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A guest Autumn Latimore November 2018

This blog is a landing place for all things that contribute to overall wellness and balance.  All the things that help you find your way, navigate your own individual journey.  Sometimes, it is about health, food, exercise or essential oils.

Today – this blog is about heart, soul and mind.  Exercising these is as important as all those other steps.  One of my friends posted her perspective on her social media page.  And it is powerful.  It moved me.  It made me think different.   Exercising our mind and stepping out to do something different expands us.  It expands the world.   It is good.  And it needs to be part of your journey.  So, take a few minutes and absorb this great perspective on activating.  We live in the most amazing country on Earth!  Let’s embrace it.  Choose one little piece and do it!

Thank you to Autumn Latimore for sharing these words of wisdom.

“(This post is HELLA LONG. You’ve been warned.)

I’ve been reading about how in the aftermath of the most recent terrorist (yes, yes they are) attacks on my hometown of Pittsburgh, we want to do something, or to figure out what we can do to improve the situation. Prayers and positive energy are great.

But let me get real: most of us put more thought, energy, time, and money into last week’s Halloween festivities than we have our activism. (I’m including those who avoided trick or treaters, or who swerved past the candy remains at work to avoid the calories.)

So now is your chance. I have some full-proof suggestions that you can make a difference in your life, the lives of others, and your community — and allow you to be the change you say you want to be. Some of these are easy, some tough. Some seem trite, while others will take you out of your comfort zone. Some are not as feasible for some; some are very doable for others. But if you believe in being an ally of any sort, of supporting this village that we call society, there are some way you can activate change in your life and this world. This is just a starting list. I challenge each of you, in your comments to think of other suggestions to pass along.

And for those cynics out there, just STOP it. Everyone is at a different point in their journey, including you. Don’t make light of anyone’s steps when their heart is in the right place and the willingness to do good is there. If you can’t hang, then bye.

Here we go:

Be forewarned: Imma first talk about Tuesday.

1. Vote this Tuesday — AND ALWAYS … because dang it, if nothing else, you need to honor the people who died, marched, fought — and those who are STILL doing so to try to vote in this country and this world. There’s more power than we often realize in filling in a box, or pulling a lever. And if you don’t think it counts? Screw that — it counts. The ancestors will beat your ass if you ever meet up with them in any after life there might be if you don’t acknowledge their valor. And if you don’t believe in the afterlife, then you have no argument other than to work to make life better for the here and now.

2. Take someone who can’t easily get to the polls to vote. I’m talking any of the following and beyond: • Someone you know who has to take public transportation • Someone who doesn’t get off work to vote or who works an hourly job and takes public transportation and must coordinate their schedule within an inch of its life so they can even think about voting • A young person in your life who is now eligible to vote for the first time • A older person who you know may or may not make it to the polls — just ensure they do • Now if you can’t take folks yourself, call them an Uber or a Lyft (or as we used to know them in Pittsburgh, a jitney), and make sure they get to the place they need to vote. If you can’t afford it, get in with a few other folk and send someone. And ask that Uber driver if they’ve voted.

3.Teach a child the voting process. Take a kid — infant, toddler, tween, teen — with you to vote so they understand what it means, how it’s done, the atmosphere etc. Do it every time you go to vote; understanding that the cadence is just as important as the act itself should be taught. My daughter always has gone — from infancy on — to vote with her dad or I. She started to enjoy collecting the stickers when she was young, and now she just loves to go to say she went and to say hello to the neighborhood poll workers. But she understands the importance of going. All the better to carry her into adulthood we say.

4. Share your kitchen table with someone different. Being in corporate America, you’re often subjected to many training and development activities. One of the most powerful I attended was a diversity and inclusion session, taught by an austere Asian woman. She talked about how one of THE most intimate places in most of our homes was our “kitchen table” — that it was often the proverbial heart of many homes and where most of our most serious and heartfelt conversations were held. I encourage you to ask yourself: how often does someone who looks different, worships differently, is differently abled, how often do you invite someone like that into your home and talk with them about well, life? As a middle-aged, African-American woman, most of my life is filled with either black or white, able-bodied, heterosexual Christians with kids. I find myself reaching out to ensure we have LGBTQ friends in our lives, non-Christian friends that we spend various holidays with, and older friends who have great stories. We have to work at including difference in our lives.

5 Travel, read, learn, embrace, repeat. One of the best ways we can expose ourselves to difference is by traveling (which I don’t do enough of, I’ll admit), reading, and learning. Sounds simple, right? But planning to take that trip isn’t easy. And I’m not talking a Disney resort. I’m encouraging you to see life as it is for another person. Or to read about a different type of experience. Take a class or listen to a lecture in or about something that teaches you an aspect of life you’ve not before encountered. Maybe try learning sign language, or understanding about native cultures in your region. This may sound trite but it should be just one small aspect of your personal ongoing development.

6.Walk in your neighborhood — or maybe another neighborhood. We keep hearing how we’re so insular due to social media and our conditioning to electronics. We know we need to walk more overall, so get to know the neighborhood around you and the people around you. You may be surprised at who you find in your own back yard.

7.Have those hard conversations. While I encouraged you to embrace difference above, here imma encourage you to take on the people in your life who in many ways are like you but who think in ways you disagree with — and have a conversation with them. Have those hard conversations around race, class, politics, religion, homophobia. Sure, we hate having those conversations with Uncle Harvey at family gatherings, but doing so may help another family member realize that you’re a safe person to come out to.

8. Say hi. I irrationally dislike people who don’t speak when they approach you, or when spoken to. I mean it REALLY bothers me. When you ignore another person, it might bother them too. To not see someone can be one of the most hurtful things we can do as human beings. Let’s respect each other by acknowledging our existence with a simple hello to strangers.

9.Listen. We live in the age of “Me, Myself and I.” Selfies are a norm and so is self-absorption. Instead of us putting out our agenda first, how about we listen and hear what others are saying and feeling. Instead of “me first”, let someone else be first. We’ll get to you. Your item will be covered; just chill.

10.Employ empathy. One of the few emotions that we can activate, that differentiates us in the animal kingdom, is our ability to feel the emotions of others and understand their feelings. You don’t have to have been in the exact same situation to empathize with another, you only need to understand their emotion and potentially help them through the situation, or maybe just do number 9 and listen.

Again, cynics may say this is simplistic and too optimistic for real change. But I beg to differ. If we all just started with this list, maybe we wouldn’t have to get into deep and tough items, maybe we’d be that much farther ahead. Baby steps are just that: STEPS. Take them. Do what you need to do to help us move forward as a society. What has been happening can not continue. Make sure you have a part in our better good.”

Autumn Latimore is a Strategic Communication Executive that beautifully balances life as mother, wife, friend and countless other roles.     Thank you Autumn for sharing your insight and truth.

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