Finding peace the day before the election

Here we are, the day before the election in perhaps the most contentious campaign season in our history. I already voted. I have outlined the reasons I am supporting Hillary Clinton for president in surprisingly civil conversations with Donald Trump supporters, and I have listened to their reasons for voting for Trump. And now I’m looking ahead to tomorrow—and beyond—wondering what direction our country’s voters will take us.

It's hard to find peace anytime, but especially the day before the election. It's time to let go of fear and find compassion. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Also today, I’m traveling for work. I’ll be taking three planes to get me to rural Minnesota, where I’m visiting a Native American reservation and a renewable energy nonprofit. I’ll be sitting next to strangers—our elbows awkwardly bumping each other in the too-small seats, our eyes meeting in commiseration as the airline announces a delay. For a few hours, I’ll share space with strangers who believe we’re stronger together or want to make America great again, with those who are still feeing the Bern or are sitting this election out completely.

Sometimes it feels like we’re all so different.

But beyond trolls’ hateful comments and tweets, beyond the violence that erupts at rallies, beyond people unfriending each other over political posts, we are much the same. Read more

Spook Club Vice President, at your service

Old photo preschooler Catherine Ryan Gregory
Even as a kid, I delighted in an innocent scare.

When I was little, I was fascinated by feeling afraid.

One night, for example, my dad, sister and I walked from his office to his car past the graveyard on the University of Oregon campus. We made up an entire song (“The werewolf is howling, the vampire is prowling, it’s a fu-u-u-ll moon”) that I still hum to myself when I catch a glimpse of a moon anywhere near full.

And we formed the Spook Club, complete with a “secret” set of hand motions that we’d sign to each other with knowing looks and raised eyebrows. We mostly scared ourselves silly by watching black and white horror flicks, along with some movies of questionable suitability for an 8-year-old. I still get chills thinking of the bleak desperation of The Last Man on Earth, in which Vincent Price spends every day hunting vampires. I remember lying awake on my parents’ bedroom floor after the credits finished rolling, thinking that I’d never be able to carry on if I were that utterly alone.

This is a bit strange to be writing after my last post about children’s books to quell childhood fears, but I found myself thinking about Spook Club last night as I was reading before bed. I’m about halfway through The Boy Who Drew Monsters, by Keith Donohue (thanks for the rec, West Metro Mommy!), and I realized I haven’t changed that much since peeking from behind a blanket to watch The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock flicks. Read more

Our favorite children’s books: Books about being afraid

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“Too noisy!”

Peeper’s complaints about noise, and the genuine fear loud sounds inspire in her, continue unabated in these parts, and we’ve learned to adapt. I make cookie dough when she’s asleep. I look ahead to avoid loud things like lawn mowers or steam trains in our path. And we are patient when her conversations repeatedly steer back to the fact that something—a seal, tractor, Jeep—is “too noisy.”

Alas, we haven’t yet found a book that deals with fear of loud sounds, but we like these other books about being afraid. At some point, she might become afraid of the dark, or of getting sucked down the bath drain, or of vampire zombie bats living under the crib. (Who knows? She has a vivid imagination already.)

If your little one is spooked, these books about being afraid might help. At the least, they will say he’s not alone in being afraid.

Read on for a little courage—or at least encouragement!

When your child is scared, books about being afraid can lend a little courage. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more