Tip #193: There’s always room.
The ways in which our world has shrunk in on itself since March sometimes makes me gasp for air while I’m loading the dishwasher. There are moments in the middle of the night when a small wave of panic washes over me; five heart beats in these two little rooms and I swear I can hear all of them at once.
But even in a tiny apartment in the middle of a global pandemic, there’s always room for more gratitude. So I’m squeezing it into corners and crannies, but also setting the table and dressing the beds with it. I’m displaying it on dressers and shelves and in tiny vases with flowers—doing my best to keep it from being crowded out by the suffocating clutter of uncertainty or worse, despair.
Another month has passed and we’ve managed to pay our rent. (The same isn’t true for other folks in our community who are staring down eviction notices and the end of unemployment benefits.) We’re still without childcare and school won’t be the same in the fall; my work has slowed to a trickle and grows more uncertain with every passing week, but for now there’s flexibility and against odds, the ability to distill whole work weeks into the few, odd hours. There’s a borrowed car for trips to the Rockaways, and a bucket for carrying home shells. There’s ice cream on the neighbors’ stoop after dinner.
I’m sitting on the stoop now. Silas is napping in the stroller in front of me. There’s a breeze and a woman who lives down the street pauses to say her distanced hello. It must be so hard for me to work, she says, all those babies in a small apartment.
Her husband is dead ten weeks now, unconfirmed Covid contracted in the midst of the worst of the pandemic. Upstairs, Calder is asleep in her crib. Faye is alternating between moping and building a robot from compostable berry boxes while James takes a work call. There’s a bowl full of stone fruit and cold water in the fridge. Room for gratitude abounds.
In an effort to look beyond the confines of this little space and to extend a hand to our friends and neighbors, here are two action items to help folks in need of refuge:
On June 15, the federal government proposed new regulations that would rewrite asylum law and threaten hundreds of thousands of persecuted families seeking refuge in the US. What can we do? Under the Administrative Procedures Act, the administration is required to review and give weight to every unique comment made regarding the proposed regulations. This means that the more comments folks flood them with, the more likely it will slow down the review process, possibly even preventing the regulations from taking effect altogether.
Action item: Submit a comment regarding the proposed regulations by July 15. Comments don’t need to be long, but they do need to be unique! Speak from personal experience as an advocate, asylee, neighbor, or friend. If you’re not sure where to start, The New Sanctuary Committee can offer lots of guidance.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also announced that it is out of funding and has asked Congress for additional funds or it will furlough its workers from the beginning of August until the end of October. USCIS is the agency that gives people green cards, grants them asylum, and naturalizes people to citizenship. If it shuts down, it will cause harm to hundreds of thousands, even millions, of immigrants. We need Congress to fund the agency, and to ensure there is oversight and accountability.
Action item: Contact your senators and representatives by July 31 and ask that USCIS be funded with restrictions to ensure accountability.
Finally, if you haven’t had a chance, I’ll humbly suggest getting a pen and some paper and spending a few quiet minutes with the live Skillshare class I filmed back in May. The class is an exercise in figuring out what’s working in your space, and what’s not, and where there might be room for improvement, but also room for gratitude. If you’re able, please share the affiliate link widely: skl.sh/erin_live. Every new sign up and every minute watched contributes to my continued work in this space and I’m so grateful for the support.