A Thrill of Hope

Earlier this month, I heard a report on NPR titled, Another Mass Shooting? ‘Compassion Fatigue’ Is A Natural Reaction. It begins:

“Roger Chui first learned about the mass shooting that killed 12 people in a packed bar Wednesday night in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when he woke up the morning after and turned on his phone. “And I was like ‘Oh, that seems really soon after Pittsburgh and Louisville,’ “says the software developer … “I thought we’d get more of a break.” Chui feels like these kinds of shootings happen in the U.S. so often now that when he hears about them all he can think about is, “Oh well, it happened again I guess.” He’s not alone. … but science suggests that these feelings are quite normal. It’s a natural response called compassion fatigue… Thinking too much about traumatic events, whether it’s a refugee crisis on the other side of the world or a school shooting in our own country, can make people too anxious or depressed to function in their daily lives.”

I don’t know about you, but I know I have felt some level of compassion fatigue looking back at the events of the year. It seems it’s getting easier and easier to slip into despair. As my awareness of the suffering, injustice and oppression around me increases, my ability to feel hope is increasingly threatened. Add to this the daily challenges we each face individually, we can almost effortlessly, slip into moments of complete hopelessness.

In the October General Conference, in a talk titled Try, Try, Try, President Henry B. Eyring, spoke to encourage us through the troubles we face. And today, mostly as a practice in encouragement for myself, I want to do the same. President Eyring said:

“All of us live in a world where Satan’s war against truth and against our personal happiness is becoming more intense. The world and your life can seem to you to be in increasing commotion.”

He continues:

“My testimony is that the Savior is putting His name in your hearts. For many of you, your faith in Him is increasing. You are feeling more hope and optimism. And you are feeling the pure love of Christ for others and for yourself…”

I know each of us here, like me, knows what that feels like –when you are filled with hope and optimism, when you are able to feel and give love freely. Those are times of joy, gratitude and hope. But if you, like me, don’t feel that way all the time — even if you don’t feel that way right now — I want you to know that’s okay, too. That’s part of life. In 2 Nephi 2:11, we read:

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so… righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.”

In this scripture, Lehi is speaking to his son, Jacob. Jacob was born in the wilderness. In fact, the chapter begins with Lehi describing how well acquainted Jacob is with affliction, sorrow, even rudeness, but Lehi also says that Jacob “knows the greatness of God.”

There is clearly opposition in all things. So, without despair, we would not know hope. For those times of darkness, the wildernesses of our lives, President Eyring acknowledges:

“I realize that some of you listening today may feel your faith and hope are being overcome by your troubles. And you may yearn to feel love.”

Scripture is replete with examples of good people living in this darkness, feeling sadness, feeling despair, feeling hopeless and overcome by their troubles. An obvious example is Job. We often applaud Job for his faithful approach to his significant trials. That’s absolutely deserved. His faithfulness in the face of losing everything is astounding. But in Job 19, Job is describing all the truly terrible things that have happened to him. In verse 10, he says:

“He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.”

Did you catch that? Job felt hopeless. Even still, after acknowledging this moment of despair, he ends the chapter testifying of His Redeemer Jesus Christ.

Then there is Jesus himself, who has been described as the Master of Hope, is it possible that he ever felt overcome by troubles? The answer, I think, is yes. The famous scripture in John 11:35 is “Jesus wept.” I recently re-read this full chapter. The scripture, of course, refers to Jesus’ reaction to the death of his friend Lazarus. What I found interesting is that Jesus already knew Lazarus was dead. And he already knew he was going to bring him back to life. Clear back in verse 11, he said:

“Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” Isn’t that fascinating? Skipping down to verse 33:

“When Jesus therefore saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept.

Less than 10 verses later, Christ has risen Lazarus from the dead. I believe this is not only a remarkable display of compassion but also simply the hallmark of living a human life. Even in times when we have the knowledge of eternal life, we can feel troubled. And we can feel deep sadness. That doesn’t make you wrong. It makes you human. But in those dark days, it is also possible to hope.

I am a person who lives with depression and anxiety. As a person who experiences mental illness, I know that in some of those dark times, you may need medical intervention to help you feel hope again. And I also know that there is hope and beauty and light waiting for you on the other side of those trials. It has helped me to learn that hope is not so much a feeling as it is a cognitive behavior. Social science researcher, Dr. Brené Brown’s work theorizes, “Hope is not how we feel; it’s how we think.” And, she graciously adds, “it can be learned.”

So how do we cultivate hope?

President Eyring’s solution is simple but not particularly easy. “Try, try, try.” Practice living like Jesus. Try taking His name upon you every day. President Eyring says,

“Brothers and sisters, the Lord has opportunities near you to feel and to share His love. You can pray with confidence for the Lord to lead you to love someone for Him. He answers the prayers of meek volunteers like you. You will feel the love of God for you and for the person you serve for Him. As you help children of God in their troubles, your own troubles will seem lighter. Your faith and your hope will be strengthened.”

Hope is so intricately tied to faith and charity, that I am not going to try very hard to distinguish between the three. Elder Dieter Uchtdorf said, “Faith, hope, and charity complement each other,and as one increases, the others grow as well. Hope comes of faith, for without faith, there is no hope. In like manner faith comes of hope, for faith is “the substance of things hoped for.”

While despair might call you to disconnect from the world and from others, it might say, just don’t read the news, just think of yourself. I don’t think this is a sustainable answer. Rather, hope asks us to engage. Adam S. Miller, in his book Letters to a Young Mormon, writes:

“Faith is a willingness to care for what’s right in front of you. Faith doesn’t wish these difficult things away. It invites them in, breaks bread with them, and washes their feet. … God constantly gives himself to us in the inconvenient, in the hungry, the outcast, the prisoner, the sinner. He gives himself in what we would like to ignore. “For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” … “just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me”. Faith has to do with the least of these. It takes us down and into the unwieldy world, not up and away from it.”

Faith, hope and charity — and, I would argue, especially hope — cause us to engage more fully in the world. Neil A Maxwell said:

“Significantly, those who look forward to a next and better world are usually “anxiously engaged” in improving this one, for they “always abound in good works.” … Hope is realistic anticipation taking the form of determination — a determination not merely to survive but to “endure… well” to the end.

In other words, we hope for a better world because we are working to make the world better. In 1 Corinthians 9:10, Paul puts it this way: “He that ploweth should plow in hope; and he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.”

You’ve probably felt this happen in real time. For me, I saw this at work while in graduate school. I spent two years learning about systemic injustices and oppression, the root causes of some of the world’s most pressing problems. It was difficult to feel hope. That is, it was difficult until I started my field research. In the field, I worked with a group of elementary-aged students. And that’s when I found hope. I saw hope in their resilience, in their interactions, in their capacity to love and laugh. Hope is learned in the doing, in the work, on the ground, connected to those around us.

We can also learn to cultivate hope by looking for examples. Or, as Elder Maxwell put it, in “illuminated individuals.”

I saw a shining example of hope fairly recently when I watched Be One – A Celebration of the Revelation on the Priesthood. People of color in our church certainly know suffering, injustice and oppression. To witness this beautiful celebration of their stories, music, poetry, art and voices gave me hope for the future of our church. Their examples of hoping and working for a better world and a better church were inspiring. And the example of endurance through troubling times had me in tears. “There’s a place for us” –all of us, in this gospel, in this world, and in the eternities.

Sister Cheiko Okazaki put it this way:

“Hope persists, even when experience, reason, and knowledge all say there is no reason to hope. Hope does not calculate odds… It is a double-sided virtue. It is prepared for either sunny or stormy weather. To choose hope is to choose life. To choose hope is to choose love.”

Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking about a single metaphor quite a bit. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about surfing. Now, I’ve never been surfing, but I’ve seen enough movies to make the metaphor useful to me. I think, for me, I have often looked at the waves of life as something to avoid. I will spend a lot of time thinking about how I can stop the waves, or trials and challenges, that might come my way. As someone who lives with anxiety, I can tell you I have spent WAY too much time thinking about all the different ways some wave might come and be terrible. Of course, this is futile. Just as we could never stop the waves in the ocean, we can not prevent trials and challenges from occurring in our lives. The goal of this life is to have experiences,or to get out on those waves. I see hope as a thought process that moves us out into the ocean and up onto that surfboard. Hope says, there’s beauty in riding that wave. Faith, hope and charity then work with us to keep us balanced on the board. And when the wave inevitably throws us off, hope gets us back up on that board for the thrill of riding out that wave. Challenges are not always enjoyable, but riding out the wave is where joy is inevitable found. Remember? There must be opposition in all things.

Jesus Christ says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The goal is not to feel nothing. It’s to live and feel abundantly. Elder Maxwell puts it this way: “Those with true hope often see their personal circumstances shaken, like Kaleidoscopes, again and again. Yet with the “eye of faith,” they still see divine pattern and purpose.”

And that pattern and purpose leads us to see that God is actually in the winds and the waves and the hope and the despair.

Because our Heavenly Parents are with us always. And hope in Christ, of course, leads us there.

I’m glad it’s Christmas time. I’ve been covertly listening to Christmas music for a couple weeks now. One of my favorite songs is O Holy Night. Because this topic has been on my mind, some lyrics have hit me as especially poignant. It goes,

“O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn”

I love that description. A thrill of hope. I testify that Jesus Christ offers our weary world a thrill of hope. Because He was born. Because he chose to atone for us. And because he overcame death. That is our ultimate hope. And that He did all this because He loves us.

As Paul puts it, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Speak Up! (second draft)*

They told me to speak up when I spoke to them.
They said, “We can’t hear you from waaaaay back here.”
Your voice is too mousy, too quiet, too soft.
They told me to speak up.
“OK,” I said. And I cleared my throat. And I used my “theatre voice.”
— It’s not my voice, but I’ll wear it for awhile. —
Why won’t they move in closer to hear?

They told me to speak up in class.
When I sat next to that guy
— you know the one —
who wouldn’t stop talking, monopolizing, arguing
Even though he didn’t know. He didn’t read. His words meant nothing.
Not a thing.
Why didn’t you leave space for my thoughts?

They told me to speak up at my meetings.
The ones where half the people sitting around the table are somewhere else
And the other half are repeating each others words in different words.
And the boss is sitting back in that chair (the one with armrests),
But they’re actually at another meeting on their cell phone.
And I wondered, ironically,
Why didn’t you hear what I said?

They told me to speak up.
And for a long time I believed them.
They said I was wrong, quiet, shy, unsure.
They told me to speak up.

But one day, I realized
My voice is my voice
And telling me to speak up
Is no better than telling me
You’re not really listening.
Not to me, at least.
And must I remind you that listening isn’t always done
In a classroom, in a meeting, crowded between four walls?
And am I the only one that realizes
Hearing me doesn’t require I have a voice at all?

They told me to speak up.

But they didn’t know I was listening
And that ears to hear were stronger
Than tongues to speak.
My ears were my power
And listening — my odyssey.

My ears blessed me with stories.
Beyond my own. Beyond my tongue.

My ears granted me journeys.
Beyond my own. Beyond my toes.

My ears gave me thoughts
Beyond my own. Beyond my mind.

And (mostly) my ears taught me your heart
So when I spoke — quietly, sure —
I had been shaped (and re-shaped)
by you
and yours
and theirs, too.

They told me to speak up.
But speaking up didn’t connect me to you.
Because that power belongs to ears.

So, now,
when they tell me to speak up.

I say, (or maybe think)
No.
Listen up.

-Megan Attermann

The first draft was scribbled in a notebook in the middle of the night. The third draft isn’t here yet. 

Home #2

I am from Heroes of Might and Magic and One Touch test strips
(almost empty but also full)
Grass clippings and Grape Vines
Singing from backs of trucks
Nice
Causey, Me and Tika
Long time Mormons!
“I want you to be alive for a long time.”
Camp Utada
Potato casserole
The time when the boat almost sank.
Home — which now belongs to
Someone Else.

-Jeffrey Wade Attermann

*Jeff wrote a poem, too. I love it even more than I love mine. This is a really fun exercise.

Home

I am from Super Nintendo and Otter Pops.
The red brick, multi-level, tract housing
seen in every suburb in the West.
The freshly mowed grass and sandbox villages in the summertime.
And how about those Mad-Lib versions of The Night Before Christmas?
The cacophony of voices at the dinner table
And the I-dunno-where-do-you-want-to-eat gene.
Those Mormons, Those Democrats Down The Street, Those Cubs Fans.
That thing that doesn’t seem like it fits,
but you can’t discard.
The phrase: “Do what you love.”
Wrigley Field, College Campuses and Movie Theaters.
The Green Slush from the giant Tupperware and
Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies.
That time Mom got struck by lightning in the Grand Canyon and
“It’s July.”
The album in the dusty box in the office of my parents’ downsized condo.

-Megan Noyce Attermann

* From time to time, my job provides the opportunity to be inspired by amazing people. And it gives me moments to be introspective and creative. Today was one of those moment. In a workshop led by the storyteller Kevin Kling, I wrote this poem (in 5 minutes) about home. 

 

On Waiting

We are children waiting in the
Lengthy line of a roller coaster.
No concept of the depth of the wait.
Little understanding of the role of the ride.
And yet
We excitedly choose to step both feet
Forward.

Here we stand.
Shifting our weight from foot to foot.
Anxiously inching closer to the
Screeching wheels and clacking metal.
Hearing from those before us what awaits.
Elation.
Exhaustion.
Exhilaration.
And, really, the unknown.

We wait.
We wait.
And with a deep breath
— we hope —
we’ll ride.

-Megan Noyce Attermann

*Occasionally, my job gives me the time and space to be introspective and creative. This poem is a result of one of those moments. It was written very shortly after we were approved to adopt.

On Creating

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

For the past few years, I lived to support creativity. Working in arts administration can be a funny thing. You go into it because you’re drawn to creativity in some form or another. And, because you want to make a living and make a difference, you wind your way over to the business side of artistic endeavors. And, at least for me, that meant I inadvertently began to distance myself from the creativity that drew me there in the first place.

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I loved my job, and I cherished most every moment of it. And there were certainly creative opportunities in the job. It just wasn’t the get-down-and-dirty kind of creativity that really uncovered the depths of my soul. It had to be more polished and professional, less revealing. Because government work doesn’t generally provide lots of space for vulnerability. I’m sure I could have found a way to weave creativity back into the fabric of my every day existence, but I never really found that balance.

I was inspired by the work I read in the grants that came across my desk. These were true artists — people devoting their lives to their craft. Seeing their devotion, passion and brilliance was moving. But comparison is a trap. Compared to these artists, I had little to contribute but my support and devotion. No originality. No artistic endeavor. Nothing good enough, at least. Comparison stopped me from even starting.

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Beyond all that, the work of arts administration can be exhausting. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was plop down in front of Netflix and binge. And that’s about the least creative undertaking there is.

At the end of last summer, I made a job/career transition. I left arts administration. I’m sure I’ll be back someday, because, like I said, I loved my work. But this time away has been significant. It’s given me the opportunity to refocus and center myself.

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It’s reminded me that life is about creating. It’s not about sitting around and waiting for something to happen to you. It’s about intentionally choosing a path, and making a life that gets you there. It set us on the path toward adoption, giving us the time and energy to evaluate our lives and our direction and our goals. And it’s helped me remember self-expression. Writing, drawing, photography, painting — all those creative pursuits in which I barely qualify as amateur yet are so deeply engrained in my way of seeing and expressing — have again risen to the surface. They’ve grounded me again. I am no longer floating through life. My days feel more intentional. My evenings feel longer.

Plus, we got rid of Netflix. (Gasp!)

Top View of Modern working Place

When I likely return to arts administration, I’ll have this newfound awareness. This memory of this moment in time where I was free to create without so much comparison and planning and strategy.

And, so, we’re creating. And we’re putting that creativity out into the world. We’d like to announce our little shop in it’s beginning stages. Making Three is an Etsy shop that Jeff and I have started as our creative outlet. It’s our way to fill our time with more than reruns. We don’t expect to make money, but any money we happen to be lucky enough to make will go toward funding our adoption journey — our quest to move from a family of two to a family of three.

SLC Color Mockup

Mostly, we’re excited to create this shop, and this life, together. Is it professional? No. Is it polished? No. Are we trained? No. But is it a happier, fuller, bigger, expanded, more interesting life?

Hell, yes.

Letting Go

moving day

I stared down at the question: “How has infertility affected your life? How have you processed your infertility?”

A few years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to answer that question.

Jeff and I are working on our adoption home study right now. If you missed the announcement, here it is.

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The home study consists of a lot of parts, including: a lengthy 12-page questionnaire to be answered in essay format, a background check, a home inspection, a doctor’s report, and a financial disclosure statement.

It’s a lot of paperwork.

The questions are personal. And that question about infertility struck me. It caught me off guard because I saw the word. I thought about infertility, and it didn’t hurt anymore.

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I realized that I am content. I know I am worthy of love and belonging despite my (in)ability to become pregnant. And I’m grateful the pain has dulled.

A few years ago, hurt hung over my head daily. With pointed reminders of my inability to get pregnant, I was always seconds away from despair. I thought about it all the time. I changed my diet. I changed my lifestyle. I visited the doctor. I took medicine. I prayed. I hoped. I wrote. Looking back now, I can see I was grieving. I needed to go through it.

But, still, my body remained unchanged.

And then.

A shift.

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I moved forward. I started (and finished) grad school, and I began to see that my life could mean something even without children. I made goals. Jeff did, too. And we stopped waiting to make decisions for an imaginary future. We made our lives fit us for the present.

I let go of the responsibility of getting pregnant. I let it go. And it made all the difference.

We still wanted children. We still wanted that life. But our approach felt different somehow. It gradually became less important to achieve that vision of our future through traditional means. Adoption became our Plan A — even though it took us years to process our grief to get there. We needed to grow and change and learn.

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Of course, I still have moments where something triggers that old familiar pain. A family member announces their pregnancy. Oof. I attend a baby shower for a dear friend. Ouch. But those moments are rare. Mostly, I’m grateful.

Adoption is not a cure for infertility. There are things I will never get to experience. I will never carry a baby within me. I will never experience the strength and courage of childbirth. I will likely never nurse my child or feel their kicks or hiccups in my belly. That’s a real loss.

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But my gains will be real, too. My story will be different. It will be shared. It will have a level of connection with other humans that is incomprehensible. I will be a parent. I will get to love and nurture a child. I will get to provide them with opportunities and watch them surprise me as they grow. And we’ll have a big, beautiful, different family that is connected through love. I am thrilled to see how life will unfold. How I change. How I grow. And how my love will expand.

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I wouldn’t change my situation. I’m grateful for the person infertility has helped me become. Infertility didn’t end me. It didn’t become me, and it didn’t define me. But it changed me, and it’s giving me the most meaningful experience I’ll ever have.

How have I processed infertility? I let it go. And letting go made room for so much more.

*Jeff and I love to explore our city and all it has to offer. The photos in this post are from those explorations.

Planting a Seed

We are growing our family. It’s going to happen. We just don’t know exactly how or when.

Jeff and I are excited to announce that we have started the domestic infant adoption process. We are working on our home study now. (The home study is a big pile of paperwork that assesses our ability to provide and care for a child.) This means that, once we are (hopefully!) officially approved, we will be legally eligible to adopt a child in the USA.

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We have gone back and forth on how and when to announce this to our family, friends and acquaintances. After all, announcing during the home study phase may be akin to letting the world know that you are trying to conceive. Usually people don’t do that. We certainly didn’t. Beyond that, adoption is often a long and difficult process. Once a home study is complete, it can take years to be matched with expectant parents interested in pursuing adoption. And, once matched, there is still no guarantee until final relinquishments are signed after the child’s birth. In short, there are a lot of questions and unknowns. Going through this pain would be difficult, and going through it publicly seems (at times) as if it might add heartbreak to already heart-wrenching situations.

But we believe in connection. And vulnerability is a prerequisite to connection.

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Jeff and I love to escape to the mountains whenever we can. In our beautiful state of Utah, there is a single quaking aspen that covers 106 acres through an underground connected root system. Like the aspen, we, as human beings on this planet, are all connected.

It is because of this connection that we’ve decided to step outside our comfort zone and make our announcement early in this journey. We need you. And if there is anything I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, it’s that you have to make your intentions known. So, here it is:

We are searching for our baby, and we need you to know.

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It seems implausible, but you may know somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, who is considering placing their baby. When that trusted friend comes to you looking for comfort and friendship and hope, we hope you will be able to offer them support. More than anything, we want you to be the friend they need in that moment of vulnerability. We want what is best for that person. And we may not be what’s best. But if we are, we hope you will think of us.

We are all connected. Adoption is a miraculous manifestation of this belief.

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It may seem trite, but we hope you will follow our journey on our Facebook page. We’ll share updates about our journey over there. Please like and share our posts. I know it feels strange and impossible, but many matches are made through Facebook connections.

We are over-the-moon excited about this journey — long and challenging as it may be. We have wanted to be parents for as long as we can remember, and we have been trying to bring those dreams into reality for over five years. We are excited to bring baby Attermann into our home whenever the time is right. We are completely at peace with this direction, and we’re grateful you will now be walking with us.

We are all connected, and we can’t walk this path alone.

My relationship with fear

Author’s note: I wrote this late last year but never published it. In some ways, it feels quaint to post it now. So much has happened. In other ways, it feels necessary to acknowledge. I’ll go ahead and release it into the world now. 

I was in eighth grade on 9/11. It was picture day, and I heard what happened during my first-period algebra class. In gym, we were taken into the dance room to watch the news. The image of those two towers falling is forever etched in my mind. When I got home from school, I watched the news all day and into the night.

The next day, I stayed home from school. I was scared. My innocence was shaken that day. My worldview was suddenly broadened.

***

I was 28 on 11/9. And I watched it unfold all night. I went to bed disillusioned. My sleep was restless and burdened. When I awoke, the sun was shining. The beautiful and bright day felt like a betrayal. My puffy eyes and heavy heart reminded me of my fear. My fear for women. My fear for my LGBT family and friends. My fear for people of color and of faith.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

“I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me…”

“Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States… “

And then I started sobbing. Not crying. Not sniffling. Not whining. Sobbing. It felt like a death to my idealism, my optimism, my belief that people would come together in solidarity with those most vulnerable among us.

I wanted to stay home. I wanted to shield myself. But I got up, dressed in black and headed to work. I cried once more on the bus and again while sitting at my desk. I saw other strong women around me wearing black and walking slowly.

This was a loss that stems beyond a candidate. It transcends a difference in political leanings. This was a loss that induced fear for the most basic of values: human rights and dignity for all.

***

I will not tell anyone that they shouldn’t be afraid. Growing up, my mom told me something that’s always stuck:

“You can’t be brave if you’re not scared first.”

Fear doesn’t have to be our final emotion. I believe it rarely is. And being brave is not an absence of fear. It’s action and faith in spite of fear. So, I will wake up each day and go to work. I will continue to fight for equitable systems. I will continue to stand up and say that I am here, and I’m with you.

My relationship with fear has deepened as I age. It no longer keeps me home.

It moves me.

To faith.

To question.

To stand.

To choose.

To fight.