Many people have been expressing their worries to me that Obama won’t win. Here is something I just figured out about how to shift from being worried and to helping Obama win the election.
How to let go of worry and help Obama to win the election
Heaven and hell are right here on earth. Heaven is living in your hopes and hell is living in your fears – Tom Robbins
I take an exercise class that runs in 4-week cycles. Every 1st and 4th week we run a mile to compare how fast we were at the beginning versus the end. I’m on my 6th series, and therefore, have run the mile test 12 times. I get faster every time.
The day before the last test run, I had an emotional meltdown. I cried throughout the workout class. It was embarrassing to be crying in public, especially when I had no good reason to be doing so. Physically, I was rocking out. Life was humming along beautifully. Work? Great. Creative pursuits? Several fun ones in the hopper. Friends? No drama, love all around. Family and romance? Happy happy happy. And yet there I was, sobbing away. The rest of the day was a dark comedy of minor mishaps and missed connections. Cars cut me off. Phone calls got dropped. It was hot in my studio and the air conditioner broke. The check didn’t arrive. The milk went bad.
In the middle of the day, my coach sent me this text message: “Thoughts are magnetic.” Entrenched in my death eater’s perspective, I thought about how my miserableness must have infected all of the others in my class that morning, and thought, “Screw ‘em. I’m tired of being such a goddam inspiration all the time.” But I wrote back like a goody two shoes, “I hope I didn’t suck everyone in w/ my meltdown. Sorry.”
My coach is a wise man. He didn’t bite. Instead, he wrote back,
“Nah I just meant focus on what you want.”
“Will do. Thx,” I responded primly, and returned to spewing black ink into the atmosphere and wondering why everything looked so gloomy.
I should mention that I had taken my first meditation class the night before. Then meditated on my own for 20 minutes right before my exercise class crying jag. I think my ego must have been in a state of panic. It felt threatened and had a temper tantrum to remind me who was in control. I knew that this might be part of my meltdown despite my insistence on being an emotional neanderthal that day, so I laid low, tried not to talk to too many people and waited for the air to clear.
I am the kind of person who puts everything I have into everything I do. A less nice way of saying this is I am ridiculously competitive. I want to be THE GREATEST HUMAN WHO EVER LIVED. While that might sound nice, it means I to be taller and stronger than my normal height, athlete boyfriend. I want to be the prettiest woman in the room. I want to be the most well-traveled, well-received author IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. I want my every scribble and jot to be as valuable as a Picasso. There is no lasting joy to be found in purely superlative aspirations.
The next morning, I was sorely tempted to skip the test run because I was so worried I wouldn’t break my PR and the skinny little whippersnappers in the class who had started out slower than me would be faster than me now. I dragged myself to class anyway and ran as fast as I could. I ran faster than everyone else, beat my PR again and bobbed around in that familiar cocktail of pride, exhilaration and relief for the rest of the day. 24 hours later, I was back to being anxious and full of worry about the next time we’d have to run.
My competitive nature helps me to get things done, but it also leaves me in a constant state of hunger. I’d like to feel comfortably full most of the time.
A few of my classmates, who are better sports and more relaxed than me, went out of their way to congratulate me. They had seen me crying the day before, then watched me knock it out of the park on the test run. I told them I was wrestling with my competitive nature. We had great conversations about this and how to have a healthy relationship with ourselves.
I went to see my coach. I told him I wanted to quit doing the test mile and focus on the journey instead. He asked why. I told him I was afraid of being passed by the others. Especially the young, cocky ones and the ones who were not already faster than me to begin with. And I was afraid of not breaking my own PR every time. I was afraid of disappointing myself. I was afraid of disappointing him.
He said, “You’re focusing a lot on what you don’t want. How about you focus on what you do want? What do you want?”
It boiled down to this: I want to win. Why? Because I love being the best. I love knocking it out of the park. I love slam dunking my goals and dreams then sprinting on to the next one. I love showing off. I love rocking out. I love being a superhero amazon warrior goddess.
He told me to focus on that. It feels a lot better to have let go of the –est at the end of everything.
A few days later I went to my second meditation class ever.
My teacher told us all kinds of great stuff before we began meditating. She told us about the importance of having lots of gentle sweet understanding compassion for our wild horse minds.
Then, amazingly, she started to talk about how we tend to focus on what we don’t want. And we seek to make changes in our lives based on a current dissatisfaction, then end up with more of that dissatisfaction.
She said, “Your mind is magnetic. Whatever you think of comes to you.”
My mind is full of Obama these days. The idea of Obama as president is a big beautiful rainbow across my mind. He embodies the kind of stuff that makes the United States the place I continue to call home.
I have left the US a several times now, sometimes for a few years at a time, with half a mind to never come back. I have lived in many places in Europe, Mexico and South America. I prefer the relaxed pace of life outside the United States. I think that people are calmer in other countries partly because they know that if they get sick, they will be able to go to the hospital and get treatment, regardless of whether they have health insurance or not. People walk more slowly on the streets when they know if they don’t have enough money, they’ll still have enough to eat and a roof over their heads. Robust extended family networks, affordable housing and a general mental state of security make for pleasant living.
And free education rules. It is amazing to be around people who know they can go to college for as long as they want without getting in debt up to their eyeballs for the rest of their lives. I have met many Europeans and South Americans with multiple PhDs. Oh, the things they know! That just doesn't happen here.
Yes, there are many things I really like about life outside of the US, but here’s the thing that keeps me coming back: I am an ambitious capitalist at heart. I love making things happen. Every cell in my body believes this dictate: “If you do good work, and it is useful and helpful to other people in some way, if you don’t hurt people and you try your best, you will be rewarded for it. It will work out for you. Since nature abhors a vacuum, it is impossible to exert effort and not have it turn into something. (That said, remember, nature is non-linear and has a strong sense of irony so your efforts won’t necessarily take you directly from A to B, but you will end up somewhere near where you aimed if you really throw yourself into it.)”
I have tried to start businesses in other countries. Some of the things I have been in other countries: bar wench, cultural mediator, English tutor, gardener, graphic designer, hotel clerk, maid, marine life researcher, orange juice squeezer, time share salesperson, translator, waitress, website builder and writer.
Here’s how it goes: I start the job, get the hang of it, decide to expand the business, throw time, energy and money at it, and hit an impenetrable wall. Either I am in the wrong family, or too foreign, or it's just not done that way in these parts, or it's not my metier or something. I eventually get fed up, forsake the slow life, come back to America, deal with culture shock, then start a new venture. My venture works when I follow my ground rules of it being useful and helpful and non-harmful, and I give it all I’ve got and then some. That my ideas work out is so incredible to me, it makes me go all squishy inside. It is no coincidence that the world wide web was developed here, as were computers, lunar landings, electricity, cars and highways and so much more. It’s the American Dream in action, baby.
Obama is the most exciting public figure whose rise I have been alive to witness. He embodies the American Dream. A few years ago I was in my car, driving from Oregon to California on a business trip. I bought his book, The Audacity of Hope, on CD to listen to during the ride down. Something about the senator had captured my interest and I wanted to learn more. His voice filled my car as I learned about why electoral reform is needed, what lobbyists do anyway and how the system got to be where it is in the first place. I knew this was a problem but every time someone had tried to explain this to me before, they turned into Charlie Brown’s teacher - "Wa Wa Wa Wa Wa Waaaaaa." Coming from Obama, it made a lot of sense and I found myself nodding in agreement as I drove. He went on to speak simply, clearly and eloquently about the relationship between religion and politics in America. He addressed our national debt head on in a straightforward way that told me how bad it is (we’re in over our heads, we’re going to have to face the music sooner rather than later, it will probably suck) yet left me full of hope (there’s that word again!) because he offered clear workable solutions about how to deal with it. He talked about his deep love of town hall meetings and American people and I knew that he had an incredible understanding not only of American people but also of human nature. I was delighted to know that there was a person like him in Washington.
Fast forward a few years and his message caught like wildfire. I think we’ve finally started to wake from the terror of 9/11 and have a deep need to live in a state of abundance again. We’ve been living in a terrified state of orange for 7 years and it has exhausted us. The war feels useless and endless. We’re tired of feeling like the wolves are at the door. We’re tired of being terrified about losing our homes to the bank because we can’t afford them anymore. We are exhausted from running from the sad truth that if we got sick in a way that is expensive, even with health insurance, we won’t necessarily be okay. We are ripe for something new. We are not exactly miserable, but we're not happy either and we might be just unhappy enough to go through the potential discomfort of a little bit of change in order to make things better in the long run. Maybe.
Barack Obama understands the fears that we live with, but his message and direction don't come from a place of fear and scarcity. Instead, he comes from a place of hope and abundance. Barack Obama was one of a lucky few to have grown up in Hawaii, the land of aloha. People full of the aloha spirit have the kinds of houses where there is always food enough for spontaneous visitors and time enough to sit down and spend some time together. People full of aloha make their visitors feel respected and heard. Wouldn’t it be great to live in a country full of aloha?
Barack Obama spent his formative years learning that people in Indonesia have it both better and worse than Americans. He learned that there are many different ways of looking at things. He learned to get along with all kinds of people. He got to know the American landscape by living and working in the midwest and on the east coast. He took full advantage of the American Dream and was successful. The world has loved Obama back since he was a baby and so the cup is half full for him. The abilities to be flexible and go with the flow are incredibly powerful. Look at rivers. Look at trees. Barack Obama oozes with these abilities.
When Barack Obama gave his nomination acceptance speech, the crowd went bonkers. He has that ability to pull people out of their apathy and inspire them into greatness. He has the ability to get us all worked up. Obama makes me cheer at the TV and pound on the steering wheel when I am listening to him. I am not a TV yeller or a steering wheel banger. I want a leader who brings me to my feet. I have seen many people who have never been politically active spring into action for Obama. I can see why.
But more of us need to get into action to win this thing.
Resignation and cynicism are natural responses to the dark state we’ve been living in. We have been at war for many years now. Our economy is so wobbly, you have to be a gifted tightrope walker to keep yourself from falling. Barack Obama's clarion call is a bit unbelievable to those of us who have been living in our parent's moldy basements for the past 10 years with our kids. And like my mile run, we're so afraid we won't win that we'd rather just not try. If it does work out, that means we'd have to move out of the basement. To quote Wayne's World, "We fear change." So we're damned if we do, damned if we don't. But there's something about Obama that makes that little thing with feathers that perches in the soul called Hope sing loud enough to get us off the couch and consider that maybe, just maybe there is a better, brighter way.
For the time period between Barack Obama’s acceptance speech and McCain’s selection of Palin as his running mate, hope ran rampant through America. The country began to feel really alive again for the first time in many years.
McCain was just a side show to the beautiful Obama spectacle, until Palin came into the mix, and something happened. This mean, sassy woman leapt onto stage and began lobbing mudballs at the Democratic Party. The Dems got freaked out and began emailing scary facts about Palin back and forth to each other all day in a great worried circle jerk. Barack Obama said, “That's nice. Let’s get back to the issues.” More mudslinging and handwringing. Barack Obama said, “Thank you for your concern. Let’s get back to the issues. Everybody register to vote, please.” Mudballs flying.“Obama is going to RAISE TAXES and TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY and the ECONOMY is going to COLLAPSE and we’re at WAR and he's a SNOB with a WEIRD NAME!” Lip chewing and nail biting all around and more scary e-mails. Obama said, "Get into action. Now let me tell you about how I'm going to fix the health care system." We didn't listen because we were busy freaking out about how old McCain is and how Palin will be president and how horrifyingly tragic this will be. The media appealed to our prurience by shifting away from Obama on their magazine covers and television shows to new images of Palin leering with a gun, cartoons of Palin smashing the country to bits with a sledgehammer, Palin nestling her Downs Syndrome baby in a wolf skin that she killed and made herself. We look at our bloody cuticles and sigh. I get several scary Palin e-mails a day now.
When Palin first came on stage, I began balking at the possibility of having to live down the shame of being a citizen of a country that had the choice between a visionary leader and the same old same old only worse and chose the latter. I visited websites to find out how much it will cost to become a citizen elsewhere if Obama doesn’t win. We started talking about Canada and Mexico as real possibilities.
One minute I was full of hope. The next minute, I was back in my hole, counting my pennies over and over again. I realize now, that like running the mile, I was focusing on what I don’t want.
We are all focusing on what we don’t want right now, whether we are Democrats or Republicans. We must focus on what we do want. We all want our country to be healthy and powerful and vital. We all want to be happy. We all want to feel safe. We want to be free to go to school. If we get sick, we want to be able to go to the doctor. We want to live in homes which are in no danger of being taken away from us. Barack Obama has laid out straightforward plans for bringing the US into a place where we have all of this. I think his plans will work. Obama has the kind of big dreams coupled with cojones every powerful leader has had. To quote one great leader, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." This country rocks when there's a great leader at the helm.
It is time to be bigger than our fears. If everyone makes one action a day to support the collective dream of being the kind of country that supports them financially, physically, and intellectually, we will make that dream come true. No great government or invention has ever come into being without someone first envisioning of it then others throwing their weight in behind it until it existed. Think of light bulbs. Think of engines. It will take a lot of people to make this dream come true, but we can do it.
If you are feeling worried, apathetic, hopeless, anxious, cynical, resigned or bitter, here is a cure. Every time you feel yourself becoming anxious or worried that the election won’t go as you wanted it to, make one action to address that concern. Right at that moment. Don’t hesitate. Fresh worry metabolizes potently when acted on with swiftness.
Here are 10 actions you can do immediately when you are worried:
1. Put good words in the air. Have a conversation with someone who wants Barack Obama to be president. Make an agreement to keep your political conversations focused on what you do want rather than what you don’t. Have a practice conversation following this premise. If you are usually more negative in your conversational patterns, try giving yourself a 5 minute time period and talk to each other about what excites you about having Barack Obama as president with no sarcasm or cynicism allowed. Aspire to be like a breathless kindergartner talking about how awesome your next big exciting day is going to be. When 5 minutes are up, notice how you feel inside. If you must go back to being resigned and cynical again immediately, that's okay. It's great that you tried that for 5 minutes. Next time, try to make it 6 minutes. Then 7. It gets easier and feels really good if you let it.
2. Show the world you care. Wear your politics on your sleeve. Post an Obama sign somewhere where someone else can see it. Your car, your office, your yard, your window, a sticker on your cell phone, your computer screensaver, across your chest. Where ever. You can buy Obama signs here: http://store.barackobama.com/
3. Give money to the Obama campaign. They need it. They are a lean green transformation machine and really know how to stretch a buck. So give them 5 clams and feel good knowing it's doing something. Your donation will be instantly matched, which will make you feel extra better. https://donate.barackobama.com/page/contribute/main
4. Listen, learn and get inspired. If you want want to meet more people who dig Obama, visit your local Barack Obama headquarters. you can find out where they are by going here: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/statepages. Google Barack Obama You Tube and watch a video about him or by him. His talks and messages are great. I especially like his acceptance speech lately. He will help you feel better.
5. Tell them about it. Write a letter to an editor of a newspaper about why you love Barack Obama. It is especially important to write to newspapers in swing states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Virginia). Here are easy links that will send your letters directly to the big newspapers in those states: http://my.barackobama.com/page/speakout/
6. Join the party. Make an account on my.barackobama.com. If you have an account, you can find out where there are calling parties, canvassing and other events. There's even a tool that spits out a list of 25 undecided voters in your neighborhood, and gives you a map and a script to go and knock on their doors, and/or their phone numbers. You can contact them, then report back to the campaign, without leaving the comfort of your home. It's called "Neighbor to Neighbor." There's a tutorial video on the website.
7. Volunteer for the party or adopt a volunteer. This might look like hosting viewer parties of the debates, making phone calls, talking to undecided voters and helping people to sign up to vote. There’s all kinds of volunteering needed. I bet you’re perfect for something. Go here to find out more: http://action.barackobama.com/page/s/volunteer/. I am incredibly proud to support my sister, Elizabeth Audley, who has been working 2 jobs to put her New York City life on hold for a month to travel around Pennsylvania and make sure Obama wins in Pennsylvania. How awesome is that? You can visit her website and find out what she's up to here: http://elizabethaudibly.blogspot.com. She needs gas money. A buck will fuel her car for 10 miles as she drives around and talks to people. She’s way more coolheaded and eloquent than me.
8. Pray. Remember, thoughts are magnetic. A friend offered me this one, by Marian Williamson, for our leaders:
We pray for the leaders of this country and every other.
May they not be swayed by false politics but listen instead to the spirit of truth.
May they not harken to the false and bitter voices of a frightened world, but instead hear the angels who minister unto them.
May the world make room for their leadership and resist no more their growth into greatness.
May their virtue shield them.
May their lack of virtue be forgiven and corrected.
May their words be true.
May their strength go before them, to cut like a sword through all illusion.
May they see the innocence and brotherhood in those who oppose them.
May they grow beyond a shallow fight.
And thus may we all be taken with them into new light, new peace, new politics, new hope, for all the world.
9. Make a collage of the American Dream. Gather a pile of magazines, a poster board, a glue stick and a pair of scissors. Give yourself a 20 minute time period to pull out any pictures that are in the theme of what your ideal picture of the ultimate life in America looks like. Cut out your pictures and arrange them onto the poster board in a way that pleases you. Put a picture of Barack Obama into this collage. Hang it up somewhere where you will see it and when you are not busy being cynical, it will make you happy.
10. Practice abundance. Fill yourself with hope. Grow it yourself by doing things that make you happy every day. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. If you live in a state of expecting to be inspired by everything, you will end up being inspired by many many things. Sometimes people live their whole long lives without a smidge of inspiration. If you live in a place where female circumcision and genocide and abject poverty and other atrocities are a part of your life, then this is totally understandable. If you live outside of Appalachia in the US, you are responsible for inspiring yourself. It is sad but true that many very smart Americans are sitting at home right now, scratching their asses and wondering when their divine purpose in life is finally going to reveal itself. Apathy is a mighty comfy old couch but it’s awfully bad for your back. Your joie de vivre doesn't particularly want to hang out with you on the couch. It wants to PLAY with you. What is your true calling in life? Whatever you are the most interested in right now is probably pretty close, even if you're not spending much time doing it. Think about stuff that lights you up, even a little bit. Just think of something that sounds really fun and then do it. You can always do something else if it turns out to be a drag. That way, even if you don't end up being the next Nelson Mandela, you will have had such a ball trying that you won't be worried about finding your purpose in life anymore. Or you could very well turn into the next Nelson Mandela once you've got your feet planted firmly in your hopes and dreams. And the really neat thing is, this being America and all, if practice this here, America will match you ounce for ounce in the energy you expend on your efforts.
Me, I like whales. When I see a picture of a whale jumping out of the water, I feel excited. Since I like to think about whales, I sometimes step it up a notch and go for a whale watch. When a whale jumps out of the water, it is infinitely more powerful than just thinking about it. And even the days I get skunked and don't see any whales are good days because I got to spend the day on the water paying close attention to nature and feeling like a whale was going to jump out of the water at any moment. I don't know how it works, but thinking about whales gets me off the couch. And once I’m off the couch, then I tend to get up to all kinds of cool stuff.
Forget about being right and looking good. It is more satisfying to be happy than to be right. Just focus on being happy and remaining aware. My minister said, "There will be times in life when all you will have to stand on is what you have stood for." Be a stand for something that really rocks your world. When you are not feeling happy or aware, remember what you stand for and do something to support your stand.
That’s it for now. I hope this is helpful to you or someone you know. Love Kat
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway.