Choosing What We Can

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. ~Thich Nhat Hanh


There’s an urgency to right now, isn’t there?

That urgency has changed the way that I spend my days now. I’ve got a seven-year-old boy at home these days, and he takes up my mental and physical space more than usual.

A month ago I’d probably be tearing my hair out trying to figure out how to get all of my work done while managing everything else.

But yesterday I had another Zoom call with one of my son’s teachers; another mother and her boy were on the call, too. And she was completely frazzled. She looked so overwhelmed. Maybe even angry. She asked all sorts of questions about what online programs her son should be using. How he should be doing math. What his “assignments” were.

I have to admit that for a minute I felt like I had done something wrong by not being more regimented with our “homeschooling.”

Because we’re definitely not doing things the way we’re being told to. We don’t follow the thoughtful calendar we’re given by his teacher, even though I appreciate her work and absolutely love her as a person.

Instead, we take epic, meandering walks wherever we can be six feet away from other people. We duck into stream beds and talk about rocks. We wear our rain boots and splash in little waterfalls and watch ducks eat algae. We pretend to be ninjas and attack trees – and then talk about the bugs we see in the bark.

This is not school.

This is a memory.

I simply can’t bear for my son to remember this time as terrible, and frightening. I can’t bear for him to spend the rest of his life reliving panic that he learned during a pandemic. I can’t bear for him to have his first really clear, solid memories of me being anxiety and worry.

I’d much prefer he remember me being a fellow ninja in the middle of a field blasting a tree with a Harry Potter wand (hey, we can mix storylines, okay?).

I can’t take away what’s going on in the world right now. I can’t fix this problem. It’s global. It’s got a mind of its own and it won’t listen to reason.

But I can fix how one person – one very little person – experiences this time.

I can give him that.

And I can give myself that, frankly.

Because tomorrow I could have this virus, or next Monday. And if that happens, and if I get really sick, I want to know that I squeezed every last bit of love out of every last minute.

And so even though this moment in time is not a “gift,” by any stretch of the imagination, what we’re living through and the three years that preceded it have reinforced the urgency of now. This minute. This very second. Every moment, every memory is worth more than gold.

If ever we had forgotten that, we’re being reminded of it daily now.

When I go to the grocery store, I’m taking my life into my hands. When a stranger walks past me only three feet away, rather than six, I’m reminded that my time on earth is precious.

Tomorrow was never a guarantee. But when that reality stares you in the face every second you’re outside your home, it highlights the importance of your choices.

It makes having adventures, touching moments, epic memories – with everyone in my family – the most urgent thing in my life. Far more urgent than math, or reading, or whatever is in the lovely email his teacher sends on Mondays.

None of this is fair. We’re exhausted. Hell – I’m exhausted. There’s no roadmap for how to manage life right now, and there’s no right or wrong way. Survival is noble. We’re strung out, and stressed out, and stretched in every mental and physical way there is to be. Right now, anxiety is the most reasonable reaction.

But I simply don’t have time for it.

Correction – I choose not to have time for it.

Now please excuse me, while I snuggle with my favorite seven-year-old ninja.

Take good care of yourself. I’m thinking of you.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of March 31

Tuesday: Go to the Store, and Sign up for a Text Bank

You might not be aware, but SNAP benefits are sent out on the first of the month. That means that a lot of families have been living on fumes for the past week or so, and will rely on supermarkets having what they need in stock tomorrow and Thursday.

If you can, please shop today (the 31st) or wait until next week. Let’s keep stores from getting too busy and make sure our neighbors have stocked shelves to shop from.

Also! On April 6th SuperMajority is hosting a text bank. That’s a Monday, so I wanted to tee it up for you now, because otherwise we’d miss that as an action (these coming out on Tuesdays and all). Textbanks are a great way to reach out to voters from the comforts of your home. And SuperMajority is having a conference call Monday night to walk you through it. Learn more and sign up here: https://www.mobilize.us/supermajority/event/264674/

Wednesday: Empower and Help

Empower and Help Global Awareness Challenge is a new independent research project aimed at kids from 6-12th grade. It “aims to make our children aware about global issues engulfing humanity and Mother Earth. This challenge will promote compassion, leadership, awareness and creativity. It presents a unique opportunity to research, write, compile and present. The subject is “Highlighting a Global Crisis” and is open to all students in grades 6-12.”

It sounds like a great way to engage kids in a non-COVID-19 issue, and encourage them to develop problem solving (and compassion). Check it out and share the link! https://empowerandhelp.com/empowerandhelp-global-awareness-challenge-2020/about-global-awareness-challenge/

Thursday: Help Make Our Elections Safe

We need to be able to exercise our right to vote without worrying that we are taking a risk with our lives. That’s why some newly proposed legislation from Senators Klobuchar and Wyden is so important. The folks at Indivisible did a great job highlighting what it does:

  • Expand early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail to all states.
  • Require states and jurisdictions to establish a publicly available contingency plan to enable eligible Americans to vote in the case of an emergency. 
  • Require the Election Assistance Commission to create a domestic version of the federal write-in absentee ballot.
  • Create categories of eligible Americans who can use the domestic federal write-in absentee ballot including:
    • Voters who requested an absentee ballot from the state where they are registered to vote but never received it.
    • Voters who reside in an area or state affected by a natural disaster or a national emergency.
    • Voters who are absent from their voting jurisdiction on the day of the election because they are an emergency responder or volunteering in response to a natural disaster or emergency.
    • Voters who are hospitalized or expect to be hospitalized on the day of the election.
  • Require that all states provide envelopes with prepaid postage to all voters who request a voter registration application, absentee ballot application, or absentee ballot, and require that all states offer and accept online absentee ballot applications.
  • Require absentee ballots to be counted if postmarked or signed before the close of the polls on Election Day.
  • Provide money to states to implement these reforms.

(sourced from https://indivisible.org/resource/ensuring-safe-secure-elections-during-covid-19-outbreak)

So please call your Senators and tell them to support this bill.

Don’t forget, too, that your local officials – state, county, and city – have a role to play in all of this. They might need a push to start considering elections; and frankly, they might need help. So reach out to them as well and find out what they are doing to protect you during election season.

Friday: Check Out These Grants/Loans and Share

The coronavirus and the physical distancing we have to do to flatten the curve is an economic nightmare. But there are a variety of resources that have become available – both public and private – that might help you or someone in your network weather this economic storm. The most comprehensive list of grants and loans that I’ve been able to find is at Fundera, here: https://www.fundera.com/blog/small-business-grants#coronavirus

Note that opportunities exist for freelancers and gig workers – so please check out that list and forward to your network.

It might help someone see a path to their future, and that’s a good day’s work.

WHEW! GO TEAM!

P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

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