All posts tagged: Peace

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On Going to a Better Place: What I’ve Learned from My Brother’s Death

Originally published in the Loss Issue, 2016 I have a picture of my younger brother when he was four days old. I’m sitting on my parents’ black and white geometric-patterned bedspread, cradling him. It’s one of my favorite photographs. I’m the oldest, followed by my sister, 13 months later. Almost a decade passed before my parents had another baby. Bryce’s birth was momentous. He was charming from the first day, with a wide, impish grin. As time went by, my mother would say, Bryce is going to do great things: He has the brains, the work ethic, the brawn. When Bryce was thirteen, he started drinking. In our family, drinking wasn’t just about experimentation. No one in my family drank. At fourteen, when the cops called to say he had broken into our neighbor’s house on the hunt for cash to buy booze and drugs, my mother called me at college, desperate and knowing there was a real problem. What had begun as acting out for Bryce had become a salve for anxiety and depression. When my …

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Non-Traumatic Motherhood: A Non-Traumatic Manual

I come at life like a blunt instrument. I throw myself head first into whatever is coming and ask questions later. This strategy has had mixed success — sometimes it’s exhausting, sometimes frustrating, but mostly it has forced me to move forward, no matter what. It’s a pattern that has been hardened and rewarded through some pretty rough years, but I’ll get to that. Professionally, I’m a proud civic-tech nerd, veteran of Obama ’08 and founding tech director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (yes, the one with Elizabeth Warren – another blunt instrument). Personally, I’ve moved cross-country several times in my life, most recently after leaving my awesome CFPB gig to get married. Then we up and moved to London, where I threw myself into a new city, job and life. The ad hoc, impulse, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants life was working for me. Until I got pregnant. MOTHER? FUCK! You can’t be a blunt instrument with a baby. Those things are delicate. But then again, people have been having kids for centuries, right? I married a …

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When You Can’t Look Away: Horror in the Newsfeed

Despite the fact that it was being played in a seemingly endless loop on the news, my mom wouldn’t let us watch the video of the Rodney King beating. She’d dive for the remote to quickly change channel or, in her most extreme moments, she’d send us kids out of the room altogether I was already an anxious kid, well on my way to becoming an even more anxious adult. Mom must have known that video would stay with me long after the trial. Even for how frequently the news showed King’s savage beating, it wasn’t impossible to avoid. This was the ’90s. There was no autoplay Twitter video and no refreshing Facebook feed flooded with violence. As much as I wish she could, these days my mom can’t shield me from them all. When I first started working in news in August 2014, I knew I’d probably have to come face to face with horrible material. I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of violence and bloodshed that unfolded during my first year on the …

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Finding #Zen On Instagram

I’m busy. I have a demanding job working for 18F (yes, that’s part of President’s Obama’s “stealth startup”), which requires juggling numerous projects and frequent travel. Newsflash in 2015: We’re all busy. With the hectic pace of life, work, technology, media and the world in general, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just really need to hit pause. And when I do, I find my peace on Instagram. I’m not talking about squad envy or like-mongering or that thing where Facebook makes us feel more lonely. I’m talking (with a nod to Jon Stewart) about micro-moments of Zen — a quick hit of joy and repose amid the chaos. These little pockets of delight can come from friends and family, obviously, but I also follow a few accounts at arms-length specifically for this purpose, whether it’s because they make me smile, make me think, or just blow me away with their beauty and grace. The Art of Plating (@theartofplating) Strawberry mousse tart, pulled sugar peas, rolled white chocolate ganache and pea dust & …

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Your Nag Hath Made Me Stronger

“Why do people who least have their shit together always want to give you advice?” my friend John said to me with an exasperated sigh. I had called John because I was dealing with some family issues, and we share some common family dynamics. He was lending a sympathetic ear and sharing the latest advice from his born-again brother, who persisted in being John’s self-appointed life coach. “He has been divorced twice, he goes to church, but he hates poor people and can’t hold down a job. And he has the nerve to give me advice on how I should be living my life.” This dynamic has always puzzled me: the compulsive need to give advice when none has been asked for. What is this dynamic all about? I have seen it so many times in life, with micromanager bosses, overly critical colleagues, overbearing friends and well-meaning family members. Who actually welcomes this hypercritical and unhelpful feedback? And when does it actually help? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this – my interaction …

Rachel’s Note: Peace Is The Word

When Margit first suggested the topic of “Peace” for my guest-edited issue, I rolled my eyes. I envisioned big peace signs on garish tie-dye with that hippy-dippy bubble font, maybe worn by long-haired hippies burning incense and telling each other they were blessed. Think Don Draper on a mountaintop. It just seemed so banal and saccharine, the “thoughts and prayers” of holiday topics. Then I remembered that I have a baby daughter and that every time we leave our home I am terrified about what might happen to her in this world. Then I remembered that this relatively new fear for me is old hat for a black person running into a cop. Then I remembered that I maxed out my personal giving donating to the refugee crisis, though then there were other reasons to donate: to Planned Parenthood, to Sandy Hook Promise and Everytown USA. And there always seems to be a GoFundMe campaign supporting mass shooting victims, at best for wounded survivors, at worst for funeral expenses. Then I remembered Donald Fucking Trump. At that point I was starting to feel really bad …