"Happiness is not something you chase and catch, it's something you choose." -Steven AitchisonThis past week felt like I was finally settling into the rhythm of day job and balancing it against other obligations, until the weather pulled a fast one and switched between 80s and humid to 60s and mild, and back to 80s and humid. So I had the full-on scratchy throat and sneezy sniffles Thursday and Friday, and spent most of yesterday sleeping.

It probably didn’t help that the news cycle raised memories of experiences I and my fellow female classmates in the 80s in the DC region knew of and experienced… and, same as when we experienced them and saw Anita Hill discredited in the early 90s, there was no accountability for the actions undertaken by the men. In fact, the men were lauded and then elevated to lifetime positions on the Supreme Court.

I would say that I’m looking forward the number of “Brett”s written as antagonists in coming years. But I can’t say I’ve ever run across a “Clarence” baddie, so maybe it’s just me who chooses character names based on personal experiences as a way to either commemorate or work through my feelings.

So I spent time reading. Romances. Because Rafe, Mating the Huntress, and Not Just Human gave me the kinds of female protagonists that are good antidotes to toxic masculinity. Each book, individually, had different strengths and widely divergent settings, but they all left me feeling much better about the world around me. And I know each of the authors from Twitter, where they are engaging, kind, and educational. I chose to spend time with those works because I trusted those authors to create the happy endings I needed.

One of the most interesting things I learned on Twitter this week: That mushrooms are closer to humans than plants. The author of that thread links to two articles to explain further, but the idea that mycelium could be a source of of something radically healthful came through an entirely different channel. (And the intersection of these things had my inner Trekkie fan dancing, because SPORES and STAMETS and OMG!) The Stamets to whom Star Trek: Discovery paid homage just released a new study that has remarkable implications in the fight against Colony Collapse Disorder (in bees). And it’s to do with extracts from the mycelia and the probability that it’s able to boost immune systems in an unprecedented and impactful way. I’ll let you read more about it in the various news outlets, or maybe even the paper itself. It’s an exciting advancement in fighting the loss of bees worldwide.

Human development (loosely) was the topic of two other interesting articles I read this week. In the first, a philosopher made an argument that a narrative history is a poor tool through which to gain knowledge. In the second, there was a strong argument for the fact that cooked food underpins humanity in some very interesting ways. (Including the fact that I realized every single one of my stories has a shared meal in it somewhere…)

As for my own writing, I managed just about 300 words. At this rate, it will be sometime next year before I even finish the draft, so I’m hoping to capitalize on tomorrow’s federal holiday to buckle down again.

On the other hand, we sweated through our daily walks (despite hubs’ broken toe), and my Fitbit says I averaged 5,322 steps per day and 7 hours and 50 minutes of sleep. (Though, given how much I slept yesterday… that’s probably not an entirely representative assessment.)

So I’ll keep pushing forward, keeping in mind the inspiration Ursula LeGuin shared when she accepted the 2014 National Book Foundation Medal, as quoted on this week’s ROW80 check-in:

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom — poets, visionaries — realists of a larger reality.

All of which brings me full-circle to the quote that spoke to me for this week’s post: We are each responsible for choosing our own happiness. But if we can share how we got there through our art, maybe we can point the way for someone else to find how to choose theirs.

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