Yes, I’m Angry. But I’m Choosing Love Anyway

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Courtesy of El Payo via Flickr

Let me start with this: I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. In fact, the man has the rare ability to crawl under my skin like lice and turn my blood to lava.

Despite these feelings, I have chosen to resist and fight back with the strongest action of all … love.

On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, I posted a single quote to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in response to the eruption in our country:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

This is perhaps my favorite quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., and no other words more adequately described how I felt on Jan. 20, 2017. Since then, I’ve watched hate grip this nation from all ends of the political spectrum, and while I’m not going to deny my anger, I’ve grasped for these words with greater fervor now.

A close friend of mine from childhood who is Christian said she has chosen to make love her battle cry. As a Jew who is more secular than religious, I decided to join her. My friend said love is not always an easy choice, and she’s right—which is why choosing to love, rather than giving into hate, is so effective.

President Trump goes against every core value I’ve been raised to believe.

  • My father paid my way through college working as a music teacher and I grew up on the stage, yet President Trump wants to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • I have a profound respect for nature, yet President Trump wants to gut the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • I believe health care is a right, not a privilege, yet President Trump is pushing Congress to disband the Affordable Care Act.
  • I’m a former journalist—launching my career with the First Amendment in my pen—yet President Trump calls citizens like me the “enemy of the American people.”

His lack of empathy for those who are different than him, or believe differently than him, or oppose him politically, appalls me. Yet rather than label other Americans who have labeled me, I stand here on this page, and I am declaring to you, President Trump: I CHOOSE LOVE.

I will not lose friendships over this election and I will strive to speak from a place of reason, rather than anger. I will funnel my dissent into saving animals, helping my family and giving to those in my life who need it. I will stand up for minorities or refugees and call my representatives in Congress to keep you in line. I will celebrate life alongside my Muslim friends, my Christian friends, my Catholic friends, my Jewish friends, and my Atheist friends. I will aim to understand those who are different than me. I will use my writing to provide a voice for the voiceless.

I will love, President Trump, and I will look for the light inside every American, whether they voted for you or not. In the words of another MLK quote that I admire, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

#LOVEWINS

(If you agree, click one of the SHARE buttons below, and share this message with your friends.)

A bad gift-wrapping job just means she loves you, dude

Yea, OK, I’ll admit it: I’m one of those hopeless romantics who read historical romance novels in high school where mid-evil lords ravaged the blossoming daughters of their peasants.

Nonetheless, I’m also a messy, untalented hopeless romantic when it comes to anything remotely crafty. Which includes wrapping paper … and that final act of shoving gifts inside it.

No, you pervert! That was not a subliminally sexual message. You shame me.

It was an attempt, in my exhausted state, to explain why my gifts—and I mean ALL my gifts—look like a wad of discarded metal feces.

But for the guys out there, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, OK?

A crappy gift-wrapping job just means she put alotta heart into it.

She loves you, dude. Congrats!

Pinterest ecardAnd sorry to burst your bubble guys, but Pinterest does not represent the majority of women out there. I know, O.J. is innocent, right?

But it’s true … Pinterest just makes the vast majority of us look like unorganized slobs who have no money, no style, and no ability to cook.

So when the atrocious monster of a gift is slid your way across the dinner table during your anniversary, or birthday, or even V-day, know it’s a labor of love. Like Frankenstein. Only more romantic.

On a quick side-note …

I just celebrated my six-year anniversary with my hun this past Sunday. Which, for everyone else, is obviously what sparked this whole gift-wrapping rant. Use it to your advantage.

Shari and Oscar
Me and my man, Oscar

Now girls, hurry and share this post with your guys.

So the next time you present him with that horrific monstrosity of a wrapping job, he’ll know just how much you truly care.

(P.S. Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons are below!)

5 Years Ago Today …

I know I’m on a blog hiatus, but today is very special for me, and I COULDN’T pass this up.

Today is my 5-year anniversary with my life’s love, Oscar. And I couldn’t resist sharing our story with you.

First off, no … we’re not married yet. But we live life committed like we’re married, because in our hearts, that’s the truth. So, if you have five minutes, here’s our story. Because as writers, life’s all about stories. 🙂

MySpace and Some Guy Named ‘Bhatti’

My story with Oscar starts before we actually met, when my friends talked me into joining MySpace (yes, you heard me correctly).

At the time, I was living in a small town away from friends and family, working as a reporter on a small newspaper, struggling with a horrible, unexpected break-up. MySpace, they said, would help me stay connected and vent my frustrations (thus my first introduction to the almighty BLOG).

“I don’t want to connect with anyone I don’t know,” I protested.

To which, they said, “Keep your profile private.”

So I did. And no one bothered me, until a few months later. One day, I logged into my account to find a random message from someone named “Bhatti.”

Hi Shari,

I see on your profile you only want to connect with friends you know, so I hope you don’t mind me contacting you. My name is Mike, and several months ago, you wrote an article for 944 Magazine on my best friend, Brad. Your writing is absolutely amazing and I’d been trying to find you ever since reading that article. My older sister is a writer, so I know good writing when I see it.

–Mike

Curious, I wrote back and quickly discovered Mike attended the same church as several friends, and we knew many of the same people from high school (despite attending different schools). I even befriended Mike’s sister (you may recall her from an older guest post, writing professor Renee Ronika Klug).

Running Shoes and Stuffed Animals

Mike and I had fun hanging out sporadically the next few months. And one day, I received an email from him:

Mike was travelling to a Mexican orphanage with his church, and needed toys or clothes for the children.

Right away, I ran to my closet and gathered every stuffed animal from my old boyfriend, who was now engaged to another girl. I stuffed three garbage bags full of toys, and called Mike. Ridding my home of those stuffed animals felt freeing, and I couldn’t help but smile.

When I followed up with Mike three weeks later about the trip, “You won’t believe this,” he told me. “I sent that email to 300 people, and only two donated. You, and another guy. He gave me his old running shoes.”

Then Mike paused. “Come to think of it … you’re both Jewish, too.”

“Really?” I thought the coincidence was funny.

“Yes, his name is Oscar.”

‘I don’t want to meet any guys.’

I wasted no time telling Mike I had “absolutely no interest” in meeting any guys. I didn’t trust them, and wanted nothing to do with them.

“Not like that,” he said. “You guys are a lot alike and I think you’d make great friends. He went through a break-up only six months ago, too. Trust me, he feels the same way about girls.”

Reluctantly, I told Mike he could give my number to Oscar, but he should wait a few weeks. I was about to leave on vacation for Portland to visit my best friend.

Apparently, Mike listened, because a week after the trip, my phone rang while at work. Rushing to meet a deadline, I sent the call to voice mail, checking it later that evening. And behold, a deep male voice spoke to me from an automated system.

Five Hours on the Phone

I didn’t call Oscar until the next day. And I never expected what happened next. We talked on the phone for five hours!

We had the same sense of humor, liked the same foods, loved the same movies, grew up in the same city. He lived through a similar break-up, around the same time, and even read one of my articles that Mike sent to him.

“You’re such a great writer,” he’d said.

(An interesting note: How ironic that MY WRITING brought us together, first alluring Mike, who connected me to Oscar.)

Oscar and I met in person a week later, when he travelled north to Prescott, Ariz., training for a half marathon. But we didn’t like each other more than friends initially.

Seriously.

It took another six months of friendship before the sparks flew. And it all boiled down to a dinner at Native New Yorker.

That was the first night my core dropped as I watched him walk through that door.

Our simultaneous crushes grew—as did our bond—and on Feb. 24, 2007, we officially started dating. Less than a month later, we took our first trip together, to Guatemala. The rest, as they say, is history …

Happy 5-Year Anniversary Oscar! I Love You!

I’m so glad I was able to shout it from the virtual mountaintop. 🙂

TO MY READERS: Thank you for taking a few minutes to share in this special story and moment with me. I wish I’d had more time this week to develop a truly narrative story, but maybe next time–in a literary magazine!

* I’m still on my blog hiatus, so I’ll see you all again in another few weeks!

Write What You Love & Forget Everything Else

I just finished THE HELP last week. And then I read author Kathryn Stockett’s personal three-page narrative at the end.

And I realized something.

Kathryn didn’t write THE HELP to be a bestseller or a future American classic (which I’m sure it will become). She didn’t write it because she thought it’s what others wanted to read, or what she thought would make a possible award-winning book.

Kathryn wrote it, because the storyline was her life growing up. Her questions. Kathryn wrote THE HELP because she followed her passion. And the result is astounding.

Forget what everyone else says. What do YOU want to write?

Don’t write a story because you think other writers will find it to be literary genius. Don’t write an article because you think it’s what everyone else wants to read.

What are you passionate about?

Because when you write with your heart, with your passion, it shows. I could tell, reading THE HELP, that Kathryn poured her soul into this book, into the characters. I bet she cried writing it. I bet she smirked devilishly plotting it.

And you know what? She inspired me.

Here are just a few other books I’ve read or movies I’ve watched, where I could tell the author/screenwriter wrote with his or her heart:

  • The Kite Runner (book)
  • Great Expectations (book)
  • Almost Famous (movie)
  • Of Mice and Men (book)

If you don’t write what you love, others will know. They won’t feel your story, they won’t empathize with your characters. To them, it will never be real, it will never last.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: What are you passionate about writing? Have you ever caught yourself writing for others, instead of for yourself?