I cannot remember another time in my life when conflict was so pervasive. I cannot check social media or even glance at a newspaper without seeing the strife stretched across the headlines.
I feel it at a deeper, interpersonal level, as friends and family members begin to take sides, sometimes creating a seemingly insurmountable separation.
I am a peace-loving person for all of my activism and resistance. In fact, I have chosen activism as a way to protect the values that I find essential. Being constantly in conflict has created a great deal of stress for me.
So what can we do to find calm even while resisting with all of our might? How can we find peace and balance while holding the line on our beliefs and standing up for those whose rights are being violated?
We can practice self-care on a daily basis.
Self-care goes so far beyond just making sure that we’re dressed appropriately for the weather and eating healthy foods. It also means that we do what we can to nourish our spirits, minds and bodies. We pay attention to what we think and the energy of those with whom we spend our time. We decide which aspects of our lives serve our souls and which ones need to be left behind.
We can find a way to focus on beauty and to share it with others.
One way I’ve found to find a sense of calm during the stress of each day is to make a concerted effort to focus on beauty. The way I choose to do this is simple. I downloaded this DailyArt app where every day I learn about a piece of art. When I like a piece, I share it on social media to pass the beauty forward. I have also posted videos of nature to provide a brief minute of meditation. Another focus has been on music. I’ve shared audio files of pieces like “Clair de Lune” and “Moonlight Sonata” to offer moments of calm. By taking the time to focus on beauty, I allow my soul to rest. By sharing what I enjoy, I hope that I can pass that peace along.
We can decide how much we want to endure and create boundaries.
Another way I’ve found balance and calm is to accept that I will not agree with everyone. Further, I accept that I am under no obligation to continue to expose myself to opinions that are so far removed from my own. I do not feel that I have to stop being friends with these people. There’s a handy unfollow button on social media that provides a respite from endless posts, but there’s also this trick I do where I ignore much of what I see and keep scrolling. I’m not always successful with this technique, but I do practice it more often than not. I’m choosing to pick my battles, and no one is going to be swayed by my opinion who is set in their own. It’s better to set my sights on actual constructive methods of change.
We can find gratitude no matter how dark times may get.
To get to a place of calm, I also practice gratitude. I’m such a believer in counting blessings. Even when the world is dark, there are always kindnesses. Every single day I am inspired by people in my life who stand up for their beliefs and speak out even when it’s hard to bear the brunt of the backlash it creates. I’m inspired by the outpouring of love that has come from people across the world who recognize the struggle and support us. I find myself grateful for all of the people in my life who support me whether or not they agree with me and all of the new people I’ve met as a result of the necessity for activism.
We can choose to live spectacularly beautiful lives and follow our dreams.
In order to find calm and peace, I’ve also had to remind myself that the fight to protect our rights and liberties is likely to be an uphill one. It’s not going to take place overnight, and it’s going to take a lot of work and consistency. But I also remind myself that this is my life. Mine. Every moment of it is a gift, even when I’m mired under stress and strain.
So to keep my sanity, I keep focused on my vision board and goals. I continue to create the life that I want to live, but it now has more elements of activism than it had before. I can resist every day and still plan a joyful, adventurous life for me and my children. I can still take a class to learn something new and discover new things along the way. I can still take the steps to living out my dreams. In fact, I can live the life that I want, and it’s essential that we all do this.
We cannot get this time back once it’s gone, and our activism simply becomes a part of our story. It doesn’t have to be the whole story, and if we’re going to have the strength for the long battle ahead, it’s better if it’s not. It is essential that we have a sense of calm and balance in our lives to proceed.
Every single day, I practice some form of resistance. I spread the word and educate. I contact my representatives or donate funds to worthy causes. I show support to others who are resisting right alongside me. But every single day, I’m also sharing things that inspire me. I’m practicing gratitude. I’m sharing beauty in art and music. I’m learning new things. I’m planning and living a spectacular life. I’m putting boundaries in place and still loving the hell out of people, even those who disagree with me and look at me in disgust or contempt for holding this line. We are the resistance, but we have to care for ourselves if we’re going to be able to stick with it as long as it takes to create change and protect our civil liberties.
This is our story, our resistance. At the end of the day, I want to look back on my part in it and see a life filled with vigor and determination, but also with joy and beauty. We cannot spend all of ours days fighting in darkness. If we’re going to resist to our fullest capacity, we need to find the calm and balance we need to keep going for as long as it takes.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Travis May