear heels, and make up, and shave my legs for ME. To remind MYSELF that I am sexy and desireable. Yeah, it's nice to get checked out, but at this point in my life, I'm happy with who I am, where I'm at, and the person I've become. I'm not just complacent, but I'm actually pretty fucking good, man.

So in the moments when I'm on a date and see my partner's so-called-imperfection present itself to me in the form of an opening for a disagreement, I think of all the times the men I've dated have sat in silent disagreement until they get fed up and leave. How many THOUSANDS of times they have been silent and listened to me ramble, disagreed on the inside, and just watched as I chattered and prattled away. And then, time after time after time, rather than fight, they eventually see a bright, shiny something---they turn their attention elsewhere until they see exactly the thing I'm not. Someone easy-going. Someone who isn't hyper-analytical and PUSHING and challenging them to be someone they're not. I say it's about "growing" and they feel it's about "forcing" them to change. So they find someone who doesn't make them go to therapy, confront themselves and their issues, someone who says "come as you are and it's good enough" and they walk from me to them, exhale at the release of pressure, and slide a ring on that girl's finger. And I don't blame them. At all.

Maybe this less fiery Flory is for the better. It doesn't nag. It doesn't say, "What you need is...." It doesn't assume. It asks for opinions and options if that person even wants to hear my options. It says NO when it wants to. In that moment on a date, it gives me a moment of pause to decide if I am the fiery 20-something or the more experienced 30-something. Neither bad in and of themselves, but only if taken purely on their own. There are other parts of me that are far more balanced now. Where spite doesn't hunger for a fight just beneath the surface. Where I can hear a derogatory word and wince rather than get in someone's face and then talk about it later when someone's more likely to hear my point of why we shouldn't use "bitch" on a first date. Where I can be silent and let someone teach me instead of always running my mouth. 

It's about balance. Wisdom is supposedly when your heart, mind, and gut are in alignment. And I'm slowly working closer to what that looks like for me. I'm exercising self-love, self-forgiveness, and self-grace. I'm trying not to go with the first thought or emotion (the instinctive one you learned growing up) and to go with the second one (the one I've learned, the one I have become). 

At this point in my life, I feel like deep sighs are 70% of the "first" emotion I convey. At this point, I just need to decide if I follow those with a silent smile while shaking my head or launching into a diatribe. And it's just not really worth the energy most of the time. So maybe taking a second to think things through is good.

Maybe it is age. Maybe it is maturity. Maybe it is reserving my emotions and energy for other places. But this is where I am. Is it beaten down? Not quite. Is it apathetic? Not quite. Is it exhaustion? A little.