Hi, friends! My monthly recaps have been a bit haphazard of late, but you have to start back somewhere, right? And for only 28 days, February sure was full. Here are some of my favorite moments (in no particular order)... What were yours?
#ATL4Muslims/#ATL4Refugees: On the first Saturday of the month, two friends and I took the MARTA train to midtown for an interfaith rally in support of Muslims and refugees. It was a brisk sunny day and I was grateful to be able to show my solidarity with people who contribute so much to our community. It was especially important to me to express this solidarity as a Christian, because I believe that Jesus would value interfaith fellowship and would certainly stand alongside our sisters and brothers who want to come to this country to build better lives.
I'm flying... (flying! flying! flying!): If you know me at all, you know that my church youth group's yearly musical and drama performances were integral to my teenage years, helping me grow in confidence, self-esteem, friendship, and over-memorization of lyrics that I happily/crazily can still recite to this day (did you know that Joseph's coat of many colors was red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach and I could go on but you would start to hate me...?). So it's extra fun to now get to be an audience member, and that was certainly the case for this year's production of Peter Pan. I've known some of these kids since they were toddlers, and what a gift to be able to watch them grow in the same ways I did more than 10 years ago. Plus, we were big fans of the televised Mary Martin Peter Pan when I was a child, so it was fun to revisit those (very stuck-in-your-head-able) songs.
Back to childhood: Speaking of church youth group and growing up and musicals, one of my dear friends came into town and one Sunday afternoon we got to roam around our forever stomping grounds, a.k.a. the church campus and playground, and reminisce like whoa. I'm so thankful for other people who appreciate that time in life as much as I did, and who can still feel the reverberations of it even now. It was a cool feeling to perch on the tire climbing contraption (does it even have a name?) that used to make us feel small and talk about adult life stuff. (I heart you, KTO!)
Room at the Round Table. I'm really thankful to work at a university that has so many opportunities for everyone, not just students, to learn and take part in strengthening the community. One of these is the Round Table, which I think I've mentioned before. About 70 people of different backgrounds gather for a meal and to discuss and share questions on a certain topic. February's topic was (can you guess?) love, and I while I valued having a chance to speak, I felt even more strongly the importance of listening to the others at my table. I could have stayed silent the whole time and still come away so deeply enriched.
Development without displacement. One thing I'll say for the Internet, and Facebook in particular, is that it has made me aware of specific events that I can attend in my area to better educate myself about issues that matter. An example of this is the gentrification teach-in offered by the Atlanta chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) a couple of weeks ago. SURJ Atlanta holds educational events every month, and this was the first one I was able to go to. Along with a basic definition of gentrification (when affluent white people move into historically lower-income neighborhoods populated by people of color, thereby driving up prices for everything, resulting in displacement of longtime residents) and the complex myths surrounding it, we learned about how gentrification has happened in Atlanta specifically--a history that, as a native Atlantan, I'm ashamed to say I knew very little about. We also heard from representatives of two groups currently fighting gentrification in the city: one trying to secure affordable housing around the popular Atlanta BeltLine (where housing prices have skyrocketed), and one trying to work with the Georgia State University development that will take over the old Braves' stadium Turner Field and surrounding neighborhoods. If you're in Atlanta and looking for ways to get involved, I'd suggest SURJ ATL's educational programs; it wasn't intimidating, taught me a lot, and introduced me to concepts and organizations that I hadn't previously been aware of.
Saturday Seminars are the way to go. I spent one rainy Saturday morning with the Decatur Writers Studio at their first "Saturday seminar," which offered two presentations for writers--one on law and copyright presented by Deborah Gonzalez of Letterbox Legal, one on author platform presented by Alison Law. Both interesting, informative, and helpful! In the middle, we got lunch catered by Souper Jenny (yum!) and had time to connect with our fellow local writers. DWS is planning to offer these 3-hour Saturday sessions on different topics every month, and if you're an Atlanta writer, I encourage you to check them out! (I'm already signed up for their March Saturday seminar...)
[Insert your favorite Dowager Countess zinger here.] Because this was the first winter in the history of our entire relationship without Downton Abbey, Sean and I have been rewatching the series from the very beginning (we're about to start season six tonight). With a couple of exceptions (dear Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens, four years later, I'm still mad), I've been reminded how wonderful this show is, and how affectionate I feel towards these characters (in most cases).
Witnessing herstory. On February 8, Emory University, where I work, inaugurated Claire Sterk, its first woman president. I got to attend the inauguration--and bring my grandmother. Nana's presence made it extra special, because she's lived in this area since she was a small child, has a degree from Emory, and, as she told me before the ceremony, has known all of the previous Emory presidents since the 1920s. It was wonderful to be able to share such an historic moment with her.
Coworker bonding. My colleagues and I got away for a daylong team summit at my house--it was so fun to show them our digs, and to talk through our priorities in a less fraught way than we would have in the midst of a crazy day at the office. I'm so grateful for my work people!
At-home massage is the way to go. Because he knows me well, my husband got me a massage gift certificate for Christmas, with the added plus that the wonderful massage therapist, Toni (ATL folks, let me know if you want her info), came to our house. It was so lovely to finish up and not have to drive anywhere, and instead take a hot shower, put on my bathrobe, and curl up on the couch.
Whew! This year is already flying by... can't wait to see what March brings. But first, I'd love to hear your most meaningful bits of February. Lay 'em on me!