On Taking a Breath and Taking a Beat

Smile, breathe, and go slowly. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Well, friends – today’s been a day. Every once in a great while the day gets away from me, and this day involved not just one – but two! – cats at the vet (they’re fine… our bank account, not so much) … and the kiddo’s schoolwork … and holiday preparations … and how is that I’m behind on everything? ….

So I’m going to do what I sometimes tell you to do: Take a beat. Take a breath. Give yourself a break.

So I’ll make my words brief today.

But not before I acknowledge something that I think is really important.

Today, I began the day pretty overwhelmed by the crush of important, high-stakes news.

It’s nearly impossible to even skim, let alone speak coherently about, all of the massive stories in the news right now. We have “natural” disasters like catastrophic storms (made more so by human-created climate change) and COVID outbreaks (made more severe by human-created misinformation and denial) juxtaposed alongside cultural and civic disasters – the very clear evidence of congressional involvement in the January 6 insurrection and a consistent push toward authoritarianism in the states – stripping voting rights, installing political people in positions of authority over elections… (I’m not even going to touch on what’s happening with the Supreme Court. At least not today.)

And this morning, as I sipped my coffee, I sat in stunned silence at the mass of articles I had just read. In any other time, any one of those articles would have been emblazoned in 40 point font on the front of every newspaper in the country.

Today? Today they were fighting for the space above the fold.

Honestly, it’s getting harder and harder to decide what to focus on each week, because the fever pitch of emotions and the fever pitch of news stories is … well … as you know, it’s all overwhelming.

So perhaps you’ve started your days, or maybe ended them, feeling just as overwhelmed as I did this morning.

I think that’s a healthy reaction to the state of the world, and our country, and probably your state and town right now.

(And let’s not forget that it’s the holidays – which are their own next-level of stress.)

Being overwhelmed means you care – and we can use more caring, dedicated souls in this world. But we need to protect that part of ourselves, and not let that feeling of overwhelm drift too far into the burnout category.

So tonight, as the evening closes (and the cats are begging me to settle in) I’m taking the advice I sometimes give you.

I’m giving myself a break, and although our words are somewhat short, the sentiment behind them is no less warm, and no less full of hope.

I hope you can find a place this week or next when you can take a moment of calm for yourself, too.

We all need it these days, don’t we?

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of December 14, 2021

Join Moms Demand

Today is a somber day – the ninth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. As Moms Demand Action’s founder Shannon Watts tweeted today: “Don’t tell [me] nothing’s changed since the shooting at Sandy Hook School. Tell me here what you’ve done to force change…”

Moms Demand activists have achieved amazing things, even in the reddest of states. Missouri is a great example – every year moms wearing red shirts help beat back the worst of our state legislature’s impulses. And there are chapters throughout the country – including in many rural areas!

If you’ve not been involved with Moms Demand in the past, it’s very easy to get connected with them, learn more about their work in your area, and roll up your sleeves.

Just text READY to 644-33. I swear! That’s it! They’ll take care of the rest.

Blue State Voters: Thank Your Governor for Supporting Democracy

This has flown under the radar – but yesterday, 17 Democratic governors sent a letter to Leader Schumer (and McConnell) asking for a vote on the voting rights bills.

I am really excited that they took it upon themselves to write this letter, and call upon the Senate to act: “While we continue to thwart efforts to restrict voting in our respective states, we can’t do it alone and need a federal solution through legislation like the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” the governors wrote.

So far this year, state Republican legislatures have introduced 389 bills that would limit voting access in some way. A handful of states, like Georgia, Texas and Florida, have introduced their own election overhauls that would restrict access to voting. The Justice Department has filed lawsuits in Georgia and Texas over their recently passed voting laws. The Brennan Center has found that from January to September of this year, 19 states have enacted 33 laws that would make it harder for Americans to vote.

The governors said: “Even now, legislators in some states are pushing to rewrite election laws — some they themselves passed — simply because they did not like the outcome of the last election… These state-level efforts to limit access to the ballot undermine voting rights and create disparities across the country regarding voting access.”

BRAVO! So, if your governor was a signatory, please reach out to them and say thank you. Signers included:

Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer), Colorado (Jared Polis), California (Gavin Newsom), Connecticut (Ned Lamont), Delaware (John Carney), Hawaii (David Ige), Illinois (JB Pritzger), Minnesota (Tim Walz), Nevada (Steve Sisolak), New Jersey (Phil Murphy), New Mexico (Michelle Lujan Grisham), New York (Kathy Hochul), North Carolina (Roy Cooper), Oregon (Kate Brown), Pennsylvania (Tom Wolf), Washington (Jay Inslee) and Wisconsin (Tony Evers).

Join Common Cause to Phonebank for the Freedom to Vote Act

This week, Common Cause is calling voters in targeted states and connecting them to Senators to support the Freedom to Vote Act. (And eliminate the filibuster.)

Here’s their schedule: 

Wednesday: Connecting VA voters to Sen. Warner to ask that they do everything possible to pass the Freedom to Vote Act including fixing the filibuster 

Thursday: Connecting DE voters to Sen. Coons to ask that they do everything possible to pass the Freedom to Vote Act including fixing the filibuster 

Friday: Connecting NH voters to Sen. Hassan to ask that they do everything possible to pass the Freedom to Vote Act including fixing the filibuster

Saturday: Connecting AZ voters to Sen. Sinema to ask that they do everything possible to pass the Freedom to Vote Act including fixing the filibuster

These shifts also always will include training for first-timers before you make calls – so if this is your first time, no worries! They’ll make sure you feel prepared before you begin. Join and learn more here: https://www.mobilize.us/commoncause/event/376178/?link_id=3&can_id=395d1e9ad139783bfb2d3119ea4a8c77&source=email-calling-voters-in-key-states&email_referrer=email_1381581&email_subject=calling-voters-in-key-states&fbclid=IwAR2DwIAWEwbP6sTfj2mGk40ViE3m6TTCvACqLcLB6snFciszeX4QUheLs28

Join Postcards to Voters to Encourage Floridians to Vote by Mail:

I do love postcarding. It’s my personal “craftism” – that great intersection of activism and crafting. And right now, Postcards to Voters has a great campaign to encourage voting by mail in Florida. From Tony the Democrat:

Voting by mail is not a new method of voting in our country. Five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington – conduct what are commonly referred to as all-mail elections. In these states, voting is conducted primarily, although not necessarily exclusively, by mail.

With the pandemic hitting during the 2020 General Election, voting by mail (VBM) had its big moment in the national spotlight. In fact, in plenty of the other states where it had been anticipated that turnout could swing the outcome, groups began organizing and enrolling their reliable voters so that they could safely cast their ballots from home.

Postcards to Voters began writing to Florida Democrats who were not yet enrolled in VBM more than two years ahead of the last Presidential Election. Thanks to amazing volunteer writers like you, over 3.1 million friendly notes encouraging voters to call their county supervisor of elections boosted enrollment. By the time votes were cast and counted, Democratic leaders in the Sunshine state saw the evidence of the collective effort. And so did Republican leaders.

If anyone doubted the power of VBM as a method to gain an advantage over the GOP, those doubts were laid to rest when Florida’s legislature worked out a new set of restrictions. When the Republican Governor signed these heavy-handed voter suppression tactics into law just recently, that was all the proof many needed to realize the Florida GOP was scared of letting voters enjoy unfettered VBM.

What this means for us is that we need to resume our work there. With this campaign, we are on our way to writing Democrats in all 67 counties who are either not yet enrolled in VBM or whose enrollment expired. Why are we writing to Florida Democrats encouraging them to enroll in Vote By Mail (VBM)?

1. Studies prove that voters who receive a ballot in the mail participate at a much higher rate than voters who must do so in person.

2. Helping more Florida Dems vote can turn the state blue and end the GOP stranglehold on the Sunshine State.

3. Registered voters in Florida can enroll in VBM with one phone call. That’s all. Could hardly be easier.

4. Once enrolled in VBM, they’ll receive a ballot for every type of election, no matter how small, automatically for up to two years.

5. Strengthening the voting habits of Democrats in elections both big and small can mean years of improved outcomes across the state.

6. Local parties’ efforts to do traditional door-to-door VBM enrollment is enhanced by our waves of postcards.

7. Handwritten postcards from volunteers are effective at getting voters’ attention. The easy call to action to pick up the phone and enroll in VBM paid off in 2020.

8. Getting them to enroll now, instead of waiting until the last minute, eases the administrative burden on the counties and helps them plan ahead for ballot printing needs.

9. Florida Republicans have long enjoyed an advantage in the VBM category until last year. This is no time to let up on the effort to get Democrats enjoying the convenience (and safety) of VBM.

10. It’s fun to do meaningful activism from the comfort of your home and on your own schedule. (Like voting by mail will be for these Democrats!)

Already an approved writer? Here are three easy ways to request your addresses:

1. Text HELLO to (484) 275-2229 or

2. Message HELLO to Abby the Address Bot on our Slack channel here: https://bit.ly/SlackAbby or

3. Send an email to: Request@AbbyAddresses.org

Not yet approved and ready to join?1. Text JOIN to (484) 275-2229 or2. Send an email to: Join@TonyTheDemocrat.org

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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