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Sometimes, It’s Like This

Well, hello again. It’s been far too long since I last posted and I’m sorry about that. But here’s the thing:

I needed a break.

I (naively? hopefully?) thought that once He Who Shall Not be Named was out of office and a grown-up was back in charge, things would get better. Less chaotic. Less stressful. More civil. I knew that things wouldn’t go back to “normal.” In fact, I hoped it wouldn’t. I hoped that our leaders would see the cracks in the foundation of our society that, thanks in part to an international health pandemic, had opened up into obvious, deep and gaping crevices. And I hoped they would overcome partisanship and find the wisdom and vision to finally do something about it.

But so far, my hopes have gone mostly unrealized.

At the national level, President Biden is doing his best to keep his campaign promises to right the ship and get us out of this mess. And he’s succeeded on many fronts during the short time he’s been in charge, including digging us out of an economic hole that comes from months of denying there was anything wrong, that this virus would somehow die out, when what “died out” was more than 600,000 Americans and thousands of businesses. But too many Republicans continue to live in fantasy world, where the election was rigged, where Covid, climate change and racism don’t exist, where immigrants are the cause of all our problems and Elvis is alive and well and living on a beach in Jamaica. Which means, we’re only just scratching the surface of what we could achieve, if only we all faced reality.

At the state level, it got worse. We finally had the funds, thanks to Biden, to address many of the challenges facing Wisconsinites. From expanding BadgerCare in order to provide healthcare coverage for those in need, to addressing disparities in maternal and infant health, to fully expanding broadband to all areas of the state, to name just a few. We could’ve finally climbed our way out of the financial hole dug a decade ago by Walker and his GOP colleagues who gutted the education budget with the largest cut in state history, a reduction we’ve never made up. We had the chance to address all of this and more, AND provide a tax cut to middle- and low-income Wisconsinites. Instead, our GOP-controlled legislature cut the average WI home owner’s property tax by $100. In terms of income taxes, 20% of state residents, those in the lowest income group, won’t see any reduction. For the second-lowest-income 20% of the population, the average tax cut will be a whopping $12 a year, and for the middle 20%, about $126 a year. The biggest savings (surprise!) will go to the top two-fifths of the population, with average tax cuts of more than $375 a year at the lower end of that group, up to $2,912 average annual savings to the state’s top 1% of earners.

Really? We had a chance to create real, positive and lasting change, and instead, our GOP legislators’ primary focus was on reducing taxes, benefitting mostly those who make more than $200,000 a year? They’ve squandered what was most likely a once-in-a-generation opportunity for all of us. The governor went along with it, because had he vetoed their budget, Wisconsin would’ve lost millions more in federal funds.

So yeah, I was tired. But unlike people of color who deal with daily racial injustices, or most single parents, or those people suffering from the effects of Covid, as well as so many others who have more reason to be tired than I’ll ever have, I was privileged to be able to mostly take the summer off. I spent hot days reading, gardening, playing with my grandkids and not doing much writing. Sure, I sent an occasional email or made a phone call to leaders who are mostly tone deaf, heartless, and thanks to gerrymandering, safe in their districts. But still.

Are you tired, too? Or are you one of those people who have found the resolve to keep on actively and enthusiastically pushing for positive change? If so, how are you doing it? How are you continuing to engage with people who don’t seem to have common decency, like the people in certain parts of Wisconsin who not only don’t wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid, but who glare at those of us who do? How do you stay positive when common sense has left the building, when holding on to your political position is more important than keeping yourself, your family, and your community safe?

I wish I could say a summer of relaxing, safely socializing and playing has completely renewed me. But I’d be lying. Let me know if and how you’ve cracked that code. Composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein once said, “You become hardened, but you can find that playfulness again.” He cracked the cynicism code for himself by teaching young people about the joy of music. I’m planning to do it by focusing on my fiction writing. I recently made some revisions to the beginning of my novel, which I’ll post in the Books/Coming Soon section of Jillosophy next week. And I plan to repost some of my other short fiction work for those of you who haven’t had a chance to peruse my entire blog (what, are you busy with your own lives or something?). I’d love to hear what you think, good, bad or otherwise.

And if I really get my shit together, I’ll take a few fiction courses this fall/winter, posting whatever stories I write that don’t embarrass me. My hope is that by spending some energy in other areas I’m passionate about, I’ll find the renewal necessary for the advocacy work in which I believe all of us need to engage. That is, unless we want our kids and grandkids to inherit a real mess, which is where I fear we’re headed.

This self-proclaimed eternal optimist isn’t tapping out. I’ll still do what I can, when I can, to fight the good fight. I hope you’ll continue to join me.

“We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible,” James Baldwin once told Margaret Mead during their 1970s conversations about race, “because we are still each other’s only hope.”

You’re my hope. Thanks for reading and for your ongoing support. 

Photo by Massimo Sartirana at


  1. Just what I needed this morning. Good to know others are feeling the same way. We can help each other in getting our energy back.

    • I’m so lucky to have a tribe of people to depend on, which of course, includes you! Here’s to getting our energy back–and to the quick sale of your house as you settle into your new home!

  2. Self-care is incredibly important in doing this work. Self-care may not always rejuvenate us to the level we hope for, but I believe it helps stop the bleeding. Just like when we have an injury, we rest (to stop further damage) but the rest does not “cure” the injury. Time, rehab, building back the core, and luck helps us hopefully get back to the level of functioning we want. Sometimes we also have to find ways to adapt to the decreased functioning that the injury caused. Yes, I’m tired and disheartened when I hear the news about all what is happening in the world. So I try to find where the pockets of joy are to help sustain me. That is not always easy. Volunteering at Next Door Foundation by reading to little kids gives me the hope.

    • I love that, Karen: finding “pockets of joy” to sustain us. I’m on the hunt! Thanks for the great advice and support.

  3. I am painting daily and going pro. Now or never. And, I am feeling a lot better about living in this crazy world.

    • Bravo and congratulations! I have no doubt of your future success, Mary Louise. I’m so happy for you.

  4. You are such a fine and inspiring writer, Jill!

    • And you are a wonderful friend and champion. Thanks, Christy!

  5. My dear dear friend. Thanks for always generosity sharing your thought, ideas and feelings. In essence yourself. Excited for you to spend some time on you and delving into others aspects that make you your amazing self. For me I have consciously decided to come closer to my direct sphere of influence. I’m blessed to be able to do something I love and that is one on one observational coaching. It’s strength based and my role is to shine a light on the individual’s magnificence. To see the remarkable in the routine. It’s amazing when we turn our observer on to share this generously with others. It brings such joy to them. Such awe in who they really are and what they want to contribute. We all have the power the ability to be our amazing self!!! Love you my dear dear friend!

    • Love you, too, my dear, dear friend! So many people have and will benefit from your ability to “shine a light on the individual’s magnificence!” To watch you continue to use your considerable strengths to help others to grow, even through your own adversity, has been a lesson in grace and perseverance. I can’t thank you enough for the lesson, and for your continued love and support!

  6. Thank you Jill. ✍️ And, yes, “we are still each other’s only hope.”

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