Plus, more of your 2020 determinations, and looking ahead to your stories on race and friendship.
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One thing I have been doing this week is catching up on episodes of The Crown. A routine has developed. We watch an episode after the kids are down. Then, we peel ourselves off the couch and slowly labor through brushing teeth and washing faces. And then, suddenly, a burst of new energy for another 30 to 45 minutes of royal family research on my phone in bed. 

I've learned a lot! 

It's made me think about love and sacrifice, tradition and obligation, and of course, how to best structure a high-stakes family meeting. (Please share if you've come across a model that worked.) 

And I've been thinking about all this while I watch two little people learning how to be siblings together. The younger one is just getting a handle on walking⁠—and screaming in just the right way so her sister gets scolded for grabbing a toy out of her hands or playing too rough. And after I react, sometimes I catch the little one looking over to her older sister with a smug look of satisfaction on her face. 

That's how our families get made⁠—with the accumulation of all these small moments where we're sorting out who we are to each other and who's in charge. And then, big structural shifts can happen in a moment that throw everything up in the air and force us to redefine and rethink totally anew who we ought to and can be for each other. 

Finally, as I finally turn off the light, I have one last thought: what a blessing privacy is, and what a privilege it is to not have to be a metaphor for everyone else's families. 

Anna and the Death, Sex & Money team
Your Stories: Determinations
We've loved hearing and reading your determinations over the last few weeks, so we wanted to share a few more you've sent in to us:
"My New Year's determination is to not let my own self-doubt hold me back. As a woman in a male-dominated industry who came from an unconventional background, I ended up in IT. I worked my butt off to get to where I am today, but I'm still plagued with self-doubt and terrible impostor syndrome. Always second guessing my opinion. Never entirely confident in what I'm doing, despite what other people are telling me. And this year I want to get over that because I feel like it's been holding me back."
—Ylan, 28, Seattle, WA
"Determinations are hard for me this year. On Valentine's Day 2019, a tree smashed through my house, and my family and I have been living in a rental this past year while the house is being rebuilt. We don't exactly know when we're going to be able to move home. So everything feels like it's on hold, in flux. I'd like to say that I'm determined to feel in charge of my life again, but that's not within my control. So I'm determined to survive this tragedy and persevere through this event."
—Jennifer, 47, Boulder Creek, CA
"My determination for the new year is to react to my emotional state with more self-compassion so that I can, in turn, extend compassion to other people for things that they're thinking and feeling. There's been in the last few years a great deal of upheaval in my family and it has made communication difficult among us all. And I have found that I have reacted with a lot of harsh judgment toward myself in terms of how I feel about things or react to things, and it's not helpful, amazingly. So self-compassion, I think, would be a very good determination to follow through on this year."
—Susan, 50, Oklahoma City, OK

Listen to This: Audio We Love

This American Life occasionally revisits gems from their archives that are a welcome jolt from the 24-hour news cycle. In last year's episode "Wartime Radio," we’re introduced to Dopey, a podcast from two recovering addicts who refuse to take sobriety too seriously. They share stories of their drug use, and interview friends and celebrities in recovery. But their recovery is challenged when people in their lives start to relapse. Dopey and its creators challenge us to consider the many ways people can heal, and how to find laughter in heartbreak.

The new season of The Impact, a podcast from Vox, is examining policies proposed by the 2020 presidential candidates. The first episode of the season looks at Senator Elizabeth Warren's proposal to address the opioid crisis, which takes inspiration from the 1990 Ryan White CARE Act⁠—a federally funded program for people living with HIV/AIDS. In the episode, we hear from Ryan White's mom and activist Cleve Jones, who explains how the bill got through Congress⁠—a preview of how the opioid crisis could be addressed under a Warren presidency.

Next Week on Death, Sex & Money

A text message gone wrong. A bachelorette party exclusion. A racist comment during the 2016 debates. When we asked you all for stories about when race became a flashpoint in a friendship, we heard about painful, unexpected, sometimes funny, and awkward⁠ moments. And while some of you were able to work through these times of tension, others ended friendships over them. "Friendship is our only social relationship that is purely voluntary," one listener told us. "Someone can just walk away at any time."

In our episode out next week, we'll share your stories about how race has impacted your friendships. And our partners at NPR’s Code Switch will be tackling this topic too, with expert advice on navigating those flashpoint moments, and deciding if it's time to pull the plug on a friendship.
We're still looking for your reading recommendations about race and friendship!

Send us what's inspired or challenged you (books, essays, articles, etc.) at
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