What The Kitchen Teaches Me In Understanding This Election November 10 2016
Our small but mighty team here in the kitchen is an interesting little case study of the potential I think we have, and what I love about this country. And we got here with a lot of work into understanding ourselves and each other.
As you know, this is a woman-owned business. And on our team all roles of highest responsibility are filled by women. And it was not that way by force or even design -- we just have the freedom and openness to choose the person whose skills and personality best is best suited to the task.
Currently our team includes a devout Christian, a married gay man, a recent immigrant who is learning English. Some of us have well off families who support us and others are doing everything they can to survive financially with little help. Two of us are recovering from trauma after leaving abusive marriages.
We hail originally from the Northeast, Boulder, Honduras, and the mid-West and very different experiences in those places. We have a wide range of opinions on the hot topics like abortion, the appropriate size of government, and religion. We don't even all speak the same language.
But this team works so well together, and it's because we respect each other as people. We know each others vulnerabilities and strengths and we look to find ways we can help support each other based on those. Sometimes we know how to do this because someone was brave enough to speak their needs – and aware enough to even know their needs, and sometimes we know simply because we are paying attention. And we forgive each other when we f*** up. Some times that takes longer than others.
We've come up with a list system to help keep track of Amy's tasks when a migraine hits or mental confusion sets in. We have a spot in the kitchen for Catherin's kids on the days when a family member can't watch them and it would cost way to much to pay for childcare. We've figured out how to help me delegate tasks because I often take on too much, and I'm learning how to trust others with "my baby" the business.
We wouldn't be able to support each other if anyone was afraid to voice their needs, or told they were stupid. We listen, though at points we have decided to stop talking or simply disagree if the emotions get too high and whatever it is not critical to the task at hand.
It’s not like it’s easy or a perfect system either. We’re constantly adjusting and messing up and having to cover for each other and getting annoyed… but in the end we do what we need to do to work together because we all believe in this business and we care about each other.
And I think am I lucky enough to have such a supportive team in part because I have done my own personal work that allows me to be flexible and compassionate and decisive when I need to create a culture that values support, respect and curiosity. It’s a safe place and encourages exploration, or that at least is what I am striving to create.
I think our country can work like our kitchen and already does, in a way. Making adjustments based on the needs of the whole population, even if those needs and experiences are different. We must listen to and respect people's experiences. Ignoring or demeaning simply amplifies the situation, as is so clearly the case now. But we cannot do these things if we are not ready to be compassionate or open minded or self aware and responsible.
Behind all hate is fear. And we have deep fear in this country. I am not a Trump supporter, but I believe Trump has done us a great service in showing us our collective fears, ones that have been ignored, suppressed or denied. Fear is not bad. It is a messenger. Things just get ugly when you ignore the messenger and/or let it run the show, especially without knowing it.
What we can do know is understand our hate and anger, whatever side you chose. What is the underlying fear these emotions show us? How can we address it so we can move from a place of reaction and have productive discussion?
This exercise must start with yourself. Where is your anger, hate or fear coming from? Can you even acknowledge it? Express it without blame and hurting others?
I have been going to therapy for the last two years, and it's changed my life. Perhaps most surprisingly and encouragingly for me, it's increased my capacity for love and tolerance of other people simply by focusing on what I can learn and heal within myself. By becoming aware of my own feelings and acknowledging them rather than pushing them away, I am learning how to do this on a bigger scale. This is not easy or comfortable most of the time, and I think it’s almost impossible to do by ourselves. But the rewards are so great. I feel more at peace with myself, which I love, and it turns out it helps everyone.
Personal work to increase your capacity to love and act productively versus react is something you can always do no matter who is president!
I have found these resources particularly inspiring and helpful--
- this radio story on flipping the script and what happens when a gunman walks into a dinner party intending to rob and no one reacts what budding terrorists do when law enforcement makes different choices than jail.
- These free meditation series from Deepak Chopra and Oprah. The current one is one relationships - perfect timing – though it’s already a week in. Register and they'll tell you when the next is as well.
- And especially if you are of the non-Trump variety and ready for it - this article (please ignore the title that does not do it justice) by a small town white male who as since moved to the city and his perspective on the realities and challenges our rural neighbors face
- Therapy! I happen to know we have at least a few therapist customers and an even greater network of various holistic health practioners. I am working to get together a list of resources in our community, and if you are interested in the meantime please let me know
For many of us, it may simply start with being tender with ourselves and our feelings as we process this election. Perhaps you are angry or grieving and want to blame. Perhaps you are elated finally seeing it your and tempted to say “told you so – you’re wrong!”.
Stacia, of A Moms Space (our partner pick up site in Lafayette), sent out this advice yesterday. She has amazing mindfulness classes for everyone, not just parents, and my experience with her Awakened Woman course was super powerful.
"So now, today, it starts with us. We can be the change by choosing to just BE WITH our feelings internally, with intention. Don't hide from them or push them away - show them (cry! scream into a pillow!), talk with loved ones, but please don't take them out on others. Actively feel them, rather than be reactive to them. Just BE with them. As we allow this, they will transform. And we will be stronger, more authentic, aligned and more clear to help as the rest of this story to unfolds."
In these crazy times, find what supports you, learn how to really honor and love yourself, and you will change the world!
That Gandhi knew what he was talking about.