Everyone will have words today. You know it, I know it. Loud, angry, panicked, heartbreaking words of disbelief; triumphant, jeering, chaotic voices of hatred but also hope.
Today, these are the words I need to set free from the brown female body I live in so I can move forward and turn the fear running through my body like electricity into action:
I’m going full-on Pollyanna.
If I have to play the fucking Glad Game to remind myself of what’s good in the world every goddamn day, well that’s what I’m gonna do. No complaining about the election (unless I have a really great joke) – not in public, anyway – no moping around, waiting for the worst to happen to this brown, female body. If shit goes down in this country – which is really the only direction it can go now – I have to be ready to spring into action and push the pendulum in the other direction. I can’t be one of those people who loses and then spends the next four years alienating everyone with my insufferable ire. In two years, campaigning for re-election begins, meaning we have work to do.
Liberals: I’m surprised you’re surprised.
They say a reigning civilization can only last around 300 years, and here we are. You probably thought it was going to be China, or maybe Russia who took us down, but no – it’s just one guy from Queens in an orange meatsuit who talks like a racist drag queen. That being said, nothing has happened yet. The online panic-in-the-streets, we’re-all-going-to-die rhetoric isn’t helping anything, and right now, it isn’t true. I’m sure the bigots of our nation will feel emboldened and yes, there is going to be fallout that won’t even register for White America, but we’ve been headed that way for a while. For eight years, the pendulum swung hard for progressive values – and that change happened swiftly, for some like a guillotine. It’s no surprise that anyone who looked around and didn’t see an America they recognized went hard in the other direction; it’s no surprise that those who could not think for themselves let Fox News do their pandering, alt-right thinking for them. We just have to be like Miley Cyrus, naked on a wrecking ball, high on molly and ready to push back. BECAUSE THAT’S HOW A PENDULUM WORKS.
The time to get involved is now.
While my instinct is to hide under the bed with a cheese pizza and an AK-47, I’m not going to let this terrifying news keep me from helping our community and actively living in it. Right now is not the time for despair or throwing our hands up while crying foul. Your community still needs help, and the Others out there – the people who I imagine will be most affected by this decision in the next four years – need to see and feel our support. Whether that’s by using your voice through social media to praise the positives in our community, volunteering for a local shelter or a group that helps refugees, joining a grass-roots political movement to push for more progressive people in government — don’t sit on the sidelines. One thing I’m going to do more of is host more gatherings with the people I love and try to expand our circle so I don’t feel alone while this horror scene unfolds. Divisiveness is never the right answer to divisiveness. It’s time to expand the tribe and move forward.
It’s the little things.
One of my favorite things I learned a long time ago that applies to basically everything is that there are no big deals. Something happens, our brains attach a value to it (1 for ‘shrug’ and 100 for ‘WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE’), and then we freak out according to that number. I don’t mean that nothing bad ever happens in the world, but how we react to those things – escalating it, feeding it, giving it legs and a map to our misery – is totally determined by us. Donald Trump being President, for most of the people I know, is a true 100 — and lord, I get that. But there are better things and there are worse things; perspective is important. I can’t do anything about who’s President now, so what can I do in this moment? Usually it’s something little. I can clean my kitchen so there’s order in my home, which will make my family happy and more productive. I can cook a big pot of something delicious and invite friends over to share it while we commiserate together. In the midst of feeling negative or helpless, I can contribute to someone’s dream. I can go to the spa with my friend to shed some stress,
and maybe some tears. I can reach out and help someone who needs a little extra something today – a meal, shoulder, card, or laugh. I can give out hugs to anyone and everyone. I can write from a perspective of hope and not fear.
Find the leader within and drag her ass into the spotlight.
My friend Keita posts 90-second Encouragement videos every day that keeps me focused and puts a smile on my face. My friend Traca posts conversations she has with strangers all over the city, asking questions I would never think of and showing her audience how to make connections with anyone, anywhere. My friends, Anika and Monica, post a daily newsletter so the people in Seattle, new and old, can become more engaged with our growing community and the people in it. This is just the tip of the leadership iceberg – I have so many friends who lift me up with their unique take on what it means to lead. What are you doing to lead by example? What will it take for you to become a protagonist in your own play and not just a disgruntled audience member?
I’d been kicking around an idea for a while, a collection of sorts, but it was just an idea and I didn’t know when I’d have the time to deploy it. Once I saw the polls at 10 o’clock last night, I knew it was time. Maybe the project is just for me or maybe other people will find it relevant, but lately – as a woman – I’ve been feeling like a sitting duck. Exposed and unprotected, and truly misunderstood. After the election, now more than ever, I want to close ranks around the women out there and in my life, and hibernate from the world until it understands our value.
We can’t hide, though – there are whole generations of women looking to us for leadership and guidance. With that in mind, I wanted to honor my favorite women – celebrity or otherwise – as a reminder that we can all contribute something awesome to each other along the way. So I created an Instagram called HEY RAD LADY, and will be featuring badass women I think everyone should know. “Women are the real architects of society.” (Thanks, Cher.) We have to keep pushing back while also moving forward. I hope celebrating women and spotlighting their fierceness will keep me focused on how to make my own lasting contribution.
Life is better with people in it; with compassion and empathy; with love; with determination. I aim to use this setback as an opportunity to learn, and grow, and fortify myself for what’s around the bend. If there’s a revolution in our future, fine, I will fight. But enough negativity has been spread and will continue to spread. I invite you to join me in doing the opposite. If we don’t do it, who will?