Totally new site. Slightly new direction.
From here on, in addition to things I’ve been writing about before (like happiness & technology), I’ll also be writing about how I DIY (do it myself) in all things social good & online platform related, and posting more personal updates about my work/life.
And totally new: I’ll be creating members-only content! So 🤞to a new experiment.
Last spring, I got to spend a couple weeks in rural Ontario giving a few dozen (!) talks, assemblies, and shows at schools and organizations around the province. Every time I visit the Ontario countryside, I’m struck by how much it reminds me of my now-home state of Texas, in ways that are equal parts comfy (lots of hospitality) and uncomfy (lots of camouflage and usage of the word “lifestyle”). But this trip was different.
In years past, the ideas I was presenting (i.e., social justice and anti-oppression concepts, centered around gender) were mostly received as new. And the questions aligned with that. But this year, a lot of the questions I was hearing weren’t responding to what I was saying on stage, as much as they were addressing things that were already bouncing around students’ minds before I got there. I just became the first “spokesperson” for social justice they were able to confront IRL.
For example, in years past I got a lot of questions about things like “What do you mean gender and sexuality aren’t the same?” Or “What do you mean a woman can’t ‘oppress’ a man?”
But this year, a bunch of times (double digits) during Q&As I was asked something that amounted to “So gender is a social construct, and so is race, so why are we accepting of Caitlyn Jenner but not Rachel Dolezal?” By high schoolers. In rural Texas Ontario.
Hold that thought. I’ll return to it, but first I want to take a step back. Continue reading → “I can’t stop thinking about the “Social Justice Dogma,” or keeping quiet.”
I wish I never had to read another email.
This is something I’ve said thousands of times, aloud and in my head (mostly in my head). I’ve said it in anger after opening another death threat. I’ve said it in frustration when an email sent me down a rabbit hole that took me away from a project I had planned for the day. It’s been an underlying sentiment for years, but it wasn’t until recently that it turned into a concrete plan:
I am going to stop reading emails.
But how?Continue reading → “The Road Away From Email”
2016 was, well, quite the year.
All in all, I side with what appears to be the consensus that it was, if given only one descriptor, a dumpster fire. That said, it was also more than a dumpster fire, and I want to take a moment to reflect on some of the things I made this year — something I basically never do.
So, with that said, following is what I finished, published, and/or created in 2016.Continue reading → “2016, A Brief Review of Creativity”
Political discourse is at a place where it’s hard — if not impossible — to see it as productive. Most times, it doesn’t even seem like folks who are arguing have a vision for anything being accomplished by that argument, other than hearing words yelled.
Facts have been weaponized and are lobbed as projectiles, not used as tools to build a bridge from one perspective to another. Opinions are worn like armor, used to protect ourselves from the bombardment of facts. We scream for our ideas to drown out the screams of others for theirs.
If sports are modeled after war, as many people say, our political discourse has taken a form modeled after the way we talk about sports.Continue reading → “A Fix: Politics Not Reminiscent of Sports”
I’m on day 9 of 100 in my quest to making meditation an integral part of my daily routine. At just shy of 10%, I have already learned a lot that will inform the next 90. I’m going to walk through what I’m planning to draw upon, from most concrete to most abstract.
1. Tools matter.
There’s this famous Audre Lorde quote that gets tossed around a lot in the social justice activism spaces I occupy: “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
Folks generally take it to mean that you can’t undo a harmful system using components that support that harmful system, or by working within that system.
There are lots and lots of debates about that quote, and you can read them (or we could get into them another time), but for now it’s the second part of the quote that I am appealing to (the part that is often omitted): “They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
It’s this idea, that the master’s tools may temporarily allow us to be him at his own game, that I’ve found to be particularly salient this past week. Indeed, I’ve managed to turn just about every thing in my life that led me to mindlessness into a tool to help me practice mindfulness.Continue reading → “Maintaining a Daily Meditation Habit”
FacilitatingXYZ is everything I wish I had when I got started as a facilitator — and together, we can build it into something that helps us continue to learn, develop, and grow. It’s a free online resource with videos, articles, downloads and (soon!) community to help all facilitators improve their craft.Continue reading → “Meet FacilitatingXYZ: A Free Online Resource for ALL Facilitators”
About a year ago I committed to writing on this site every day for 100 days in a row. Today, I’m committing to something similar and different: I’m going to start meditating every day, for at least the next 100.
Let me explain why, and how I plan to do it.
I’ve had an inconsistent meditation practice for about a decade now. At its best, I meditate every day for a streak of a week or two. At its worst, I meditate once a month.
But here’s the thing: I know that meditation makes me happier, calmer, work better, think clearer — it makes me better. Every time. I can even verify this for myself with some [obviously slanted] data: looking back at my journal, and comparing that against the records from the meditation app I use (Calm), I can see that on days I meditate I almost always finish every task I set out to do in the morning. I’m also more gracious, thoughtful, and patient in my responses.
On the days I don’t meditate, well, I get by, but I’m a bit messier. And sometimes those days turn into weeks into months. That’s what’s happened these past few weeks.
And the science backs this up, right? We all know this, if we exist even a little on the internet. Just google “the scientific benefits of meditation” and bask in the bazillion hits of glory.Continue reading → “Building a Daily Meditation Habit”
It’s 9am and a woman wearing an apron is leaning over me yelling in Thai, waking me up from a nap with an urgency no alarm clock could match. I’m panicked, not sure for a moment where I am, or what I did wrong, or maybe if I’m covered in spiders (millions of spiders?!) until I notice she’s hawking food — a tray of a dozen small, folded banana leaf bowls full of shrimp, fried noodles, and a few indiscernible vegetables — and I’m not about to die. There are zero spiders.
“Mai,” I manage to grunt as I squint my eyes in the morning sun, one of the few Thai words I have on the tip of my tongue. No thank you, my eyes say. And also, maybe don’t wake up a belleagured traveler by yelling in his face next time if you want him to buy your stuff? I collect my bearings.
The train is stopped in Nong Pladuk Junction. Steamy air fills the rail car. Nong Pladuk is the starting station of the infamous Thai-Burma railway, more commonly known as “Death Railway.” It stretches from here to Nanchanaburi, the town a few hours down the road from which I am returning to Bangkok. Nearly one-hundred thousand prisoners of war and forced laborers had their lives forfeited to the construction of the Thai-Burma back in the 1940s. It’s a dark place to wake up to on a sunny Monday morning. It plucks at the melancholy I’m feeling in my heart.Continue reading → “Waking up in Nong Pladuk (on my way home to the US)”
We pile our bags on a little side street in downtown Bangkok. It’s 8pm, the city’s lights are waking up, and busses fill the street. A double-decker bus drives by, inside on the top level a man is singing karaoke to the rest of the travelers. We’re waiting for bus #3, our nine-hour overnight ride to Chiang Mai, a rural town in northern Thailand.
We can’t find our bus.
Mike and I are sitting on the stoop of a closed shop, the dozen pieces of luggage and gear scattered around us. We are drinking a beer and appreciating the calamity of the moment: unsure of where we’ll be in the moments that come, what it will feel like, and how we will be getting there. It’s one of the best things about traveling — the constant uncertainty, the focus on the moment, the near-to-nothing being granted — if you can learn to appreciate it. Admittedly, it’s an acquired taste. It’s my coffee. It’s my wine.
After some confusion and stress, we learn our bus has already arrived. It’s been waiting for us.
We don’t know what to expect inside. The conditions of the bus, the seats, the air, the noise. We’re hoping to sleep, but first we’re hoping the seat recline functions. I can’t help but think back to the bus I rode from Cairo into the middle of the White Desert (the half-day of one-hundred degree sun, the broken air conditioning, the overcramped seating, the failing engine).
We pile into the bus and find that we have a private room in the front half of the lower level. Eight seats all to ourselves. I wouldn’t have hoped for anything better. The seats recline. It does get better. And there’s air conditioning. I could die happy on this bus.
The bus jerks into gear. A strange smell sweeps through our cabin. We might die on this bus.Continue reading → “Loving the Uncertainty of Travel: From Bangkok to Chiang Mai”
I’m excited for Thailand. I’ve heard so many amazing things.
I’ve spoken with people who have immersed themselves in the culture, and had opportunities to reflect on things that were previously invisible in their lives. I know a couple people who have gone and never returned. That says a lot about a place.
I’ve talked with activists who are doing tremendous things in the worlds of gender liberation, sex worker advocacy, and social justice education. I’ve learned so much from them already, from afar, from email. Continue reading → “Me + Thailand = August ’15”
I’m writing from a rooftop in Austin, taking a break from my break — which was part Naomi Klein and part Real Ale — to share a reflection that just sunk in: I’m about to publish my first book, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Now, to be clear: this isn’t me publishing the first book I wrote (that happened a couple years ago, and still hasn’t sunk in); this is me, under the auspices of Impetus Books, publishing my first book someone else wrote (in this case, I’m glowingly happy to say that someone else is Karen Rayne).Continue reading → “I’m Publishing A Book”