Welcome to the Party

This post is an excerpt from Season 2, episode 16 of Shelter in Place Podcast: Welcome to the Party.

I’ve always loved a good party. 

It’s been a long time since I went to a party, and even longer since I had a reason to throw one. 

This past week was Shelter in Place’s official launch date with Hurrdat Media, something that has been in the works for nearly eight months. After working mostly alone for most of the past year, we’re growing. We hope this partnership will expand our community. Still, it didn’t feel right to throw ourselves a party. It’s a difficult time for our nation. It’s been a hard year for many of us personally, too.

A family member recently asked me what my word was for 2021. I wasn’t sure how to answer. I couldn’t get past 2020. My word for that year was ambivalent. I can’t remember a time in my life when I felt so intensely the struggle between gratitude and despair. Some days I was full of hope and a sense of abundance; other days I moved through a fog of depression.

Shelter in Place began with the pandemic when my life was falling apart. Even on that first day I knew I had a decision to make: would I reach out or shut down? I decided to take one small step and start a daily podcast that I thought would just last a few weeks. After decades of being paralyzed by perfectionism, I’d let good enough be good enough. I had no idea that I was about to embark on the adventure of my life. 

Ten months and 116 episodes later, almost everything has changed. I thought I was doing creativity as catharsis in those early days of the pandemic, but it turns out I was rewriting life. What began as my “little project” has launched us across the country, changed my vocation as well as my husband’s, and sparked an apprenticeship program where we’re passing along what we’ve learned to seven remarkable young women. No one is more surprised than me that we are where we are now. 

This is not to say we’ve arrived. We have a long way to go before anyone would accuse us of being a financial success. Our move across the country was prompted at least in part by the very real urgency of needing a lower cost of living. There are still many days that feel very hard. Most days, we are very, very tired.

But if this past year has taught me anything, it’s that the best medicine for despair is serving and celebrating others–that when I feel isolated and lonely, I don’t have to reach far to remember that I’m not alone. When our country’s political division feels hopeless, I remember all of the incredible conversations I’ve had with people on both sides of the aisle. Those conversations have given me vision for what’s possible.

So this past week, we decided that we’d throw a party not for ourselves, but for every person who has given us something to be grateful for this past year: the more then 60 artists, activists, and thinkers who have shared their work and lives with us, the listeners who left us reviews and become patrons to help us continue, and all of the people we hope will find us this year and receive the podcast as the gift it’s designed to be.

For obvious reasons, we can’t all be together right now. We can’t congregate around a snack table, pile onto the dance floor, or clink glasses of champagne. But that’s why we created Shelter in Place in the first place–to build a virtual shelter where we can laugh, cry, commiserate, and dream; where we can better understand our differences and share the good things that are still happening; where we can create a space where we all feel at home.

We’ve opened our doors to you because you helped us build this house. Without you, I never would have had the courage to take this leap into the unknown. I certainly wouldn’t still be making episodes. We want each and every one of our listeners, supporters, guests, and friends to know just how grateful we are. We hope that as you listen, you feel celebrated and blessed. So come inside, the party has just started.

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