Something shifted in me at the Women’s March on Washington.
I used to think that I wasn’t wired for political action, that other people did that better than I could. The negative emotional drama that accompanies a lot of activism doesn’t feel good to me. I always vote, but haven’t followed up with much else.
But experiencing the Women’s March as one of those pink-hatted participants in our nation’s capitol, soaking in the positive energy from the breathtaking crowds not only in DC but from the 600+ sister events on every continent around the world, flipped a switch in me.
I’ve spent the past seven years of my mindfulness study and practice learning to let go of things I can’t change, learning to accept the reality of what is. In the early days of my awakening process I couldn’t even watch the news because images of pain and suffering impacted me so deeply. I couldn’t bring peace to the Middle East, couldn’t stop terrorism, couldn’t end poverty or prevent natural disasters. I couldn’t watch the news without crying, so I simply stopped watching.
But I’m stronger now.
These many years of inner work have taught me that my true essence is permanent, but my thoughts and emotions are only temporary. I can be in the presence of uncomfortable emotions and pain and not run away. I know now that these sensations will pass and I understand (from first hand experience) that difficult times eventually produce some positive outcomes.
My true essence is action-oriented. My purpose is to make a difference in the world—reduce suffering and increase positive, loving energy—during the little bit of time I have here.
The Women’s March convinced me that it’s time to broaden my scope of action. Writing this feels good in my body, which tells me I’m in alignment with my purpose. There is no room for fear, no time for simply complaining without action, both of which are unproductive uses of my energy
The Women’s March convinced me that I CAN make a difference in our political process. I just needed a little bit of tutoring.
Political Action for Dummies
If you’re like me, working from ground zero on the political activism front, don’t worry. Writer and blogger Jennifer Hofmann of http://jenniferhofmann.com/ has you covered.
Jennifer compiles a weekly Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience (applicable to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike).
The Action Checklist narrows topics to the most time-sensitive issues, making the process a lot less overwhelming. You can pick and choose from those that speak to you and your personal priorities. She provides lists of key elected officials to call, their phone numbers, and a brief “What to say” line. Very efficient and easy! (Economist Martha likes efficiency.)
Jennifer also includes informative background pieces on public policies and the legislative process, plus my personal favorite GOOD NEWS STORIES. Yay!
Check out this week’s Action Checklist here.
Jennifer’s guidance showed me how simple it is to register my opinion with elected officials. I didn’t realize that all you really need to say is whether you oppose or support something (be it an administration nominee or a piece of legislation) and they’ll tally you up. Easy peasy.
Let go of the “What if a staffer asks me for my credentials or to make a detailed case for my opinion during that phone call?” fear. Your credentials are your rights and responsibilities as an American voter who cares about our country’s future. Your case is grounded in your humanity and conscience.
Anyway, they won’t ask because all they care about is your yes or no vote, which they DO add to their opinion lists. It’s their job. Don’t waste time waxing poetic – get off the phone quickly to free up the line for another caller (efficient economist Martha speaking up again here).
Once Again, It’s All About Habit Formation
I’ve shared many stories here about habit formation, from establishing a daily meditation practice, to maintaining a regular writing schedule (resulting in an actual book!), to training for long races, to eating mindfully, to completing a challenge to take and post a new photograph every day for a whole year.
I will approach political action in the same way that I have approached my other soul-nourishing habits: devoting small chunks of time on a regular basis, not biting off more than I can chew in order to keep stress levels at bay, and maintaining a pace that is steady and sustainable. Checking emotion and my ego at the door will be crucial to avoid burnout while establishing my new habit.
No, I’m Not Becoming a Political Blogger
Activism wasn’t on my radar screen even a few weeks ago, otherwise it would have been on my “Goals for 2017” list. But I now feel deeply that we owe this to our young people and future generations, both here and around the world.
Friends from several different countries have written to me after seeing my photos on Facebook, thanking me for participating in the March. They told me their trust in America and Americans was bolstered by the millions of women, men, and children who attended. These notes were both humbling and a call to action for me.
But political action will simply be another thing that I “do,” not a thing that I “am.”
The first piece of advice you get when you’re doing any type of social media marketing is to stay away from politics. “You don’t want to lose clients because of your political views,” the experts tell you.
Staying away from the occasional political action post would be operating from a place of fear. Readers across the political spectrum have told me how much they love Blooming into Mindfulness and my photography. My mindfulness training offerings are as helpful to Republicans as they are to Democrats. I will trust in that reality and move on with authentic action.
My work targets our shared humanity, rather than a single political demographic. At the end of the day, mindfulness allows each and every one of us to conduct our lives with intention and purpose, resulting in a greater sense of connection, fulfillment, and inner peace, secure in the knowledge that we are making the most of the time we have here.
Marching Was the Easy Part
For those of you who were at the Women’s March or supported the movement from a distance (some of whom I carried with me on my poster – see the photos below), this is only the beginning. Now it’s time to continue the March from the comfortable spaces of our homes. It’s time to make your phone calls, send in your postcards, and carve out time for whatever action inspires you. Make it a habit.
I hope you’ll join me!
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