Recently, I’ve had several people say to me, “I can’t. I’m just done.” They are talking about the Election results and everything that has come with it. They are either emotionally overwhelmed or emotionally drained. Their fire has gone out. Some put so much effort into Hillary’s campaign that they have nothing left. Others, still reeling from the discovery that their world isn’t what they thought it was, can’t see the point of doing anything but hunkering down for the next four years and hoping they survive. Still, others were part of the fights for many of the rights that are now in jeopardy, and feel they can’t do it again.
That’s okay. I get it. Take some time and space. Recharge. Refill. Nourish your soul. Don’t rush it. Return when you are ready — when you feel you can share your courage, creativity and tenacity without emptying yourself.
For that is something we must all be vigilant about — caring for ourselves so that we don’t burn up or burn out. As women, we are especially good at caring for everyone else EXCEPT our self. Society has taught us that self-care is weak and selfish. But that is patriarchy and the shadow side of the Mother/Nurturing Goddess archetype speaking. If you go non-stop, as a Warrior into every breach you see, how long will you last? This is a marathon, not a sprint. And we need you for the duration.
This isn’t about one man. Or even his V.P. Much has been uncovered by this election. Even if neither man never takes office, the hate and ugliness that has been uncovered will still be there. It is not a matter of just putting the genie back in the bottle. So getting into a routine of self-care now is one of the most important things you can do.
Self-care is an act of LOVE It stems from the Feminine. Just look at the list of Masculine and Feminine attributes on the About page: Active, In the World, Living to Survive, Hard, External, Go, Outcome all Masculine and attributes of traditional activism. Stillness and Resting, Nurturing, Living for Joy, Beauty, Soft, Internal are all Feminine and attributes of self-care and typically missing in activism. To get anything done, we need the Masculine, to have the energy to see the process through, we need the Feminine.
There are several websites that focus on self-care. So, I’m only going to list a few ideas that I think are particularly important forms of self-care for the Activist.
- Do something that inspires/nourishes/replenishes your soul EVERY DAY. These are activities that encourage you to be fully present, not escape. Yoga, meditation, reading something inspiring or beautiful, mindfully dancing to your favorite tune, a creative endeavor, playing with your children and communing with nature are just a few ideas. Don’t say you don’t have time. For this you need to make time. Some days you might be able to take a whole hour. Others you may need to string together several mini Nourishment Breaks throughout the day. Then there will be days where 5 minutes of deep mindful breathing is your gift to yourself.
- Don’t try to tackle every issue that comes through your news feed each day. If you are like me, so much of what you care about is at risk. But keeping up with every single thing happening in every area is exhausting. So maybe assign topics to days of the week. Monday is environment day. Tuesday, reproductive rights. etc. Or set aside a block of time once or twice a week to call legislators or write letters. If you know you are marching on Saturday, let Sunday be a time of recovery. In other words, pick your battles.
- Don’t go it alone. Find a group of like-minded souls for support. If you are a woman and aren’t part of a woman’s circle or other monthly gathering, find one or create one. There’s a website and related app for finding a Woman’s Circle near you. Just remember not all Circles are pro-Hillary or anti-Donald. Or the Circle may be a “no politics zone.” Ask questions of the organizer before attending. Creating your own Circle isn’t hard. By now you know which of your FB friends are on the same page as you. And they probably know which of their friends would be interested. I suggest meeting in a place where you can be open and honest about your feelings and ideas. Perhaps adopt a set of communication guidelines such as those from the Awakening Women’s Sisterhood Manifesto. It’s okay to bitch and moan, but don’t let it be the only focus. I’m not talking false happy platitudes. We are women. We are creators. We can share recipes for cookies and for joy and for self-care and for healing our world. And if you are a man and willing to start a Man Circle, bless you. They are just as needed.
- Take time off. Most petitions and phone calls can wait a day or two. If you worry that something big is going to need doing while you are away, make a pact with a friend to call you if your action is needed immediately. Then step away from FB, the Internet (unless its puppy and cat videos — or the dancing cockatoo. I love that cockatoo), and the news in all forms. Even step away from this blog. I’ll be here when you get back.
Blessings to all who are on this journey with me. May your flame burn brightly and your well of love be full.