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November 9, 2016

What comes next: self-care in times of fear

I hope that this will be one of those blog posts that looks terribly dated when I look back on it. I hope that this, too, will pass away, as all things do. Most of all, it is my hope that we all – particularly the most vulnerable among us – are safe and free.

In this moment, though, I am feeling through the darkness for a light switch. I am shaking myself from what feels like a terrible dream. I am listening to the sounds of my city, and to the sound of my own breath to steady myself.

Today will be difficult. So will tomorrow.

Be here with it.

In bravery.

With compassion.

Within community.

In rebellion.

This is mainly written as advice for myself, but you are welcome to it. Take what is useful. Leave the rest. Either way, I am rooting for you. I see you, I love you, and I am prepared to rise up with and for you.

I promise to put my love and compassion into action.

Center what matters most.

What is real and precious to you? What creates meaning and joy and empowerment in your life?

Focus on that.

Why are you building a more compassionate world? For whom? What does that look like? Keep an eye on what is most meaningful to you. Love is what will sustain us, ultimately.

Honor your pain, grief, and complexity.

What you are feeling is real and justified and natural. Honor all of it. Even if you change your mind in an hour. Even if the words you have don’t seem to wrap around all of what you’re experiencing.

Be present with it. Allow yourself to feel it.

Today might not be the day for counting your blessings or the silver lining or the long game.

Take good care of all parts of yourself.

Make a self-care plan. Write it down.

Ask yourself: What would feel good right now? What does your self-care look like? There are no shoulds. There is no right way.

Keep good care of your mind, body, emotions, spirit.

Do one thing at a time. Go slowly.

Try not to multi-task. Choose thoughtfulness over rushing.

Do less. Ask to reschedule or for deadline extensions. Recalibrate. Be as gentle as possible as you move through your day and life. Allow yourself to be deliberate.

Be present.

Try not to numb out.

It can be tempting to smother your feelings with food, television, alcohol, drugs, shopping or other outlets. Stay with it. Our nervous system’s response may be fight, flight or freeze.

I urge you to stay here, embodied, and fully awake, even when it is uncomfortable.

Mindful isolation.

Staying present doesn’t mean endlessly refreshing social media or gobbling up news story after news story. Sometimes, it means pulling back to be present with your own heart. Sometimes, it means shutting it down and going outside.

Take time and quiet and space to breathe and process at your own pace. You don’t have to digest it all in one day.

Foster community and support and mutual aid.

Hug your family and friends. Gather around food. Reach out and let people know you’re thinking of them. Be with people who share your heart, and with whom you can be your full self.

Support others and allow them to support you back. Share food, stories, rides, listening, child care and other forms of aid, so that we can all heal together. Foot massages, book exchanges, long walks in the sunshine, and cups of tea readily given and accepted.

Remember: your strength and survival are rebellious acts.

You are powerful beyond all imagination. Together, we have tremendous strength to weather this season. You may not feel that way today, but I hope that you remember your power, that you catch glimmers of it. That you do not forget.

In times like these, it can feel that the world is crashing down. It may be unrealistic to tell you not to despair. But let me tell you: self-care is a rebellious act.

When we focus on our well-being in the face of oppression: xenophobia, racism, the hetero-patriarchy, islamaphobia, et. al., we are reclaiming our worth. We reclaim our enough-ness.

Through our survival, we reject the narrative that we are less-than.

Focus your compassion.

Sometimes, it seems like you’re feeling everything at once. Today, you might just need to be with the pain. But perhaps, you’re ready to put your compassion into action.

Start with baby steps – with one concrete action. Perhaps lovingkindness meditation. Maybe through donating or volunteering. Or even cooking a community meal at home. Putting your love into motion may help to dissolve some of the powerlessness we feel.

Places I plan to donate money (in case you’re interested in doing the same; I know not everyone can):

BYP100

Color of Change

Planned Parenthood

Arab Resource and Organizing Center

Indigenous Environmental Network

National Lawyers Guild

Civil Liberties Defense Fund

Some additional posts that I have found useful today:

Hold Fast, We Are Brave and We have love.

We want a political revolution. First, we must defeat fascism.

How to Stay Optimistic When Everything’s Horrible

To close, I just want to say, if it isn’t already completely clear, that what I offer here is for everyone. This is a safe space and you are welcome here. I love you. Stay strong.

With care,
Christy

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