Wednesday, February 15, 2017

From an Non-professional on Self-Care

I posed a question on Facebook and asked a serious question about how to cope during this politically charged time in our nation. I got a lot of good answers and more people responded than usual, which means I’m far from the only one feeling stress. In fact, I talked to a close friend the other day and she said, she and her husband were so confident about the outcome of the election that they’d gone out to the movie only to come home and find that their teenaged daughter had, had a full-on panic attack. 

Not matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there is no denying that these are polarizing times. I feel a personal responsibility to be politically active. My parents were both very engaged in the political process. I remember voting booths being set up in our living room. Dad was often a speaker at 4th of July breakfasts and after Dad's death my mother sometimes spoke. It was considered a patriotic duty to be informed. Dad watched the News, both nationally and locally like most men watch sports. 

I would not be able to sleep at night—still have a hard time—if I was silent about the direction our country has turned, but what has given me hope is seeing millions of people (#resist) assemble, meet, march, speak out, attend town halls, write letters, make phone calls, and engage in the political process. To see the sleeping giant awakened can be both frightening and heartening at the same time. To see the media stand up and call the administration out on the misinformation “lies” that are being peddled by #45 and his minions is what makes this country great. No apologies to DT, this country already is great and will continue to be great as long as defenders of democracy refuse to be silent. I’m feeling more at peace when I see the national security advisor resign and NO the problem was not just the leak that Flynn had been communicating regularly with Russia, the problem is what he did and then lied about it. To hear Stephen Miller defend the president and say that he should not be questioned makes me shudder and if it doesn’t make you shudder than I would dare say that freedom of speech is not a priority. 

Now back to the SELF-CARE which is what this post was supposed to be about. I’m both luck and unlucky in that my time is my own. I am self-employed and have no children at home. I love this chapter of my life, but it also allows for a lot of ruminating, worrying, brooding, and so on. I know many friends who are really too busy to worry. For me keeping to a schedule is helpful. I like to start my mornings with a long hot bath infused with epsom salts and essential oils. I know that’s relaxing and many would argue with that, but I have fibromyalgia and wake up with considerable pain and stiffness. In the tub, I read from a daily meditation guide called “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. I love this book and have gone through it several times. Then most days, I spend 15-20 minutes doing Yoga, thanks to a daughter who has kept encouraging me to do so. This also helps with the Fibromyalgia pain. On a good day, on a scheduled day I might spend a few hours making pottery, then sometimes meet friends for lunch or book club or whatever else I have going on. Often my husband and I will go for a hike or at the least a daily walk. I try to keep all this up even though now I’m also consumed by news 24-7.  Spend time daily posting political articles,  and writing emails to government leaders. And because I have a phone phobia and my husband would rather call than write, I sometimes dial the phone and hand it to my him. We make a good team that way. I’ve teased my husband that he is a closet liberal, but this season that closet door has swung open and he has stepped up and out. It would be extra challenging to our marriage if we were not on the same page politically. Our love for each other would be strained if he and I didn’t share many common values and beliefs. 
From one of our recent hikes in Logan Canyon

I made a list of some of the great ideas that came from my Facebook friends on Self-preservation. 1. Scheduling lunches with like-minded friends so we don’t feel alone. 2. Setting priorities (family first.) 3. Joining secret or closed groups where you can safely vent (and plot) strategies. 4. Some people expressed the need to move from the US, hmm not sure if that’s a valid option. :) 5. Holding dear to values and truths and being mindful and balanced. 6. Reminding oneself of the good in the world, limiting news to stay informed but not immersed. (Harder for some of us who feel the need to be keeper of the flames) 7. “Let the beauty of nature soothe your fears. I believe our foundations from the constitution will save us.” Sue Cannon Spencer 8. Balance. Engagement yes, but balance with escapism. 9. Laurel said “I’ve found my tribe, changed my diet, use essential oils. I stay informed, but refuse to stay scared.” 10. Jennifer who is very politically engaged and speaks out whenever possible has changed her alarm to the Philharmonic orchestra. 11. Joy believes we are stronger together. It helps her to sleep knowing she has groups of friends who share her concerns. 12. Watch movies such as “Loving” about a mixed race couple who eventually helped change the laws of the land through the supreme court. It’s not unlike the civil rights movements of our lgbtq friends. 13. Looking forward to 2 years from now when things should change. 14. Playing tennis (or other workouts), working overtime, and unfollowing some people on Facebook. 15. Going to Baskin Robbins (or fill in the blank)  and getting that banana split (or whatever) you’ve been craving. 16. Sarah suggested reading the book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided on Politics and Religion" by Jonathan Haidt. Similar to people having different taste buds. 17. Gayle learns to forgive others their political leanings by remembering that not everyone shares her same education and experiences that helped shape hers. (This is something I try to remember also). She also engages in activism. 18.Maria  enjoys the humor that comedians offer while shining a bright light on important issues. Problems such as racism that have always been there are being exposed. We can do better and I think we will… 19. Recognizing our circle of influence and change. Ann thinks of one thing she can do each day as she has her morning coffee. She’s also ordered mini-constitutions and bill of rights from the ACLU to hand out to her students. 20. Some are increasing their faith and reliance in a higher power.   
From the peaceful Women's March in Ogden, Utah 

I’d like to add that I’ve been ordering my old favorites from Disney on Netflix. This might be weird, but we’ve re-watched, The Parent Trap, Pete’s Dragon, That Darn Cat, and Freaky Friday. Tonight I’m watching Pollyanna. This is such fun nostalgic escapism. So ta ta for now. I’m off to go on a walk with my favorite man, catch some Vitamin D, and listen to the black birds sing—yes they have arrived!