Friday, November 18, 2016

Integrity inspiration from a girl in Rodez

Note: OVS—OnVaSortir!—is a website in France where users can create and attend events listed on the site. It's a great way to meet people, kind of like Meetup, but without the groups.

Back in February, E.—a friend in Rodez—put up an event on OVS to grab drinks at a bar in town on Saturday night. In the name of the event, he included "<40," to limit attendees to those under 40 years of age.

Now, if I had made the event, I wouldn't have ever put that because a) it's not inclusive and b) I have lots of older friends, and appreciate the fresh perspective that people not my age—both older and younger—can offer.

But alas, Damien and I wanted to meet people our age as well, so we signed up to attend without second thought.

A day after the event had been posted, a user (age 60) RSVPd as attending, and then commented something like: "I see the age limit, but I'd still like to come. Is that okay?"
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

[Post-Election] Bridges, Gratitude, and Action

Yesterday was a dark day, but today I see the light.

It was a devastating loss. I cried, grieved for all of the hatred/suffering people will now experience, lost sleep, and managed to get physically ill in the process.

I thought nearly everyone could see the danger in that man's sexist, racist, and xenophobic words, which would prevent him from getting votes.
I was wrong.

I also thought for some moments that this was one of the most terrible things that could happen; days would be dark now.
I was wrong, my vision blurred by anger and disbelief.

Now don't get me wrong, it's serious, and this is not okay. But there is much light. How did I get from point A to point B in the past 24 hours? I'll walk you through it, starting with building bridges, then turning to gratitude, and finally taking action.

Build Bridges

There is common ground to be found with Trump voters. As Elizabeth Warren points out in her post "President-Elect Donald Trump":
"Two-thirds of people support raising the federal minimum wage. Three-quarters of Americans want the federal government to increase its infrastructure investments. Over 70 percent of people believe students should have a chance at a debt-free education. Nearly three-quarters support expanding Social Security."
So let's work together on those issues and make changes we all want to see.

Aside from that, this election has taught me we should get out of our social bubbles more often to interact with people whose views greatly differ from our own. I didn't realize that my state (Wisconsin) was going to vote Trump because I've really only ever spent time in the blue bubble of Madison. What if last summer I had traveled to schools in the north of the state and shared my experiences abroad? What if I had written letters to editors in local newspapers of other counties? I need to step up my game and fight for the values I believe in. I need to do things that make me uncomfortable, speak for those without a voice, and have a bigger impact.

Social media makes it extra easy to think most people share your views, but that's because you've curated who you follow and what you see. So start dialogues from human to human. Realize that everyone's life experiences are not the same as yours, and try to understand how someone else's such experiences have led them to the opinions they hold today.

For me, having a personal connection to something is when my views have changed most rapidly or when my eyes have been opened on an issue. So I'm aiming for more nonjudgmental face-to-face interactions outside of my "bubble," and I'd urge you to try the same. (Think: Gran Torino.)

These bridges will create light, just as gratitude will.

Turn to Gratitude

In times of trouble and fear, it's always reassuring to turn to gratitude.

I reminded myself that this was the result of an election in a Democracy where we have the right to free speech, not in a totalitarian regime.

I am not living in a war zone; I have not been forced to flee my country to spare my life. (Though this cannot be said for all in our country, as refugees live here.)

I have a comfortable roof over my head and a loving family. (This, too, cannot be said of all Americans. Yet another reason to take action.)

We have many people to thank, as Hilal demonstrates here:
And take a look at how today's youth voted. This is definitely something to be thankful for:
Also, there's this:
And have you seen the strides we did make from this election? Sara Benincasa so graciously reminded us on Tuesday night in "We Who Choose to Stay and Fight" that:
"In the history of the Senate, only two women of color have served. They were elected 20 years apart. 
Tonight Americans elected three women of color to the Senate in one night. 
Do not forget that tonight, on this sad and stressful night, the great state of Nevada elected Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, our nation’s first Latina senator. 
Tonight my own adopted home state of California elected Sen. Kamala Harris, who will be the first Indian-American and second African-American woman senator."
These are victories to be celebrated.

And then I focused on the fact that all of the people who did not vote for Trump are all still here and vocal. It's not like they've been rounded up and kissed by Death Eaters for goodness sake. Hillary Clinton is among us. Tim Kaine is still serving in the Senate. Michelle, Barack, and their daughters are here. And all of their supporters are among us. Even Pawnee's Leslie Knope is speaking up!

Those are the big names, but names like yours and mine are just as important. In the past month alone I've had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside bright forces like Laura, Marty, Genna, Hannah, and all of the tutors, learners, clients, and volunteers I've met thus far through my local volunteering in Waunakee. These wonderful people inspire me to give, and have shown through example that small actions have huge outcomes. Working together we can accomplish even more.

Plus, now we're all charged with anger.

Anger which can be channeled to fight even harder for the injustices in our country and world.

Kim Dinan closed her recent "Dark Days" post with these beautiful, strong words:
I will not run from this disgraceful moment in our history. Because this is my country too. Instead, I will stand in the blinding white hotness of my own pain and despair. I will never forget the way I feel right now. I will use this feeling in the days, weeks, months and years that follow. This feeling will fuel me as I fight for everything I believe in: Love, diversity, equality, inclusivity, reproductive rights, a healthy planet and freedom and justice for all. 
Friends, you will see me marching. You will hear my voice on the phone as I lobby for a world that supports and loves us all. You will find me on the streets. I will not be silenced and I will not stand for this. The fire that burns in my belly is growing ever stronger. Bring your fire. Meet me there.
Which brings me to my final point: the action.

Take Action

Now, more than ever, is the time to get involved in causes you care about and to speak up, however you can.

Check out what this NYC photographer is offering:
The ladies from the Letter Writers Alliance made and shared this free printable yesterday:

It's a great example of a single, simple kind action (making and sharing the printable) which will have a ripple effect of spreading love and funds to those in need.

Emma Watson left Maya Angelou books in the New York subway, another act of kindness that will have an exponential effect.
Remember, you probably won't hear about every positive action on your social media or on your local news. In fact, this is a great time to reevaluate where you get your news, what type of bias it has, how much time you spend there, and how it makes you feel. (If anyone's looking for a replacement, why not start reading Positive.News weekly, for example?)

Be aware of the fact that it's hate-filled stories like this one which will naturally stick out in our minds:
So for every one of those, let's create thousands more that are positive and full of love—to counter them. Make these interactions meaningful and the stories visible. I will be challenging myself to take more action, and to share more of the good stories going forward as well. (I'm seeing it weekly around town in our English Group classes with immigrants and at the WNC store, for example, but have yet to share that here!)

You don't have to fix every problem. Start small, but make it an action. If you—like me a month ago—haven't volunteered in a long while, take this as your sign. Find somewhere nearby whose mission you support, and volunteer an hour a week.

Now is also the perfect time to donate, an action that takes less than a minute. Why not give donations in the names of friends and family for Christmas gifts this year? Many of us have more than enough material things as it is. So save the planet and help a cause at the same time!

Here are some groups whose missions I support, but donate wherever it's meaningful for you.
If you're not sure what else is out there, here's A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support from Jezebel.

And that, my friends, is how I went from a pile of hopeless despair, sick in bed, to an optimist on the mend. By taking action, turning to gratitude, and building bridges, we can create a brighter tomorrow together.

Thank you.
• • •

Friday, November 4, 2016

Calligcast #7: I've Killed People and I Have Hostages

[Calligcast = Practicing calligraphy while listening to a podcast]

Podcast: Reply All
Episode #15: I've Killed People and I Have Hostages

Blair Myhand is a police officer in the sleepy, 40,000 person town of Apex, NC. One night, he received an unusually disturbing phone call where a person claimed to be holding a woman hostage after murdering several people. Myhand assembled his team, and went to the house, but what they ended up finding was much more bizarre.
It's just a 20-minute podcast, so the length ended up being perfect for this single envelope. It was an interesting topic to say the least—crazy what people will do for entertainment/"fame," but I'd rather be aware than still in the dark about it.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Calligcast #6: The New Norm

[Calligcast = Practicing calligraphy while listening to a podcast]

Podcast: Invisibilia (Season 2)
Episode: 1 - The New Norm

From NPR:
You probably don't even notice them, but social norms determine so much of your behavior - how you dress, talk, eat and even what you allow yourself to feel. These norms are so entrenched we never imagine they can shift. But Alix Spiegel and new co-host, Hanna Rosin, examine two grand social experiments that attempt to do just that: teach McDonald's employees in Russia to smile, and workers on an oil rig how to cry.

Calligraphy notes: The paper I printed these worksheets on way back in April (before I knew that type of paper matters) was not a good choice. So the ink bleeds, but I'm using the sheets anyway. On the plus side, I'm finding my oblique pen easier to use than the straight pen!
• • •

[Book Recommendation] Tara Mohr's "Playing Big"

A week ago I finished reading Tara Mohr's "Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message" and I gave it 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Luckily I wasn't scared off by the title, which isn't the best representation of what you'll find inside. The focus isn't on searching for your one life mission, but rather the book gives tons of specific, practical advice for "playing big"—how to deal with your doubts, how to gain freedom to say what you wish to say, and how to feel confident to make the changes you want to see—both in yourself and in the world, big and small.

• • •