|Panther Creek Falls|
Well, last night's election was a long, painful experience, and all day I've been trying not to give in to despair. I've already gone through all the five stages of grief, starting with Denial--this can't possibly be happening. Then Bargaining--if I'd just helped more with the campaign, maybe it would have turned out differently. I promise to always be more involved! Then Anger--blaming the mess on the media, or FBI, or people who didn't vote or who voted for the "wrong" candidate. All this was followed by Depression--how can I get out of bed in the morning when everything I believe in is going to be negated in this new administration? And in the end, Acceptance and Hope--my candidate lost, but one of the beautiful aspects of our nation is the peaceful transfer of power with each election. Like it or not, this is democracy in action and, as President Obama said today, we all hope the next 4 years go well. I shook off my dazed stupor and realized, that as bad as it might get politically, the world did not stop turning. Life is going to continue, and I still have my family and my health. There is still music and art, the birds sing, children play and flowers grow. After a suitable amount of mourning and moping, there comes a time to stand up, dust myself off and continue on.
So here I am, resolved to make these next 4 years work in my life. First off, I have decided that I need to exclude the negativity. The last year, and especially the last few weeks, were so stressful and I was anxious and depressed in dreaded anticipation of every dip and turn of the election, long before last night. Now that the election is done, I'm cutting back on the radio, newspaper and social media that thrive on fanning flames. I'll check in, but I'm buffering myself. And what I take and share with others will be nurturing and positive. I want to take the high road. Even though I enjoy a zinging bumper sticker or meme as much as the next person, I need to keep my personal world kind. We've had enough unkindness in this cycle for a lifetime. Instead of media/screen time, I'll spend time with people I love, listen to more music, read books, watch movies, cook great meals, visit with friends, and try to learn things, like improving my Spanish or mandolin playing. Most of all, I will get out and hike more. The forests, swamps and prairies give me strength and soothe my world-weary soul.
I want to continue to learn more about natural history (especially of my new home of Georgia) so that I can be a better Naturalist Guide for the hundreds of young people who come through the doors of the nature center where I volunteer. I will teach as many of them as I can the value of protecting their natural areas. I will show them not to fear nature and to feel comfort, joy and awe when they are in its presence. Today's young people are tomorrow's adults and if they do not love nature they will not care to protect it.
|Window Pane in Oak Leaf|
I want to become more involved locally in the issues from the election that were important to me. Though I am a shy person by nature, I want to become a rabble rouser and a witness so that I can let my fellow citizens and elected officials know when I think attention needs to be paid. In the course of supporting the first woman candidate for president, I have realized how important it is to me that women have an equal voice in our government. And as a woman, I want to have my voice heard. I will hound the president and my representatives if they try to take away health care, marriage equality or reproductive rights, or target Muslims or immigrants. I want to get involved in our local political organizations as they build a democratic opposition from the ground up so we are ready for the next round. In my state of Georgia, many state and even national representatives ran unopposed. Change starts from the ground up, but nothing changes if there is no opposition.
I think the most important thing to me is that I do my best to reflect the world I want to see in my daily life. I will continue to treat people with kindness, compassion and respect and "even if my voice shakes" will speak up if I see injustice. Because I am fortunate to have what I need, I will share more of what I have with others--resources to feed the hungry, clothe the cold, house the homeless and provide a good education for everyone, not just those living in the right zip code. I will continue to travel because it is important to understand people from other cultures. I want to be an ambassador, letting the people I meet know that we in the US do care about the rest of the world. I will defend the environment because this is the only Earth we have and I want something left to pass on to the next generation. Very locally, I will continue to model wildlife and environmentally friendly landscaping at our home so it can be a haven for wildlife and native plants. I will work harder to leave a smaller footprint, ecologically and economically by reducing, reusing and recycling and will drive less and walk or bike more. And, finally, I will continue in my little project to fill the world with more beauty and joy by sharing photos and writing more and speaking out. It feels better to have a plan and makes me look forward to the future.