Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Marching and Organizing

Figuring Out How to get a good night's sleep

At about 10pm the night of November 8, as I saw what was happening with the election, I went to bed and slept until about 1am, when I got up and saw the disaster that had happened. As I processed what had happened, I decided that in order to live with myself I had to do something.

When I saw the Facebook announcement of a Women's march in Washington, I immediately decided to go.  I didn't really have an agenda, I was just appalled that a man who had such disrespect for women would be occupying the White House, and I wanted to be part of letting him know that women would not go quietly along with his hateful rhetoric.  As the weeks passed, knowing that I would be doing something helped a little, but I still did not sleep well.  I would wake in the middle of the night and grieve for the world that my children and grandchildren were having thrust upon them, one where prejudice and discrimination had suddenly become acceptable public behavior.  On a personal level, I knew that my family might not be disrupted all that much (if we're lucky), but I also worried about those who are not so privileged, those who rely on public programs such as the ACA and Medical Assistance.  And I worried about the United States' standing in the world as we build fences between ourselves and our allies, and renege on alliances that had kept the world a safer place since World War II.  These thoughts would swirl through my head with no resolution.

Going to the march was an important first step, largely because for the first time since the election, I was surrounded by people who I could trust to be benign.  People carried signs whose slogans made me smile and sometimes laugh, but they were focused on the ideals that we think our country represents...open, inclusive, fair, just.   The huge numbers of people who turned out to march around the world was a surprise, and I think I'm not alone in saying that the energy I felt that day was something I wanted to continue.  So when I was contacted by Planned Parenthood to be a "defender" I agreed.  A defender agrees to get a text message once a week with something positive you can do about the current situation.  You can do as much or as little as you are able.

The first text I got was six days after the march, and I was asked if I could invite some friends to hear about what I am doing to resist the new administration.  When I said yes, they enthusiastically directed me to a website that gave me everything I needed, from the wording on the invitation to send out to the agenda for the meeting.  I set a date and sent out about 8 invitations.  I wasn't sure what response I would get, but it was overwhelmingly positive, with several people asking to bring others along with them.

I have also been following Robert Reich on Facebook, which has had a calming effect on me.  He has the ability to cut through some of the nonsense to get down to the reality of what is going on, not easy to do in this time of "alternative facts."  He also has been advising being strategic rather than emotional in how you react, and I have taken much of his advice to heart.  His point is that while this is a crisis, it will play out over a long time, so it is important to do some self-care to be sure you aren't completely burned out and hopeless.

To that end, I have set some parameters for myself.  First, it's okay to spend some time each day doing something completely mindless (I watch House Hunters International and dream of living in a sane country and I watch cooking shows).  Second, I donate to organizations who are much more able to carry on the good fight (ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NRDC, MALDEF, ActBlue, etc).  Third, I chose one cause to focus on, in my case, Planned Parenthood, because it's impossible to keep up with everything that is going on.  With Planned Parenthood, we are forming a local group, which will provide a vital sense of community.  Fourth, if it is at all possible, I will call my representatives in Washington and show up for any protests that I can.  And last, I read about a site, Daily Action, where someone else will text me each day to tell me what action will be most effective.  Here's a link to that site:


By having targeted but focused activities to do each day, I can allow myself to read about or hear about the latest outrage without feeling that I have to do any more than I am doing.  This whole thing is exhausting, but I'm doing my best to feel that I am able to be effective in changing the situation over the long term.

And my sleep is getting better.

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