I got a bad case I can’t shake off of me — the fevered walking around wondering how it ought to be. You work in the system. You see possibilities and your glistening eyes show the hell you’re gonna give ‘em when they back off the mic for once and give it to a woman.
— Lyrics from “Pendulum Swinger” by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls
The shock and awe is over. Mostly. Reality is settling in. We flinch just a tad less every time we hear the words “President-elect Donald Trump” — so much less it’s not detectable by the human eye but still, less. We survived the day after Election Day. We survived the day Trump visited the White House. We started binge drinking/eating/Netflix watching about noon on Friday and sobered up Sunday, hoping our Trump-supporting friends and relatives would just give us some space to process the four-year progressive buzzkill we are about to endure.
It is now Monday, November 14. I think I’ve been wearing the same jeans and bra since Election Day. My son is coming home from college in eight days for Thanksgiving … which is NEXT WEEK. I have a job. I’m writing a book. I am the parent of a 16-YO (I need say no more, right)? Christmas is in 41 days. I’m going to Africa in January as part of a non-profit I’ve helped lead for the past eight years. My garden desperately needs to be weeded and, seriously, I’ve got to do laundry so I can change clothes.
Here’s the deal: We all have lives to get back to. The to-do list on my calendar from last Tuesday is long and untouched. I checked out of every non-essential part of life on Election Day (honestly, I checked out the week before), assuming I’d check back in on November 9 — that glorious day our first elected female president began her four-year journey toward making America exactly what I wanted.
Like every strong woman I know, I am busy AF. So let’s be smart about this. We have to keep this going for years, not days. This list might help:
- Find a small step for this week that can make an actual political difference (maybe two since we’re all riled up): Mine is to spend 10 minutes looking at Annie’s List, a website I learned about in a passing comment last week and have since heard a lot about on the local and statewide Pantsuit Nation Texas groups. Annie’s List exists to “recruit, train, support, and elect progressive, pro-choice women in Texas.”
How did I just hear about this group last week? Why wasn’t I supporting Annie’s List the entire year? Or since its founding in 2003? If this exists in Texas, I suspect every state has something similar. Please share in the comments below if you can connect us to like-minded organizations in other parts of the country.
My possible second small step is to have a conversation with my politically savvy Gay Husband (and election night freak-out partner, as mentioned in my first blog post). A few back-and-forth emails from him or a 15-minute phone call will save me hours of research. I have another friend traveling abroad who brings a different yet similarly impressive grasp of all things political. I’ll hit him up when he gets home.
Small steps get big. I’ll probably post something about Annie’s List on social media. Who knows where these conversations will lead.
Can you set aside a chunk of time (however small) to research the political movers and shakers in your community or make a list of the non-profits nationally or locally that may need you? You don’t have to make a move yet. Just explore your options.
- Take in something that inspires you: Hey, I’m taking one for the team this morning and watching Van Jones videos. I’m a giver like that. I’m also listening to some of my favorite Indigo Girls songs that seem perfect right now, like Pendulum Swinger, quoted above. Watch the “Fight Song” video again. Maybe there’s a song you can sing along to, a passage from a favorite book or movie, this weekend’s SNL “Hallelujah” cold open or Dave Chappelle’s unedited monologue. Have coffee or a phone conversation with an energetic or calming friend. See a movie. I saw “Loving” this weekend with my husband and was beautifully inspired by how far we’ve come and what we have to lose.
- Plan to do something that furthers causes you care about (and that you feel might be at risk): I saw one Pantsuit Nation Texas Chapter member planning an event to honor National Homeless Person’s Day on December 21.
Donate to ProPublica, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood. Find a local ESL where you can donate time or money. There are many different groups that feel threatened right now. Pick one that feels right for you.
Again, you don’t have to do something this week (although by all means, sista, make a move if the time is right). Planning is progress.
- Wallow less and less each day. Don’t boo, President Obama said. Vote. But booing feels good, I know. And it’s OK in small doses. Try to balance Rachel Maddow with some Rachel Green.
- Take care of yourself (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are you is reading this?). In a weird, middle-aged mom kinda way, I feel the need to make myself stronger: to workout more, eat better, sleep better, meditate, read a beautiful novel, pray. How can I change the entire trajectory of our country if I don’t spend some time on self-care — whatever that means for you.
For my 49-year-old body, that means getting back into marching shape (I did the Susan G. Komen 3-day almost exactly two years ago — walked 60 miles in three days, inspired by my mom’s battle with breast cancer — but likely haven’t walked two consecutive miles since then).
This is an inspired-movement marathon, not a pissed-off sprint. So work on being the strongest you can be. Ruth, we’re getting you a plastic bubble.
That seems enough to focus on in Week 1. Next Monday, we’ll dig in a little deeper as we head forward into light.