Self care and art as acts of resistance

It’s hard to deny that there’s a lot of shit going down in the world right now. As the daughter of two immigrants (into the US) and an immigrant (into NZ) myself, what’s happening at the US border hits me in a particular way, and there are so many other examples we might point to around the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to stay open to and present with this sort of unpleasantness, for a couple reasons. First, I believe it is important to actually SEE and GRIEVE these atrocities, rather than pretending they don’t exist or that they don’t hurt. And more importantly, I believe we must be present to what is going on if we might hope to effectively address any issues that are not in alignment with our own values.

And so I have been super inspired by a few things that my friends have shared this week. They remind me that there are so many ways to contribute to upending the status quo, and so many ways to take care of ourselves as we do that work. Continue reading

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Getting out of my own way

For years I told myself I wasn’t cut out for a 9-5 job. When I ditched that story, I found a job that ultimately inspired me to move across an ocean. As of last week, this has officially been my longest stretch of employment ever (not counting the years I worked for myself) and I’m not planning on leaving any time soon!

I mentioned Rachel Meyer’s piece, You Are Not Your Story, for Down Under Yoga. I just adore Rachel’s writing; check it all out (and sign up for her e-newsletter!) on her website!

 

“I don’t know if I have the guts to put myself on the line for things that I completely recognize I might be wrong about.”

I’ve been thinking a ton lately about how to put myself “out there” more. Start a vlog, for real this time (the one I was going to launch at work has been put on the back burner… again)? Write another (gasp) book?

And also wondering if it’s possible to promote whatever I’m putting out there in a way that doesn’t seem arrogant, or like I think I have the answers, or risks my flying too close to the sun and melting my wings hubris lightning bolts vultures etc etc… AND also keeps me accountable to a higher purpose, rather than sucking me into the corrupt, or even just “fashionable,” version of power that so often seems to take over when people start gaining momentum.

(I really, really want to dig into life coaching as an example of this, particularly in light of this Quartz Obsession piece, but I’m trying to focus on the positive here!)

As I seek role models who have built platforms for their quirky selves and/or ideas in ways that don’t make me cringe, I have grown more and more a fan of Hank Green. Latest case in point: the description for this video (you’ll have to click through to the video’s YouTube page in order to read it).

Wow, EVEN HANK grapples with how to handle (and I’m assuming, not become similar to):

…people who figure out how to capture [a certain type of] energy [that you should read his description to learn more about] for their own gain and do not consider the responsibility that their power brings, or think that they are righteous when they are in fact leaning into culturally destructive ideas.

And: how can we balance the desire to offer some sort of insight into the things we observe without becoming an asshole, and even more complicated, how can we become ever more compassionate toward the full range of humanity without getting attacked for not hating on the people or things “everyone” loves to hate: Continue reading

How to move to New Zealand from the US

Sometimes when people in positions of power do things I find absurd and infuriating, I get depressed, cranky, angry, and/or despondent. Other times, I’m more productive, getting all academic, or trying to draw personal connections so people might understand that these decisions will affect real people. Last Friday, I channelled my frustration into making this video guide to various visa options for Americans wanting to move to New Zealand:

To be abundantly clear: you can’t actually move away from climate change. Nor do I believe that anyone, Americans abroad or citizens from any other country, can escape the responsibility to be part of the solution to this or any other political absurdity.

But this was still a super fun opportunity to learn how to edit video on my iPhone using iMovie (I’d only ever used that program once before, four years ago, and the full version rather than the mobile version). And I can’t believe how many people have already watched it! Fun times.

I’m not planning to make any more videos any time soon. Of course, it’s entirely possible that news from the White House will drive me to new heights of creativity sooner than I expect.

Don’t rob yourself of the now: Timmy’s tribute to José as a balm for those who grieve

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My interview with climber, comedian, friend, and _____* Timmy O’Neill is now live on Xero Gravity, please check it out!

Timmy was a consistent presence during my Yosemite years, and he recently wrote a beautiful tribute to our late friend José, asking:

How do you bring someone long gone, back to life, and what are the physical and emotional artifacts that allow you to personify him?

I feel similarly trying to describe Timmy; *there are precious few words for describing those people who just vibrate at a higher level, even when they are still with us Continue reading

Still Amour

We were supposed to leave for NZ at the end of October, but stayed through the 3rd so we could catch Malian singer Rokia Traoré and her sweet, super tight band at the SF Jazz Fest. Seemed like an appropriate bookend to our San Francisco existence, since that’s where Scott and I spent our first date, too…

As soon as they started playing Amour:

…I was immediately reminded of this Khruangbin song:

As is frequently the case, the studio versions of both pale in comparison to the energy and complexity of the live performances

Continue reading

4+1 ways to boggle your brain!

[Meta Method 1, Part 1] First, fall in love with this exact version of Andrew Bird’s Tables and Chairs, and listen to it at least once per week for a decade (give or take one year):

[Method 2] All the while, contemplate its lyrics, wondering in particular whether he is painting a picture of a utopian or dystopian future*… and in either case,

[Method 3] ask yourself both what this perspective might reveal about your professional calling’s current overlap with the FinTech industry, and finally,

[Method 4] debate whether either of the above matter in the short term, if at all.

[Meta Method 1, Part 2] Then, watch this video of him playing the same song (while marveling again at both his incredible talent AND how privileged we are to witness live performances):

Continue reading

We know what we know

Last October/November, I caught that horrible cold/cough that was going around… and it stuck around for more than five weeks by the time I finally got over it.

My friend Mike knew exactly why I was sick.

The day before I woke up with the telltale tickle in the back of my throat, Mike and Penny and I had biked to the Clement Street farmers market. I bought a bunch of carrots. And proceeded to eat several of them. Unwashed. Much to Mike’s horror.

A devout germ-o-phobe, Mike hates touching things in public places Continue reading

Rising again

At 6am, insomniac in the Penn Stater hotel in State College, PA hotel (which means it’s really 3am to my body, still in Pacific Time), I finally rose from the bed and resurrected this blog. I think this is version 3.0? I’m not sure. Shutting down and letting go of those old blogs go was a relief, in the same vein (but nowhere near as cathartic) as having shredded a lifetime’s worth of journals — all 100ish of them — a couple years ago.

A few clicks… and we’re back!

It’s been snowing and/or cloudy since I arrived two nights ago, but this morning the only clouds I can see in the sky are far away on the horizon. Still, there are a few snowflakes drifting gently (no idea where they’re coming from) to land on the dome-shaped skylight that rises glowing from the snowy roof outside my window, the dome a stand-in for the sun that I’m pretty sure will rise just behind it over the hill. Venus rose before I opened the curtains, rising further as the morning brightens.

In a couple hours I go “on,” and will be “on” all day giving an 8-hour workshop and then doing a book signing. Tomorrow, a shorter workshop, another book signing, and the long journey home (weather permitting). I will rise to the occasion. No matter how little I’ve slept the preceding nights, I always do… except when I don’t, but that has yet to happen on a speaking day.

But right now, venus and sunrise and a glowing dome and mystery snow from clear, brightening skies. And me, writing again, on the internets.