April 08, 2017

Let's review the concept of self care


Welcome! It's a long game and the resistance needs all of you. Stay energized and sane because we're in it for the duration.
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R3 for week 11 ending April 7, 2017.

Revel (something celebratory from the past week :: to maintain a sense of accomplishment and gratitude)

First, some good stuff.
- Important ruling on LGBT employment discrimination. "It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the 'sex' from 'sexual orientation,'" Judge Diane Wood wrote for the court, which ruled 8-3 on the matter. Likely coming soon to the Supreme Court...  


- Go twitter! Protecting privacy and championing free speech of the fabulous rogue resisters. Government just withdrew its request!

- On the issue of privacy, states are again stepping up. And it may seem there was no reason to roll back internet privacy rules, but guess what? “Lobbyists representing Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft have already visited his [IL Senator] office to discuss the legislation.” The theme of enrichment comes to mind.

- A federal judge allowed an Obama-era police reform agreement to proceed in Baltimore, over Jeff Sessions’ objection.

- Texas soundly defeated school vouchers. They don't want money to be diverted from the public school system.
Reflect (something big picture to ponder :: to keep our eyes on the prize and remember why we resist)

I had planned to reflect on privacy issues (will do soon), but what a week it's been. The Supreme Court battle was lost in stunning and destructive Republican rule-breaking. And then the real bombs, sure to yield consequences. On that, a bit of context.

Was it legal?

Presidents Bush, Obama and now 45 have used a war authorization enacted by Congress after 9/11 that allowed engagement with al-Qaeda. Obama asserted that ISIS falls within this authorization, a reasonable leap given its intent to fight terrorism. For 45 to use the authorization to attack another nation is completely different, however, and has many in Congress speaking out. International law is another issue.

Was it smart?

The region comprises a complex tangle of players. Russia has committed to fight ISIS in coalition, but also backs the Assad regime. How might Putin react? Every move in the region requires deep analysis and careful consideration by experts and the international community. We don't know whether this action was afforded an appropriate level of scrutiny. And since the Administration has yet to offer detailed foreign policy or anti-terrorism plans, we don't even know the attack's actual purpose beyond a fleeting reaction.

Was it effective?

The Administration called it a show of might conveying the “unacceptability” of the chemical attack, and insists it is not part of any “wider campaign”. Russia was apparently notified in advance (and likely told Syria); Congress was not. There’s no indication that weapons were destroyed, and the airport is already operational. International response has been muted - certainly no one’s rushing in to help. As a symbolic gesture the attack has limited value. How does it serve the ongoing humanitarian situation?

Was it a farce?

Some suggest the airstrikes could have actually been intended to break the Resistance, improve 45’s ratings, direct money to the military-industrial complex (whose share prices immediately jumped), and/or fake people out about Russian collusion. Some in the media appear swayed: observe another round of ridiculous fawning. Some opposition Democrats have also caved with statements of support.

Was it even about Syria?

The saddest truth: no one is suggesting 45 actually cares about the Syrians. It does confirm several things about 45; first, that he is supremely untrustworthy.


After such a week we may all need a pep-talk: words of inspiration and resilience from Rebecca Solnit:

"Okay resistance, this is a move to distract people from scandals, corruption, investigations, crimes and misdemeanors, failures, and lies. The general thrust will be that we're at war and it's very exciting and everyone should fall in line behind the most sordid excuse for a commander-in-chief ever, like post-9/11 only more tawdry.

"So we are all called upon to resist the storyline, the patriotic obedience, the distraction, and protest harder, call and write representatives harder, push harder for investigations, and maintain a storyline that is not their storyline. To cast a cold eye on every piece of news tied to this war thing, not forgetting we've been sort of at war with Eurasia forever, and to never ever let this consolidate power or confer legitimacy. We can do it. We must.

"There has never been a more unstable US regime. It remains possible to help it smash itself up and fatally compromise itself. For the benefit of all beings."


Recharge (a technique to help you energize and focus for the week ahead :: "self care" and creative resistance

Approaching our three month mark for active Resistance, a review of “self-care” principles might be in order. Battling against each day’s new evil with sometimes hazy long-term goals can be all-consuming. It’s tempting to neglect personal needs, yet it is not helpful to deny ourselves all the good things as we fight the bad. Balance is what enables many activists to keep on year after year.
Without such balance, we’re more prone to despair and exhaustion: two signs of burnout. Burnout can make us turn away and/or disengage from what is happening. (This isn’t the same as needing a day off, which may be quite effective in sustaining long-term action.) Each of us should take the time for whatever personal practices help us avoid burnout: this is self-care.        
Self care includes:     
1. Meeting physical needs. Sleep, nutrition (or needing a snack!), hydration, fresh air, exercise, health care…  
2. Developing and using techniques that help avoid burnout. I’ve been introducing some in these emails. Choose a few that work for you and use them regularly and habitually.
3. Understanding what burnout symptoms feel like for you, physically and emotionally. Do you have warnings, gut feelings, energy level signals that suggest you are becoming overwhelmed? Observe yourself so that you can respond.
4. Defining ways to recuperate if you do end up noticing burnout symptoms. You might even keep a list or well-placed post-its as reminders. When you become overwhelmed, it is often difficult to even think of how to handle it. Deciding on something helpful to do for yourself shouldn’t itself add stress.
5. Knowing the things you must accomplish and the ones that may be optional. Sometimes you need unplanned self care, as you unexpectedly feel stress or burnout symptoms. Have a sense of what tasks you can drop when you need to pause your day.
6. Finally, it includes recognizing that you need and deserve the uplifting stuff.

Suggestions for taking a break:
  • Physical exercise that raises heart rate
  • Contemplative activities - breathing exercises, meditation, a mindful pause (savor a cup of tea/coffee), stretching/yoga, reading, a walk outdoors, looking at photos, watching the ocean
  • Expressing yourself - journaling, artmaking (eg, doodling/calligraphy/watercolor), music, poetry
  • Affirming/community - chatting with someone about other things

This work is difficult. Include self-care.


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