Dear friend who doesn’t like to get political

Dear friend who doesn’t like to “get political,”

Farm bill. Food stamps. Farm subsidies. Food safety. Poisoned.

Eating is a political act.

Car emissions. Smog warning. Ozone action. Factory exhaust. Suffocation.

Breathing is a political act.

No music. Test teaching. Politician’s curriculum. Slashed budgets. Dumbed.

Education is a political act.

High premium. Expensive meds. Uninsured bankruptcy. Untreated. Preexisting until you unexist.

Health is a political act.

Farm runoff. Waste treatment. Lead water. Depleted aquifers. Parched.

Drinking is a political act.

Bears Ears. Natural parks. Algal blooms. Dying reefs. Homeless.

Recreation is a political act.

Trade laws. Labor rights. Underpaid. Overtime. Destitute.

Working is a political act.

Neighborhood watch. Stand your ground. Speed limits. Slow . . . at risk children at play.

Safety is a political act.

Unemployment. Social security. Disability. Promised entitlements. Uncertainty.

The future is a political act.

Museums. Public works. Heart appreciation. Examined…

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The gift of a teacher

Mrs Marshall

Before I turn in a book manuscript to my editor, I turn it in to my high school English teacher, Dixie Marshall. She’s my best and most trusted editor. And also, I suppose, I’m trying to make up for all the assignments I didn’t turn in as a high school student.

There was the group project on King Arthur where we turned in our “notes” and it became apparent that none of us were taking the assignment seriously.

There was the summer reading group. Mrs. Marshall selected me and a few other students for a group she hosted at her house . . . in the summer! Did I mention this was during…

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Do you tip the barista when they aren’t looking?

Has this happened to you?

You place your coffee order and by the time you find a buck or two for the tip, the barista has their back to you. You look at the hand-decorated, ornamented tip jar and pause. Do you drop in the tip while no one is looking, or do you wait to get “credit”– a “thank you” for your “thank you.”

What did you do?

Does a tip fall into a jar if there is no one in the cafe to see it? Does it count? Of course it is counted at the end of the day. But in that moment, it’s not counted as your act of gratitude.

But are we tipping to enhance our own status or tipping to support someone else? Is tipping about us or…

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My son the tiger

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Raise your expectations to succeed.

“Aim for the moon and, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  – W. Clement Stone

Or, inversely, lower your expectations to feel like you succeeded.

“The secret of happiness is low expectations.” – Barry Schwartz

Expectations can be healthy or unrealistic.

My son Griffin is in Kindergarten. We didn’t expect autism and had never suspected it until our pediatrician raised the concern when Griff was only 18-months old. Then kindergarten seemed like light years away and an impossibility.

Would he talk? Would he learn? Would he listen?

He exceeded our expectations during kindergarten. Academically he performed on a fourth grade-level; that’s as high as the test would go….

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I cut Steven Seagal from my book, Putin pasted him into US-Russian relations

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Vladimir Putin named Steven Seagal as the Russian Special Envoy to the United States. While writing Where Am I Giving I went on a Steven Seagal tangent I thought was worth sharing. As a kid I watched a few of his movies, but until I went down the Steven Seagal rabbit hole to research the tangent I never realized how deplorable of a person he seems to be.

To set things up… the tangent came in the first chapter of the book when I write about my first post-college trip. I had been taken in by a monk, Sange, who had stayed at Steven Seagal’s house. We were prepping for a celebration in honor of Sange’s teacher Penor Rinpoche.

Here’s…

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What’s a volunteer worth?

LGBTQ performers

According to the Independent Sector, a membership organization of nonprofits, the value of volunteer time is “the average wage of non-management, non-agricultural workers.” So actually the stat is pretty meaningless and simply an average wage of an American worker.

Not every volunteer or volunteer task is equal.

I worked summers at my parents’ wood truss manufacturing plant swinging a hammer, pushing a broom, and cutting and stacking boards. But I am by no means a carpenter. When I built a bookshelf in shop class in high school, the cuts were rounded and it was a rocking bookshelf, which really isn’t a very desirable quality for a bookshelf. My father, on the other hand, can build anything. If Dad…

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What are the Human Rights anyhow?

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Yesterday Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, announced that the United States was withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

George W. Bush thought about doing the same thing. The Obama administration recognized the group wasn’t the most effective, but decided to work from within it.

But putting the politics aside…do you have any idea what the human rights actually are?

I bet you can’t name all 25 articles. I bet you didn’t even know that there aren’t 25 articles but 30. Ha! Got ya! I certainly couldn’t until I looked them up while researching WHERE AM I GIVING? Here’s an excerpt–probably…

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PRIDE & Prejudice

 

Facing Pride group shot

(Facing Pride volunteers, photo by Kira Childers)

“I don’t think they should be executed, just imprisoned.”

And by “they,” the twenty-something grad student in Uganda meant anyone who was gay.

Throughout my travels I’ve seen that the most consistently persecuted group is anyone in the LGBTQ community. “Homosexuality” is illegal in 74 countries and punishable by death in 14.

Each country seems to have a group, at least one, of people looked down upon. There is usually some regional variance. Costa Ricans aren’t fans of Nicaraguans taking their jobs. The government of Myanmar denies the existence of the Rohingya. Most countries don’t like migrants. Sometimes the hate is fueled by…

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Want to make the world a more generous place? Help launch my next book

Kelsey at APSU

 

My new book Where Am I Giving? comes out on July 25th, or 15th, or who knows? I’m not JK Rowling. However, I do I believe there is magic in this book that can make each of our lives and the world better.

I need your help! The world’s a noisy place and marketing budgets are limited.

So far I’ve received some great endorsements from world renowned philosophers, bestselling authors, and Gandhi’s grandson, but none of them meant as much as what my high school English teacher, Dixie Marshall, wrote to me after reading an early version of the book:

“I believe this is the most important book you have written and may ever write. It’s really an impressive book, a valuable book,…

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