For all of us, the past week was one of confusing headlines, sweeping changes national policy, and a sense of “what do we do with all of this?” What can we do?
In our household, “everyday activism” meant figuring out how to do this activist thing without feeling overwhelmed.
Whether you are a democrat, republican, independent or I-don’t-even-know-because-I’ve-never-done-this-before, you are welcome into this conversation. We need each other. We need passionate hearts listening and speaking with compassion. So here goes.
This week, three important things have helped me stay positive:
1. Finding focus.
While it is tempting to want to read about and act on everything, I read lots of advice this week recommending choosing one thing, maybe two, to focus your energy for advocacy. This doesn’t mean you don’t care about other issues; you can still join in the efforts of others when they need to be supported. But pick one issue that is near and dear to your heart. Give yourself permission to not feel like you have to be deeply concerned about absolutely everything.
(This idea came from Jennifer Hofmann’s Weekly Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience. She has lot more good things to say, as well as more action steps and important news from trustworthy, independent news sources. Check it out, it’s pretty rad).
Clearly, my focus is environmental advocacy. Future posts will be dedicated primarily to this cause (surprise surprise!).
2. Preserving sanity.
When the news gets overwhelming, you have permission to turn it off. My husband is constantly reminding me of this. I’m trying but I could do a better job at listening. If we're going to stay hopeful, we have to take care of ourselves.
For me, getting outside and exercising is key. On Saturday, we went for a long trail run in the snow. That was amazing. It’s hard to make the time, but every time I do I never, ever regret it.
I found this article by Mirah Curzer particularly helpful. It’s got more great tips.
3. Finding Superpowers. (aka connect with positive influences)
Instrumental in feeling hopeful throughout this week has been a small group of six friends who I have affectionately begun calling my “Superpowers.” They are my everyday heroes. Sound a little over the top? It isn’t, I promise. Really, it’s very simple.
Basically, they’re my support group. None of us know anything about activism (at least not prior to this week). But the six of us share deep concern for current events and a desire to take our fear/anger/frustration and turn it into positive action. We live in different counties, yet we share info several times daily. (Thanks, smartphone.)
Whenever we find resources or articles that are 1) funny 2) important news from quality sources and 3) resources that make taking action easier, we share them in the group.
We also planned a community meeting to share our enthusiasm, ideas and resources. It’s like a hub, with each of us as a spoke in a wheel, expanding outward. The energy of knowing we’re not alone keeps the wheel turning. How will it grow? Time will tell. (Update: The meeting was a great success. In the following weeks, we've been able to connect with other groups. The power of networking is strong.)
So my encouragement to you, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, is to find people who inspire you. Connect with them. Make a group, whether it’s a facebook group, or a text message group, whatever. Just start sharing stories of hope, not fear. And thanks to tools of technology (aka smartphone), suddenly you too will find “Superpowers” in your pocket. For me it has changed everything.
If you’re thinking to yourself: I don’t have “Superpowers.” Don’t worry. I can share. Stay tuned for more resources on Thursday, my next post. We’re in this together.
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So, I want to know...
Do you see yourself as an “everyday activist”? Are you feeling confused? Hopeful? Cautiously optimistic? Outright depressed? Do you have Superpowers in your life? Let us know in the comments below!
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