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Dr. Judith Rich Headshot

You Deserve A Break Today: Making History Is Hard Work

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Dear Readers,

I've just been notified that in honor of our history-making presidential election last night, today, Nov. 5th, has been cancelled. All citizens have been instructed to remain in their homes, preferably in a horizontal position.

At precisely 10 AM EST today, Larry David will step to the podium and lead the country in a National Post-Election Nervous Breakdown/Celebration. Together, we will all take a d-e-e-p breath, hold for 3 counts, and then exhale. With the exception of continued normal breathing, all other activity will be suspended for 24 hours following the exhalation.

Schools, banks, government offices and all stores, including Starbucks, will be closed in order to allow the entire country to participate in this unprecedented event. Tomorrow, at 10 AM EST, all activity will resume and the country will commence celebration of the first national "You Just Made History, Now Take Back Your Life" Day.

We deserve this break today. No one could have predicted that we'd become a nation of campaign junkies, worshiping at the temple of TV and internet, eager for an hourly fix from the latest soundbite. Now, after two years of our non-stop campaign binge, we've finally staggered across the finish line. So relieved are we that this election is over, I'm predicting a collective exhalation that will rival Hurricane Katrina for ferocity.

As Bill Clinton said in his campaign rally last week with our now new president-elect, Barack Obama, "This has been the longest job interview in history." (726 days to be exact) Campaign fever replaced baseball as the new national pastime. Viewership of Obama's 30-minute infomercial topped that of the final game of the World Series by 70%! You know we're seriously hooked on something when the World Series becomes irrelevant.

Now What?

Fellow junkies, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but after we've chilled out for a day, tomorrow, we get to take our lives off "hold" and get on with them. Time to take on the piles of unpaid bills, unread mail, unwashed dishes, unmowed lawns and maybe even a chance to catch up on two years' worth of lost sleep.

"But what am I supposed to do with my life after I've taken it back?" you ask. Remember what our old friend Warren Buffet says, the simplest solutions usually are most effective.

Here are 5 tips for taking back your life after this election:

1) Become involved in something larger than yourself and pay it forward. Direct all that energy you gave to the election to a cause that's worthy of your passion. Look around. There are gazillions of them out there. Find one. If you were born between 1978 and 2000, you're a "Gen We'er". Check out this website: www.gen-we.org. Your tribe is about to inherit the mess the Baby Boomers are leaving behind. Get involved and have a say about where we go from here. And if you're some other age, like older or younger, find a way to help clean up the mess we've all had a part in creating. Remember the global village? Join it.

2) Meditate. Remember Ellie McPhee, my Inner Bag Lady/Gerbil companion from earlier posts? Check her out here and here. Your gerbil needs daily breaks from the wheel. It doesn't matter if she keeps grinding away during your sit. It might take awhile but have patience. She'll get the hang of it eventually. Trust me on this one, just do it. Let me know how that goes.

3) Step away from and turn off the TV. You've been glued to the set listening to every speech and sound bite for the past 2 years. I'm not suggesting you hibernate from the world forever, but, best to give it a rest for a bit. And while you're at it, turn off talk radio. Spend time in silence or listening to music. Your right brain will love you for it!

3) Join a book club . Really! A shout-out here to my book club, The Illiterati. My book club friends have helped me to discover the joys of literary fiction after thinking only non-fiction books were worthy of my time. Great literature enriches and expands the mind. Enjoy it.

4) Get moving. Spend time in nature, walk, dance, go to the gym, swim, yoga, anything besides just sitting there. Daily exercise changes the body's chemistry, including your metabolism. All those endorphins will make you feel like you just did something good for yourself. And you did!

5) Take time for friends and family. Have family meals together, even if its just once a week. Get out your favorite recipes and give it a go. The holidays are coming and your cooking muscles have atrophied after eating all that campaign take-out. Family time is precious, so if you're lucky enough to live close to family members, make time for each other. Life is short and none of us is getting any younger.

Campaign junkies; take heart. Your next fix is only two years away. In the meantime, there is plenty of work to do. In fact, the real work is about to begin. You've got your personal life to take back and as a nation, we have fences to mend and bridges to build both at home and abroad. Remember those pesky matters like fixing the economy, ending the occupation in Iraq and bringing the troops home, addressing our energy needs, tackling health care and stuff like that?

And how about we figure out a way to live together now as one nation, one color? Haven't we had enough divisiveness? How about instead of calling ourselves Red states or Blue states, we "go rogue" and all become Green states? It's going to be a miserable future for all of us if we don't. Let's show our mettle as 21st century Americans and become bigger than our differences. Time to get involved, have a say about where we go from here and participate in the process of creating a world that elevates us all. We really do have a stake in the game called Everyone Wins.

Black, white, red, yellow, Democrats, Republicans, Independents or any of you Undecideds still out there; America's new chapter begins now. Let's all take part in writing it.

I'd love to hear how you feel about our history-making election, and how you think we can best come together to reimagine ourselves as America and as Americans. I'll be using your comments to launch next week's column. In the meantime, enjoy your break today!

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