Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Year Ago Today...

A year ago at this time, I reported to the San Francisco Hall of Justice for my first day of what would end up being nearly 2.5 months of jury duty. I served as juror #5 on a complicated and gruesome murder trial. A crime that took place years ago, but for many reasons, had only just gone to trial last year. The case was peppered with legal complexities and considerations - with an endless list of witnesses from both the prosecution and the defense. I sat in the courtroom four days a week, sandwiched between two older male jurors and listened. and watched. The information and testimony and images and evidence we were presented was sometimes confusing, highly graphic, emotionally charged and almost always horrific. I can't un-see or un-hear any of it. And I think about the trial and the people involved nearly every day. That is no exaggeration. 

During and following the trial, people often asked me: Sooo? Was it everything you thought it would be? It is a difficult question to answer. The experience ripped my guts out and shattered my heart. It put a strain on my relationship. It burdened my team at work. It consumed my every thought and made me feel jumpy and anxious and lonely. So lonely. 
I had always wanted to serve on a jury, which I know sounds completely ridiculous. I loved following high profile court cases profiled on the national news. It was my guilty, juicy pleasure, which I expressed quite openly. Now, I feel silly and ashamed for how gratuitous that was of me, how naive my obsession was with other people's pain splashed across the tabloids and displayed in a public forum. 

Law is complicated. Courtrooms are process heavy. People are.... strange. Being locked in a deliberation room with said strange people is bizarre and frustrating and tiresome. It is nearly impossible to remove emotion when reviewing the facts. Reasonable doubt is hard to define. And it's a very odd, sensational feeling to know the fate of a person's freedom rests squarely on 12 shoulders. 


But the experience made me consider things I never would have thought about. It taught me patience. Patience for people, and for process. Patience knowing you are at the mercy of the court - straight down to bathroom breaks. It tested my strength and called upon kindness. It tested willpower and empathy. It illuminated our criminal justice system. Yes, there are imperfections. And yes, there is privilege and power for some when others are silenced. But the system itself- although it is not without flaws- is, from my experience fair. I learned that there is no substitute for the feeling of being completely surprised and awe-struck by finally learning the opinions of the people you sat alongside for so many days. And I realized that you will never regret speaking openly and honestly both from the head and the heart, and I learned, that from every experience, we can find space to do something good. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

America, The Beautiful.

On Tuesday morning
from a hotel room in Denver,
when the country was still waking
and the energy at the polls was just starting to pulse,
I shared my thoughts about Election Day. 
 How I appreciated the camaraderie of the occasion 
regardless of political affiliation. 
I acknowledged the strains that accompanied the day.
Some people would feel victorious, 
others defeated.
I encouraged friends, no matter the results of the day
 to remember the good stuff. 
To remember the power behind
 our individual passions but also our shared privilege.
But I didn't anticipate the result. 
And I wasn't prepared for just how heartbreaking
'defeated' could actually feel.
And it's not just him over Her. 
I mean, it is but - 
- but it's more the overwhelming 
sadness and shame and guilt I feel that people in our country 
feel so broken and tired and angry and a lot of us 
didn't hear it. Or see it. 
Or worse we did, but... we didn't believe it.
I didn't at least.  
That's a tough pill to swallow today.
The fact that we let each other down.
I understand people feeling divided. 
And I support honoring our feelings 
as we make sense of all of this.
 I hope we can do this with kindness and with empathy.
 I said this Tuesday morning, and I'll say it again: 
The sunflowers will still turn towards the sun. 
The redwoods will still stretch to the sky. 
Rivers will run and birds will circle 
and we'll continue to take deep breaths and fill our lungs with air. 
Everyday the sun will set and it will rise again. 
And the stars will always be up there - even if clouded over.
And the best part is - 
Those things? 
Those beautiful things that make up America?
They belong to all of us. 
And no one can take that away.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

My Feelings Lately.

There are moments, every single day, that most people wished that they had behaved better. Perhaps exercised more patience, more restraint. 

Everyday instances that we are not as proud of our reaction or reflexes as we could've been, if we had just taken a deep breath and not allowed ourselves to get overwhelmed, or defensive, or prideful. We're human. Our natural born instincts are to demonstrate survival tactics and power. To protect ourselves and prove our worth on this planet. 
Moreover, history has taught us to defend our beliefs fiercely and passionately. 
But there's a difference between passionate dedication, and abrasive intimidation. 

I can forgive the instances I mentioned above. I can pardon those moments of weakness, or impatience when reacting to rejection or disappointment that we all experience. But what I cannot wrap my head around, what I cannot understand, and what I cannot rationalize, is the trend - seemingly sweeping the country - of cheering on grown adults whose tactics include strong-arming and name-calling and shutting out and putting down. 

When did this happen to us? When did we become a country that favors prospective leaders who preach exclusivity rather than inclusivity? When did people start equating kindness to weakness? It breaks my heart. 
The political race has become an atmosphere seeped in "gottchas" and one-upping, rather than solution searching and problem solving. 
I'm not trying to romanticize politics prior to this election year. Certainly, there has been no shortage of misgivings or mistakes throughout each presidential term. Unfortunately, corruption is a term long synonymous with politics... but bullying should not be. Stigmatizing should not be. Hate, should not be. 

I know I am a bit of a dreamer with my eyes towards the moon, but I am not naive. I think most people respond better to a smile than a smirk.

I want to raise a family in a country that encourages everyone to acknowledge there are differences in the world, and seek the beauty and the opportunity to learn from these differences. We need to do more listening and less fist clenching. More considering, and less insult-slinging. Teach the values of integrity and grace. 

And I know we can do it. 
I know we can. 

In my life, I choose to lead with love, and with kindness. Maybe I'd make a really lousy politician. But I think I make a decent human. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Final Journey of 2015

In a few short days,
I'll be looking up at a whole new set of stars.
Piecing together constellations in the southern hemisphere,
staring at the sky from a different corner of the world, 
in awe.
A full moon. 
On Christmas. 
I can think of few better ways 
to celebrate the end of the year,
and the beginning of a new one.
I'll be splashing around on the shores of Australia, 
awaiting news from home on the arrival 
of my niece or nephew.
And with that,
It will have been a year
 that feels complete.
There were moments so joyful,
I wanted to call in the trumpeters 
and pound on a snare drum
and dance until the tread on my shoes wore thin! 
And yes, there were times during which 
the noises of day were replaced
with a sterile silence.
Sometimes, that's just the way a day goes. 
And you know. That's okay. 
I learned that in order to welcome in the new:
new love, new friends, 
new growth, new appreciations;
you have to make space by 
emptying out the stuff that doesn't 
fill you up anymore.
After all, what good is a heart that has
 reached maximum capacity, 
if the existing thoughts and feelings 
inhabiting it are stale?
There's just no time for that.
Make the space for a full heart. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A note, about feeling grateful.

I’ve been having trouble expressing myself
the way that I want to lately. 
And I think that’s because 
there are so many words that,
for a number of different reasons, 
I’ve chosen not to say.
I think it's human nature to hold back sometimes.
We convince ourselves that too much time has gone by,
or we fear that we may come across as impolite, or inconvenient.
We, or at least I,
 let other people’s opinions of a scenario leave me thinking  
that maybe my feelings aren’t valid,
or that I am being overly sensitive.
My whole life I feel like
I’ve been told to stop being so sensitive.
But for me, that’s like being told
‘Oh just stop feeling.’
And see – I feel too deeply.
It isn't feeling sad or glum,
it's almost feeling too aware.
I’ve felt this way ever since I was a little girl.
I have all of these feelings
and ideas and thoughts 
and they ping pong around in my head all day.
Happy thoughts, nervous thoughts, curious thoughts.
And so when someone says I just need to get over it,
well that’s like telling me not to breathe, or blink.
It’s just not possible for me.  
And I realize saying this  
might make people uncomfortable.
Because vulnerability can be that way. 
Speaking our truths can be pretty uncomfortable.
Over the weekend, I found myself in a conversation
with someone who reminded me
of the healing powers of self-expression.
And even if, for whatever reason,
we can’t physically say the things we want to say,  
we have to get the words or the thoughts out of our bodies
and into the universe.
We have to remove the negative energy from inside of us
so that it doesn’t manifest itself into physical pain.
This idea comforted me.
And I went from feeling a little anxious,
to feeling brave.
And validated.
And timely.
And convenient
and polite.
I felt the opposite of all the feelings that caused self-doubt.
I felt grateful.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Wish, For You.

Tonight at sundown, marked the holiest of holidays in Judaism.
It is a day about saying you are sorry. 
And asking for forgiveness. 
Sorry in itself is such a small word, 
but it has such a big impact. 
Just think about all of the little hurts we carry around;
the weight of them on our hearts when piled up.
Many of these could likely have been eliminated 
if a simple "I'm sorry" had been extended.
I was raised in a loving, liberal home, 
in which my parents shared traditions
from both their religious backgrounds.
Beliefs and rituals weren't pressed on us.
We weren't a church or synagogue family. 
In truth, I identify more closely 
with my exposure to Unitarianism,
but there is something about this day in particular 
that I find really meaningful. 
You don't have to be religious at all
to reflect upon your actions of the past
and to be mindful 
to make everything right in your world -
if only for the day. 
And that goes both ways. 
Today is about looking inward more so than out.
This is a powerful exercise - 
and one that I find very rewarding. 
And so...
As my dad wished to me, 
I wish for all of you:
Happiness, health and love. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

A birthday note, to self

This next year, remember...
There will be days dripping in gold,
and others that are just okay,
and some that are pretty terrible.
Try not to be too scared when the ‘terribles’ come along.
Maintain a positive spirit and a kind heart.
Quiet the ill-intended.
Work through the insecurities.
Don’t let anyone mistake being kind, as being weak.
Take care of your body.
Find something that compels you, 
and dedicate time to learning more about it. 
Don’t be so grumpy about the crumbs around the apartment.
The causer of the crumbs makes you really, really happy.
Be someone who, when mentioned in conversation,
is described as good.
Call home. Call sisters. Send letters.
Let friends know you're thinking of them.
Be a #1 aunt.
Keep travelling. Keep adventuring.
Maybe figure out how to get a dog.
Do the best you can this year.
And have the very best time doing it.