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2017 In Review: Or, Avoiding the Dumpster Fire That Was Last Year, Plus a Few Profound Things Mixed In

2017 In Review: Or, Avoiding the Dumpster Fire That Was Last Year, Plus a Few Profound Things Mixed In

How was it that last year was worse than 2016? Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question. I think that we can all—if we have eyes—understand the crazy that this year has been. I’ve never been as fired up about politics and people as I have been. A lot of that is in direct response in my becoming a mother (and maybe a little becoming my mother). Be the change you want to see and all that. 

During Thanksgiving, my Mother In Law asked us what our highs and lows of this year were. That felt like a dangerous question. One I don’t know if I felt comfortable answering. Would they like my highs and lows? Were my highs high enough? Were they too obvious? What about my lows? How could I tell a bunch of people who voted for “the other guy” that their person made me feel unsafe as a woman in this world? I still want them to like me. How could I bridge that divide between my and their viewpoints? It was not a really safe space to discuss the incredibly deep and profound things that I felt about this year. This isn’t that space either, but it is easier for me to think about it and write it out, instead of answering on the spot. I am learning that I need to be more open and open to discussion when it comes to talking to my family who may or may not disagree with me. I think that if our country is going to have any hope of survival, it’s going to be us coming together to talk to our family members and realizing that we are all still humans. That and also establishing boundaries to keep yourself protected. Ha. 

In an effort to be a bit more open, here are some of my low points in the year: 

1.) Resurgence of Nazi Idealism in our country: 

 This can probably also be filed under, why I don’t like DT. Treat women like crap, Ban all brown people, but call literal Nazis “nice guys”. No wonder they’re more bold. This is not okay, not even close to okay. This is why I need to speak up, not to the entire world, but to our family members who call racists and bigots “protestors exercising their freedom of speech” and turn around to the black community doing the same thing but calling them “thugs who need to get a job and get off the street”. 

RACISM IS NOT OKAY. (And reverse racism doesn’t exist, it’s not how it works)
My human value is not diminished when minorities reach equality with us. Your human value is not diminished. However, if you try to take that value away from someone who is already struggling to survive and fight systemic pressures already in place, then yes…your human value is going to be in question. And you and I are not going to get along very well. 

2.) Systemic Injustice in Our Culture. 

You guys. This can’t be new news. Why why why are we still dealing with this? Why do I feel like I am living in Oliver Twist or Bleak House? If someone spontaneously combusts I really don’t think that I am going to be surprised.

Every day, I am sick of the fear that we have of each other. I am tired of living in a country where police brutality is the norm. I am disheartened to see that there are still mass shootings happening every single day, and nothing is done for sensible gun control. I am so incredibly tired of this vilification of immigrants and minorities, and the working poor. Remember when your grandparents moved here for a better life? How is that different from anyone trying to live here? Why wont we let poor mothers have food assistance without judgement? Why does another black kid have to die today at the hands of a cop?  When I hear these things, I have no idea what we’re going to do to stop it and the task feels so overwhelming and I begin to lose hope. 

America, we can do better.
    We can do better. 

Whew, these things weigh heavily on me every single day. How can I change there narrative of America’s story without white washing the horrible and unforgivable acts that we have always done to the poor, sick, and needy? 

This year wasn’t a complete wash though: 

My one good thing: This is the best thing. The most wonderful thing about this year. 

Holden was born. Little brother to Beckett and complete perfection. Holden was a surprise baby, and I was so nervous the entire pregnancy. Honestly, I thought that we were going to lose him in the beginning. I couldn’t be so lucky with two perfect pregnancies in a row could I? I held my breath the entire time. And the day he came, he was the most beautiful thing. He gave me a quick labor and delivery and an easy recovery—and he gave me the chance to be a mother again. I can’t imagine my life without him. 

Every single day I stare at him in awe. I stare at his older brother the same way. They are my life. It hasn’t been easy to care for these two little people. However, nothing worth it ever is. 

Some days I feel guilty that I brought them into this world, full of chaos and madness. What will their world be like when they get older? I am going to work my hardest to give them a world that is cleaner and more loving than it was when they were born. They have made me more brave, and more fierce, and more willing to stand up for what I believe in than anything else ever has. 

Every human deserves to be treated with dignity.

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Craftivist in Your Life

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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Craftivist in Your Life

The tradition of gift giving is probably my favorite part of the holiday season. I love browsing the stores thinking about the people I love and sending them something that I think they might like. I try to add meaning by making them something-it's a great time to think about them and send them positive thoughts and prayers. It's one of the ways I love to show my love. 

This year, the idea of the craftivist has come into focus with the Pussy Hat movement, and the Women's March on Washington. As a knitting activist, I especially love the challenge of giving something with meaning to my fellow freedom fighters. Here are some gift ideas for the craftivist in your life. 

1.) A donation in their name to a cause they care about: 
You probably know what they support if you follow them on social media. They've been advocating for this particular cause all year. They work hard to get the word out about what's important to them (doesn't everybody?). By giving to an organization that they love, it shows them that you're paying attention. Bonus points: if they tend to be minimalist and don't need anything, and the cause is something that you wouldn't normally send money to (actually extra bonus points to that since it really shows that you truly love them). A little tip for donating to a cause you can't stand: Ask yourself how this cause will hurt other people? What good is it doing for others? Focus on the good. Research it, and if you find it has more pros than cons, (objective pros... not your opinion) then donate. 

2.) Items from independent distributors:
We L-O-V-E small businesses. We have a love-hate relationship with Amazon (I mean, they donate money to our causes, but big business!!!). A great gift to the craftivist in your life could be a craft item from a local craft store. In my case, a skein of independently dyed yarn from a Local Yarn Store would be the best thing. If you buy me a sweater quantity in that yarn, you have my pure devotion forever and have officially become knit worthy. Whatever the craft is be it, carpentry, quilting, crochet, or basket weaving a little internet search should bring you to a small shop that works hard and is a jewel in the community. Local independent bookstores are also a huge yes for us. 

3.) Support businesses run by minorities: 
Much in the same way we love indie stores, we really love and fully support stores run by minorities. The Black vote in Alabama just saved us from another horrible person in the Senate, the least we could do is support them with our patronage. I mean, thats the bottom of the barrel least we can do. 

4.) Buy us a year of Audible: 
Again with that love-hate of Amazon, Audible is a great way for us to get our reading time in--but it can be any audiobook app or feature you can find. Craftivists are readers. We read everything we can get our hands on. A lot of us have an Audible subscription so we can listen while we work. By taking that financial burden off of us for a year, you're allowing us to continue our work and continue our learning. In a way, its an investment in our ability to put our money where our mouths are. 

5.) Support other Activists: 
A lot of us have something for sale on our websites to help us live our lives. We love to share what we have with the world and would love to offer our goods for free, but we also know we are worth our hard work. IF you're really on the fence about what to get your outspoken-pussy hat wearing-cat lady-sister, you're probably not paying close enough attention. A pattern from an independent designer, with the right amount of supplies for the pattern, and a small donation to a cause she loves will go a long way with her. 

It's not important if you agree with your craftivist or not. Just the fact that you're listening to them and supporting them goes a long way. It allows for honest dialogue and heart to heart conversation. We really need more of that this year. 

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