Choosing Forward Motion

One can choose to go back toward safety, or forward toward growth. Growth much be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again. ~Abraham Maslow


I was talking to a friend the other day on the phone, catching up a bit while I weeded one of my garden beds.

“I forget things all the time now,” she said. “You know, all this anxiety causes forgetfulness – I mean, it takes a toll.” She’s always been a fighter. She’s that friend who learns a new skill set (seemingly in a weekend), does the hard work to discover herself without bragging about it, and throws herself into (and succeeds in) everything.

She also remembers everything. Usually.

But not anymore, as she told me. She has dead pansies to show for it.

I could relate. I have chalked it up to getting a little older (3.5 years older, to be exact) and to having too much to do and too little time. But I agree with her. The weighted blanket we’ve been under has made everything just that bit harder.

I struggle to remember what it was like to not cringe when I heard the news. It’s hard to remind myself that there was a time – not so long ago – when I was proud of our standing on the world stage. Not just not embarassed, but proud.

If you took psychology (and even if you didn’t) you probably know about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a pyramid structure that explains human motivation. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, it’s organized like so:

  • physical needs (food, water, shelter);
  • safety and security;
  • belongingness and love;
  • esteem (prestige and feelings of accomplishment);
  • and self-actualization (achieving your full potential).

And it occurred to me as I spoke with my friend about her forgetfulness, and reflected on my own mental and physical changes over the last three years… It’s as if, as a society, we went from the esteem stage … down to physical needs and safety.

Now, rather than wanting to be the greatest world power – we’re just hoping to survive – both literally and figuratively.

That takes a toll.

So as I was reflecting on what to write today, I wanted to honor this difficulty we’re facing. We’re tired, it’s been a long three years, and we’re facing existential crises – seemingly every day.

I’m impressed that we’re holding it together, and it’s a credit to you for putting one foot in front of the other.

Because every step of this you’ve had a choice, you know. Like Maslow said – at any point you have the choice: retreat to safety, or go forward to growth. You have to re-choose your direction, every single day.

You’ve chosen growth, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

Regardless of how downtrodden you might feel, you’re not allowing the weight of the years control you. You’re choosing growth. You’re choosing power. You’re choosing hope.

That makes me happy.

So whether you forget things now and again, whether you’re a little too tired and a little too angry and a little too on edge – know that there’s a reason. Try to give yourself a little leeway. You deserve it.

We all do.

In fact, I’m going to go have a cupcake to celebrate. I invite you to join me.

Now, let’s get to work.


Actions for the Week of June 30, 2020

Tuesday: Flip the West

Flip the West (formally Flip the 14 in 2018) is working to turn out Democratic voters in six western states for November’s election. These voters could be the difference for Democrats on the path to winning a majority in both chambers and the presidency.

The targeted states (MT, IA, CO, KS, AZ, TX) have shown credible progressive momentum that indicates these seats can flip blue if we put in the work! Today, commit one hour to building voter excitement and participation. You can reach voters by signing up to phone bank or send postcards. With stay-at-home orders in place, connecting with voters by phone and by mail is more important than ever: this is the new ground game.

Once you register to phone bank, Flip the West will provide you a script and you’ll be ready to go, right from your home. Or, if you’d like to send postcards, Flip the West will provide you addresses and messaging! Their two biggest priorities right now are signing voters up for mail-in ballots for Mark Kelly’s primary race in Arizona and urging Colorado voters to vote Democratic with a racial justice message about fair judges. 

Wednesday: Impeach Barr.

Attorney General Bill Barr must be impeached. He has repeatedly shown a willingness to undermine the justice system. His abuse of power cannot be overstated. To summarize his failures, I’ve pulled this quote from Charles Fried and Edward Larson in the Atlantic:

“Think of the intentionally misleading account he gave of the Mueller report… or the brief he allowed his Justice Department to file with the Supreme Court in the case about including a citizenship question on the 2020 census… or his false account of the use of armed forces to clear Lafayette Square for the president’s photo opp… or his statement that the U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman asked to step down, when Berman had done no such thing. And now we have a damning testimony this week about the politicization of the Department of Justice in the prosecution of the Trump ally Roger Stone.”

(Check out the full piece here – worth the read)

Barr is a threat to our democracy. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have organized a petition to call for Barr’s impeachment and removal from office. Sign the petition online. THEN, call all of your Congresspeople and demand that they see to his impeachment. The same petition website has a great script for you to use while on the phone. 

Thursday: Safe Voting for Every State

I’m excited to share a voting-safety action website with you this week. Safe Voting Now has identified the single most important action people can take in each state to protect their community’s voting rights.

The well-researched, user-friendly website lets you sort by state to determine the most critical work you can do to ensure you and your neighbors can vote safely in November. Their solutions include expanding vote-by-mail, extending early voting options, improving voter registration options, and improving in-person voter safety. Head over to the website and select your state to get started. Once you’re on your state’s page, the organization will guide you through what elected official you should contact about what issue.  

Friday: Become a Better Ally

This Friday, let’s put in the work to become more knowledgeable, supportive allies. I’m highlighting two education resources because there is always more to learn. 

Justice in June, a resource compiled by Autumn Gupta and Bryanna Wallace, is a calendar-based education system for Black allies. (Check out their recent feature in The Washington Post!) For a month, you can follow daily 10 minute, 25 minute, or 45 minute actions that will help you identify what an active allyship with the Black community looks like. They’ve broken down readings, assigned videos, and selected podcasts for you to engage with.

Once you complete your month, don’t forget that your work doesn’t stop there!
Pride month may be coming to a close, but we should never stop working to support the LGBTQ+ community. One of the best ways to be an ally is to listen. Today, spend some time listening to the Making Gay History podcast. I guarantee you’ll get hooked and spend any free time you have with this on. The seven seasons may seem a little intimidating at first (you can dive in anywhere!); however, season one episode one is a good place to start!

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.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s