Less Advice, More Nina Simone

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Swearing off advice and self-help was the most important thing I did in 2013. It was an agonizingly slow and painful year; I was at the end of my wits — and any input on how to cope made me grumpy. So, I systematically removed it from it from my Facebook feeds, default conversation topics and nightstand reading list.

Instead of reading blogs about how to feel better, I started reading blogs about how to produce radio stories. I listened to Marianne Elliott’s little “Taking Fucking Care of Yourself” rant often and decided to drink two cups of coffee each morning, instead of one. I returned to anti-depressants.

I read and re-read David Rakoff’s The Bleak Shall Inherit essay and then Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. I went to the arcade and then the ice cream shop. I took a break from the news. I revisited Kanye West’s Graduation album and reveled in my obsession with Nina Simone and Son Lux.

I stopped trying to find fellow expats who would understand on Twitter — and, instead, found solace in Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without A Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. I stopped writing poetry and started reading it. I blew steam and complained more than usual.

I embraced my natural tendency toward defensive pessimism and the wry humor that comes with it. I laid on the floor for 20 minutes every morning and called it yoga. I accepted limes in my cheap beer as a suitable alternative for my beloved Left Hand Milk Stout.

I asked myself, “What can you do, kid?”
And I let myself answer, “Nothing.”

No more fighting.
No more looking for answers.
No more trying to be brave.

Instead:

Reading fiction.
Eating kiwis.
Listening to Trouble In Mind.

I’ve never been more relieved — or kind to myself.

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This post is part of the Thriving Blog Tour, which is spreading self-kindness to the masses. From Coping to Thriving is a six-week journey that will teach you how to turn your coping strategies into self-caring behaviours, leaving behind struggle and learning to thrive. To learn more, click here.

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mediadiversified:

'When you consider that no black artists from anywhere in the world scored a number one single in 2013, especially in genres created and pioneered by black people, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ all-conquering display was a given.  It was a categorical and poignant reminder that whilst black creations are themselves most welcome, when it comes to marketing them, a white face is preferred. ‘
~ Joseph Guthrie The Macklemore Problem

mediadiversified:

'When you consider that no black artists from anywhere in the world scored a number one single in 2013, especially in genres created and pioneered by black people, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ all-conquering display was a given.  It was a categorical and poignant reminder that whilst black creations are themselves most welcome, when it comes to marketing them, a white face is preferred. ‘

~ Joseph Guthrie The Macklemore Problem

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"Someone recently tried to kill me. I’m not ready to die. I still have regular American Pie stuff I wanna do, you know — house, car, soccer practice.” David  January 19, 2014 Downtown Public Library  Omaha, Nebraska

"Someone recently tried to kill me. I’m not ready to die. I still have regular American Pie stuff I wanna do, you know — house, car, soccer practice.”

David
January 19, 2014
Downtown Public Library
Omaha, Nebraska

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Our neighbors who run the little shop below our apartment gave us a loaf of bread for Christmas. I was so surprised and delighted that I kissed their cheeks.

It’s a small thing—but to me, an expat so often feeling out of place, that loaf of bread was a gift of disarming generosity and kindness.

Thanks to all of you who are looking out for your neighbors; you may never know just how much it means.

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It’s Human Rights Day — Long live ‘em (the human rights)!

“The Olinka girls do not believe girls should be educated. When I asked a mother why she thought this, she said: A girl is nothing to herself; only to her husband can she become something.
What can she become? I asked.
Why, she said, the mother of his children.
But I am not the mother of anybody’s children, I said, and I am something.”

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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I’m working on a piece about ways to support friends, neighbors and family members who experience the holidays as a tough time of year.

Do you have any input for what helps or hurts when supporting your loved ones?

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Dec 7 is always one of the best (albeit loudest) days of the year in the barrio. The streets are lined with candles!

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I had the happy idea that what I do not understand is more real than what I do,

and then the happier idea to buckle myself
into two blue velvet shoes.

I had the happy idea to polish the reflecting glass and say
hello to my own blue soul. Hello, blue soul. Hello.

It was my happiest idea.

- Mary Szybist, http://bit.ly/1keNYdq

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Strong Men, Riding Horses by Gwendolyn Brooks

(Lester after the Western)

Strong Men, riding horses. In the West
On a range five hundred miles. A Thousand. Reaching
From dawn to sunset. Rested blue to orange.
From hope to crying. Except that Strong Men are
Desert-eyed, except that Strong Men are
Pasted to stars already. Have their cars
Beneath them. Rentless, too. Too broad of chest
To shrink when the Rough Man hails. Too flailing
To re-direct the Challenger, when the challenge
Nicks; slams; buttonholes. Too saddled.

I am not like that. I pay rent, am addled
By illegible landlords, run, if robbers call.

What mannerisms I present, employ,
Are camouflage, and what my mouths remark
To word-wall off that broadness of the dark
Is pitiful.
I am not brave at all.

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Las Pavas wins National Peace Prize

I’m thrilled to share good news from here in Colombia! The farming community, Las Pavas, that I’ve shared so much about here on Brave Love won the National Peace Prize earlier this week.

Big love to our brothers and sisters in Las Pavas and their partners like the Christian Peacemaker Teams - Colombia who are doing the gritty and slow work of nonviolent resistance.

Full story here.

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