Right. I’m awake. It’s a new day. I sip my coffee and take a moment to breathe. I adjusted my plans for the day to give myself a little more time to take care of myself at a very high priority.

One day ends.

One day ends.

Yesterday was hard, and after a day of carefully maintaining perspective, and sharing moments of compassion and support with similarly stressed out colleagues, it was clear I’d need a bit more of my own time for me. My traveling partner is understanding about it. There was no point adding to his stress by sharing that I’d barely cross the threshold when I crumbled and wept for 15 minutes or so, before I could even pull myself together enough to reach out to him. There’s no shame in tears, and the catharsis was a needed moment of its own.

The hardest part about yesterday, for me, wasn’t work, or what I heard and saw out in the world. It was Facebook. It was family. It was the gloating of people I expect to count on affectionately – because they are on my Facebook friends list – and found myself treated dismissively, or callously. Some people were so invested in celebrating their victory, they were not able to understand that many of the folks suffering over it were not even (at all) going on about losing a fucking race – they are frightened or angry about much larger things, and have the perspective that those situations or issues just got potentially a whole lot worse (the, um, flip side of celebrating because you think life just got better with the candidate of your choice in office). Scary shit to find myself being honest about why I’m anxious and faced with an astonished “is this post real?” sort of reaction – as if it’s just not even believable that there is suffering in the world.  It hurt, a lot, to be implicitly told, yet again, by a chorus of men who will never face the issues women face that those issues don’t exist, or are an exaggeration, or hey, grow a thicker skin! By the end of the evening I was shopping for firearms, figuring “why should I have to be out in the world surrounded by people who think my consent is irrelevant without the means to quickly and firmly ensure they understand my boundaries are very real?”  Fear and a lifetime of subtle repression (and some not-so-subtle) and harassment roiled together and boiled over as the minutes ticked by.

I shut down the internet. I wept awhile. I meditated longer, finally actually finding sleep somewhat later than I ordinarily would. No nightmares, and I woke ahead of the alarm, with enough time for a leisurely shower and a short walk in the pre-dawn gloom of a chilly and damp autumn morning. The mist wrapped me in my thoughts. I returned home with a smile and made coffee. I am okay, within myself. I feel some trepidation about the future. Angry people elected #45… I find myself wondering if that’s a teachable moment? For me, personally, I mean… I work so hard to find balance, to redirect and defuse anger with intellectual curiosity, compassion, and mindfulness… I’ve allowed myself to be silenced a million times rather than be a source of conflict. Have I created the world in which women’s voices are silenced by implicit rule without consequence? No, of course, not – but I’ve supported it, fed it, kept it going. Could I make better use of my anger? It’s something to think about further in days to come.

There are verbs involved if we want the world to change. Talk is sure a verb, but… it’s not a solid driver of change. It’s more like the scenic route. Slow steady culture change does build on conversations, on dialogue, on words and writing and skilled oratory… but… yeah. Slow. Really slow. I mean… how quickly would women have gotten the vote if women had only talked about it? It’s possible, based on angry choruses of taking away our votes, in 2016 (yeah, that happened). “Well, that’s just election year rhetoric! You can’t take that seriously after the election is over.” Um… yeah, I can. It was actually said, and with real conviction, by people who meant it when they said it. I can totally take that seriously – and I do. So, this morning, I find myself asking – like a lot of people probably are – what do I do about “all of this”?

I begin again. My values are what they are with good reason. The election doesn’t change who I am, or what I value. #45 is my president, too, whether I like it or not – and conversely, whether he likes it or not, either. Verbs, eh? I smile, and recall a great video (very much on point, election-wise) about truth, and the things we think are “true”. I commit to sitting down with myself, verb-wise, and laying out in very simple (about a 4th grade reading level) phrases for what I want from my government and my president. Really simple. “Fund Planned Parenthood” “No Electoral College” “Protect Social Security” – that kind of simple. I will get my thoughts really clear, and I will begin writing postcards (exposing the words and phrasing to everyone that handles them) and I will begin mailing them to representatives, to #45, and beyond. I’ll include them in my signature block (on a rotation). I’ll say them aloud. I’ll leave hand-inked art cards around here and there, with these simple phrases, and I’ll just keep at it. Again. Again. Again. Everywhere I go. Repetition is learning. We tend to think what we’ve heard a lot is true. That’s usable practical science right there.

You probably have ideas of your own. Do those things. Raise your voice! If you weren’t heard – say it again. Were you shouted down? Put it in writing. Memes are powerful, too; this election saw a clear demonstration of that principle in action. Add a repeatable slogan to an engaging image and it spreads like a virus and people begin to repeat the words with conviction, as though they are “truth”, and often without fact-checking. Are you more of a meet & greet sort? Get out there and say words to real people! Throw parties – and make conversation meaningful, powerful, and memorable! Live the change you want to see in the world. Offended by racism? Call it out when you see it, and be a strong ally for a diverse group of friends and associates. Offended by religious intolerance and faux-patriotism? Point it out when you see it, and just keep at it. It’s the persistence that has so much power. Carry that torch every mile you can.

Your words matter. Your actions matter. Your voice matters. You matter.

A new day begins.

A new day begins.

It’s time to begin again. ❤