Note: This week’s pep talk is courtesy of Jessica Glunt, who I first met after the 2016 election at a meeting with our U.S. Senator (back when he hosted such things). You may recall that I met last week’s guest post writer, Lisa, at the same event. (You can see why he stopped hosting those public meetings…)
Jessica is brilliant, engaging, encouraging and incredibly kind. The time she has for her own pursuits is limited – with young children and family obligations, there are never enough hours.
But, at my request, she agreed to dedicate some of those precious hours to share some thoughts with you.
I’m so, so glad she did. I think you will be, too. ~Michele
“Am I doing enough? Are we doing enough? Will it be enough?”
These questions lurk behind every decision I make lately, with an urgency that has only increased as the world seems to be falling apart at an accelerating rate.
I’m a pandemic parent; it has been a marathon of marathons for so many of us, staggering through the past few years in survival mode. When I get a chance to catch a breath and look up and around, I see war, climate crisis, the global rise of authoritarianism, the demise of community and compassion, and everywhere – grief, pain, uncertainty, fear. Finding five minutes to rest from the daily crisis mode within my household only becomes five minutes to be bombarded by crises without.
How do we keep up this pace, when we’re just one? We know we’re not alone – after all, you’re reading this – but how do we sustain ourselves for a lifetime marathon… but still show, with our time and attention, our gratitude for the beauty and wonder in this world? Pithy snippets like, “Rest and recharge – the fight will be here when you come back!” and “Put on your own oxygen mask first!” don’t assuage the heaviness I feel when I think about how to prioritize my time, or the turmoil that bubbles up as I try to weigh my own individual needs against the world’s.
Surely I should dedicate my life to making the world a better place for our children, right? But do I spend less time with them now, to save the whales and the rhinos and the rainforest for their children? How do I find the biggest, most pressing issue, where my contribution will make the most difference? How do I believe one person can make a huge difference without assuming the duty to be that person, and anything less than creating a sea change isn’t enough? The drawbacks to this reactionary approach are obvious, and I know better, yet still I’ve found my attention ricocheting from “saving democracy!” to “saving the planet!” to “saving lives! (Covid version)” to “saving lives! (war version)” to “ahhh!” in a totally overwhelming cycle.
And while there’s plenty to be unpacked there, a major theme is guilt and shame – guilt that I can’t keep up a superhuman pace and the shame the keeps me from embracing things that I love but aren’t necessarily of supreme importance. How do I square loving the planet so much with not abandoning everything else in pursuit of “saving” it? How do I value my daughters’ freedoms immeasurably and not spend every waking minute working to secure them? How do I shatter with gratitude when I tuck my children into their safe beds at night without spending all day making possible the same for the children of Ukraine? How do I enjoy a hike, pet my dog, plant useless flowers, learn a language I will never use, all while I know that nothing I do will ever be enough… but without abandoning my responsibility to keep trying?
How do I know when to rest and “recharge” when all over the world there are people without that luxury? How do I know which thread to start working on when they’re all so important and the work is endless? At what expense do I maintain a sprint’s pace for a marathon?
I love the beauty in this world, I love the fragile human ideals that comprise our potential, I love the hope that keeps us striving despite the certainty that we’ll never reach the heights we desire. I want more than anything to be a part of that, but how do I marry duty with joy?
I haven’t found the perfect balance, and I don’t intend to pretend otherwise. But I have thought about this a lot lately because I’ve been in this place a lot lately, and I simply want to tell you, remind anyone who feels similarly:
It’s enough. Your love is enough. You are enough.
“Love violates the story of separation. Love is the expansion of self to include another, whose well-being becomes part of one’s own.”
People far smarter, far more eloquent than me have said it better, and there are a thousand pithy quotes that attempt to encapsulate this concept. So, my thoughts today are simply a reminder. Just as I know my children appreciate a cool washcloth on their feverish forehead no less because I didn’t invent the concept, likewise, I will tell you –
Your joy is the world’s joy – feel it. The art you make that no one sees adds as much beauty to the world as a redwood – make it. Working towards a better world is not a project-based endeavor; it’s waking up each day and choosing the version where each action and each living organism is intertwined, equally invaluable, equally worthy of love – so, do what you love.
“[W]hat happens to anything happens in some way to everything. We are free then to listen to what calls forth our passion, our care, and our gifts, whether the need that calls them seems large or small, consequential or invisible…. each contains all…”
No matter how big or small your actions seem, saving a part of yourself, of those right next to you, is saving a part of the world. The audacious hope of your song, the optimism made flesh in our children, the peace you find in a quiet evening; all the love you expend in service of things precious to you is in service of the world we are trying to build. Defying the myth that we’re not all connected, following your heart even when it feels far too insignificant, that choice is enough.
“Even as the crises of the world each contain the others … the same is true for the responses. To respond to any is to respond to all. I imagine myself talking to a rhino in a cage. She asks me, “What were you doing with your life, while I was going extinct?” If I answer her, “I was working to save the coral reefs,” or “I was helping to stop the navy from using whale-deafening sonar,” or “I spent my life trying to free men from death row,” then she is satisfied, and so am I. We both know that somehow, all of these endeavors are in service to the rhinos too. I can meet her gaze without shame.”
Of course, feeling gratitude, love, connection, that does not supplant action. After all, love is also a verb, and its very existence prompts a response.
It’s enough to love, precisely because to love is to act.
So, let’s get to work.
*Quotes from Charles Eisenstein, “In a Rhino, Everything” 2016 https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/in-a-rhino-everything/
Actions for the Week of April 26, 2022
Help Me Get The Word Out About Blue Ohio!
For the past few months, I’ve been hard at work with Jonathan Zucker and David Pepper creating Blue Ohio – a community of people who, working together, will crowdsource support for Ohio’s Democratic state legislative nominees. By making sure all nominees have some support, we’re ensuring no nominee or voter is left behind, and we’re developing the infrastructure and long-term strategy that we need.
No more forgotten districts means no more forgotten voters – and that has serious electoral benefits. In fact, a study we commissioned showed a 1.5% increase in vote share for the top of the ticket for having a Democratic nominee for state house on the ballot, and studies have shown there’s an additional 1% voter turnout if that challenger was funded at $0.36 per eligible voter.
In other words – having a nominee matters, and funding that nominee matters.
We can do both – especially if we all work together and make it a sustainable, long-term project that’s based in community.
Members who join Blue Ohio at the $10 or more level are automatically invited to our monthly “brown bag” lunches, where former Ohio Democratic Party Chair and author David Pepper will give us the skinny on Ohio politics. We’ll also have guest speakers.
Blue Ohio is an expansion of our pilot project in Missouri, and to say I’m excited about it would be a serious understatement.
I’d love for you to check out the website, join if you’re interested/able – and absolutely (pretty please!) share it with your friends and network.
Long COVID legislation
Long COVID impacts between 5-30 million Americans.
That’s five Missouris.
Or three Michigans.
Or one Texas.
In other words, this is a massive crisis.
There are two pieces of legislation that have been drafted to address Long COVID in some way, shape or form. As of yet, neither is getting much attention and that has got to change.
The TREAT Long COVID Act would expand treatment for Long COVID nationwide by:
- Authorizing the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants up to $2,000,000 to health care providers, including community health centers;
- Granting funding for the creation and expansion of multidisciplinary Long COVID clinics to address the physical and mental health needs of patients;
- Prioritizing funding for health providers that plan to engage medically underserved populations and populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19;
- Ensuring that treatment is not denied based on insurance coverage, date or method of diagnosis, or previous hospitalization;
- Encouraging ongoing medical training for physicians in Long COVID Clinics and other health care workers serving patients; and
- Requiring grantees to submit an annual report on its activities that includes evaluations from patients.
The TREAT Long COVID Act has been endorsed by the COVID-19 Longhauler Advocacy Project, Body Politic, Patient-Led Research Collaborative, Utah COVID-19 Long Haulers, Access Living, National Health Council, American Physical Therapy Association, Massachusetts ME/CFS & FM Association, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mbadika, Solve M.E., American Association on Health and Disability, and Lakeshore Foundation.
It’s bill 7482, and has been referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Go here to find out if your rep is on the Energy and Commerce committee: https://energycommerce.house.gov/about-ec/membership
Go to congress.gov to see if your rep is a cosponsor. (As of the day I am writing this, there are only two. So, chances are good your rep is NOT a sponsor). Here’s the link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/7482/cosponsors?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22treat+long+covid+act%22%2C%22treat%22%2C%22long%22%2C%22covid%22%2C%22act%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=1)
Let’s raise their awareness of this legislation, and bring it into the conversation.
Here’s a script for you to use: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling to ask the Congress(wo)man’s position on the Treat Long COVID Act that was introduced by Congresswoman Pressley. [Insert your own personal stake, if you have one – including friends and family that have been impacted.] We already know that between 5 and 30 million Americans have Long COVID and the burden is only going to get larger with time. I don’t see the Congress(wo)man on the record as supporting this bill yet? Why not?
Lots of Postcarding Opportunities
Another election cycle, another opportunity to break out those sharpies!
All craftivist jokes aside, postcarding is incredibly effective – and there is something so very satisfying about having a tangible project at the end of your activism session.
Activate America has a number of great postcarding opportunities across the country. You can find those projects at their website, which you can access by clicking HERE or going to https://www.activateamerica.vote/.
Note: Activate America provides addresses, instructions and scripts but does not provide postcards or stamps.
Here are their current postcarding projects.
- Georgia: GOTV for Senator Warnock
- North Carolina: GOTV Cheri Beasley for US Senate
- Nevada: Climate Change focus to support Senator Cortez Masto
- California: Support Jay Chen for new Congressional District CA-45
- California: Support Dr. Asif Mahmood for new Congressional District CA-40
- California: Support Rudy Salas for new Congressional District CA-22
- Wisconsin: Vote by Mail!
Postcard for Northeast Arizona Democrats: In 2022, our team must reach every Native Democratic voter on Navajo, Hopi, and White Mountain Apache lands in Northeast Arizona. With your help, we can empower Native voices in Arizona politic to defend Mark Kelly’s Senate seat; fight for a Democratic Representative in the newly redistricted CD 1; and defend or flip all statewide races, including the governorship. This election is just as consequential as the 2020 General Election to protect our Congressional majority and to fight the extremists in our state.
Please sign up here to get a list of 25 voter addresses and a script to help us reach our voters. [here is the LINK for their Mobilize campaign]
Text Bank and Instagram DMs
Turn PA Blue is hosting a mail-in ballot texting blitz on Wednesday, April 27, 3-6pm EDT. They use Spoke; if you haven’t done any text banking before, they’ll have zoom training for 30 minutes before. You’ll be reminding PA voters to sign up for mail-in ballots. Sign up for the text bank here.
Activate America is also starting a new project with Instagram DMs. Many younger people are on Instagram, and reaching them via DMs on that platform could be really interesting. Stay tuned on this one. Sign up here if you are interested in learning more – especially if you are an active user of Instagram. https://www.activateamerica.vote/programs/instagram-direct-messaging
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!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.