πŸ‘ΆπŸΏ How Can We End Mingi in 2020? πŸ’€

I’ve learned that by focusing on what I can do today with what I have towards what I want I can always do something.

Sometimes my heart bleeds, right now about the children born with top teeth before lower teeth in some parts of Ethiopia (the mingi). They get killed for that, or because they are twins, because their mother wasn’t married, or is married, but without the blessings of elders.

I’ve been thinking about it for a week, it stays on my heart. There are so many bad habits I have, my country has, the world has, this is just one, but it really stays on my heart.

My husband and I were watching “Omo Child: The River and The Bush,” produced by John Rowe and Lale Labuko. I really didn’t want to watch it at all, my daughter and son were watching with us and we had just watched “One Child Nation” a movie about many Chinese babies being killed. My daughter saw the Chinese babies in the trash dumps in black plastic bags and she said that she loved them so much, I saw a preserved baby in a jar who looked so much like my own son, the hard thing was his smile, he looked so happy and grateful, yet the ocean of circumstances added up to a beautiful and wonderful and male baby still being killed. It wasn’t just the girls (even though that’s not fine to kill girls either). I was so disappointed in myself, in my people, that they got the math wrong.

China was legitimately worried about everyone starving to death, they were over a billion people, the population was exploding and food production was crawling forward. But it never needed to be one child, two would have worked. They killed so many babies, they force sterilized woman, babies were killed before term, at term, as newborns, they were not always mercy killed, sometimes because their parents hoped they would be rescued they were left in the market and died slowly of exposure, what a horrible thing to have happened. But at least it’s over now. Now there are too many old families with not enough children to care for them, so the equation of how many children could be fed was re-examined and it never made sense for it to be one… the way the population control happened could have been so much more humane, even at the same cost, if only there hadn’t been so much fear that it was done in a panic that overcame all humanity, dignity, reason. If only.

My very good friend was born in China, her family moved to Japan to have a second child and they moved here for work, so I know someone in my very small circle of life who was directly affected by the one-child policy.

So I was disappointed in my own people, that we are all so unquestioning, I didn’t question the policy myself, it didn’t affect me since my ancestors left China for Hawaii, but all the same, it seemed like it made sense to me, I never questioned it.

If I did question it, I thought it was unfair to prefer boys to girls, I didn’t think, killing already born babies is wrong how can it be stopped.

I felt to blame partially, even though I couldn’t have done anything and was born in the wrong time period to do anything. I felt to blame because I didn’t mentally challenge the right of it.

Then I learned for the first time about mingi, killing already born babies for getting teeth in the top before the bottom and other stigmas. It is similar in a way because it’s believed that if they stay the village will starve from a curse. In a way it’s the same dynamic, fear of starvation, causing killings that do affect food consumption, but in a more complicated way.

I don’t know much about Ethiopia, but I really hope there is some way I can support the people who know more than I do to be able to help save those babies.

I don’t want to talk about abortion, I am in favor of abortion, I know that mothers in most places only have the energy to raise a certain amount of children in modern countries, if they can abort unwanted pregnancies including rape pregnancies then they will more likely treat the children they raise later with more love and patience. There is a difference between killing babies unborn vs born.

It seems like everyone would agree it is wrong to kill an already born baby, yet it happens and we don’t stop it.

Lale Labuko did end the mingi practice in his village and saved 37 children, but there are still many other villages doing it.

It’s a hard issue, the government outlawed it, but yet people do it because it is there culture. It calls for not war, not government intervention, but cultural intervention, cultural change.

Removing the children requires supporting them, changing the practice is a more sustainable solution, but it is so ethically twisted.

Who has the right to ask other people to change their cultures? But on the other hand who has the right to practice culture if it kills others (like jihad and the crusades)? If you can’t kill others who are innocent, can you kill ones who have murdered without being guilty of murder as well? Is there a difference between a soldier and an assassin? Is there a difference between murdering people and eating meat? I think so, but I can feel that it’s a fine line.

I think it’s wrong to kill babies that are already born and healthy, (though not ones who need a huge amount of life support that is insanely expensive), but then who gets to define healthy? Does that mean not depressed if depression is an illness? I don’t think so. Does that mean not retarded? I’m not even sure honestly.

I haven’t drawn clear moral maps of all my ethics, but I’m sure killing babies already alive and healthy violates them.

However isn’t that a parenting choice? Or is it? How far are children in their parent’s care? But what of the parents who refuse mingi and can’t protect their babies from the village as a whole.

It’s been about a week of thinking about it and I can’t really decide what to do about it.

I’m not sure if I have the right to judge the situation without knowing more about it, I’m not sure if the model works in a larger way I don’t understand, I’m not able to provide personally for all the orphans who would be saved if they were all taken away from their villages, I’m not able to communicate with the villagers that their babies would not cause plague and if I could if it would matter, I’m not sure how I could help or if I should help. I’m not sure if I shouldn’t have been focusing on teaching my two kids or loving them in all the seconds I was worried about the babies half a world away. But no matter how unsure I am if I can help or how I can help or if I can help, I can’t spin the situation in any way where it is the right thing to let two-year-old children die because their top teeth have grown in before their bottom teeth.

If nothing else it seems like teeth removal should be an option… I wonder if a march of peace and singing would be enough to end the practice. I wonder what could be done, but I don’t know and perhaps that is why other people also hesitate to act on behalf of the innocent.

After watching “One Child Nation” the last thought I had was, at least it’s over (killing live babies in China) and after watching “Omo Child” I don’t have that closure.

It’s something I want to stop, but I have no idea if I will be able to do anything to stop it at all.

However I think the very first thing in any bad situation is awareness, if we all know about this, smarter people than me, kinder people than me, more powerful people than me can take steps, find a way and I’m sure the greater the public awareness the greater the minds and hearts facing a problem, the better odds we have at ending this situation that our distant cousins are still facing.

In 2020 isn’t it time that curses of ourselves on ourselves, curses of one culture on itself and curses of one culture on other ones all end?

At least start to end?

To what extent the human heart is willing to live in a panic of fear, that is what allows the cruelty to happen, what we still have to fear is fear itself. For humanity can overcome change, challenge, and adversity, but the biggest impediment is panic, mob rule, and scarcity mentality.

If I imagine myself as all the world, there are still bad habits within myself as well. In my heart I own that, I own that I’m not perfect.

My goal in 2020 is to stop yelling at my daughter when I get frustrated and overwhelmed, to show her love when I am angry and frustrated. Somehow I hope that ending my cruelty in my own family leads me to a mental place of well being that allows me to find a way to help the larger cruelty of humanity against itself.

But being honest, I don’t yet know the way and I don’t yet feel that I can make a difference in something so large. But since I’m willing to make a small difference, since I’m willing to have no timeline, I have hope that someday I’ll stand on the side of the innocent someday. One thing my daughter did that I can already do is to love those babies, some are loved, but others never know love, I can send them all my love and my apologies that they ended up on the wrong side of fate.

I don’t believe if there is karma that it is a reason to allow this kind of cruelty, I don’t believe that if there is or is not a God it is Gods will, I believe if there is a God he or she left many things in the hands of us humans and this is a human bad habit that I hope will change soon. How can we all move forward into a bright future when we don’t prioritize human life over people’s right to live in fear?

The question I title this article with “How Can We End Mingi in 2020?” is not one I have the answer to, but it is something I am open to finding out, when the time comes. πŸ‘ΌπŸΏ

πŸŒͺ️ The First Day of Kwanzaa – My Mother in Law Gives Me Some Humility πŸŒͺ️

Usually, December 26th, is the first day of Kwanzaa, but I started on the 24th this year. Because that’s the day my husband’s family celebrates Christmas, even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, I wanted to allow him to celebrate it with my full support. I wanted also to celebrate Kwanzaa with his full support and let our two kids take and leave whatever traditions they chose.

I was feeling so close to my son that day, overjoyed that he is in my life, a very loving and easy to care for baby 9 months old and all too soon going to walk and start being a toddler and stop being a baby forever.

My heart was completely at peace when my daughter, 4 years old, wanted to start Kwanzaa that day. Our Kwanzaa is already very unconventional, since we are mixed Asian, Mexican and somewhat, but not very much African. It’s unconventional, but very sincerely from the heart also. I really believe that since the ultimate mother of my mother is African (as is everyone) that Kwanzaa and African values become the birthright of humanity as well.

Usually the central black candle represents the African race, but to me, it represents more, solidarity of humankind and living beings in general.

The traditional value of the first day is “Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.” I just extend it further inward to mean the unity of the self, and further outward to mean the unity of the human race, and once again to include to an extent living creatures such as pets.

It’s weird being mixed (both my parents were mixed), in that there is no way for us to exist and go about our daily lives without blending concepts, styles, values, ext that some other people will be offended by, it’s not done in disrespect, but it does bother some people, yet it’s something we can not help or choose. We ourselves are a fusion of what some people would have wanted unfused, but it was never a choice for us, so it becomes second nature to break traditions, not because we like it, but because we were forced to break them early and became aware that it is possible and sometimes beneficial and other times unavoidable.

There were three things on my mind, one was how do I live in an “antifragile” way, how do I tie my individual value with the holiday so it matters for me? The second was how do I practice Rachel Macy Stafford’s idea: “Living fully means… reaching for connection, even when your hands shake.” That was easy because I had a kind of social anxiety that a celebration was going on at our home as well as the big one at my husband’s home (the only time my husband’s six siblings assemble fully). I don’t have much small group social anxiety and don’t mind meeting people or medium crowds, but I do kind of hate and get nervous about parties, so I was literally having my hands shake hours before the party started and I remembered the movie “The Way Home” where a Korean grandma keeps telling her grandson how she loves him even though he keeps misbehaving. I remembered that I wanted to stop being like the little boy who stole from his grandma for Gameboy batteries and to start being like the grandma who only responded with love each time her grandson was bad.

I also had Maya Angelou’s: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better,” to soothe my soul.

I had text all my husband’s family that we were not doing gifts this year, my husband had called his mom and asked that the gifts be kept in the bedroom until we left and moved to the tree for opening when we went home at about 8PM. Because my mother in law had said yes I had decided to go to their Christmas celebration with the best possible attitude.

I warned my daughter for two months our family doesn’t do Christmas gifts, we do birthday gifts and her cousins do get Christmas gifts, but don’t get birthday many gifts, which is true. But we had asked that the gifts not be under the tree to set up my daughter for success that she not throw a big fit.

We had problems earlier this year that when the family visited our home on normal days my daughter would jump on them (literally) and ask them what present they had brought her. It was quite sad that she didn’t say “hello” or “how are you” or “thank you for coming to see me.” It happened about three times and each time I tried to stress that gifts are okay, but people are what matters. I was saying that with my words, but the way my family was acting was saying something else, that’s why I decided to do a gift free Christmas for our family this year. I needed to change the way we do it, I needed that for me, for us, I knew it might inconvenience the others, so I apologized right from the start for the inconvenience, but this is what I needed for us this year.

Everyone was supportive saying they would respect our choices and that they thought it was a good idea.

My husband worked Christmas Eve, I taught the kids math and most of our normal school routine, but not too much so they wouldn’t be drained later (we skipped reading). My husband came home, we were all excited to go to grandma’s house to see her, thank her, my daughter was going to give a dance show and play with her cousins who would have slept over the night before.

When we got there things were different than we expected, literally first thing was so many presents they overflowed the tree and took up the living room walk space, second thing was no cousins they were hours late even from their update – so no kids to play with for my daughter, third thing my mother in law had given up music and dance because her new pastor didn’t advocate them and had given us no heads up about that.

I was so proud of my daughter that she was good, we even talked about it, I told her “I am so, so proud of you for being good,” she said, “because of the presents, I’m okay mom, but it’s okay for me to talk about it?” I’m so proud that she was okay, it filled me with so much appreciation of who my daughter is. There have been times I worried I needed to take my kids away to China, or Mexico or Hawaii to raise them with values, but they are showing me that even if we are around drug users or materialist or whomever it won’t infect them like the plague, it’s a little harder to see that stuff and answer extra questions I don’t feel like I have the answers or energy to answer, but all is not lost raising kids in the city in California. We can live in a country where Donald Trump is the president without living in a house where men can disrespect women, we can live in a state where a lot of materialism and rudeness is commonplace, without allowing it to enter the way our family communicates. It’s on our streets and minds, but it doesn’t need to be in our homes or hearts.

I was a little off-balanced by everyone telling me one thing and doing another, because in my family that doesn’t happen.

But then I remembered gratitude and that saved me.

Gratitude to see the people who were there, to share those moments, to be able to talk in person.

Gratitude to the woman who raised my husband with no help from his dad, who left before he was even two years old.

I felt so much gratitude for my mother in law when I realized how hard it must have been, she had been imperfect leaving my husband in Mexico to go work in the U.S., she had hit her kids more than warranted, but the amount of work it takes to work, come home, actually home cook food, every day is so staggering. She didn’t have patience or education to share with her kids having gone only to one or two years of school, but she gave them life, courage, and cooking skills. She basically gave them all she was and all she had to give.

I really wanted to express our gratitude to her that night, but I didn’t get the chance, she served food and then retired to her room. Even if I would have talked to her, I don’t think she would have understood. I speak her language, Spanish, but in a way, I don’t speak “her” language. I don’t know how I could really connect to her, everyone says “thank you” when it means nothing, so when you mean it, it doesn’t communicate the sentiment well. “Thank you” has become like a boat with many holes, it can sail, but it can’t carry what it was meant to carry anymore.

So even though I was surprised the gifts were on display, I was sad that three people had lied to me, which in my family is a major offense, I remembered my challenge to myself to be “antifragille” not to let anything about Christmas ruin my day in any way I could control. I realized I was not embracing my husband’s family without also embracing their custom that many lies are acceptable and common for them. I remembered that I had professed to myself the idea of viewing humanity with unity and that means laying down the expectation everyone “take up” the values that work for me and “put down” the ones that work for them. I remembered the gratitude I had for my grandmother who raised me, even though she was racist, I remembered the gratitude I had for my mother-in-law for raising my husband, giving life to the person who gave life to the baby who I hold in my arms right now. And in gratitude I felt love and shame, but when I remembered Maya Angelou’s “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better,” the shame lifted and I forgave myself the slip into bitterness and was able to: “Living fully means… reaching for connection, even when your hands shake.”

When I forgot about the gifts, the show, who was late, who was absent, I was able to see and enjoy who was there, ask “how are you doing?” Notice them as human beings like me, making it through the winter, mostly having been sick, mostly having been tired, mostly with good attitudes and appreciation for the joy our kids bring us. Mostly forgetting our kids come from us, us from our parents.

I chose the tornado to represent unity of humankind and the first day of Kwanzaa because all humans breathe, no matter which holiday we celebrate once a year, we all can’t live five minutes without air. It unifies us even if we don’t embrace unification, like a tornado brings everyone together in loss against their wishes… air brings us all together, all us lost siblings of the first mother. πŸŒͺ

Umoja

️

πŸ™Š Born to Lead Raised to Follow πŸ΅

Thinking About Why I’m Having Trouble Owning Who I Am (A Thinker ie Philosopher)

I woke up before dawn again today and started reflecting on life as I do almost every day naturally, I was still thinking about the wind-powered canoe, HōkΕ«leΚ»a, that has circumnavigated the globe. I was thinking there is no way Ferdinand Magellan was the first person to circumnavigate, there may be no records of the Chinese or Hawaiian or other people who circumnavigated first, but I really suspect they were out there. I wondered if whales or albatrosses circumnavigated and if they do it’s no less amazing because they are animals, it’s more amazing to me.

Whales usually live their whole life in half an ocean, from the equator to a pole, that’s already a lot. They have friends their whole life that they visit and are unrelated to, that’s better than me sometimes… but what if one whale just went home with its mate’s family to the other side of the world (they often meet in the middle to mate)?

I just looked up albatrosses routinely circle the globe, it can take them 46 days to do what I’ve never done. But they were made for it. That is amazing to me, imagining the views they have seen in a lifetime. They fly nearly 16093km/10,000 miles at a time, they fly for hours without flapping, they are working smarter not harder and they are doing what they were born to do.

I still struggle with “nia” (purpose), I think I am a philosopher at heart because it feels like my wings are wings of thought, it feels like my journey is tied up with ideas, understanding how the lens of the mind paints the world and is painted by it… it feels like I have one eye socially blinded and one eye open to the invisible world of internal mental architecture.

But it’s so hard for me to own it.

I grew up alone in the woods (with my family, but no other kids at all), I’ve always immersed myself in books not just reading them, I interact with ideas in many ways throughout the day, I try on some, grapple with some, stare astounded at some, sadly acknowledge some quarantining them to an area of solemn truth so they won’t make me bring down everyone’s day with a constant complaint about human trafficking or injustice.

I guess I have an idea prison.

I don’t kill ideas, but I have an island of silliness I excommunicate ideas to (mental Australia) and another island of prison (mental Guantanamo).

I was reflecting this morning one life and noticed that it is completely a natural flow state for me to reflect, and I was thinking “I am a philosopher” I don’t know if it sets me apart from other humans, or if in quiet moments we are all philosophers, but if we are all philosophers it doesn’t take anything away from me at all, maybe that’s our nature or maybe that’s my nature. But I definitely feel threatened using that word, I could say more easily I am a scholar because I went to college (even though usually a scholar has one more degree than what I have), I could say more easily I am a monk because then I’m studying someone else’s ideas in a way some religion said was okay for me to do, but to be a philosopher is to be a leader, to study my own choice of information, to choose what facts to collect, to say something without citing it, not that it hasn’t been thought before by others, but still having originally thought about it.

That is what they killed in me in school, not the ability to think, not the ability to learn and combine original thoughts, but the idea that I have the right to think without backing up what I say with other people’s thoughts or books. Often there is a truth in crowd wisdom, but sometimes it’s really, horribly wrong (the holocaust, human trafficking still going on, ext) so it’s important to know we can speak out before looking at what others are saying and even when we are alone in speaking our truth.

In matters of the heart, there are no other sources.

I can’t turn the paper in because I don’t have the three books to back me up about 1. what I was born to do and 2. who I am and 3. what my heart wants.

Lilia Tarawa gave a TED Talk about being told she was a leader and being in trouble because of it.

I’m not sure if I am a leader in the way Lilia is, but I know I am a philosopher in the same way other philosophers in the past were, driven by ideas just to watch them in their natural truth in my mind, unmotivated for a what can you do with that idea sort of goal, but not blind to possible solutions to problems. In math there is the operation, the way to use addition ext, most people use this, then there is the proof, the way to check if the math is vaild in the physical world beyond just being a social construct, some people use that, then there is theory, whatever led to the idea of the operation to begin with, that is what facinated me, not only the action, not just the shadows of the puppets, not just the puppets but the culture behind the actors behind the puppets, the mind behind the actors, the society behind the culture, the universality behind the humanity behind the culture, the physics behind the blood flowing in the hearts of the actors behind the puppets, the orbit of the Earth being tilted, causing a season, causing an emotion of joy or hope or contemplation, causing a scene to be imagined collectively, causing a crowd to gather to see it, rituals being made, neurons being formed, humans all hoping to get throught the day as best they can even though a meteor could wipe out the planet with greater likelyhood than someone winning the lottery…

Lilia Tarawa grew up in a cult, in New Zealand, I grew up in a larger cult called “America,” I’m not trying to dismiss in any way her difficulties or bash the US, I just am unable to not see it as also a cult anymore.

One of the things she hated about the cult is that they hit children with rulers, that is still legal here in the southern states and still done in schools, at homes it is legal to hit your children at home any way you want as long as it’s not considered excessive. When I was a child I thought it was illegal, but as a parent, I looked into all our state laws and found our state make almost no absolute laws, no law about when to leave a child at home, how far they can be from a parent, what age they can walk the city alone, it’s left to our discretion legally, but law enforcement will respond to complaints and other people will complain so parents and children have a limited freedom based on arbitrary people complaining… other people’s thoughts and opinions really infringe on us and also us on them, it’s like a sandpaper that grinds all of us here in California. So many different people live here, it can be beautiful, but also very annoying. Like the man who doesn’t want me to breastfeed where kids from school can see it, the state says I can, I say I can, I don’t have a problem with the law, but I do have a problem with him, he makes me uncomfortable arguing with me that I am undecent when neither my moral code nor the law says I am, attacking my value system in front of my kids as I am also in a way attacking his value system in front of the kids he wants to protect. We live so closely packed that we all get emotionally bumped, though physically we don’t yet bump here. It’s very unpleasant. I know because I also live in Hawaii half the year. So I have room to breathe half the year and live in a concentrated dense urban area the other half. I notice many people are better able to think, be polite and live respectfully in less crowded areas, I think we are always at the point of frustration when we live in a more crowded area then whatever our personal ideal is.

Rats start eating each other when the cage gets too crowded, box with fists when it’s a bit crowded (and form a loving family group when there is enough room. I don’t know if people are like that, but I know I am like that. Maybe other people can thrive in the city better than I can, but it’s hard for me. This is not an excuse for me not trying to have a good attitude, this is just me noticing the truth about myself to then combat the unease as best I can.

Lilia Tarawa’s video about her life and upbringing has always stayed in my heart as a story of a woman who was a leader, even if I am not meant to be a leader, I feel like I need to have the basic operations of leadership to live a good life and run the family that I don’t want to be in charge of (but my husband won’t be in charge of)… in life, I would imagine that we all need a leader, but I’ve seen a lot of poor leadership. I wasn’t a born leader, I was born solitary, I liked my family, but naturally went off into my own space the majority of the time, same with school, I made friends, but spent recess solitary enjoying the grass, rocks, feeling of imagining the Earth rotating ext. Whatever small amount of leadership I had, was also crushed, I was someone born without too much leadership and then having had that successfully crushed it’s going to take a while to get the leadership part of my brain out of prison and rehab it.

Here is to Lilia Tarawa and all good leaders of the world, big and small, children and adults, men and women.

Lilia’s story is a metaphor for all of us learning to be adults and put the limiting parts of childhood away as we grow to be the leaders of our own life, as well as a difficult, but beautiful story in and of itself: youtube.com/watch?v=qS7mBbXxJYA

Thanks for joining me on my journey this year! πŸ’

🌏 HōkΕ«leΚ»a and Kwanzaa πŸŒ

Sometimes it feels like being human, in real life, is bizarre, it’s so much more complicated than a book or a movie… there are so many factors and choices, so much information and debate and “noise” that sounds like a debate.

I remember going to Body Works, an exhibit on plastinated human corpses to learn about the body when I was planning to go to medical school, it was quite interesting, I went to the German exhibit, I returned to a Chinese exhibit and then I returned again to the German exhibit with my daughter. The first time I noticed how beautiful the blood vessels are, the second time I noticed how detached we (who we really are) are from our bodies, the third time I noticed how damaging stress is for us. The exhibit had been redesigned to show the causes of health problems, cigarettes cause black lungs, sugar causes obesity and diabetes, but excessive choices (more than 6) cause some stress which then causes inflammation and heart damage. It’s interesting and terrifying because we have so many choices all the time. I have felt that burden as a shopper, as a learner, as a person since the internet started having so many more options. I love the internet, I will continue to use it, I’m grateful for the free educational materials, for the inspiring people I meet there, for the ability to share my thoughts, writings or art with the world from my home, but there is also a huge mental drain. I could be doing thousands of things each day, I study a language for less than 10 minutes, but it could be anything, math, physics, coding, anything, there is so much that it is daunting. Maybe not everyone is as mentally printer jammed as I am, but most people are affected to some extent by the mental overload that is unhealthy for the body causing inflammation to the body damaging the cardiovascular system over time leading to increases of stroke and heart attacks.

I read Rachel Macy Stafford’s post and a few things stuck out to me as the reason I’m starting to celebrate Kwanzaa this year:

Living fully means letting your heart lead, even when the world tries to dissuade you and derail you.

It means finding your voice, even when you feel unheard.

It means facing painful truths, even when it would be easier to push them away.

It means showing up, even when you don’t feel ready or equipped.

It means reaching for connection, even when your hands shake.

It means forgiving yourself, even when you don’t feel worthy.

It means tuning into the small, still voice of belief, even when doubt is loud and obnoxious.

-Rachel Macy Stafford

Kwanzaa is going to be a celebration of choosing to live fully as much as I can, and a recommitment to my life improvement system.

The first holiday I minorly tweaked was Holloween, I started munching mini carrots while trick or treating with my kids. The first holiday I radically tweaked was “Independence Day” it became “Slugpendence Day” the day I stop going out to handpick parasite ridden slugs off our property in the worst infestation in the country (Puna East Hawaii) for two weeks. Kwanzaa is the third holiday that I claim for myself (with no disrespect to how other people celebrate it).

I’m now in the process of tying together my current values with the traditional values of each day for Kwanzaa (each of seven days has its own value) and also with one of the above sentiments from Rachel Stafford because she always helps me connect to my heart.

That way like the Hawaiian canoe voyage connecting Hawaii, back to Tahiti the return voyage of the ancient migration that founded Hawaii, I am connecting myself to Africa the ancestral home to all humans, my heart and my own mind/identity.

December 26th, the first day of Kwanzaa, the central black candle is lit, it represents the African race, but to me, it represents more, solidarity of humankind and living beings in general. The traditional value is “Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.” For me it’s about being one as a human race, to the extent that it is sensical to do so, not by eliminating real differences or foods or customs, but by finding emotional, mental and spiritual common ground, it’s about meditating about the face of the mother of all mothers today, and how her lineage led to my family over time, imagine what she was like. That will be the day I think of “Antifragility” when I think of how the human race has come as far as it has, although there is so much missing history we have done a lot that we have traveled the globe and can communicate in an instant from anywhere, I think the next step is to stop killing each other in war, homicide, even suicide (with exceptions for severe medical conditions). I’d like to think of all of us humans a unified, if only in my mind and only the first day of Kwanzaa, and think about the “antifragility” (growth from chaos and stress) that our vast tribe has undergone to reach today, although we are imperfect we are strong and adaptable. I will meditate on Rachel’s statement: “Living fully means… reaching for connection, even when your hands shake.” If we all do that, someday we will be a world and collection of nations and collections of souls at peace. I will also reflect on Maya Angelou’s: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

December 27th, the second day of Kwanzaa, the leftmost red candle of challenge is lit for “Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.” To me, that is about “Transformation” from what we truly were to what we want to be. Shaun T writes in his book “T Is for Transformation,” that we are like relay racers handing a baton from ourselves to ourselves. I like the metaphor. It will be a day to thank my 2019 self and all my past selves for doing what we could and handing the baton off to my 2020 self to reach for some new goals and dreams. I will meditate on Rachel’s statement: “Living fully means…  letting your heart lead, even when the world tries to dissuade you and derail you.” I will think about making goals with my heart this year for the first time and think about how to name my blog, which is untitled. I will also reflect on Maya Angelou’s: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

December 28th, the third day of Kwanzaa, the second red candle of challenge is lit for “Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.” To me this resonates with the value of Kindness, the community I feel like I belong to is the writing community, I have received a lot of kindness and help this year, but I still feel like too much of a novice to offer much help back, I hope someday I will be able to create something useful to this community who has helped and supported me so much emotionally this year. I will meditate on Rachel’s statement: “Living fully means…  It means finding your voice, even when you feel unheard.” I will also reflect on Maya Angelou’s: “Feeling seen and heard enables human beings to reach their highest potential.

December 29th, the fourth day of Kwanzaa, the third red candle of challenge is lit for “Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.” That resonates with my value of “Action” but I don’t understand how yet. I will meditate on Rachel’s statement: “Living fully means… showing up, even when you don’t feel ready or equipped,” and Maya Angelou’s: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

December 30th, the fifth day of Kwanzaa, the first green candle of hope is lit for “Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.” I’m going to see if my value of “Awareness” works with this day, but I feel like it’s a personal struggle to really know what my purpose is. I will meditate on Rachel’s statement: “Living fully means… forgiving yourself, even when you don’t feel worthy,” if I do find a purpose there is the pain I haven’t lived by one and if I don’t the pain of uncertainty. I will also reflect on Maya Angelou’s: “We need much less than we think we need.

December 31st, the sixth day of Kwanzaa, the second green candle of hope is lit for “Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. I will try to connect to my value of “Prudence” born from pain. I will meditate on Rachel’s statement: “Living fully means… facing painful truths, even when it would be easier to push them away, and I will also reflect on a quote I can’t attribute “When you fully accept who you are the world doesn’t bother you anymore.

January 1st, the seventh day of Kwanzaa, the last green candle of hope is lit for “ImaniΒ (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.” I will try to connect my value of “Assertiveness” with the last day of Kwanzaa, which includes the meditations “Who am I?” “Am I really who I say I am?” “Am I doing all I could be?” I will also think about Rachel’s statement: “Living fully means… tuning into the small, still voice of belief, even when doubt is loud and obnoxious.

Above I mentioned the canoe (named HōkΕ«leΚ»a), in 1976 she sailed to Tahiti with exclusively Polynesian navigation, and also “served as a vehicle for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians” it began kind of a cultural renaissance first by going home to Tahiti, then by “closing the triangle” sailing the three boundaries of Polynesia (New Zeland, Hawaii and Easter Island) and then going on to sail the world circumnavigating the globe in three years. In 2015 this small canoe from Hawaii made it to South Africa and for some reason, it was really touching to see the two cultures meet and made me feel really hopeful for humanity that we can live in harmony together without losing anything important of ourselves.

May your heart find joy, peace and love this winter. πŸ•ŠοΈ

πŸ’— My Heart Song πŸ’—

My heart song is a simple song used as an 8th grade warm-up for cello:

Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G

Today is not the first time I heard this song, Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 “PrΓ©lude” (it’s been the only song that ever made me feel as if there is a God and his fingertips are stroking my face), but today was the first time I recognized it as my heart song.

I remember my daughter finding her heart song, a song that seemed to open her soul up and set it on fire, a song she loved from the first time and although she doesn’t hear it every day it never loses its power over her. Her song is “Louder” by Charice.

There have been a lot of songs that I enjoyed in my life, but only a few have touched me deeply and overall music has been a positive that pulls me out of thinking that humanity is cancer on the Earth (due to pollution ext). Maybe there are negative aspects of me, of people, of humanity, but to me, music is enough to prove, at least emotionally, that the average is better than bad, better than neutral, beautiful, to me the average is beautiful and there is beauty even in the ugliness.

I haven’t been writing as much because I am trying to digest some complicated transitions in my life, I could easily say I’m getting ready for the holidays, but it’s not true, I’m not big on Christmas, I decorated as much as I will the first day of December and even though I’m super excited about Kwanzaa I haven’t finished painting my candles, I haven’t hemmed my dress that is too long (it drags on the floor since I’m only 5’0) and I haven’t figured out how to wrap my headwrap that matches my dress, I haven’t researched the values of Kwanzaa deeply yet either, I hope those things are done joyously at my own pace very unlike the holidays I’ve lived through so far that were rushed through and unchosen. But I really wanted to write today to say there is this weird thing I call a heart song, it may have other names, but it’s a real thing when you find yours it will make sense.

It’s important to find, recognize and cherish your heart song no matter how humble or silly or whatever it is. I believe that now.

Next year I hope I can play mine on the cello, it will be an interesting feeling, I’ve played a lot of songs (or some at least) but never one that filled my soul, in the same way, as this one does.

I hope you too find your own heart song and when you do, don’t turn it aside as being too clichΓ©, or too simple ext.

I hope to be more consistent in writing soon, but I also want to do it in a manner that is enjoyable and unrushed, so it will require I get a lot better at time management and life management to be able to do it in that way, which I hope I do achieve in this coming year.

Thank you so much to you for reading, it’s been very motivating to read your writings and comments and have you share my life with me as well. πŸ’

Four Months of Emotional Meta Data

If you’ve been reading my writing for a while you may know already that I’m a wife, stay at home mother of two, home school teacher, martial artist, minimalist, and practicing stoic. For the last four months, I’ve been tracking my overall feeling each day usingΒ bitmojiΒ images (free personalized cartoons) andΒ sketch.ioΒ (a free drawing program). I just fill one calendar square each day using a free calendar fromΒ imom. I’m completely honest about how I feel, even if I don’t like or understand it and that has the added benefit of me validating myself each day just for being who I am and feeling however I feel (how you feel is part of who you are after all).

Images Connect Much More Easily to Emotions Allowing Them to Speak

The point was actually to examine my mental lens, the way I see the world to gain more control over my own subjective outlook and therefore use it as leverage towards building the life I want as far as I can within the circumstances of my life that are outside of my control.

Johari Window

In 2001, when I started college, I was introduced to the concept of the “Johari Window” meaning the self divided into the part you know, the part others know that you don’t, the part everyone knows and the unknown. I was puzzled for the last 18 years as to how to discover more about the unknown and hidden selves. Being married has taught me about the blind self and doing my “Stoic Quote of the Day” habit publicly on Coach.me has taught me about my open self, but I didn’t know how to find out more about what I didn’t know about myself.

I recently read “How Emotions Are Made, The Secret Life of the Brain,” which discusses that emotions are not universal and vary from person to person quite significantly. In an effort to find out definitively what anxiety and depression were to sell drugs targeted to them all the MRI data revealed that they aren’t objective, distinct phenomena at all, but can overlap or be distinct depending on the individual. Using the data from four months of my “Emotional Diversity Project” I found I have 22 distinct emotions: triumphant, sick, grateful, inspired, hopeful, connected, troubled/dissident, tired, peaceful, mad, thoughtful, happy, motivated, hot, kind, sad, stressed, exhausted, lost, overwhelmed, frustrated, in pain.

Using Google Sheets to Map my Feelings Over Four Months

During the process, I found it helpful to know that on a bad day, if I was exhausted, or frustrated or in pain (it was a migraine) that it was likely to pass. Now looking at the data of a few months it’s a positive feeling because I think the various projects I’ve been working on, which are kind of difficult to measure, such as the consistent gratitude challenge, values-based living ext are going well.

Possible Connection of Gratitude and Life Quality

Speaking about my strongest feelings, triumph, sickness, and gratitude, triumphant is the feeling that I was able to live by my values a decent amount, it’s the feeling of winning at the game of life according to the metrics I’ve held myself accountable to, it’s a direct result of having found my individual values and planning small ways to express those values in everyday life. A phrase I heard on aΒ cartoonΒ (of Maui capturing the sun) was to do your work with honor and aloha, it all started with me washing one extra dish that wasn’t mine “in the name of good,” I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s the first time I had ever done work with honor and aloha. It feels very different. It looks the same, takes a similar time, but inwardly it feels quite different. And to me it’s not dependant on any kind of belief system, there isn’t the dependency on any reward now or later, it’s simply doing what seems right to me for no other reason than to be a force of good in the world, in the here and now, to make my day, my little world and the larger world a better place.

In defining good and bad, I’m thinking what let me enjoy the day or make progress towards my goals vs what seemed unhelpful towards my goals and also unenjoyable.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

– Marcus Aurelius (Stoic Quote 22)

It may seem pointless to track your feelings, but if you track them you may understand them and yourself better. I often think of myself as “sick all the time,” I think as a child I was sick quite a bit more than typical and I probably never challenged that automatic negative thought until now, but looking at how much more I’m well than sick gives me a deep gratitude and dispells that feeling that “I’m always sick.” I feel really lucky that I’m probably sick a really average amount at this point in life and that my health is great, colds and flus are just part of my reality that affects pretty much everyone sometimes. It was interesting separating the days I felt bad due to my attitude, there were not many, but they are opportunities to take back more of my life for enjoyment or to complete my goals. I’m grateful to have such a high setpoint, meaning I don’t need to struggle to be optimistic or satisfied, if I do nothing I’m pretty cheery, my father, mother and only sister all struggled with medical-grade chronic depression, so being normal would have been lucky, but I think I’m even more optimistic than normal so I’m extra grateful for that good luck. I do have some good habits that bring up my well being, but it seems like it’s so much easier to go from medium to very happy, rather than mustering energy from a deep depression to get to a medium state of well being. Exercise, sleep, eating well, connecting with others, all help, but for me not as much as aligning my life with my values, that is the real hidden gem in my opinion, but perhaps not for everyone? I’ve heard some people say service is healing for them and it’s soul-crushing for me.

I was anxious, depressed, afraid, bored, 0 days, that isn’t how I operate, not only in the past four months but also as far back into the recent past as I can remember I just don’t get those particular feelings. I get stressed and overwhelmed when other people would get anxious. I get tired, overwhelmed, or mad where other people may get depressed. It’s not like I don’t have negative feelings, but they tend to be extremely physical. My physical feelings are feelings to me, when I am tired, I’m not happy and tired, I’m just tired. When I am hungry, I feel extremely incapable of feeling any other way. My feeling can mix, I can feel bittersweet about my kids growing up as they should be, but also that our time together has passed forever, but it’s rare, for the most part, my feelings are very straightforward and the negative ones are very physical for me. Hot is one other people may not understand, I don’t do well in the heat, my brain shuts down in extreme heat much sooner than average, it’s not that I complain or get sick in a noticeable way, but like hunger I can’t have a feeling other than hot in intense heat, it incapacitates my feelings of anything else.

My pleasant feelings are more difficult to understand for me than the unpleasant ones. I was surprised at how seldom I am happy, I enjoy my life very often, I am satisfied very often, but I am only happy on days I eat favorite foods. For example, a child playing at the park has that happy exuberance, one that gets 100% on a math test may be pleased, but isn’t “happy” in the same was as running through a field of flowers with friends. In a way, it makes sense that I’m not happy often, because I don’t seek to be happy, but I was surprised that it was only 6 days out of 4 months. I can see why if you define depression as simply not happy many people would fall under that category. Or if you believed you were supposed to be happy all the time it would be easy to label yourself as depressed. I know I was almost never grateful in the past, I’m impressed that I was able to become legitimately grateful as often as I have, not only because it’s a nice feeling, but also because as a leader of myself it means I have a decent amount of power to change my feelings subtly to what I would want them to be. It’s not a simple, have a good attitude fix, but it is very possible to change your mindset to what you want it to be. The biggest enemy is perfectionism, sure no one controls every thought or feeling and some techniques fail, but just like physical exercise, mental exercise can lead to mental wellness in time. Another interesting thing was that I was only motivated 5 days out of 4 months, but I was very productive (excluding when I had the flu recently). So waiting to be productive when I feel motivated had been and would be a total disaster as far as anything getting done and letting go of the belief I had to feel motivated to be productive was possibly the best belief trade I’ve made in my lifetime. Tsycovsky wrote a letter about it that changed my views, he describes that he hated sitting down to work writing music, but after forcing himself his best music came. I had always imagined when you are inspired and motivated your best work comes, but in actuality, that time is so fleeting almost no work of any kind happens under those conditions…

I found it interesting that I have strongly neutral feelings, not “meh” as in I don’t care, but kind of a curious investigator who hasn’t formed an opinion about the outcome of the study. I think it’s been very helpful in dealing with my flaws and the pain of life to back off taking a negative view of myself and my failings and although I’m not taking a positive view of having problems all the time (sometimes I achieve that mental flip) I do achieve a neutral view of many problems and that lets me investigate them and work with them without shame which would make it a much slower healing process.

When I feel like I’m not living life the way I want, that the priorities I am actually living by are wrong, that I’m failing in what really matters, when I’m having trouble connecting to what really matters to me, that’s when I feel incongruent or troubled. It’s also called cognitive dissidence, a conflict within my mind between what I want and what I am doing. It’s a particular type of feeling, like a vegetarian eating a bad steak, a good steak or a neural steak. When it’s a bad steak it’s the worst, but even with a good steak you still have that nagging feeling about what you said your values were and if you need to re-evaluate or not.

I’ve been thinking so often 7 days out of 4 months, that I’m starting to change the way I think of myself. I’ve been told by other people when I don’t want to do what they want me to, that I’m not a thoughtful person, and I always believed that, but looking back on my life, I’m very thoughtful. It’s such a deep part of who I am that makes parenting young children hard. I’m not lazy, I’m not selfish, but spending time with the constant noise of play and questions and togetherness has cost me the quiet solitude that nourishes my soul to the core. I don’t like parenting, I do my very best with all the kindness, respect, dignity and love I can muster, but it’s not enjoyable to me. It’s quite unenjoyable, and the biggest question for me was why? I love my kids, I chose my kids, I would like to have more help than what I have available locally and my husband doesn’t want to move. That is a huge source of discontent between us and it affects my life so very deeply. I don’t really know if A. I spent less time taking care of my children if I could enjoy it or not. I’m not sure if it’s my personality not to enjoy it B. If it’s not even enjoyable by anyone in truth or C. If I’m overworked? I don’t know if I will ever truly know the answer, the situation will be solved by time, each day my kids grow up more than I want them to, I want them frozen in time until I can “fix” myself into enjoying their childhood. It’s my biggest conundrum, I hate the constant demands of raising small children, but I am afraid of it passing me by because I know I wasn’t able to “enjoy every second” and a part of me wants to do that. Because I haven’t really decided if it’s a wonderful magical opportunity that I have, or if it’s just a lie that I should politely ignore as I happily notice that the time of intense servitude with not enough breaks or personal time is ending.

In closing I want to encourage everyone to try this kind of visual feelings journal to have data to do some meta-thinking about your own emotions as part of yourself, it made it much easier to know how I feel on a moment to moment basis even though I only recorded the day as a whole. It probably helped me value other people as being different than me and fun to learn about, I hope I’ve been picking up on my loved one’s mental states better (but that’s hard to know for sure). It’s made me more patient with dealing with other people, which I find frustrating a lot. It’s improved my life so much that I am recommending you try it in your own way as well, even though I hate recommending anything, what it helped with more than anything else was tracking the metaphysical changes I was trying to make in my though pattern habits to be able to get a sense of if it was working to be more grateful, if it was shifting other parts of my mind and when I could stop doing it consciously without abandoning the habit. πŸ’