Transitions, Turning Points, Seasons, and Google Cal.

Transitions, Turning Points, Seasons, and Google Cal.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I’ve always loved transitions – especially the ones that happen in September. I’d turn another year older, my favorite TV shows would start back up (no more Summer reruns!), and school would finally, finally be in session again.

New grade!

New teachers!

New books!

New projects!

HOMEWORK!!!!


No? Just me? Wouldn’t be surprised.

Unlike most kids, I always looked forward to the first day of school. Maybe it was my naiveté, maybe it was my upbringing, maybe it was just my Type A- personality pumped for the structure. But there was something about backpack shopping, picking out my outfits, and pouring over the introductory paperwork all the students at my schools were sent pre- Day One that made my heart so very happy.

The impending challenges of a new grade – or in some cases, a new school altogether – never really entered my head. Back To School season was the BEST season of the year.

 

Back To The Grind

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long it’s been since you held a No. 2 pencil in your hand: for most former-kids, September will forever be synonymous with “Back To School.” The seasonal shift from Summer to Pre-Autumn to full-on-FALL signals that something new’s afoot – new friends, new challenges, new tests, and new teachers. We prepare for a new start, hope for positive change, and cross our fingers that we’ll be able to handle what life dishes out in the coming months.

Without Summer vacations and required reading, though, it can be hard as an adult to draw the line between where Summer ends and Fall begins. Because although we’d love to have an endless summer…and although the first day of Autumn isn’t technically until September 22nd…we can all feel a shift happen the moment Labor Day weekend comes to a close. It’s “back to the grind” – even though most of us have been grinding all year long.

And of course, 2020 has been a whole transition and grind of its own. Thank god for the seasons, that know no pandemics or furloughs. Thank goodness for the trees below my apartment window, that layer on the leaves right on cue and shed their layers as we pile on ours. Seasons and Google Cal. My 2020  touchstones. They remind me not only of the actual date but remind me that time goes on…even if I’ve lost all sense of time, days, weeks, and months (the amount of times I’ve woken up not knowing what day it was has been sitcom-worthy, except without any laugh tracks or plot twists tied up in 30 minutes or less).

And so it can just seem like more of the same – like we lost track of time, and the Summer months so associated with taking a breather completely passed us by. Couple this with a built-in programming from childhood to register this time of year as transitional, and it’s easy to feel a little bummed out once September hits.

At this point in 2020, you might be ready to Rip-Van-Winkle it and nap your way into the future. Or at least 2021. But even though there’s been so many struggles, so much sadness, and so many Groundhogs Day-esque weeks and months, I urge you – please do not opt out of the challenge right before the change arrives.

 

The New January

While January usually gets all the attention when it comes to resolutions, I’d like to argue that September holds just as much promise as the 01/01 mark.

Pre-Autumn and Fall is the perfect time to evaluate where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. It’s a time to bring back that childlike enthusiasm, relentless joy, and maybe even those first-day jitters you had as a kid (because all worthwhile and exciting changes in life bring up first-day jitters, really). And Fall 2020 just might just be the turning point you’ve been waiting for and working toward.

But you’ll never know if you don’t show up.

At this point in the year, you might be feeling defeated. I get it. Another new start and transition is exactly what I DON’T need right now. Has ‘normalcy’ ever felt like such a valuable commodity? Normal seasonal shifts feels like it would be such a luxury to experience. It’s tough to get excited for Fall or take advantage of the Dog Days Of Summer when you’re still mourning the loss of Spring.

This should feel easier, you might think. This should feel natural. If anything should feel normal, it should be the seasonal shift. A transition I’ve done so many times before.

Except not.

At all.

Starting anything - a new job, a new relationship, a new habit, a new season - is hard. The harder part, though, is to keep going and see what happens next.

 

It’s Not About Easy, It’s About Right

Starting anything – a new job, a new relationship, a new habit, a new season – is hard. It is really really hard. In 2020 or otherwise. No matter how exciting it reads or how major it feels or how much promise it holds or how many time you’ve ever started fresh. Hardness and newness will always be the best of friends.

The harder part, though, is to keep going and see what happens next. 

Because it doesn’t get easier, it just morphs along the way. And when you keep going, and keep committing yourself to being proactive and not reactive, you learn to let go of what you feel should be. You start to work intimately with what already is toward what can be.

Maybe you learn to like the tough of it – and even if you don’t like it, maybe you even learn to love it with that type of unconditional love that’s more about appreciation than approval – and you let go of what doesn’t serve you and you stick with the rest (which is hard to do, too). Or maybe it all morphs altogether, and you end up starting down a whole new tough path you never even intended on going down.

And the starting doesn’t stop and the hardness doesn’t stop, but you learn you can take it, you can handle it, and the toughest stuff is ultimately what becomes the fabric of who you are and why you’re here.

And then you maybe realize that all this time, it was never about easy or hard at all. It was just about what’s right. For you.

 

Your Own Personal Season

This month – and this Fall in general – I encourage you to look at what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what’s right for you. Evaluate what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, or what you’ve accomplished in 2020 so far, and how you want to feel by the time the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021. So much of what we learn, how we grow, what we accomplish, and how we want to feel depends on the decisions we make, not the places we go (or don’t) or things we buy (or don’t) or titles we hold (or don’t).

It’s called “Fall” for a reason: just like the leaves fall away from their branches so the tree can begin its process of renewal, nature encourages us to let our old energy-suckers fall off our backs to make way for this new season of growth.

We’ve got four whole months. A THIRD of the year left. You have so much time. It’s all about what you do with it.

There will be challenges in the coming months, of course, and the newness of Fall and Winter will bring all kinds of highs and lows we could never have predicted. But if we shift our perspective to refocus our minds, refresh our hearts, and renew our commitments, there’s no telling what kind of miracles the rest of this year has in store.

New people.

New books.

New projects.

New homework.

Pick out your outfit and grab your backpack.

Class is in session.

Don’t ditch this one.

Subscribe to The (Good) Word + join the WANT movement:

 

The Self-Talk Shift For When You’re Feeling Behind Everyone Else In Life

The Self-Talk Shift For When You’re Feeling Behind Everyone Else In Life

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True or False: I’m able to distance myself from what other people are doing and avoid the comparison trap.


Maybe you think I’m not affected by ‘what other people are doing’ because all of my work is about being proactive and building a strong sense of self and all that kind of stuff BUT!!!! Guess WHAT!

I’m human!

I get affected by what other people are doing, and how they do it, all the time. No way am I exempt.

HOW I get affected has changed, though. Whereas I used to compare myself to other people and berate myself for not being as good or professional or ‘together’ as someone else…

…now what usually happens is I just get SAD. Or exasperated. The negativity doesn’t question my potential – it questions my ability to reach it to its fullest.  

Does that ever happen to you? You’re not jealous and you’re not really even self-deprecating…the self-talk that’s coming up isn’t:

I’m a failure. 

I’m not successful like they are.

She’s doing THAT way better than I am.

The self-talk is more along the lines of:

I’m exhausted.

I’m doing everything I can and it’s just not cutting it. 

I’m so behind.

I can’t believe I’m still HERE. 

If I only had [fill in blank], this wouldn’t be so hard.

It can be frustrating seeing what other people are able to do with their resources, their connections, and their privileges – and telling yourself to celebrate what they’re doing instead of telling yourself that you’re in competition with them (which is a good idea, because there is enough room for ANYONE and EVERYONE) won’t magically make those feelings of frustration magically disappear. Celebrating others and feeling down about your work, progress, or Self aren’t mutually exclusive.

This happens most often for me on a professional level – but it also rears its head personally. I compare what I’m able to do with what someone who has a financially robust support system, like a high-earning partner or a wealthy family, is able to do. I compare my work days at home in my studio apartment (where I cowork with my husband) with people who have homes with dedicated offices or even just doors that can close besides the door to the bathroom. I compare myself to people who have cars to sing in (which is one of my favorite ways to blow off steam), people who have home gyms, people who live mere minutes from their families or best friends…as you can see this kind of thinking is NOT productive. And this kind of thinking can become really detrimental, because then what happens is that I start to frame choices I’ve actually made for my best well-being in a negative light, and all the sudden the negative self-talk loop starts, and just keeps going. 

What Is A Negative Self-Talk Loop?

A negative self-talk loop is when the demeaning and degrading story we tell ourselves about ourselves or our life not only plays on repeat in our brain, but leads to even more demeaning and degrading thoughts. Since negative self-talk thrives off of uncertainty, it makes complete sense that it’s been having a field day for so many of us in so many ways throughout 2020 in particular.

When you’re in the negative self-talk loop of ‘I’m trying and it’s not enough,’ ‘I’m so behind,’ or even just ‘Why does this have to be so hard,” try this reframe:

Do the very best with what you’ve got…and the best for what’s next.

 

Do The Very Best With What You’ve Got…

Do the very best with what you’ve got. And remember that what you have could be something that someone else longs for. Some of those things are superficial (like the layout/size/location of your home) or based in choice (like whether or not you have kids). Someone who lives alone might be longing for the interactions a family would provide. Someone who has a spouse or a kid or both might be longing for even just an hour of solo time. The proverb ‘grass is always greener’ became a proverb for a reason. Everyone – EVERYONE – has their breaking points, or stuff that just makes things harder than it is for others.

And then of course there are all the barriers to entry that are so very beyond superficial and so very beyond choice. No, not every one of us has every single privilege, but we all hold SOME sort of privilege in comparison to others. I’m in my 30s, I’m white, I’m cis-gendered, I’m able-bodied, I’m a college graduate, I’m a size that society doesn’t actively exclude…there are so many aspects of who so many of us are that give us a massively unfair edge over others in our society. If you’re reading this, it means you have access to the internet, which I recently learned more than HALF the world still doesn’t have. There are so many systemic barriers to entry that exist for so many people when it comes to them living the life that they’d love to be living.

This isn’t a post to tell you to suck it up and put on your big kid pants and pull that twisted parental BS so many kids in my generation got about finishing the food on our plates because of the vast amount of starving people there are in the world. Nope. I am so over that shame and blame game.

Guilt, as I told my brother the other day on one of our heart to heart calls, is one of the most useless emotions – not always – but most of the time. Because most of the time, guilt, leads to shame, and shame leads to silence, and silence gets us nowhere. As WANTcast guest Christen Brandt, co-founder of She’s the First, said in Episode 71, if you’re feeling guilty about your own privilege, that’s actually a sign it’s time to do something WITH it.

Do the very best with what you’ve got, and the best for what's next. Click To Tweet

…And The Best For What’s Next.

When you start to go down this path, and then you think of all that others don’t have, and maybe the guilt and shame starts to bubble up, repeat to yourself: I will do the best with what I’ve got, and the best for what’s next.

The what’s next part is so important here. Because sometimes (not always, but sometimes) when we focus so intently on the ‘what we’ve got’ part, we forget to look forward. Life is a dance between the past, the present, and the future – doing the best with what we’ve got and the best for what’s next encompasses all three. We’re doing in the present, working with what the past has brought us, and building toward the future.

This past-present-future mindset not only allows you to embrace where you’ve been and where you are, but also look for ways you can enhance and improve life – your own AND others’ – in the future.

When it comes to life enhancement and improvement, it’s really easy to get stuck looking in your rear view mirror. I know I’ve definitely found myself in positions where I’m kicking myself, rhetorically wondering WHY didn’t you start sooner? WHY didn’t you have that conversation? WHY didn’t you speak your mind? WHY WHY WHY

…and it’s usually because I was so wrapped up in whatever my perceived roadblock was, that I forgot that the present moment is ALSO a step away from the past and into the future.

No moment lives on its own, by itself. Every moment is intertwined with both all the ones that have come before it and all the ones that will come after it. Sometimes it’s SO hard for me to just do the best with what I’ve gotten in the past and what’s in front of me in the present. But when I can remember that this moment is also in service of whatever is next, it’s that super small but ultimately seriously meaningful change that can help me keep going WITHOUT getting stuck in my own negativity loops.

Use what you have now and what’s led you here in the best way you can, and set your future up for success as well. Click To Tweet

Set Your Future Up For Success.

My hope is that we’ll someday untangle being perfect with being right. And we’ll stop confusing doing the BEST with doing the best you CAN.

So whether that’s finding a way to get your business running from your studio apartment, or taking job interviews while also taking care of your kids, or feeding yourself nourishing dinners when the grocery shelves are barely even stocked, or helping your household become actively anti-racist, or whatever it is for you, try that reframe. Do the best with what you’ve got and the best for what’s next.

Use what you have now and what’s led you here in the best way you can, and set your future up for success as well. Know that the now isn’t the forever, and the cool thing about that is there are tangible things you can do right now that your future self will thank you for.

Like Maya Angelou said, Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better. Put it on loop, and just keep going.

Feeling Myself: On Touch + Body Image

Feeling Myself: On Touch + Body Image

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Jessica Rabbit once famously said, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” Self-talk isn’t inherently good or bad, positive or negative – it’s all information. It’s how we view that self-talk that determines if it’s on Team Positive or Team Negative.

And for many of us, our self-appointed negative self-talk flares up the biggest when it comes to talking about our BODIES. 

My thighs are _____.

My hips are _____.

My arms are _____.

My skin is _____.

Pick your body part and pick your adjective, and I’m sure you’ve got at least one area you tend to beat up and call mean names on the regular.

But just like our self-talk, none of our body parts are inherently good or bad – we just name them that way. And way too often, we lump them into the bad category instead of the good.

Seeing a reflection you’d prefer looked different, or noticing your clothes fit differently than usual, can instantly morph your response from neutral sensations to negatively charged emotions.

And what do we do when those emotions bubble up?

We distract ourselves and immediately blame our bodies for merely existing.

My body must be the problem. 

My thighs are _____.

My hips are _____.

My arms are _____.

My skin is _____.

None of our parts are inherently good or bad - we just name them that way. Click To Tweet

So often we don’t bat a lash at being mean to ourselves – not because we’re inadequate, but because we’re removed.

When we feel things we don’t want to feel, we try to distract ourselves. Scared? Procrastinate the day away. Uncomfortable? Check every app on your phone (twice). Angry? Play the blame game and point out everything wrong with someone else.

When we distract, we dissociate. But something else happens, too.

When we dissociate from whatever’s happening instead of facing it head-on, we don’t learn how to navigate the full spectrum of our human experience. And what’s more, we start to shut down OTHER sensations, too. We don’t just become removed from the things we don’t like, we start to numb out to the things we do, too, because what affects one aspect of our lives usually affects the rest of it, too. It’s no different with our bodies.

We detach, place blame, and dissociate – instead of trying to figure out where those pent-up emotions are actually coming from.

 

Just like Ghost Worries hijack your thoughts and make you forget the reality of your situation, body-related negative self-talk steals your sensations and makes you forget what your body actually feels like.

 

The pattern is simple, and mirrors the kinds of patterns we’re often prone to when a relationship on the rocks. See the thing. Notice the fault. Blame the Other. Withdraw attachment. Withdraw kindness. Withdraw touch.

But instead of the Other being a partner, the Other is our body.

~

Touch is vital. As U.C. Berkely explains, touch “activates feelings of reward and compassion. reinforces cooperation, and cultivates a sense of safety and trust.” 

If you apply that logic to touch between two humans…it might behoove you to stop and consider if the same is true with self-inflicted touch.

The second you dissociate from the actual feel of your body, the second you start to dissociate from your body itself. And when you dissociate from your body for too long, you become afraid (or at least resentful) of it. This thing you call your body seems entirely out of your control.

Your skin becomes something to pick at and prod.

Your muscles become bulk.

Your rolls become flab.

Your fat becomes forbidden.

The only time you touch your body is when you’re zeroing in to fix something.

Some relationship.

The solution is simple:

like Beyoncé and Nicki, you must literally start feeling yourself.

(cue music)

No, I don’t mean in the sexual sense (but hey, if you’d like to discuss that, listen to two episodes about sex education on the WANTcast here or here). I mean actually TOUCH yourself.

Your arms. Your legs. Your stomach. Your hips.

Feel what your body feels like.

Sound awkward? It might be at first. But it’s a weird yet effective trick I always come back to when I’m really feeling low about my bod. And I find the longer I go without putting TOUCH into practice, the quicker I slip into old body-loathing tendencies and self-talk.

It takes a matter of minutes, doesn’t involve spending money, and doesn’t require you to recite a mantra or do anything too hippie-dippie. It’s as easy as applying lotion after you get out of the shower or giving yourself a mini massage. There is NOTHING fancy about this practice, but it’s powerful beyond belief.

Take the time to actually feel what your skin feels like in your hands, the way your muscles curve and your thighs dimple (yes, everyone’s do). Notice the micro-dips in your collarbone as you press in, or the soft area under your armpits that is so often shielded from the sun. Get curious about your lines and shapes – ALL of your lines and shapes.

How does this thing I call My Body fit together?

How does my back hold me upright?

How does the weight I put on my feet each day affect their sensitivity?

How does the constant texting and typing my hands do affect them from the inside out?

How do my hips center my whole body?

When we notice how our skin feels, we become a creature to admire instead of an object to critique Click To Tweet

Touch is healing, and not just when it comes from another person. Touch can be healing in our relationship with our Self – an aspect of healing that is way too often overlooked.

If you want to take it up a notch, try using creams or oils with your favorite scents. Learn about acupressure points. Maybe even turn it into a journaling exercise by taking a 10-minute ‘touch break’ in your day to explore what the skin you’re in feels like and take notes. The best part is that you don’t need anything fancy to put this self-love-building practice into place. When we can notice the way our skin feels, relieve a tight muscle, feel the way each part of our body miraculously fits together, we become a human to admire instead of a object to critique.


 

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Taking Your Self Off The Sidelines: Why Shifting Your Self-Talk Matters.

Taking Your Self Off The Sidelines: Why Shifting Your Self-Talk Matters.

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I first conceived of WANT: Women Against Negative Talk back in 2007. It was born out of my own personal pain, and my own simultaneous a-ha moments that a) conscious and unconscious negative self-talk was what held so many women back from the life they longed to lead, and b) people needed a place to go to empower themselves to shift their self-talk in a real, lasting way that went beyond momentary feel-good affirmations and mantras.

I wanted to create a multi-faceted platform that addressed all kinds of negative self-talk – self-talk related to body image, relationships, work, community, self-worth, the narratives that are passed down to us by the people before us, and the narratives that are passed around to us by the people who stand beside us today.

WANT has come a long way since 2007. It’s a movement. It’s an editorial platform, a podcast, workshops, toolkits, and a vibrant community on both social media and IRL. It’s let go of podcast sponsorships in favor of spotlighting and amplifying organizations doing work on the community and global level to advocate for change – both change in policy and change in paradigms. WANT has never been my passion project – it’s always been my purpose project. And with time, that purpose has only gotten clearer and stronger. Not only the purpose…but the urgency behind it.

For anyone new here, I wanted to write this primer on why shifting your self-talk matters. For anyone who’s been here for a while, I wanted to post this as a reminder of what we – all of us – stand for, and why the work we do is so, so worth it.

~

Over the last few years, I’ve rejected the idea that shifting your self-talk is a ‘self-help’ issue. Sure, there’s overlap. But shifting your self-talk, to me, is the very opposite of the good-vibe-ness that self-help and wellness have become notorious for in so much of mainstream self-help/wellness conversations.

Shifting your self-talk is so, so much more urgent than that.

 

The work of shifting your self-talk – which is really the work of finding, being, and staying your Self – isn’t just about changing your life, in the long run.

It’s about changing life. Period.


Shifting your self-talk is about facing your shame, guilt, doubt, fear, frustration, and blind spots head-on and being proactive, not reactive. What does that mean? It means using critical thinking skills to listen, learn, and act even (especially!) when the stakes are high and you might fuck up. Because as Maya Angelou said, when you know better, you do better…but if you aren’t putting yourself in a position to know better, you will never, ever do better.

Shifting your self-talk is about finding, using, and owning your own voice whether people are watching or not – so that when you get feedback from the world, explicitly (like via words) or otherwise (like via emotions), you’re able to grow, learn, and be better in a way that’s sustainable.

We need major policy changes and systemic paradigm shifts. We need police and criminal justice reform, we need legislation passed that protects Black communities, POC, LGBTQ+, women and girls, people with disabilities, and allows equity to everyone.

And.

We also need radical personal changes.

It’s not an either-or situation.

It’s an at-the-same-time one.

We need both simultaneously, because there is no way that fighting for and creating the proverbial “change we wish to see in the world” will ever be sustainable if we’re constantly offloading our ‘hard’ emotions off on others by using hateful words or inflicting harm (side note, it’s really easy to sit back and convince yourself you’re doing something to change when in fact all you’re doing is criticizing the ‘people in the arena’ actually taking those steps forward. See: entire premise of Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly), or shaming ourselves into silence because we’re overwhelmed or too afraid to make a mistake.

We think a future version of our Self will know better. Be stronger. Speak louder. Or that one day, we’ll be successful or self-actualized ‘enough’ to say what we truly mean instead of what we think checks all the right boxes. The stakes are too high right now, we convince ourselves. I don’t know enough yet. Like once we achieve a very specific self-dictated level of success or expertise, the conversational doors will fly open. When that happens, we say, we’ll use our voice. We’ll talk about the things that matter. Systemic racism. Gender disparities. Wage gaps. Mental health. When, when, when.

 

Yet each time we say when, we not only put our Self on the sidelines, we delay the very progress we desire to contribute to. Each time we say when, we reinforce the narrative in our mind that the ‘right’ time is far off in the distance.


Imagine if everyone in the world waited until their own self-determined ‘day whens.’ We would never have any change or progress. We would spend our years waiting around and call that a life.

The world needs your voice, and the world needs your growth. It all stems from the story you tell yourself, about your Self. Click To Tweet

Society would love for you to keep telling yourself the story of your shame, your guilt, your self-doubt and your defeat.

Society would love for you to stay silent and small. It would love to keep steering you far from who you are and discouraging your growth.

But the world needs your voice, and the world needs your growth. It all stems from the story you tell yourself, about your Self.

Will shifting your self-talk alone change the world? Of course not. But we must treat it like the vital puzzle piece of change that it is. We must practice using our voice so that when the chance comes to make a change, we speak up and out instead of shying away. And because what we say on the outside is a direct reflection of what we say on the inside – we must practice diving in, digging deep, and changing our internal AND external world simultaneously.

Shifting your self-talk is an essential piece of fighting for the world you actually want to live in, for yourself and for others.

The when is now. The right time is now.

Take your Self off the sidelines. You are so ready to get into the arena.

 

You Must Imagine.

You Must Imagine.

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A story.

Last year on our trip to Italy, we visited the ruins of Pompeii. As our tour guide gestured toward the empty rooms and half-demolished ovens and sprawling town squares, she invited us into the ancient world by using one phrase over and over: “You must imagine…”

“You must imagine, here is where the baker would ground the grains for his daily goods”

“You must imagine, this street was once was a bustling throughway from the docks to the town”

“You must imagine, it was a clear day…”

We walked through the town, imagining the kitchens and living rooms and baths. The celebrations. The rituals.

And the devastation.

The suffering.

The feelings of being scared and alone.

The imagination hurt. The imagination was necessary.

Since that day in Pompeii, I‘ve done my best to catch myself when I say “I cannot imagine” and rid it from my conversations. I used to think it was a phrase of compassion – but it’s the exact opposite. Because to not imagine is my privilege showing. I CAN imagine, because I MUST imagine. There is no other way.

I’ve begun to realize the prevalence of “I cannot imagine” as not just a socially-acceptable response to a traumatic event, but as a way to perform empathy. But what I’ve also started to realize is that responding “I cannot imagine” is just that: a performance of empathy. An artistic interpretation. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, doesn’t matter. Stating “I cannot imagine” creates a barrier between us and the truth. 

You cannot selectively empathize. You cannot “not imagine.” Because altering your empathy and only allowing yourself to imagine the best of times isn’t really empathy at all. It’s ignorance.


Imagine #AhmaudArbery and #BreonnaTaylor and #GeorgeFloyd and #NinaPop and #TonyMcDade. Imagine #ChristianCooper. Imagine how many cases like theirs occur that don’t ever get attention because there are no videos circulating on social media. Imagine all the cases that have occurred that never got attention because they happened when social media wasn’t a thing. Imagine #SandraBland and #MikeBrown and #AltonSterling and #TrayvonMartin and their families. Imagine what it means to fear for your safety every single day. Imagine outliving your child, or grandchild, and imagine them becoming a hashtag. Imagine. Do not shut off or opt out or create the imagination barrier.

To create lasting change – and to be actively anti-racist – we MUST put ourselves in each others’ shoes. We must feel broken apart by pain and suffering and injustice,and then GET UP and do the real work to unbreak our collective heart and reimagine our collective coexistence.

As Rachel Cargle says, “I don’t want your love and light if it doesn’t come with solidarity and action.” The solidarity is important. The action is crucial. And it all starts with the willingness to imagine.

We must imagine what hurts in order to imagine what’s necessary to create lasting change.

We must imagine so our eyes are wide open.

We must imagine so we don’t forget.

And then, we must turn our imagination into action.

 

The following lists are action steps: books to buy, places to donate, people to follow on social media, education tools to dive into – all of which I’ve also done myself. They’ll all, btw, lead you to more action steps, books to buy, places to donate, people to follow, tools to use to learn and unlearn, and more. I encourage you to keep going.

To be clear, I’m not the authority on anti-racism work or even *an* authority – there are many, many others out there who have been doing this work for years. I am this journey of learning and unlearning, too. So if I can be the middle-woman to introduce you to some of those voices, great. Be sure to follow them, buy their books, join their courses, donate, and support the work they do…

And then share their work with your communities. Have conversations on the phone and on FaceTime and at your dinner tables. It’s 2020, and sometimes it can feel like social media allyship is enough. But real change happens in the real world. Posts are very important, YES, but what happens outside of Instagram or Facebook is just as important if not (read: definitely) more important. A post or hashtag without action behind it is what’s called “performative allyship” (Google the phrase if you’d like to learn more). If you’re feeling lost and don’t know what to do, Mireille Harper has a great list of steps toward non-optical allyship that is so very useful.

On WANT, we talk a lot about diving in, digging deep, and “making shift happen.”

This is the time, more than ever, to dive in, dig deep and make shift happen on a real, lasting level.

 



THINGS TO DO (that I’ve personally done as well)

Join Rachel Cargle’s The Great Unlearn
Buy these books:
Me And White Supremacy by Layla Saad (and then do the exercises – as she says, “it’s a book you DO”)
Antagonists Advocates and Allies by Catrice M. Jackson
Dive into Leesa Renee Hall’s work (and Patreon!). You’re an HSP and feeling completely overwhelmed? She’s created work just for HSPs!
Donate to your local bail fund (Google “bail fund [your city or state]”) and/or The Bail Project
Support George Floyd’s family
Support Ahmaud Arbery’s family
Donate to Campaign Zero as they work to end police brutality
Donate to Unicorn Riot as they expose root causes of social and environmental issues
Donate to Black Visions Collective as they create transformative, long-term change
Read and put into action the steps outlined in Mireille Harper’s guide to non-optical allyship


RESOURCES + EDUCATION: PEOPLE + ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA

@ckyourprivilege
@nowhitesaviors
@reclamationventures
@mireillecharper
@austinchanning

@rachel.cargle
@laylafsaad
@diveinwell
@decolonizing_fitness
@decolonizingtherapy
@chaninicholas
@blackgirlinom
@blklivesmatter
@ibramxk
@iamrachelricketts
@austinchanning
@dr.kholi
@cleowade
@mspackyetti
@theconsciouskid
@nicoleacardoza
@wellreadblackgirl
@goodancestorpodcast
@sincerely.lettie
@glowmaven
@maryamajayi
@naacp
@colorofchange

*A note about social media: there are actual people behind these accounts that are putting forth massive emotional, mental, and physical energy to educate and fight for change. Treat them as such. They are more than just “resources.” Follow, learn, unlearn, pay them for their education and energy, and amplify their voices by sharing.

One more time for the people in the back:

We must imagine what hurts in order to imagine what’s necessary to create lasting change.

cover image by @emilyonlife

Blind Optimism: On Cultivating Real-Deal Positivity

Blind Optimism: On Cultivating Real-Deal Positivity

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

My amusement park ride of choice as a highly sensitive kid was the carousel. No big drops. No unexpected moves. No aggressive sounds or strobe light effects. Just an expected gallop in the round. I could get on my favorite horse and, for three whole minutes (or more), escape from everyone and everything around me (or more).

I’m a Libra, and true to my astrological nature, I appreciate aesthetic. So of course, part of the appeal was that I loved how pretty carousels are. Anyone who has ever visited an amusement park or fairground knows: carousels are very, very pretty. Porcelain hollow horses and spherical moulding on loop.

Most carousels cost mere quarters to ride, so it’s easy to just stay on and go around in circles ad nauseam. A tactic I vividly remember employing on one particular trip to the Santa Monica Pier when the roller coasters and target-shooting games felt too overwhelming to even walk around. Those were scary. The carousel made me smile. So I stayed on.

But the thing about rides is that they need to end at some point. At SOME point, the carousel needs to stop. You get off your literal high-horse, and you’re faced with the world beyond the beautiful lights and porcelain fairytale creatures. And if you’ve stayed on too long, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble off a bit more than wobbly.


Our culture has a negativity problem and a cynicism problem – but it also has an optimism problem.

To be clear: Living with an optimistic outlook on life is a strength. No doubts there. Living optimistically usually means you’re forward-thinking and naturally see what could be. You find the beauty in the seemingly possible, instead of the darkness in the seemingly inevitable. No, optimism (lower-case-o, neutral tone) by itself isn’t bad at all.

HOWEVER. Just like anything, there’s a necessary energetic balance that makes optimism actually work.

If you pay very close attention, you’ll feel the disconnect when optimism starts to go downhill. When it happens, that once-proactive optimism will start to shut out the realities of life as a means of avoidance, and chalk it up to “looking on the sunny side of life” or a “glass-half-full” mentality.

How does this happen? How can something so inherently good betray us?

 

I call it Blind Optimism.

 

Blind Optimism is what happens when you rely on your positive outlook to ignore, shut out, fabricate and gloss over your life. It can minimize experiences and eat you alive – just like Casual Negativity, cynicism, auto-pilot pessimism, and projection. It can gnaw away at your spirit, your relationships, and roll a haze of oblivion over your existence.

Blind optimism makes me dizzy – just like carousels. Blind Optimism turns me away from facts and reality in favor of the shiny, pretty thing around the corner. I get onboard and go in circles over and over and over and over until I get dizzy and lose my bearings.


When you find yourself caught in a nonstop-carousel-ride moment of Blind Optimism, one of two things starts to happen:

a) The carousel stops being fun and eventually breaks down. There’s only so much you can give. There’s always a breaking point when it comes to extremes. Always.

b) The carousel becomes annoying, saccharine, and dismissable; something other people tire of and don’t want to go near. It’s cheesy and trite at best, ignorant and entitled at worst. You become a part of a fairy tale world playing on loop – one that’s in no way a reflection of real life. You find yourself alone, on a ride going nowhere.

We love fullest and deepest when we love others FOR their strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences – not in spite of them. Click To Tweet

I’m known for being able to see the good in things. One of my friends calls me “aggressively optimistic.” And when we’re all stuck in the collective doldrums together, I’m often asked how I stay so optimistic.

The funny thing is – I don’t view myself as a glass-half-full Optimist. Pollyanna was admirable, but always bugged me for some reason (which made me feel guilty, of course – sorry Hayley Mills). I always loved the brilliantly crafted songs and rad penguin dance parties in Mary Poppins, but the Practically Perfect nanny was never relatable to me.

When asked for my “secret,” I reveal that I’m not really a bona fide Optimist (capital O, chipper voice).


My brand of positivity isn’t about what’s GOOD or BAD, it’s about what’s pragmatic and proactive instead of unrealistic and reactive.


Life’s ups and downs are inevitable, and some moments will seem more hope-filled than others. So what can you do about it?

You can see the facts in front of you and the projected outcomes ahead of you, and you can root for the positive while still recognizing the negative. It’s not about putting on blinders and ignoring that things aren’t perfectly in place or might go awry – or maybe already have in a major way. It’s about taking in the world as is, seeing the full spectrum of its experience and existence, and choosing to proactively fight for an outcome that uplifts us collectively.

It’s like true love: we love fullest and deepest when we love others FOR their strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences – not in spite of them.

optimism


To break away from Blind Optimism and into Pragmatic, Proactive Positivity, our love of life and love of self MUST transcend those pitfalls and darkness.
It starts by moving forward through things instead of around them. It starts with granting ourselves permission to let our Self-Like to ebb and flow (because it’s normal and because we’re human) and by viewing Self-Love as the kind of unconditional, unbreakable love that no high-high or low -ow can affect.

To break away from Blind Optimism and into Pragmatic, Proactive Positivity, we must let go of rushing into the search for how good things CAN be in the future (or not), and instead sit with how good things are right NOW (or not). We must begin to look at the glass not as half empty or half full, but as a glass that’s being sipped from every moment.

Easy but nuanced. Simple yet scary. It’s not easy work, but it’s right work. And it’s the work that’ll lead us to finding our genuine smiles, without the help of the ceramic ponies and the carousel leading nowhere.

blind optimism and real positivity

Look at the glass not as half empty or half full, but as a glass that's being sipped from every moment. Click To Tweet

 

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