Saturday, January 28, 2017

Step #4

If you're someone who is also my Facebook friend, you've recently seen that my 2-year-old took the keys off of my laptop this week. I've managed to fix everything except the space bar. So, if you try to read my blog hearing my voice, today, the typing sounds like.I'm.punctuating.every.word.I.write.

Let's start talking about Step #4. It's the hardest step. Research and decide what your strengths are and where you can do the most good. A friend this week offered this advice: Pick 3 causes, and stick with just those three (Refugees, Civil Liberties, and Human Trafficking are mine... for now.... I think). I also needed to narrow down my sources of information. I picked one Internet action website (, one print media source (The Chicago Tribune), and one radio source (NPR).

And then there's the honest assessment of how I can help. In November, I started planning massive, sweeping neighborhood and national projects. I wanted to make blankets for kids in hospitals, CareBoxes on our streets for homeless people, a dinner for our neighbors who live alone...... also, it was Christmas so I had also to do all the Christmas things. I've backed WAY down since then.

Things I can do:
~make phone calls
~send letters
~show up to one thing a month (if it doesn't require a babysitter)

That's it right now. Because I have a job, and kids, and I do a lot of things for my church women's group. I'm tired a lot of days. So Step #4 is really about creating a filter for incoming information, and assessing what parts of your life you can use for causes. Life is SO overwhelming right now for EVERYONE. Step #4 takes time, and it's hard. But then you can feel amazing to work on Step #5 next!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Step #3

Step #3 (in the Steps for recovering after a truly unsettling tragedy happens) is Gather with like-minded people.

This morning I attended a lecture by one of the pastors at my church about a program she runs that helps parents of other-abled children take a night off. It's a great program. This post isn't about that program (which can be found here).

This post is about me leaving my house 1-3 times a month, dragging Adam to the church-provided babysitter, and sitting in a room with other women for about 2 hours. I'm lucky to have found a church that aligns exactly with what my values are. So when I go there, I feel 100% nurtured and accepted. I can blurt out whatever insane thing my mind comes up with- and I know I'm safe. The catchphrase for the church is, we are a NICE Church: Nurturing, Inclusive, Connecting, Empowering.

Someone this morning asked why we haven't been to children's choir lately. Instead of making up something like, "we've been really busy" or "you know, just life" and making an empty promise to try to make it more often, I looked her in the eye and told the exact truth, "We've been having a lot of trouble with Sawyer lately, and we've decided to pause our extra activities until we can figure out how to help him be ok with himself and the world around him."

The week after the November election, I sat at a table as a leader of a group of women, and we all took deep breaths and cried. We said all the things we'd been holding in so we could appear strong to our families and "not crazy" to our friends. We just let it out, and brainstormed next-steps, and I felt better as I was leaving.

Don't get me wrong- everyone needs their close circle of friends. Jesus is there when there's even just two of us together (how did this post get so religious today???). But when there's more, and you can look around and know an entire pyramid of people share your dreams for our Earth and our future and our children, THAT'S the empowerment you need to keep going in tough times. Stronger Together. I'm SO glad I took the social-situation risk a while back and started Gathering with women. I've gotten SO much more out of it than I ever imagined I would.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Step #2

We have too much crap. And it sucks to shuffle it from place to place. And a LOT of self-help books lately have started focusing on the way your energy is drained by the things you own. Which is why my Step #2 is to Donate Things. Make some space in your house and your heart for new ideas and new openness to live. Also- make sure you're not just throwing good things away (but definitely do throw away garbage). Other people can use your stuff.

If I've learned anything from my 12 years of dedicated Hoarders watching, it's this: If you find yourself ever saying, "But maybe one day I'll...." about anything, get rid of it. Entire rooms could be filled with the "maybe one day" projects. No. You're not. And if "one day" you do, you can create that bag of empty toilet paper rolls again. Dry cleaning hangers are closet herpes: they'll show back up out of nowhere when you're feeling a little under the weather.

And you don't need to plan for this donation experience. Just grab one box or bag, throw stuff in, and get in the car. Don't make a day out of it. You're not spring cleaning your house. Just get one box/bag out so you've done something. This one action can knock loose a depressive state, and give you just enough satisfaction and pride to eat a bag of Doritos with satisfaction.

Enjoy those Doritos. You earned them.