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We Are All Struggling

Bottom view of winter snowy trees in the blue sky. Frosty branches with hoarfrost twigs in a sunny day.

At least, that is what Twitter tells me. Instagram tells me that we are in this together and with enough inspirational quotes, we’ll get by. And Pinterest offers a multitude of ways in which to craft, project, pinboard, or otherwise organize our way through these times. (I don’t know what Facebook would tell me to do, as I avoid it like the… oh.)

Social media is a dangerous place to get a sense of the collective conscious. Of course, this has always been true, even before mass messages were sent through satellite connections.

But. People are struggling. It is winter in half the world, after all. And it is January everywhere, which comes with expectations to do better. On top of a medical pandemic, we are also awash in a pandemic of attempted authoritarianism driven by greed and fear. Societies are divided. People have died, have become disabled, have lost loved ones, or have lost touch with each other. Many feel as if they have lost touch with themselves. And kids sense and see all of this.

I haven’t written much about our collective struggle; it has been covered ad nauseum. I have not found much useful solace among the shrill pieces of complaint or reflection or advice or finger pointing. The cynicism becomes tiring. The advice feels hollow.

Increasingly, as I seek ways to motivate our family through a space that has seemingly lost all points of reference, I find myself turning to things untouched by our self-inflicted state of messy human existence. Yesterday morning, the nearly full moon was still up and brilliantly shining across a subzero walk. The moon carries on.

On Monday, a Cooper’s hawk silently watched us as we cross-country skied our way around the small lakes.

Last week, I spied a red fox slipping cautiously and gracefully through the woods behind our home. Nature carries on.

The days are slowly getting brighter again.

It is nearly February.

Time carries on. Even when we feel we’ve lost touch with it.

I do not have advice for you, reader. Only empathy and patience, and the sharing of what I’m doing right now. I ask myself on the long days: Have you hugged the kids? Are you hungry? Tired? Cold? What is one small thing you can do right now that brings a sense of comfort or accomplishment or rest?

I am so grateful to be doing this work, to be publishing books like The Struggle Bus (a timely read for us all), and simply to be here. Every day, I remind myself: this is enough.

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A Small Business

Today I approved final files to go on press for our very first book. Then, I sat here alone in my home office, and I let the tears come.

Tears of joy, relief, pride, nerves, gratitude, all of it. Because, as a small business owner, I feel all of it.

It’s fitting that our first book is The Struggle Bus, as we have taken a few rides on it through this process. But, as Julie Koon wrote in that lovely text: “Faster now, the way is clear. You can do it, persevere!”

Launching a publishing company has long been a dream. I still can’t believe it’s becoming a reality. Bootstrapping my way through this effort, in the midst of a pandemic, among the bluster and blur of parenting small children, has been a lot. There are days where it’s been hard and scary and lonely.

And yet. I have never been alone. Instead, I have been reminded over and over again how many wonderful people we have in our lives, people who have cheered on this effort, who have picked me up and dusted me off, who’ve sent me flowers and notes and warm cookies and support beyond what I could have even imagined.

I don’t always feel like I deserve the kindness that’s shown to me. But I do always, always feel overwhelmed by the gratitude I have for everyone who has been in my corner.

My family and I have so many people to thank for helping Kind World Publishing reach this milestone. And we have so many wonderful milestones ahead. For today, I want to pause to both “feel these feelings for a bit,” and to express sincere thanks: to each of you who have read this blog, rallied for our business, and championed our work, I am so excited—and grateful—to have each of you along for this ride.

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What Future Do You See?

I spoke on a panel yesterday about the future of publishing. Some of the theories my co-panelists raised really gave me food for thought, including the prediction that in ten years, publishing as we know it will be gone and instead become a function of all industries (rather than an industry unto itself).

After sitting with that somewhat deflating concept for a bit, I had not quite an epiphany but more so a reminder that the real truth of our futures is this:

We create what we envision.

Nothing we use today, have among us, get frustrated with, are awed by, are reliant upon isn’t something that someone envisioned.

We are not waiting victims of a predetermined future. We are creatures that live in a world and within social constructs that are completely of our own making.

Consider that. Really pause and think about it: for better or worse, our world is one we’ve built. We did not create the planet or its resources. But we’ve used (and abused) those things to build the ways in which we now exist.

And YES. We’ve done so many awful things to ourselves and each other (and the planet) as humans that are unique atrocities to our species. But we’ve also done wonderful things, created solutions to problems, healed, loved, laughed. We are completely capable of envisioning and building a better society for a healthier, happier, more equitable humanity.

How does that relate to the future of publishing? As one of my co-panelists rightfully noted yesterday: we are both the history makers and the storytellers. We are tasked with and privileged with the ability to share pictures of the past and paint possibilities of the future.

In publishing, we are not only creating doors and windows and mirrors by which to better see each other and ourselves; we are holding the crystal ball through which we can see different futures. Be conscientious of what you cast inside it.

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The Relativity of Time and Play

Where does a month go? A day? A year?

Many conversations I’ve had in the past weeks included a discussion of time, and how, in our current state, it seems to have both sped up and slowed down. How the time-space continuum seems to have shifted in pandemic life. How our days blur together, but a single day disappears in a blink.

One of the things I love about children’s play is the suspension of time. They are completely absorbed in the action and their imaginations. Children’s play is often used as the ultimate example of “being in a state of flow.” Reading can create a similar lovely escape.

As adults, how often are we finding anything close to flow? What are we choosing to put into our days (perhaps even passively)? Whom are we permitting to spend our most precious and unquantifiable resource—our minutes here—for us?

As adults, we need to play, and perhaps now more than ever. Not just with the children in our lives, but with our own state of being. Put on your favorite song and dance. Build a tower of some sort, whether with blocks or Legos or playing cards. See if you can still somersault.

Giving yourself permission to play might seem like the absolute most unnecessary thing to do while in survival mode. But play can serve as the pause button so many of us are seeking right now.

(You’ll thank yourself for using that pause button, and the kids in your life will likely notice as well.)

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These are the early days…

Painted Kind World Publishing coaster with a blue and green world Starting a company, it seems, parallels becoming a parent. The excitement, the unknowns, the creation of something that is both yours and not yours, the building and working and waiting and wanting to share your news with the world. Sleepless nights. Unfinished laundry. A thousand dreams and hopes. That’s where we are at Kind World Publishing. As we set forth, I am cognizant in the most wonderful and wistful way that these are the early days. Some day, we’ll look back to now and say “remember when?” But for now, it’s beautiful to be here. Thanks for visiting us.