Explosive Potential

Explosive Potential

Hura polyandra, otherwise known as the "Arbol del Diablo" - the "Devil's Tree,"

Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf

The Avoidant

How having an avoidant attachment style has kept me safe and ultimately single 

I’m reading this book called Attached – The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S. F. Heller, M.A and I sort of hate it because I can't deny that it’s got me fairly pegged. Turns out I fall into the category of a person with “avoidant” tendencies - highly independent, self-sufficient and autonomous, which doesn’t, or at least hasn’t yet translated into a meaningful, long-term relationship. Assessing my relationship track record, it’s interesting to reflect back on past partners and to understand to a certain degree why we, or more often than not “I,” parted ways.

The Avoidant, the Anxious and the Secure

As a person with a predominantly avoidant attachment style, I’ve often found myself in a waltz with people that the book refer to as “anxious” partners - seemingly hypersensitive individuals whose behaviors activate in me a perceived impingement upon my psychic and physical territory, which usually results in me cutting loose and hitting the road. I can also see that the handful of times I’ve had my heart crushed beyond recognition it was pulverized by another “avoidant,” who’s skittish tendencies clashed with my own in an effort to remain cage-free while simultaneously triggering in me an anxious response. Had these intimacy-repellent men not axed me first, I more than likely would have let them go eventually because that’s what people with avoidant tendencies do - we find ways to disengage and minimize closeness to avoid the sensation of being trapped.

How we develop attachment patterns

Where do these attachment tendencies come from? According to Attachment Theory, pioneered by British psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby, the first moments, hours, days and weeks of a newborn’s life are critical in the development of their attachment patterns and suggest that a person’s long and short-term interpersonal relationships are derived from a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver... generally one's mother. I recently learned that my first week of life was spent in a hospital incubator recovering from severe jaundice, handled and bottle fed every few hours in between rounds of phototherapy. I didn’t breastfeed, and instead went immediately to the bottle, so by the time my mom brought me home I was already a miniature-sized autonomous unit. Although I love my family dearly, I wouldn't say that I grew up within an overly intimate, emotionally nurturing or affectionate environment. So knowing how I initially came into the world and the family culture in which I developed, it’s no surprise that I would grow into a fiercely independent, self-sufficient and sovereign being that in general would trend more toward short-term relationships or the psychological comfort of flying solo. 

The importance of self-acceptance and compassion

It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m a person with avoidant tendencies and I feel guilty for the impact my behavior has had on some of my past relationships, but recognition and understanding are the first steps toward seeing patterns, making new choices and creating new possibilities.  Self-acceptance is critical, as is having compassion for the baby girl, the child, the teenager, and the woman I've become. We've done the best that we could with the tools and circumstances we were given, and although attachment styles are considered to be stable, scientists believe that they are also malleable. It feels vulnerable to share these insights into my attachment style and patterning, especially when those who know me best will undoubtedly agree that I have a fairly solid record of being avoidant. Down the hallway of my deepest insecurities I can hear their voices echo "she can't commit, she's flighty,"  or "she's flaky"  - sentiments I've heard many times over the years and have always been very sensitive to.

Where to now?

With this knowledge, where do I go from here? What do people hard-wired to lean more in the direction of avoidance do to create the intimacy and love they simultaneously crave and desire?

Dismantle the belief that the grass is always greener

It's not. My family calls this phenomenon "red ball, blue ball, green ball." She's playing with the red ball and then NOPE! She's over the red ball and is on to the blue ball. NEVER MIND! Done with blue... on to green. Whether I’m referring to a partner, a job, the town in which I’m living or the activity I’m involved in, I tend to experience low-grade restlessness and a feeling that just over the next hill or around the next bend there’s something better, more right, more real and more in alignment with my highest good. Pursuing this path has made for an extremely colorful life filled with many different experiences and adventures, but it also maintains a subtle level of dissatisfaction with the present moment and the current blessings right in front of my face. 

Take a breath and remind yourself that your'e not trapped

Perhaps the most telling avoidant tendency I feel is that the walls are constantly closing in around me whenever people get too close or when they ask for too much. A friend wants to know what time we’re meeting tomorrow… the feeling of walls closing in. My neighbor wants to make plans to play music…. the feeling of walls closing in. Someone needs a ride to the airport… walls. Whenever my freedom is seemingly threatened I experience the knee-jerk response of feeling like I need to protect my time and space when really, my community is simply making an attempt to know me, to be with me and to create intimacy through shared experience. In short, they're merely attempting to be my friend. 

Let go of the myth that you're better off alone

For a long time I’ve nurtured the idea that I’m too much of a unicorn to be matched up with another person in any kind of sustainable way. I’m too challenging, too strong, too independent, too much of this and too much of that. It’s a brilliant avoidant strategy because it perfectly insulates me from intimacy and closeness. It’s a self-perpetuating myth that simply isn’t true. Yes, I may be challenging and strong and independent, but I’m not better off alone. I may be hard-wired for avoidance, but I’m also human and for as much as I resist it, I crave intimacy, touch, affection, love, kindness and emotional connection like oxygen.

Stop doing it all by yourself

It’s easier to just do things my own way. Then I don’t have to deal with the inevitable inconvenience of other people’s shit. I get things done quicker, more efficiently and without having to compromise. This is a great attitude if you live on the moon, but I live in the world, with people, and doing everything as a lone wolf removes the richness of collaboration and the experience of shared joy and connection. Doing everything by myself is safe, but it’s lonely, and in life, a burden shared is a burden halved. As Chris McCandless wrote in his journal before he died in the book and movie Into the Wild, "Happiness [is] only real when shared." 

The future looks bright

According to the book Attached, I will ultimately do well with a partner who comes equipped with a “secure” attachment style – someone comfortable with intimacy, who naturally seeks closeness and who doesn’t see vulnerability as a trap. A person who can provide a secure base for me to return to after my avoidant attachment system inevitably kicks in. Someone who after full disclosure of my avoidant nature can be patient and compassionate and who will, as my friend Josh says, “let me buck.” With deeper introspection, by staring some challenging self-truths in the face and acknowledging and sitting in the sump of my discomforts, I’m hopeful that a rogue baby unicorn like myself can find longstanding love in in this life – love with space, air, light, openness, freedom and a mutual understanding of each other’s attachment styles and tendencies.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai

 

 

 

Structure and Thrive

Structure and Thrive

How creating structure allows this wild thing to grow

My kind of cage

The art of architecture studies not structure in itself, but the effect of structure on the human spirit.
— Geoffrey Scott

I can’t recall where I first heard the idea that you can raise a child in the same way you can grow tomatoes within a wire cage, but I liked it immediately. Tomatoes love a good cage.  Wire, wood, bamboo – they'll be happy with anything that provides good structure and support to leaf out and burst forth in a mad bramble of foliage and fruit. The cylindrical tomato cage with its wide-meshed sides and breezy open space allows for upward and outward mobility and full, steady growth while bolstering the spine of the plant, allowing it to focus on leaf production, flower development and the manufacture of juicy red orbs.  The structure of the tomato cage provides necessary support for the growing plant but doesn't box it in. Quite the contrary, it keeps the plant from sagging and breaking, dragging and rotting.

Semi-permeable structure

As a rather feral creature I do well within a loose, semi-permeable structural and porous perimeter. Without it, I flail and my creativity and productivity, like an un-caged tomato plant sags, breaks, drags and rots. However, when enclosed within the shrinking walls of too much structure I feel trapped and cornered,  eagle-eyeing holes in the fence where I can make my escape and run wild once again. As an adult, I’m learning to erect an airy edifice for myself, one that gently holds me, like a hand-caught bird, more cupped than squeezed. One with windows enough that I can lean my elbows upon a ledge to gaze out, but through which I can scramble down the trellis wall to run around beneath the moon if I so desire. I do well within the confines of a safe haven to which I can always return, but with a swinging door, never seeking to entrap me within.

Professional structure and harvesting fruit

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
— Albert Einstein

For me, professionally, structure looks like scheduled things… Spanish class twice a week, yoga on Thursdays, recurring calls with clients on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, a Skype with my mentor on Tuesdays, arising at 7am, in bed by 11pm and setting the alarm to sit and write and work for an hour at a time, an hour at a time and an hour at a time. Within the liberal freedom of a cylindrical mesh cage my metaphorical tomato plant inches ever upward and in the space between the wires I surf, dance and drink wine with friends. I live and enjoy the bright red fruits of my labor as they ripen and grow plump. 

What structures help you thrive?

How much do you need to grow, to flourish and to bear fruit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do it Scared

Do it Scared

Insight into how to live bravely

In September of this year I was interviewed by the lovely Danielle Schnakenberg and Liza Wilde, of the Do it Scared Podcast about walking through the sticky slop of self-doubt and fear to accomplish a lifelong dream... rafting the Grand Canyon.

Funny to hear myself speak on something I'm now on the other side of, and so great to know that I said I would do something and I did it. It's not always that I feel great pride in my accomplishments, but for this, I'm pretty stoked. 

You can listen to the interview by clicking the link below...

 

 

How to Proceed

How to Proceed

What to do now that the election eclipse has passed

I keep searching for some wise elder grandmother whose lap I can crawl into for solace. Someone who can tell me, "Sweetheart, we've been here before... we made it through... all will be well." But then I realize... all the wise grandmothers I know are equally stunned and silenced and these are unprecedented times. We've never been here before, experiencing this particular constellation of circumstances, conditions and social and environmental pressures.

Yesterday we held an election, Donald Trump won, certain values that I don't personally relate to triumphed, and now our bisected nation has to figure out how to proceed with dignity and courage. I believe in the inevitability of progress so I'm going to focus on licking my wounds, acknowledging the facts of the situation and moving forward with grace. I'm not transplanting to Canada, I'm not surrendering my values or what I see as possible for our country and our species and I don't feel defeated... just deeply challenged and fairly surprised.

For the people who saw Trump/Pence as a solution to their dissatisfaction with the state of American and worldly affairs... congratulations. You won this match and I hope you feel heard and seen and acknowledged, because you're opinions and values matter just as much as mine or anybody else's. For the people who viewed Trump/Pence as an impediment to all viable forms of progress... I feel your frustration and the overwhelming sensation of backsliding. We've been dealt a blow, but my friends, please, let's not die on this hill.

Four years from now, in August of 2020 we celebrate 100 years of women's suffrage and later that year in November we elect a new leader. I see this as a new dawn, not without challenges, but ripe with opportunity. Until then, we've got work to do, holding the line on what we've striven so hard to accomplish and moving the needle forward toward growth and progressive evolution while also listening to and dialoguing with those who differ from us in value and vision for the future of our country. My eyes are open and my mind is sharp. I'm ready to move... ready to take personal responsibility wherever possible and most importantly, I'm committed to not losing heart. The work begins immediately and for me it's all internal.

So come on... no more jokes about the world ending because Donald Trump got elected - unless we're having a candid discussion about climate change, in which case, such jokes aren't so far fetched. Instead, let's be classy, braver than ever before, innovative, creative, positive, dignified, strong, united, maintaining of a sense of humor and above all else... kind.

4 Helpful Tips for No Longer Giving a Flying Shit

4 Helpful Tips for No Longer Giving a Flying Shit

How does one come to no longer give a shit?

I'm not exactly sure when it happened - if I awoke from a dream or emerged from some type of feverish state, but this year... my 35th year of life... has been a banner year for realizing that

I don't give a flying shit about what other people think of me or what I do with my life.

I'm not breaking any new ground with this concept. Mark Manson eloquently referenced it  last year in his essay, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, George Carlin, may he rest in peace, discussed the importance of not giving a shit in a 2011 Emmy TV Legends Interview, and Howard Stern built an entire career on the premise of brazen authenticity.  No, this is not a leap of consciousness for humanity, but it has been a leap of consciousness for me. The sensation of not giving a shit registers in my brain as a delightful opiate, flooding my experience of life with the same free-falling bliss as eating a doughnut or having a jaw-shattering orgasm. It's entirely addictive, and I unabashedly want to slam more of it into my veins like cheap street crack. 

I can't recall the exact moment of metamorphosis. Maybe it was in December when I almost went Thelma & Louise off of an icy cliff on my way to a job that didn't pay enough. Perhaps it was in February in response to having a good friend drop dead at the age of 39 from a heart attack. Come to think of it, it was probably in April when I participated in a 4-day transformational workshop that had me inquire into how often I'm inauthentic in my life. Yes, I believe that was the beginning, when I realized that I'm inauthentic, full of crap, passive aggressive, lame as shit and totally fake a lot of the time. 

From there, not giving a shit expanded and swelled like a rampaging rhino bitch of unbridled ferocity that wasn't slowing down for anyone or for any reason. Don't get me wrong, there's kindness here. There's goodness and gentleness and I do care about people and things in the world. I'm not a total sociopath. I'm a kind, good-hearted, generous and thoughtful person, and on and on and on until you barf, but it's fucking true. I genuinely own all of that. The goodness and the kindness hasn't gone away, it just expresses itself in a far more genuine manner than ever before. I no longer do things that I don't want to do out of a sense of obligation. Nor do I bend myself into origami knots of resentment doing things that just plain and simply don't feel right. I don't say things that you're "supposed" to say anymore. I don't withhold things that you're "not supposed" to share. I don't bottle up feelings that are "impolite" to express.

I go for it. Balls out. 

If people disagree with me, that's not my concern. If people want to spend time with me and I don't feel that it's in my best interest to spend time with them, that's also not my concern. What I've realized is that there's a whole universe of things that are not my concern, and dropping them feels like, well, dropping a huge load... which you can interpret in whatever way you'd like, because again, not my concern. 

Life for me is perfectly and ironically juxtaposed with the most exquisite bullshit and the most obscene privilege. I don't deserve any of this privilege, not even for a millisecond, and this truth has become a type of mantra. I'm not special. I'm no better than anyone else, anywhere, and newsflash - neither are you.

We all shit brown and we all bleed red. Period. Pun intended.

For me, not giving a shit is like having an existential, spiritual communion with the truth. I'm not interested in harming others or intentionally being an ass. I don't get off on hurting other people's feelings or poking the bear in the zoo by purposefully digging into someone's deeply entrenched beliefs, regardless of how idiotic they may be. That shit's no longer worth my life force, which brings me to my 4 helpful tips:

1. We're All Going to Die

Roll that one around for a sec because it's true. We. Are. All. Going. To. Die. So who fucking cares about what some asshole thinks about you or what you said or didn't say, or what you did or didn't do? I promise you, either today or tomorrow or a week from now or when you're 39 or 44 or 56, 61, 72, 83, 97 or 101.... you're gonna croak and die, so stop living like people's approval of you actually matters. It doesn't, because they're as good as dead, too. 

2. Nobody Actually Cares

Another reason you shouldn't give a shit about what other people think of you is that they're most likely totally and completely and utterly consumed with their own psychosis of wondering what YOU are thinking about THEM. They're not listening to you, pretty much ever. ATTENTION! We interrupt this broadcast to let you know that They, otherwise known as everyone on the planet, are devoutly listening to their own internal transmission... the beepity beep beep beep of their precious and dramatic life saga. Your story is merely an unimportant distraction. Sorry. 

3. Everyone's Projecting onto Everyone Else

As a bonus, when someone's judging you, which feels ever so special, they're really just using you as a whipping boy for their own emotional projections. Repeat after me children, "Projection." Learn it, know it, live it, and then cease to give a shit in its midst. 

4. And Why the Fuck Not?

To put it succinctly.... why the fuck not live authentically? Why not just BE you and DO you to fullest extent and let the chips fall where they may? Why not let people deal with you in your most unapologetic form? Why not live and be and embody and own everything your gloriously unique mind, body and spirit demands? Why, I ask you? And I demand that you ask yourself... Why? 

In conclusion

I'd like to invite you all into the Nirvanic ecstasy that is no longer giving a flying shit.  As mentioned above, you have no idea how long you've got in this joint. You could develop a sudden and inexplicably life-threatening allergy to something random tomorrow or you could be vehicularly slammed by a texting yoga mom on your way to a movie. There's no way of knowing, there are no guarantees, nobody knows a thing about what's actually going on or what's actually going to happen, so allow me to extend a dainty, Victorian lace-gloved hand in your direction, inviting you to please, knock that crap off - stop caring so much about what others think of you and no longer give a flying shit. 

Amen. 

You are the Average

You are the Average

 

I’ve heard it a million times – an oft-repeated quote by entrepreneur and business philosopher, Jim Rohn...

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Based on that average, I like who I am. I spend the bulk of my week with my two dogs, my personal trainer friend Silvia who kicks my ass on Mondays and Wednesdays, my good friend Liz, who I walk with in the evenings and on a weekly call with my accountability buddy, Rebecca. Weekends are a different story… a mash-up of friends meeting for some live music, a hike or a backyard BBQ, but the workweek is voluntarily spent in near isolation besides the above-mentioned 5 souls.

During the workweek I’m WORKING - writing mostly, and I’ve discovered that besides my top 5 beings, I’m also likely the sum of the top 5 podcasts I burn through each week. What genius invented podcasts? I’d like to lay a fat, sloppy kiss on them in gratitude for the level of audible quality I consume daily that enriches my life a million-fold. Here’s a little ode to my top 5 favorites…

1. The Savage Lovecast

My acceptance and appreciation of the broad spectrum of human sexuality and relationship styles, as well as the enhancement of my own sex-positive attitude is due to the brilliant, hilarious and fabulous, Mr. Dan Savage and his Savage Lovecast. May he live forever. Amen.

2. Being Boss

The spritely banter between Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon on Being Boss empowers me to be a sexy, colorful badass female entrepreneur. From the humble and generous offerings of these business savvy foxes, I glean valuable insight into being “boss as shit” in all areas of life. Listening to their weekly show has unlocked doors of entrepreneurial awesomeness that I never previously knew existed. In short, I heart them.

3. The School Greatness

Lewis Howes is a champion athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and on his show he interviews heavy-hitting guests like Lisa Nichols, Larry King, Gary V, Tony Robbins, Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Gilbert and Stacey London. Having been listening for almost a year now, it hasn't sucked being regularly mentored by such inspiring icons of success, savoring their answers to some of life’s most profound questions.

4. Conversations with Gangaji

I eagerly await each new Conversations with Gangaji episode so that I may sit monthly at the feet of one of my favorite spiritual teachers. Since I first heard her speak back in 2004, she’s been helping me break the human experience down in meaningful and tangible ways. Best of all, she seems to exist outside the realm of ego - a refreshing unicorn among spiritual celebrities.

5. Conversation with Alanis Morisette

I hadn’t expected to enjoy this podcast as much as I do, but the verbal-linguistic intelligence housed within Alanis Morissette is absolutely mindboggling. Eloquent, well-spoken and hyperconscious, listening to Alanis and her exemplary guests is like sitting before a panel of the world’s most notable therapists, evolutionary psychologists and psychiatrists. Top-notch therapeutic inquiry… for free.

So there you have it. If I am indeed the average of the five beings I spend most of my time with, along with the influence of the 5 podcasts I listen to most regularly, then I’d say I’ve got a fairly well-rounded buffet of inspiration to draw from.

Questions to Ponder

  • Who are the top 5 people you spend the majority of your time with?
  • How do they positively or perhaps not-so-positively impact you?
  • Is there room to add a new person to the mix or change things up a bit?
  • What other sources feed you creatively, spiritually, mentally and professionally throughout your week?

Thanks for reading.

I'd love to read your comments below.

Cheers!

How to Leave a Legacy

How to Leave a Legacy

In a recent episode of The School of Greatness podcast, host Lewis Howes interviewed legendary television and radio host Larry King about the staggering 60,000 interviews he’s conducted over the course of his lifetime. 60,000 interviews. A bit hard to fathom, but as King says, “I’ve interviewed everybody.” Sitting for so many decades with royalty, heroes, celebrities, sports icons, international leaders, 8 US presidents and everyday people like you and me, King has run the full gamut of the human experience and weighed in on 6 decades of international affairs. He’s a time capsule and a superb storyteller who lends respect and dignity to all who sit his opposite. I wanna be like Larry when I grow up. I want to impart a fraction of his impact.

As I listen to his memories of having been raised in the golden age of radio and then experiencing the later transition into television broadcasting, I smile knowing that he links me to my great-grandparents, my grandparents, my parents, my own generation and our newest batch of young people. Through his interviews, he reminds me that everyone’s story is extraordinary, valid and worthy of a listen. As a writer I’m deeply moved by the path of excellence he’s blazed, having left such a swath of value, depth, respect, quality and reverence for the stories of us... people.

He reminds me to ask questions, to stay curious, to remain humble, and perhaps the greatest lesson he imparts… to listen. Says King, "I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening." 

What a life the bespectacled Brooklyn native has lived and what a legacy he continues to leave. At 82 he’s prolific as ever, interviewing everyone from Sir Anthony Hopkins to Neil deGrasse Tyson, Betty White and the Dalai Lama on his Larry King Now Ora.TV show online. 

I invite you to listen to The School of Greatness podcast interview with Larry, Episode 361. It's good. And check him out on Larry King Now - also good. His legacy of 60,000+ interviews, having born witness to the lives of so many human stories throughout 6 agonizing and ecstatic decades has me wondering what mark I want to leave on this joint. He set an unreachable bar, but I'm gonna stand on my tiptoes and see how high I can strive. In the end, perhaps that's all that really matters.   

CHANGE - to make or become different

CHANGE - to make or become different

There are a whole lot of bumper stickery quotes out there pertaining to change, and none of them do a goddamn thing for me. I don’t do well with the phenomenon of change, and yet, from time to time I crave it like the most urgent and mandatory nutrient. It’s a funny conundrum that drives me a bit mad, but change is like Morse Code to my future, tapping unrelenting and deliberate at the window. Resistance is futile when it comes to change. It’s hot on your heels, sniping you down, sniffing you out, no matter how far and deep you burrow into patterns and tracks of familiarity. You’re doomed, so it’s best to acquiesce, surrender and do as change says.

At my window it’s been knocking for a while, and I know that it knows that I know it’s coming for me. Life’s been feeling too routine as of late, too easy, too predictable, and ultimately, too fucking boring. The time has come to bust a move, to step off the oft-trodden path in order to bend fresh blades of grass beneath my feet and to kick up new whirls of dust. I live in a lovely place, surrounded by lovely views, in a community of lovely people. It’s all just so friggin’ lovely that it makes me want to crawl out of my twitching skin.

My eyes need to scan an unfamiliar vista and dilate a fresh, crisp scene. My ears need to absorb hot mint sounds from a world unknown. My tongue needs to linger on palabras y phrases y verbos nuevos en Español, to curl with the timber and lilt of an unpracticed language. My aquiline nose needs to soak in the breath of unfamiliar markets and beaches and jungles and flesh. My hands, my feet, my body need to animate through new space and my heart needs to fall in love with mystery again. And so I’m leaving. I’m taking the hand of change in mine and heading south, across the border to Mexico for the winter.

Come to think of it, there is a quote about change that I’m fond of. It’s by writer Elizabeth Gilbert, and she calls it “The Physics of the Quest — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum.”

It goes like this…

“If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you."

So yeah, change. Brace yourself. It’s on its way. Vaya con dios amigos. 

An Interview with Michael Franti

An Interview with Michael Franti

Imagine my absolute delight when I discovered that the 6'6" powerhouse of love and positivity was not only coming to perform in Durango, CO, but that I would have the privilege of interviewing him. I can't think of a better person to connect with for my first Carve Deeper Content Podcast episode.

Having turned 50 this year, the man is refreshingly human, through and through - totally unaffected by his celebrity despite the fact that he's an internationally loved musician, singer/songwriter, spoken word poet, rapper, filmmaker and advocate for a wide spectrum of environmental and social justice topics. His music is thought provoking, moving, enlivening, ass shaking, soulful and often confronting. 

Listen to his words and be moved to choose positivity, to be grateful, to connect, to dance, to be brave and to always, always turn toward love. 

For more information about Michael Franti and Spearhead, visit www.MichaelFranti.com and for information about his Do It For The Love Foundation, which grants live music concert wishes to people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans, visit www.doitforthelove.org.

I believe in the power of positivity, and positivity is not something you’re born with. It’s something you have to practice.
— Michael Franti

Challenge Your Own Racism

Challenge Your Own Racism

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

As though I needed another reason to love and adore sex columnist Dan Savage and his Savage Love podcast, last week he produced a profound show, offering his African American listeners an opportunity to speak their minds about what it’s like to be black at this current juncture in American history, and to weigh in on the Black Lives Matter Movement. As a white woman I was both humbled and heartened listening to their words. I invite you to follow the invitation of one of these African American callers, who said, If you’re not a black person, shut up and listen to us for a minute.”

 Here’s some of what they had to say, and I highly recommend listening to the entirety of this most excellent Savage Lovecast Episode 508

Caller 1 - Watching what’s happening in my home from Japan, I can’t describe it. It makes me think of being a child watching the Nazis and watching news of them I would ask myself, “How can people see this and let it happen?” And now I’m watching this happen to people I love and care for and I can’t describe to you the rage and the sadness and the depression that it causes me. All I ask is that people do something, whether it’s looking at the companies you work for and demanding that they do something, boycotting them and not buying their products or just letting people know that you care. History will look at us, look at everyone and say, what did you do? I just ask everyone to do something that matters and try to heal those who are angered, enraged and maybe even enraged at you. Just be kind and care and protect them. Please, protect them.

Caller 2 - Every time I see a guy killed on the news it reminds me of how I lost my brother to a cop shooting at his job. The cop was drunk and my brother had gotten into an altercation with his manager. He was unarmed, yet the guy shot him while my mom was outside waiting for him. This happened 10 years ago and it’s been hell in my family since then. When I see these things in the news I just know that it’s because they’re judging us before they even get to know us.

 Caller 3 - One of the bigger things to understand is that black people are not treated as human beings in this country and we never have been. We were sold as livestock and if you look at the Dred Scott decision, we’ve been told since day 1 that the promises made by this country didn’t apply to us. What’s more damning about America is the silence of my white liberal friends, the ones who want to call me and tell me how much they’re sorry about what happened, but I don’t see them even standing up to their racist uncle at Thanksgiving. The ones who share my posts on Facebook and then when something completely racist is commented on, they want to say, “Well, I’m not here to argue.” Well guess what? Black people can’t fix racism. White people have to do it. I’m gay, and gay people wanted me to stand up for Orlando, but where are those same gay men now? They’re silent. Being black in American is characterized by pain, and fear and by rejection. Being black and queer is characterized by all of that, but also alienation because we don’t even fit into our own community. So if you want to do something, challenge your own racism and challenge the racism of people who are close to you. Make sure there are social consequences for people who treat us like we’re not human. I don’t want to hear another apology and I don’t want to see any more white tears. I want to see some white action.

Caller 4 - It’s a really hard time for those of us with white friends. Their outrage is new because now there are video cameras, and the white privilege of their outrage is frustrating, so they should tread lightly right now.

Caller 5 - With regards to what white people can do in a society that often brutalizes black people - you can lend your privilege. White people have privilege and they have access to benefits like jobs and education and wealth. You can lend that, by for example, if you’re someone who routinely writes recommendations for kids who go off to college. Find a black kid who’s a great student and write a recommendation for him or her. If you’re someone who people come to for a summer job or maybe even a full time job, find a black kid who’s hardworking, who’s in your network and offer him or her a job. By lending your privilege, you can help spread the access that whiteness brings to black people who are often blocked out of that access. Police brutalize black people because we lack economic privilege. One of the ways to overcome that is to economically empower people of color. White people, you can do that by lending your privilege.

Caller 6 - I feel like a lot of people are threatened by the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the only thing that we’re actually trying to convey is that we matter, too. There’s really no reason to be threatened by that movement and it’s really something that everyone who has an interest in equal rights for all human beings should be able to get behind and not feel radical for taking that position. Black Lives Matter has been made to seem like this really radical anti-law enforcement type of organization or movement and that’s just not true. I really hope that everyone will wake up and see that this is a human rights issue, plain and simple, and I just hope that things get better from here.

Caller 7 - Thank you for understanding that black people need a space to be able to speak out about what’s going on right now because I’m connected to a lot of people on Facebook and we’re not being heard by a lot of our friends. I can tell you, that as horrible as it is to have to endure the situations of all of these shootings and killings of black men who are innocent and not even able to survive their arrests - as horrible as that is to have to endure the racism in this country - it’s almost worse having to be friends with white liberals right now who don’t shut the fuck up and give us the space to be angry about this. I got into a fight with somebody online because they were saying "All Lives Matter," because for some reason Black Lives Matter isn’t protesting peacefully enough for them, and I was like, “Fuck You! We’re upset! We’re angry!” It’s very, very difficult, so the thing I would like to have out there for those who aren't minorities, people who have not gone through this situation, is for them to shut the fuck up and listen. Listen to us. Stand next to us, hold our hands, have our backs, get behind us and be with us, absolutely. I don't care if you’re married to a black person, I don't care if you’ve had a child with a black person, I don’t care if you’re standing next to a black person or if you’ve spent the last 2 summers and 3 years in Africa. If you’re not a black person, shut up and listen to us for a minute.

Caller 8 - As a black man, I’m afraid of the police. Let that sink in. When I see a cop, I don’t feel comfortable, which is a shame, because as a law-abiding citizen of this country who doesn’t have a record, I should feel comfortable. But given the police’s history with unarmed black men, I just don’t trust them. However, it’s not only black men who have suffered at the hands of the police. Let’s not forget about women like Sandra Bland and Yvette Smith and also members of the LGBTQ community, whose suffering goes largely unreported. Also, I have to disagree with your statement that people should be forced to watch these videos. Personally, I can’t watch anymore of these videos because it’s traumatizing for me to see people of my skin color get killed for no reason. Philando Castile was murdered 24 hours after Alton Sterling and that day I was sitting at my desk at work fighting back tears. Because through these acts of violence we are constantly being told that we don’t matter, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Black Lives Matter. And to anyone who tries to silence us by saying all lives matter - that saying, Black Lives Matter, it doesn’t mean that our lives are more important than yours or any other race. Black Lives Matter is a reminder that despite everything we’ve gone through in this country, everything that black people have gone through, we’re human as well. Our lives matter as well.

To listen to Episode 508, season 21 of the Savage Lovecast posted on July 19, 2016, click the link Black Lives Matter. If you do not care to listen to the entire Lovecast episode and only want to hear the live recording of the above transcribed words, you will find them between 41:55-53:08. 

Refining the Art of Saying NO

Refining the Art of Saying NO

“Jaime, you might actually be getting smarter,” said my mom when I informed her that I’d declined a request to volunteer on a rather ambitious project. And by god, she’s right - I am. I’m getting smarter by being more selective and discerning about how I want to spend my precious life force. I used to say yes to damn near everything - down for whatever, a team player, your go-to gal and involved in more things than I could ever successfully manage.

If I could be a full-time philanthropist and volunteer, I’d be proper-stoked, but until I become someone’s little trophy-wife baby-girl, I’ve gotta play the game like everybody else. Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki said, “Don’t waste a good mistake… learn from it.” I wholeheartedly agree, which is why I’m refining the magical, mystical and fantastical art of saying

NO!

I’m a bit surprised by how much I’m enjoying pop singer Meghan Trainor’s new hit, NO. It’s become a little mantric jam of mine and is filling my soul with a powerful sense of autonomy, sovereignty and mastery over my most treasured resource… time.

She sings:

My name is NO
My sign is NO
My number is NO
You need to let it go

What happens when I say no? I create space, and in that space I can breathe, and with that breath I can move around in my own life and grow my own dreams and thoughts and wants and wishes. It’s delicious.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, author Marie Kondo prompts us to take an inventory of the things in our lives and ask the simple and profound question: Does this bring me joy? I’ve been ransacking my house lately, holding up jewelry and clothes and art to test them against the joy-o-meter. Holding them up, the answer I most often receive is NO, NO, NO… I need to let em go, so off to the clothing swap, free box and thrift store they're ushered. The rush I get from hucking joyless trifles atop the give-away pile in the garage is sublime, trumped only by the $45 placed within my outstretched hand as I transfer over a mirror purchased at a thrift store ages ago. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Refining the art of saying NO is like having a magical key to pick the lock of my freedom. Just today I turned loose a substantial commitment that was no longer filling my cup and was instead dragging heavily at my flow. With authority, I said NO, and in the utterance of those words, my spirit sighed… YES

I Sing the Body Electric

I Sing the Body Electric

It began as a poem by Walt Whitman, published in 1885, and then became the title of the 100th episode of The Twilight Zone, written by science fiction genius Ray Bradbury in 1962. He would later publish a superb collection of short stories in ‘69 under the same title - I Sing the Body Electric. I can still picture the jacket cover: a dark haired woman, reminiscent of Cher, nude, enshrined within the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh and surrounded by swirling arcs of yellow and green.

Lately, I have not been singing this body - my body - electric. I’ve been singing it bloated, fatigued, sore, headachey, jittery, irritable and gassy like some raspy old pirate boozer, garbling songs of the sea in a pub alley ditch. I’ve been binge consuming Orange is the New Black in lieu of the precious elixir of sleep, while feeding my machine low-grade, shit fuel. Such subtly delinquent living takes it’s toll, and my body has begun to feel along the lines of what writer Lauren O’Neal describes as, “a soggy box of horrors.”

Being fed up with chronically low energy levels ultimately triggered a change in my behavior and perspective. I looked at my 35-year-old body-mind system and asked, “Have I reached the ceiling on what’s possible in terms of vitality? Am I staring down the barrel of a lifetime of caffeination to merely subsist?” That shit ain’t right.

My personal trainer homegirl, Silvia, suggested a 3-day cleanse, which proved to be a life-altering way of shaking shit up, and despite loathing the dumb gym with the fire of a thousand suns, I put myself into a structure of working out with her 2 days a week. I schedule hikes with the dogs and strolls and swims and kayaks with friends to get my social-active fix, and every morning I greet the day with an apple, kale, lemon and sea salt green drink. Forever the “just five more minutes!” little girl, I struggle to put myself to bed each night at a reasonable hour, but with the helpful suggestions of sleep experts like Arianna Huffington and Christine Hansen, I’ve got that wiry little squirt counting sheep. Because of these incremental changes and the positive systems I’ve put in place, good things are definitely happening.

I ain’t perfect, and never will be, but I’m riding a positive arc of health at the moment that feels nourishing, enlivening, and revitalizing. Singing the body electric begins with a moment, a step, a simple action. As Whitman wrote so long ago,

And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul? To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough. I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

I sing the body electric.

The 5 P's & The Merlin Principle

The 5 P's & The Merlin Principle

If there’s one thing my dad’s good at in this world, it’s running a business. Poor guy tried in vain to encourage his only daughter to pursue the highly practical path of a business degree, but instead I chose the deliciously colorful buffet that is Cultural Anthropology. In standard father-daughter form, I resisted most of the wisdom he attempted to send my way, although a few gems managed to pass through the semi-permeable membrane of my stubborn dome. One keeper in particular, the principal of The 5 P’s - Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance, hit the mark and I continue to use it on the daily.

If you’ve ever bombed something super hard due to lack of preparation or had those sinking indigestion cramps that come from winging an important test, interview, performance or presentation, then you and I are procrastination power twins separated at birth.  Somewhere along the line I discovered that bullshitting and half-assing my way through life actually worked pretty well, or at the very least kept me from failing or getting fired. But operating from a center of minimal effort and barely squeaking through important events and commitments lacks power, confidence and any sense of personal pride. It's skeezy... and I no longer operate from a position of skeez. 

A few years back I participated in a 3-month Landmark Education course called Self Expression and Leadership that forced me to confront my half-assing reindeer games head on. In the program, participants were invited to develop ambitious community service projects requiring passion, intention and most importantly… a PLAN. Coached to "plan our work and work our plan," we followed what is known as the Merlin Principle - executing a goal in reverse order by laying it out from the end result to the very first beginning step in clear, calculable measures. 

The Merlin Principle delivers solid results when a plan is strategically and thoughtfully constructed with clear intention, milestones and realistic, actionable steps. It allows you to bridge the end result with cold, hard reality – the meat and potatoes of what it's gonna take to get the shit done. $100k doesn’t just fall out of the sky, land on your face and start to wiggle. 30 pounds doesn’t just poof off your body and rise into the atmosphere like dust. Goals of this caliber, or any caliber for that matter, require a properly planned planny plan. 

Repeat after me: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Tattoo it on your face, or simply have it made into a gold-leaf lacquer wall plaque to hang beside your desk. Next, go to a medieval collectibles website and snatch up one of those glitter-encrusted wizard figurines to remind you of the Merlin Principle. This tiny shrine of planning will be your guide as you execute your goals like a ninja and work them backwards from the end result to the present moment. Young grasshopper, you’ve got this!

I am Veruca Salt

I am Veruca Salt

And I want that shit now!

Sometimes Life flows with extraordinary ease and momentum, slipping into place like the clutch of a new Porsche. Other moments slog on as though the atmosphere were some kind of ectoplasm, miring my efforts and endeavors in a sludge of ineffectual suspension. I genuinely despise such moments… there’s really no other way to say it, and I’d be lying if I claimed to be graceful and accepting of such roadblocks to my flow. In truth, I want what I want when I want it, and that usually means immediately. I become Veruca Salt from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a spoiled little twerp who wants her Oompa Loompa NOW!  If we’re talking souls, then my lesson is clear… slow down girl. Be patient. Things take time.

Being patient has always felt like Kryptonite poisoning, and waiting for something to happen, manifest and transpire was generally a slow torture for this kid. My inner child, confined to the hull of my 35-year-old self can often be seen rolling her eyes, murmuring from the back seat of the station wagon, “Are we there yet?”

Slow down girl. Be patient. Things take time. A butterfly’s wings need to crinkle forth from the confines of its cocoon to struggle and inflate with a life-force infusion that enables it to fly. If you mess with the crinkle-inflation process, you mangle the wings and the butterfly’s rendered flightless. A flower bud needs pressure to build from its center, packing its petal folds tightly against the skin of its container until it bursts into blossom. Removing that pressure stunts the bud’s growth and hinders the flowering process.

I feel the crinkle-inflation struggle to fly and the escalating pressure to blossom, and again, the lesson is clear… slow down little Veruca. Be patient. Things take time.

Animals Never Bitch

Animals Never Bitch

I like to stroll around this planet like I’m some kind of haut couture, next-level thing, but really… I’m just an uppity, self-important animal.

It seems that the primary difference between myself and other animals, besides slightly less hair, is that I tend to bitch a lot. I don’t understand how to set up the goddamn Roku on my TV… I bitch. The bag of quinoa breaks and spills all over the kitchen… I bitch. Something happens… I bitch. Something else happens… I bitch. Basically, as much as I hate to admit it, I bitch a lot.

Definition of To Bitch: To whine and complain excessively

Do I really do that? Ew. Barf. While recently watching a documentary on animals, the frequency with which I bitch came into stark focus. I found myself mesmerized by the stoicism of the animals represented - spellbound by the immense trials they endure with nary a whine. For Gods-sake, Monarch Butterflies. These little papier-mâché creatures migrate from South America to Canada every year and none of the 2 billion who begin the journey finish it. Their full migration is completed within 3 generations, one batch carrying on a DNA-fulfilling prophesy where the last leg left off. All die. None of them bitch.

Hawaiian Gobies - tiny rock climbing fish that scale the sheer cliffs of massive waterfalls to reach the safe and secluded pools above to mate and lay their eggs. Many fall to their deaths. None of them bitch.

 The Bearded Vulture of Ethiopia drops animal bones onto rocks from high altitudes to crack into the rich marrow reserves within. Again and again they miss their target…I’m talking OVER and OVER again, while other birds and animals scavenge the spoils of their efforts. All day they toil. None of them bitch.

 In Chilean Patagonia, male Darwin’s Beetles climb massive trees in pursuit of prospective females. Once at the top, they spar with other males using their huge mandibles to launch each other hundreds of feet back down to the forest floor. Again and again the male beetles climb, tussle and launch, and in the end, after sealing the coital deal, they toss the females overboard as well. Sayonara suckers! Despite the toil and trauma, no one is butt-hurt and none of them bitch.

If only I could be more like the African Barbel Fish, gratefully and silently devouring voluminous billows of hippo shit - bitch-free. I shall try, and endeavor to be more stoic and grateful maneuvering the voluminous billows of Life’s shit. Yes, this bitch will do her best to fly on like a Monarch Butterfly, to keep climbing like a Hawaiian Goby, to rise again like a Bearded Vulture, and to launch ideas and projects like a Darwin’s Beetle. A noble endeavor. We’ll see how long it lasts…

 

 

How does content shape our world?

How does content shape our world?

How does content shape our world? In 1826, French physician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote: "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." In other words, we are individually, societally, nationally and globally the product of what we consume. When we allow the limited real estate of our mindscape to be drilled by low-grade, fast food and imagination-devoid content… we are what we eat.