Resisting Polarization and Encouraging Compassion

Double rainbow and seagulls over Niagara Falls, with onlookers

We humans like to place people into buckets: good and bad, left and right, us and them. This seems to be an age-old tendency, and it isn’t all that surprising that the rise of social media and the proliferation of news and opinion platforms have allowed our divisions to become more entrenched and more apparent. We can choose to read and listen to only those sources that affirm what we already feel and believe, and we can respond to those who disagree while protected by a screen that keeps us from seeing and experiencing their humanity, their emotional reactions.  Our quickly typed words can be amplified through shares and retweets, carried far beyond the small circles that might once have heard them.

Many, many people have written about the heightened state of polarization in which we live these days, lamenting how destructive it is and postulating about what led to this environment.  It is distressing and disheartening.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

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Snapshot: May 27, 2017

Black and white photo of Alexis

In this occasional series, I’ll share what I’ve been reading, watching, thinking, and doing.

What I’m Reading:

What I’m Watching: Master of None, Season 2

What I’m Listening To: Modern Love, “A Slow Fade to Black

Current Guilty Pleasure: ice cream (most recently from Marble Slab)

Where I’ve Been Recently: Chattanooga, TN

What I’m Looking Forward To: My trip to Greece later this summer!

Latest Personal Project: Learning Greek (with the help of DuoLingo, Collins, and my Greek husband, who’s been a helpful and patient tutor)

Recent Moment of Joy: Reconnecting with a former colleague from a past job and learning that we have more in common than I’d realized

Currently Inspired By: My friend M, who fought through a painful foot injury to complete her third half-Ironman last weekend. She ran her first 5k just a couple of years ago. Way to go, M!

Grateful For: A beautiful, sunny day after a long rainy spell

Have a lovely weekend!

Peace,

Alexis

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Rethinking Gift-Giving

Oil painting of a cluster of tomatoes at different stages of ripeness and a small ceramic pitcher on a rumpled blue tablecloth
Still Life with Tomatoes, 2009. For details or to purchase, please contact Alexis (contact form in menu bar).

I recently came across this post on gift-giving from Mr. Money Mustache and thought it was worth sharing.  The post is several years old and references Mother’s Day, but it applies to all the occasions on which our culture tells us we are supposed to give gifts.

Ideally, gift-giving should be a way of expressing our appreciation for the people we love, making their day a little brighter, and perhaps easing their burden.  At its worst, gift-giving can become another obligation, and the gifts we give can sometimes add to the burdens of the receiver as well as the giver.  I’ve gone to holiday gatherings without gifts to give and have been embarrassed when others brought gifts for everyone, including me.  The gifts were not personally selected for each individual, but were, I suspect, bought en masse out of either a sense of requirement or a desire for the gift-giver to feel good about herself.  These gifts were not meaningful, but they provoked feelings of guilt and obligation in me.  That is not what gift-giving should do.

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How to Lift Yourself Up When You’re Feeling Down

An oil painting of a blooming bradford pear tree
Pear Tree in Bloom, 2015. For details and purchase information, please contact Alexis.

Even the most optimistic and happy-go-lucky among us occasionally have bad days.  I’m not talking about clinical depression; I’m talking about those days when things don’t go your way, or you get some bad news, or a long stretch of misfortunes culminates into a wave of negative emotions.  We all deal with those days in our own ways, some healthier than others.  May I offer a few suggestions for working through these tough times?

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