Checking In: Big Tower Energy

Hello, dear readers. 

You may have noticed I’ve missed a couple of weeks of my regularly scheduled Monday blog posts. At the risk of sounding like I’m making excuses, I want to be frank about why. It boils down to:  
1) I have not known what to say
2) I have not been practicing good self-care
Right now, we are moving through a year of massive turmoil and change. We are in the midst of a pandemic, and a massive conversation around policing and systemic racism in this country.
We are, to put it in Tarot terms, in a year with Big Tower Energy. For those who aren’t familiar with the Tarot, the Tower is, in my opinion, one of the scariest cards you can pull in a spread. Yes, scarier than Death. It looks like this: 
The Tower from the Starchild Tarot
In the traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck, this card depicts a tower being struck by lighting, causing it to collapse. The Tower, in my reading of it, represents swift and sudden change, often brought about by a particular inciting event.
Each year, I like to do a New Year spread asking what I can expect of the year to come. 2019 was a big Tower year for me in many ways as I struggled with the sudden onset of a chronic pain condition and had to relearn my relationship to my body.
So, when I pulled the Tower for my 2020 spread, I actually said aloud, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” 
In early February, when my department at work went through a sudden restructure, I thought “ah, there’s that Tower energy” and assumed the rest of the year would be smooth sailing once the dust settled. 
When the pandemic started and many ended up without jobs or working from home, I thought “Ah, there’s the Tower energy” and figured surely that was enough change for one calendar year. 
And now, as protests against police brutality and systemic racism sweep the entire globe and we begin to see real conversations around defunding the police and re-allocating budgets, I think “Okay, this whole damn year is the Tower energy.” 
The Tower in the Tarot of the Cat People
Watching all this change unfold, I’ve been trying to make sure I form informed opinions by listening to the voices of those who are most affected by the issues at play. It’s uncomfortable to realize you’ve been ignorant in a lot of ways, and I have been working through that discomfort in an effort to embrace learning and changing my opinions and actions based on new information. 
After all, if it isn’t authentic growth we’re seeking through self-care, what is it that we’re after? 
This effort to become more plugged in means that while I’ve been doing a lot of reading and journaling, I’ve also been doing a lot of doom scrolling and consuming images of violence, anger, and fear. 
Anger is an emotion with which I have a challenging relationship. I will let myself feel almost anything before I will let myself be angry, and so I often struggle with processing other people’s anger when I see or encounter it. I also have almost no coping mechanisms for my own anger, which can be pretty intense once it finally breaks through the surface. 
A piece of advice I repeat often is “you can’t serve from an empty cup.” I am aware that certain forms of scrolling through, say, the comments section that erupted into white supremacist trolling during a panel about inclusivity in the running community, is not going to fill my cup. It is also not productive. 
It is important, yes, to be aware that this kind of blatant hatred and racism exists. But just seeing those comments doesn’t do much to combat the systems and structures in place that make people feel safe using language of hate. 
It just makes me angry. And then, because I don’t know what to do with anger, it makes me sad. 
I am increasingly aware of what a privilege it has been to only think about systemic racism, inequality, and microaggressions when they trend in the news after a major event. I don’t want to let myself slip back into the ease of just being a nice white lady, and yet… depressed me mostly has the energy to take naps, which isn’t exactly helping anyone, either.
This is where my mind has been, and it has been difficult to write anything I consider publishable from this space. 
I spent a few hours last Monday researching cultural appropriation and lack of diversity in the so-called self-care community, and before I finished the post and hit publish, I had to pause and ask myself whether I had the authority or the knowledge to write on these issues. Whether mine was the voice we needed to hear. Whether this information, coming from me, would feel authentic. 
I am deeply aware of and working through my history of online silence on issues that do not directly affect my own identities, but resisting the impulse to post or write things just because I want to be seen as doing the “right” thing. It is, I think, more important to actually do the right thing. 
When it comes to this blog, I am still unsure how to be a better ally in my content. I know running has a whiteness problem. I’ve been at the starting line of races. I’m aware that every yoga class I’ve taken has been comprised almost entirely of white women. 
Even when the folks creating content or starting running clubs or opening yoga studios have good intentions, we can often be blind to the privileges we take for granted and therefore fail to consider what about our spaces or out content might be sending messages of “you are not welcome here” to people who look or love or believe differently from us. 
I am still learning how to speak and write thoughtfully and lovingly about the things that fuel me–yoga, running, baking bread. I have gotten it wrong before. I will get it wrong again. 
All I can hope to do, all any of us can hope to do, is learn to have grace when I am corrected. To see this as that person’s investment in me as a human being, their belief that I am someone who is capable of growth. 
This past week I’ve tried to get back to the practices that fuel me. I’m trying to balance staying informed and taking action with going down rabbit holes that lead me to despair. Hopefully that means I’ll have the energy to return to writing a more mindful version of my usual blog content soon. 
Got back to baking bread this week, for instance
As I train for my Global Sports Bra Squad Day 5k, I am also training myself to recognize implicit biases, to understand systemic racism, to be a better ally to my BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ friends and colleagues and fellow human beings. I hope I will learn how to speak about these efforts in a way that feels authentic and useful. 
What I know from the Tarot is this: after the Tower, comes the Star. 
The Tower is the toppling of former structures, systems, beliefs. The Star is a symbol of hope, renewal, healing. To get to this sense of healing and calm, sometimes the barriers we’ve previously held dear as security have to be smashed wide open. 
Nobody ever said change was fun, or easy, or could happen without some discomfort. Just because something has always been this way doesn’t mean this is how it should be, the Tower reminds. Sometimes what comes after can be even better. 
There’s some hope in the Tower, even as moving through it is terrifying and draining and difficult. May we hold onto that and let it guide our way as we work to be better.