Dear friends and neighbors,
As the year winds down, I’m guessing most of us are pretty ready to say goodbye to 2020. This has been a tough year for so many, including right here in our community. The struggles people are experiencing – unemployment, financial hardship, housing insecurity, health challenges, isolation from loved ones, stress around remote work and school – are very real.
This week marked the winter solstice: the shortest day of the year with the least daylight. Reaching this point means we have now turned a corner, and each new day going forward brings us a little more light.
Likewise, there is hopeful news as we look ahead. The COVID-19 vaccine is being deployed in our state right now, starting with our frontline health care workers, first responders, and those in congregate care settings. And state lawmakers are gearing up to begin the 2021 legislative session next month to address our state’s most pressing issues, including pandemic response, economic recovery, climate change, and racial equity.
As I said in my last e-newsletter, the coming session will look very different than previous ones because it will be conducted remotely. But it’s how we’ll do the people’s work safely and transparently while continuing to make progress in fighting this pandemic and reopening our economy.
I wish you and those you love a safe and healthy holiday season. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions, comments, and concerns.
Coping with COVID during the holidays
Staying socially connected while remaining physically distant during this pandemic has been challenging for many of us. Some are using video chat programs to keep in touch with friends and family, but even technology can’t make up for being apart during the holidays.
Maybe you’ve had to have tough conversations with family and friends about how to celebrate while making sure everyone feels safe. Our state’s Department of Health (DOH) experts have pulled together a short podcast with some tips on how to navigate challenging COVID conversations:
- Listen proactively by asking open-ended questions, and shifting away from giving advice or problem solving.
- Set boundaries by being clear about what makes you feel safe and when you need to step back from the conversation.
- Regulate your reactions by taking time to pause and resisting the natural urge to respond quickly and emotionally.
- Own your mistakes by taking responsibility if you say something harsh and normalizing that mistakes will happen in times of intense stress.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, families or people trained in behavioral health. The WA Listens support line (1-833-681-0211) is free, anonymous, available in multiple languages and happy to guide you to support.
These conversations are not easy. But they’re necessary to keep each other safe while staying connected.
And if you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or sad, know that you are not alone. If you need help coping during the holidays, Washington state DOH has mental health resources as does NAMI Pierce County.
Getting ready for the 2021 session
With remote session, people will have more opportunities to engage with the legislature than ever before. You can still watch committee hearings and floor action, contact your lawmakers, and testify on bills. And for the first time, you will be able to submit written testimony via an online portal that will be entered as part of the official record.
Here are five ways to get involved in the legislative process:
Watch—Go to TVW.org for broadcasts of debates, votes, committee meetings, and other events in the House and Senate. There’s also an extensive archive of past events, if you couldn’t watch it live.
Research—To look up legislation by lawmaker or topic, visit app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/
Testify—The House will soon unveil that online portal for written testimony mentioned above. Stay tuned for more information, or contact my office we’ll help keep you informed about how to submit testimony to legislative committees.