Chaos and Echos of Voting Day

In Engage

I sat with a friend today. Her fingers started to twist a napkin round and round. The conversation lulled and then she looked at me with worry in her eyes and asked, “What are you going to do on election day? I already have anxiety and am worried about how to exist in those hours.”

As a queer married woman, she is feeling the pulses of the undercurrent, wondering if and when the legal ground will be pulled out from under her.

This conversation got me thinking… I think a lot of folks are feeling the weight of this election and the implications of “The Day After”. (I don’t necessarily mean the literal day after, but the days and months after where we are left in the reality of our collective choices.)

When the chaos of the outside world echos what is swirling around on the inside, what do you do?

For me, I think grounding is critical to our health and movements. We must connect to what is true and good and beautiful in the world. We must focus on what matters most, what gives us purpose and fulfillment. When things are beyond our control, it can be unhealthy to hyper-focus on potential outcomes which causes our minds to spin, creating anxiety and stress.

Famous author Kurt Vonnegut said in a letter to students, “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut

To read the full quote from author Kurt Vonnegut, click here.

No matter what happens after the election, there is work to be done. There is joy to be found. There is a fight to be fought. There is love to share. There is art to be created. There is room and need to expand our souls.

When situations seem so much bigger than us, so out of our control, so full of fearful notions, it may seem trivial to turn to art or music or mindfulness. However, it is in our darkest times where these practices are essential. Guard your souls, keep those you love close, hold on to your empathy and humanity. Your mental health matters.

If you, too, are wondering how to spend your election day to ward off the anxious tremors, here are a few suggestions to help ground you. Take these for what they are, tools that have helped me, and build off of them, create your own list, find inspiration here and tweak them to fit your grounding practices.

Be well friends. There is magic to discover, people to hold, hope that lives in each of us, and an unfinished story that we are still writing.

And don’t forget to vote.

Voting Day experiences to explore:

  1. Meditate. Wake up early before anyone else and meditate. Do it again in the afternoon after you are in throws of your day. Mediate again before you turn on your TV at night to watch the endless commentary and live feed of our future playing out before your eyes. This is an opportunity to re-frame what is important. Hold on to what is true. Reconnect with the divine and holy that is within you. Nurture the love and purpose in your soul. Ground yourself.
  2. Head to a thrift store and pick up blankets, coats, scarves, tarps, mittens, hats, whatever winter gear you can find and donate to a homeless camp or individual. The population of people experiencing homelessness is growing and they need our help. You will find interactions in the parks, on the side of highways, downtown, in the woods. Do something tangible for someone and connect with a person who needs your vote and your love.
  3. While you are there, it is also a good opportunity to ask if the folks there have voted and if you can offer a ride. Make yourself available to folks to need the extra support in getting to a polling place.
  4. Show up with hot cocoa or water or snacks to polling places. If you are in a location where voter intimidation is happening, these folks need you the most. Go as a human being, thanking folks for voting, offering food or drink if lines are long. Step in and report folks that are actively intimidating voters. Voting is a right and should be protected at all costs.
  5. Ask a friend ahead of time to “watch” the results with you over zoom. Cook a meal together. Find an art project to do together over zoom while you chat and watch. Do something productive with your hands and creative with your spirit instead of sitting in constant anxiety.
  6. Grab a canvas, paint, brushes, magazines, rocks, buttons, anything really you can find and do a “family” painting together. This can be your housemates, grandparents, you alone, kids, it doesn’t matter. Just gather everyone who lives in your home and do a living piece that captures not the outcome of this election, but your collective experience during this moment in history.
  7. Read poetry. Play some favorite music. Listen to a story or podcast. Ground yourself in the things that bring you to life.
  8. Taken 30-45 intentional min with your family to cast dreams for the future. This will help you see past this moment and think to the future. It will give you something to look forward to, together. Something to dream about and plan for.
  9. Write down “Next Day” steps. What political and Social Justice work will you commit to after the election? What is your plan for participation in democracy when the election is over? Write that down so you know what your next step is and that will help create purpose no matter the outcome.
  10. Journal. Let the pages of a journal capture your thoughts, worries, fear, excitement, chaos. Try this Mindful Exercise. Let the pages hold all of that for you so you can focus on your peace and your family and your neighbor. Carry it with you all day and dump all the feelings in that book so it can hold the weight you feel.
  11. Literally ground yourself and get your hands in the soil.  Plant seeds, plan your next garden, be outside.  Are you in the frosty north?  Use those hands to cook, create from the bounty of the earth.

Our greatest desire is that you all know love and joy and purpose. No matter what happens after Tuesday, the work is not done. Ground yourself and be ready.



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