SHIFT: An Exercise in Coping with the 2016 Election

Editor's note: If you appreciate being able to read posts like this one, and want to ensure ANC's ability to provide more content like this, please click here to demonstrate your support and become a paid subscriber.


Today I decided to try something new on ClassPass (RIP ClassPass Unlimited—to think that just two weeks ago that was the news I was mourning). The class, called “SHIFT,” was at a yoga studio near my house and the tagline was “Invigoration + Catharsis with the volume turned up!” I had started to come out of my post-election hibernation and was in desperate need of some catharsis so I decided to give it a shot.

I am lucky to live in Portland, Oregon—a place where I can take it as a given that the strangers bagging my groceries, sitting next to me on the bus, pouring my coffee, or teaching my yoga class are weighed down by the same heartbreak over the election results. Last Wednesday felt like the entire city was having a funeral—a feeling that has not quite subsided one week later.

So I wasn’t surprised to see the words “love will prevail” etched on a chalkboard in the studio when I walked in, or that the instructor—a pregnant former figure skater—was wearing a shirt with the letters “L-O-V-E” across her chest. But I was surprised to find myself jumping up and down to Lose Yourself from the 8 Mile soundtrack and screaming with each exhale—some kind of exaggerated pranayama—twenty minutes into class. I was also surprised that this turned out to be exactly what I needed.

I was not always a Hillary supporter. There is a “Bernie Sanders is Magical” t-shirt folded in my closet right now, depicting the aforementioned senator riding a unicorn in front of a rainbow. But when the choice came to down to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, there was no question as to who I would chose. At first, it had nothing to do with the fact that Hillary was a woman, though I hate to admit that now. It was a perk, to be sure, but the bulk of my decision was based on my belief that she was, simply enough, a better option.

But then the Trump tape was released—another piece in a Tetris tower of vulgarities that I was sure had to topple eventually—and the idea of having a female president became not only a bonus, but a necessity. I wanted—needed—a nasty woman for President.

As I’m writing this, I’m aware of my privilege. I am white, well-educated, and live in a city with plenty of other white, well-educated people. I have a studio apartment and a 401K. I buy organic kale. And, as I said earlier, I’m on the ClassPass Unlimited plan. But I am also a woman, and up until last week I refused to believe that my country would elect a man who has said the things he has about women, or people of color, or immigrants, or really anyone—I’m having trouble remembering a time Donald Trump said anything nice about anybody other than himself—as President of the United States.

After I sweated and howled out some of my disbelief and despair that things did not go as planned, I laid down on my yoga mat and listened to the sound of the rain and part of a poem by a woman named Courtney Walsh. The poem went like this:

Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of…messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering.

On a different day of a different week I might have missed this poem—dismissed it as “woo-woo,” or not literary enough, or any other number of things. But today—one week since the morning I woke up and dropped my ballot off at the election office where a woman asked me to take a picture of her and her baby daughter, perched on her hip on what was supposed to be a historic day—I heard this poem and thought about the minute kindnesses that have carried me all week: the texts exchanged, the doors held open, the thank you’s, the free bus ride, the morning after the election when I was numbly waiting in line for coffee and a friend of a friend tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “How are you holding up?” The fresh box of safety pins waiting by the mailboxes in my apartment building. I thought too about the essays I’ve read by fierce women like Lena Dunham, Cheryl Strayed, Lindy West, and, yes, even Leslie Knope of Pawnee, Indiana. So many of us, flawed and fabulous, shouting in our own ways: on the page, on the streets, on yoga mats to the beat of Eminem— loud enough that our voices carry through walls.

Alisha Gorder
Originally from Redding, CA, Alisha Gorder lives and writes in Portland, OR.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

19 Responses

  1. Avatar cheyenne says:

    As a conservative and a Trump supporter even I know he will only last one term.  I like his economic proposals but, as many that voted for him, I deplore his social aspects.  The last two elections have seen a dearth of Democratic voters voting.  As the Dems seem to be overhauling their party maybe they will bring their whole team to the upcoming elections.  The only team that wins with half their team playing are the Denver Broncos, except when they play the Raiders.

  2. R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    Sorry for your loss. I think you’re going to find that President Trump is not the sexist, racist, xenophobe he’s been tarred and feathered to be by the mainstream media and the getting more shameful by the day Democratic Party. At some point, the losing side is going to have to stop grieving and start a dialogue. Some already are. Perhaps focus on infrastructure projects that could do some good in Portland. There’s federal money coming your way. Don’t ask what you can do for Mr. Trump. As what Mr. Trump can do for you. He’s on Twitter.

    • Avatar Rod says:

      So many heartbroken people, as result of the election, are discovering their choice was female.  Well, yeah the guy won.  I think he won because of a simple cause…….he can do the job.

      The time of a Madame President is still evolving in America. We decided, not yet, we’re not civilized enough.  I feel comfortable with my new President.  He’s not alone up on the podium.

      When we organize a following or the very least, a credible platform populated by women politicians, the votes will be there in mass.  The future is wide open, the Hillary Brand of Presidential politics wasn’t good enough.  The best candidate won, I hope it will always be that way.


    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      Although I’m all up for a good dialogue, I’m kind of surprised that you’d say that Trump is not the racist he’s been accused of being after his alignment with Steve Bannon, appointing him as his chief strategist.

    • Avatar Christian Gardinier says:

      Alisha, well written article! R.V. Most of the sexist, racist, xenophobe diatribe……………… came from his moth. I know he often does not tell the truth but his actions since he was elected simply re-enforce what he has been saying all along. Yeah, at some point its got to come to Don’t Mourn…Organize! We do not EVER have to accept what Trump is dishing out!

  3. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    ENOUGH about the politics . . . . none of us, not the media, not the sooth-sayers, not the pontificators,  NONE of us have a crystal ball. And, like most all of history, none of it becomes clear until given many years of hindsight. . . . and sometimes not even then. So, back to this piece of writing: The poem you referenced had me teary-eyes, then the last paragraph made me laugh right out loud. Too much woo-woo, indeed . . . but sometimes that’s exactly what “gets us through!” Thanks for your article. And maybe I should just move to Portland rather than Canada. . . . but then, Justin Trudeau is awfully cute.

    • Avatar Rod says:

      Wrong, we’re still sifting through the ashes of a societal crash/burn.

      As you clearly point out…….you’ll migrate towards the awfully cute…….not the best choice for the job.  But now that I recall, I adored the Reagan presidency and the person.  Yeah, we’re enjoying the differences and we should continue to follow our emotions.


  4. Avatar K. Beck says:

    The “guy” won because the Democrats have left behind the people they are supposed to be representing. The Clintons are NOT Democrats, they are the New Republicans. Clinton I crashed the economies of over half the countries in the world. He outsourced most of the jobs available for people without college degrees. And the Dems in the Senate & House were more than happy to goose step right behind him. They have lost their base. Clinton II would have been more of the same. People might not have college degrees but they are not stupid. She lost, not because she was a woman. She lost because she is a Republican. I guess folks thought if they were going to get a Republican for President they might as well have one who called himself a Republican. Neither of the Clintons are willing to take responsibility for their actions, any of their actions. Neither are fit to hold the office of President. Hillary didn’t understand the immense size of that “basket of deplorables.” Now she is blaming Comey. It just never ends with those two. PLEASE, just let them both fade into the past.

    • Avatar Rod says:

      Yes, she did loose because she is a woman.  A great woman.  It was close, she is possibly ahead of her calling by a single election cycle.

    • Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

      The POTUS doesn’t “outsource jobs”.  Business owners are responsible for sending jobs and factories to other countries.

  5. Avatar Barbara Grosch says:

    Thanks for sharing, Alisha.  I hope we can all speak up for those who need our kindness, strength and support.  Well written.

  6. Avatar Peggy Elwood says:

    Thank you Alisha and A.J.

  7. Avatar Bob says:

    Alisha,  It was a pleasure and a joy to read your piece.  I am proud to have been a small part of your life as you grew up in Redding.  Do wear your safety pin proudly proclaiming that you provide safety and protection for those threatened by the loveless motivations of our time.

  8. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    Alisha, I too am experiencing some pretty intense post-election grief. Not necessarily because Hillary lost (although I would’ve really liked to have had a female given the honor of being our nation’s leader, but I voted for someone else in the primary). My grief is because our nation has degraded to a point where half of us are willing to overlook all of his nasty deeds, threats and accusations of criminal fraud and alliances with bigots. I can’t just say, “Aw shucks, he won, let’s all give him a round of applause.” I’m mourning the death of decency and progress. I’ll write about it more tomorrow, but I want you to know that I hear you and support you.

  9. Avatar JeffG says:

    Bernie is every bit as xenophobic as Trump, he just was more PC about his brand of protectionism.


    Meanwhile, peaceful & tolerant democrats have been beating up Trump supporters in Portland, OR; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; & Houston, TX.  Who could have guessed that calling a man hateful over and over might make children think it was OK to suspend civility?


    And for the record, I think Trump is almost as bad as he’s been made out — I just think Clinton was every bit as terrible.  Two big-government New Yorkers known for their corruption (one buying favors, the other selling) — the only difference between them is whose civil liberties were on the chopping block.  Some choice America…

  10. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    Thanks for the great article Alisha.  One thing I remembered recently is what my college roommate Karon told me years ago.  She said she’d rather deal with an admitted racist than someone pretending they weren’t racist.  At least she knew where she stood with that person.

    I hopeful that our new president doesn’t stoop to the ugly statements that private citizen Trump got away with saying about women and minorities and well….everyone almost.

    Again, thank you for your well written piece.

  11. And now it’s a whole book.* Endorsed by Elizabeth Gilbert.


    *proudly and stubbornly woowoo 😉

    Courtney A. Walsh