Tag Archives: support

A Letter to a Friend from Houston

7 Sep

Dear Friend,

I can’t stop thinking about you. I think of you every time I turn on the news and see people plucked from rooftops by helicopters, rescued by neighbors on boats. I think of you every time I see a highway that was passable a few very long days ago that is now indistinguishable from an ocean if it weren’t for the drowned exit signs and street lights that won’t see power for days if not weeks. I think of you every time I see people crammed into convention centers and furniture stores and churches, not knowing the status of their family and friends or their homes, schools, jobs, churches; not knowing anything about what comes next. I think of you every time I contemplate the long journey back from here. I think of you always.

Because, in a way, I know what it is. I know what it is to come home to a place you understand with every inch of your being and have it be forever changed, forever scarred. I remember when the towers fell. I remember the fear of waiting for phone calls from family and friends, of returning home and seeing my city smoldering, of arriving back in my small town and seeing the cars left abandoned at the train station by people who never came home for them. And of course you know that, too, because you were here. You were here for all of that and I am sure it left a mark on you like it did for the rest of us. That mark of knowing what once was will never be again. That knowledge that nothing will ever be the same, that you will never be the same. That something happened that has changed the world, your world and the world at large, for a very long time. Like September 11th changed everything about the way we interact with our fellow humans whether by choice or through the force of law, these storms – one after another after another like clockwork – change our collective feelings of safety and security in our environment, make the need for action even more dire. This storm will be a mainstay in our conversation about the imminent dangers of climate change, and it will be a marker of time in your conversations about your city.

And so I think of you flying over your city for the first time and having to take that in alone. And I so wish I could be there to hold your hand. And I feel in some weird way that it is a gift that I will be there to meet you at the airport, that I will be in the car with you as you see it all at ground level for the first time, so I can be whatever support I can be. If you cry, I will cry with you. If you need to laugh, I will come prepared with jokes and stories and memories like that time we hitch hiked with priests in Guatemala; that time our car broke down on the freeway; that time we were walking through Houston and a dog ran at us and you puffed yourself up and yelled NO in a voice so grounded, so powerful that he ran away with his tail between his legs and we were safe. And then we will take a deep breath, stand up straight and head out into the world and help as best we can because all we can do right now is offer ourselves to others as support and love and relief. And I hope I can be that for you.

I am here for you. I am thinking about you. And I love you.

Love always

Rebekah

An Open Letter to the Women in My Life

31 Jan

Dear Women in my Life,

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are my sanity and my strength. You are why I get up in the morning. No, you are how I get up in the morning. You are my sounding board and my support; you are my protection and my reinforcement; you are in my corner pretty much always and when you aren’t, and for good reason at times, you explain why in the most compassionate ways to make me understand my mistake, but to still ensure I never feel abandoned. With all of you, I am never alone.

These past few months have been tough, for all of us. Every single time I open my eyes it feels like a brand new affront, a brand new injustice, another way our government is being taken from us, used against us; its intentions hidden under layers of lies, or alternate facts, or fake news, or whatever the fuck they are calling it today. And for a moment I feel like it is too much, like it is me against everything, like I am living in this world where up is down and injustice is being legislated and a plagiarist is running the Department of Education. (Because, actually, that is the world we are living in excuse me while I scream.) But then I remember the women I am lucky enough to call friends and family and I breath a sigh of relief knowing that you are all there, that we are all going through this, and that we will somehow get through it with the love and support of one another.

So let me say this again: thank you. Thank you for your support, for your ears, for your understanding, for your analysis, for your dismay and anger and sadness and disbelief about all that is happening around us. I feel that too. And I hope that I have been able to provide even a small percentage of all that you have provided me. Because here’s the deal, ladies, we have a long haul. And women do a lot of emotional labor.

A lot of emotional labor.

A fucking lot.

And that emotional labor is unpaid and, more often than not, expected but underappreciated. And so let me say that I appreciate that emotional labor, that work, that we are all doing for one another. I notice it and I would not be able to live without it. But let us all remember that in the midst of all of this work, and all of this struggle, and all of this pain and disbelief and heartache, to take care of ourselves. Let us not forget to ask for the support of those around us. There is nothing shameful in it. Believe me there is more than enough emotional work to go around. And it is okay, too, to take a step back and say

Hey, this is all too much, I need a minute.

Take that minute. You deserve it. We all deserve it and more than that, we all require it. I had a conversation with a few of my core women today about the importance of self care and the importance of remembering that we cannot put in the work, we cannot be the best us in these horrible times, if we don’t take care of ourselves, and of one another. If we don’t ask for an ear or extra support and love on an especially tough day. If we don’t say,

Hey, friends, I need you to just check in on me today. Today the hurt is too much.

Because sometimes it just is. Our strength comes from our ability to admit when it is all just too much to handle alone. That’s when the rest of us can come in and be reinforcements, that’s when the rest of us can give you what you need – be that an ear or a drink or a joke or the biggest most heartfelt hug we can muster or some shared tears.

So again, thank you. For everything you have done and for everything you will do going forward. Because as I said before, there is a lot to be done, a lot to be endured, and we will need one another more than ever. And let me also say this: I am here for you as best as I know how. And every day I try to be a little more here, a little more supportive. I am trying to be the friend you all have been to me. I am trying to recreate for you the support that you provide that I could not live without. And I am trying to remember to say thank you, and to say it louder and more often.

And so thank you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul and the recesses of my brain. Thank you. I survived these past few weeks because of you and I will continue to learn and to fight and to be part of this amazing team of women for the next 4 years (chaos butterfly help us) and then beyond.

I love you. For all you are and all you do.

Forever grateful
And with open arms ready to give a giant hug,
Or a tissue to dry a tear,
Or some pointed words directed at the asshole that made you feel shitty,
Your friend,
Your Support,
Your Cheerleader,

Rebekah

My Shiny Quarter

22 Jun

I know this is probably the worst time to publish a blog post considering that the USA are playing Portugal in the World Cup as I type, but whatever, when you are inspired you are inspired and I never pretended to be smart about this whole blogging thing.  So it is not secret that my year has sucked.  I wrote about it here. Also, here.  Oh and then there was this thing that happened that I wrote about here.  And let us not forget about this.  So this isn’t a blog about me complaining about how I am having an off year, and how my life has sort of been like a line of dominoes, where one of them falls and knocks every other one down in rapid succession.  It is about something else.

So on Friday I was walking home from getting some juice when I stumbled upon a quarter.  I walked past it about 5 paces or so and then stopped, thinking about my friend Monica.  She has also had a rough couple of weeks ever since her dog went missing.  I thought about how Monica always picks up pennies.  It’s this really endearing compulsion that she has.  We would be running through the streets of New York and no matter what we were talking about, she would always see the pennies, always pick them up.  I turned back around and, with Monica and Lark on my mind, I picked up the quarter.  I took it in my fingers, turned it over, and decided that that very moment would be the moment that I would stop thinking about what a crappy year I have been having, I would stop dooming myself to more misfortune, and just change my mindset.  That quarter, I decided, was going to be my change in luck, that place in the domino line when you get them all wrong and the one falling somehow misses its neighbor and the rest of the pieces remain standing.  I know this might seem a lot to put into one small piece of currency, but in the face of thinking that you have somehow run into a string of unexplainable bad luck it really seems like the most logical next step.

(I just heard screaming from an adjacent building.  Somehow the US has overtaken Portugal?  How surprising.)This is going to sound really cheesy.  Perhaps even cheesier than the things I have already written in this post.  I was just watching an episode of Gossip Girl (I know, I know), and Rufus Humphrey said something to Dan over breakfast that really just got to me:”…success, people praising you, it goes away.  And when that day comes, if you don’t like who you are, you’re done.”I don’t know.  I have spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what has been happening recently.  I have spent a lot of brain power, shed a lot of tears (more than I really care to admit to) trying to understand what the fuck I ever did to have all this happen.  But then I realized I didn’t actually do anything.  It’s just life, it’s the world.  This is how shit goes.  And I can either feel sorry for myself, or laugh at myself.  I can either look backwards, or look forwards.  I can either wonder why there are so many assholes, or I can be happy that I like who I am and anyone who doesn’t, well, they simply aren’t worth my time.  From here on out I am choosing the latter in all three of those scenarios.As it turns out, a quarter really can be the harbinger of good things to come.  I mean, if I was going to somehow attribute all my good fortune to some weird universal bullshit, why not assign some of my good fortune to a quarter.  Right?  Right.So that is it.  That is the end of me thinking this is an off year, and wishing I had a bear-free cave to live in.  This is the beginning of me realizing I have an amazing support system all of whom I love and appreciate; I have a fantastic family; I have a warm house with great roommates and two annoying as hell but incredibly sweet cats; I have my health; I wake up most mornings feeling lucky that I am who I am; I have this shiny new quarter.  The rest, I think, will come in time.

To the jerk who wrote an “inspirational” letter on Facebook

13 Mar

You know what I am really good at?  Blogging as a procrastination technique.  Seriously.  I haven’t much felt like blogging recently because my life is slightly, shall we say, out of sorts.  Right now, however, when I have an article to write for a website that is not my own (and no I am not getting paid for it because, seriously, who needs money?) seems like a wonderful time to post something here.  Where, by the way, I am also not getting paid.  So, okay, let’s do this.

A few days ago, someone I went to high school with but haven’t spoken to since then (and, in fact, I am not entirely sure I ever spoke to her then either…social media is so weird) posted a link to an article called “To the fatty running on the track this afternoon.”  It was a link to some status message written by an anonymous Facebook user and then posted on a website called “Closer” which I have never read and, if this is a sample of the sorts of things this website has to offer I will never read again.  Anyway, the introduction to the post was as follows:

“The message begins in a typically condescending manner. It accuses the overweight runner of ‘footslogging in the wrong direction’, calls them out for wanting to ‘stop twice a lap’ and points out the ‘sweat’ that ‘drenches’ their body.

“But then, all of a sudden, the tone changes – and we find ourselves confronted with a seriously inspirational messages for all the would-be runners out there.”

So it leaves you thinking, how in the world could someone turn a post entitled “To the fatty running on the track this afternoon” into something even moderately supportive and encouraging?  The short answer is that they can’t.  Here is the full text of the original Facebook post:

“To the fatty running on the Westview track this afternoon:

You, whose feet barely lift off the ground as you trudge around the track.  You, who keeps to the outside lane, footslogging in the wrong direction.  You, who stops for water breaks every lap, and who would probably stop twice a lap if there were bleachers on both sides.  You, whose gaze drops to your feet every time we pass.  You, whose sweat drenches your body after your leave, completing only a single, 20-minute mile.

There’s something you should know:  You fucking rock.

Every shallow step you take, you carry the weight of more than two of me, clinging to your bones, begging to be shaken off.  Each lap you run, you’re paying off the debt of another midnight snack, another dessert, another beer.  It’s 20 degrees outside, but you haven’t let that stop your regimen. This isn’t your first day out here, and it certainly won’t be your last.  You’ve started a journey that lasts a lifetime, and you’ve started at least 12 days before your New Year’s resolution kicks in.  You run without music and I can only imagine the mantras running through your mind as you heave your ever-shrinking mass around the next lap.  Let’s go, feet.  Shut up, legs.  Fuck off, fat.  If you’d only look up from your feet the next time we pass, you’d see my gaze has no condescension in it.

I have nothing but respect for you.  You’ve got this.”

Oh god, where to start.  I am a runner.  I am a runner because it feels good, it makes me happy, it clears my head, and it is inclusive of just about anyone.*  I am a runner who is constantly impressed by the kindness and support shown by runners to runners and that is why this ridiculous “inspirational” message really made me mad.  Here’s what I want to say to the person who wrote that note:

The person to whom you wrote this does not need your approval or permission to do what they are already doing.  The person to whom you wrote this does not need you to tell them that their fat does not bother you because clearly, it does.  What you consider inspirational, drips with disapproval, judgement and, yes, condescension.  It is your attitude, and attitudes like yours, that make people ashamed of their bodies and afraid to start running, afraid to start doing many things.  Who cares if this runner stops for water breaks every lap? I do that.  And you know what?  Sometimes I also wish there were bleachers on both sides of the track.  You know why?  Because running is hard.  It is hard and it is tiring.  And yet I don’t see you writing a letter to me.  Ask yourself why.

Why is it that you feel the need to calculate how many times you would fit under this other runner’s skin?  Why do you feel the need to judge this person for how long it takes them to run a mile?  How dare you assume that this person is somehow paying off a debt for calories consumed.  How dare you assign mantras to someone else and assume to know what motivates them.  I said this before and I will say it again, it is people like you, and attitudes like yours, that make people ashamed of their bodies.  This is not inspirational.  This is called fat shaming.

Let me share with you something that is actually inspirational.  I wish I could find the direct quote but a summary will just have to do.  A few years ago I was reading the interviews of some of the elite athletes following the New York City Marathon.  A reporter sat down with one of the men who finished on the podium and said something along the lines of “you run so fast.  You are just such an inspiration.”  The runner, a man who was at the top of his field in an incredibly difficult and punishing sport said the following:

“I am not inspirational.  I am only out there on my feet for a little over 2 hours.  It is the people that are pounding away for 3, 4, 5, 6 or more hours that are the real inspiration.”

This runner did not need to point out how much more talented he is than the rest of the field, how much faster, thinner, more athletic.  This is a man who just achieved an incredible goal, and instead of making the moment about himself, he deflected it to include everyone who completed the race that day.  That is called grace. That is something that made me want to lace my running shoes up right then and there. It made me feel like what I do day after day, what so many of us do no matter how fast or slow we do it, is amazing.

Listen, I know the sentiment of this letter was not malicious but what came through was insanely unkind.  I am glad that you feel proud of yourself for being the bigger person and supporting a “fatty.”  I’m sure you’re very proud of yourself.  But you know what?  You sound like a dick.  I hope you take a step back and really think about what your letter says about you and about the way our society treats people who are deemed to be “footslogging” their “mass” around the world, a constant reminder of the “debt” accrued from years of what you seem to think of as irresponsible overindulgence.  This is a person you are writing this letter to, a person who is deserving of respect and not judgement.  This letter is a perfect example of the fucked up way we think about bodies and what we consider supportive within the realm of fitness.  I don’t know.

It is things like this that make me doubt the way I feel about the running community as a whole.  For me, it is not about being better than others, faster than them, thinner.  It is about all of us being out there, propelling ourselves forward using only our bodies.  That’s an incredible thing.  We are all out there, we are all working, and we are all deserving of support.  Just hold the judgement.

Update:  My friend Julie just shared with me a blog written by a man speaking on behalf of the person to whom the Facebook message was directed.  His name is Tony Posnanski and he is awesome.  Read his blog.  It is WAY better than mine.  Keep on loggin’ those miles and sharing your journey, man.

*I know there are issues of safety, access and serious injury that do bar some people from enjoying the sport.  But by and large, I think that just about anyone who wants to do it, can do it.

A Letter to my Dad on his Birthday

9 Mar

Sorry my blog has been so quiet as of late. It’s been a stressful few weeks and also I just got back from a week long trip in Peru!  It was so fun.  Stay tuned for some adventure stories but for now, I have someone important to write about.  My dad.  Today is my dad’s birthday, AKA the second best day of the year (the first best obviously being my birthday which, in case you were wondering when to send gifts, is on July 19th), and so I figured I would write him a letter.  So, here goes.

Dear Daaaaad,

First thing first: happy, happy, happy birthday.  Since you are not having a big birthday party this year and I therefore don’t get the chance to bail you out of a botched speech with my own impromptu genius, I figured the next best thing would be to write you a letter.  You, Dad, are one of my favorite people in the world.  I’m sure there were times growing up when I was mad at you or when we got in fights or maybe when, in the heat of the moment, I told you that I hated you, something which all children do at some point I think, but sitting here at my computer right now I cannot conjure a single negative memory.  There are plenty of things that I do remember, however.  I remember us watching PeeWee together and am still sad I couldn’t get us tickets to his one man show on Broadway.  I remember us going to the car dealership to buy something moderately practical for a family of five and ending up returning home with a Mercedes convertible with only two seats.  I remember us, year after year, going shopping for mom’s presents at the last possible moment and always coming back with something awesome.  I remember watching that episode of Ren and Stimpy where there is a fire in the building and this woman is throwing all these things out of the window – an elephant, her huge baby, a walrus, herself – and laughing so hard that we cried.  I remember the countless pep talks you have given me over the years when I have had a hard time and doubted myself.  I remember sock puppet which, I believe, is still stuck in the pocket of one of your jackets, just waiting to make another appearance or brag about another trip to the Bahamas.  I remember us sneaking off in Disney World and going to eat sushi, coming up with the genius code word “the booths” so Mom and Lucy wouldn’t know where we were.  I remember your swordfish license plate.  I remember labeling all my leftovers “Dad: Do Not Eat!” so I wouldn’t come home with expectations of delicious food and find, well, nothing.  More than anything else, I just remember laughing.

I know that there are other dads in the world who are great, but I think Lucy, Aaron, Claire and I really got the best one.  There are so many people who didn’t have fathers, who didn’t or don’t have good relationships with theirs, and I really cannot imagine what that must have been like for them, what that continues to be like.  I just feel so god damn lucky.  When I think about the things that I have done and the person who I am, a person that I am proud to be, I really think that so much of the credit for all of that has to go to you and to Mom.  You guys created such a loving and supportive household, a place I am still so happy to return to.  You guys created an environment where, as long as I was trying and as long as I was kind, you would always be proud.  I know, no matter what I do in life I will always have the two of you in my corner cheering me on when things are great and cheering me up when they aren’t.

So, thank you, Dad. I know you know how much I love you, but sometimes it is just nice to have it in writing.  You are the best Dad, and one of the best people, in the entire world.  So happy birthday, Dad.  Here’s to so many more years of laughter.

Love always

Bekaaaaaah

PS  King Triton doesn’t have shit on you.

PPS  Where is that star tie I gave you for your birthday in the 2nd grade?  Best tie ever.