I don’t want to be angry all the time – it’s exhausting. I try to stay current with the news and much of the time it causes me to feel stressed out and worried about the future of our country. I keep looking for ways to create balance in my life and the most effective way for me is to limit how much news I listen to and read, and try to balance that out with positive activities.
I like to hang out with my husband, read, watch movies, paint/draw, get outside and hike/walk, participate in Toastmasters, do improv, eat good food, spend time with our kitties, get involved in deep/meaningful conversations, and try to make a positive difference in our community. I don’t really like to exercise – but I like the results.
Balance seems to be the key – and not letting the negative news diminish my spirit!
What can I do to avoid burning out or ignoring the escalating evil in America?
Regardless of what happens in the future, I want to be able to look back knowing I did what I could to try to turn back the rising tide of hatred in our country. I often feel angry when I learn about the latest unwholesome changes taking place in America. How can I effectively manage my anger and turn it into productive action?
When I am angry with someone – anyone – usually he/she/they have no idea that I am angry; my anger hurts me while he/she/they obliviously continue wreaking havoc with his/her/their destructive actions.
There are plenty of destructive actions being taken and valid reasons to be angry right now – the current political situation is clearly escalating towards a holocaust-like situation. Just one example: the immigrant children being separated from their parents and families, which is an act of immeasurable cruelty. Many of these children are being forcibly adopted and will probably never be reunited with their families – this is *genocide and it is heartbreaking!
But a detailed list of the cruel and destructive actions being taken by this administration is long and horrible.
So what can I do to keep from burning out, or becoming so overwhelmed by anger or fear that I can’t cope and choose to put my head in the sand? What can I do to resist?
As a writer/artist I can write, I can draw, I can record songs and videos that protest. But I also need to keep from burning out. I need to refill my energy when I feel depleted and overwhelmed.
Here are some possibilities for creating the balance we need in order to be able to take the actions we believe will add something positive to the world we are in:
- Balance your time – don’t become obsessed with the news to the point where it overshadows all other parts of your life
- Allow yourself to hibernate and regain your energy
- Spend time doing things that bring you joy
- Read a book that engages your imagination
- Call a friend, visit a friend
- Walk in the woods, by the ocean, through a museum
- Volunteer at the nearby animal rescue or homeless shelter
- Join a good club or non-profit organization
- Paint, draw, sing, read poetry – be creative in your own way
- Laugh with friends, make a point to open your heart and make new friends
- Go to the church/synagogue/mosque/monastery/gathering of your choice
- Cook a meal for someone else
- Clean out your garage, help your neighbor(s) clean out his/her/their garage
- Listen to podcasts or Ted talks that inspire Here are a few recommendations:
- Brene’ Brown: The Power of Vulnerability Some key points in her talk: She describes the blame so prevalent in our politics today as “…a way to discharge pain and discomfort.” Her recommendations: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee…; to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror…; to believe that we are enough.
- Living Brave with Brene’ Brown and Oprah Winfrey Some key points in her talk: How to stay open to meaningful feedback that can make you better as a leader. Changing the negative narrative that keeps you from accomplishing your goals. Overcoming the negative self-talk of “Who do you think you are?” so that we can become so full that we are “overflowing enough to share with everybody else.” Oprah strives to “own the fullness without ego or arrogance, but with an amazing sense of gratitude.”
- How to Make Stress Your Friend: Kelly McGonigal Some key points in her talk: “When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage.” “…chasing meaning is better than trying to avoid discomfort.” “… “Go after what creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”
- How Great Leaders Inspire Action: Simon Sinek Some key points in his talk: The importance of knowing your purpose and why you get out of bed in the morning is a critical factor in reaching your goals. All inspired leaders and organizations think, act, and communicate from the inside out: why, how, what. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
- Maya Angelou’s Top Ten Rules for Success Maya’s Rules: 1. Just do right, 2. Be courageous, 3. Love, 4. Laugh, 5. Be a blessing to somebody, 6. Turn struggles into triumphs, 7. You are talented, 8. Learn to say no, 9. Always do your best, 10. Keep rising
Do anything that helps; anything that reminds you that there is still goodness and beauty in the world; do anything that reinforces the goodness in you; do anything that refreshes you so that you have the strength to resist, the strength to be courageous, the strength to speak out against the destructive forces in our government; be kind to yourself and refuel your spirit often; and remember that you are enough!
*UN definition of genocide:
Article Two of the convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such”:
- Killing members of the group
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
April 17, 2018
My goal is to be of the best possible service to my country and humanity – often I struggle with trying to know what that means.
Along with working on completing some of the political commentary videos I have partially finished, I will soon be recording a series of meditations to help whomever is interested to let go of some of her/his politically-induced anxiety in order to create more balance in his/her life.
Look for the meditations in the near future.
The key here is to find ways to refill our souls with positive energy that will keep us healthy. By caring for ourselves we can be more productive and more effective in standing up to and speaking out against the elements that would destroy our Democracy and steal as much as possible from the American citizens and immigrants who help this country to function.
Not that you asked, but my advice is to choose one or two issues that you really feel passionate about and take what action you can – while remembering that you don’t do anyone any good if you get too stressed-out to function.
Meditating has always been an incredibly good source of equilibrium for me. I recently spent several days at a retreat where we worked, ate, and sat in silence and prayer for much of the day. After listening to the silence and focusing on letting go of trivial, petty issues that kept trying to barge into my consciousness, I was finally able to get some much-needed room in my mind so that I could hear the deeper messages that always guide me in a good direction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I am able to be peaceful and follow my better nature all the time; I struggle with how to use anger effectively. Anger supplies us with a lot of energy and I can chose to use it productively, or I can choose to lash out at others. Again, I’m not suggesting I can do this well, or consistently. What I am suggesting is that being aware of how I use my angry energy seems like a worthwhile goal.
Meditation often brings up painful issues for me. Facing and working through the old personal issues (like how to use my angry energy) that keep getting me off track is often challenging; these are usually old wounds that keep resurfacing because I have not yet dealt with them effectively. All of us do better when we are able to identify the unconscious knee-jerk reactionary thoughts and defense strategies that we needed when we were growing up, so that we can make healthier, more conscious decisions going forward. If we do not change, we cannot grow.
And as Helen Keller said:
Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.
Democracy is beautiful, and America is an amazing country worth keeping ourselves healthy for so that we can defend it.
Again, look for the meditations in the near future.
Mount Baker photo by c.zaitz 2017
October 7, 2017
I’ve been thinking about writing a blog for a while now, but all of the self-criticism I carry around in my head has repeatedly stopped me: “Who’s going to want to read MY blog – I’m not famous, and I have a lot of issues!”, and so on. However, I was listening to a Ted Talk given by Anne Lamott recently and was inspired by her validation of everyone’s ability to make a contribution based on his/her life experiences. So I guess it’s time to jump into the blog fray and start sharing.
Here’s the link to her Ted Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/anne_lamott_12_truths_i_learned_from_life_and_writing
My goals are simple:
- Share some hard-earned wisdom/stupidity, and
- Write about how Trump is affecting American culture.
Here are the quotes from Anne Lamott that got me moving:
- “… everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared, even the people who seem to have it most together. They are more like you than you would believe, so try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides. It will only make you worse than you already are.”
- “Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts, but they keep their butt in the chair. That’s the secret of life. That’s probably the main difference between you and them. They just do it. They do it by prearrangement with themselves. They do it as a debt of honor. They tell stories that come through them one day at a time, little by little.”
I have been writing feverishly since the election – in fact, I’m working on a book that I hope to finish soon, and by soon I mean I have no idea when the darn thing will be done but I’m really looking forward to getting it out of my space and into yours! My blog will touch on some of the ideas in the book, but they really are two separate approaches – more about the book later.
I’d like to start this blog by telling you about something that happened yesterday. I spent the day as a substitute teacher in an elementary school special education classroom, observing and helping where I could. I have been a substitute in that school many times and am familiar with many of the students. The teachers who worked with the children one-on-one are very patient and focused on helping their students learn. I had seen these children the year before and was amazed at the progress they have made – because of the love, patience, and commitment to the students’ learning demonstrated by their teachers. One child, who can barely speak, had learned how to communicate by tapping on pictures on a small tablet. Here was a child who would be locked in his own chaotic mind if it were not for being able to communicate through pictures, and by learning to associate words and ideas with those pictures. I often saw him lashing out, screaming, yelling, and causing major distractions in the regular classroom last year. But this year he was much calmer and has learned to express his basic needs. The love and patience of those teachers is directly resulting in the growth of these children. It truly was inspirational.
So how does that relate to Trump, you may ask? Well, here’s the thing: there are signs posted all over that classroom’s walls that promote the basic ideas for good civic behavior, and I was struck by how far, we as a country, have moved away from the very simple ideas we learned in elementary school.
One poster listed “Ten Great Ways To Treat Others” and as I read through the list, I realized that we elected a president who can’t manage to do any of them right because he is so focused on himself and what he wants – regardless of the fact that he was elected to serve – not to steal. So here are the ten things:
- Use kind words.
- Help when you can.
- Share and take turns.
- Listen to what others have to say.
- Be honest and truthful.
- Think before you speak or act.
- Remember your manners.
- Hold your temper.
- Think about the feelings of others.
- Work and play fairly.
Okay, so I’m going to go through this list and give examples of how our president has utterly failed to master each of these ‘Great Ways.”
1 Use kind words.
Here are some of the words Trump seems to use a lot: stupid, weak, loser, moron, bad, lightweight, and so on.
You can check out other words he uses regularly here:
2 Help when you can.
Two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and after some heartless tweets in which he bragged about what a great job he was doing and criticized the mayor of San Juan for asking for help, Trump finally visited Puerto Rico. But the trip was intended to get positive press for Trump – not to give the people of Puerto Rico the help they so desperately need. According to Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald, during his whirlwind visit, Trump threw rolls of paper towels into a crowd of people in dire need of even basic supplies “as if he were a rock star tossing t-shirts to a concert crowd.” Oppenheimer went on to say that Trump’s actions reminded him of “virtually all populist leaders [who]… put themselves at center stage and make it look as if people in need are getting their goodies thanks to them, rather than as a result of the government’s duty to take care of them in extreme situations.”
Instead of expressing empathy for the American citizens suffering in Puerto Rico, Trump complained that they had “thrown our budget a little out of whack.”
Here is the link to the full article by Oppenheimer:
3 Share and take turns.
Trump has made countless promises to donate money to charities over the years, but research has shown that the money usually went into his pockets. One example that comes to mind is the six foot portrait of himself he had done with money supposedly earmarked for charity. And in spite of his many claims about having “donated millions to charity,” The Washington Post was unable to find support for his claims – now if only we could see his tax returns, we could be certain one way or the other. Here’s a link to the Washington Post story:
4 Listen to what others have to say.
He doesn’t want to listen to the daily classified intelligence briefings offered by his staff because he says he’s a “smart person.” Here’s an article about that:
5 Be honest and truthful.
This one makes me laugh. Here is an article about his 1000 plus lies as of August 2017:
6 Think before you speak or act.
People all over the world have complained about Trump’s obsessive and reckless tweeting habit, much of which takes place in the early hours when not many people are around to act as an audience or to talk sense into him. Just check out his tweet history on his Twitter account:
7 Remember your manners.
Grabbing a woman by her p*ssy against her will and bragging about it is a sure sign you never learned any.
8 Hold your temper.
Here is an article that discloses a few of his many temper tantrums:
9 Think about the feelings of others.
If you look back at the many Twitter wars Trump has had over the last few years, it is evident that only his feelings matter to him – and he seems to be both thin-skinned and vindictive. He has gone after John McCain, Rosie O’Donnell, Mika Brzezinski, Kristin Stewart, Colin Kaepernick, Bill Maher, Jemele Hill, Jon Stewart, Barbara Walters, Meryl Streep, Snoop Dog, etc., etc., etc. Clearly the feelings of others just do not matter to Donald Trump.
Here are some related articles:
10 Work and play fairly.
Trump doesn’t pay the people who work for him and has been sued by thousands of people, from dishwashers to attorneys. I don’t know about you, but it seems like you would really have to work at it to get sued by that many people! Here is an article from USA Today that talks about just who he has been screwing out of money:
In addition, I firmly believe Trump and his family worked closely with the Russians to cheat and win the election. If so, this is one of the most dishonest and unfair actions imaginable. There is a lot of press out there about this, with more evidence of collusion and treason being discovered every day. Here’s a recent article about how Ken Starr is expecting an indictment:
So Trump has managed to massively fail at every positive tool for getting along with others that we all should have learned in elementary school. This does not bode well for the future of his presidency. However, I still believe in our democratic system, and hope that we can see this man for the charlatan he is, and fix this mess so that we never have another kleptocratic traitor in the White House again!