On Turmoil, and Motivation, and a Little Brown Bat

Small things done consistently, in strategic places, create major impact. ~David Allen

This week there’s a lot we could talk about.

Three mass shootings in so many days. Covid cases skyrocketing. A theocratic Supreme Court that’s poised to destroy constitutional rights. Ukraine.

Every potential reprieve is a mirage.

But because there’s so much to talk about, and so much feels so heavy, I thought you might want to hear a different story.

A story about a little brown bat.

It was a few weeks ago, when the air was crisp and we were on our daily walk through the neighborhood. We had just turned the corner toward home when …

Oh, no!

There he was. Furry and flattened out on the pavement. Small enough you’d walk right past him if he wasn’t directly in our path on the sidewalk.

In fact, I had nearly stepped on him.

He looked uncomfortable. His wings were splayed out.

Poor thing. Is he alive? We all wondered aloud.

We watched. It moved.

Well, we have to save it. I announced, hands on hips. (That’s when everyone knows I’m quite serious.) My husband is just as much of an animal lover as I am, and immediately committed just as fully to the project.

My son, on the other hand, stayed his distance. (Smart kid.)

So while the boys stood guard over this wee tiny bat who was pancaked on the sidewalk, I rushed home (just around the corner) for my trusty heavy leather work gloves, a hand towel I didn’t mind throwing out, and a small box.

(*A note that – believe it or not – I’ve had quite a bit of experience with animals, including exotic animals, in my life. (Just ask me about the year that I was an animal docent in Macon, Georgia handling everything from kinkajous to alligators. Wild times.) I also happen to have some rudimentary bat experience, after previously having to manage a grounded bat that had tried to wedge itself under our front door during a cold spell. That’s when the Bat Lady here in St. Louis, a bit of a legend in the bat world, walked me through the process of safely boxing up a grounded bat. I followed her advice here to a T. You should never ever handle an animal when you don’t have the right gear, or when you don’t know what you’re doing. Okay, now back to the story.)

Armed with my supplies, I rushed back to my crew, which was still huddled around the little bat.

He was … adorable. Yes, adorable. (It’s like a flying teddy bear AND it eats mosquitoes. What more can you ask for?)

And, as a grounded bat, completely defenseless.

A bit of bat trivia: bats have to drop from something to fly – they can’t take off from the ground. (They also can’t walk. They can crawl, sortof.) When they’re grounded like this little fella was, they’re at the mercy of whatever comes by.

So this little guy was very unhappy with his present situation.

I put the towel in the box (so he could cling to something and feel more comfortable), and very, very gently zuzzed him in – never even touching him. Then, box closed tight, we headed home to release him from our second floor balcony.

Once I got up on the balcony, I set the box on its side next to the edge, wedged it in with a chair so it wouldn’t move or fall over, opened the box flaps gently…

And then left.

An hour later, it started to rain.

I’m going to move him under the awning, at least, I announced to my husband. Otherwise he’s just going to get wet and cold.

So I went out on to the balcony (again with my heavy leather work gloves) and gently pushed back the box flap to peek inside …

And much to my surprise and relief … the bat was gone!

I was completely overjoyed. Irrationally so.

It was just a bat. A little brown bat.

But it was … everything.

And standing there in the rain, empty box in hand and silly grin on my face, I looked around at a world that felt just a little kinder. Just a smidge improved. And I realized that it’s true, what Jessica wrote for us a few weeks ago.

Every little thing we do does matter.

I know that right now, the world feels heavy. We’re the Exhausted Majority. Just getting through the day can be a slog.

But that’s why creating a little light in the midst of such a heavy time feels like a miniature – one could say bat-sized – miracle.

And in these moments of upheaval, in these times of turmoil, sometimes seeing the impression you can leave on the world – in real time, not six months from now – is hugely motivating.

And that’s why I wanted to tell you about that little brown bat today, because maybe right now you could use your own miniature miracle.

I’m not saying you need to go out and find a bat to save. (In fact, I’m actively discouraging you from doing that.)

But what about rescuing a sad, spindly plant from the clearance rack? (Next time maybe I’ll tell you about the banana plants I trash-picked from a dumpster…)

Or checking in on the stray cat that roams the alley?

Or adding a patch of wildflowers to your backyard? (Or if you don’t have a yard, putting a pot of natives on your deck? Or if you don’t have a deck, putting a hummingbird feeder out your window?)

Or maybe just staying up late one night and sitting in the stillness so you can appreciate the difference you’ve made – by watching all of the animals that consider the backyard habitat you’ve created their own private haven.

It’s just a good reminder that even if our impact is hard to see, at least immediately …

We can touch so much of this great big world…

With our one little life.

And with that, friend – let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of May 17, 2022

Tuesday: Join Crooked Media For Midterm Madness

Tonight, Vote Save America is getting into the pure politics of it all, with Dan Pfeiffer, the host of Pod Save America & Political Experts React and the author of Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America.

They’ll be talking about how the SCOTUS leak has changed the game ahead of November, the best messaging to motivate Democrats and swing voters, and maybe even react live to the all-important Pennsylvania and North Carolina primaries. They’ll ALSO be talking about how you can get involved with one of the most innovative and promising voter persuasion tactics in 2022. 

Join by signing up for the event on Mobilize here: https://www.mobilize.us/crooked/event/455060/?referring_vol=245040&rname=Michele&share_context=event_details&share_medium=copy_link&timeslot=3188626

Contact Your Senators: Confirm the ATF Nominee Now, and Pass Universal Background Checks

With three mass shootings over the weekend, we are absolutely reeling. Congress must act. The Universal Background Checks Act has already passed the House; the Senate can vote on it. They should do so, regardless of whether they think the outcome is preordained, just as they did with the Women’s Health Protection Act.

Steve Dettlebach is Biden’s nominee for the ATF, which hasn’t had a leader in 7 years. Dettlebach is a former US Attorney, and is Biden’s second nominee for the position. Biden’s first nominee was a 25-year veteran of the agency-turned-policy expert and advocate at the gun safety organization Giffords. That nominee earned high marks from gun safety organizations (which meant his nomination was jettisoned by the gun lobby).

Dettlebach needs to be confirmed. Now. We have 45k gun deaths per year. We need to have a leader in charge of the agency that addresses firearms. (For more, or to send an email rather than call, you can use Moms Demand’s online form and script at this link: Moms Demand Form)

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because after this horrific weekend of gun violence, we need congressional action. I’m calling to ask the Senator to support and cosponsor the Background Checks Bill that has already passed the House. I’m also calling to ask the Senator to vote to confirm Steve Dettlebach to lead the ATF. We need leadership right now.

Join Vote Forward for The Big Send with Vote Forward

Vote Forward is writing 10 million (yes, 10 million!) turnout letters to voters as part of its big push: The Big Send. There are plenty of projects to choose from: “Social Campaign” to support Vote Forward’s core social mission of helping to increase the participation of historically underrepresented communities in the electorate, and “Political Campaigns”. You can choose what state you want to write for (and there are PLENTY to choose from) so head over to https://votefwd.org/bigsend and get started!


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 email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

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