This post is not going to focus 100% on what EVERYONE is talking about almost 100% of the time these days. Sure, I have my thoughts, opinions and feelings on the subject, but I have been and continue to be relatively quiet and very focused on what is right in front of me in the here and now.
For many years, I worked in Jewish social justice and I loved it. This was a life-changing experience where I learned the real strength that comes from praying with my feet. While I was there, I worked shoulder to shoulder with some of the most talented, passionate and effective community organizers in Chicago and beyond. I will forever consider these individuals role models and heroes of mine.
As I learned about community organizing, the most knowledgeable facilitators would often emphasize the power that comes from staying angry; leading with anger. I never really subscribed to staying angry, even though I witnessed how advantageous anger could be in winning campaigns. Don’t get me wrong – I was angry about many things, but what I found and still find is that my power actually atrophies when I lead with anger.
I’m fairly certain I didn’t follow all of the Tuesday madness, intentionally. I felt productive and peaceful. Even when I was cleaning up dog poo, I was pretty calm; grossed out beyond reason, but calm.
By the time I was finally able to check what was happening with the election, it appeared as if Mr. Trump was going to be our next President.
For about an hour, like so many of us, I was stunned. I think my mouth was agape for the entire hour. Then, I tried deep breathing, but my head raced with thoughts about our country, my kids, your kids, women’s rights, people with disabilities, Muslims, Jews, undocumented immigrants, the LGBTQ community, racism, systemic oppression and white privilege. I’m not sure how long my mind raced, but not for very long.
I stopped myself from going further down that hole, because I didn’t want to experience such deep anxiety and anger that I would cease being helpful to others or to myself.
Since then, I have observed more anger, meanness and hatred than I have ever seen in my life and especially on social media. People who love each other, severing ties… name calling… insults having nothing to do with the election, are flying all over Facebook. For obvious reasons, I’ve cut most of this out of my daily life and I am certain I am better off for it.
My core values are my core values. They are the same today as they were last Monday. Still, here’s some stuff that’s helpful for me and I hope it can be for you too:
- I’m not yelling about what my core values are or aren’t on Facebook or anywhere else
- I’m not hating someone else just because they disagree with my core values
- I’m not fearful of someone who thinks they hate “my kind”
- I’m not making a judgment that someone is stupid because they moved in a different direction than I did
- I’m not singing Kumbaya or passing out flowers at O’Hare like a Hare Krishna from 1973
- I’m not burying my head in the sand
- I am open and am listening
- I have boundaries but I’m not interested in building walls of any kind
- I know that I am not going to worry about what hasn’t happened yet, which is not the same as being passive about the work that is essential to the community, country and world no matter who is POTUS
- I will speak with an inside voice
- I will not call people names
- I will champion and aid all who need help the most
At almost 50 years old, there are no major crises inside of me and even if there are ailments or challenges, I am not in crisis emotionally or mentally. I believe this is the sweetest spot where I can be most helpful to others. This is all I have ever really wanted.
Well… okay, maybe I want a tummy tuck, but I want it to happen naturally, when I’m sleeping in my bed, without being cut and without any recovery time. Plus, I want Dr. McDreamy to be my non-invasive surgeon.
Seriously, there’s no midlife crisis here. I’m at peace and am sharper than I have ever been and I think the biggest reason I am this way is because I’m not paralyzed with anger. I’m just not. I am quietly prepared for just about anything and whatever that anything is, it will be fully in line with my core values.
I sure as hell hope we can all not be angry together, all of us with our inside voices so we can hear each other.
Peace, love and respect is my prayer. That, Dr. McDreamy and a flat mid-section or acceptance of what is. I’ll take acceptance AND Dr. McDreamy. Skip the tummy tuck.