On being soft in hard times.

Image by Jörg Peter from Pixabay

My friend Tiny lives by a mantra: “Hard as Fuck.” When he sets up his gear to live on the land every summer — his several tents and shade structures, his full kitchen including a gas stove, his tables and chairs and clothesline — he quite literally flies a flag with that phrase. The night we met, he gave me a necklace inscribed with it.

Tiny is one of the most capable people I know. Whether he’s welding, building a fire, or cooking enough to feed a hundred people, he moves with an air…

CW: 2020

We stayed home. We wore masks. At first they were disposable and surgical; we did not expect to need them for long. Then we learned about N95s. We did not buy them because we knew there was a shortage. Some of us bought them anyway. We wiped down surfaces with bleach. We washed vegetables with soap. We bought canned food and too much toilet paper. We made fun of each other for buying too much toilet paper. We realized masks weren’t going anywhere, so we tried to make them fashionable. We developed strong opinions about nose guards and…

They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; I wish I could agree

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They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Resilience is a learned skill, and like any other skill, practice makes perfect. By surviving adversity, you get better at withstanding future hardships. I want to believe this. I have to believe this. I’m a queer Jewish woman, a survivor of sexual assault, and for much of my life I was a starving artist. I have been through so much. After this past year, I can safely say that we have all been through so much. And I’m still here. If you’re reading this, then you are too.

When I think…

2020 did not destroy us. 2021 will not save us. Only we can do that.

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The first time my wife and I separated — before I moved back in, before things fell apart again, before our marriage finally ended — I went to stay with a friend on the opposite side of the city. I would sit out back every night, perched on a step of the classic Chicago wooden staircase, chain smoking Marlboro Lights and talking to myself. I went over our past conversations again and again: the sweet nothings, the terrible accusations, the many, many promises. The names…

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

This article describes the dynamics of abusive relationships and references PTSD. Please be mindful of this, and gentle with yourself, before reading further.

America is in an abusive relationship with Trump. This sound bite has been repeated countless times since Ibram X. Kendi’s article was published in 2019, and the events of this year have brought it into even sharper focus. His gaslighting didn’t just begin in 2020, though; it started long before the 2016 election. The slogan “Make America Great Again” is a perfect example. It’s right up there with “No one will ever love you like I do.”…

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The names in this article have been changed.

The American economy is in trouble. We’re experiencing the worst downturn since the Great Recession. Although the number of applications for unemployment is slowly falling, it’s still at a historic high. Experts fear we’re facing a “jobless recovery,” in which certain industries simply never come back, forcing workers to change careers. This would significantly slow the economic growth we so desperately need.

And the pandemic is far from over. With the colder weather, people are moving their gatherings indoors, and new cases are on the rise. We are apparently facing a choice…

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We are in the middle of a pandemic. People from all walks of life, from the highest government officials to those experiencing poverty, are refusing to wear the masks that would keep us all safe. Protests against police brutality are erupting around the world. The American government is openly using fascist tactics by instituting unconstitutional curfews, sending unmarked vans to capture civilians and hold them without charges, and engaging in voter suppression. Political discourse between the world’s most powerful figures is happening on social media. Reported instances of domestic violence are rising. …

Learn about the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement.

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As the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum, you’re probably asking a lot of new questions. Many allies are wondering where they should donate and how to start learning about racial in/justice. A lot of us are unable to be on the front lines of the protests, and we’re looking for other ways to support systemic change.

I’m using this platform to lift up the voices of some powerful anti-racist thinkers and organizers. …

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You survived sexual assault. You can survive this too.

This article contains a definition of triggers, and detailed descriptions of the process of healing from assault. Please be mindful of this, and gentle with yourself, before reading further.

Life after sexual assault is incomparable to whatever came before. Being denied sovereignty over one’s own body opens the door to a pervasive, insidious fear. If you were once trapped in a dangerous situation, however briefly, how can you trust your own judgement in the future? This kind of trauma never goes away; all you can do is learn to navigate it.

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

Right now all of us are overwhelmed by fear: for our nation, for our planet, for our families, and more. Perhaps the most pervasive fear I’m seeing at the moment, the one that transcends everything from economic status to political belief, is the fear of getting sick. Every time I sneeze, I have a split second of panic. Is this the coronavirus? Is this the beginning of the end? This fear isolates us even more effectively than social distancing. We don’t want to burden each other by talking about it, so we remain silent.

For all their benefits, the overuse…

Hannah Friedman

Writer, Massage Therapist, & Activist.

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