Friends often express to me that they feel frozen with fear, overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless and lost. Mine is a message of hope.
Fired Up! Ready To Nap! A Little Pep Talk
Credit: Jane Edith Wilson
September 11, 2018

You guys, I’m exhausted.

You know what I’m talking about. I have a teenaged son. My kid goes to a somewhat demanding high school and then he has music lessons, art classes, swim coaching and get-togethers with other teens and he needs to prep for his standardized tests and start looking at colleges. And I work full-time. I work at a job in a clinical setting that is pretty stressful. And I’m married (to a terrific guy) and he works about 50 hours a week. Also, a fairly decent amount of our family time has always been dedicated to service towards others—people living in extreme need, wounded soldiers, people who are newly sober and don’t have a lot of resources. Then there’s church, family, friends, the cats, working out at the gym…

Breathe deeply.

It’s a busy life and I truly thought it could not possibly get more busy or jam-packed.

And then November of 2016 and the election of a scary, inept, narcissistic, criminal, bullying, misogynistic, Nazi, fascist, pussy-grabbing, race-baiting lunatic happened. So, for the past 21 months I’ve had another fulltime job added to this already very busy life. The job: RESISTING.

We had to take the streets to beg for a stop to a “ Muslim ban.” We had to take to the streets to demand that our children not be stuck in a classroom where the teachers have loaded handguns. We had to call, text, tweet, fundraise and postcard to stop a pedophile from being elected to the Senate. The head of the EPA looted the office for his own personal gain and ushered in coal sludge being dumped into the water supply. The Secretary of Education wants to privatize schools, cut teacher pay, arm our teachers (because bears might attack) and enforce school prayer. The Secretary of HUD doesn’t really think poor people need housing but he’d sure like a high-end dining room set in the middle of his office. The head of HHS and Attorney General think it’s cool to steal refugee children from their parents, fly these children 1000 miles away and place the children in cages.

And now-- we are staring down a SCOTUS nominee that will most assuredly overturn Roe V Wade and usher in the end of the Affordable Care Act.

So, yeah…. No! We are going to RESIST these assholes with everything we have.


I ran into a good friend at the grocery store the other day. She looked so tired and frazzled. “Jane, I don’t even know where to start. I watch the news and it’s such an endless assault on everything I believe in. Part of me wants to flip the house, another part wants to flip the senate, then another protest is happening and I want to run out the door and go to that. I baked cookies for a Planned Parenthood bake sale and then I just sat down and ate them all.” She looked like she was going to cry. Or scream. I asked her if she wanted to grab a cup of coffee and talk this out.


It’s actually pretty simple. I’m calling it “Pick 3.”

“Pick 3” means you focus on 3 candidates/issues/organizations you are going to give your all between now and November 6th and do something every day to advance your personal “3.” This does not mean you can’t tweet, fundraise, Facebook post etc. about other candidates or issues, it just means that when life is exhausting or overwhelming, your only focus needs to be on your “3,” and just trust the rest of the world is going to handle their “3” and you can just let go.

My “3” are (1) flipping the senate, (2) electing JD Scholten in Iowa’s 4th district to replace Rep. Steve King and (3) working with various immigrants rights groups to welcome recently reunited refugee families into Southern California and help them fight for resident status. To that end I am:

1. Working with a group organized to swing-blue each battleground senate race across the country; I am in charge of Missouri and fundraising, phone and text-banking and post-carding for Senator Claire McCaskill who is in the fight of her life with a complete rightwing, nutjob jerk (just reporting facts).
2. Traveling to my hometown of Ames, IA in October to GOTV with early voters, door knock and throw a comedy fundraiser as well as postcard writing and text-banking from my home in SoCal. This is because Rep Steve King is a complete rightwing, nutjob jerk. (again, fact)
3. Working with a terrific immigrants rights group to greet the new refugee families, get them clothes, groceries, school supplies for their kids, as well as getting them to vital legal and medical appointments.

Now, I admit I do other things as well. I will be precinct walking in Orange County and the Santa Clarita Valley for candidates in heated races in those areas. I am calling, tweeting and emailing everyone in the senate to hold up the Kavanaugh nomination. I go to fundraisers for various progressive candidates from all over the country, probably every 6-8 days! And my snickerdoodles actually did make it to the Planned Parenthood bake sale.

But, I don’t deride my friend for her emotional eating binge. If you don’t stop down every once in awhile for a plate of cookies, a movie, a walk in the park, a foot massage or a Netlfix binge, you will burn out.

I asked some of my other activist pals where their focus is between now and Nov 6th. My friend Corinne shared, when asked where she puts her focus, “Flipping the house and senate. I’m donating to orgs like Spread The Vote who are fighting against voter suppression by helping voters get the IDs they need to vote in states with suppressive laws. I'm also writing postcards for midterm campaigns. Also helping to host fundraisers for groups like Team 25UP, who are fighting to elect Katie Hill.”

Corinne, a comedy writer and producer, with a newborn baby girl, was able to entice some of the biggest headliners working in stand-up comedy to come to Santa Clarita on a Saturday night and do a comedy fundraiser. The event sold out and raised thousands of dollars. She also freely admits that with a newborn in the picture, she often does not make it to every event or action that asks for her time. She knows how to set boundaries.

My friend Linda is a high school chum who now lives in Minnesota and she reflects, “My candidates are Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith, Ilhan Omar, Jason Crow for Congress, JD Scholten. My issues: immigration, retaining and strengthening the ACA, common sense gun control, livable wages, voting rights, getting more people of color and across the gender identity spectrum into elected office.”

As a wife, mom of three, and someone who works full-time whose family moved in the past year, Linda has a lot on her plate, but I notice along with the activism are plenty of pictures of family meals (she is a healthy cook guru who always puts up recipes that look scrumptious!) and nature hikes. Balance!

Morgan is a mom of three, who runs a small nonprofit business while maintaining a busy performing career and has a husband who frequently travels for work, so she puts her activism scheduling together like a Jenga puzzle! “It’s been a real challenge to give time to all the things I want to,” Morgan laments.

Her focus right now is on protecting a woman’s right to healthcare and choice, registering voters and supporting candidates Katie Hill (CA-25) and Beto O’Rourke (running to unseat Senator Ted Cruz in Texas). Morgan is wistful about the legacy of activism she inherited. “I come from a very politically active family,” she shares, adding “My parents met on (CA) Governor Jerry Brown’s presidential campaign in the 70’s.” Morgan and I recently spent the day down in Orange County, knocking on doors in an effort to replace Rep. Darrell Issa (R) with a democratic hopeful Mike Levin in CA49. Yeah, Morgan’s busy—but she’s also stopping down for fun and relaxation with her kids and husband and friends. The pictures of her family frolicking on vacation made my heart swell.

For some of you, this all might seem like a no-brainer. You have seamlessly navigated the activism/work/life balance with aplomb. However, over the past year or so, I’ve had more and more people reaching out to me with the same despair as my Tollhouse-cookie-medicating pal who was melting down in the grocery store. Friends often express to me that they feel frozen with fear, overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless and lost. Mine is a message of hope. We can do this. We just need to get really simple about it, keep our focus and give ourselves a damned break every once in awhile.

It also helps to put things in perspective; yeah, I’m tired, but not nearly as tired as a mom in a detention center who hasn’t seen their kid in two months or a mom in rural West Virginia with no healthcare and a husband strung out on opioids or a mom in Syria wondering if a bomb will take out her entire family. If they can keep going, we must keep going. The secret is to look for respite in the midst of the chaos.

Over the past weekend I was feeling burned out. Prepping for the Missouri senatorial work ahead has taken some real micro-organizing and then there is also a lot of logistical stuff with the refugee families that had me running around a lot and my job-job got especially busy and stressful on top of it all. One of the refugee families I am helping shared with me how much their family loves being in Southern California because of the availability of swimming pools. In the midst of all the angst and anguish that has come with the trauma and emotional roller-coaster of enduring separations, reunifications, acclimating to an entirely new culture, working out their legal status and obtaining the staples of day-today living, enjoying a cool and refreshing pool has been a bright spot.

So, I reached out to several refugee families (through the organization that initially put us all in communication), some friends with kids and we got a little pool party going at our house in the HOA pool and hot-tub. Everyone pitched in. It was the simplest idea and our place is not super fancy, but the impact was profound. The families came, they swam, ate pizza and the refugee families left with new swimsuits, some groceries, some gift cards and leftover pizza. And my kid and my friends’ kids had the privilege of being in community with these new guests to our country and city. Children from many families, squealing with delight in a pool—this is a happy sound.

I embrace the happy sounds. It drowns out the anger, bigotry and vitriol coming from the White House. It’s a salve as I read about Puerto Rico, the water in Flint, the abuse in detention centers, the Russian hacking of our elections, the blatant racism being hurled at NFL players who take a knee and the endless outrages coming our way on a daily basis. I embraced the sunset as our pool party came to an end and new friends hugged each other goodbye. Then we retired to watch a film together, my own little family. We resonated with a sense of community, with the simple blessing of being able to share our home and break bread (or pizza!) with old and new friends.

So… pick your “3” and keep up the resistance—pour your heart into the candidates or issues that grab your soul and give them shoe-leather and focus. And then balance this activism with love, laughs and happiness, as best you can.

Or pick 2.

Or pick 1.

Jane Edith Wilson is an Iowa native who lives in Southern California with her husband and son. She is an actress and comedian whose day job is even more stressful.

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