For the last eight months, I've been planning. Getting the nest ready. Reading up (as I do). Largely excited with a tiny bit of natural anxiety mixed in. Friends and colleagues (and of course the daily strangers) have remarked about how well I am doing. How happy I seem. I am.
I wonder what the cultural relevance of this statement is in 2014.
I can recall seeing it on many a soaked-through tee shirt at the gym. It's a mantra. "No pain no gain" is a philosophy to be proud of when physically pushing yourself. If you're not sweating and sore and in pain, then you're not really doin' it.
Apparently it's a party in my uterus. This baby is already laughing!
I'm starting to feel the kicks of our baby. I'm 21 weeks pregnant and somehow half-way there already. It happened overnight! On the other hand, the first week of knowing that I was starting to grow a fetus seemed to last forever because I was bursting at the seams. So happy I had to tell family. I didn't want to wait the traditional three months. I couldn't. Something so happy had to be shared immediately. And if god forbid anything happened, I would need my people to know. To be able to hold me up.
It started with the reading I went to tonight. The author was engaging, reflective, honest and humble. Funny too. He talked about his process of writing, the mistakes he's made, and ranted a bit at the end about technology (prompted by an audience question). He shared my same thinking - that it's a wonderful tool but that it is taking us away from each other in many ways. Glowing screens at the dinner table take the place of meaningful discussion. iPhones become pacifiers for babies. First dates take texting breaks in between dinner and dessert. This is the new norm. Many of us struggle to be present because of the beeps and the constant wondering about what might be happening in one's inbox, one's Facebook wall, one's Twitter or Instagram feed. It's endless. If you let it be.
Wake up, think “I can’t wait til I’m back in bed later
Leave your home, think “I just want to be at work. I wish I could just teleport
Get to work, think “I can’t wait for lunch.”
Get to lunch, wonder what you’re going to have for dinner.
Get to the end of the day and think “Can’t wait for the weekend.”
Wish for vacation and once you’re there, think about everything you’re going to
have to do once you get back.
We wish for the day to be over.
This week to be over.
This month to just end.
Next year to come.
When I got engaged a few months ago, I failed to immediately envision my perfect wedding (to the disappointment of many).
Within days, we were asked whether we had a date yet. The answer was no and continued to be no for a few stressful months. I didn't know what kind of dress I wanted right away and I sure as hell didn't have a color scheme (orange/grey? aqua/tangerine? what about hot pink and yellow?!). I have friends who have been thinking about their big day for years. They are ready for it. Me, I'm beginning to have a clue. And the thing is, I am really excited to be married. But I have realized that the more interesting thing about all of this is understanding what marriage really means to me and how it changes my relationship with Gerry.
Even though it's after 10pm and I'm full of fried chicken, I am also energized and hopeful. This is always how I feel after a Swirl dinner and I get to talk to others who similarly want to be honest about the flaws in our society, and think about positive ways to confront them. And this is not about getting together to pat ourselves on the back for knowing better. We acknowledge our own shortcomings and biases too. And our own inabilities - at times - to confront the very things that we also question.
In the past couple of years, I have noticed a certain complacency that I never noticed before, in my eleven years of leading Swirl. The same passion and the same excitement around building multiracial communities had faded a bit. In the one year leading up to the Presidential election, we launched five new chapters (the norm had been a chapter every year or every other year). People were excited by the energy created by Obama's campaign, and they were motivated and eager to be a part of creating supportive and inclusive multiracial communities.
One of my heroes passed away yesterday - Derrick Bell, a law professor and civil rights advocate. Years ago, when I read and resonated with his book, Ethical Ambition, I wrote him a note to thank him. I felt inspired by his choices and his courage to stand up for what he believed in, even when personally risky. I didn't necessarily think that I would hear back, but it was important for me to let him know the impact his writing had on me.