The past five months have been fraught with chaos on many levels, internally and externally. For this reason I decided to take a summer break from newsletter writing, but I haven’t taken a break from writing.
This summer I’ve been working on several writing projects, which include a new book (coming mid-September), the 4th edition of an previously published book (coming spring 2021), and several articles about self-care and storytelling for online publications. In between all that flush of creativity I have a full-time technical writing job for which I support teams of people considered essential workers.
I’ve also needed to engage in more self-care. It’s been a long, hot summer full of tension, violence, and death, not to mention grief, frustration, and anxiety. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been disrupted by wildfires, floods, monstrous wind storms, and hurricanes. Violent clashes of humanity play out in our streets… there is only so much any of us can take. Pulling back a little was needed, so I’ve been spending more time going for walks and long bike rides instead of pumping out a blog post every week. Now I’m back with some tips on self-care during these challenging times.
Although 2020 has been disturbing in so many ways, the ever-optimist in me still feels hopeful. What in heavens can I feel hopeful about? I guess it’s the resilience of the human spirit.
My last post in early June was about resilience, defined by Psychology Today as “the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties, traumatic events, or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, highly resilient people find a way to change course, emotionally heal, and continue moving toward their goals.”
My way of coping with the tragedies unfolding daily around the world—and in particular here in America—is to continue moving toward my goals. For me that has meant focusing on my creative writing; this is a huge part of my self-care routine. Writing gives me purpose; it removes me from the difficulties and puts me in charge of something I can control. As for changing course, I’ve decided to put aside some planned book projects, which seemed small and irrelevant when stood against world events, in favor of writing another book. I’ve set an ambitious goal to publish on October 15 a short book called DIY Retreats, a how-to for people to create the self-care they need right at home. It seemed more practical given the times.
Another tactic I use for building resistance, and get self-care, is to find small ways to lift others. My husband’s vegetable garden is overflowing this year, so for our small part (and with my sister’s help), we’ve donated tens of pounds of fresh organic produce to people in our community. My husband also built a Little Free Library, which he put in front of the house by the sidewalk. Since March, many passersby have come to grab a book or magazine. Many neighbors have told us how much they love it and are grateful to have somewhere to go for fresh reads, especially since our libraries were closed for several weeks.
There is solid evidence that reaching out to others in need is not only good for those on the receiving end, but good for those on the giving end. Helping others is another form of self-care; literally the gift that keeps on giving.
Here are three ways you can lift others:
- Consider a gift to the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute (YBGB), which promotes financial giving for Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits, a crucial way to support racial justice and invest in leaders working directly in our communities. They are having a special drive tomorrow, August 28.
- Join the Poor People’s Campaign, a group that is challenging systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Their aim is to shift the moral narrative, affect policies and elections at every level of government, and build lasting power for people who suffer disproportionately.
- VOTE. Elect government representatives who support policies and laws that promote justice and equality for all lives and who are committed to funding education, housing equity, sustainable jobs, and other support systems that are vital to a thriving, resilient society.
Speaking of voting, it was 100 years ago this week that America ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the vote (though not Black women, with a few state exceptions). We owe a lot to our sisters—and brothers—who fought a long battle for this right. Today, we must continue to demand equal access to ensure that every person eligible to vote has their vote counted. If you don’t feel safe going to the polls this year, vote as early as possible by mail.
Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light was the suffrage slogan our foremothers declared. Consider volunteering in some capacity to enable eligible voters to exercise their right. Voting is yet another way you can practice self-care.
Remember to take care of yourself during these challenging times. You can read more about self-care on this blog. Stay tuned for updates on my upcoming books!