I used to care about other stuff. I used to talk about topics other than the election. I used to go days – even weeks – without thinking too hard about my political values or hopes for the future of our country. But not anymore. This election has taken over my life, I tell you. I am feeling some serious political burn out. And how exactly has this happened? Let me share with you some examples. And then we are going to figure out a way for all of us to focus on something other than the election, even for a short while.
On a debate night, I almost always dream about the candidates. Usually, they are in some stressful predicament; once Obama and I weren’t able to find a voting booth on November 4th. And those dreams are exactly what I deserve for staying up well after the candidates have left the stage, watching all of the post-game pundit chatter late into the evening. In fact, my husband and I both toss and turn – there is rarely much hope for a fresh start the next morning.
Once awake, we face the computer or morning news. The pundits are still there: rehashing, replaying and repeating everything my nightmares were about. And I dread opening that full inbox listing political updates and reminders. Did you know Joe Biden is speaking in your town today? What are YOU doing to help win this election? Could you donate even $5 to make change happen? It’s barely 8:00am, and I already feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.
I usually find some comfort in a bowl of cheerios while I stare at Handy Manny on the Disney Channel. Of course, the next thought that pops into my mind is: Handy Manny could use a President like Obama who will stand up for middle class folks and small businesses. I mean, what if Manny can’t get the loan he needs to keep himself and all those tools employed? These are hardly lucid thoughts. My lack of sleep is apparent once again.
And even the stilted conversations at the playground have to work very hard to avoid the topic of politics. We all try but… really, what else is there to talk about? The Red Sox? Yeah, that’s good. My son’s math quiz? Eh, ok. “Did you hear that Obama and Brad Pitt are related?” “No way!” Red alert, politics approaching. “Did anyone see SNL?” Ok, here we go. I give up.
And have you tried to get a cup of coffee at 7-eleven recently? There is no escape there either. You can pick your own Obama or McCain coffee cup and declare your vote to the world. All of those Joe and Jane Six-packs, familiar after standing in the same convenience store line every morning, are suddenly having to “out” themselves politically. Will it get weird for them now? Will there be a throw down?
I am hardly the only one suffering from the tension of this election. While I have had some positive experiences with my Obama paraphernalia recently (“I love your t-shirt!”, “I love your car!”, smiles, waves, “woo-hoo”s) – other friends have experienced the opposite. And the spray painted “X” through the only Obama sign I’ve seen sent me into a woeful, angry tailspin this afternoon. It seems as if our nation is slowly fading into two shades of citizen right now: blue or red. A line is being drawn down the middle of our lives – a line I can’t seem avoid no matter how hard I try.
So help me out. How do we take a mental break from this election and spiraling economy? Certainly, we can not afford to give up on it all together – but what are some ways to regain our strength? How can we wake up with a fresh perspective, re-energized and ready for November 4th? Here are some of my suggestions that I will swear to try – simply for my own sanity:
- Exercise. Lots of it. And don’t play any Ani DiFranco on the Ipod either.
- Play with your children outside: the grass, the kids, the birds, the sidewalk chalk, the bicycles are all bi-partisan, I promise.
- No news after 8pm. Say “No” to Keith Olbermann (which is hard for me) but say a heartfelt “YES!” to Project Runway.
- Turn off the computer at night. (Even I am muttering out loud here,”You’re kidding, right?”)
- Read a book. Something brilliant, funny and distracting. Perhaps something by Jennifer Weiner?
- Take up a craft. I actually did some painting recently. Not good painting, but it was distracting.
- While sitting criss-cross applesauce on a yoga mat with a candle burning and your eyes closed, repeat to yourself: “Everything will be ok…” until you actually believe it.
In the midst of all of this political and economic stress, what are your ways to remain calm? Or even better, how do you simply sane? Please share. I desperately need some help. We all do!
Cross posted at Type A Moms.