How the grand jury's decision in Ferguson changed one entrepreneur's business—and a community. [via FastCompany.com]
It was a familiar hum. When you hear the helicopters begin to hover over Oakland, you know the people have taken to the streets. I reached for my phone. There it was: A grand jury had not indicted Darren Wilson over the killing of Michael Brown.
For the rest of the night I sat at my computer reading other people’s responses to the news, watching videos of discontent posted in my Facebook feed, and following the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #HandsUpDontShoot.
In the days that followed, social media felt less and less adequate, making the need for something different glaringly obvious.
Seeking Authentic Brands: Moving Beyond Picture Perfect
When Martha started her empire, she was a plucky housewife on a mission to build a profitable business. She was scrappy. She bootstrapped. She bulldozed. She didn’t take no for an answer. And her business grew. People flocked to her picture-perfect lifestyle spread, the portrait of a perfect home. The spreads of her magazine paint a picture of a life free of stains, full of effortless perfection. She drew people in and she prescribed elaborate decorating techniques to make one’s home and life better.
Martha Stewart built an empire – unfit for the new generation. I am not Martha – and neither are you.
In the face of real life – rotating your carpets annually, spending all day baking elaborate cakes, or hand making all your wedding favors can be overwhelming if not completely detrimental to your relationships.
I have spent a lot of time lately contemplating happiness. Happiness has never been something I have sought or prioritized but I have begun to realize that although I seek long-term fulfillment, happiness is an essential companion to have along for the journey.
In the home in which I grew up purpose seemed to be more highly valued than happiness. Yet over the last several years, life has been determined to show me how little control I have over my circumstances, particular in the area of lining up the four C’s in my life: calling, career, community and creativity. This has been really challenging for me, particularly because I have such an ingrained belief that one’s life should have a greater purpose.
Last fall my dear friend Aimee and I were discussing life in all its glory. She had recently returned from wrapping up a consulting gig in East Africa and I was nearing the end of a long stretch of soul-searching unemployment as I weighed grad school options. I expressed how the most delightful thing I have gleaned from my time ‘between cubes’ is how many wonderful things make up our lives, other then a job. Aimee shared a blog post with me entitled ‘Project Renovate’ that had been done by a friend of hers.
Like most people, I tend to use lists to remind me of all the to-do’s I’d rather forget, like paying bills and picking up dry cleaning. Yet ‘Project Renovate’ caught the beautiful elements that can make up life and inspired me to capture the things I actually do want to do.
Why not be intentional about renovating my own life?
Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind].
Many of you have your own tricks of the trade but after speaking with a friend who doesn’t travel often, I thought it would be fun to compile some of the lessons I have learned over the years. Please add your own suggestions.
A Reflection on the Life of Harvey Milk
Over a year ago I went to watch MILK, a movie portraying the life of prominent gay rights activist Harvey Milk. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and so much of the film resonates with the culture I grew up in; one of my close friends from college’s father was Milk’s doctor.
I stumbled upon the following e-mail that I sent to a friend after reflecting on the movie. As I think about the potential we have to shift the tides of society, examples like this remind me that it doesn’t matter what age we are when we start – it’s just important that we do.
One of the most important gifts you can give to a child, is the gift of being known. I have watched people say they love a child, but when they do not really know the circumstances of their life, their needs, and their dreams- the impact of that love is questionable. When you know a child, your response to their need can be rooted in their reality instead of in your own desires. This is where real change happens.
You can close your eyes and feel the divine spark concentrating in your, like a little Dr. Seuss firefly. It flickers with life and relief, … It’s magic to see Spirit, largely because it’s so rare.
…But you are not your bank account, or your ambition. You’re not the cold lump of clay you leave behind when you die. You’re not your collection of walking personality disorders.
…You are Spirit, you are love, and even when though it’s hard to believe sometimes, you are free. You are here to love, and be loved, freely. If you find out next week that you are terminally ill – and we’re all terminally ill on this bus – what will matter are memories of beauty, that people loved you, and that you loved them.
It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and I am flying over what looks like a dry moonscape from the bird’s-eye view of the plane. Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be alive and how one really relishes every day one has.
Recently a close friend of mine, upon returning home from Haiti feeling extremely ill, went to the emergency room. While there the doctors identified a 9cm tumor in her abdomen. What followed was a string of doctor’s appointments, a biopsy, and then the worst part- waiting for the results.
I am trying to get better at making decisions. Mainly because life is simple a very long (or short) string of them, and even when I think I am not making a decision my inaction or apathy is a decision in and of itself.
A friend recently encouraged me to start practicing the ancient tradition (taught by the martial arts) of making decisions in six breaths. Although making large decisions in less then one minute can seem negligent, I am beginning to see that it is not only possible by preferably. Last night at a dinner party I began to share my recent predicament with a stranger. Moments later with a story of a tarot card and the flip of a coin, I made a major life decision.
I believe being out of harmony with ourselves and the world around us has consequences beyond what is immediately evident to us.
When we fail to give ourselves space and time for introspection and silence, we can easily brush over what we know to be true in our inmost being. When we do not understand where our food comes from, we do not appreciate or respect the land needed to create it. When we do not see the face of the person who made our shirt, we can easily ignore that they may be working as a slave laborer. When we do not know our neighbor’s name, we can dismiss their and our need for human connection and support.
The parish schedule for Holy Week that stretches over four days presents a very different calendar than the one I have followed during other seasons of life. For years I have participated in the dark-hour service of His death, and then celebrated Easter at sunrise with my family on a hill somewhere. This year it’s appropriately different. I am grateful for in-between time because lately, this is the space that I fill.
I am between the painful death and miracle of resurrection.
As we drove through the mist past suburban homes, I couldn’t help but smile at the simplicity of cause and effect. When I look back, I feel like I didn’t have a choice, that I did the only thing I could at each turn. In actuality they were choices. I had the freedom to do what my heart told me was right and therefore where I am today is the only place I could possibly be.
…I was tempted to just get on the train this morning and head off into the mist, but the romantic idea is never that romantic in reality. You know exactly where I would be going, where I lay my head, where I escape for caffeine and where I hide to dream. I
Sometimes relationships are comfortable like that old t-shirt that you stole from your college boyfriend. Other times they seem to be the embodiment of the loneliness you feel because you couldn't make someone else stay. We sometimes look for that euphoric moment that made us feel like life was worth living and other times we allow our relationships to parallel the chaos we see around us in the world.
The one thing the heart is not- is simple. And we all choose.
The culture of power is one that has existed since the beginning of time. Emperors traveled far and wide to broaden their influence, philosophers, alchemists, and warriors challenged one another. Although our territories have becomes states and our warriors are paid by our leaders, power remains something we all strive for.
“I haven’t really ever found a place I call home. I never stick around long enough to make it. I apologize for once again, I am not in love, but it’s not as if I mind that your heart aint exactly breaking. It’s a thought, only a thought…. If my life is for rent, and I don’t learn to buy- Well I deserve nothing more then I get, ‘cause nothing I have is truly mine. I always thought I would love to live by the sea, to travel the world alone and live more simply. I have no idea what’s happened to that dream because there is nothing left here to stop me…If my heart is a ship, and I wont let is turn, because I am so afraid to fail, so I won’t even try. How can I say I am alive?…”
– Dido (Life for Rent)
This morning as I walked up Massachusetts Avenue past the embassies this song came streaming into my ears, turning the rustle of leaves into a choreographed dance. The lyrics caught my attention in a new way as I thought through what it meant to rent life.
This is my 14th time to LAX this summer, but it is the first time I have come to the airport with shoes on. I tossed my flip-flops in the trash right before I left, leaving my staple shoe in California and replacing the void with a loomed dread of loafers to come. I am beginning to think that people at the airport look familiar- it is possible that I have been here so frequently that this is actually the case, but more likely the beautiful (processed) faces of LA are beginning to morph into a few stereotypical molds.