It is the first of July—half way through 2019. I remember that I and many of my friends were very glad for the end of 2018; it was a hard year of many heavy events and we looked forward to a fresh start, a new year. It’s hard to accept that half of that “new year” is over. What is different? What is new?
In the United States, we are still suffering the same president. Women’s rights over their bodies and reproductive autonomy are still under attack. Immigrants and refugees are subjected to purposefully cruel treatment under the current administration—humanitarianism not a U.S. priority. We are entering another high-stakes election season that is sure to raise all our blood pressure. Not to mention larger global concerns regarding the destruction of our environment and survival of our planet, about which Karen Hernandez recently wrote.
All of this while we also deal with our own personal work, relationships, communities, and day to day responsibilities. We attend to our practical micro concerns always in the midst of overwhelming macro realities. How are you holding up?
This is a good time to do a mid-year check in. What hopes and intentions did you bring to the start of 2019 – do you remember them? And how are you feeling about them now?
I have a mid-semester evaluation I sometimes conduct in my classes—Start, Stop, Continue—in which I ask my students:
- What is one thing you would like us/me to Start doing?
- What is one thing you would like us/me to Stop doing?
- What is one thing you would like us/me to Continue?
Each time I do it I receive solid insight on what is working, what is not working, and what we can do better. So, on this July 1, as we enter the second half of the year, I would like to invite us all to take a little time for some personal reflection.
~ How are things with your soul/spirit/being?
~ Is there anything in particular for which you are longing right now?
~ To what have you been directing your talents and energies? Is there a change you would make to where you are investing these?
~ When thinking about your macro and your micro worlds, how are they intersecting and what would you like to Start, Stop, and Continue?
Grab a pen/pencil and some paper and let yourself free-write on these questions. Just start writing first to see what comes up, then take some time to sit with it and reflect for a bit.
Go ahead, do it now…
For me, I want to Start writing more regularly. I want to practice writing so frequently that I develop a sense of ease and freedom with my own voice. I want a habit of writing that is so ingrained that I never fear the task, regardless of the topic. I will always know I can come back to it the next day and sharpen it some more.
I would like to Stop avoiding politics and instead choose to get involved in the election season by actively contributing to one candidate’s campaign. I want to feel that I am doing something practical, even if small, to impact the macro issues of our country and I can’t do that if I continue to turn away from it. Doing my research early and backing my preferred candidate sooner than later is one productive way to Stop my avoidance.
I want to Continue attending the weekly gatherings of my church community. I travel a lot, but when I don’t, want to continue to invest in one community with which I can feel at home.
With the second half of the year before me, I am tempted to feel like time is running out or, worse, that I have “wasted” the first half of year, not having been as productive as I would have liked. But the truth is that we are here now—we are always just here, now. So let’s take a moment to take our pulse in the here and the now: take in the big-picture view of your national and global context (whichever nation you find yourself within), assess your personal realities and commitments, and think about any new directions or intentions you want to set for your today and your tomorrow.
We are all inextricably connected—what we do down from the micro all the way up to the macro all matters. So how do you want to contribute to our collective whole? And what will you Start, Stop, and Continue?
Xochitl Alvizo, loves all things feminist, womanist, and mujerista. She often finds herself on the boundary of different social and cultural contexts, and works hard to develop her voice and to hear and encourage the voice of others. Her work is inspired by the conviction that all people are inextricably connected and what we do, down to the smallest thing, matters; it makes a difference for good or for ill. She teaches in the area of Women and Religion, and the Philosophy of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality, at California State University, Northridge. Her volume, co-edited with Gina Messina-Dysert, Women Religion Revolution, is available through FSR Books.