This week has so many people I know so worried about what the future holds (me included.) I wrote up a long essay, over on the Seeking site, on Wednesday, about self-care in difficult times, but I also wanted to write here about what I’m doing in specific, about the results of the 2016 election, and moving forward.
So here’s what I’m doing: Pausing. Getting my house in order. Volunteering. Donating. Collecting and sharing information.
I can panic later if I need to. Right now, we don’t have a lot of specific information about what might happen, only a lot of guesses. I’m going ahead with making decisions that would be a good idea anyway, and waiting on ones where my emotional reaction might get me into difficulties.
Getting my house in order:
Literally and metaphorically. I know that I feel a lot better if my immediate living environment feels like it’s under control. For things I mention below, I’m glad to talk more about my personal experiences with it, feel free to contact me through the contact form or whatever other method you have for me.
Specific things I’m doing include:
Rearranging my budget so I can give regular donations to groups doing things I care about. More on that below. Making sure I’m doing the best with my budget I can. (I’m a huge fan of YNAB, You Need A Budget, for the record.)
Using resources I have now strategically to buy or replace clothing, shoes, and other stuff I know I’ll need in the next few months to a year with good quality stuff that will last. That way, I can divert resources to other things more easily if I need to later. (Note: This is stuff I know I need, not wants. But if you were thinking about replacing a winter coat, or boots, or things you use at least weekly, thinking about it now is good.) Sam Vines’ theory of boots should explain it.
Continuing to improve habits about food and exercise. I’ve been working on these all summer, but they’re more and more important. Exercise got me through two tough days this week. Figuring out how to feed myself better (and ideally cheaper) will give me more flexibility with my budget.
Cleaning and organising. I was already planning on using my time off through the end of the year to do this, but it’s more and more important. Getting things so I can find them, use them, share them, and so figuring out where I put the scissors doesn’t waste five minutes of my life.
Otherwise planning ahead. That means getting legal stuff together (I don’t have a will legal in Massachusetts at the moment. I don’t expect to need one, but I would like to be tidy.) Making space for and storing emergency supplies in case there’s a natural disaster (the global weather weirdness is likely to get worse.) Building up my savings account more than I had been.
Thinking about options. We know a bit about what might change in the US under our new administration. If you have chronic medical issues or have been thinking about getting something handled, now might be a good time to talk to your doctor. We know what the current options are. We don’t know what they’re going to be in a year or two.
For example: I got an IUD for non-birth control reasons earlier this year (and because of the ACA, it was entirely covered, even having to do a replacement.) If you’re someone with a uterus considering birth control options, you might want to talk to your doctor or Planned Parenthood about whether an IUD would be a good choice for you. The IUD Divas community on LiveJournal has some great posters and information if you want somewhere that has a wide variety of experiences.
All these things are good ideas anyway. They’ll be useful even if the political situation turns out a lot better than it looks right now for a lot of people. They’re not simple, but they’re mostly things that were on my list as ‘worth my time’ previously, and that hasn’t changed.
I want to find other people near me who care about stuff I care about, where I can be helpful, and where I hope I can hear about other things that are important.
A lot of people find this through their church community, but for a lot of Pagans, that can be really complicated. (And while I do have a ritual group, we’re spread out over a chunk of the northern half of Massachusetts and into New Hampshire and people have small children.)
So, I have an appointment next week about volunteering with a local center that focuses on women and children with all sorts of activities (they specifically listed wanting people to help with technology, which is right up my alley.) If that doesn’t work out for some reason, I’ll keep looking for something that does.
This plan has two parts. Part one is regular donations to a number of institutions who are focusing on things I particularly care about. The other is setting aside money for urgent needs – whether that’s a natural disaster, someone’s GoFundMe for an emergency, a situation that comes up that I want to throw money at, having this in my budget will make it easier to do so.
I’m personally aiming at larger national organizations with a good track record of doing things on the ground in different places. I’m still doing my research, but organizations on my list include:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Planned Parenthood
- Lambda Legal
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- And I’m sorting out options for deep and thorough news investigation (ProPublica is currently the top of my list), disability rights specifically, and immigration.
Collecting and sharing information:
Finally, I’m thinking about ways to share information in small, manageable doses, and keep track of resources I may want later. I use a variety of tools for this on a personal level, but I’m thinking about making more of them public.
In the immediate moment, I have a Tumblr where I’m putting things periodically especially if they’re more visual. Watch this space for more.
As a start, here are a couple of really good guides dealing with questions I’m hearing a lot from various social circles.
- Lambda Legal’s post-election FAQ has information on things people in specific situations may want to do. Really helpful if you’re trans, if you and your same-sex partner have kids, and in general. They also have a great list of further resources and information about their legal help desk.
- The Southern Poverty Law Center’s guide to addressing everyday bigotry, with helpful advice for a wide range of situations and other people’s stories.
- My self-care in difficult times page (same as linked above)