Why aren’t we flooding the streets to protest this presidency?

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Thousands of protesters flood the streets of Seoul, South Korea in a candlelight march to demand the removal of their despotic president on November 19, 2016.   They succeeded.

In America in 2019, no one is doing much of anything to protest or resist a despotic, sociopathic president who is a clear and present danger to democracy and the rule of law as we have always known it.   We are in grave danger of becoming a totalitarian, fascist regime with the loss of all our rights and protections, and yet are content to sit on our couches and tweet our discontent or just blithely go about our business as if everything is normal.

Why is that so?

There are many, many more of us than them.  The power is in our hands.  It always has been.  All we have to do is use it, as South Korea did in 2016 to remove their despotic president, and many other countries have done (even countries where speaking against the government is a crime), and yet we don’t.   Why not?

Sometimes I’m most clearheaded very early in the morning, before my head gets filled with the garbage of daily life.   I answered my own question upon waking up this morning.   I decided to post my thoughts on Twitter in a series of threaded tweets.  To my surprise, my thread went viral, with many retweets and hundreds of comments I am still trying to reply to.    It seems that my early morning musings hit a nerve, so I decided to post it here too.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

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Going forward…

I found this meme that shows tips from Robert Reich and wanted to share it because I think it’s really important going forward.   Please share.

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Why I resist.

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Some people have asked me why I resist Donald Trump.

There are many reasons.  Perhaps the two most important ones are these:

I resist so my adult daughter can enjoy the same freedoms women have for the past 45 years and not have to go back to a time when they did not.  Even if you don’t believe in abortion (which is perfectly fine), it’s not the government’s job to decide what a woman can and cannot do with her body.   That’s up to her and her doctor (and perhaps her husband and/or church should have a say IF she’s conservative).   I also worry about governmental attempts to restrict access to birth control and contaception education (both which prevent abortion).

I resist so my gay son can love who he chooses and not be persecuted or discriminated against for that.

But there are other reasons why I resist too:

I resist so future generations (including my descendants, if there are any) can enjoy a safe environment and clean air and water.

I resist so we don’t lose our right to speak our mind and feelings freely without fear of censorship or punishment.

I resist so migrant children and babies aren’t separated from their mothers and fathers and put into cages and abused both physically and emotionally.

I resist because I believe healthcare is a right and not a privilege.

I resist because I hate racism, sexism and any other form of making others “less” for things they have no control over.

I resist because I hate the culture of cruelty and exclusion this administration is encouraging and enabling.

I resist because I don’t believe criminals, sociopaths, malignant narcissists, abusers, hypocrites, greedy Ayn Rand worshipping assholes, white supremacists, religious extremists, and Russian traitors should be running our government.

I resist because I think science is important and takes precedence over religion in matters that affect Americans’ health and wellbeing.

I resist because every working American deserves fair treatment and a wage they can actually live on.

I resist because religion and government should never be merged.  Every time in history and in every country religion and government become intertwined, it always leads to violence, fear and hate, terrible suffering, and war.   You are free to be as religious as you want to be, and you are free to share your beliefs with others, but you are not free to impose your religious beliefs on others who disagree with you.

I resist because I hate fascism, authoritarianism, and extremism of any kind.  Donald Trump checks every box for fascist/authoritarian traits.

I resist because I believe empathy and kindness are important in our leaders, and Donald Trump and his regime have shown absolutely no empathy or kindness.

I resist because I believe a good leader attempts to bring people together, not divide them and tear them apart.

I resist because a good leader cares about ALL Americans, not just their own base (actually, Trump doesn’t even care about them, they are just useful to him.  Being the malignant narcissist he is, all he cares about is himself).

I resist because bullying and good leadership do not go together.  Ever.

I resist because I believe humility and the ability to admit when you’ve made a mistake is important in our leaders, and Donald Trump and his regime have shown no ability to ever own or take responsibility for their mistakes, or for their cruel and deliberate actions.

I resist because I believe the vulnerable (poor, elderly, children, women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ, disabled, sick, etc.) should be cared for and listened to, not silenced, demonized, and treated like lesser beings.

I resist because I believe every child has the right to a free quality public education.  If you don’t like public schools, you are free to send your child to a private or religious one (or homeschool your child, though personally I think there should be certain standards for that), but you are not free to restrict other people’s children from being able to access an education.

I resist because I believe the wealthy and corporations should pay higher taxes for the greater good.  In every moral and civilized society, that is the way things work, and that is the way things used to work here too.   Greed and the lust for power has destroyed all that.

I resist because I believe the Second Amendment must be tempered with good old fashioned common sense, and that means background checks and age restrictions on gun ownership.   We are not living in the Wild West.

I resist because the President is not immune to the rule of law, and our system of checks and balances should be functional, not complicit and enabling of his unethical and extremist behavior.

I resist because a free press is vital to democracy, and Trump is trying his damndest to demonize any press that is critical of him, while glorifying “news” outlets that do nothing but lie and spread pro-Trump propaganda

I resist because I don’t like the values Trumpism promotes: wealth and power reign supreme,  “might makes right,” toxic masculinity, nationalism and white supremacy, disdain for empathy and other “feminine virtues” as weakness, etc.

I resist because I used to feel safe in my country, but no longer do.

I resist because we are stronger and safer when we work with our allies, not against them.

I resist because I believe in democracy, not fascism.

I resist because I believe in truth, not lies.

I resist because Donald Trump is a terrible example for our children.

I resist because I believe in America, not One Party Rule or a “Cult of Personality.”

I resist because I believe that’s what the real Jesus would do.

Families Belong Together Rally.

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Today, all across the country, in over 700 locations, people gathered together to protest the Trump regime’s cruel and inhumane family separation policy, that has ripped thousands of children away from their parents at the US/Mexico border, and put many of those children in cages and detention camps.

Although it was searingly hot here in Asheville, NC, today, there was a large turnout, at least a few hundred people — and this is a small city!     This was the first protest event I ever attended with an actual sign I made.   Early this morning I went to Dollar General and picked up some inexpensive art supplies and then worked on my sign.  Here’s the finished result (I decorated both sides).  I’m not much of an artist, but I think the drawings managed to capture the emotion I was trying to convey.

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Several people took photos of my sign, which was a nice feeling.   I also took photos of the signs other people were carrying.  I’m always so impressed at the creativity I see whenever I attend a protest or rally.   Here’s an example I really liked (this was also a two-sided sign).  The bottom picture is a depiction of the two year old Honduran girl who has become an icon of both the immigration crisis and this important movement (it’s hard to see the red of her shirt).     I love the way Lady Liberty has taken her hand and is guiding her to safety — something that is unfortunately far from the reality that is actually being practiced at our southern border.

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The photo at the top of this post is one I took of a beautiful toddler and her mother who were standing in front of me at the rally.   They were Hispanic (I don’t know what country they are from) and I thought this sweet moment was so perfect (I did get permission from the mom to take their picture).

The rally lasted about an hour and a half.  We listened to some great speeches from local activists, a few immigrants, and finally, a beautiful song sung by a woman from El Salvador.   There were booths set up to help people sign up to vote in November (make sure you are registered and VOTE BLUE!).  The crowd, in spite of the heat, was motivated and passionate!

I returned home feeling like I participated in something important that can help change things.   It sure beat lying in bed being depressed and feeling like our situation is hopeless and we are all doomed.

We must stop snubbing never-Trump conservatives.

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Sign at the Rally for ACA (Obamacare), February 26, 2017, Asheville, NC

Most of us in the Resistance — though we largely lean to the left — have come to accept never-Trump conservatives as part of our movement.  A few of them — Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace, and Robert Mueller (a Republican appointed by George W. Bush after 9/11 and whose decisions often have leaned conservative) — have become like heroes to many of us “lefties.”   That’s because we recognize that, while we may not always agree with their Republican politics, these are men and women of integrity and morals, people who believe in the rule of law and the Constitution as it was written by the Founding Fathers (and not as the Kochs and Mercers would like to rewrite it to benefit only themselves and their oligarch cronies).   These people, because they possess morals and ethics, never hopped aboard the Trump Train. They never caved to the pressure to vote for Trump in the 2016 election just because he had an R after his name, because they recognized that Trump was neither a conservative or a liberal, but something else altogether — something alien and threatening: a radical disrupter of the American way.  So, most of these conservatives wound up either not voting, or voting for Hillary Clinton — as both Bushes and many other Republicans did.

While we liberals (actually, I’m not that far left — I’m just left of center) may not agree with conservatives on specific partisan issues (how to best handle the economy, government spending, the social safety net, and cultural issues), what we have in common with the Never-Trump conservatives is a strong belief that democracy is the system that has always worked best, that checks and balances are necessary to keep a democracy in healthy working order, and that a free press and freedom of speech is absolutely necessary to avoid falling prey to despotic or authoritarian leadership.  We also all agree that Trump is a clear and present danger both to our democracy, and to our national security.    All of us understand that he is attempting to destroy the institutions and the checks and balances that have kept us (until recently) the leader of the free world.  We also recognize his potential danger to the world.    We have always known he was unfit to serve in any capacity where he is responsible for life and death issues affecting millions of innocent people.

There are, unfortunately, still some holdouts in the resistance who are distrustful or antagonistic of anyone with an R after their name, even when it’s evident they have never supported the Trump regime and may even be extremely opposed to it.    Now is not the time for people on the left to be purists.   It’s bad enough when I see infighting among different factions on the left (or really, anything to the left of center-right):  Hillary and Bernie supporters are STILL fighting with each other.  WHY?  Neither is sitting in the White House today.   But some of the hardcore Bernie supporters still seem to feel like Hillary would have been worse than Donald Trump  — that’s how much they hated Hillary.    I see a similar refusal of some people on the left to accept Never-Trump conservatives as part of the Resistance, but again, we can’t afford to be political purists, and we need all the support we can get, even if we disagree on specific issues.

I do understand the reluctance, because it’s kind of strange and surreal for someone who has always voted for liberal or Democratic candidates to look at someone who always voted straight Republican until the 2016 election as an ally.   But in times like these, when a strong resistance is necessary to help bring down the cabal of sociopaths currently running our government, we all must change our ways of thinking and be more inclusive, even of those whose politics may normally be vastly different from ours.   We must set aside the temptation to be political purists because purism is for more peaceful, stable times, not for times like these.

If we reject Trump and believe in our system of checks and balances,  then it makes no difference whether we are Democrat, Independent, Green, Libertarian, or Republican — at the end of the day, we are all on the same side and we need to stick together and fight to save our country from the claws of fascism and tyranny.  It’s the Trumpists who will never be able to join us, and together, we far outnumber them.

If you’re a conservative reading this who hates Trump, don’t be shy!  Don’t be afraid to attend our rallies, meetings, marches, and comment on our social media posts.   We’re not all the  scary dreadlocked and tattooed radical lefties you might think we are.   That we’re all anything-goes anarchists, closet Commies, or Antifa members is a myth the right wing media wants you to believe.

The reality is most of us are just regular folks with regular jobs, kids, grandkids, and we may even go to church.  Many of us are older or even retired.    We just don’t want America to turn into something we don’t recognize.  In fact, it could be said we’re the real conservatives, because we want to conserve the values America has always stood for, instead of the sordid and un-American values Trumpism represents.

*****

List of Republicans who opposed the Trump Presidential Campaign, 2016

 

Earth Day 2017 — March for Science

Today is almost a year since the first March for Science. Here’s an article from USA Today about this year’s March:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/04/14/march-science-2018/517294002/

It doesn’t seem like a lot has changed in a year, as Trump and his minions continue to dismantle the EPA from within, destroy laws that protect us against pollution, push fossil fuels over sustainable clean energy, and double down on their climate change denial even as our polar ice caps melt and our weather becomes more extreme and dangerous.

I’m reblogging the post I wrote last year when I attended the March for Science in my city.

Lucky Otters Haven

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In these days of dangerous lies called alternative facts and facts touted by our leaders as fake news,  the celebration of Earth Day has never seemed more important.  All over the nation today, people in cities big and small gathered to defend science and scientific research.  Scientific knowledge and education is important to keep our water and air clean, our food healthy and safe, and keep our young people educated instead of indoctrinated in ignorance.

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The organizations that sponsored our event.

In one important sense, the Trump presidency is the best thing that could happen to our country, because it’s forcing people to wake up and finally take a stand for the things that really matter.   I doubt there would be this level of activity had Hillary won the election.   People would remain stuck in their apathy and cynicism.

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It’s encouraging that so many cities had such a big…

View original post 313 more words

March for Our Lives!

There is a new Moral Majority in America. And it isn’t white evangelicals, the NRA, or the supporters of Trump. It is the majority of the country who believe in integrity in government, compassion, the rule of law, and justice. They are raising their voices daily. Especially today. — Matthew Dowd

Millions of people gathering to peacefully march against gun violence in every city in the country, and across the globe.  The enthusiasm and passion of the kids leading the movement gives me hope that maybe America will be okay after all.

Listen to 11 year old Naomi Wadler.   Hear this young woman roar.   THIS is what democracy looks like.

Here is Emma Gonzalez’ powerful speech and 6 minute moment of silence.  If you aren’t moved by this, you don’t have a soul.

Watch out, GOP, you old dinosaur.   The new generation is going to change things, and they are NOT going to vote for you.

 

Why “A Wrinkle in Time” is an important book in these dark days of Trumpism.

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2018 book cover.

Sarah Kendzior, an expert on authoritarian states who often appears on MSNBC to talk about the Trump presidency and its similarity with other autocratic regimes, shared her thoughts with Flood Magazine   in which she uses the plot of Madeleine L’Engle’s famous 1962 young adult novel, A Wrinkle in Time, as a metaphor for the dark political days we are living in.     As a lifelong fan of L’Engle’s Newbury award-winning science-fiction/fantasy novel (and being as against Donald Trump and his regime as I am), Kendzior’s words really resonated with me:

“It’s a good book for children to read now, growing up during the Trump administration,” Sarah Kendzior told me. “The rejection of conformity, the emphasis on compassion.” She’s called IT a “fascist monster,” comparing his brainwashing of Meg’s brother Charles Wallace to the “normalization” of Trump Times. “One of the scariest lines in the book is, ‘Just relax.’ Just give in, we’ll take care of you. Relaxing is much easier than trying to combat IT. That’s what happened to us as a nation—people had faith in institutions and checks and balances, but it comes down to individuals’ willingness to uphold those things,” Kendzior said. Lucky for her father, Meg takes responsibility, defeats IT, and rescues him by virtue of thinking hard and getting angry.

Kendzior is right.  “Wrinkle” is very much about empathy, using one’s brain to solve problems, and the age old battle between good and evil.   Madeleine L’Engle, who died in 2007,  was a Christian who often explored religious and moral themes in her works, without ever becoming preachy or self-righteous.   Rather than reject or deny science (as many evangelical Christians today do), in “Wrinkle,” she embraces science — specifically quantum physics and the possibility of alien life — to tell a riveting and rather dark story about a 13 year old girl (Meg Murry) who is forced to use her righteous anger to fight against an evil force that has kidnapped her father and is about to take over the universe.     I agree with Kendzior that kids today should read this book.  (The movie, which I believe is being released in theaters today, couldn’t have come out at a more appropriate time in American history — although I have heard the reviews for the movie aren’t that great, so maybe it’s better to stick with reading the book.)

Meg isn’t alone in her quest.  She has help, in the form of three mysterious and sometimes humorous old women (L’Engle has described these women elsewhere as guardian angels rather than the “good witches” they appear to be).  Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which have supernatural powers and can appear or disappear at will.  Mrs. Whatsit is also able to shapeshift into a being who is a cross between an angel and a centaur.   There is also Meg’s telepathic 5 year old brother, Charles Wallace, whose ability to empathize must be off the charts and who also has a genius level IQ.  Finally, there is Meg’s new friend Calvin O’Keefe, seemingly average in most respects, but who, like Charles Wallace, seems to possess an impressive ability to empathize.

The story revolves around Meg’s father, a physicist who had been working on some top secret project involving quantum physics, and then suddenly disappeared and was never heard from again.   There’s some kind of connection between his disappearance and a concept he’d been working on called a “tesseract,” which refers to a 5th-dimensional  shortcut that can be taken through time and space by “folding” it.

Meg is a relatable but not always likeable girl.  She is brainy, awkward, unsure of herself, and apparently not very popular with most other kids because she’s not perky or upbeat all the time (I loved Meg when I read this book at age 11 or 12 because she was exactly like me!)   Meg’s reaction to things tends to be to get angry or sulk.   Her teachers have expressed concern over her rebellious and uncooperative behavior and her falling grades.  Since her father’s disappearance, her problems have only gotten worse.    Her little brother Charles Wallace is the family’s youngest child and has an uncanny ability to always know when Meg is upset, and even know the exact details of what she is thinking about.    Calvin O’Keefe, while he seems to be Meg’s opposite in many ways (he is popular, athletic, and only “average” IQ-wise) also is unusually understanding and empathetic of Meg’s emotional needs.

Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, who have ensconced themselves in an abandoned house in the woods near Meg’s home, come to the children one stormy October night.  Soon the kids find out these old women are celestial messengers and know where her father is — and that only Meg can be the one to save him.   Soon the three kids are embarking on a journey across the universe, traveling by “tessering” through space and time.

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1960s book cover.

Meg is at the center of the fight to return her father from the forces of darkness that have captured him, and the evil and powerful entity (IT) that has engulfed and now controls a large part of the universe.     Along the way the reader is treated to alien worlds and creatures.  The world on which her father is held prisoner is a terrifying planet of total conformity and utter control, in which people are literally turned into programmed robots.   Anyone who deviates from the “program” in any way is coldly disposed of.   This is also the planet where IT resides.  Some of the worlds Meg visits (that have not yet been engulfed by IT’s dark forces) are populated by beings with high levels of empathy and altruistic love.  On these worlds, Meg finds the emotional and physical replenishment she needs to succeed on her quest. On one planet, she is nurtured back to health after almost losing her life by a huge and ugly but maternal creature Meg comes to call “Aunt Beast.”

Like Meg and her companions, we who resist Trumpism are on a journey to fight a force that, like IT, seeks to gain complete control and enforce lock-step conformity.    It’s a force devoid of empathy, atruistic love, gentleness, and compassion, because those are values of the Light, which are alien to the dark forces of Trumpism.    Trumpism holds a dark, violent, and toxic masculinity that insists that the Light is weak and feminine, or “socialist,” as somehow virtuous.   Darkness hates the Light because it’s petrified of its power to expose the truth, so it will gaslight you and try to make you believe that goodness is really evil and evil is good.      Light values are the same ones Jesus taught in the Gospels (and almost every humanitarian spiritual leader has encouraged, from Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr.)   Ironically, the darkness of Trumpism, while insisting it’s based on Christian values, has in fact twisted and perverted Christ’s true message of love and inclusion into its polar opposite.

Like Meg, we in the resistance are going to be forced to go outside our comfort zones (Meg got quite sick while “tessering” at one point, and always did find the shortcut  frightening).  We can’t be tempted to “give in” to darkness just because it seems easier or because we’re being told that fighting it will only cause us more trouble than lying down like sheep and and accepting it.   Like Meg, we may need to use those qualities we dislike in ourselves, especially anger, to fight off the darkness before it consumes everything it touches, including our souls.

A Wrinkle in Time has aged well since its 1962 publication.  While the language the kids use in the book seems dated and overly formal (what kid calls their mother “Mother” anymore?), the book was well ahead of its time in its attitudes toward women and their intellectual aptitudes (Meg’s mother is a successful microbiologist).   The battle between good and evil is as old as humanity itself, and is especially well told in this classic and entertaining book.   The Christian message of the story is clear, while never beating you over the head with religion or Christian symbolism.   I worry about kids today being brainwashed by the sociopathic, nationalistic, racist, pro-violence, anti-woman, anti-science, and anti-education messages of exclusion and intolerance they are hearing from Trump and his followers.  A Wrinkle in Time is a great anecdote to that and if kids aren’t into reading, I’m sure seeing the new Disney movie can’t hurt them any.

It’s also a book that adults can enjoy too, and since reading the article I linked to above, I just started reading it again.

Asheville Womens March 2018!

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I wasn’t able to attend the Womens March that took place in downtown Asheville today, but the day was beautiful (sunny, high 50’s) and the turnout was unbelievable!  My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw this photo (which I was informed later is actually from 2017, but the turnout was the same or even greater than last year’s).

Asheville is a very progressive (deep, deep indigo blue!) bastion in a mostly red state (though a lot of the “redness” is misleading, since the GOP gerrymandering here is the worst in the nation.  There are actually quite a few blue/Democratic areas in North Carolina, particularly in the urban areas.

But I’m fortunate to live in what is probably the most politically progressive city in the state, outside of the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, which is full of colleges and universities.   Asheville has a couple of colleges, but higher education isn’t its main draw.  We’re a haven for artists, musicians, people involved in the healing arts, and other creative types, and people from other areas of the country seeking the vibrant culture here as well as the beautiful scenery and the weather — we have all 4 seasons, but the winters are generally milder than what you find farther north and the summers are not that hot because of our location in the mountains.

The turnout in this small city (population about 89,000) was incredible.   It might as well have been in a big city like New York or Chicago!

Beautiful weather, beautiful city, beautiful people.   I’m proud to live in Asheville even though I wasn’t able to attend the march today.    I’m thrilled that the resistance seems to be growing even after a year of Trump, and proud of my fellow Ashevillians.

Self-care in turbulent times.

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The trendy term “self care” irritates me the same way other trendy terms tend to irritate me, but it’s actually a good phrase and good advice.

I had two days off from work this week due to the snow, and I could have spent that time glued to the news, scanning Twitter for the latest Trumpian outrages (I can’t even keep up with them anymore), and making myself angry, depressed, and scared.

For a year I have struggled with retriggered C-PTSD because of this president and his abuse of vulnerable Americans, which includes myself because I am not rich or conservative.

I could have worked myself up into a righteous tizzy and returned to work feeling exhausted instead of refreshed.

But instead, I took a moratorium from the news and from the Internet.   Reading my Kindle copy of “Fire and Fury” (I’m almost done) was about the extent of my politics-related activities.   I cleaned my house (really well for a change) , organized a couple of closets, and actually cooked.   I spent time catching up with friends on Facebook and reading funny or inspiring websites, and watching funny animal videos.  I watched part of a “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” marathon, and even walked in the snow.    I read one of the novels in the list of books I posted the other day, and was actually able to concentrate on the plot.   I’m almost finished with it now.

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I have to admit I felt a twinge of guilt for burying my head in the sand and choosing not to follow the news for a couple of days.    I’ve always believed if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, but taking mental health breaks from all the chaos coming from the White House doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the dangers and becoming complacent and complicit.  It means you are a human being and need time to take care of yourself.  If you’re active in the resistance, whether as an actual activist, or just protesting online, you’re not going to be any good to anyone if you’re depressed, deflated,  apathetic, terrified, or unhealthily enraged.   All you’ll be able to do is spread negativity instead of inspiration and ideas.

So it’s absolutely imperative, especially if you suffer from PTSD, C-PTSD or a depressive disorder, to give yourself breaks from all the chaos and negative politics and take care of yourself.   It’s still possible to enjoy the simple things in life and even have fun, yes, even in the darkest times.   I can’t help but think of Anne Frank, a young girl confined in a German concentration camp, but she never let that reality break her spirit.  She was still a happy, positive person who spread joy and hope to others, even knowing she and her family were going to die.   Even today, her legacy still inspires others.

After my two days off spent staying away from politics and the news, I actually felt refreshed and ready to fight again.    So don’t feel guilty if you need to take breaks to concentrate on yourself, your friends or family.   Spend time doing things you like or that relax you — listening to music, watching a funny movie, meditating, praying, doing Yoga, reading a novel, cooking or baking, or spending time in nature (nothing is more healing than nature, if that’s your thing).   You are not abandoning your ideals or becoming complacent.   You are just refueling.

*****

Further reading:

12 Ways to Resist Without Losing Your Mind