The week after the election, I cried non-stop. I cried for my gay friends and black friends; I cried for women and children and the poor and handicapped. I cried for the environment. I cried for my Latino friends and Muslim friends. I cried for the man I met from Iraq.
I cried on my walk to work. I cried at work. I cried on my lunch break. At the end of each day, I pounded my fists into my bed out of despair. I had no appetite. When I caught myself in a chair collapsing from exhaustion, I said, “Fuck this.” And then I changed tactics.
I needed to let myself have my feelings, just like everyone else who was processing the results in their own way–many in a similar fashion. And then I needed to get on with my life instead of letting a government I don’t agree with suck me dry of my passion for living.
I began to bring joy and peace back into my life, and this is how I did it:
1. Girl Power Songs
Including but not limited to: “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson and “This Is My Fight Song” produced by Elizabeth Banks for the Democratic National Convention. These and others were listened to on repeatrepeatrepeat.
2. Dancing to Said Girl Power Songs
I looked in the mirror and sang “I Won’t Give Up On Us” by Jason Mraz. I sang it to America and I sang it to the world until I believed it.
I poured myself into my artistic talents, writing and acting as much as possible.
5. Social Media Moratorium
I took a break from social media, because I just couldn’t stand all the fighting.
6. Conversations with Conservatives
I had verbal discussions, not arguments, with Trump supporters because I needed to understand. I wanted to believe that people I loved who supported a man who was so vehemently hateful were not hateful themselves.
And I do. I really do believe that this world is full of more love than hate, and I am grateful to my conservative friends for showing me that.
I went into the mountains for a week.
I signed on Instagram only to follow funny dog accounts. If you’re in need of suggestions, I am an avid fan of @dogsbeingbasic, @itsdougthepug and @bark. I also hugged every dog that came into the vet clinic. They were living their lives happily despite who was President, and I knew I could, too. Thanks, canines of the world.
It is 100% biased and has been 100% hilarious.
10. The Kindness of Strangers
I have been very keyed into my surroundings. When a homeless man helped a blind woman off the bus, I smiled and cried happy tears and it gave me hope.
11. Change of Residency
I was living in Washington but registered in Florida and didn’t need a new license until 2021. I don’t drive out west. Florida is a swing state for elections. I didn’t have $89 lying around. All very good reasons to not switch my residency over.
But I wanted to be able to say yes to canvassers who ask me if I am registered to vote in Washington, so that I can sign petitions to help the homeless and save the bees. And Washington is finally a place where I feel like I’m meant to be. So I saved up and got a hideous new photo taken for a WA driver’s license and registered to vote in the Evergreen State.
I joined the Women’s March. I will be marching for Black Lives Matter and Science. I make uplifting signs and I display them in my bedroom window.
I’ve never taken so many baths. Magnesium flakes are glorious.
14. I Started Saying “No”
Some people need to vent constantly about the state of the world, but I enter into a downward spiral when I’m surrounded by repeated negativity. So I’ve learned to politely say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about that now.”
15. Good Things
I remember that there is still so much beauty surrounding us, and I make a point to reflect on it.
16. Meaningful Relationships
I threw myself into maintaining friendships that mean the most to me.
17. Health Care
I saved up for insurance and addressed burgeoning health concerns I’d neglected before. I tackled doctor visits at the beginning of the year to protect myself in case my plan was suddenly unavailable to me.
I treated myself to a massage because dammit, I deserved it.
19. Delayed Filing Taxes
Normally, I do my taxes in January. But I had a lot to learn about self-employment tax this year. And I needed to focus on myself before I focused on my taxes. So I set a personal record by waiting until mid-March to file.
20. Goodwill Closet
I bought myself some dresses at Goodwill so that I could feel sexy. Yes, sexy.
The U.S. government’s attack on arts and science and basic human rights has been a personal attack on my careers and my fundamental beliefs. In many ways, Donald Trump has shaken awake the hibernating souls who never knew what they believed in but now are budding activists.
I will not bury my head in the sand, but I will take care of myself. If I forget to look after me, then how can I help the rest of the world? I’ve learned that there is a dotted line between ignorance and knowledge. As an empath, I remain informed, but I don’t have to know everything. And no matter what I do or do not know, I won’t stop standing up for what I believe in.