Monday, December 21, 2015

Notes from a year named Kindness: Winter Solstice

Here we are on the shortest day of the year, rain falling as it often does for the Solstice in Toronto, and what's trending on Twitter is a hashtag about the people who made 2015 great.

I've had a year-long conversation around the word kindness—giving it and receiving it, realizing that it does cost me something, and understanding that no one is entitled to it. In learning about agency over decisions and care, I've learned a lot about self-care and boundaries. Establishing them, defending them, respecting the ones others establish so they don't have to defend them against me.

I watched other people have this conversation—former colleagues and current friends—and it grew, it expanded into a cultural discussion of how kindness tangles up in privilege. In consent and agency. A lot of us spent this year recalculating the amount of damns we have to allot, and how we conserve them for when we need them most.

The best advice I got remains when someone told me in a job interview that first you take care of yourself, then your loved ones, and your job—whether it's marketing or non-profit or social media or publishing—comes last. Because you can't do it well if you aren't taking care of yourself.

I learned that lesson the hard way, and it meant I have firm boundaries regarding what I won't put up with—and that very little to do with whether or not I can endure it. It has to do with defending the choice not to have to endure it. Because each time one of us chooses, it makes room for the next person. I also learned when and what and whom I make exceptions for.

Life is full of well-meaning bullets and assholes who don't know—or just don't care—they're assholes. But the world is also full of brilliant, caring people—and self-aware assholes—who want to be and do better. What a bunch of hustlers we are; over-extended in our own ways, and all fighting our own battles.

Those are the people who made this year great. The warmest of wishes to those of you who showed up with a smile or a song or a joke, who lent an ear or a hand. To the ones made of swords and fire, and the ones made of feathers and light.

May you have things that fill you up, people who love you, and a safe place to rest when you are weary. It's been a long year, and it's going to a long night. Stay warm; remain bright.

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