1710-1712 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48912 womenscentergl@gmail.com (517) 372-9163

Don’t Forget to Vote!

Do some research, pick up your favorite black pen, scribble in those bubbles and turn in that ballot—Election Day is November 3rd, and now more than ever, it’s crucial to amplify your voice and get your vote in.

Most are aware that the big seat that’s up for grabs next Tuesday is that of the president, but there are many more that you’re able to vote for that can make a significant difference. State and federal representative seats, a senate seat, state supreme court seats, country commissioner seats and more are all up for the taking. There are also new proposals as well. All of this being said, voting can feel overwhelming for those who are still deciding who they are voting for, or want to know more about the candidates in general. However, there are amazing resources out there that give you a comprehensive, unbiased look at each candidate, like Ballotpedia, that can help you make an informed decision.

Already voted? Great! As a citizen of the United States, you have done a major part in fulfilling your duties as a citizen. If you haven’t voted yet, that’s okay too. The most important part is to have a plan, and we’ve highlighted some important parts in solidifying yours.

The first step is making sure you’re registered to vote. You can check if you are here, and if you’re not yet, it’s not too late! Though the deadline has passed to register online, you can register in person at your city clerk’s office up until 8 p.m. on Election Day

If you are already registered to vote, it’s important to decide whether you plan on going to your designated polling site on Election Day (between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.) or if you plan on voting by mail. The former is a bit more straightforward, but the latter is still very doable, secure, and safe!

You can request your absentee ballot online here. It’s important to know that the request must be received by your city clerk no later than 5 p.m. the Friday before Election Day, so make sure to do this as soon as possible. Once your request is received, you should get your absentee ballot in the mail fairly quickly. After you fill it out, you can mail it back to your city clerk’s office, or drop it off at your ballot drop box location (this way is probably more efficient, as there have been severe USPS delays). 

At the end of the day on November 3rd, all that matters is that you got your vote in. Vote for those who are disenfranchised. Vote for immigrants. Vote for everyone who can’t vote, for whatever reason that may be. Many things are at stake, from the quality of our lives to the empathy of our government. What we vote for now affects the futures of our children, parents, friends, and both selfishly and importantly— ourselves.

— Autumn Miller, Undergraduate Intern

Caring for Your Mental and Physical Well-Being as the Weather Gets Colder

As we approach mid October, the weather here in Michigan is starting to get colder as the days go on. Brisk breezes fill the air and dark skies start rolling in earlier.

While this all sounds cozy in theory (it’s a great excuse to wrap up in a blanket all day), the ushering in of the late fall and winter months often takes a toll on the mental and physical well-being of many people. The whole situation becomes even more isolating than in normal years when you factor COVID-19 into this. That being said, it’s especially important now more than ever to take care of your health, and there are many ways to show the snow and crunchy leaves who’s the real boss. 


Find a therapist

Therapy is essential to an overall healthy self. Whether it be the need to work through past trauma, learn healthy coping mechanisms to help combat your anxiety, or just talk through the way you’re feeling, therapy is a great tool to keep your mental health in check. It’s more accessible than ever now, being that online therapy sessions are on the rise (which means you can essentially do this one from your bed). If money is tight right now, check out the “counseling” tab on our website! Other therapists offer therapy on a sliding-scale basis, making it affordable as well. You can find some of the best online therapy programs here.

You can also join our weekly Social Group by signing up here.


Explore that hobby you’ve been wanting to try

Have you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar? Dying to try calligraphy? Wanting to create the most aesthetically-pleasing bullet journal? The colder months are the perfect time to dive head-first into all of the hobbies you’ve been putting aside. Being highly encouraged to stay at home and stay indoors, it can be easy to let your mind wander to darker places. Hobbies are a great way to put your focus and energy into something productive and positive while also giving you a fantastic opportunity to find something new that you enjoy. If you’re unsure where to start, there are thousands of tutorial videos on YouTube that can guide you, depending on what you want to try. This is your sign to go ahead and bake that decorated focaccia you’ve had your eyes on since the beginning of quarantine!


Take the time to call your loved ones

Whether it be your best friend from college or your grandma who lives on the other side of the country, setting aside time to catch up with someone you care about can do wonders for your mental health. Simply hearing the voice of someone you love can send waves of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” through your body, giving you a jolt of comfort. Additionally, being social (at a distance, of course) can give you a sense of normalcy, too, which is always appreciated in tumultuous times like these.


Find a form of movement you truly enjoy

Truly healthy movement is one that promotes self-love, body positivity, and kindness— you don’t need to work up a sweat to reap in the endorphins that exercise gives you! Explore the kinds of movement that intrigue you and feel good on that particular day. Maybe taking a nature walk while listening to your favorite podcast sounds nice, or maybe a morning YouTube yoga-flow session in your bedroom will do the trick. Being in touch with how your muscles move and learning what your body enjoys doing can be a great way to clear the head and work out some pent-up tension.


REST

In a world that always seems to be going, going, going, taking the time to rest is crucial for your overall health. Rest can mean different things for different people— for you, maybe that means not setting an alarm on Sunday morning, and for others, that may mean plopping down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite television show. Productivity is important, but it’s not everything— burnout is very real, and setting aside time to simply exist and be can give you the recharge you didn’t know you needed. 

— Autumn Miller, Undergraduate Intern

Self-Care Activities

Let’s be honest; the world today is quite chaotic.

Self-care has never been more critical in an age when we have had to deal with a pandemic, raging wildfires, other environmental disasters, and political upheaval all across the globe.

It may seem that self-care sounds like a vague cliche. For example, when therapists recommend self-care to clients, it can often ring hollow.

What follows in this is a list of self-care activities. Working these activities into your everyday life is sure to impact your day-to-day life positively.

1. Self-Care Activities

Sometimes we do not realize the importance of self-care, but everyone takes part in caring for themselves somehow. The Seven Types of Self-Care Activity Sheet is a good starting place for people who have not thought much about self-care.

2. Self-Care Vision Board

A vision board is a visual representation of a concept or idea using images, illustrations, and words. The Self-Care Vision Board can help you lead you in the creation of a vision board.

The process of creating the vision board can be intuitive and fun, a self-care activity in itself. Once the vision board is made, the board can be stored in an area frequently visible to you, serving as a prime or reminder for self-care.

3. Personal Energy Audit

Time is a finite resource, and with so many of us living busy lives these days, there is often little time to spend replenishing our energy. Just like the other self-care tools, the Personal Energy Audit focuses on identifying where you are spending your energy.

The audit is done to assess areas where you may be losing energy without even realizing it. The audit is a checklist that breaks energy down into different categories where you then rate them.

Breaking energy down into these categories can help you find small ways throughout the day to conserve or improve their energy levels to live a happier and more productive life.

4. The Self-Care Wheel

This useful article considers the Self-Care Wheel as the perfect tool to assess burnout. It provides a structure for identifying and nourishing areas where you are either failing, surviving, or thriving.

Caring For Children During A Pandemic

Plain and simple, adjusting to the “new normal” that COVID has forced us to adapt to has been nothing less than difficult. Remembering to always have an extra face mask in the car, meticulously counting the seconds as we wash our hands, and deciding upon safe places to meet friends that allow proper distancing are only some of the recent dilemmas we’ve had to encounter for the first time, ever. One of the biggest changes, however, has been the shift to nearly all online schooling.

Before, parent’s wouldn’t have to actively worry about their kids during the day— they could simply send them off to school and entrust them with the school faculty and staff. Now, whether it be sharing a work-from-home space with your kids or having to find someone to watch them during the day while going off to work, there’s an added level of stress with a few extra humans in the house. However, just like all of the other predicaments COVID has handed us so far, there are many ways to combat it to create a happy home environment for all members of the family.

Seek out extra childcare help, if possible

There are several Facebook groups, like Lansing Area Childcare Connections, dedicated to connecting parents with babysitters in the area. If you have the means to do so and feel safe enough allowing another person into your home during these times, finding extra help to care for your kids during the day can lessen the stress of having to worry about helping them with their work on top of yours. Local high school and college students are also looking for this kind of work as either a side hustle or full-time gig, so there might be an abundance of child care workers seeking employment.

Work in separate rooms

If you, too, are working from home, it’s important to set up separate work areas for you and your kids. This creates a healthy physical boundary between both parties, ensuring that everyone has a dedicated space for them to focus on their work. Whether you have lengthy phone meetings with your colleagues every Monday and Wednesday afternoons or your kids are on a 7-hour-long Zoom call with the rest of their class, learning about the basics of addition and subtraction— concentration can be difficult for both you and your kids if you’re working in close quarters. Assigning designated work spaces for everyone is a productivity essential.

Develop a set household schedule

Creating separate schedules for both you and your kids, along with a general household schedule, makes working in the same house all day significantly more organized. Setting aside times for breakfast, snacks, “recess,” and even specific hours devoted to undistracted work are crucial to productivity. A schedule also serves as a reminder to your kids as to when they can and cannot distract you, too. 


Take things as they come, one day at a time

Though COVID has been around since early March, adapting to the changes it’s brought is still an immense learning curve— for everyone! Remember that neither you nor your kids are perfect, and that you’ll all learn how to work in a shared space once time goes on. Give both them and yourself a hefty dose of grace, and remember to be kind to yourself. 

— Autumn Miller, Undergraduate Intern

What You Need To Know About Abolishing ICE

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement— more commonly referred to as simply ICE— was born in 2003 under the George W. Bush administration. ICE’s purpose is to detain and deport immigrants. In fiscal year 2017, ICE deported an estimated 226,000 people and detains an average of 40,000 people every day. 

Today, ICE has over 20,000 employees and an annual budget of approximately six billion dollars—money that would be better spent if we invested in things that actually keep our communities safe, like education, health care, jobs, and infrastructure. 

Becoming a U.S. citizen is not an easy process— it requires difficult examinations, a record of a long-term physical presence in the country, and more. In addition, there’s a 140,000-person cap to how many employment-based immigrants can gain citizenship each year.

When you think about how many people overcome grueling conditions to make a better life for themselves and their families by moving to the United States, the country known worldwide for its boundless opportunities, this number is dangerously small. When folks and/or refugees from foreign countries do not follow these strict procedures that lead to the path of citizenship, oftentimes out of lack of knowledge on how to achieve it, they are deemed as simply, yet incredibly inhumanely, “illegals.” 

This is where ICE comes into the picture, wreaking havoc on communities of color and working-class communities by racially profiling and using scare tactics. Violently entering immigrants’ homes, shackling them and taking them into unmarked vehicles, they often take parents from young children, inflicting deep trauma that will last for years. This, however, is not to say that children aren’t taken either, and oftentimes have little clue as to what’s going on because they are too young to truly comprehend it. 

The very mission of ICE is at odds with values we hold dear—like treating all people with dignity and respect. An agency that was created to tear apart communities and was founded on the belief that mass deportations make our country safer cannot be reformed.  

Since its inception, ICE has routinely violated human rights. ICE agents and police officers colluding with ICE engage in racial profiling and warrantless searches, detain people without probable cause, and fabricate evidence.

Despite ICE’s long history of human rights violations, the agency has remained unaccountable to the courts, to our communities, and to Congress, which has repeatedly urged ICE to improve detention standards and address fiscal mismanagement—demands the agency has largely ignored.

Immigrants detained by ICE officers are then taken to an ICE detention center, which there are over 100 of, for an indefinite amount of time. In these establishments, men and women are often separated, but both are placed into crowded, disease-ridden conditions. They are forced to part with their belongings— prized possessions, clothing, etc.— and are given jumpsuits to wear. Oftentimes, ICE detainees are forced to part with their own names, often only being referred to by their ‘alien registration number.’ 

The intentional process of stripping autonomy and selfhood away from detainees goes much further. Malnourishment, extreme temperatures, a lack of hygienic products, and minimal protection and testing for COVID-19 weigh heavily on detainees. As if these weren’t bad enough, ICE detention centers run rampant with staff members who abuse their powers to the greatest degree. Sexual, physical, mental, and emotional violence are prevalent in their facilities.

Just recently, Georgia nurse Dawn Wooten came out and said that unnecessary hysterectomies were being performed on detainees from an outside doctor— she estimated that this happened to around 20 women over a 6-year period. Many of the women who had this done weren’t made fully aware as to why it was being done, either.

Abolishing ICE, not merely reforming it, is the only way to protect immigrant lives and keep families together. Though DACA— Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals— can often protect the children of immigrants, it is no way enough. Taking down an organization that supports white supremacy, racial profiling, for-profit prisons, and human mutilation is crucial in combating systemic racism. Human beings, regardless of where they’re born and where they go, are not illegal.

There are many alternatives to ICE, but we don’t need to have an exact blueprint for restructuring the federal government to know that ICE is an immoral, unaccountable, and dangerous agency that should be dismantled immediately. And we know we don’t need to replace ICE with more militarized enforcement.

Our immigration policy should be grounded in human rights and should build on things we know can create safe, healthy, communities—resources that help everyone thrive, not tearing loved ones apart.

Though working toward abolishing ICE will be a long and grueling process, and something that us civilians cannot do alone, there are several steps we can take in the immediate and near futures to help us achieve this:

1. Urge our members of Congress to defund and dismantle ICE.

Congress holds the purse-strings and can simply stop funding ICE. Or, they could pass legislation to abolish the agency. 

2. While working to abolish ICE, we must also disrupt its abusive agenda wherever we can.

ICE relies on cooperation from local law enforcement to round up and detain immigrants. We can pressure cities, counties, states, and schools to stop helping ICE.

3. Support immigrants in our communities.Volunteer and support efforts to provide legal services, know your rights trainings, and offer sanctuary in places of worship. Show up to witness or disrupt when ICE tries to tear members of our communities from us. Check out No Detention Centers In Michigan for more information.

Take part in Abolish ICE actions and protests in your community.

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