Thoughts on how to break free

It’s everywhere I turn. Even in my sleep. The relentless struggle to make money when there are now so few available opportunities to earn a dignified, meaningful income.

I’ve felt the growing pressure for years, sort of like a slow panic pulsating at the back of my mind. But now, there’s little hope of holding it back. The panic has become a scream I hear not only in myself but in the silent desperation of so many around me.

Capitalism, as an economic system, has been around for a long time. But with the massive transfers of wealth by way…


Most businesses that are hiring for extended periods of time have high worker turnover and are horrible places to work

You’ve witnessed the scene. Drive by any McDonald’s and the lawn is scattered with a haphazard arrangement of Now Hiring signs. Plastered to the drive-thru windows, sticking up in the front lawn, displayed beneath the golden arches: Now Hiring Smiling Faces.

It’s obvious. McDonald’s is desperate for workers. But apparently not desperate enough to raise the pay to a living wage and offer paid time off and paid sick leave, during a global pandemic no less.

The McDonald’s in my town advertises a starting pay rate of $10 per hour, coming out to less than $400 a week for a…


How an individualistic focus on fairness and responsibility ignores our systemic crisis.

Student loan debt in the US is at an all-time high, topping out at a record $1.7 trillion this year, with an average debt of over $30,000 per borrower. More than 44 million Americans are currently shouldering student loan debt. Prior to COVID-19 and pandemic relief measures, 11% of borrowers were either delinquent or in default. Amidst a tough job market during a global pandemic, millions find themselves with crushing debt and ever-increasing financial insecurity.

The Biden administration has tentatively agreed to cancel $10k of student debt, with the caveat that this relief does not apply to private loans.

Congressional…


Number 6 — touch the earth

A photograph of a stack of gray smooth fairly rounded stones stacked tall in an artistic formation and set on waves of sand. The sun is glowing in an out of focus background.
A photograph of a stack of gray smooth fairly rounded stones stacked tall in an artistic formation and set on waves of sand. The sun is glowing in an out of focus background.

Let’s face it. This past year has been difficult. Even for those who may have benefitted from slowing down, last year brought waves of change and uncertainty. And with change and uncertainty often come experiences of feeling ungrounded.

You’ve probably heard the word ungrounded (or grounded) and may not know exactly what it means. Think of a tiny boat tossed amidst roaring waves at sea. Being ungrounded is the sense of feeling off-balance, unsteady, perhaps fragile, vulnerable, uncertain, not in control. Being ungrounded often brings a sense of not being fully present in your own body, of not being connected…


A Photo Essay of Bristol TN/VA

During the months and weeks prior to the November 2020 presidential election, signs popped up all over my hometown of Bristol, TN. I’d noticed the increasing prevalence of signs during my daily walks around downtown and bordering neighborhoods. One day, I thought: “What a unique time in which we are living. This needs to be documented.”

The idea for this photo essay emerged. I’d like the photos to speak for themselves, but first I think it helps to share a few items of information.

  • All photos were taken in Bristol TN/VA, within a 1–2 mile radius of the downtown area…


Explorations of social shame and why it’s okay to take your time in finding your way

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” As kids, we’re incessantly asked this question. And as adults, the questioning doesn’t end, but rather morphs into the omnipresent — and for many of us — dreaded: “What do you do?” When we first meet someone, this is usually the first question out of their mouth.

The question of “What do you do” has always struck me as rude and intrusive. I mean, sure, the query can indicate a level of genuine interest and care. …


Biden’s economic recovery plan and why we need more than jobs

On Thursday evening in Wilmington, Delaware, Joe Biden unveiled his two-step pandemic relief and economic recovery plan. Named the “American Rescue Plan,” Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion recovery plan includes the following:

  • $1400 additional direct payments to Americans (in addition to the $600 already provided, would bring the total amount of direct payments to $2000 per person)
  • temporary unemployment benefits boost
  • moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September
  • national $15 minimum wage (though it remains unclear when this would go into effect)
  • paid sick leave program
  • $160 billion for vaccinations, COVID-19 testing, and related health needs
  • $440 billion to aid businesses


Stop saying both sides are just as bad

In the wake of Wednesday’s storming of the US Capitol building by a mob of loyal Trump supporters, I’ve been hearing much rhetoric from Republicans along the lines of “but both sides are wrong and bad.”

No.

There is not an equivalency between the BLM protests against police brutality this summer and the mob siege of the Capitol on Wednesday.

One group was literally demanding to not be killed. The other was having a fit because they, for once, didn’t get their way — a way, mind you, that involved the oppression of Black and Brown people, women, LGBTQIA+ folx…


And how this allowed us to be human again

As we enter 2021, we are ushered by a chorus declaring good riddance to 2020. Memes, stickers, Facebook statuses, and Christmas ornaments have sprung up depicting 2020 as a dumpster fire. They lament that 2020 was a wasted year. I’ve heard some people refer to it as the worst year. And yet it’s curious how these statements are often followed by a pause and nearly in the same breath, the exclamation: but I loved getting to spend so much time with my family. It was so good to be home more. …

Katrina Stone

MDiv; Writer; born in Appalachia; seeker of justice, goodness, and life

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