The Day I Woke Up

Tuesday, November 8th was one of my most proud days.

I donned my "Future is Female" shirt. I went to yoga and I prayed. I high-fived three older ladies in line after I cast my vote for the first female president of the United States Hillary Clinton.

I posted this that morning: I'm voting to ensure this little girl is valued, celebrated and empowered. That her body and her dreams belong to her and her only. And that she knows a woman's place is in the White House. I'm voting to ensure that for each of us. #imwithher #wegohigh

Tuesday was one of my most favorite days, until it wasn't.

On Tuesday I voted for love, while many others, including some family members and old friends, voted for Donald Trump, a man who has used racism, homophobia, xenophobia and hate as a way to become president.

I turned on the radio the next day and heard "Those of us in California woke up today and realized we live in a different country."

I drove to teach my yoga class. The room was filled with choked sobs and a heavy energy. Do you know why? 

Because one student is afraid her children will be bullied because that behavior as a way to gain momentum and votes.
Another is afraid that her marriage to her wife will be eradicated and discriminated against.
Another is afraid her children will be subject to racial slurs.
Another is afraid her best friend and her family will be deported.
Another is terrified that her two black sons will be subject to violence.

During these ten days I haven't had one conversation with someone here in Los Angeles that voted for Trump. I haven't had one conversation with someone who doesn't agree with me.

And this is part of the problem.

I am part of the problem.

I left Iowa when I was twenty-two years old to live in Washington DC and work at a travel magazine. In my neighborhood I was often the minority. I bought my daily groceries at a corner store where the cashier was behind bulletproof glass. 

I moved to Los Angeles where I've lived in a variety of neighborhoods. I've worked with homeless youth, I've taught in drug rehab centers, I myself am in recovery.

Many of my friends are gay. Many of my friends have felt discriminated against. Many have had abortions. 

I voted for love because life isn't black and white. It's messy. It's heartbreaking. It's downright terrifying at times.

When I go home to Iowa, I'm often asked : How could you live there? The traffic, the people, the pollution.

You know why I live here? 

Because I've had the gift of getting to know each of these people. To feel accepted for my shortcomings. For my hurts. For knowing that the only way forward, the only true way is the path of love. And that path is often covered in blood, sweat and tears.

You're pro-life? Well, I'm pro-human. I choose a bear hug over a dollar bill. I choose radical vulnerability over this painful facade. I choose to see a human being and not a statistic. I choose the God that loves all of us, not the white people who believe what you believe.

If you're scared, I'm here.
If you're mad, I'm here.
If you think I'm wrong, I'm here.

We gotta show up. Now. For each other.

What will you do to make a difference? To examine your own part in this?

Tuesday was a really hard day but it also marks the day that I woke up.

When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And, you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.
— Pema Chodron