Fired Up, Part 4: Screw It, I’m Going to Smile Anyway

For many people, it’s been a tough few days. I know some people are hooting and hollering in delight, but they will only be able to maintain that state for so long, before they realize their lives are not getting better and nobody’s drunk uncle is going to change that.

canstockphoto28476729I’ve had to tamp down all my #notallwhitepeople, #notallwomen, #notallliberals, #notallcitydwellers, #notallmidwesterners defensiveness and close myself off from the stream of blame pouring from every venue. Blame isn’t going to help the Trump supporters improve their lives and it sure as hell won’t help the rest of us move forward.

I’m done with politicking for now, because that piece of the equation is ostensibly out of my control. I voted. My candidate lost and now my government is becoming a kakistocracy (thanks, Elyse for the new vocabulary word!). I don’t like, trust or want to be represented by these people, a mishmash of know-nothings, salivating jackals who want to stick it to anyone who ever insulted them by screwing up the entire country.

The real key is to figure out what to do now. When you’re unwilling to engage in the blame game, it comes down to what you, as an individual, can do. And figuring that out takes a little soul-searching. What’s important to you?

canstockphoto10916833My initial reaction was a long laundry list of causes and needs that could easily paralyze me where I stand. We get overwhelmed with the number of things that could be fixed in this world. Sometimes we have to pick and choose what our priorities are and focus on them. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care about other issues. It just means we’re one human who can only do so much.

CHOOSE

The results of the election have helped me crystallize what I want to protect and advance. I’ve decided my priorities for the moment are: civil rights, reproductive rights, education and the environment. If the luxury of time or money is not yours to share, find one thing, one cause, something close to your heart and put it there.

ACTION

Yesterday I joined the NAACP ($30 for annual membership), donated to The Center for Reproductive Rights, set up a small monthly donation to the Sierra Club and registered to become a community volunteer in my school district for 10 hours a week. It’s not much, but it’s a beginning.

canstockphoto6128415I am still finishing the letters to my congressional representatives. I forget that my writing process is always longer then I expect. I told them who I am, what I care about and wished them well as they enter into the fray.

In the upcoming days, I will write to the people I didn’t vote for. I will tell them who I am, what I care about and wish them the strength of character to be better than the pack of hyenas they appear to be. I’ll say it more nicely, though. Maybe.

NO EXPECTATIONS

I keep thinking about how people of color must be shaking their heads at the white people who have just gotten “woke” to the alive-and-kicking racism in this country. And the environment would like to know where the hell I’ve been. My uterus just yelled about damned time. There’s room for mocking and criticism and I can take it. I figure it’s part and parcel of getting into the mix after staying for so long, so comfortably out of it.

This is the silver lining that we can find in the electing of a horrible human being. The rest of us can learn how not to be bystanders or complacent.

canstockphoto5624611I know I’m going to make mistakes and assumptions. I know I’m no saint and I expect to be schooled accordingly. I know that I may not fully understand the issues on the ground or the academic theory that drives feminism and racism and immigrant issues. But I’m here now. Tell me what I can do to help. I’m listening.

MAKING IT PERSONAL

I’ve always believed politics is personal in theory, but this year, it felt extremely personal. My fellow Americans voted for someone who tapped into every hate-filled philosophy in this country and made it his very own. So, yeah, I do take it personally.

Last night, my daughter and I started to get back to some martial arts and strength training. I’m putting up the speed and heavy weight bags again – good for practice, good for anger. I’m not going to wear a safety pin, because I am not fond of symbolism for its own sake (plus, I’m pretty sure that little bugger would eventually stab me). I’ve always been a safety pin. No matter your limitations, do something to make yourself stronger rhetorically and/or physically. Imagine and walk yourself through situations that might require your intervention, whether it be protecting someone in public or disagreeing at the Thanksgiving table.

canstockphoto1478703I’ve been thinking about our finances. Our family lives below its means, but now we’re going to take austerity measures. I want to give more support for causes I believe in (and we might need bail money). The future is uncertain and the effects of any Social Security and Medicare tinkering during this regime will hit hard when my husband and I prepare to retire. Likely when we’re 85, at this rate. This is a good time to sort out what we need from what we want.

In the words of a favorite blogger and writer, Chuck Wendig, I’m going to ART HARDER.Β  Many years ago I read the autobiography of a man in a foreign prison and what I’ve never forgotten was his ability to recite poetry in his darkest hours. You will find this in a lot of camp literature – the pieces of humanity people hold onto when everything else is bleak – the music, the words. Art is a reflection of our humanity, something we must remind ourselves of over and over, so that we can stop our “othering” and connect with each other.

This is my final post in this after-election series. I have needed to write more this week than usual, but will likely retreat back to once or twice a week posting of the mental flotsam in my brain. Time to regain some equilibrium in order to be in this for the long haul.

Thank you – take care of yourselves and each other.MichelleSig copy

Related Posts:

Fired Up, Part 1: Changing Where, When and How I Get Information

Fired Up, Part 2: Softening Perspective, Steeling Resolve

Fired Up, Part 3: Mitigating Despair

20 Comments on “Fired Up, Part 4: Screw It, I’m Going to Smile Anyway

  1. Wonderful and inspiring post. You are such a fabulous, thoughtful writer (and thinker) I hope that at some point you decide to share your thoughts and plans and experiences with as broad an audience as possible. You have a voice, a strong and powerful one; and I think that’s another way you can get involved and do good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Fransi, you know I’ll never be able to shut up about anything! This election has electrified my brain. I’m going to let the dust settle and see what arises. I’m looking forward to getting back into community work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can tell you are excited about going back into community work. Happy for you and all those who will benefit. BTW, I didn’t mean your WordPress blog — I meant doing some OpEd pieces or magazine articles and features.

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        • I’m pretty sure I’ll be showing up more publicly, but that’s definitely a “gird your loins” kind of choice, as you’ve discovered. I’ve got to build up some inner fortitude before entering the fray!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, that is true. And I have had to learn to muzzle myself when responding to some comments. It’s challenging sometimes, but the good and healthy conversations I end up having with others, even those who disagree, make it worth it.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Once again, you’ve tapped into any of the things i have needed to say, but still can’t. Thanks.

    In my own soul searching, I have found that my own personal and perhaps the Clinton campaign’s willingness to listen was really telling. Personally I couldn’t get beyond how stupid I thought support for Trump was; the campaign didn’t reach out either. That’s no way to convince.

    Thanks again for this series.

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    • I imagine all we’ll be hearing about, besides the regime change, is the Democratic Party’s autopsy. Thus far, I’ve heard little in the way of actionable plans, it’s just a lot of finger-pointing. I think people would be getting hand cramps by now. So, I’m just going to step away from politics for the moment and implement my own actionable plans.
      It’s my own rep that’s being put up for the new DNC chair – Ellison, and I’m not particularly happy about that. He’s a good rep, but not a personality that is going to be inviting to those disenfranchised voters. I guess we’ll have to see.

      Liked by 2 people

        • I think Dean is a better choice of the two, but I feel like I’m buying into some level of racism and sexism. At what point are we collaborators? Maybe we need someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time in the spotlight. Is it possible to find a transparent, behind-the-scenes person with a good track record? Or is that a unicorn?

          Liked by 2 people

        • Maybe. But frankly, Dean knows how to win. He engineered the 2006 take back of congress and the 2008 win. (A damn good candidate helped considerably!). He was the first with focusing on all 50 states. At this point. I want to win.

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        • Ah, the slippery slope. The Republicans wanted to win and look what they turned into to make that happen. I don’t know what the liberal version of a Trump would look like. I hope that there is some serious reflection by the DNC as they move forward.

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        • It’s not a slippery slope at all. Dean won by relating to the electorate, by having people in all 50 states to convince voters thatDemocrats offered better Sollutions. There is no telling where the country would be had different folks won in 2008 especially. Remember the economic collapse?

          Going back to Dean would be like going back to a good teacher for another seminar. Or to an expert mechanic for a car. There is no darkness there.

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  3. Thank you for this series of posts. I have really appreciated it.

    I have gone the opposite way and been less articulate than usual. I haven’t really figured out why, and I’m hoping it will stop soon.

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    • You’re welcome – it’s become a place to work things out in my own head. I think we all have to move at our own paces on all of this. I go back and forth every day still, trying to settle myself down and focus on what is manageable.

      Liked by 1 person

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