Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Bag Lady releases some stress

I got so stressed last week that my asthma got worse. 

Here's what's been happening:
  • I am a Unitarian Universalist and that affiliation is strong on social justice. Members of my congregation have been protesting for the last six weeks as part of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Campaign for Moral Revival. One week I participated in the protest in Olympia, the state capital. And last Tuesday I took the bus to the King County Jail in Seattle to be a "moral witness" for four people I know who were arrested last week for "pedestrian interference" - they blocked a downtown Seattle intersection by lying in the street to protest racism, poverty, and other enormous interrelated social issues.  In my entire life I have never been an activist.
  • We live in politically disruptive times, and I am a Facebook reader. I have ridden the ups and downs of the laments and accusations and rudenesses from both the right and the left. I have begun to hide the most distressing posts, which come from a few of my friends on both ends of the political spectrum and which are often accompanied by comments so nasty I wonder what happened to civility. On both sides. I am also a CNN checker, so I see the latest opinions from the "ain't it awful" side and from the "this is so great" side. Reading these online things have wound me into a state of agitation and dread. 
  • On the home front, my husband Art and I are decluttering and rightsizing, donating and giving away to neighbors, deciding what we might need if we move to an apartment or if we buy a bigger Tucson place in a year or if we rent out our Washington house in the winter. What do we need? What do we have a hard time leaving behind? Do we need to rent a storage unit for the short term? Do I have room for our stoneware in our Tucson place?
  • Also at home, our son Peter is moving out this week, to his own place. He's been with us for three years, since he started nursing school, and he's now solidly employed at a regional hospital. This will be the first time in five years that it will be just Art and me in our house. It will be up to us to do the yard maintenance and the care of our edible garden. 
  • We've been holding our summer open for a possible return to Greece, to volunteer again for Do Your Part. That nonprofit managed the Oinofyta refugee camp for a year and a half before it closed in November. The government reopened the camp in March, and Do Your Part now operates a tailor shop and community center about five miles away, providing services to the camp residents such as distribution of supplies, respite for women, school for kids, and conversational Greek lessons. Do Your Part now operates on a shoestring budget; the refugee crisis is still there, but the eyes of the world have turned to other emergencies. I told Lisa, the director of Do Your Part, that I would go back if I was needed. I learned yesterday that I'll most likely be returning to Greece in late August. 

Too much, too much for my brain, and for my body. So I made a few decisions:
  • There were a number of demonstrations yesterday about the issue of children being separated from their parents at the border. I didn't go to any of them. I read a book and talked to a friend on the phone instead.
  • I'm blocking political posts on Facebook.
  • I'm reading the Washington Post summary that arrives each day via email and making an effort to stay away from CNN.
  • Art and I are finishing our decluttering and rightsizing this summer, but we won't put our house on the market until next string. We'll rent out the house for the winter so it can be cared for. That will free us from a bunch of summer chaos.
  • I'm doing some breathing and some meditating.
  • I'm taking baths with Life with Two Angels Bath Bombs and water as hot as I can stand it.
  • I'm reading actual books.
I am accepting that I can't do everything, be everything. That I won't be of any use unless I take care of myself first. This is not a revelation to me. But it is becoming a commitment.


Joared said...

Sounds like you’re on the best path for you, especially since you recognize the need to take care of yourself in order to care for others.

DJan said...

I admire your tenacity and focus to get things done, Linda. And I'm thrilled to learn you are taking care of yourself along with the rest of the world. I have already blocked most of the awful things on Facebook and now only see posts from friends who are polite and civil. Plus I've blocked everything possible on FB and don't check it every day. This is a very difficult time for those of us, like me, who are liberals. :-(

Olga said...

Take care of yourself -- absolutely necessary.

I used to be out on the protest lines but lately I seem to have lost faith in their effectiveness so I go to meditation instead. Maybe that is not effective either, but I feel as though it may send some positive energy out and it does really help me calm my mind.

Linda said...

After Bob died in February I felt the need to take a break from news and politics. I don’t watch TV, and don’t subscribe to a newspaper. I stopped following everything news and political on Facebook and Twitter. The only thing I still follow is our Local TV station on Facebook. Do I recommend this, absolutely not. I think it is a dangerous thing to do, but to survive I needed to take some action. Never have I seen a time when more people have blocked news and politics.

Anonymous said...

As a UU also, I love reading about what other UUs are doing. Before we set off for our six week summer vacation, we were part of a Saturday rally in our town (in a very red state). My DH, as chair of the social justice committee for our UU church, is heavily involved in all things political, which can be quite draining on both of us. Hopefully this six weeks will give us a respite from those commitments, and maybe from the news and politics in general, so that we can recharge our batteries so to speak. Now I just have to get him to give up those breaking news alerts that come over the phone!

It sounds like you've taken the best actions to take care of yourself.


Arkansas Patti said...

It is easy today to let the outside world stretch us thin enough to snap. Smart of you to disconnect just a bit and take care of yourself. I sometimes wonder if civility can ever regain its rightful place.

BethB from Indiana said...

You've got guts! And, a great deal of compassion. I have long admired your volunteer work in Greece, and now I can admire your social activism.

To keep myself sane, I rarely get on FB any more. It sickens me to read what some of my relatives are saying and doing. How did we drift so far apart politically, or maybe we always were and never talked about politics before?? Social media has brought out the worst in so many people I thought I knew.

You have to take care of yourself because you can't help others if you don't! You are taking the right steps.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Linda, I think you are being so smart about your choices! We do need to manage the amount of stuff that comes at us every day. We need to use self-care to keep ourselves rested, calmed, nourished, etc. Decluttering but deferring the actual sale of your home is brilliant! I’m sorry about what has happened at Oinofyta, and I hope that trip doesn’t just break your heart. But with all that people are going through across the nation and around the world, I admire all who do self-care AND activism!

Linda Reeder said...

I'm still tuned in and plugged in - to the news, the newspaper, Facebook, and TV. I get The New York Times and the Washington Post editorials via email subscription. I could not possibly read or watch it all. Today I'm full up. Tomorrow I will probably concentrate on something else. I ebb and flow, but I need to know what's going on.
You already do so much. Decluttering your brain is a good idea too.

Sally Wessely said...

Balance. Such a difficult thing to achieve. I read about and watch a lot of news reports about the current political situation. I got a bit too overwhelmed over it all while I was also going through stressful family dynamics. That is when I took an abrupt about face and began taking time to practice self care while also trying to stay informed. Like Linda, I need to know what is going on, but I am giving myself emotional space at the same time.

This decluttering that you are doing is such an important task. I am also doing a bit of that is cubby holes, closets, drawers, and storage spaces.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for your blog which I find informative and refreshing. I had an 'ah-ha' moment when I read your last post. I think I had not really realised how things have deteriorated in America until I read that your church gives safe haven to women with/without children 'sleeping in their cars'. How can this be in the wealthiest country on earth? It is no wonder people are in despair. I live in Australia which is not quite as far down the neo-liberal path, although the wealthy are doing their best to follow America's worst excesses and we are all finding it very daunting. (Our treatment of refugees is dichotomous with those imprisoned on Nauru/Manus Islands treated even worse than your divided families). Personally I am a politics junkie but I never ever read comments on articles. Although my twitter stream is full of politics it is mostly from thoughtful commentators. Even so I take breaks to do art/music to regenerate. I sign lots of online petitions and some of them do seem to make a difference. It seems to me that people are becoming more informed and that gives me hope.

Snickelfritz said...

We all watch entirely too much news. When it's on 24/7 and all you hear is negative news, it can put anyone in a bad mood so I don't watch much news anymore and when I do, it's on FOX because they do other things besides negativism. Do good and help people and be kind. That's all we should be doing.

Deb said...

When you are a deeply compassionate person you feel the suffering of others deeply, but even if we're young we can only do so much. I'm glad you're going to pace yourself. I too have blocked FB political sites. I watch one 30 minute round of news in the morning and then TV is off. We're Canadian and my disability keeps me off the streets and out of the protests - and yes there are protests here - Most Canadians are outraged about what's happening in the US. I do my part supporting refugees who arrive here, and I find meditation and prayer helpful to keep me on an even keel, so I don't fall into despair. My favourite prayer, which ends a period of meditation is "The Metta" or Loving Kindness prayer:

May I be filled with loving kindness;
May I be free from suffering;
May I be happy and at peace.

May my family be filled with loving kindness;
May my family be free from suffering;
May my family be happy and at peace.

May all beings be filled with loving kindness;
May all beings be free from suffering;
May all beings be happy and at peace.

"All beings" including Donald Trump, who, from a Buddhist perspective, must be suffering from terrible psychological pain and trauma to constantly spew so much rage and anger. If he were relieved of his pain the world would be a better place. So we should consider, as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, people of all faith, extending prayers of compassion and pray for healing of the psychic wounds he bears, and hope those prayers bear the fruit of peace. Of course there's also no harm in praying that the Democrats sweep the mid-terms and that he loses the 2020 election and the world is finished with him. That's the everybody being happy and at peace part of the prayer. :D

May you all be happy and at peace,

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I stopped FcBk ages ago even with family because more and more it was becoming clips of non family stuff found on line.
That you are decluttering is also a stressor so it is good that you are taking relax and recover time. The potitical machines globally are run by things much larger now than any of us even collecrively will be able to strear. Sadly Trump‘s anger and outbursts are also part of a stage of age related dementia that he appears to have. A new age lies ahead. There has to be a shift. The future of an overcrowded gloal population of humans along side robotic tech means a big shift in job availability so poverty will be even more wise spread. Hopefully we can learn to remodel the election ideal since the cyrrent ways are losing a fair vote distribution and some genius leaders needed never get a chance. I hope anoyher trip to Greece will good for all.