Storytelling Live

I’ve been to a couple of storytelling events where people go up to a microphone and share a very vulnerable part of themselves to the public. I’ve heard a variety of stories from the origins of social innovators to anecdotes from newly landed Canadians. Each one was fantastic because the audience was able to appreciate how sharing such an intimate part of yourself can create a strong connection between people who are otherwise strangers.

At both events, though, I’ve wondered what it would be like to share my own story. I always go back to the statement, “Tell me your life story,” for whenever I’d imagine meeting someone. I would always ask myself how the hell I would do just that. I wouldn’t start at the very beginning and give a timeline of events from birth until this very moment. No. That’s boring. What would be the point to that kind of story?

As a writer, I’d have to spin it in such a way that my story is told in a specific context. There would definitely be a unifying theme throughout, to keep it not only entertaining but also meaningful. And it would be more powerful that way. Also, I think that having a theme is a mark of good writing. And I want to be known as a good writer. I think that this is why I keep imagining what it would be like to go up to a group of strangers and share my story.

So, what would this theme be? I think that talking about how stories affect the way we live could be powerful. For me, I would include how fiction has impacted my reality and how I’ve tended to blur the lines between the two. I’d say how easy it is to live in fantasy and ignore reality; how living in fantasy can distract you from improving your reality. And until you bring yourself back to the present moment, you won’t be able to create a story that’s worth telling and that’s more significant and exciting that the ones that you read, watch, or hear. That story is yours.

At least, that’s the idea that I have in mind.

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Riots

Ferguson. New York. Baltimore. Detroit. I’d been observing these events going on in the US from north of the border. A few things always come to mind as I witness everything:

1. Fire is catching.

There are thousands of people making comments on how these riots/protests/rallies/demonstrations/rebellions remind them of the districts’ uprisings in The Hunger Games series. I can’t help but be one of those people. It’s interesting yet frightening how they parallel each other. Interesting how fiction mimics reality, and how fiction impacts real life. Frightening how people can safely cheer on the underdogs on the page or screen, and how they condemn such actions in real life.

2. History is repeating itself/History hasn’t resolved itself.

It can feel like a never-ending cycle. And it hurts me that the progress that we’ve made isn’t enough. I know I’m a non-Black person of colour, so I’m in a weird (for lack of a better word) position between knowing what discrimination and racism feel like, and not experiencing the unending narrative of oppression that only these people live everyday.

I don’t know, guys. It feels like slavery happened a long time ago, but these wounds and roots run deep.

3. Two-Slice Hillys still exist.

I haven’t personally met any Two-Slice Hillys (shit-eating racists, if you haven’t read or watched The Help), but just seeing comments on the Internet just make me feel a wide range of negative emotions from sadness to rage to fear. I just can’t believe that progress can be so uneven across a province or state, let alone an entire country. (The US and Canada have their own set of histories to address and remedy, so I can’t side with anybody saying which country has the better human rights record.)

These people have been brought up believing in specific things and seeing others in such a way that it is so damaging to society. And I’m not discounting myself from this. I have acted, thought, and felt with prejudice and perpetuated oppression. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. But I’m trying my best to be more thoughtful and empathetic. I hope I’ll be better.

4. What am I doing to help?

How am I being more thoughtful and empathetic? By stepping out of my comfort zone and learning about these issues. I can follow the news, do research, and talk to people about what has been going on. I can ask questions and hopefully get the truth.

But what about the riots? What about protesting? What about being more active? I know I’m not the type to join a protest or even march in solidarity with people. I never saw myself doing that. Maybe I’m afraid of what others will think of me. Maybe I don’t care as much as I think I do about these issues. Maybe I think I belong elsewhere. Maybe I’m supposed to be fighting from another angle.

I hope that I’ll figure that out. It’s unfortunate to think that more riots and protests will happen, but it’s also very necessary that they do. We need to continue the conversation, to fight systemic oppression, and to make sure that the world remembers what happened and is still happening. I’m no expert on this topic, just an observer and a member of this planet, but I hope that whoever reads this will join me in working to help fix this in their own way.

Shit My Ego Says

I found the website “Shit Your Ego Says” a while ago, and I immediately loved it. Here was a funny, frank, and genuinely helpful place for people to get over their shit-talking egos. I thought it was great.

I’ve only visited it twice.

Why? Probably my ego saying that it wasn’t necessary. That I was fine the way I was and didn’t need to find a way to be better. But my ego was wrong. It usually is, no offence.

James McCrae, creator of Shit Your Ego Says, argues that your ego isn’t just a Freudian concept or the term for acting and being high and mighty. Your ego is the voice that says that you shouldn’t be doing this. Your ego is all of your fears conveniently compacted and stored in the back and front of your mind, weighing you down. You don’t realize it at the time, but your ego is a part of you, but not you. Your ego acts like society or a parent, but is not your enemy. Not really.

I’ve thought about the times that my ego has shit-talked in order to get me to stay the same (read: remain stagnant and complacent) and not do anything. My ego told me to search for jobs the traditional way when I knew that it wasn’t working. My ego told me that I needed another person to complete me. My ego told me to not do anything out of the ordinary: don’t sign up for coaching, don’t share your writing, don’t build your network, don’t, don’t, don’t.

It’s amazing how I did not get tired of hearing that. At the time, it was like reassurance and justification for procrastinating on things that would only propel me forward and allow me to grow. It was like my ego was taking care of me. In reality, it was coddling me. And I didn’t need that. I needed to be an adult. I needed to be a grown-up. Most of all, I needed to be me.

Whenever you let your ego do the talking and just go with whatever it says, you’re denying yourself the opportunity and freedom to be yourself. You’re not standing up for yourself. You’re letting one part of you act like the whole. (Like I said before, your ego is not your enemy. It can actually protect you at times from taking risks that would backfire, or caution you to think some more before making a big decision. It can teach you how to be self-confident and how to trust yourself.) And this whole person needs to listen to a more important part. This can be your higher self, your intuition, God, the universe, etc. But this part is more of a whisperer. It doesn’t like to yell or point or jab at you. It is more loving and calm. Which is why we tend to ignore it for so long.

My higher self doesn’t shit-talk. It soothes me, heals me, and lends a listening ear and a warm embrace. I always feel better after listening to it and doing what it says. I feel more like myself, because the ego’s been stripped away. All of the worries, fears, expectations, layers of, well, shit, are gone. It’s just me and my higher self.

While I do feel a little weird about talking about what some might call “airy fairy hippie spiritual nonsense,” I also feel vulnerable and earnest and completely myself. So it must be the right thing for me to do.

Thoughts on Happiness

I’m sure you’ve heard countless times by now how happiness is not an end goal, that it’s a journey. That it’s a choice. That you can always have access to it. And while all of those things are true, I just want to add that happiness is something that you fight for. You fight with expectations, with other people, and most of all yourself, in order to make happiness a journey, a choice, and accessible. And it’s pretty damn hard to do that.

I’ve talked about before how last year was full of hardship and how that had propelled me to shift my perspective on life and make small choices with significant impact. I didn’t realize at the time what would happen after doing all of those little things. I also didn’t realize just how duality shapes us: It wasn’t until I had gone through a little Hell that I was able to appreciate the little bits of Heaven lying around.

These little changes have made me into a significantly different (and I would argue better) person. Who’da thunk it that I would become even more patient and introspective? Not me. I guess we can surprise ourselves every day if we wanted to.

So, I have a few little things I’ve started to do keep that happiness up:

1. Fist pumping or dancing right when I wake up – a little weird, yes, but it’s amazing how much a difference this can make, and right at the start of your day!

2. Meditating – this can even be just consciously inhaling and exhaling for a minute. It’s even better if you do this while lifting the corners of your lips.

3. Singing and dancing more – even when there’s no music on, or you’re doing work, or you’re standing in line. See how it affects your interaction with everyone else.

4. Doing random acts of kindness – hold the door open for someone who’s more than 10 steps away, say hello to a stranger, compliment your family and friends more often… there are so many little things that you can do to make another person’s day brighter.

5. Counting your blessings – you don’t have to keep a tally of these, but thinking of a certain number of things that you’re grateful for will remind you to look for the good in your life.

I’ve had to make a habit of doing these things, on top of everything else I’ve been learning, and it’s been working really well so far. So well that I haven’t felt a huge desire to write. I’ve noticed that I’ve been writing whenever I want to re-frame a negative experience or emotion into something more positive, and lately I haven’t had much negativity in my life. But it’s good to write when you’re in a good mood just to make writing an even better experience.

The Premio Dardos Award

Erika Kind was very thoughtful in nominating my blog for the Premio Dardos Award. I’ve seen a lot of these kinds of awards popping up (like the Liebster Award I received weeks ago), and while they are similar to chain mail, I can’t help but be grateful that people have taken the time to nominate others. So, thank you, Erika! 🙂 ❤

 

premio dardos award-3

The Premio Dardos Award goes to bloggers who demonstrate “cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.”

I love that there’s an award that recognizes such values in action. It makes me happy that there are so many writers who appreciate such thoughtful and meaningful content.

I’m supposed to nominate 15 bloggers for this award, but honestly, everybody I subscribe to has the intention of spreading important values. So, I guess I’m nominating everyone! 😉

Mothering

I more often than not feel like a mother. While I don’t have any biological or adopted children (although I have a sponsored child care of an international charity), I work with children in a daycare setting and I like to bring people together in order for them to bond and to make sure they’re doing fine. I’ve been told that I’m the parent of my friend group, and I have to agree. It’s like I have an innate obligation to feel responsible for the well-being of others (which is why I like to write about things that will help others and why I’m in the non-profit sector). And while that sounds great in theory, I have to wonder what that means for the people in my life.

Am I striking a good enough balance between positively influencing others and being responsible for my own actions? Am I keeping my side of the street clean while showing others how they can do that for their side? It can be hard.

I remember feeling stressed about planning group outings with friends, and feeling stressed in general when it came to work that was for others. Is it a mom thing to say that I care too much? I wouldn’t know, and I don’t want to assume anything since I’m not a “real” mom. I do feel like my own mother would say the same thing, and I know that she has definitely experienced what I just described. But take that and multiple it several times over the past 20+ years.

This kind of balance is pretty critical when you care about being the best person you can be, influencing others to be the best they can be, and acting in such a way that people not only like you but adore you. I think that all three are possible, but not without making sacrifices. And sacrifice is something that all parents would know about. But it’s something that’s still somewhat foreign to me. I still feel a little too selfish, a little too self-involved, to feel that way. I know that parents can and should take time to practice self-care, but they have that high level of obligation and responsibility towards their families – and it makes me wonder how they do it. You can’t help but admire parents who want the best for their children and do whatever they can to make their children’s lives better than theirs. That’s exactly what mine did.

I do want to have my own child(ren) one day, but I know that day won’t come for a while. In the meantime, I can try my best to practice that balance between self-care and self-sacrifice.