Back in 1999, I took a wonderful online class on grief counseling. I learned about different ways different cultures deal with grief and about complications surrounding grief. The thing I remember most is the importance of being with people who are grieving so they can work through their grief in ways that fit their situation. One line sticks with me, many years afterwards, “Bring donuts”. It is a simple way of saying, I care, I’m here to help in whatever way you need.
Today, the Dunkin Donuts in Middletown does not have any donuts. Staff didn’t make it in on time to make donuts, so my co-workers brought me muffins instead.
I arrived at work early today, so I could help with the emergency communications following Hurricane Sandy. The power was out at our house and many of the roads in Woodbridge were blocked by downed trees so I took a circuitous route.
At work, I spoke with other members of the technology and communications teams about which sites would be opening when and how best to get the message out. Then, I got a message from my sister via Facebook. She knows that Facebook is normally one of the quickest and easiest ways to get in touch with me. She asked me to call immediately.
From her, I learned that my mother died last night in a car accident. My sister was very shaken. For me, the initial shock moved to numbness. I told my coworkers and started contacting friends and family.
Perhaps some of the way I process grief is by staying calm and doing the tasks at hand. I’ve stayed at work, hoping that power will get restored soon, and doing what I can from here. I’ve spoken with many friends who are being very supportive, and I greatly appreciate it. We all have different ways of dealing with grief and my calm quietness is part of how I am dealing with grief right now.
Another part of how I deal with grief is to write. I love to write and it helps me deal with these deep feelings. Do not be surprised if I write several blog posts along these lines. Later, when I’m ready, I hope to write memories of my mother.
Over the coming days, I will do what I can for my job, for my campaign, for my family, and for myself. Thank you to everyone who has expressed condolences.
It is a beautiful autumnal evening and a great night to watch for shooting stars. The annual Orionid meteor show peaks this evening. I love meteor showers and often stay up to watch them. I've thought about what to wish on a shooting star this evening, perhaps something about the election, but then, I thought back to the story of the Orionid meteor showers.
They are formed from the dust that Halley's Comet left in its wake the last time it passed by in 1986. This summer, at Falcon Ridge, I heard a great band called Gathering time. Their song, Halley's Comet, was one of my favorites.
It was 1985, when Halley's comet came in view
and if I didn't see it then, it'd be a long, long wait I knew,
I lived in a college town where street lights made stars hard to see
To see it well, I'd have to walk
Unto the school observatory
Though it was often on my mind,
I somehow never found the time
and it had all but vanished when
I knew I'd missed my chances then…
The song goes on to talk about living in Brooklyn, and missing chances to visit the World Trade Center or reconnect with a friend who died on 9/11.
It is a beautiful song about missed opportunities, and a reminder to seize the day.
Halley's comet won't be back until I am over 100, but every year, we get the opportunity to catch glimpses of its remnant streaking across the sky in the Orionid Meteor Showers.
Will I see shooting stars tonight? if so, will my wishes on shooting stars come to pass? I'll need to seize the day, and try to make my dreams come true.
As I pulled onto the Wilbur Cross Parkway in New Haven, I looked up the road towards the Heroes Tunnel. On the New Haven side, all was grey, shrouded in an early morning autumnal fog. You couldn't even see the trees that surround the tunnel entrance. Yet looking down the parkway, through the tunnel, I could se bright yellow light at the other end. It was striking, not only for its beauty but as a highly cliched metaphor;the light at the end of the tunnel.
When I emerged on the other side, the sun was out, illuminating the brightly colored leaves which had recently changed color. Thin wisps of fog were threaded amongst the trees; a gentle reminder of the grey behind. If I had read the description in a novel, it would have seemed contrived, but here, it was beautiful. I thought of what's been going on in my own life. What is the light at the end of the tunnel for me, right now? Is it election day? Am I riding from a foggy present into a bright sunny future? What of the autumn leaves? They are both beautiful, but also harbingers of the coming winter. I'm sure that political soothsayers can find plenty of omens for me.
My thoughts drifted to church yesterday. During the sermon, the priest spoke about becoming like a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. She spoke about how the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Then, she told a story about her daughter, waking up with song to celebrate the refracted light on her ceiling which she saw as a glorious rainbow.
The thought stayed with me as I drove to work, keeping my eyes open for the beauty around us, that we too often miss. There is less than a month until election day. It will be an incredibly busy month, but hopefully, I can keep an eye out for the beauty along the way.
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. October roles around, the first full month of Autumn. It is dark when I get up, except for the lingering light of the setting harvest moon. I've often wondered if I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is harder for me to get going during these shorter days. At work, I have a light that Kim got me last year to get more simulated daylight.
Work continues along an even course, but all my free time is getting sucked up with the election. There are roughly fifteen thousand voters in my district. Slowly, surely, I've been contacting as many as possible. Perhaps not as many as I would like, or as others would like, but I'm making progress, and the words of one friend stay with me. Elections are not sprints, they are marathons. I've built a solid foundation for my campaign. I've hit my stride. Now, just to keep the pace for the final month.
Besides voter contact, I've been working on refining my policy positions. One thing comes back to me from my years of writing, show, don't tell. At back to school night for Fiona, the teacher spoke about trying to get the kids to incorporate this concept into their writing. I've been thinking about it in policies as well.
How do I help connect people back to their community and to their government? By connecting more with voters, the community and the government. I try to keep this in mind as I attend events and meet voters personally. How do I address education reform? Perhaps an important part of this is to nurture my own love of learning.
Last night, I spoke with Fiona on her radio show about reading books on smartphones. She enjoys reading various books on her phone and I suggested tweaking it so she can get books out of the library or from project Gutenberg. I spent a little time getting some books onto my phone as well. Reading Margaret Fuller's Memoir may be more helpful in forming policy positions than reading many papers from various organizations.
Fuller is an interesting character and I'm enjoying reading her writing. She was part of the circle of Transcendentalists in Massachusetts during the mid nineteenth century. Here story and writing ads an interesting layer to the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. I would love to see explorations into politics, religion, literature, the arts and civic life that we saw from the Transcendentalists, perhaps with a touch of the Great Awakenings of the preceding years. Somehow, the political landscape today seems so far from this.
But the early morning hours are slipping away. It is time to get ready for another day and another month. Although it is not part of the great intellectual milieu of the nineteenth century, the old childhood invocation, Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, harkens back to a time that perhaps, wasn't really all that much simpler, but still holds great appeal. May the month be lucky for all of us.
It is a beautiful fall morning. I've been up, mowing the lawn, getting various tasks done. Last night, I went to the Amity football game. Kim went to Amity years ago, and Fiona will most likely be going there in a few years. We thought it would be a fun family event, as well as another good opportunity to meet voters from Woodbridge and Orange.
As I arrived, I ran into another candidate, whom I created warmly, only to be rebuffed with a comment about how they were at the game with their family, and not to campaign. It brought me back to an old union chant I learned many years ago, "Our life is more than our work, and our work is more than our job." I can understand the desire to be just a regular person, not a candidate in the spotlight. Yet, perhaps, that is part of what is wrong with politics today. We compartmentalize our lives and our interactions. Our lives are more than our work, but too often there is too little overlap between the too.
We elect representatives, less to represent us, and more to handle and compartmentalize the political parts of our lives.
We need to change this. We elected officials whose lives, life work, and jobs overlap greatly. I was glad to be at the football game, both as part of a family and community experience,as well as part of a political campaign.
The same applies to my work. I could be ready all of the policy briefs and questionnaires I get in the mail, and I do try to pay as much attention to them as possible. However, perhaps policy is better understood trying to live it.
Friday started off with Run at Work day. It was sponsored by the Road Runners Club of America and the Community Health Center, where I work, encouraged employees to get out and run as part of the employee wellness program. I went out and ran. Not very far and not very fast. I'm not in the best of shape, and wellness programs are important for employees like me. It was great to see so many co-workers join in and I'm sure there are policy lessons for everyone in the experience.
This was followed by a trip to the Connecticut State Veteran's Home. CHC sent around 50 people to help with Stand Down, an opportunity to provide important services to Connecticut Veterans. There were long lines as veterans received free dental checkups, help with housing, work, legal and other issues. On the one hand, it was great to see so many people working together to help out as many veterans as possible. Yet on the other hand, it was very sad to see so many veterans in need of help. I wish more people would take the time to speak with the veterans at events like this, for whom the safety net is so important, instead of making political speeches at conventions that many of the vets I saw yesterday could probably never make it to. I suspect many of the vets in Rocky Hill yesterday are part of the 47% that we owe a great debt to.
So now, it is time to return to mowing my lawn, and perhaps doing a few other family tasks before I return to some of the more traditional campaign activities.
I hope each of you find ways to better align your jobs with your true life work, and your true life work with the rest of your lives.