Monday, February 27, 2017

One tip for being more effective in social change: Remember the bell curve

Image by Rebecca Monahan via Unsplash

Chances are, you've probably seen some excitement happening on social media these past few months.  You've probably seen a lot more politics cropping up in all over your social media.  Maybe you've even had some of these conversations in real life.  What I can guarantee you, though, is that you've come across people you don't agree with.  In fact, you've almost certainly talked with people who you believe are downright wrong.  I know I have, and it's made me very, very frustrated.

The problem comes with deciding what to do about it.  I've always enjoyed arguing with my peers, even when I didn't know how to argue well or fairly.  Even now, sometimes I just want to shout out what I believe to be true just to try and convince them to see things the way I see them.  I mean, I truly believe I am right and that it would benefit all these people to be blessed with my perspective.  I've got the facts, I've got the history, and I've got the rhetoric (sometimes).  Wouldn't the world just be so much better if they could listen and see what I have to say?

^ Surely I'm not the only one who thinks like this, and now that I've got us all on the same page, I want to step back and look at what we have and look at the other, more important facets of this conversation.

Regardless of whether you're bringing the most beautiful piece of truth to the world or not, your message isn't the crux of this situation.  What you have to say doesn't matter most.  What matters most is how receptive your audience is.

The Bell Curve

Back in 2015, my church hosted a panel discussion about the Ferguson protests and racial tensions in America.  I learned a lot that evening, and I want to share this one piece of the discussion that has stuck with me and that I've returned to so often since that night.

Whenever a new technology is introduced to society, it always has a gradual adoption.  A small few who were in the know and who loved their music bought the first walkmans.  They slowly caught on and then a huge amount of walkmans were seen on the streets, in parks, and in the backseat of family cars.  After the rush died down, there were still a few stragglers who wanted to get their walkmans, too, so a smaller number brought up the rear of the introduction of the walkman to normal, commonplace use.  The same thing happened with the iPod, then the iPhone, and the same thing also happens with social change and perspectives.

You can see this bell curve in many areas of society.  The shift away from legal, and then away from any slavery.  The shift toward better nutrition.  The shift toward mandatory vaccinations.  Hopefully we're just at the beginning of a bell curve toward organic and sustainable farming.  It starts with a smaller number of people, then comes the swell, and then it tapers out as the last few folks come on board.

I've found it very helpful to to keep the bell curve in mind when debating, because it plays a large part in who is going to be receptive to your message.  For a practical example, let's pretend you're a civil rights activist in the '70s.  If you're trying to change the minds of the world toward viewing, treating, and respecting all people the same regardless of their skin, the people you're talking to about this progress fall into three categories.  Some of the population is already 100% on board with you or will agree with you very quickly.  A large majority will adopt this perspective a little later but they're also at least somewhat open to hearing about the change even before they themselves change.  Finally, another smaller number will change much, much later or maybe not at all.

While we'd love for everyone to adopt the practice of equality right away, the way you can be most effective and spread your message quickest is if you focus your efforts on the first and second groups of people.  When you find someone who fits into the third category, no matter what you tell them or how to say it, they are just not ready to listen.  We still want those hearts to be won, but that third group will take the most time and energy.  Knowing that ahead of time will hopefully show you where you might need or want to adjust so you aren't just spinning your wheels in conversation.

In Practice

Instead of discouraging you from speaking with anyone around you, I want to encourage you to speak to those who are ready to listen.   Haters are gonna hate, but you have waves to make! Stay focused, stay buoyant, and when you do come across a hater, don't let it get you down.  There are so many more people who are ready to listen to what you have to say.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Simple printable calendars for 2017

For me, each new year brings around the search for the perfect calendar.  My tastes have gotten more and more specific: beautiful, simple and clean WITH space for writing in appointments AND come as free online printables.  (Why pay if you don't have to, you know?)  It's not as easy to find the likes of these around the internet these days, but if your aesthetic is similar to mine, you're going to love the four I've found!

#1 life in eight - This blog also shares free weekly planner printables.

#2 Foreign Rooftops - The author does require you to subscribe to her newsletter to download the calendar printables, but I consider that worth it.  This one's my favorite of the bunch!

#3 ink+volt - This is the calendar I've printed for myself, just because of the extra space it has for writing.  I did edit the downloadable pdf, though, to take off some of the branding and clutter around the edges.  The calendars are downloadable in 3-month increments, and there's also a printable goal planner worksheet.

#4 Alice & Lois - You have to write in the numbers for each month, but that means you can use this same template next year again without having to search for a new printable!  There's also a handy To Do List section on the right of each of the landscape pages.  (I might switch to using this one in the spring.)

Have you come across any other minimalist calendars to add to the mix?  Did I miss any?  Let us know in the comments, and I hope the rest of your January is lovely.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Reflection & 2017 Projection

Like every year, 2016 brought new struggles and new joys.  My very, very lowest struggles came along with unexpected breakthroughs which made them, eventually, surmountable.  My new adventures had dark clouds and silver linings.  For me, this is nothing new, and I want to remember always that to every thing there is a season (note, "a season," not "an eternity").  I don't want to belittle anyone else's 2016, I know some very terrible things happened this year, but terrible things happen every year.  Great things do, too.

One of the best things of 2016 for me was going to couples counseling for the first time.  It didn't look hardly anything like Caleb or I expected, and there were some serious shocks and twists and highs and lows.  Honestly, couples counseling didn't last as long as I thought or hoped it would, but it made a good change in our relationship that further unfolded as the weeks and conflicts and resolutions rolled on.  I am so thankful we both were brave enough to ask for help, professional help, in making our marriage better.  It's working.

The one thing I hope to change for next year isn't much of a change, but a stronger pursuit.  More fervor.  More passion for what matters and more discernment about what does, in fact, matter.  It's just this past year that's brought the importance, gravity, and consequence (the mattering, if you will) of self care to the forefront of my mind (or to any part of my mind, really).  It's brought in a wild change to my lifestyle, and I've done things I never would have predicted.  I donated what I think I can honestly say was about half of the clothes I own and besides jeans and underwear, I've only purchased secondhand clothes since the spring.  Another big leap forward was saying "no" to a special family holiday gathering.  I'd realized that the large amount travel I'd been doing had been a great toll on my body and that I needed a break from so many large people-oriented events and I needed to take care of the house before hosting the day after the family gathering.  So I said no.  (It's a scary thing to say no to your mother-in-law about such things.  Thank God for my understanding mother-in-law.)

I hope that I continue to stand up for myself, to tend to my body, to speak well of myself in my own thoughts, to say no when I don't want to do something, to say yes when I should, and to nurture the parts of me that require extra attention.

Parts of me that require extra attention right now and parts that are in progress, with methods of self care listed below:
  • my spiritual life
    • reading invigorating books that inspire more love and affection for Yahweh, consistent attendance at church and Bible studies, daily and thoughtful and honest prayer, discussion with intimate friends (this last one is a goal for me and isn't in practice yet)
  •  my physical strength and bodily health
    • daily yoga (but also grace for myself when I really can't), regular chiropractor & massage appointments, maybe finding a dance class to join, a daily regimen of vitamins and (ugh) flossing, daily sunscreen and continued skincare
  • my emotional strength and agility
    • regular individual counseling, reading and journaling about regulating my own emotions and expressing them differently, fortifying my acceptance of my feelings for what they are and rooting out secondary feelings of shame associated with feeling, identifying my inner critic and shutting her up with better things worth saying and hearing
  • my peripheral activities (I have no idea what to call this section, but basically I want to cut out the things that don't serve me in all other areas and instead clutter my life)
    • maintain a minimal wardrobe filled only with clothing I enjoy, don't go to events I don't want to go to or that I don't have time/space for, devote less time and energy to social media (because it never invests as much into me... it's a very one-sided relationship), do invest into real-life relationships (e.g. letters!  phone calls!  friend dates!  etc.!), read more dangit, go dancing more dangit, invite people to my home and other events more dangit
The "too long, didn't read" version: cut out what doesn't give life to me (looking at you, Instagram), and gorge myself on what does.

If you've come to any new conclusions or have resolutions for yourself, I'd love to hear.  If you have any encouragement for me, I'd also love to hear that, because I know this journey isn't going to be easy.  I mean, look at that list of methods!  I'm already nervous I'm not going to make it through Yoga with Adriene's Revolution: 31 days of Yoga (it just started today).  If you're feeling any of these things above and want to join me, be my partner and let's do it together.  You and me.  Let me know where we're matching up, and also what you'd like encouragement in, and let's do this year.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Recommended - Winter

I know I'm late to the party, but happy December, y'all!   I've had a lot of things needing my time and energy over the last month, but I wanted to check back in and bring you some happy wintry things.

The colder weather means it's time to check out Sarah Von Bargen's How to Hygge.  I also recommend downloading the small workbook, for some extra oomph to encourage you to take those steps enjoy the winter.

On the other hand, if you're already frustrated with the cold weather, watch this young polar bear flip out over his ice pool.  I'm pretty sure he won't mind if you live vicariously through him.

Jonna Jinton's Instagram makes winter look so magical.  All we need to do is pack up and move to northern Sweden!

How to make sure your winter clothes last well beyond the season (and an extra post about taking care of your winter sweaters)

Along with colder temperatures and less sunshine, winter can often bring seasonal affective disorder.  Here is a small piece of encouragement form Stephen Hawking and 13 things to remember when you love a person who has depression.  Let's hear it for self care!

If you have any minimalist folks in your life and don't know where to start in gift giving, check out this helpful starter guide.

How to get your kids to have the best photos with Santa from The Ugly Volvo

Look at these sugar doilies!  How delicate and pretty!

Gift ideas: Stocking stuffer inspiration from Terrain and these proposed wish lists from 1913

I couldn't pick just one, I wanted to share one, two, and tree pretty houses decorated for Christmas (I am so digging the Scandinavian look these days).  Speaking of Scandi style, IKEA has a winter coupon for $25 off $150.

If you're ready to move on from 2016, I highly recommend checking out this list of moving forward ideas for the new year from Yes and Yes.

Related: Denali National Park has a sled dog puppy cam!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Recommended for Election week

Hello again, friends.  We've made it to Friday.  We'll probably make it to next Friday, too.  It's going to be okay.

To be honest, this week threw me for much more of a loop than I expected.  I didn't think Trump would become America's next president, I didn't anticipate an uprising in hateful actions, and I didn't expect so much hurt and anger and sadness to be swirling around in the atmosphere here (you can read more of my thoughts here).  Chances are, you might be in need of some lighthearted, beautiful, and comforting things like I am.

Take care of yourself.  In fact, take extra care of yourself.  And let me know how you're doing.

If you've been feeling stressed lately, check out this gif that can help with anxiety.

I've heard lots about the benefits of meditation, but it's not always easy to integrate the practice into my life (because, it is, after all, life).  Here's a simple idea for making meditation happen.

Why you should keep going

Thanks to Yes and Yes for a list of ways to stop caring about what other people thing and this awesome reminder:
"Know that people’s judgment is 95% about them and 5% about you."

 The happiest fox and hound friendship!

These moms in Seattle have figured out what I think is a huge lesson in motherhood: shared community is crucial to having the best support possible!  I wish this kind of environment would be the reality for all moms, and I hope I'll be able to be a part of something like this when it's my turn. 

These colored botanical tattoos are lovely (and inspiring...).

A beautiful Swedish chapel has been turned into a home

I am loving this pretty and simple Christmas ornament display.  I don't think Caleb and I will be able to have a tree this year (we'll be out of town for much of December, so it doesn't make much sense to have a tree), but maybe we could try something like this to decorate our home for the holidays.

Did you see these stunning photos on Portuguese Man O' Wars? My cousin told me National Geographic posted them on their Snapchat, and that's why I decided to give Snapchat another chance.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A hopeful perspective for 2016 America

image : CNN
Today has been an emotional and shocking day for myself and most of the people around me.  I have the privilege of having many friends in many circles, and I wanted to shed some light on little known perspectives that I believe will be helpful for both Trump and Hillary supporters.  I shared this message on my personal Facebook page, and I wanted to make sure I make it public here, too.


Hey friends, I wanted to share a bit, please read.

The election results have been incredibly divisive today. If you haven't yet seen it, you should know that the majority of minorities (racial, sexual, etc.) (aka a ton of your fellow Americans) are hurt and afraid of a Trump administration. They are hurt and afraid because they believe that not only is our next president is sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and uncaring about our environment's well being, but that the half of America that voted for him is, too.

It is an unfortunate lie that a vote for Trump is a vote for hate, one that I know the media constantly portrayed (one example being the picture I used above from CNN's website). In fact, from what I've seen, most/many folks who voted for Trump didn't really like their choice, but they felt he had the best chance to bring change to the country or because they strongly stood for one point of his platform rather than everything he stands for. For example, many evangelical Christians who voted for Trump did so only because they think abortion is morally wrong. Plenty voted for him only because they thought it was a safer vote than Hillary, war-wise (no one wants another Vietnam). Some voted for him because they thought he'd be the best chance for a better American economy thanks to his business background and distance from the general politics arena. I'm sure many voted for him just because they're loyal to the Republican party.

To Trump haters: Don't allow yourself to believe that because Trump won so many votes that half of America is a hateful group of bigots; that's just not true. Sure, many of them are (there are jerks in every section of America), but that is not what a Trump win means.

To Hillary haters: Show the other half what your motives truly are through your actions. BE a better, kinder, more beautiful society. Be caring, be kind, and be gracious, especially during this highly emotional season for so many Americans.

To everyone: Respectfully listen to one another. We're all in this together, and we all ultimately want a better country. Discussion and respectful debates are the first steps to help us get there.

One silver lining I’ve been able to find is that I believe this will be a tipping point for our society, especially in Atlanta where I live. As we see the government shifting, may we realize that, really, it’s up to US to make America beautiful and great. It’s not the President’s responsibility to set the tone for our country, it’s ours. And how good is it that love and progress and equality are louder and more powerful than their opposites?

In that light, I think there can be great good that comes from this, on a more local, personal level, and that is one thing I can be excited about.

Like Hillary said in her concession speech, we owe Trump a chance to do a good job. I’m glad that he seems to be taking this so seriously and his line “The forgotten men and women will be forgotten no longer” is something I will hold him to. So many Americans voted for him because they believe he will bring us good change. I AM nervous, but I'm also choosing to be brave and hopeful.

Finally, I know the fear refreshes every election cycle, but this is the first time I’ve been in the thick of things and with many friends who are so upset. I wish this wasn’t so divisive, I wish people weren't hurting so much, and I know we'll make it through. Feel free to comment or message me privately to further the conversation, and I hope your heart turns toward the good things in your life today. I'm going to be visiting a park with Mako later this afternoon myself.

Recommended further reading/listening:
Bite-sized stories from readers of The Hustle on who they voted for and why (Read this to start the trend of listening to others with differing opinions.)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Recommended for October

I haven't pushed out a lot of these posts lately, mainly because I haven't been exploring that many new recipes, and I always want to leave you with someone tangible instead of just links to read in your spare time.  In lieu of new foods to try, I'll probably be sharing some songs I enjoy instead.  The main thing, though, is that I have been coming across a lot of interesting information, beautiful work, and exciting discoveries I've wanted to share.  Without further ado, here's another edition of Recommended!

^ First, this is a new song for me.  I have this on my Sky playlist where I keep my light and positive songs, and I love the whimsy in the melody and the sweet vocals.  Do you like it?

Did you know you're not supposed to refrigerate tomatoes and that orange juice isn't really that good for you?  Check out these new food facts.

Instagram has made a new, amazing change!

Speaking of social media, did you see that Vine is shutting down??

I had the pleasure of listening to this beautiful piece read aloud this morning on a podcast from The Liturgists (which I also recommend), and I encourage you to read it through when you have a chance. It's about the beauty, strength, and dignity of a woman's body throughout her life, in the context of a Christian environment, which, as many of us know, isn't always known for responding well to the feminine.  I shared further on a Facebook post, and I wanted to share here, too:

The idea of women being less has been a strange, unfortunate struggle I've been working through for many years. It's not constant for me, I'm not routinely put down due to my sex by any means, and many of the offenses I do receive are results of miscommunication, cultural, or personality differences. I consider my story to be moderate, but I know that my moderate story isn't the story of all women. There are many who have lived through overt and predatory assault and also subtle and insidious lies about their worth as women. There are many, many ways we as a culture, a society, And We As A Church need to change the story. I don't have all the answers, in fact, I'd really like to hear what you think about all this, but I do think this piece could be a starting point of changing our perspectives.

I follow Kimi Werner's aquatic adventures on Instagram, and last week she taught me that the chemicals in our sunscreens are harming ocean life!  Even though beach weather is on it's way out of the Northern Hemisphere, I wanted to pass along her recommendation of Avasol's sunscreens, which are good for you AND the planet.

This piece of encouragement

What a happy, amazing, and adorable story!

These thermal nails are amazing.  When I asked, the artist responded saying she "layered the colors and then used polish remover and a Qtip to take away" the layers.  I could never have that patience!

Having a healthy or unhealthy gut will affect your brain.  Our bodies can be so bizarre, and I guess it's time for me to start having yogurt for breakfast again.