Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will. ~W. Clement Stone
Everything that has happened to you is either an opportunity to grow, or an obstacle to prevent you from growing … you get to choose. ~Wayne Dyer
I was going to talk about something completely different today, to be honest with you.
But last night, after an extremely long and extremely productive conference call with activists across the state I live in, I had a separate long and productive conversation with a woman who I have admired and been proud to call a friend for (checks calendar) the past three years.
She told me about the time and space she took over the last month, regrouping. And I thought of you, and wondered if you’re in the same space.
She told me about the overwhelming emotion that she felt during that time (which I gathered from her tone was unexpected): sadness.
I took that time off and I was so, so sad, she told me. I woke up in the morning and just … started crying. I think I was mourning the loss of those four years. She paused, and softened her voice – emphasizing the emotion with a near whisper. Four years!
I could relate, of course.
She and I recounted the horrors – which are too numerous to list in full, as you well know. Kids in cages, families separated, democratic institutions castrated, rights trampled.
And through it all, you just had to keep going, you know? Just keep up the pressure. One foot in front of the other. As leaders, you can’t wallow in it. You have to rally everyone. She paused. You just needed to keep going.
I feel all of that, acutely, right now. Because I can.
As I pointed out last week, for four years we’ve had no time or space to take a true mental break from the strain. You might remember that after the election, when Biden was declared the victor I surprised myself by breaking down and crying in those heaving, hiccuping sobs that are reserved for those times when emotions truly come over the bow and smack you in the face.
But – even though I thought I had – I never really relaxed. Not until January 20, when my phone flashed with the AP notification that Biden had taken the oath of office and we were really, truly, looking at his administration in the rearview mirror. (No, I did not watch live – I have an 8-year-old son, and after the insurrection I worried about violence. I was in fourth grade when I watched the Challenger explode live on the tv my teacher excitedly wheeled into our classroom. There was no way I was going to expose my kid to a similar experience.)
In that moment, it was as though my back straightened on its own. My breathing got deeper. And I felt more physical and mental relaxation than I’d felt in more than four years.
I have a feeling you know what I’m talking about.
We’re not alone, you know. A day or two after the inauguration, when dozens of Executive Orders had been signed and we were all marveling at how … normal … things felt again, I commented about how much lighter the world felt. My husband nodded. We’ve been carrying a lot, he said. It’s going to be a while before it really registers.
A brilliant friend remarked in a Facebook post that he was watching White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s first press briefing, seeing her detail the Executive Orders and banter back and forth with the press … and he broke down sobbing. He wondered aloud how many other similar triggers there are.
I wonder that too. I think there are a lot.
I imagine we’ll all find our own in the coming weeks. We’re all reacting a little differently to no longer having that daily (hourly) dose of anxiety and fear and everything that travels with it. Besides the obvious and very welcome relief, I feel a little disjointed – as though my schedule has been scrambled.
Maybe you’ve been more (or less) tired, or less focused, or even – dare I say – bored.
Maybe you’re not feeling any of that – and have just been able to slide into this new era having shaken off the last four years like a bad dream. (I would love to hear your secret, friend!)
I think we’re going to need to give ourselves and each other some grace over the coming weeks and months, as we all adjust – and come to terms with the last four years. I hope you’re able to take a beat to reflect, and refocus, and re-energize.
But do you know what’s exciting to me?
With all of this weight taken off of our shoulders… we have space and strength we didn’t have before.
Now, we get to decide how to use it.
And that is a project I know we can all put our hearts into.
So… let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of February 2, 2021
Tuesday: Indivisible Training on How to work with Blue or Red Members of Congress
Indivisible has created a series of workshops/training sessions to help us learn effective strategies for working with blue AND red Members of Congress. It’s obvious, but deserves saying, that advocacy looks different when you’re in a ruby red district. I’m really happy to see Indivisible speaking to that (as well as to the challenges – and opportunities – that are available to you when you have a blue MOC).
Here are the details and the relevant times. Click the link to register!
- New Year, New Plan: Working with Red Members of Congress (evening session)
- This one hour long training session will cover how to work with your Republican member of congress. We know that there are so many unique challenges that come along with organizing in a red area, so throughout this training we will cover some effective strategies and tactics to working with your conservative members. Of course we will leave some time for questions along the way.
- February 3 at 2pm CST: New Year, New Plan: Working with Red Members of Congress (afternoon session)
- Same session, different day & time.
- February 4 at 6pm CST: New Year, New Plan: Working with Blue Members of Congress (evening session)
- For those of us in blue districts, this is our version of the event above to help us learn how to work with our democratic members of congress.
- February 5 at 2pm CST: New Year, New Plan: Working with Blue Members of Congress (afternoon session)
- Same session, different day & time
Wednesday: A Love Letter
A few weeks back I asked you to thank Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for his bravery – and heard from quite a few people that it was such a positive thing to write a thank-you postcard. (Shout out to you, Anne M.! I owe you an email!) And it being the month of Valentines Day, I figured it was time for a little positivity around here!
Let me just tell you how important these positive postcards are. Many legislators – even some that you think are rock solid on policy – need to feel your support. When they go out on a limb, they don’t want to be out there alone. When we don’t back them up publicly for doing the things we’re proud of them for, we expose them to completely unnecessary political risks (bad messaging from the other side, for example, and claims they are not following what “the majority” wants) which decreases their appetite to take further action.
We all know that the loudest voices start to look like “the majority,” or “everybody” when you don’t hear from anyone else.
So I want you to grab a postcard, or pick up the phone. If you have a Democrat who represents you in the House or Senate, send them a note saying you appreciate their work. Point out a recent vote, or even just say you’re thinking about them and their staff after the January 6 insurrection.
Of course, specific policy thank yous are even better! So thank them for sponsoring or supporting legislation (in Missouri, you can send a card to Cori Bush thanking her for being so strong on the insurrectionists and their supporters in Congress, and for introducing environmental justice legislation).
Bonus points for sending a Valentines Postcard. Send photos please!
The beginning of my postcard? Republicans are red… Democrats are blue… We’d sure be in trouble… If we didn’t have YOU! Thank you for being our Congresswoman!
This is meant to be a simple, fun, and uplifting action. Spread the love!
Thursday: Tell Congress – go big
We are coming up on March, which will mark a full year that most of us have had our lives completely upended by COVID. Our economy has taken a massive hit. Jobs and security are on the line. And we have Republicans who are nibbling around the edges of what needs to happen.
We need the American Rescue Plan that has been proposed by the Biden administration. Republicans want to water it down, because that’s what they do. It’s fine if they want to express their opinions and offer suggestions. What’s not okay is if we let our Democratic MOCs to back off of what the American people need.
So please take some time to call your MOC and tell your Blue Senators to stay strong, and your Red Senators to wake the h-e-double-hockey-sticks up. This is a generational emergency and they need to rise to the challenge.
The American people have.
It’s their turn.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m calling from [zip code]. I wanted to tell the Senator to vote in favor of the American Rescue Plan – as it is. We all need help. The funding that’s going to go through this bill isn’t going to pad some corporate books – it’s going to help local and state governments not lay off thousands of people, it’s going to help people put at least a little food on the table, and it’s going to prove to the American people that the government cares about our futures as much as it cares about the Stock Market. Don’t let your constituents down.
Friday: Defund Marjorie Taylor Greene (H/T Chop Wood Carry Water!)
Money is the GOP’s love language.
So, let’s talk in terms they understand.
While Congress works on how it can sanction/remove Marjorie Taylor Greene, we can work on how we can sanction her donors. Making Trumpists toxic to corporate donors is really important, folks – and we can start with her because she is the *perfect* poster child.
Juul, GM, and NATCA (the National Air Traffic Controllers Association) are the top corporate donors to Marjorie Taylor Greene
Tweet at them using CWCW’s tweets here and here and here.
Next, we can write them a quick note.
For Juul CWCW DM’d them on FB here.
For GM they did the same here.
For NATCA Jess sent an email to email@example.com
Here’s what Jess (again, of Chop Wood Carry Water – subscribe if you don’t already!) said:
Hi, I read an article yesterday that informed me that _____ is one of the top 3 corporate donors to Marjorie Taylor Greene—she’s the Q-Anon spouting, hate filled, Sandyhook-denying Congressmember who was just called out for both liking posts on Facebook about hanging Nancy Pelosi AND accosting a 14-year-old Parkland student on the street shortly after the mass shooting he witnessed and demanding to know why he was trying to take away her second amendment rights. Just curious if you plan on donating to her (or other Republican extremists like her) in the future? I truly hope not! Please consider not supporting violent extremists, for ALL of our good. Thanks!
DID YOU KNOW YOU’RE A ROCK STAR? I did. SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
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!
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.