Anger, a February Salon

[Sharing our Anger Salon email to our salon for this weekend. because I would love to hear what others would add to the readings or how they’d answer some of the questions.]

Hello lovelies,

I don’t know about you, but I am really excited about this topic because it’s hard to figure out what to do with all my anger right now. Even limiting my news consumption is only doing so much…
Some questions: 
1 //  you let yourself be angry? When? Are there other times you try to “turn it off” or hide it?
2 // In your view, are there more acceptable forms of displaying anger? Where did those “rules” come from?
3 // Can anger be productive?
4 // What is making you mad right now? (I think we’ll start with this answer in the intros, feel free to bring a list… I definitely have one right now haha)
Some readings…
Kaela and I talk about Anger a lot because it seems to be an emotion that society has a lot of rules about, particularly in, as Roxane Gay puts it, who is allowed to be angry.
And finally, if you’re at work and like me occasionally need to find some things to channel the anger into, at least until you can go home and use it for something more productive, lifehacker has some ideas.
(Header image credit: Rob Howard / Flickr)

Fear of Fat

I get more out of this talk every time I watch it. If you haven’t seen it, please enjoy a quiet lovely moment with me:

Today, I am most appreciative of the conversation she wants to have about the “feedback” media/”concerned friends” have for people who are any version of overweight. I appreciate this talk alongside the conversations happening over twitter describing weight/height to add context to our conversations about weight and what it means to be healthy. I appreciate the honest conversations about the flaws with BMI as a measurement for who is “healthy” and who is “not healthy” on that scale, removing important context.

It’s hard to watch communities where girls as young as 12 decide it’s time to start dieting and seem themselves as “ugly” or “deformed” because they don’t fit the “perfect profile and measurements.” There is some absurd idea that all bodies, if starved or fed correctly, will eventually look the same. They don’t and they won’t. I appreciate the context this speaker brings to what it means to be comfortable in your own skin and find a rhythm that makes sense for you in your own body — that whatever other people have to say to you is advice, and ultimately what “advice” you accept is yours and yours alone to decide.

I think often of something a friend told me once:
“Your body is the cheapest gift you have ever received,
and the most expensive gift you’ll ever have to return.”

I love the opportunity she presents to celebrate our own bodies for their strengths, instead of constantly comparing ourselves by our weaknesses. She provided me and so many others with a quiet, happy moment to be grateful for how amazing life and human bodies really are. I love this talk, and I am so grateful to this speaker for her bravery to face a difficult topic head on.

It reminds me of the body image salon we hosted over the summer. I shared it with the group from YouTube before our chat, and people shared the quiet personal moments they had that made them reflect on their bodies differently. I love these quiet moments.

Fall 2016: Salon Schedule

I’ve been running a salon for women interested in reflecting together for the last four years. We hoped this experiment could lead to a cool network of women interested in answering difficult questions, continuing with their research after college, and supporting each other through life transitions. It has been all of that for me for years, I am very grateful for this community we’ve built together.

To make this easier for new salon leaders, I am posting our fall/winter schedule and topics, maybe to inspire some of their own discussions. I will update it with our readings in case you want to follow along on your own.

SEPTEMBER:
Sunday Sept 25: Family and Community

Questions we’ve been playing with:
– if we’re moving past the mom+dad+2 kids+dog in a white picket fence home, how has the definition of “family” shifted for you? Who do you consider to be your “family?”
– can your community become part of your “family?”
– who do you seek out when you need support?
Some thoughts on community:
Courtney Martin’s the New American Dream
And a really honest essay about one writer’s anxiety and the support system she built with her friends

OCTOBER

Sunday Oct. 9: Death

Kaela’s Intro Email: I had originally been inspired to add this as a salon topic because of IDEO’s event series about death back in May. I realized that I had never really had any long conversation about death with anyone in my life.
There are many ways we could go on this, but we thought we could spring board off of with the idea of ‘what does it mean to be alive versus dead?’ and ‘how do the dead in our lives “live” on once they’ve passed?’
A few things to get your brain moving:
From Diana herself (On Day of the Dead, Memory, and living profiles)
A TED talk about how other communities engage with the dead/death
This group and this other group who are also trying to open conversations on death
And a great insta post shared to use by Connie (who also gave us a few of the links above!)

Sunday Oct 23: Grief

Our questions (brought together by Kaela and Connie)
Thinking about before and after — how do you change before and after you grieve? What does grief bring and how do you build through it?
And how do we deal with the timeline of grief? We have heard of all the stages – but what about the days you feel like you “should feel better” but don’t?
A few readings: 

NOVEMBER

Sunday Nov 6th: Transformation

“Human beings,” Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert observed…, “are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”
Let’s talk about Transformation. There are two questions that we’ve been playing with her that we’d love to hear your reactions to:
1) How do we know when we’ve “transformed” from someone we were or thought we were into a different version of ourselves?
2) And is this transformation really just a chance in perspective? Or is it like shedding a layer of armor and taking up something different?
Some Media:
Maybe change is like the Tower in Tarot (it’s meant to show the destruction at the end before a significant change. You can see it as “doom” and “disaster” like this image depicts, or it can be an opportunity for something new and exciting)
If it is about our perspective, maybe we can rewire towards optimism… I always seems to come back to Carol Dweck’s “Growth Mindset” too
And finally, sometimes relationships transform when we are able to ask questions. In light of this election, I related to this and it helped me feel better, like we can heal after Tuesday.

Sunday Nov 20th: Gratitude (Family style thanksgiving) Dinner

DECEMBER

Sunday December 4th: This Is Water: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Book Discussion
Dec 18th: Holiday Party

JANUARY

Sunday January 8th: Men Explain Things to Me
Sunday January 22nd: Anger

More to come! Please send me questions/readings/thoughts, as they occur to you.

Header photo credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr, http://bit.ly/2d9A8QQ

The Borders of Fulton Street

Many mornings, Fulton Street feels like the ultimate border crossing station. You move without a physical passport, but always with permission of those around you who also share and add character to the space. This permission is your visa. At once, you are part of the story and the transition.

Every morning, on my way to my favorite coffee spot, I pass by a mosque with a healthy community coming in and out of its doors. On evenings when the wind blows in the right direction, we can hear the call to prayer from our living room, faintly through the now bare trees. There is also always a group of people talking and sometimes shouting outside Bergen Bagels on Waverly and Fulton. There’s a mental healthcare facility on the same corner, where a number of disable veterans gather before and after their appointments. Some are haunting by the ghosts of their time at war, and their glances take in much more than their immediate environment. It’s hard not to feel something squeezing sharply around your heart.

Sometimes these different groups interact, sometimes they pass by each other with little more than a nod. But they are all there, witnessing the same scenes I do every day.

 

And there are definitely moments where it is easier, and others when it is harder. In the context of the recent student protests, I like so many others have been included in some very challenging conversations about race and access to basic rights. We hosted a salon yesterday that was open, allowing us to examine so many of the specific issues and questions our friends had about race, their own immigrant backgrounds, and what our role was in shaping society. We considered how we, in each of our bodies and the histories tagged on us by those bodies, could move through our neighborhoods and work places. We stumbled through our questions, those points where experience limited our understanding of perspective, and crept forward, learning and asking questions and offering feedback.

I was reminded of a scene that happens somewhat often on Fulton Street in the mornings. There is a disable veteran, confined to a wheelchair, who arrives and departs from Fulton on the bus. Near the corner where his bus leaves, there is a deli with a cashier who “looks Middle Eastern*.” Some days, this man moves his wheelchair as close as he can to the step outside the Deli and yells with the strangled breathe of someone who has lost so much. The sound is quiet, but the words are like knives when you can hear them properly. The stair prevents this man from reaching the cashier, but each time he knocks the stair with his wheelchair, you can hear the determination in his voice to one day reach this “enemy” he has identified for himself.  [*This is an oversimplification, but this seems to be how the veteran identified him, based on the things he yells through the door at the cashier.]

It is frightening. I feel for the cashier as much as I feel for the veteran. Both of their pain is visible on their faces and the strained voice of the veteran. And I asked our group, what is our role in this? How does one act? Or do we keep to ourselves, outside these spaces and stay in our own small corners of the city?

It reminded me of the structure my friend, now an Army Ranger, has described within his first year of basic training. So many of our troops come from families where there realistically weren’t many other options. And often, returning from war did not mean better opportunities or support.

We talked, briefly, about underserved veterans and mental health… and the experience of going abroad to war, to a defined “enemy,” and then returning home to see people who had fled violence and had come to resettle into a new country… who looked like the communities these troops were fighting in another context. And here was a perfect scene describing Brooklyn, this city at the borders of the world… and the challenges that come with that.

I didn’t leave with answers, but, as always, I intend to keep exploring.