The only reason I’m excited about the election results (and how you could be too)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the election results. It’s hard not to.

My facebook feed. My mailman. The lady at the town council office that accepted my forms. A client who had an out of the blue binge.

‘What do you make of Trump?’, ‘This is not going to be good.’ and ‘It’s all his fault.’

A mix of fearful disbelief, dismay, grief, and blame. Not fun times.

So what do I make of Trump?

I don’t.

I didn’t vote. It didn’t seem like the integral thing to do when I didn’t and don’t have a strong opinion about either candidate.

This might sound like a cop-out, but hear me out. A Facebook Ad made it’s way to my feed when there were only 3 days left to register for an overseas ballot and I quickly added it to my ‘to-do’ list. But then thought twice about it.

And I realized the only reason I’d be voting was because I think I ‘should’.

That as a free citizen in the western world, I should exercise my right to have a say.

But for me, jumping in the political ring at the last minute just because of all the hype around Hillary vs Trump didn’t seem like it was the real me.

I haven’t followed politics for years. The last time I voted, I voted for Bush junior because my parents were staunch Republicans and I couldn’t imagine what would happen at the dinner table if I voted for Gore. By the time his second term came around I was dating a liberal Democrat, and I couldn’t pick between my family’s values or my boyfriend, so I didn’t vote.

As I started to find my own voice, and what I really cared about, I realized that for now I don’t have the bandwidth to keep track of all the ins and outs of how government and the economy works. What I do have space for is why an individual makes a choice.

I care about why the person in the position of power, and the person casting their vote, is making the decisions they are making. Are they making it out of Pride, or Shame, or Fear? Or is it out of Love and what they believe is the ultimate good for the earth and mankind, even if it’s an unpopular vote?

As I hear the reactions toward this last election there’s a lot of emotion going on. I see Anger, Disgust, Grief, Sadness, Fear. Thankfully there are also slivers of Compassion and Love.

If you’re feeling any of those things, I can understand why, and I’m feeling those emotions throughout my life right now too.

I’m also aware that those aren’t my primary feelings about this election, and so I’ve had to check in with myself. What am I feeling instead?

Oddly, it’s Curiosity mixed with Anticipation and Excitement.

Not because I think Trump will do a good job, or is the best person for the job.

But because the only good I see coming out of this election result is that we, as a generation, have been given a wake-up call.

America is having a breakdown.

The same kind of breakdown that I’ve had.

The kind when you’re at war with yourself because you’re so caught up with fitting in and keeping up with the shoulds of who you think you have to be. The kind where you think the survival of you and your identity depends on this, and so you keep trying to keep it all together. Except you’re faced with guilt when you realize you’ve screwed up, and shame when you realize you could’ve done better, and fear that because of this, and regardless of this, you’re not OK anymore. It’s not working and you’re stuck, but you keep trying to make it work all the same because you don’t know any different. And so you lose yourself in the process.

Maybe you can relate.

Yes, it is scary when something the size of America has a breakdown. I have Fear there too. Because a breakdown on that scale means very few are left untouched. It’s no longer contained to the tears on my couch and the visits to my therapist.

But here’s what I know about breakdowns.

You either become a victim to it and let it define you…

Or you rise to the challenge and let the process of shedding and refining happen, so that you come out through the fire a more wiser, aware, connected, and purer version of you.

You get in touch with your True You.

That is the exciting part.

On the morning of Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 I did something I never do…

Aside from willingly getting out of bed at 6am (in the dark mind you) for my first day of fish feeding training (the joys of a fish farmer’s wife)…

…I turned on the TV when we got home. It was in time to watch Trump give his acceptance speech live.

My husband commented, ‘You never watch TV!’

‘I know! But this is watching history in the making!

In hindsight, I reflect on that statement, and sure, there was probably a lot of truth in that. That day is likely to end up in the history books of the future.

But here’s the other thing. We don’t have to wait for a presidential election, or any election to watch history in the making.

Every. Single. Moment. Of your Life. Can Change. The Course. Of History.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Every. Single. Moment. Of your Life. Can Change. The Course. Of History.

Every choice we make in our daily lives is us casting a vote. How we treat our neighbors, where we do our shopping, how we love (or don’t love) ourselves, our family, our friends, our enemies. How we do (or don’t) speak up and take action for what we believe.

It is the ripple effect and accumulation of those choices that matters more to the future of this planet than who is living in the White House.

Here’s something I was taught recently about feelings:

We have Anger when we have Passion and Desire for something to be different.

We have Sadness and Grief when we have lost something dear to us.

We have Fear and Anxiety when we are living in the future and forget that we have what we need, right now, this very second.

We have Shame and Guilt when deep down we know that we are capable of, and wish we had done, something different.

For those of you, and those you love, who are experiencing any of these emotions due to the state of the world affairs, or the state of any part of your life right now, first, let yourself feel. Feeling is important and necessary. Numbing doesn’t do anything except opt out of your life (trust me, I’ve tried).

Once you are feeling, here’s a few things to ask yourself:

What do I Desire to be different?

What do I have Passion for?

What is it that I think I have lost or will lose?

What can I be grateful for right now?

What is something I can do right now, or today, or tomorrow, to do my part to create the future I want to see for the world?

I started writing this to extend an olive branch to those who are hurting right now. But I am also writing this to those who are not. Because my gut tells me, that if Hillary had won, you would be hurting too, just for different reasons.

That’s what happens when the best our political system can do is give you the choice between a crook and an asshole to run the country, or so I’ve heard.

I am still undecided as to whether I will call them a crook or an asshole. Because I know two things about myself.

One, I will most usually judge the hell out of someone else when it is somehow reflecting a part of me that I really don’t like.

Two, anytime I say ‘I will NEVER do (or be) THAT!!!’, I inevitably do (and am).

So before I call her a crook or him an asshole, I’m asking myself, where am I a crook? Where am I an asshole?

Where in my life do I let the desire for power or greed or being right, or the idea that I can get away with just a little (or not so little) white lie, influence my decisions?

Where in my life do I think I am better than the other person, dismiss their point of view, and exert my own privilege or power over them?

Guess what, I do both.

Whether it’s covering my tracks when I know I’ve messed up so I don’t have to face the humiliating pain and shame of being wrong in front of family, friends, or colleagues;

Or stereotyping and rolling my eyes at the guy in front of me in the checkout line because they are taking too long to bag up all of their booze and potato chips.

At the end of the day, I am just as guilty as they are.

You might be too.

So here’s a reality check:

Blaming, shaming, and complaining isn’t going to change anything other than you will grow a lot of bitterness and discontentment. You might experience anxiety, or hopelessness, or possibly depression. You’ll probably increase your blood-pressure and see a few more wrinkles in the mirror.

You may choose that if you wish. No one is stopping you.

You can also choose to get curious about yourself. Because like it or not, that is the only person who’s words, decisions, and actions you have any control over.

You don’t have to hand over your power to the government, or any institution for that matter, and watch the show from the side of the road, or your couch.

You get to play a part.

Not only do you get to play a part, you get to cast your vote and create the ending to the story, at least for your own life.

And who knows, maybe by creating an ending that reflects your deepest truth, one that is grounded and founded in compassion, empathy, patience, kindness, courage, and more of the endless facets of Love, then maybe you get to shape the ending of the bigger story at play, that extends beyond the next 4 years, 8 years; beyond your lifetime.

And it all starts with You. With Me.

How can you and I show compassion, empathy, patience, kindness, and more to Me, Myself, and I?

How can we let go of an old harsh story that says we need to be doing and striving and pushing and trying, so our pride and ego can say we have done enough?

What about really tuning in? Slowing down enough to hear the whispers of your heart. To see where your soul wants to take you? What might you do differently then?

And how might you then BE and Become what you so desire for the world around you?

I am not promising that this is easy. In fact, heads up, it’s not. I get it wrong all the time.

I will promise you this though. It is worth it.

You are worth it. The lives of the people you touch are worth it. Your community, your country, and this world is worth it.

As you extend more compassion and love to yourself, you will have more to give to the people around you. And they will have more to give to the people around them. (Heck, there might be so much love and compassion floating around that even the White House will get the hang of it!)

And there lies the hope. And excitement for what could be.

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Learning to Breathe

This story was written by Corinne Birchard. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!


This was supposed to be the year of everything. Senior year of college. I was so excited to start this year as I had big goals and aspirations for the up-coming cross country season. I dedicated my summer solely to training;  I discussed with my mom the idea of not getting a summer job to maximum my time for getting in my hour long endurance runs, my lifting session, my shakeout second run of the day, and my routine of “little things” to promote recovery, including sleep. My parents not only understood that, but encouraged me to hold off on getting a summer job so I could focus my energies on training. So that was my summer.

I was so excited to go back to school and compete in my class cross country season as a Division I runner. And to learn and complete my degree in biology, of course, but I invested so much time in running during my time off from school that I couldn’t wait to taste the delicious fruits of my labor.

Turns out they weren’t so delicious.

While I was focusing my energies on training, I kept putting off the dreading feeling of leaving the home I love so much. This year was different from other years. The early years of college, I would be so excited to go back to school and reconnect with my roommates and teammates, train hard and study hard. Of course, I would miss my family and friends and boyfriend back home, but the college atmosphere was different, almost refreshing. New.

Now, things are different. With one year left of college, I had my future career to look at, deciding where to get my masters of education, spending time with my parents that I enjoy so much, and planning a future with my then-boyfriend, now fiancé. And, life happened back up at school. I grew apart from people whom I was close with at the beginning. That happens, that’s okay. I went through mindset changes that maybe didn’t exactly line up with the mindset of others on my team (some may say I take my sport too seriously, but I’ve always been a serious person. That’s how I perform my best.)

I wish I realized this earlier, but underneath the focus of putting forth my best effort in training, I was masking the dread of going back to an environment in which I knew would be different.

But when I realized it, it hit me like a ton of bricks straight to the chest. I felt like I was suffocating.

The year I was expecting to be the best year ever wasn’t turning out that way. Training was going okay, but I didn’t feel comfortable with where I was at. Between the different training philosophies, eating lifestyles, practice conflicts, and levels of interest in competing and training, I felt like I was isolated and had no one to connect to. I thought that it would pass, maybe it was just everyone was adjusting to being back at school again.

But weeks went on and I never felt more alone surrounded by people. I dreaded going to practice. I ran with others, but being with people felt like I was suffocating. I would break off and run by myself, and that was equally as suffocating. I couldn’t escape it. The pressure would follow me back to my apartment and I felt uncomfortable in what was supposed to be the comfort of my own space. It felt like living in a compacted bubble that was ever pressing down on my chest.

The worst was when that pressure, the suffocating, came crashing down in my first race of the season. I went in with a happy heart and a happy head (I thought) and was looking forward to seeing how I would perform. Mid-way through the 6K race, the pressure came back and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

Not exactly the way I wanted my first race as a senior to go. It was embarrassing. My parents drove for eight hours to come watch me run and spend the day with me. I felt like I let them down, and cried in the shower as they waited in my living room to go out to dinner. They had no idea.

In a place in which I was surrounded by positive energy, I encountered negative energy at an unrelenting rate. The pressure, the suffocation would squeeze tears from my eyes on my way to class, or practice, or on my way home. But I couldn’t tell anyone there; I was colloquially known in the athletic department and on my team as the girl who was always smiling, always happy, such a great big smile on my face.

Yes, I’m smiling, but on the inside, I’m crying. I began counting down the days to graduation, not because it would a joyous occasion, but because that meant I could leave this place for good.

I decided to take a weekend away. I needed a change of scenery, a change of people, a change of everything. I couldn’t wait to leave.

And thank God I did. I left my computer at my apartment and my phone’s touch screen wasn’t working too well, so I only used it to get in contact with people on an urgent basis (like, where was my ride from the airport, and yes, I landed safely, because just to type those five or six words took a solid ten minutes. I couldn’t be bothered with that the entire weekend).

With the first breath of fresh air I took in when the flight landed, I felt all the negativity leave my body. I was able to breathe again.

Over the course of that weekend, I got the best sleep I’ve been able to get since I went back to school. I really, truly, genuinely laughed so hard in the pee-your-pants-but-you-don’t-care type of way. I genuinely smiled so much (a real, tooth-grinning smile) that my jaw cramped up.

And, I felt independent. With the suffocation gone, I felt like I could actually do things I wanted to do, instead of veg on the couch post-run thinking of all the things I could be doing but instead wasting my day away. Slowly but surely I felt strength come back to my body in the form of the warm light ability to freely breathe.

I didn’t know how much I needed to get away, but I’m glad I did. I learned so much about myself that weekend. Like I truly enjoy math and maybe I should have majored in math instead, or that I am actually able to strike up a conversation with a person I just met, instead of waiting for her to dictate the conversation.

The best part was that the happiness I felt in the core of my body didn’t leave me when I stepped on the flight back to school. Instead, I think it grew and made me more confident. I reached out to a friend and teammate who I haven’t really spoken to since the beginning of the year due to scheduling conflicts and I told her how I was feeling. It felt so good to actually tell someone, instead of letting the feeling suffocate me. I became more comfortable reaching out for help from different resources, like my coach, my sports psychologist, my journal, and you, who is reading this story. The more I shared how I felt, the more comfortable I felt, because I wasn’t alone.

The more I talked, the more I realized that there were changes I could make myself to help me truly enjoy my last year at school. I happily decided to switch my degree from a BS in biological sciences to a BA, and resign a class I really wasn’t enjoying or benefiting from. I explored places and initiated activities with my friends, either going out on adventures in town or finding a new place to study.

And, most importantly, I felt like I was able to breathe. I was able to breathe without restriction.

What I learned from this experience that it is so important to do what makes you happy. Don’t worry about obtaining perfection. Don’t worry about obtaining the ideal “senior season” because there will be someone that is out of your control that may change that vision in an instant. Instead, be malleable. Be open. Be present. Be you, do what makes you happy in that moment, and breathe freely.