I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 22, 2017

O little town of Bellingham

Women's March 21 January 2017
It was a decade ago when I was getting ready to retire from my job of three decades and move to our retirement home. But where? We (my guy and me) were living in Boulder, Colorado, the town I had chosen as my own after not having one to begin with. I moved there in 1976 from California, and I never looked back. It was a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

But my dear husband had moved from San Francisco in 1992 and missed it terribly, so we decided we would move to the west coast when I retired. He was already retired, taking early Social Security as soon as he was able. We took a month-long long road trip in 2005 to discover the places along the coast that we might be interested in, and able to afford, to move to. San Francisco was out of the question because of our limited retirement income.

We discovered Bellingham just by chance. I was on the internet looking at the Chamber of Commerce websites of possible places to visit, moving up the coast from San Francisco to northern California to Oregon, and finally Washington. Bellingham's beautiful bay caught my attention, and its proximity to both the coast and the mountains reminded me of places in California I loved. When we visited in August 2005, we stayed for a week in a motel and I walked to the YMCA and took an aerobics class. It is the same one, with the same instructor, that I still take three times a week.

When we moved here, we thought if we didn't like it, the town is strategically placed so that we could move elsewhere without too much difficulty. But we love it, this town is just right for both of us. I have a community of friends, many of them started from that same class at the Y, and other exercise activities I enjoy. It's been a place that feels like home.

On November 9 last fall, I was really dismayed to learn that Donald Trump would be our next president, as I had hoped to travel to Washington, D.C. to see the first woman president be sworn in. I wasn't all that political, really, until Trump began to disparage people I care about, such as disabled persons, and when that awful tape was released about him groping women and then those who came forward saying he had been doing it for decades. His embrace of Vladimir Putin seemed really dangerous, too. That's when I began to despair, but it seemed obvious to me that he would not be elected. And then he was.

Well, as Obama said, it's not the end of the world, for heaven's sake. Just honor the traditions of our great nation and work for change. But I hadn't held any political conversations with my friends and didn't know for sure whether the vast majority of them felt as I did. As we all know, the world has become so polarized that one can listen to and watch the news and never hear anything contrary to one's current worldview. I felt sad and hopeless, and my sister in Florida, living in Trumpland, was devastated and withdrew from watching anything other than sitcoms and reading her books.

It was a month or so ago that I heard about the protest march in Washington, D.C., that was being organized, to be held the day after Trump's inauguration, as a way to bring us together. The movement states on its website that the election "proved a catalyst for a grassroots movement of women to assert the positive values that the politics of fear denies." Organizers called for people to join them "as part of an international day of action in solidarity" on President Trump's first full day in the Oval Office.

When I learned about the Women's March in Bellingham, I wasn't surprised to learn that many local women were trying to find a way to express our distress about the platform of the new administration, which plans to take away health care from the least able of us, denies that climate change is real, and will close down Planned Parenthood, for one, that supplies health care to low-income women. So I decided that I would march yesterday, in solidarity with other women I know who felt it important to gather in solidarity. I was disgusted to learn about the violent protests in Washington surrounding the inauguration, and I truly hoped nothing awful would happen in my little town of Bellingham.

I was simply overwhelmed at what happened yesterday. As I joined my group of ladies for our Saturday walk, it turned out that almost every one of them would be marching, too, so we planned to walk the few blocks to City Hall, where it would start. Never in the world did I expect so many supportive people to show up. We were probably close to 10,000 strong, in a little town of 85,000 people. I was surrounded by pink pussy hats, signs of all kinds, everywhere, and a feeling of celebration and joy in our numbers. We saw a drone overhead, and the owner has made a short video to show the numbers. Here it is.
And I learned that the numbers of women who marched around the world numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and I saw pictures on the New York Times that confirms that I am not alone in my desire to keep the new administration from taking away liberties that we cherish and hold so dear. But now it's the day after. What now? Yes, I feel better about learning that many of us feel disenfranchised by the election, but what now? I found this very enlightening article from The Guardian, that asks that very question and provides some answers.

In any event, today I am beginning a new chapter in my own life. I've decided to let despair be replaced by action. I'm surrounded by myriad ways to work in my beloved community in the little town of Bellingham and just have to decide which ones to pursue. Today I'll see the movie "Hidden Figures," which is about three African American women (a true story) who made a difference.

And with that, I'm already late in finishing up this post and heading off to the coffee shop to join my dear friends John and Gene. My partner is still asleep next to me, tea gone, and I'm beginning to feel the desire to get up and start my day driving my fingers to find a quick exit. I do hope you have a wonderful week, and until we meet again next Sunday, be well and don't forget to give thanks today for your own wonderful life.


Tabor said...

The Women's march site gives ideas for action. Look at your local politicians and send them letters and cards about your concerns. Call your state and federal folks when a legislative action is at hand. Subscribe to news sources and support journalists. Encourage more women candidates in your area. And, of course, if you can, write checks to groups like ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and money for investigative journalism: http://gijn.org/resources/investigative-journalism-organizations/

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

It is time for women to change the way the world has been. Even Saudi women who are fed up are getting the word out that things must change. The cycle can be changed . The key lies in how we educate the boys. I am glad you joined in and it's great that your town feels like home. Have a wonderful week too.

Linda Reeder said...

You will see from my post today why I marched, what the experience was like for me, and what it did for me personally. What encourages me in the long run is the numbers of young women and men and families who have ben activated by these marches. I don't think they will be staying home and staying silent when the next vote comes along in 2018.

Anonymous said...

There was a march in Hawaii, but I did not participate. I figure that it is only for 4 years, and then he will not be reelected.

Marie Smith said...

You march sounds great. It must have been encouraging to participate. You picked a perfect place to live by the sound of it.

Cynthia said...

My blog today, too, is about marching in the Women's March, ours in Charleston, SC. I hadn't marched in a protest since the 70s and 80s but it was time to start again. Now I'm searching for ways to keep the momentum growing. It's either that or hide in despair for the next four years. I'm glad your experience was moving and worthwhile.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Jan, I'm glad you were able to march and I know you'll find ways to make a difference. Since I couldn't risk the icy streets here, I watched the DC march and some coverage of others, and it was very heartening. I devote some time every day educating myself on a variety of issues and communicating with elected officials...vote for this, don't vote for that, how about standing up and providing some leadership. I'm going to follow the action ideas posted by those who organized the DC march as well; I expect that they will include more diverse issues and perspectives.

MsGraysra said...

How wonderful that you participated in such a wonderful day, one filled with such determination for change. Lots of my family and friends participated in marches, especially in Boston and DC. They all say their lives are changed forever. I wasn't able to go as I am recovering from pneumonia but my heart and spirit were with you all. THANK YOU!! I love your story of how you got to Bellingham!
My sister lives in Boulder....has been there many years and still loves it.
The best to you!! Marcia

Arkansas Patti said...

The women's march world wide was an eye opener. It let us realize that we really do have a voice and can use it. It had to get the attention of the politicians but also of our youngsters. They see their grandmothers, mothers and sisters flexing their influence muscles. The next generation will not stand idly by either. I have faith that we can make a difference in the direction the country goes. I have my representatives on speed dial. Lets go ladies.

Linda Myers said...

Glad you marched! You know my mantra is, "We're all in this together."

Gigi said...

I, too, was dismayed and horrified by the violence that occurred during the inauguration. That was shameful. Even if you don't support the winner, that is no way to behave - it certainly won't change the situation.

The marches were inspiring. I read today that the march in our town resulted in zero arrests. And I haven't heard of any arrests (but I haven't been looking either) at the other marches. THAT is the way to protest - peacefully. I am so happy you were able to march and I know you will find a way to be active in this movement.

Have a wonderful week, DJan!

Elephant's Child said...

I was thrilled to see that the March was international. Over sixty countries, and every continent participated.
We are all in this together. And the sooner we change our mindset to realise that we are (or should be) a world-wide community the better. No more us and them.
Cyber hugs.

Red said...

Marches are good , but what next? I hope that continued pressure can be put on Trump and the Republican senators and congress..

The Furry Gnome said...

Very positive post, andvery positive marches yesterday! And that Guardian article is excellent - and challenging!

Mary said...

I can understand how your sister feels being in Florida also and it is Trumpland for sure. I'm not sure why other than the higher retired population (older folks me included) and religious influence as in most of the Deep South. Luckily I do have a few "enlightened" friends. I'm very impressed by the marches and hope it will do some good . I'll always wonder if Bernie could have beaten Trump. Too bad, we will never know. I hope any damage Trump does can be undone in 4 years but the important thing is in 2 years to vote some of the Repubs out of congress or we'd just have gridlock again..

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I love this post. I think I should have gone downtown to march with the Seattle crowd. I am so with you re the despair ever since November 9th. One of the things that bothers me most about this character the USA has elected is his disregard for truth. One day he says our Intelligence Community is acting like Nazi Germany. A few days later he visits CIA headquarters and tells them he loves them. If BOTH are true that’s down-right scary! Your opening photo is just amazing! I so hope this movement can remain active. My hope is that we can limit this despair to 4 years! (if not less, somehow!) Thank you, as always, for a great Eye on the Edge!

Tom said...

All this time I've been following DJan and I never knew this other "secret" blog existed . . . maybe you keep it low profile b/c you don't want people like me crashing your party, and if that's so, I won't come back, I'll just stick to your other blog. Anyway, I'm impressed by your march, all the marches ... and I saw "Hidden Figures" and recommend it highly.