9 self-care strategies in the era of Trump

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[Image description: A white kitten lying down, with its head upside-down and looking directly at the camera. Beneath it is a light blue towel. The background is out of focus, but seems to be of a shelf with a few figurines. Image obtained from Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. I know that it seems indulgent to discuss self-care when people in Puerto Rico are suffering and dying without power or water or baby formula while our president attacks athletes and calls the mayor of San Juan nasty from the safety of his golf course. But all of us are in the work to make the world better, so we have to take care of ourselves. Because, unfortunately, our work is only going to increase. So, here are some self-care tips:

 

Donate to organizations on the ground. It feels horrible to read the news about people drinking out of creeks and children running out of food and not be able to do anything about it. But we CAN do something about it. Give cash! As much as you can! Here’s a bunch of orgs in Puerto Rico you can give to. And remember how much we all hate restricted funding? Make sure your donation is general operating so that these orgs can use it however would be most effective.

[Image description: A little black kitten with white paws, walking through a field of green grass. Image obtained from Pixabay.com]

Download this kitten Chrome extension: It replaces pictures of 45 with pictures of kittens! That’s right, now you can read the news, and instead of getting angry and despondent and losing faith in humanity, you can bask in the cuteness of these adorable kittens! Aw, look at this little kitty and its cute little feet! It makes you almost forget about the potential nuclear war with North Korea.

Watch mindless television. We are in the golden age of television. Take advantage of it. Maybe stay away from serious stuff like Man in the High Castle, which is starting to hit a little too close to home. I recommend you try comedic shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Arrested Development, Chewing Gum, Blackish, and Fresh Off the Boat. The first three are binge-able on Netflix. Also on Netflix is a new animated show called “Big Mouth,” which deals hilariously with puberty. Remember how awkward our adolescent years were? I miss those years…

Immerse yourself in nature. Countless studies have shown the direct benefits of being surrounded by trees and water and stuff. Take time to go on a hike. Gaze at the mountains. Stand near the ocean and hear the waves crashing and bathe in the beauty of our natural world. Try not to think that the administration is actively working to reduce our national monuments, deny science, and prevent progress to halt climate change.

Meditate: Meditation is not just for hippies, and it does not need to be difficult. Here are some free apps to get you started. Try what works for you. It could be as simple as spending five or ten minutes a day breathing in and out deeply. Or do what I do: Sit on the carpet, rocking back and forth and chanting, “It’s just three more years, it’s just three more years…Oh look, a pistachio.” (We really need to vacuum more often)

Read this article. It points out the fact that that racists, white supremacists, anti-Semites, etc., are loudest when they are fearful. “White supremacists are afraid of us. They are afraid of the tremendous and transformative possibility of a united, multi-racial force. If we, who together overwhelm their numbers 1,000 to 1, ever succeeded in building a united front, we would finally root out their hate and build a truly free and egalitarian society.” F yeah!

Spend time with your family: Last week, I went to a pumpkin patch with the kids. They happily played in a giant bin full of dried corn. Then we saw a whole bunch of tiny black dots on the surface of the corn. They were grain beetles. Thousands of them. We quickly got the kids out and shook the beetles out of their socks. Wonderful memories like this should be cherished. Find time to hang out with your family.

Be kind and compassionate. When it seems like the world is going down the crapper, the best response is to be kind and to build community. You’d be surprised how stress relieving it is to help a neighbor move, or volunteer at a food bank, or even smaller things like not flipping someone the bird who really deserves it. As MLK Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” Plus, it really riles up the hate-filled bigots to see people be kind to one another, so that’s a bonus.

Continue your work: Though it seems the work we each do may be too remote or too small or too unconnected to make much of a difference in light of everything, be assured that it does. Last week the Montana Nonprofit Association introduced me to an uplifting essay by poet and author Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, called “We Were Made for Times Like These.” Here’s a passage that stuck with me:

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.”

Our sector was made for times like these. The work that you do makes a difference. Take care of yourself.

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Also, join Nonprofit Happy Hour, a peer support group on Facebook, and if you are an ED/CEO, join ED Happy Hour. These are great forums for when you have a problem and want to get advice from colleagues, or you just want to share pictures of unicorns. Check them out.

Donate, or give a grant, to Vu’s organizationRainier Valley Corps, which has the mission of bringing more leaders of color into the nonprofit sector and getting diverse communities to work together to address systemic issues.

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  • abstract668

    These signs were all over the Capitol Hill residential neighborhood in Washington DC, when thousands came for the inauguration, and half a million came for the women’s march. #comforting. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e0c176434d97959f4c0e3e76f05d25b55cca8b8b43860cf194cc4b7c331bf260.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/af10dbf1ab002f5f332aeb1c4c7d26975bcf2b09fc4ad4514e63d9288fcd7505.jpg

    • Cheryl Slavin

      I remember this. Hard to believe only 9 months ago. Very encouraging.

  • My go to? Read a novel (this is a strategy that you should especially try once kids are in puberty and beyond – hard to find the time and energy for this with toddlers). Takes you into another universe for a couple of hours without travel costs.

    And in many libraries your can put a hold on books electronically and they’ll let you know when to come pick them up, making it totally free!.

    • Maikwe Ludwig

      I call this “fiction therapy”. It’s the best thing for me, besides lengthy immersion in a hot tub. But books are cheaper 🙂

  • Deanna Pitt Tharpe

    Before this job, I had started a small nonprofit Down syndrome association in Paris, Texas. When people asked why I didn’t do this or didn’t do that…I simply said “I can’t save the world but I can do my best to help those in my little part of it.” Now as an ED of a national org, I feel like I am helping more…but it still holds true. Hmm….blog post coming from DSAIA, LOL.

  • Deanna Pitt Tharpe

    Oh, and watch Outlander, then have really great dreams. Sorry, Vu, but just being honest.

  • Sherri R

    This may shock you, but not all of us are sad Hillary didn’t win. We loved last week’s post, but today you lost us again. #NotAllAreLibs

    • margarite66

      You don’t have to be a “lib” to have a problem with Twitler. There are plenty of intelligent, moral conservatives that are speaking out about the utter travesty of his administration.

    • Gregory Ley

      You also don’t need to be a “lib” to empathize with those who are suffering. Facing hard times together is something that unifies us.

  • Linnea Kennedy

    Check out the full text of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estès’ work, titled, “Letter to a Young Acrivist During Troubled Times,” here:

    http://mavenproductions.com/index.php/services/dr-clarissa-pinkola-estes/dr-clarissa-pinkola-estes-letter-to-a-young-activist-during-trou/

  • bethkanter

    Great tips! I would mindful consumption of the news. And of course many more in a book I wrote on this topic, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit

  • Penny Lamping

    Vu-can we post the Estes essay or will you? Today in particular it seems so poignant. Thank you!

  • Janice Klein

    One more thing that – strange as it might seem – I’ve found surprising comforting: paying attention to TV commercials. There’s a diamond commercial featuring the engagement of two women, multi-racial families eating breakfast cereal, and lots of people of color and women not only featured in the ads, but also as voice-overs. There was a time that it took a white man’s authoritative voice to sell a product. I take hope from the fact that the the folks whose livelihoods depend on accurately appealing to the “right” audience are seeing more, if not all, of us.