I’ve been home alone the past couple of days. Alone, but not lonely. And thinking of what’s next. For me, my blog, and well, not to sound grandiose, for the world. As for me and my blog, I have been wondering how to keep the ball in play. It’s been two weeks since George Floyd was killed. Two weeks of the world’s attention on racial inequality. Of seeing the phrase “Black Lives Matter” everywhere. And as a blogger, and as a white person in Canada, I’ve been wondering what is next for me. Danish blogger and vlogger Signe of Use Less calls it, keeping our foot on the gas.

I mention in the video that I had a long Face Time chat with my friend Frances of Materfamilias Writes yesterday. Wow… we can talk when we get going. And after we’d exhausted the hair and shopping (or not shopping) thing, we began to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and how, as bloggers and as women, we might best participate. Let me say right off the bat, that Frances has been committed to anti-racism for way longer than I have, and I do not want to presume to be speaking for her. Not at all.

I found our discussion very comforting, and her thoughts, as usual, were considered and wise. We discussed the ubiquity of BLM posts lately. The overwhelming avalanche of resources: books to read, advice and admonition, articles to digest, petitions to sign, and organizations to support through donations. But as she said last night, “We both prefer the long read.” Meaning that change takes time and persistence. She compared how social media works to how she would teach a course to her university students, one dealing with social injustice. She’d do a ton of prepping and research, then over a number of weeks introduce students to ideas through lectures and readings and texts, and facilitate discussion and writing in the hope of positive change at the end of the semester. This approach runs so counter to the ‘post and run’ mentality that it’s laughable.

The ‘post and run’ approach achieves nothing but a congratulatory pat on the back from followers who then move on. It reminds me of a famous Robert Frost poem “Out, out-” where a young boy dies in a mill accident. The last lines of which are: “And they, since they/ Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.” These lines always angered students who would rage at the callousness of those who watch the boy die, and then turn away. Of course the title of the poem is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Macbeth, when he learns of the death of his wife and knows his hopes for power and honour are dashed, rants on the brevity and futility of life. “It is a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.”

Okay… now… in case you thought I was waxing English teacher-ish for nothing, I do have a point. I’m not 100% sure these are the best quotes to illustrate that point, I know I’m stretching their meaning, but nevertheless. My point is that if all this energy, all the protesting and posting about the protests is to “signify” anything, we can’t turn away when we get tired, and we will get tired. We have to slow down and play the long game. We can’t rant and run.

On other blogs and in Instagram posts, I’ve seen long lists of commitments made by “influencers.” Some of those lists are very ambitious. And I’ve wondered if many have bitten off more than they will end up chewing. In the Use Less post I mention above, Signe refers readers to this excellent article by Holiday Phillips about the idea of excessively public declarations of support. As Phillips says, “Activism can’t begin and end with a hashtag.” Not that I make any claim, or ever intend to make any claim to the title of activist; I just want to be more informed, and more enlightened.

So to that end, on my blog, I plan to step away from overt participation in anything political, for now. And let my blog chug along as it always has. I’ve been feeling love for the strictly narrative post lately. It seemed the best way to approach the pandemic, and our increasing isolation fatigue. I adore storytelling, as you may have noticed.

And, in the meantime, off the blog, I will commit to reading, and trying to learn more about anti-racism. Trying to finish some of the books that were recommended to me, and then digest what I’ve read. Trying in my own way to keep the ball in play, and my foot on the gas, so to speak. If you’ll excuse the mixing of metaphors. And I’ll check back in with you guys every once in a while about what I’ve read. So we can keep the conversation going.

Of course, some of the stories I’ll be telling on the blog will continue to be about clothes. I said I would show you my new ruched air blouse which I recently ordered from Everlane to wear with my Frame cropped, boot-cut white jeans. I was looking for something a bit boho, unstuctured without being overpoweringly fluffy or too girly. The blouse works perfectly with my white jeans. The puffed sleeves balance off the wider legs of the pants, I think. I sized down and ordered a size 8, and I’m glad I followed the advice in many of the customer reviews on the Everlane website. This blouse will be great in hot weather; it’s feather light. So overall, I’m pleased.

I even tried it on backwards, as you can see below. The slit in the back with the ties reminded me of an older top I once had with the tie in the front.. and you know, I almost like it better backwards. It looks really good with my problematic yellow cropped pants, too. Hurray! Unexpected bonus.

Wearing my new Everlane ruched air blouse backwards. Works both way.
Trying this blouse back to front.

In the same order from Everlane I bought another tee shirt. In white. Yesterday I rooted around in my storage drawers, and found these old cotton drawstring pants, with enormous baggy pockets, bought back in 2014. I love them with the Everlane pocket tee, and my Theory jacket (similar) from last year. The tee is quite boxy and, when partly tucked in, is baggy and casual and perfect with these pants. And with my increasingly fluffy hair. This is what I wore grocery shopping yesterday. Except for my blue mask.

Ready to go grocery shopping in Everlane Box-cut pocket tee, Theory white blazer, and old black cotton pants.
Grocery shopping duds

But new tops are not really what I should be talking about in this post. Let’s come back to the more important topic for the moment, I was happy to see that Prime Minister Trudeau was out in his mask at the Black Lives Matter protest last Friday, here in Ottawa. Police estimated that between 7000 and 10,000 people attended the peaceful march that wended its way through the heart of Ottawa. The turnout was amazing for a city the size of Ottawa, and heartening. I mean despite the protestations of some, we all know in our heart of hearts, that nowhere is exempt from racism. Not Canada, not Denmark, not anywhere.

The photo, below, was taken by a former student of mine, Ian Lockhart. Ian posted pictures of the protest on Instagram and he sent me this shot. I wasn’t surprised at all that he was there. Ian has been a force to be reckoned with since high school, working to mentor younger students and raise awareness about social issues. He’s currently a director of the Ottawa branch of The Knowledge Society, a company that works with young people all over North America helping them fulfill their potential, teaching them to be leaders and innovators. We bumped into each other last year, and I was so pleased to hear what he has been doing. Pleased… but as I said, not surprised.

Last Friday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa
photo courtesy of Ian Lockhart

You know, I have relished the solitude that Hubby’s canoe trip has given me this week. Time for reading and thinking, with no allowance for anyone else’s timetable. I’ve been sleeping late without guilt, still reading and drinking my morning tea in my pyjamas on the deck at 11:00, walking when I want, grocery shopping in the late afternoon, eating at 8:30, and binge watching a recent remake of Howard’s End. Despite all the “isolation” we’ve had, I had no idea how much I needed this alone time. How luxurious it has felt to be alone. How lucky and privileged I am.

So yeah. While Hubby has been away, I’ve been trying to decide how best to keep my foot on the gas, and the ball in play. And not to belabour my mixed metaphors, but I think I’ve tried to keep too many balls in the air with this post. Racism, social responsibility, and a new top? Maybe I bit off more than I can chew in one post today. Maybe I should have gone back and deleted that bit about my new tops.

You think?

Seriously, folks. What DO you think? How might we sustain all this great energy? Suggestions are always welcome. Polite conversation is welcomed, even if we disagree. 🙂

P.S. The clothing links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on my link I will make a commission.


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Mired in the Mud … Thoughts on Poetry and Fiction and War

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I usually write …

52 thoughts on “Keeping the Ball in Play”

  1. Sue, I saw the dust-up over your previous post on Black Lives Matter and understand fully low it would be upsetting and not what this page has ever been about. So I support your decision. It is yours and your right.
    I want only to say that while I recognize how quickly the issue was made political, the issue is first and foremost one of civics and human rights. Also a matter of Christian religion if one reads Christ’s words about the marginalized carefully. But religion is probably another third-rail. My goodness! So many any more.

    All the best in your exploration. Thank you for the list to the Town and Country reading list and for your always interesting and thought provoking work.

    1. I agree. This doesn’t have to be a political discussion at all, or at least along the vein of partisan politics. But I fear that my one post and part of this one are all I have to contribute to the discussion at the moment.

  2. I’ve been inspired by your bravery, and just posted my own thoughts on this topic today. Trying to prepare myself for the can of worms just opened, especially as it will not go down well with particular friends and family…but silence is complicity. I am determined to keep my foot on the gas, AND the ball in play – another queen of mixed metaphor here too!

  3. Love the Everlane top on you and fully support your very well thought out decision regarding your blog. xo

  4. Transplant Barb popping up again. First point: your hair looks GREAT, not what you (or hubby) are used to but great nonetheless. If you decide to keep some or most of that beautiful silver/white, you may need to change your makeup and some of the colors you wear but trust that you know exactly where to find guidance.

    As mentioned when I chimed in last week, I’m Canadian born and my husband British so we look at American politics from a different perspective. Unfortunately, every issue facing this country is political. Civil rights, human rights, health care, gun ownership/control, immigration and now Covid-19 and the wearing of masks. This divide is something that’s developed over the last decade and I pray that it can somehow be mended over the next one. A leader who unites would go a long way towards that goal.

    On a lighter note, enjoy your solitary confinement. My husband use to travel frequently and I always enjoyed a couple of days on my own.

    1. Thanks, Barb. It’s been a challenge finding make-up that doesn’t fade away now that I basically have no colour, or that doesn’t scream overly made up. Still experimenting, though.

  5. I have been lucky enough to work with several of the authors you mentioned including Ibram Kendi when he was in Florida and to a person each would say that there is no one way to to work for social justice and everyone needs time to reflect. This is all really exhausting especially during a pandemic. We need writers, teachers, bloggers, those who can manage to put together peaceful demonstrations and people who simply supply water and food or remind us that it’s okay to have fun with clothes.

    1. Thanks you so much, Lynn. I must admit that I’ve been fussing over this post all morning. I awoke this morning having decided to delete all the bits about clothes, as too glib. As I mentioned to a friend in an e-mail, like everyone else in my family my default is to end a serious discussion with a joke, or talk about shopping. I guess we’re uncomfortable sounding too serious. But since readers had already commented on the post, I decided to leave it. Thanks for making me feel a little less queasy about that.

    2. I’ll second what Lynn says. We all have different roles to play and different skills to offer — but we can’t contribute to the work without looking after ourselves. Part of that self-care is pursuing interests and activities that relax and replenish and please us. Your story-telling and the ways you use clothes to express yourself not only please you but offer enjoyment and respite to your many readers. xo
      (and p.s. thanks for the shout-out; That was a great chat!)

  6. Have a feeling your post resonates with many of us–how to be thoughtful, reasonable, engaged while figuring out how to make change sustainable. Think you are fortunate to have on-going conversations with someone like Frances who has actively educated herself (and others) on racism. Those kind of thought-provoking conversations and your/our efforts to continually challenge assumptions about racism are necessary components to ensure a lasting change.
    Frances talked in a recent post about listening in this moment. Taking in information, giving it quiet thought–then direction. Sometimes that is the best thing we can do. Not silence as complicity, but active listening to the voices who need to be heard. It reminds me about being asked for parenting advice. My response is always that the best gift you can give any child is to listen to them–their joy, their sadness, their hopes, their dreams. Time for us to listen. Then act. Think Frances has the right message and clearly one you are embracing, too.

  7. I really like that quote: ‘We both prefer the long read.’ Both as a reminder of who I have been and, in this time of staccato news, to reclaim that commitment. Thank you for sharing that glimpse of your conversation. As for mixing political commitment and closet considerations — maybe that’s part of the point. The need to self-educate and strive for social justice isn’t meant to be bright-lined away from the rest of who we are and what we do but integrated into and enriching our whole life.

  8. Thanks for this post. I posted a recipe on my blog yesterday and received so many horrible comments telling me how insensitive I was, that I am taking a few days off to regroup before posting anything again.

  9. Sue, what a well thought out post. Our world is turning on it’s axis, and maybe it’s a good thing. People are thinking, and discussing subjects that a month ago would not have crossed their minds.
    Yes we still need to speak of clothes as well as social issues, because that’s who we are,
    Hope Stu is home and showered, with tales of adventure.

    1. Thanks for that Ali. St is home, and showered, and wrapping a fish for freezing. 🙂 He always brings one fish home to freeze and smoke in the fall.

  10. Thank you for your thoughtful post (I would expect nothing less from you!). I totally agree with the “long read” comment. Very difficult time. Hard to know how to best help from my place of privilege but plan on reading, educating and doing everything I can to be an ally and supporter. We need all voices if this will really stick and I very much appreciate yours.

    1. Thank you so much, Beth. As long as the voices don’t die out, that’s the main thing. We don’t have to be protesting every day. The real work takes place off screen.

  11. I appreciate your thoughts and blog. It’s ok to address more than one topic. It’s you and it feels authentic to me. You must be able to express yourself. It’s your blog. And I love the idea of the long road, what’s important is what we do six months from now and a year from now. It’s more than a hashtag.

  12. I’m an avid reader though I rarely comment. I appreciate your thoughtful and beautifully written posts during these difficult weeks. I’m hopeful the sustained protests can lead to real change here in the US and portends the end of the trump presidency. And yet, as shallow as this sounds, what compelled me to comment is your hair. Let it go white! It brightens your face more than any boxed color does and if you don’t like it you can always go back to coloring it. My mother recently let her hair go white (same shade as yours) and it’s so stunning that I’m now doing the same and looking for a new red lipstick to go with it.

    1. No one is more surprised about my hair than I am. But don’t let Carmen hear you say “boxed colour.” 🙂 She and I will have a consult about how I can let some white show without going whole hog which I don’t think I’m ready for just yet. So much angsting over a little thing like hair colour, eh? I need to get a life. Ha.

  13. I watched Howard’s End too 😊. Sometimes, talking about a bit of everything is one of the best ways to communicate, relaxing and fun, just like sitting in two comfy chairs with an old friend, face to face, talking about everything about nothing significant, just happy being there and talking. At least I think so. Oh, how I miss that feeling.
    Hi, Susie, greetings from Calgary. As always, love your blog. 🌹

    1. I loved Howard’s End. I think I preferred it to the movie that came out in the eighties. I miss that face to face, settling in for a long chat too. Zoom and Facetime just don’t cut it for me. Hope everyone is well out there. That my brother is not driving you up the wall. Ha. And that Ashley’s grad can happen in one form or other. xoxo

  14. I agree that we need to make working toward this goal part of our every day lives. I have, for many years, been an ally and advocate for the LGBTQI+ Community. For many years I was quite visible in my advocacy, especially in my faith community. Social justice has always been very important to me. Now I am realizing that I should have been learning, studying, working and advocating in many other areas of human rights. One way is how we live our lives and speak out when we should. I cringe at the times I should have said something, but just let it pass. I have spoken out many times, but not enough. I appreciate your thoughtful discussion and opening your comments for conversation.
    I also, like your new top and jeans. We need clothes talk! And, your appreciation of your alone time. My husband and I get along very well, but I have been quite grumpy lately, and I think I need some alone time. Peace and love and light.

    1. Thanks, Liz. Good for you to have been an LGBTQ advocate. A friend and I were chatting yesterday about how the last few weeks have highlighted our own inadequacies, and spurred us on to do better.

  15. As my husband is fond of saying, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” In order to have energy for the long haul, we have to conserve and use it wisely. I think it’s a good thing that people have been speaking out in solidarity, as it raises awareness and builds momentum, but a marathon isn’t won in the first mile.

    The top looks great with those white jeans and black sandals. It’s a timeless look, and reminds me a bit of Jackie O. in Capri (?)

    1. Thanks, Sue. That’s what another blogger said as well, marathon not a sprint. Good metaphor. Wish I were as trim and lean as Jackie was back in her Capri days. 🙂

  16. I agree with so much of what you’ve said today, Sue. I also love your new tops and I agree with those who’ve said that your hair looks a lot better than you seem to think it does. I do disagree, however, with Prime Minister Trudeau participating in the protest. At any other time in history, I would have been all for it, but because he and the other protesters clearly weren’t social distancing, I think it sent a very contradictory message to the Canadian population. How are people who are not allowed to visit their elderly family members in care facilities, those who’ve lost a loved one and not been able to hold a proper funeral, graduates who haven’t been able to celebrate this special milestone in their lives, and so on, supposed to respect a leader who tells them that these measures are necessary but then very publicly goes against the very recommendations that he has been espousing?

    1. I hear you, Elaine. It was a tough choice, I think. Two very important issues and people looking for leadership on both. I’m not sure what I would have done in his place.

  17. Mary Lou Hartman

    I appreciate your insight and agree with your post. Thank you for the effort you put into your posts. I like your new top and am glad that you included style and hair in your blog. I also understand your need to be alone- Mary Lou

  18. I am writing from Macas, a city of 30 thousand in the Amazon area of Ecuador. We are 6-7 hours from any of the major cities. It is not a high-fashion mecca nor a place of major experimentation in styles of any sort. More like “monkey see, monkey do.”

    I have had a lot of time to reflect and observe even though I have only been out of the house four times. Zoom meetings bring familiar faces into my office and I have been watching and chuckling about the hair developments week by week. I have salt and pepper hair. A very uncommon thing to see. In a room of 120 people I am likely to be the only one. Women (and a lot of men) have always maintained a coloring regimen because grey hair is anathema. In this present situation hair salons are closed. So there is almost two inches of natural color blooming on every head. Pure white in most cases.

    Would I be able to convince these friends of how flattering it is? How their brown eyes just pop? That the harshness of coal black hair ages them far more than the white hair does? I won’t attempt to do it, but I would like to.

    Sue, your white hair around your face is so pretty. It is a flattering contrast with your young face. That’s why it would be even more striking if you let it come in totally. You would wear white even better than you already do and probably more color options would open up to play with. (The clue to me is that you can carry off high contrast outfits. The black and white combo, for example.) Seems to me your makeup would need to be bumped up a bit.

    I doubt your hair dresser would agree and at first, maybe not your husband. But, if you test it out, given time, who knows?

    1. My mum has been chuckling and commenting to me on the phone of the changing hair of all the female newscasters she sees on television. She hasn’t been on my blog for some time. So I told her yesterday to have a look at my recent post but to brace herself first. Ha. I’ve been experimenting with my make-up. wearing a bit darker lipstick etc. I’ve actually quite enjoyed the whole process.
      P.S. I remember your writing a comment when Hubby and I were off to South America in 2017 with very good advice. Especially about car sickness, and toileting issues. We took both on board. And I remember on one stop in Peru handing sanitary wipes out to other travellers. So they thank you too. 🙂

  19. Hi Sue,
    This would have been a very reflective week for you and I look forward to you reporting back to us on the books you have read.

    Now on to your hair. I agree with all the comments on how pretty and flattering your natural colour is. I used to get streaks in my hair when I was younger. Do you remember those caps they put on your head, then pulled the hair through to apply colour? In my mid 30s, my Stylist said he thought my hair was turning the colour of my streaks which were white. He suggested I let my hair go natural which I did. He is of the opinion and I would agree that if the cut is modern and edgy the colour will not age a person. I am now 66 and have a very stylish pixie, well it was a stylish pixie back in February but the cut has held up well. As I aged and my brows turned white and became sparse, I wrestled with the lack of colour on my face so had my brows micro-bladed. It was the best beauty treatment I ever gave myself. It will be fun to see what you end up doing with your hair.

    I hope Stu had a wonderful trip!


    1. I agree that white or grey hair needs an edgy cut. One of my sisters has all grey hair now with a pixie cut. She was a very dark brunette with dark brown eyes and it looks great on her.

  20. Sue,
    The long read is a great metaphor for the direction I wish more people would take as the world confronts these difficult issues. Measured and thoughtful approaches are necessary for any real and lasting change to occur. It can’t and won’t happen overnight. As you say, the immediate gratification that comes from social medium posts and hashtags makes people feel good in a moment. The real work for change takes time, hard work, compromise and most importantly, understanding from both sides.

    I appreciate and support your decision to keep the political off your blog. Your posts are joys to read. They let me escape a little from my real life. I hope you continue to let us peek in your closet and follow you around both at home and in the larger world.

    BTW, the hair and the top are great.


    1. Thanks so much, Lorrie. I will certainly continue with the more light-hearted posts. They help me stave off worry about the world as well.

  21. I’ve been reading your blog for years but haven’t commented before. Thanks for your thoughtful writing about the state of our world; your comments about ‘post and run’ made me think of a term I just learned: virtue signaling. I had to Google it, and it refers to the urge to establish oneself on the ‘right’ side via social media–it meets an emotional need but doesn’t do much in practical terms. More food for thought.
    Your white hair looks fabulous! Authentic, and elegant. I’d keep it.

    1. Thanks, Barbara. I am really torn about what to do with my hair. I know the answer will be revealed to me when I need to make a decision. 🙂
      P.S. I recently saw that term “virtue signalling” as well. Some people have been vicious on social media to those who don’t send the right signals, or say them the wrong way. Makes one want to keep their head down.

  22. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this calm, thoughtful and wise post. It is increasingly difficult to express any thoughts that veer outside of the party line these days without being pilloried. Your post made me think and gave me excellent ideas of how I can move forward in the long run. Those are the keys words, aren’t they? – “in the long run.” Reading your thoughtful post today was such a balm after listening to and reading bombastic rhetoric. We all have stories to tell and we can all learn from each other’s stories (and I love reading your stories!) Please continue to write here – I so look forward to your honestly, humor, kindness and generosity in sharing your story with us. Also, your hair looks great! (How’s that for a non sequitur?) And please don’t stop writing about fashion! Fashion and clothing are not frivolous, especially now. They are life-affirming and fun. So there, Red Guard!

  23. I really enjoy all your posts Sue. The variety of topics in this post was delightful. Alone time is wonderful – I’m the same as you I love my books. I also love clothes and look forward to when I retire and can wear what I want when I want. I’m a nurse so I live in uniforms a good amount of time. About your hair – I think it looks great. Love the lighter colour.

    1. Thanks, Dawn. I think that a few days of alone time is so helpful for me. And Hubby and I are happy to see each other again, and have something new to talk about. 🙂

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