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Journal

Juneteenth

Juneteenth

Many of us are waking up to the fact that we need to roll up our sleeves and do the necessary work of learning and unlearning. While some progress has been made in these last few weeks, I hope it’s just the beginning of our personal growth journey and the dismantling of an unjust and abominable system founded hundreds of years ago.

I believe we also need to consciously put ourselves in other people’s shoes as we walk this path. I love this art and message by Morgan Harper Nichols and also found Spring Washam’s words in reflection of Juneteenth to be exceedingly powerful and thought provoking:

“I am discovering the great power in this simple statement of truth. Black lives matter. Every time I say these words, I am breaking open something deep within my own heart. The program of white supremacy depends upon my belief in my own inferiority that somehow, I don’t matter. It depends on me hating myself and devaluing myself because of my brown skin. It depends on you hating me too. This is deep stuff… if you haven’t said these three words, I really encourage you to say them and then sit in the great mystery of what it reveals. Try to listen with the heart. It’s deep medicine because we are breaking a powerful program that has been operating for 400 years.”

I’ll be meditating on Spring’s words for many days and reading my new library book ‘Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation’ by Jasmine Syedullah, Lama Rod Owens, and angel Kyodo Williams.

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Progress and Hope

Progress and Hope

A friend of mine shared this enlightening and powerful Ezra Klein and Ta-Nehisi Coates interview a few days ago. It's chock full of compelling assessments, information and history, so I thought I would share it. The show notes are below and I hope you take 90 minutes to listen to it...


The first question I asked Ta-Nehisi Coates, in this episode, was broad: What does he see right now, as he looks out at the country? “I can't believe I'm gonna say this,” he replied, “but I see hope. I see progress right now.”

Coates is the author of the National Book Award-winner 'Between the World and Me' and 'The Water Dancer,' among others. We discuss how this moment differs from 1968, the tension between “law” and “order,” the contested legacy of MLK, Trump's view of the presidency, police abolition, why we need to renegotiate the idea of “the public,” how the consensus on criminal justice has shifted, what Joe Biden represents, the proper role of the state, the poetry Coates recommends, and much more.

But there’s one thread of this conversation, in particular, that I haven’t been able to put down: There is now, as there always is amidst protests, a loud call for the protesters to follow the principles of nonviolence. And that call, as Coates says, comes from people who neither practice nor heed nonviolence in their own lives. But what if we turned that conversation around: What would it mean to build the state around principles of nonviolence, rather than reserving that exacting standard for those harmed by the state?

Book recommendations:
'Punishment and Inequality in America' by Bruce Western
'Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration' by Devah Pager
'The Country Between Us' by Carolyn Forche

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Listen, Learn, Reflect + Reform

Listen, Learn, Reflect + Reform

The events of the last several days are painful reminders that great injustice remains in our world. Here are some resources that have assisted me navigate this significant week and will continue to be helpful in the future. Today and everyday, Black Lives Matter. Let's support and listen in every way we can with donations, productive action, reflection, and self education.

As we enter what is sure to be a difficult summer with Covid-19 continuing to wreak havoc, I hope we can prioritize taking legitimate steps to edify ourselves, committing to an inclusive notion of community, and being a voice for fairness and equality.

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Mothering Ourselves

Mothering Ourselves

Loving this blog post by Alexandra D'Amour about learning to mother herself...enjoy and Happy Mother's Day!

"Over the last six months, I’ve extensively journaled about what “mothering myself” could look like. It’s been difficult to put a self-care practice into my routine, into being able to mother myself. To me, it’s meant having an intimate relationship with the little girl I once was. The little girl who felt cast aside by both of her parents, the one who had to be strong, and because she had no other choice, the one who had to take care of herself when no one came knocking on the door to ask if she was okay.

It all started during the second session with my therapist when she talked to me about the power of being able to mother yourself.

“Our culture views the term ‘mother’ only as a noun, when in fact it is also a verb. I am a mother to someone, but I can also mother myself,” she explained.

I’d come to her office with sweaty palms and a racing heart, scared to go to therapy because it was something I had convinced myself wasn’t for me. I don’t need anyone to fix me — I can do it on my own, I thought. But after months of miserably failing to fix the way I was feeling, I decided to listen to a friend and seek help.

Our first session identified my current emotional state. I told her that my inner and outer self embodied the word “meh.” When she pressed further, I had a hard time finding words to describe what I felt like for the last six months. She pulled up an emotions chart and asked me to find, and speak, the words that resonated. At first I felt overwhelmed by the countless words, but as I read the circular chart, words instantly popped out of the page.

Abandoned. Critical. Judgmental. Guilty. Tired. Powerless. Worthless.

The taste of the words on my tongue felt liberating and terrifying. I felt understood for a moment, only to be paralyzed by the intensity of the words. Finding my emotional verbiage now meant my emotions were real.

My therapist continued, “Mothering yourself means meeting your emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as an adult, the way your mom might have done when you were younger.” Her suggestion wasn’t so easy for me.

As she continued describing the difference between being a mother and mothering yourself, she startled me with another question.

“Do you think you’ve been a good mother to yourself?” she asked.

I paused, knowing the answer was a hard no. If anyone ever heard my thoughts about myself, I’d be categorized as unfit to walk around in society, I thought. “I’m not very nice to myself,” I reluctantly shared.

Her silence made me uncomfortable. She did that thing I had seen in countless movies, where the therapist silently stares at the client until they provide a deeper, more thoughtful answer. The silent pause was long.

“I guess I never really had examples of good mothers around me,” I finally shared. It was the first time we talked about my parents and my upbringing.

I told her that when I was 15, my mom and I hadn’t been getting along for two years, and after she caught me sneaking out again, she sent me to live with my dad in the middle of the school year. My dad, in turn, sent me to boarding school, and since then, I’ve been taking pride in taking care of myself. For the last 15 years, I have proudly not needed my parents. I didn’t need them when my 7 year relationship ended, I didn’t need them when I was raped, I didn’t need them when I got married, and I didn’t need them when I had a miscarriage.

That was until depression hit me. Pretending to be strong and independent was no longer an option, and I could no longer ignore that I couldn’t do this on my own.

“I have been flooded with memories of my childhood lately,” I told her. “I’ve been feeling angry, and devastated by the fact that my relationship with my parents is still categorized under ‘complicated.’ Lately, I’ve been wishing I could turn to a parent,” I admitted quietly.

I felt like I needed a mother. I felt like I needed my mother.

To this day, we still haven’t found our way back to each other. Instead of us against the world, it feels like her versus me.

Describing my relationship and history with my mother is complex. As a young child, I couldn’t have asked for a better mom. Of course there were plenty of decisions I wish she hadn’t made, like how often she’d put me in the middle of epic screaming matches or court battles with my father. But even with all of that, I remember my mother being an incredible nurturer. She gently tucked me in every night, made me soup when I was sick, and killed house spiders because I was scared, even though they scared her just as much as me. She was a single mom and, for a long time, it felt like it was just us two against the world. But as I entered my pre-teen years, our dynamics shifted. She became controlling and, at times, manic. I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what the catalyst was, but looking back, I think a lot of her unresolved trauma from her childhood bled into our relationship. We eventually ended up mirroring her broken relationship with her own mother. To this day, we still haven’t found our way back to each other. Instead of us against the world, it feels like her versus me.

My therapist continued, “Mothering yourself means meeting your emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as an adult, the way your mom might have done when you were younger.”

Her suggestion wasn’t so easy for me.

Journaling about needing a mother and about mothering myself made me realize that the feelings I felt because of my depression, the feelings that brought me into my therapist’s office — feeling abandoned, worthless, and powerless — were the same feelings I experienced many times over in my childhood. As a little girl, I often felt trapped and stranded. I was surrounded by people (parents and step parents) who prioritized their ego-based needs over the emotional and spiritual well-being of a child. I never felt seen or heard, constantly stuck in their chaos. When I turned 17, I moved out on my own, finally able to embrace what I always wanted: freedom. I would spend the next few years knowing exactly who I didn’t want to be in this world: my parents. But what I realize now, though I was completely oblivious to it then, is that the things I blamed them for, I was doing to myself. I became my own worst critic, I became fearfully controlling over my every move and thought, and I didn’t listen to myself by often betraying my intuition.

I learned to listen to the little girl inside of me and find comfort in the discomfort of her stories.

Learning to mother myself started with these realizations, and with self-forgiveness. I wrote my younger self letters, forgiving myself for being so hard on myself— for ever thinking I wasn’t good enough, or worthy of living a life without pain, or receiving love without betrayal.

In doing so, I started to learn to embrace my past — the good, the bad, and all of the invisible scars and wounds — releasing myself from my self-inflicted, debilitating shame. The letters I wrote taught me self-compassion for the little girl I once was and the woman I had become. I learned to listen to the little girl inside of me and find comfort in the discomfort of her stories, learning to be patient and honor where I was in every single moment. I allowed myself to need a mother, knowing that the little girl that’s still inside of me needed one just as much as I needed one now. I learned to hold myself when I felt scared or sad, reminding myself that I don’t always need to be so strong. That it’s okay to ask for help.

Mothering myself isn’t always perfect. Some days I feel like I’m failing, other days feel triumphant. I’m still learning. I’m working to love myself unconditionally, to be the mother I wanted when I was a teenager and the mother I needed when I was depressed, and to celebrate every single part of me. I’m learning that I’m not broken and I am, and have always been, worthy of love."

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Earth Day 2020

Earth Day 2020

There has never been this little traffic on the highways, the waters of Venice are now clearer, lions are lounging on roads normally frequented by safari-goers in South Africa, and bears and coyotes are roaming a vacant Yosemite National Park.

I know none of us would wish for a pandemic that is taking lives and devastating the livelihoods of millions to be a catalyst for environmental renewal. It is, however a somber yet encouraging result of Covid-19 and a fitting way to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Gina McCarthy, former head of the EPA during the Obama administration and now head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, aptly ponders, “...if people will want to go back to what it was like before...the pandemic has shown people will change their behavior if it’s for the health of their families. This has been the lost message on climate, that it’s a human problem, not a planetary problem.” Certainly food for thought.

If you're looking for a way to celebrate Mother Earth, I encourage you to check out Earth Day Live via earthdaylive2020.org. This site is featuring a three-day livestream where you can join activists, celebrities, musicians, youth organizers and climate justice visionaries in a dialogue about hope for the future. I know hope is the soothing balm we’re seeking right now, so I hope you tune in.

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Facing our Fears

Facing our Fears

It’s a been a doozy of a week. We’re feeling it in our eyelashes and toes. Here’s a beautiful meditation from @luminous_palm that’s perfect for these times:⁣

“Find some quiet time today or tonight to close your eyes and place a hand on your heart and breathe in long slow breaths. Invite in the fear. Imagine it sitting down in front of you. Thank the fear for trying to keep you safe. Then tell the fear “at this moment I AM safe, and I am grounding into this moment.” Then invite in love. Give it a color. Breathe in the color of love and breathe out any fear or tension you feel in your body. Repeat to yourself “at this moment I am safe and I am grounding into this moment.” See if you can can continue to breathe in and expand the love color until it fills your whole body. See if you can make it fill up the room. Keep expanding it to become as large as your house. Your block. Your city. The country. And if you can keep expanding this light and love until you visualize it spreading across the world.”

Photo credit: the amazing Mystic Mamma

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WiHU + ListenUp

WiHU + ListenUp

On October 28th, I spent the day working side-by-side with Women in Hospitality United (WiHU) for a sprint session to affect change in the hospitality industry. It was a robust, fulfilling and inspiring day with the WiHU founders, host committee members, Preeti Mistry and Reem Assil, and 40 other womxn.

We flowcharted and brainstormed to help develop the 2025 Hospitality Industry Equity Goals, a blueprint and action plan to address the industry’s most pressing issues, including those related to a safer, harassment free workplace, ending the gender and racial wage gaps, and supporting a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline. A lot was accomplished and I walked away from the event hopeful, with a handful of fledgling friendships, which was a welcome added bonus! 

What is WiHU?

Women in Hospitality United’s mission is to build community by creating safer spaces to gather; to foster leadership and champion the equitable advancement of all people through connection, mentorship, and resource sharing; to empower our members by providing tools, training, advocacy, and support; and to develop solutions and provide policies that set new standards for equity, accountability, and transparency in the industry. Born in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the non-profit was founded on the belief that there is an urgent need to revolutionize the industry and to amplify the voices of those who have been silenced. 

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World Food Day

World Food Day

Today is World Food Day, a day to celebrate the world’s farmers and focus attention on hunger, nutrition, poverty, and how to change food and agriculture. This year’s theme is "Our Actions Are Our Future: Healthy Diets for A #ZeroHunger World."

Women play an important role in food and nutrition security around the globe — as food producers, nutritional gatekeepers, scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and government and business leaders. Unfortunately, they face many obstacles as a result of discrimination, from fewer educational opportunities to less funding. Research from AgFunder, the New Food Economy, and Karen Karp & Partners finds that just 5% of investment dollars in 2018 went to agri-food tech startups with at least one female founder, yet woman-led startups in tech generate a 35% higher return on investment than their male-run counterparts.

Food Tank is honoring World Food Day by highlighting the stories of 14 inspiring women around the globe who work every day to empower small farmers, advance food as medicine, and rethink the ways people access and afford food.

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Make This Moment Count

Make This Moment Count

I read the Heath brothers The Power of Moments book and it was very transformative both personally and professionally...While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter.

I get their e-newsletter, so I can be re-inspired by how people are using the book to ignite a significant moment. This particular story about an 18th birthday gift box really hit home and the messages are very useful for any of us, at any age. The box included:

  • White Out tape - Think of this as your personal tape of forgiveness. Don’t forget you can use this on yourself.
  • Calculator - What you do now WILL count.
  • Permanent marker - A gentle reminder that what you do from this day forward will be considered by society as Permanent.
  • Change - You’ll be do a lot of this over your lifetime. Be the change you want to see in others!
  • Flashlight - This is a reminder of the light inside of you…let it shine brightly and remember to shine your light into dark places.
  • Duck tape - This will remind you to hold on to your values.
  • First aid kit - Take risks and be prepared for the results.
  • Deck of cards - It’s not what you’re dealt in life…instead, it’s how you deal with it. You’ve got a winning hand, play it well.
  • Ruler - Use it to measure your progress against your goals and try not to compare yourself against others.
  • Thank you notes - Make sure you remain humble and thank people along the way for the assistance they provide.
  • Dental floss - We have given you a winning smile. Use it with abandonment, but remember to nurture and care for it because it doesn’t come with a longevity guarantee.
  • Toilet paper - Remember “shit happens” and when it does, take responsibility for your role (if any in it) - get busy and clean it up!
  • Cooler - Always keep your cool. When things warm up, open the cooler to get a cold drink and cool down before taking action.
  • Battery - Be careful what you think, there are no neutral thoughts; only positive & negative.
  • Clock - Remember to embrace the day, it’s the only one you get.
  • Journal - It’s time to write your own story.
  • Compass - Find your North Star and fix your own compass to it. Check your bearings when you aren’t feeling on track.
  • Help wanted sign - Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

If you're interested in amplifying moments, definitely peruse this book, there's a lot to it...

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Going Through It

Going Through It

We love Ann Friedman! And she has a new podcast that we're obsessed with called Going Through It sponsored by MailChimp. Give it a listen if you need some inspo this Monday!

"I have a new podcast! I'm the host of Going Through It, a show about decisive moments. Each episode is me talking to a different person about a time when they had to decide whether to quit something... or keep going. My guests are extremely honest about the hard stuff.

They address questions like: Should I turn my hobby into my day job? Oh god, what if self-employment and new motherhood don't mix? Is it time to leave the band that made me famous? Do I end my marriage? Should I stay in this congressional race with the odds stacked against me? Should I seek justice for myself and other survivors? Do I leave this industry where I don't fit in? Should I just move to Hawaii and paddleboard all day?

All 14 episodes are available now on Apple Podcasts (where I would *really* appreciate your rating + review) or wherever you listen to podcasts. They're also online here

I wrapped these episodes in late 2018. Last week, when I went to see if the podcast feed was live yet, I discovered that, in the interim, another podcast called GoingThrough It had launched. And it was too late to change the name of ours. I reached out to Kenechi and Natalie, who host the other Going Through It, and they were more understanding than they needed to be. So when you listen to my new podcast, I'm asking you to also subscribe to their showIt's hard out here for a DIY podcaster. Let's support them."

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