On small acts of optimism

OK, so I probably didn’t choose the best week to decide to blog a little more regularly here. There is just too much going on in the real world and, like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been glued to the election news coming in from the United States, trying to stop myself from constantly refreshing my Twitter feed and The Guardian live blog.

Since the morning after the EU Referendum in 2016, when I found my then 17 year old daughter sobbing in her room as she was getting ready for school, followed by Trump’s election in the same year, I’ve felt the world has been off-kilter. Truly we have been living through unprecedented times, the like of which I never imagined, or even believed possible. I am not naïve enough to think that, if they are elected, which I am praying they will be, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will suddenly make everything alright. Clearly, our world, our planet, needs extreme help and that isn’t going to miraculously arrive the moment (please, God) Biden receives enough electoral college votes. At this point, the most I am hoping for is a gentle realignment of values and the possibility that my expectations for such an influential seat of power will no longer fill me with a feeling of dread.

But what I really want to share with you was this gorgeous piece of writing from The Guardian‘s recent editorial (I do read other news outlets, by the way, although it might not seem like it!) – It will be a difficult winter, but the natural world brings small, precious consolations. I love their description of autumn planting – “To plant daffodil bulbs and sweet pea seeds is to engage in small acts of optimism and expectation – it is to insist that there is something to look forward to.” Yes. I’ve planted up some pots of winter-flowering pansies, underplanting with spring bulbs, and the cheerful pots of colour on my patio step always manage to raise my spirits, even on a generally gloomy day.

Winter-flowering pansies

In the UK, we’ve just started a second national lockdown, and there is a long, uncertain winter ahead. All acts of optimism and hope are welcomed by me.

Finally, my friend, Tania Hershman, shared this great quote from Rebecca Solnit on Twitter this morning: “Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated, and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.” Amen to that.

And finally, finally… I should give a quiet mention here to And Other Poems, my poetry site, which is currently open for submissions after a long break. Please read the guidelines if you’re thinking of submitting! And…grrr… WordPress blocks are still giving me the runaround.

13 thoughts on “On small acts of optimism”

    1. Thanks so much, Josie. How do you install a plug-in? I’m using ‘Classic Editor’ which seems to be working. I’m most nervous about publishing at And Other Poems because other people are trusting me with their work and I don’t want to let them down…


  1. On your Edit page where there is the left-hand list of various WP and site components and just below Appearance there is PlugIns. (Not if it is not there then it may be that your WP theme does not allow them.)

    Click PlugIns and there should be a search box at the top. Search for Classic. Download it. Then upload the file to your site. And then you have to activate it. And then you may have to make it the default editor.

    If you are still able to use Classic editor then you may be OK anyway. I am not much of an expert but I ran into a terrible mess a few weeks back and was unable to use the Classic Editor. this seems to have resolved itself.

    Let me see if I can find one of those WP explainers that might be more helpful than my efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! I am SO very relieved that Biden won. As an American, let me tell you, it has been an angst-ridden four years. I don’t have much, if any, expectation for the next administration, just a desire to get back to some level of normalcy. P.S. I, too, have been struggling with the new WP features. I guess I’m an old fogey, and I just click on ‘Classic Editor’ since I’m too impatient to learn something new:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] If not Zooming (because I’m not a fan) what could I offer the poetry community, I asked myself, because I do like to contribute something to the poetry world.  Everyone knows that poetry is mostly read by people who write poetry (although I’m sure this will change one day!) so if I wasn’t giving out to the poetry ‘economy’ why should I expect anything back? The tipping point for opening up submissions to AOP was the US election, when we were waiting for results.  I badly needed some kind of distraction, the tension was becoming unbearable!  And I’m not even American.  But, as a citizen of the world, I was feeling anxious about the outcome.  And that is why I opened a smallish window for And Other Poems, from 6 – 15 November (quietly mentioned in a previous post). […]


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