Building community in a changing world

Monthly Archives: February 2021

February 23, 2021

A Return to Normalcy: What Will You Do?

As people I know get vaccinated, I can feel that day coming when I join the ranks. Could still be a few months, but it’s coming. I know.

So I’m trying to take some time to ponder the lessons I’ve learned during the pandemic. Actually draft up a list of “Top Ten” things I’ll miss about it. I’ll share that list soon enough. But one thing I know will be on that list is having the time – making the time – to read more of the writings of others. Learn about topics I’ve cared little about. Appreciate how I feel about certain things and stay attuned to those feelings. [Um, do more of the things you like – and less of the latter.]

One set of writings I’ve enjoyed are the musings of a daughter of a friend. I’m just loving the tidbits, the ramblings, shared by Abby Seethoff. In this one entitled “Juan Leyenda,” Abby covers a wide range of ground – as always – and here’s how she winds up this particular note:

A hundred years ago Warren G. Harding won the United States presidential election with the slogan “Return to normalcy.” These words promised a balm in the aftermath of WWI. Like Gambuto, I urge you to beware the temptation of “normalcy,” to interrogate the entire standard of “normal.” Is it “normal” for the richest country in the world to still lack a nationwide form of paid family leave? If “normal” means that Native women make 57 cents on the dollar compared to white men, do we want to go back? (This year’s Equal Pay Day took place on March 31; it’s not until August 13 for Black women, October 1 for Native women and October 29 for Latin@ women.)

So here are some ways to challenge a supposed “return to normalcy”:

If you want to distribute your money (IRS check or otherwise)—

Save lives by donating to groups that bail people out of jail; consider Taraji P. Henson’s foundation, which has responded to coronavirus by offering five sessions of free virtual therapy for black people who sign up; or invest in local artists and regional systems of production (such as the Northern California Fibershed Cooperative.)

If you want to use your words—

Call your representatives this week and ask that the phase four COVID-19 response package include funding to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault (as well as the people who serve them). More information/scripts here.

You can also volunteer to call voters in your community’s get-out-the-vote campaign(s) and/or write letters to the editor (the word count is typically quite small) that call into question continued construction on Keystone XL, if you live in Montana, or other fossil fuel shenanigans, if you reside in another state.

If you want to share health—

Donate blood, if your health and vulnerability permit. And, it hopefully goes without saying, wear your mask, wash your hands, hold off on hosting parties, etc.

If you want to educate yourself—

Sign up for this workshop hosted by the Highlander Research and Education Center about “Becoming a Middle Class Traitor” (takes place tomorrow, Monday, May 18) and/or listen to Christy Harrison’s podcast Food Psych.

If you need to take care of yourself—

Turn off your phone, the Wi-Fi, or both. Take naps. Stretch your hips and hamstrings.

Remember: you cannot do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good you can do.

Until next time,


February 17, 2021

What Death Can Teach Us About Life…

Ever since I spent a weekend up at the Omega Institute about 5 years ago now, watching Pema Chodron in action talk about death, I have been piqued by the stories I hear about those that receive a hard medical diagnosis and how sometimes that feels like a “wake-up call.” Fortunately, I haven’t had to face that type of hardship.

But I have read a few books about death, and recently learned about “The Five Invitations” authored by Frank Ostaseski. As noted in this book review, the five invitations include:

1. Don’t wait.
2. Welcome everything, push away nothing.
3. Bring your whole self to the experience.
4. Find a place to rest in the middle of things.
5. Cultivate don’t know mind.

These surely fit into everything I’ve been learning about mindfulness and I can’t wait to read the book…

February 10, 2021

Your Character Becomes Your Destiny…

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

A bunch of folks have been thought to have been the first to express this chain of thought. Who first said these words doesn’t matter. What matters is that you take them to heart. I love when Jonathan Foust reminds us of this mantra…

February 5, 2021

Courage to Choose Kindness

I’m enjoying a 30-day “intentions” sangha right now. And on one of our Zoom calls, a friend mentioned “The Courage to Be” by Paul Tillich, a book that describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the problem of anxiety.

Well, when I googled the “Courage to Be,” I stumbled upon this blog by Donna Cameron entitled “Do You Have the Courage to Choose Kindness?” It’s great stuff – so thought I would share an excerpt:

Being kind is making eye-contact, saying something beyond the superficial to another person, seeking connection. It’s accepting them without judgment and going out of your way to offer assistance or to brighten someone’s day.

Being kind also means taking a risk. Perhaps your effort will be misinterpreted; maybe your kindness will be rejected. Maybe you’ll appear clumsy or awkward. You could be embarrassed. Kindness makes us feel vulnerable — and that’s not a feeling many of us seek out.

Above all, kindness asks us to extend ourselves — to reach out, to be exposed, to open ourselves to ridicule, and to offer who we are to another human without any guarantee that they will like us, accept us, or offer themselves in return. That takes courage.