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waking up

2019 September 18
by Rachel Turiel

While I was making plans (i.e fiercely procrastinating) to find a ladder, climb the ladder and pick all the out-of-reach chokecherries, the robins came and stripped our tree bare.

I think there’s a lesson here, which is something like: if you want something, go out and make that shit happen. I have enough self-manufactured resistance (love affair with my comfort zone, self-doubt, not wanting to risk my belonging) that keeps me on the proverbial couch, and all that couch-comfort is actually getting quite uncomfortable.

I’ve been super inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-yr old climate activist, who says “Everyone says climate change is the greatest existential threat and the most important issue of all and then they just carry on like before.”

I’ve been thinking about what makes us “just carry on like before,” see: love affair with our comfort zone, self-doubt, not wanting to risk our belonging. And I’ve been wondering what our human lives would look like if we all woke up to our collective societal illusions: that we are forever, hopelessly deficient without some new product; that our belonging is contingent on fitting in; that we can avoid pain by acquiring more stuff; that being liked = being accommodating.

As my dear teacher Miki Kashtan says, “Capitalism wants us to solve non-material needs (belonging, freedom, connection, purpose, play…) with material goods.” I’m kind of wondering what we’d find if we stopped looking for love, meaning and excitement at say, Target? Or, if we stopped suppressing parts of ourselves to fit in? Maybe we’d stop “carrying on like before.” Maybe this world would look different. Maybe things would start getting really fun and interesting. It’s possible we’d find that we need less shoes. This is liberation, not deprivation.

This is the good news, really. I am going to hoist myself off the couch, with all my awkwardness and self-doubt. There’s work to be done. And also laundry. I’ll go to the Citizens Climate Lobby meeting tonight and then come home and watch Strangers Things with the kids; go to my White Women Waking up to Whiteness group and then come home and cry because my dog is a total project. I think there’s room for all of it. No one has to do it perfectly; but never doubt that your voice and effort matters.


:: Dan and I snuck off for some amazing backpacking trips this summer.

My kind of trip, drinking wine in a can by the fire: (you know there’s a book in my pack. This one, actually. Hard cover).

Dan’s kind of trip, keeping tabs on the big bulls:


Total amazement, finding this (and leaving it):

:: Dan made a big ass drum out of rawhide that he made out of elk skin:

:: Dan driving to hunting camp with fresh willow to make a sweat lodge with his Diné buddy:

:: From the dep’t of The Kids are Alright: Col hung out with a friend who he hadn’t played with in over a year. During that time, unbeknownst to Col, the friend’s sister transitioned from female to male. “How’d you figure that out?” I asked Col. “Oh, ‘cuz my friend referred to his sibling with a boy’s name now,” he shrugged.

:: I am trying to convince Col to create a zine (which he thinks is some unhip throwback–wait, is it?–because you can’t find it on YouTube, and because it’s my idea) in which he draws and narrates life from a teenage perspective. Like, how his mom always manages to, when referring to future romantic partners, say: “your future girlfriend, or boyfriend, or you know, both or either, it doesn’t matter to us…” to which he interrupts and says, “MOM, I know. And this is awkward.”

:: I’ve read some excellent books lately. You will cry through the first 50 pages of this wrenching and beautiful memoir, but it’s totally worth it. Both of these books invite and challenge white people to see the racism that we absorb by virtue of growing up in a systemically racist society (which white folks can choose to ignore, at high cost to POC and our very hearts and souls). Lemony Snicket for adults: odd plot, but breathtaking writing.

:: And, I’ve written some things. This piece for High Country News on wanting your children to feel life’s aliveness calling to them, except it’s the Dollar Store they hear. And some food related stuff (with underlying messages and recipes), herehere, here and here .

:: New class offering for locals: Connected Parenting: the revolution starts at home (Class info here; join us!) 4 Wednesdays, starting 9/25, 5:30 – 7:30 at Manna Soup Kitchen upstairs conference room.

I am the worst at promoting my work (and thank you HEAPS to all the folks who’ve shared my classes), but I want to say this: listening to and respecting children as full human beings promotes trust between parents and children, which would be enough for me to invest in this work. But there’s more.

Giving children the sense of being heard, the sense that they matter, and the language to express what’s true for them may be a safeguard against the poisonous societal messages they receive, like: girls should be nice and pretty and accommodating; boys should be strong and tough and capable.

When a child has space, freedom and care to examine painful feelings (that inevitably arise for any of us socialized under impossible standards) it is easier for them to call “bullshit” on societal norms while listening to their heart and forging their own way.

I so want this for all youth; for all of us.

:: Signs of fall: siskin, upside-down on sunflower.

Anyone interested in Col’s zine? (pressure welcome!)

Tell me about how you’re waking up from our collective illusions; or, what you’ve been reading and writing and cooking and thinking.



9 Responses leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    September 18, 2019

    I just want to say thank you for keeping up with your writing. Every time you share something, it speaks to my heart. I have two littles, and you sharing your experiences with your own gives me so much hope for when mine are older and the relationships that we could possibly have. So, keep it up; I can’t imagine finding the time to actually write and do it so eloquently. We are listening and savouring your words.

    Book recommendation: I just read ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ and absolutely loved it.

  2. Sara Parks permalink
    September 18, 2019

    Always right on track.

  3. Pam permalink
    September 18, 2019

    I love this. I want to quote the last three paragraphs. Heck, I could quote this whole post. If I could change one thing, I wish you would use the titles of the books you’re reading for the links, rather than “here” because I get impatient clicking on links and waiting for them to load, and if I just have the title, I can go right to my library’s website and see the review there. Minor!

    Thank you again so much for this. It is beautiful!

  4. elizabeth permalink
    September 19, 2019

    wow, Col has changed! You often post pictures of him huddled in a sweater of blanket or in some activity so that you can’t see his face. But in this picture… wow! His face and the haircut make him look like a young man, no longer a kid.

  5. Sarah Kmon permalink
    September 19, 2019

    I love your writing. I read your HCN piece when you posted it on fb and now this. It speaks to me. And it’s inspiring. And I know I haven’t responded to your email yet, but wanted to get on here quick and say how much I love the way you are capturing the…tensions.

  6. shana deane permalink
    October 18, 2019

    before i read about the zine idea for Col… i thought: i am so thrilled and excited to follow the growing up of your children! being raised with the depth and commitment of study of understanding, calling out, and creatively counterdoting systemic oppression! you rock!

    And so… i would LOVE love love to read and see Col’s zine… i’m certain i could learn a lot, share that learning, feel inspired and empowered, and experience joy from all of that!

  7. November 8, 2019

    Dear Rachel,

    I love reading your blog. I often look though it at moments after family relational difficulties reading old posts. Thank you for your reminders to listen to my children empathically. Can you offer any suggestions about what to do when you disagree with them and when to bring it up? I am really struggling with this right now. Thanks

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      November 12, 2019

      M – good question. Can you email me?

  8. December 20, 2019

    well, I had to google ‘zine’ but now that I’ve got with the game – yes please Col! No pressure, but I ‘d love to hear your perspective! ;)

    I’m new to your site Rachel. Loving the way you embed wisdom in humility, authenticity and humour – makes it very accessible to me, reminding me it’s the simple showing up in our full humanity that is our greatest gift.

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