How Are You Feeling?


When I clicked onto the New York Times homepage this morning, I expected the usual news: vaccination efforts, stimulus checks, basketball scores, maybe an essay about marriage during the pandemic. But instead, a gruesome headline filled my phone screen. “Suspect Charged With 10 Counts of Murder in Boulder, Colo., Shooting.

Honestly, I don’t know what to write here. There have been so many shooting sprees in America — including one just last week. I’ve suggested places to donate; I’ve tried to think of comforting words to write. We’ve come together; we’ve looked toward the future. But when does it end? When is enough enough?

My body feels filled with rage but I have nowhere to put it. Instead, I cuddle my children in my arms and smell their salty hair. I make breakfast and lunch and tonight I’ll make dinner. We’ll take a walk. I’ll go to the grocery store and make sure to know where the exits are.

I wish I had a magic wand to make everything better. Last week, I read Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, a novel in which things keep going wrong and the world feels more and more out of control. It’s eery, it’s disturbing. As the Guardian wrote, the novel “captures the generalized panic of 2020.”

What will you do today? How do you soothe yourself during times like these? Remember that there is good in the world. Call your loved ones; splash cool water on your face; put one foot in front of the other. I love you. xo

(Photo by Kari Herer.)

  1. M says...

    After this weekend, week, year, lifetime (?), I returned to this post for solace. To be in company of sensitive souls who refuse to become numb to the loss of life; who do not want to live like this, die like this. I wrote this poem to process another harrowing month of police shootings, school shooting, mass shootings. May we never stop singing.

    When another life is ruptured
    by a bullet, breaks like a mirror
    that holds our reflection,
    calm voices report on the news
    from every direction in the alley,
    the store, the parlor, the lot,
    when mourning women howl like
    Daunte’s aunt, “Did y’all not see
    our beautiful baby?!” I want to press
    pause. I want it to stop.
    When I go to the spring woods of life to pray,
    where a symphony of robins sing their return,
    and cream blossoms spill onto the forest floor,
    and spotted fawns fall into soft beds of the
    shattered light. I realize we are not caused to pause,
    but to show up. Again and again. Like spring.
    No matter how many blizzards of sorrow.
    No matter how many dark nights of history.
    No matter how dormant and cruel our leaders.
    Our role is to glorify the sanctity of life.
    Our role is to trill and buzz with the choir.
    To be so crisp and beautiful and unified with
    our notes it is impossible to ignore. Like a
    whole forest of spring mothers singing at once:
    “Do y’all not see our beautiful babies?!”

  2. Audrey says...

    Thanks so much for this post. My family at I live a half-mile from this King Soopers in Boulder. We happened to be out of town during the shooting (our first vacation since COVID) and it’s not lost on us that it could have easily been us. My husband and I both work from home and we visit that store midday regularly. The outpouring of community has been beautiful to see, despite the overwhelming sadness and rage.

    Enough is enough.

  3. C Sweeney says...

    We can fix this! It’s not hard. Why are we putting up with a minority rule of the majority of US citizens? It’s unconscionable that we allow our precious children and loved ones to live with this fear and violence. Vote like your life depends on it. Because it does.

  4. bevin says...

    I feel immense sympathy for all involved and also immense gratitude that we still live an idyllic life compared to those who have had to live in war zones. We are so fortunate. I also feel angry that the largely recreational and sport hunters somehow have so much power to define legislation that other countries have proven ends these issues altogether.

    How does the senate sleep at night??? Allow guns if you have a legitimate desire – submit your lengthy and detailed registration, background check, and wait for your well-documented approval.

    But no one needs assault rifles for hunting! They cannot be allowed for sale in the open market and possession should raise significant investigation. What other use, than death, do they have? Why are the sold? And where is the accountability of the licensing agency??? Rage.

    • I’ve done this opinion and further it. No one really needs guns. If people want to hunt they should rent them for a very limited time within a sanctioned zone. They were killing machines. We want people to own killing machines? What does simply owning one do one’s psyche?

  5. Maria says...

    I live in Boulder, just a block from the grocery store, I was there 30 minutes before everything took place. My daughters often frequent the store as a meeting place with their friends to grab a snack and walk to the surrounding shops. We regularly shop there. The morning after the shooting, I woke up feeling heartbroken. I feel sad, I feel confused, I feel sorrowful, there is a heaviness in my chest and my stomach.

    We can not keep using “mental health” as a legal excuse to keep the people that have committed senseless violence and have affected the lives of many for being responsible for their actions .

    • Alison says...

      I am so sorry to hear this Maria. A fellow Boulder resident here and know I am thinking of you and our community. It’s been heartbreaking and scary.

  6. Tamara says...

    These two articles make excellent observations as to why we are where we are in the IS today with our gun violence & pathetic Covid response:
    The frustrating thing is no one offers ideas or has a sense of how we change or move forward from these entrenched attitudes. And until these attitudes change there isn’t much chance of Mitch McConnell & co being voted out.
    I’ve taught US history to newly arrived immigrants & refugees for my entire adult life. I always emphasized that our system’s greatest mandate & challenge is balancing individual right with common good. When did we drop the common good part? In asking this question I’ve come to realize the common good was never the goal of a country formed by white men for white men.
    Makes me want to throw up my hands & move my family to Canada or Europe. Especially when creating the change we need to actually care for & take care of each other feels insurmountable. But just leaving guarantees nothing will change.

  7. Molly says...

    I want to scream and cry; I’m so outraged and exhausted. I’m so tired of donating. Of course I’ll keep doing it but WHY is the burden on ME to donate a good portion of my modest salary to lobby for OBVIOUS things that our government should be doing? What is wrong with these politicians with their heads up their asses who can’t figure out how to re-allocate huge sums of money from the defense budget toward UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, HOUSING, EDUCATION, ASSAULT WEAPONS BANS, CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVES, etc I could go on and on. It’s so infuriating. My $10/mo to Everytown, AAPI groups, RAICES, ACLU, SPLC, BabytoBaby, local food shelter, and local Mutual Aids is just not cutting it. And it makes me so sad.

  8. Molly says...

    I know the problem is bigger than just him, but MITCH MCCONNELL. What can we do to stop that guy? I live in MA, so writing my reps is somewhat moot (I do, but mostly just to support them). I just cannot comprehend letting this continue indefinitely, which seems to be the republicans’ plan.

  9. Deep thinker says...

    Am I the only right-handed scroller that wishes the reply was on the left instead? I’m constantly accidently replying to most entries. Sorry lefties, but surely statistically there are more of me?

    • Bonnie says...

      Yes. All the time. It’s pretty annoying.

    • C says...

      That just happened to me and your comment was the first I saw after I clicked cancel reply. :D I hadn’t thought about it but it has happened a few times. Maybe it can be underneath a person’s name or the date rather than left or right?

  10. baiyu says...

    From Europe we look at America with sadness and despair, how can this still be possible? In Scotland we had ONE tragic school shooting 25 years ago. We changed our laws. There have been no more. Change is possible.

  11. Emily says...

    I’m feeling pretty pessimistic and I’m an eternal optimist. On Sunday, at a rally and 5K run to #StopAsianHate I couldn’t help but say to my friend as we ran, is this really doing anything? I’m glad to show solidarity but at the end of the day I can’t stop a shooter unless I agree to be a part of the problem: buy a gun. I’ve never wanted to, I still don’t and I hope I never will.

  12. Mem says...

    I’m reading The deepest well. I’m considering how we might help children to live healthy lives while their brains live in high stress mode. I’m sad.

  13. Carrie says...

    I used to live in Boulder and was a sophomore in high school at a school just a few miles away from Columbine High School when that shooting happened. This one is personal. And I feel such hopelessness.

    Gun violence has been a part of my life for far too long and I am so enraged and heartbroken each time a new event occurs. I can’t help but think that every member of congress over the last two decades, Republicans in particular, and those that continue to support the second amendment over safety deserve the blame for this. Literally they have blood on their hands.

    There is proven research that shows gun control laws work. Many countries have done it. This is no way to live. With my kids home from elementary and preschool during the pandemic I can’t help but look at them on zoom or watching too much Paw Patrol and think, at least they’re safe.

    I don’t know…calling representatives, donating money, showing up at marches…does that work? After 20+ years of this? I can’t help but feel hopeless.

  14. Erin Claussen says...

    Boulder, CO is my community. I live in a town 15 miles away and work in Public Safety. Any mass shooting is a tragedy, but it hits differently when it’s occurring in your immediate world. I know that grocery store. I know that neighborhood. I know a lot of the first responders both personally and professionally. My boyfriend has a group of fishing buddies that all work for Boulder Police Department, and it was excruciating to know I couldn’t do anything to comfort him while he waited to hear the name of the fallen officer. I don’t think anything can really prepare you for an event like this. Thank you for shifting the conversation to comfort and focusing on the good things in our lives. Even on a bad day I can still smile when my dog covers my face in kisses when I get home, and I can still roll my eyes at my parents’ silly technology questions (someday they’ll realize I know nothing about technology), and hugging my boyfriend is still my safe place. I’m witnessing the Boulder community coming together in the wake of Tuesday’s shooting and it’s pretty incredible to be part of it.

  15. Abbey says...

    I also live near and work in Boulder. I work for CU and so my job this week has been taking care of my students. It’s hard. Everyone is sad and numb. My students were reaching out to each other during and after to make sure they were safe. I offered up my guest room for the night and told my student staff that I love them. It’s very strange to try to go about normal life when this just happened. I was numb yesterday. Today I’m sad and distracted. I wish I could be with my people but COVID is keeping us separated. Nothing about this is ok.

  16. h says...

    I work in Boulder and live nearby. I don’t want to be #BoulderStrong. I just want to feel safe doing everyday things.

  17. Anon says...

    Charolette below made an excellent suggestion that I want to highlight. These kind of incidents are pretty extreme. Americans should be demanding that the (national) government treat the situation as a public emergency and really deal with it. Perhaps take drastic measures to change the laws? Considering the stats, they would be completely justified in treating the situation as a public safety emergency. It really is. How much worse do things have to get? How much worse can they get?

    • Angela says...

      I’d bet for every wacko we saw on 1/6, there are 20 more who would put up a major fight over losing their precious guns. I live in red state lunacy and guns are terrifying, but so is the thought of facing pissed off 2A enthusiasts. I live within 50 miles of Knob Creek. I think things can get a lot worse, sadly.

  18. AR says...

    Between Boulder and Atlanta I have been so anxious and depressed thinking about all the victims and their families. Truly heartbreaking and feels so hopeless.

    This is a slight tangent but I’m really interested to know what other parents think about the public vs. private school choice with respect to safety? My oldest is still a toddler and my husband and I have always just default planned to send our kids to public schools for a variety of reasons (many of those reasons are frequently raised in the comments section here). Apart from all those reasons, it does seem like the majority of mass shootings take place at public schools (often public schools in wealthy, mainly white areas). I’ve tried to do some research on it and the points I’ve seen outlined (private schools are smaller, easier to limit access from the outside, easier to control culture and prevent bullying) don’t seem all that realistic/true on their face. But my experience with private schools is admittedly very limited. I recognize that this will be interpreted by some as a privileged/bougie question and that’s fine. I’m not saying I can afford a private school option. I’m just asking if others have looked into this at all and if so, what are your thoughts?

    • Erin says...

      I’m not a parent myself, but I can try to provide an answer from the perspective of someone who attended private school from preschool through high school (though I admittedly have no experience with public school to compare it to). I was in Catholic school from the early-1990s through the mid-2000s and my low-middle class parents made countless sacrifices to be able to afford private school for their three kids (no vacations, minimal retirement savings, thifted clothing, etc.). During my school years, I saw very minimal bullying that was immediately nipped in the bud not only by teachers but also fellow students (all verbal teasing, nothing physical) and I never felt unsafe at school. From my experience, I think two main factors contribute to the safer environment: 1) most private school kids come from stable home environments which is generally correlated with better behavior (and those who were there on need-based scholarship were committed to doing their best and behaving to keep their place and secure a better future) and 2) there was a strong focus on self-guided “disciple with purpose” (basically critically thinking around values) which helped me (and I presume other students) identify moral vs immoral behavior and foster the wherewithal to stand up for what’s right and explain to others why what they’re doing might not be the best thing. I don’t, and have have identified strongly with the Catholic/Christian religion, but attending private Catholic school was one the things I am most grateful for and I can’t thank my parents enough for that. Many of my public school friends were bullied and there were two instances of a gun being found on campus circa 2005-ish in their 3,000-student school. If I were to have children, I would make the same sacrifices my parents made to be able to offer my kids the same, though things may be different nowadays than 20 years ago. I hope that helps a bit, AR!

    • mado says...

      I would encourage you to check out the Integrated Schools podcast, i think their perspective is invaluable.

    • Amanda says...

      To Erin’s reply: I went to Catholic grade school from kindergarten through 8th grade. I was harassed by a boy who wouldn’t stop touching the girls’ legs, and the main priest who presided over our weekly masses in now in prison in Florida for child pornography. I would not say that Catholic schools are safer in any way, shape, or form.

  19. Lauren Baker says...

    I am 34 years old and I remember writing cards to students from the Columbine shootings. In my lifetime, I have had friends jump out of the windows at Virginia Tech, friends hide in the bar during the UCSB shooting and a friend at the Vegas shooting who survived. I feel beyond grateful that no one I know has died from these attacks but I can’t help but wonder how long that luck will hold out? I have a two year old son and I wonder all the time how I am going to manage my anxiety about sending him to school. I saw an instagram post that said we don’t deserve this and that sums up how I feel. Thank you for opening this space up to add our comments.

    • Linda says...

      Taking a minute to remember my daughter’s friend who didn’t make it out of Va Tech. RIP Austin Cloyd. Yes, this needs to be recognized as a national emergency.

  20. Suzy says...

    The US has 4.4% of the world’s population and they own 42% of the world’s guns. Until that changes, no amount of thoughts and prayers will help!

    • Miri says...

      Wow – that is a *staggering* stat that I’ve never heard – thank you, Suzy.

      The American obsession with arms is impossible for me to fully understand from my New Zealand home. I feel absolutely bereft for all of the fiesty femmes in the COJ community who have to confront the very real threat of gun violence while moving through an ordinary day.

    • Jodi says...

      Crazy be crazy. Gun laws unfortunately don’t make people not crazy. Futhermore, they only help if we enforce them, which many states aren’t enforcing current gun restriction laws. We have to get rid of the lunatics because they will find another way to be crazy. Incredibly sad but true and my heart truly aches for the victims and their families.

  21. Kelsey A. says...

    As Mister Rodgers said best, “Look for the helpers.” If you look for it, you’ll always find the humanity in every heartbreaking story. It’s the people who try to warn others, the people who come to strangers’ aid, the people who offer shelter and support. This may be the only thing that can get us through these terrible moments… Remember that people are fundamentally good and love always wins.

    • Joanne says...

      I sure hope we can get enough helpers in the Senate soon.

    • Kristin says...

      Amen, Joanne. Amen. We have got to get better people elected.

    • LK says...

      I have to agree with Joanne. People are good – but government and organizations only look out for their own self interest (the linings of their pocket). When we have mass shootings several times a year, people are good…but we are at the mercy of our elected officials to make REAL change. Until they do, we die.