Building community in a changing world

September 13, 2022

More on “Slavery in America”

Continuing on with some thoughts on “Slavery in America: The Montgomery Slave Trade” from the “Equal Justice Initiative Report,” as first noted in this recent blog.

Here’s some of the things taught in the middle of the report:

– It is estimated that more than half of all enslaved people held in the Upper South were separated from a parent or child through sale, and a third of all slave marriages were destroyed by forced migration.
– Only a small percentage of enslaved people were traded due to economic hardship or attempts to escape.
– Slave markets across Alabama, particularly the one in Montgomery, facilitated the kidnapping and enslavement of free African Americans.
– To conceal an enslaved person’s age or ailments, traders would decorate the enslaved to increase their marketability.
– African American women were raped by their owners and passed around to friends and visitors to do the same.

September 6, 2022

Slavery in America

I just started the “30 Day Challenge” offered by “The Antiracist Table” and the reading assignment for Day #1 is an eye-opener as could be expected. It’s entitled “Slavery in America: The Montgomery Slave Trade” from the “Equal Justice Initiative Report.”

Here’s some of the things taught in the first section of the report:

– The magnitude of slavery was larger than I thought – 10.7 million people were transported to America, with another 2 million dying in transit
– The particular experience of American slavery took different forms based on region and time period. Slavery became less efficient and less socially accepted in the Northeast during the eighteenth century, and those states began passing laws to gradually abolish slavery.
– By 1860, in the fifteen Southern states that still permitted slavery, nearly one in four families owned enslaved people.
– The racialized caste system of American slavery that originated in the British colonies was unique in many respects from the forms of slavery that existed in other parts of the world. It was permanent, not a class distinction that could be overcome.
– The myth of black people’s racial inferiority developed and persisted as a common justification for the system’s continuation. Ending slavery was not enough to overcome the harmful ideas created to defend it.

August 13, 2022

Work-Life Balance Today

I got drawn in to this podcast about “Work-life balance” because of a promise of analysis of the show “Severance,” which I love. There wasn’t too much analysis of the “innies” and “outies” but it was still interesting to hear the discussion led by Tracey Diamond and Evan Gibbs as they sat down with Debbie Epstein Henry, who is the host of the “Inspiration Loves Company” podcast. As all three are lawyers, the focus in on a law firm life…

August 4, 2022

The “5 Remembrances”

As I recover from my turn with Covid, I have some time thinking about the five facts regarding life’s fragility – the “five remembrances” (here’s a dharma talk from Sr Thuận Nghiêm about them):

1. I am of the nature to grow old, I cannot escape old age.
2. I am of the nature to get sick, I cannot escape sickness.
3. I am of the nature to die, I cannot escape death.
4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5. I inherit the results of my actions of body, speech, and mind. My actions are my continuation.

As Joseph Goldstein has said, “When you practice, practice like anything can happen at anytime”…

July 11, 2022

DEI at Work

This Brene Brown podcast with Aiko Bethea is awesome. Here are some random thoughts shared during it:

– There is a need to not be “transactional” but rather be “transformational.” That requires introspection. That requires stories; not just numbers.
– DEI is about getting comfortable being uncomfortable. This is hard work and may involve grief as it challenges who you are and what you do.
– It’s hard because armor is not rewarded nor required.
– With this topic, there’s always blood in the water.
– DEI efforts should always be led – or co-led – by those with the experiences that the system has suppressed. You can’t get caught up with white timing as our governance systems aren’t built for that. Too many white leaders today and there is a need for group and collaborative learning.
– There is a tendency for action bias – a desire to fix the problem fast, which is driven by discomfort and vulnerability. This involves trying to solve the problem before its even defined.
– Invisibility is one of the most painful experiences.
– For white people, the mentality should be “I didn’t create it but I’m in it now and I have a role in fixing the system.”
– BIPOC folks also have to extract themselves actively from old mentalities. They face a much bigger imposter problem than others.
Sonya Renee Taylor’s book “The Body is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love” should be read. Her three tenets are: Peace with not understanding; Peace with difference; and Peace with your body.

June 28, 2022

Mindfulness Mumblecore

Not sure why this feels appropriate today – but here are a group of random thoughts and concepts to consider. Mindfulness improv:

– Love is being present for someone else. Informed and touched by each other.

– See yourself in others.

– Energy flows through us.

– Consciousness takes flavor of what you dip it into.

– Remove yourself from desire and move to presence. Then your mindfulness practice gets quickened.

– It’s hard to practice mindfulness alone. To deepen your practice, you need a teacher and/or sangha to help you on your path.

June 15, 2022

Why “RealGoodFresh”?

In this short video, I talk about my three guidelines for selecting domain names for websites. It’s one of my favorite activities. But I want to devote this blog specifically to why I selected “” I can boil that down to four reasons:

1. I was drawn by how each of the three terms reflects what I intend to do on this blog. First, I intend to be “real” – look reality square in the face. Tell it like it is. Second, I strive to be “good” – both as a person and in my works. Finally, I want your experience in consuming the content to be refreshing.

2. It’s short & sweet. Three syllables. And easy to spell.

3. Each of the terms – “Real,” “Good” and “Fresh” – on their own has a high value in the world of domain names. Good domain names is big business – and there are algorithms that determine their worth. You can’t argue with an algorithm. Then again, this blog has a tiny audience and will likely stay that way. And I’m more than fine with that.

4. I’ve always been drawn to those people whose full name consists of three first names. Such as “Jimmy Earl Dean.” “RealGoodFresh” has that kind of feeling. Like it belongs in an episode of “Rockford Files”…

I remember the exact moment that I hit upon the name of my first website – – more than twenty years ago. I had been mulling a number of other names for a few weeks but they didn’t quite seem right. I was socializing on a friend’s deck and kicking names around with a few people when someone threw out the name. I knew instantly that was a winner. More often than not, it happens like that. You start with a few names you don’t quite love – and eventually you get there.

To be fair, most folks that I bounced “RealGoodFresh” off of weren’t enamored with it. So I kept it in reserve while I auditioned a slew of other names. But the siren of this one was too strong to resist. Something about it seemed right for my purposes…

June 8, 2022

“Enjoy each breath”

I was on a long weekend silent retreat a few days ago and it opened with each of us being urged to find a mantra that came to us easily. For me, it was “enjoy each breath.” I’ve blogged before about this 5-minute guided belly-breathing relaxation from “Mindful” – and how it’s an example of “diaphragmatic breathing,” a technique explained in this article.

During the retreat, we were reminded to use techniques during meditation such as simply counting to five during an inhale – as well as comparing one of these long inhales against the next inhale – as a way of lengthening your breathing and becoming grounded. With the mere act of counting as a way of becoming centered with that serving as an anchor. So simple, yet so effective, as a way of being present. Always coming back to the breath!

June 2, 2022

“wisdom says i’m nothing, love says i’m everything”

I’m not sure the quote in my title as pulled from Nisargadatta Maharaj’s book – “I Am That” – has any real meaning but it sounded neat when I first heard it. I understand it as saying “it’s more enriching to open’s one heart and feel compassion as a way to live than to be glued to a device (or two) and be quite knowledgeable.” Except maybe being learned is one’s passion and that’s it’s okay.

Or maybe I should just stick to the Kier Eagan’s quotes from the “Handbook” in “Severance”: “Render not my creation in miniature” or “No workplace shall be repurposed for slumber”…