Happy TunesDay: Collection 45

Happy TunesDay: Collection 45

I hosted my annual #ThanksgivingBack Birthday event this past weekend. Essentially, I’ll invite friends over to eat snacks I was deprived of during my childhood (namely Totino’s pizza rolls) and ask them to bring donations for a different social cause each year.

This year, I wanted to support the Sacred Stone Camp & the water protectors who are using their bodies and voice to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. They’ve been under constant attack by law enforcement for peacefully protesting and standing their ground.  Some of the atrocities committed against the protectors are so outrageous, I can’t believe that DOJ hasn’t sent observers yet.

My friends & family are pretty wonderful people and donated some cashmonaymonay, but I woke yesterday morning to reports of police spraying fire hoses at Sacred Stone Camp in near freezing temperatures, injuring over 100 people.  It seems like for every step forward, we’re pushed 50 feet back (by fire hoses, apparently).

During this time, I implore you to donate to Standing Rock’s legal defense fund and/or contribute much needed supplies.  I know a lot of people don’t have the expenses to donate a lot, much less travel to North Dakota to be on the frontlines.  That’s understandable. That’s okay.  (as a sidenote, people who are going to ND…that’s super great, but, y’all better be trained in nonviolent protest, because shit is crazy and you need to be prepared so you don’t react negatively and screw up the credibility of the work that the water protectors have been doing since April.  Nonviolence and peaceful protesting is a skill that you need to learn like any other trade. Unfortunately, nonviolent social movements have always been demonized by media for speaking out against power structures, so if a rogue protestor becomes violent, that is all that the media will cover.  A sad truth, but a truth nonetheless.)

Anyway, although it’s okay to not be in a financial place to donate money or travel to Standing Rock, what’s not okay is to let this all slide–to just think that since others are speaking out, you don’t have to.  It is the ultimate irony that our country is preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving while Native lives and land are [still] seen as disposable.

And okay, we can’t just cancel Thanksgiving.  I mean, in all honesty, I would love to skip the whole ordeal (because I don’t eat turkey anyway) and instead have informal educational circles about colonialism and deconstructing white supremacy & post-colonialism, but like…that probably won’t fly in my family.  But what I can do, and what we all can do is call out our elected officials for standing by while Native people and their allies are attacked.  After your Thanksgiving meal, take twenty minutes to chat with your family about #NoDAPL and leave messages for the Department of Justice, Army Corps, and ND’s governor.  Sure, it might seem unconventional, but our tradition of sweeping Native lives and Native problems under the proverbial rug has resulted in huge proportions of Native children in foster care, disproportionate number of Natives killed by police, food deserts, and poor health outcomes.

We have a lot of work to do, and the response from our government and police state to peaceful protesting at Standing Rock surely demonstrates this.

To leave this post on a moderately high note, what I am hopeful for and grateful for are regular people who refuse to let history keep repeating itself.  I’m lucky and proud to know some of these people: to be their friends & learn from them in all ways on all days.  This year has been all sorts of horrible, but I have grown immensely from every person who walked in (and out) of my life.  And because of that, maybe it hasn’t been so horrible.  It’s also been shades of amazing and uplifting and full of soul-searching.  So, thanks for giving me that, world.

…And because I don’t have a nifty or clever segue into displaying this week’s TunesDay playlist, I’m just going to drop it here:

May you celebrate time with your loved ones if you are lucky enough to be with them this week.  And for those who aren’t, go buy a pie.  Pie makes 93.4% of things better.  I recommend pumpkin and dutch apple, but you could get a weird berry one too, I guess.  One of the best things the USA has going for us right now is our selection of gourmet pies. But in all seriousness, know that you are loved even if you aren’t sitting with your family and stuffing your face together.  As always, I’m sending you love and strength.


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Costa Rica Revisted. 2015 Global PEACE Program Initial Reflections.

Costa Rica Revisted. 2015 Global PEACE Program Initial Reflections.

I’m feeling a surge of emotions.  I think that happens a lot with me.

I’m happy, sad, and feeling an overwhelming sense of loss & purpose at the same time. I feel like one minute I could cry and the next, I’ll start laughing.  It’s like puberty all over again.

Going back to Costa Rica was a completely new and enriching experience for me. When you go to a place for the first time, everything is exciting.  All of your senses are soaking in new details.  But, when you return to a place, especially after some time — a year, in my case– different things happen.  You begin to analyze the things you never really noticed before.  You see a lot of good things that you saw before, but you also begin to evaluate other nuances.  It’s something I never really experienced before because I’ve never been to a foreign country more than once.  And out of the things I’ve learnt from this trip, I’ve learnt that revisiting places can be a very valuable and important thing.

I feel like I will say this about every place in the world I’ll travel to, but I can say with confidence that Costa Rica will always hold a very close and special place in my heart. I learned a good amount from the people I’ve met there and the friendships I’ve cultivated.  And, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t getting a bit emotional as I’m typing this whole thing.  I’ve only been in my apartment for less than an hour and I’m already dreading so many things that come with returning home from somewhere else.  I am thinking ahead–thinking of ways to return to my home away from home, to a place where I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at peace with myself and my place in the world, even when I don’t speak the language completely.

From Alajuela to San Jose to Caldera to Mastatal, each and every person I had the privilege of interacting with have given me so much strength and joy.  I am so grateful for the group of peacebuilders I worked with and to the many individuals I’ve met along the way.  I think of them and I am filled with so much happiness, and I know that that is what peace is.  That it is powerful and capable of doing so much good in the world.  Because what happiness I feel inside of me, I know I can use to motivate others around me.  It has shifted and guided me, even when I am 100% sure that I do not know what journey I will take to attain my goals in this world.

When I left, I told my peers that I did not want to go back to the US–that I did not want to return to reality. But, upon reflection, I know that sentiment to be flawed.  My reality is what I choose it to be.  Costa Rica is a lovely, wonderful, powerful reality for me.  I learned about peace as a system from professors and citizens alike.  I learned that demilitarization cannot be the only answer and that every government has its flaws, but that people everywhere are resilient, beautiful, unique humans.  And that gives me an amazing amount of hope about our world.  I am amazed at how at home I could feel in a foreign place from only being there for a short amount of time, and if I could feel that connected to people and places in less than two weeks, I am so excited to think of how much love can flow from person to person with more time than that.

I don’t know what will happen in my future, but I know that I am capable of doing and creating great things in the world so that others can learn what I have learnt and live purposeful, extraordinary lives.

All I know is that I will do everything in my own power to return to Costa Rica again, to work with and perhaps live amongst the families and friends I have met there, and to create a more peaceful & prosperous global community.

Even though I am thinking about my future and how I can return again to Costa Rica, I know that living too much in the future can do no good for our present.  Although it will be an internal struggle for me, I’m ready for today and cannot wait for the many tomorrows we all have to build a kinder world together.

With peace, love, and pura vida,