Saturday, November 3, 2018

REMINDER: SAY NO

Taking a break for a minute from travel reporting to ponder what commitment means.

This is the Last Weekend before the mid-term election.  We've been waiting two very long and troubling years for this shot at a do-over.  Of course, the presidency isn't at stake, but we have a chance at electing a Congress that might do its checks and balances job if the Dems succeed in winning one or both of the Houses.  Big governors races and state house races hang in the balance too.  It all matters.

Hub and I and a partial handful close friends have been in total immersion for the past two years, worrying about, working on, and committing significant time to political actions.  We are all tired.  We all need a break.

But Hub is out right now in the pouring rain canvassing again, as he's done nearly every day for the past month (and before that gathering signatures all summer!), to try to pass a state-wide initiative to place a carbon fee on big polluters to fund clean energy development.   I got trained to do Canvass Training for volunteer canvassers and we opened our home to be a Pop-Up Canvassing location every weekday afternoon and twice on Saturdays and Sundays.  People were to sign up, come to be trained, pick up materials, and go out doorbelling.

We've had only a handful of sign-ups, three active canvassers, and a couple of no-shows -- one guy signed up three times and no-showed every time, even though Hub called to confirm with him and he assured us he'd be here.  It's been frustrating, sitting here waiting for our canvassers to show up, training materials at the ready.  But we were here because we said we'd be here.  We cancelled plans, altered our schedules.  Hub went out alone every day, because he'd made a commitment to the campaign...and to himself.

We did all of this because we'd made a commitment to do so.  I made the commitment to people who were counting on me to follow through on what I said I'd do.  I made a commitment to myself to do all I could, and that commitment has resulted in lots of self-judgment today.  Did I REALLY do all I could?

Commitment.  I take that word so seriously that oftentimes it's to my detriment.  My commitments have too often become burdens.  I notice how others carry their commitments. They either never commit to anything or keep their options open with a non-committal "maybe".  Some commit then bail out without a backward glance or second thought.  I've been very judgmental of people like this.

I found myself in tears earlier today because I feel like I'm failing at the mid-term Finish Line because of how much I hate phone banking, but know I should do it.  I think of all the ways in which I could have been more active, more effective than being the Queen of FB posts trying to provide information and motivation for others to take actions too.  I donated money.  I wrote over 200 postcards to likely Democratic voters on behalf of candidates all over the country.  I attended meetings, and trainings, and rallies.  I wrote a letter to the editor (because I said I would when asked at a training) and edited Hub's Guest Commentary for the local paper.  I prepared materials for canvassing and wrote personal emails to 60 friends to urge them to vote for our initiative.  But today I trouble myself that I only did the easy stuff; I didn't challenge myself enough -- didn't do the dreaded doorbell or phone call thing on behalf of candidates I support.

My new commitment after the election Tuesday is to make no ongoing commitments beyond self-care.  I'm committing to my yoga class and a few strength classes at the Y.  I've got a doctor's appointment and I plan to get a massage.  I'll make coffee dates with friends, but only a day or two in advance.  For the foreseeable future I want everything on my calendar to be able to be changed if I change my mind.

I need to take a break from commitment as burden.  I know I sound like a bit of a whiner here.  Not intended.  What I really feel is the lifting of a weight.

There are unexpected lessons in everything we do.  I have killed myself by degrees with commitments for years -- to family, work, church, "causes", groups, and yes, politics at various times.  I commit to one thing and that leads to dozens more things in service to doing my best by the one thing I committed to; if my commitment to the one thing is to be meaningful and complete.

The past two years of trying to rally the troops, to create Resistance/Support groups, to motivate, to act on an obsessive need to do something in the face of what I consider to be an unfettered slide into authoritarianism has been frustrating.  I've not been able to understand how others can just go on with their lives as if nothing awful is happening, even when they agree it is awful.  But I want to slow down and try to get it.  Slow down and watch how others manage their lives with more ease.  I might learn from them to take commitment much, much more lightly.

If anything, I know I need to set a boundary for myself.  I need a "safe word".  I think that word will be NO.  I'll let you know how it goes.....if I feel like it. 😉

At least, that's the view from here...©

4 comments:

  1. Oh, Donna, you really need to take a step back and realize how truly much you have done---the time and energy devoted to such good causes, the emotional investment and the dedication. You have done enough and you've set such great examples for your kids and grandkids who one day may follow in your footsteps into activism. God, I hope we turn a lot of places all over the country blue on Tuesday. I hope we get the checks and balances in place to keep Trump from totally ruining our country. You aren't the only one worn out from dealing with the his drama and I'm hoping that fact alone is helping to turn out a record number of voters.

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    1. Thank you Jean. I hope to be an example to others and also I need to take bette care of myself. This is a pattern and lesson I seem to have not yet learned. I think the hardest part is feeling like I don't have a community of group around me for support and commiseration. I talked to a woman today who I know is much like me, and to hear about her occasional slides into tears and despair was actually heartening. We are all doing the best we can and we need each other. BLUE WAVE!

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  2. As the saying goes, you need to put your own oxygen mask on, before you can safely help others with THEIRS. Take care of yourself, sweet lady.

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    1. You are so right! That oxygen mask has been flapping around over my head trying to get my attention! Taking care of myself is Job One starting Wednesday. Win or lose, I need to breathe deeply and slowly and regain some modicum of equilibrium about all of this. Thanks for your wisdom and support!

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