I live in a yurt off the grid. My closest neighbor is something like 2 miles away, my power comes from our huge solar panels and back up generators; internet from satellite and phone reception from boosters connected to satellite dishes.
I’m telling you this because it means that I live way the hell out there; as far ‘out there’ as you can get in California.
And even as far out there as I am, the changes that are happening with this new administration are slamming at me left and right, it’s like this wave of unbelievable, heart-stopping, depressing, 1984-esque, dystopian change. As out there as I am, it’s pretty easy to get sucked in and sort of paralyzed by how BAD it all is.
I can’t even imagine how much worse it must be for YOU who are in urban areas and have tv’s blasting news in restaurants, bombarded with reminders of what’s happening.
It’s like this, an onslaught of daily damage actions and reports (and thanks Melissa, for sending this my way! I love you)
I’m sort of lucky – I guess? – in the worst way possible that the unthinkable happened to me last September when my beloved brother Dana was shot and died. My world fell apart with that – Dana was the rock that our entire family was built on, Dana was my own backbone and the person that I have always – always! – counted on.
I’m not healed yet – nowhere close. I have to wear a heavy necklace just to put pressure on my heart to remember to breathe.
But my point here is that Dana for me was like our government is, like our government should be. The backbone, the foundation upon which our country is built. Losing what we have always known to be true is devastating, scary, gut-wrenching, numbing.
So What Do We DO?!
I read a wonderful piece on Medium yesterday, “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind” – it’s funny, informative and lovely – read it!
The tips she gives are fantastic and reasonable: don’t get used to Trump, focus your energy on one or two issues, make activism fun and take care of the basics.
For myself, I’m turning off a lot of my news sources because I don’t want to be bombarded with information and thus become desensitized. I limit my time on social media (my husband doesn’t believe me, but I swear, I am).
I’m focused on disability and only disability, because that’s the best that I can give – my perspective as a deaf woman with manic depression, TBI, PTSD and the mother of a child with Down syndrome is priceless – it’s my gift to the world.
I try and keep my sense of humor. And, as a matter of course in walking through my deep grief at the loss of my brother, I work hard on trying to take care of the basics.
Disability Being My Focus...
I’m a mother, a teacher, and a blogger who needs freedom of speech and media. I’m many things, but since I have a unique perspective with my disabilities and my parenting a child with a disability other than my own, and because, perhaps most importantly, I can talk about these things and have built a platform to do so, I’m focusing on disability.
My advice for what it’s worth is to figure out what you are most passionate about, what you have the moxie to stand up for and feel in your bones to be what you can do something about.
But just because you are deaf or have a disability doesn’t mean that that’s the area you should focus on.
Just because you are a woman doesn’t mean that woman’s rights need to be your area of focus.
Just because you are African American doesn’t mean that racial justice needs to be your area.
All of us have intersections, all of us can be allies. All of us are needed.
So I think we need to figure out for ourselves where we want to focus our energy right here, right now.
This Is What I Did
I wrote out a long list of things I want to write about.
This is important to me because while I have an infinite amount of things to write about (“writer’s block” is nowhere in my universe), I need to focus to be effective. Hone in. What’s important. What’s helpful.
2. I set up accounts on applications that allow me to stagger sharing on social media
Buffer, Tailwind. These are becoming my new friends, and I need it so that I can be an effective blogger and activist without spending all my time on social media. I see good stuff, I copy it to buffer and let it go. Same goes for Tailwind and Pinterest.
3. I plan
I ordered this planner because it’s based on the law of attraction. I need to keep high focus on my spirit as well, keep my vision, grow love, strengthen my heart. And I need to be organized, take deep breaths and meditate in between figuring out how I can be effective in this world.
4. I research
I tapped into Facebook and friends for information on places to gather information from. I signed up for updates on Daily Kos, connected with Disability Organizing network (DO network), got the Indivisible Action Calendar bookmarked, I went through my list of kick-ass disability-related organizations to see if there was anything I was missing (with info, actionable items, etc).
5. I cull
I went through Facebook and highlighted the people that I consider to be real movers. I “favorite” starred them, so that their updates show up first in my feed. This makes it easier for me to get news I want, actionable items, and content relevant to my focus areas. I did the same for groups that I belong to.
This stuff is all ongoing.
I don’t have the spoons (or time: I work and I’m a mom of 3 little kids, remember) to do massive chunks of anything. I wake up to blog at 5am; I engage in art while I practice self-care and I do my focused activist work in small chunks, as I able.
20 minutes can go a long way, when consistently applied.
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E). Deaf, with C-PTSD and TBI, she’s also a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.