Losing our Baggage & Embracing the Life Before Us

Baggage. We all have it. It varies in weight, size and content. But we all carry baggage. Some of us pick up the baggage frequently and bring it along for the ride while others toss it out the window once it starts to get moldy and stinky.

Some of us carry this baggage on our hearts- and it weighs us down at the bottom of the river and takes the ones we love with us. Or it keeps us from loving the ones we have before us- we can’t see them in our lives because the baggage is too dense.

Some of us carry this baggage in our heads- and it weighs heavy on our minds and prevents us from reaching our full potential.

Some of us carry baggage on our shoulders- burdened by weights that are always present and keeping our heads hanging low instead of holding our heads proudly above our shoulders for the world to see.

storytelling from an indepdendent traveler, documentary photography, crystal street

A man carries bags of nutmegs from a storage facility in Sangihe, Indonesia.

Some of us carry baggage of others on our backs, we pick up their discarded baggage, toss it on our backs and end up carrying more than our bodies can handle- and half of this shit isn’t even ours!

And some of us carry enough baggage to need three porters, four Sherpa, and a herd of pack mules to haul our crap over the hills of our days and through the gnarly paths of our lives.

But, to reach our full potential and truly experience all the amazing adventures life has to offer- we have to lose our baggage. All of it.

storytelling from an independent traveler, documentary photography, crystal street

A porter carries baggage off an overnight ferry from Manado to Sangihe, Indonesia.

Lose our social baggage.

Lose our emotional baggage.

Lose the baggage that other people tossed at us as we were exiting their lives.

And once we decide to set our baggage by the side of the road and walk away- we need to be cautious of the monkey mind and its bad intentions.

The monkey mind picks up this baggage we shed. It sees this rumpled old bag slumped on the side of the road, and the monkey mind thinks, “yes, let’s pick through this little gem and see what we can’t dig up and wallow in.” So it unzips the bag and pulls out the pain. It tosses up the anger, it rolls around in the grief. That damn monkey mind takes all your burdened feces and throws it onto the walls of your mind just to say, “ha! take that!” And you wallow in the past. You go there. The tears well up, the anger bubbles to the surface, the self-loathing and the degradation of your past and present self starts to penetrate your psyche and dominate your thought-bubble. And you thought you’d tossed that baggage out the window when you cruising down the road a few years ago. Not so.

The truth is, we all have baggage. We all have our dark twisty places- and we all deal with this internal darkness in different manners. We deal with our mistakes, loss of life, loss of love and poor decisions and for many of us, we just toss them in our emotional cornucopia and weigh our baggage down even more.

But, what if we took each little article out of the bag, one at time and sat with it for a while. What if we hauled that bag out of its hiding place, dumped it all on the ground and inspected each little piece of accumulated crap.

What would we see? Would we have the strength to recognize the mistake, forgive ourselves for having made it and then gleam some useful purpose for the outcome? Would we have the ability to pull out the grief, hold it to our hearts and just sit with the reality of our loss? Can we pull out that broken heart, look at the tiny little pieces and then take the time to actually reconstruct that heart- mending each little piece and reinforcing the reconstruction work as we go?

Would our baggage not get lighter if we took those little pieces of pain out and set them on the side of the road and left them there? Would our lives not open to all that stands before us if we set our bags down, refused to pick them back up and just took a giant leap into the unknown? Would our travels throughout the world not be enhanced if our only baggage was truly just the clothes we need for tomorrow and the good sense to not put any additional items in the bag?

What would your world look like without your baggage? Where would you go? Who would you become? Who would you share that life with, if your baggage was gone?

Now, set down that bullshit baggage and embrace that vision.

It’s now your present- baggage-free self.

Listening to Your Gut & Acting on Your Instinct

Quick summary:

  • A little first person story about following your gut and making instinctive decisions- regardless of rational thought.
  • Fighting with the inner-gnomes- really- I’m not insane.
  • The moral of the story- follow your gut.  But it’s worth the read!
  • A video from TED at the end- totally worth the 20 minutes!

At times, our body reacts to our reality in ways that our mind can not.  Our mind rationalizes our actions and decisions, it weighs the cost/benefit analysis of our actions and the future implications of our decisions on our current path in life. Our mind shoots in to the future 5 years and tries to predict our place in life based on the outcome of the decision we are making. Our mind takes our actions and rationalizes the positive effects- even if the rationalization is based on pure mythical results or best case scenarios that are not a reflection of reality.

But our body knows better.  Our body reacts.  Our gut knows when something is right or wrong- it just knows.

A shot from Kathmandu while I wandered the streets looking for chai.

Here’s a little story from my life last month- there’s a point amongst the words- keep reading.

Rewind to last month.  Mid-June, as my 35th birthday was rapidly approaching, I was driving down the road at 55 miles an hour, wallowing in my present Saturday evening spent at Barnes and Noble working on my writing while the rest of the world was engaging in a social life, thinking, “Damn, it’s a Saturday night, and I’m caressing my MacBook Pro with a cup of espresso.  Tragic.” As I’m lost in my self-reproach and self-pity, my truck makes a strange, slight noise that is almost undetectable.  Then, as I’m flying down an overpass- the engine just stops.  The dashboard lights up, my steering wheel feels like its drowning in cement and I’m coasting down the highway approaching an on-ramp with merging traffic.  SHIT!!

My poor Little Red limps off to the side of the road- miraculously missing the merging cars- and I just sit staring at the steering wheel trying to wrap my brain around what just happened.  I turned the key over- sputter, cough, ahhhhhh! Nothing.  She’s not gonna give me anymore juice.  She’s done.  Shit, so am I, I thought.  As the tow truck driver put her up on the flat-bed and she looked all lonely and broken, I couldn’t help but think- damn it, I should be in Egypt or Italy like I planned.  I wouldn’t need a car and I wouldn’t be wallowing in self-pity on a Saturday night.  What am I doing?  And then, the sheer fear of being stranded in Myrtle Beach with no vehicle sunk in. According to the “Walkability Score” from Rowdy Kittens (a fabulous blog that I spent my vehicle-less week indulging in), my current squatting location while I work on my Empire (i.e. my mother’s house) has a walk-ability rating of 14- with 99 being Portland- one of the most walkable cities in the US.  Sigh.

That night, after my tow truck driver said, “yea, that’s your engine” after turning the key over while I begged him to tell me the problem was just a fuel pump, I had a long conversation with Captain Morgan.

I went there.  I wallowed.  I watched Quentin Tarantino just to make me feel like, “damn, at least I’m not that guy getting gutted on screen”.

I emailed a friend who I knew was hiring a waitress at her work and figured I’d better prepare for the $3K dollar engine I’d be buying in a few short days.  There goes my plane ticket to Italy, my travel money to Ireland to find my McDreamy and my month’s worth of Turkish coffee in Cairo.  Damn, Damn, Damn.  And me and the Captain kept talking.

I began working in restaurants 20 years ago.  Throughout my freelance career, bartending has always been my fall back.  I am an excellent bartender, I love the act of bartending- the conversations, the mix-ology and the industry’s drama and stories!  But, for all the things I love about the bar, working there sucks the life out of my creative inner gnomes faster than a Hoover vacuum on steroids. It just does.  And this summer, I’m working hard to build my blog, grow my readership and finish my commercial projects so I can go overseas and really take my blog for a spin- using all the creative juju I can muster.  I’m sacrificing the normal luxuries of a 35 year old, single woman to chase my dreams down. I tasted my life as I envisioned it this winter- and the flavor was delicious.  And I’ve gone too far to go backwards.

But, with $3K looming over my head for a vehicle repair, I retreated to my safety zone.  The restaurant. Now, you might be thinking, $3K for a 15 year old pickup truck is a little crazy- and you’d be right.  But I, for reasons that are personal and not to be discussed in this article, am emotionally attached to this vehicle.  Again, not rational, I get that.  Also, when you can not walk anywhere, ANYWHERE, you need a vehicle.  Moving is not an option at this point because I have two clients that are in the midst of projects- and I can’t leave.

So, I trained at my friend’s workplace.  An adorable little restaurant in a small coastal tourist town.   I’d make bank, work part time and replenish my travel kitty.  The training went well and I enjoyed working with my friend.  She’s very sweet and flamboyant and believes that her waitress shift is really just a cabaret and she is the star.  Interesting.

That night, instead of sleeping, I tossed and turned like nobody’s business.  It was the night before my birthday and I was about to work my second waitress shift on the day I was supposed to celebrate my special day on the beach.  But that wasn’t the problem.  I dreamt, repeatedly, that I forgot to show up for work.  I normally dream about forgetting drink orders or getting double sat when I start at a new restaurant, but in the 20 years I’ve been doing this, I never dreamt that I just forgot to show up for a shift.  Oh no.  This is not good.

Each time I woke up, my inner gnomes were engaged in a heated debate.  They were pissed and they were arguing. The practical gnome was arguing about money and the fact that I would be making money at the restaurant like normal 35 year old people do when they work.  The artistic gnome was crying because she really was looking forward to a summer of freedom to wander into the creative cave at a moment’s notice- a luxury that makes freelancing worth the effort.  The entrepreneurial gnome was throwing things because working at a restaurant would detract from the progress being made towards complete location independence and passive income generation and the nomadic gnome was curled up in the corner, rocking back and forth and muttering about the chai wallah in India that he needs to see, the espresso in Fiorenze that he needs to drink and the hookah in Cairo that he needs to smoke. And all this arguing gave me a huge stomach ache.  My gut was rebelling against the restaurant.  When the gnomes start to arguing, I hear them out.  But when the gut reacts- I have to take action.

Around 4 am, they all agreed that I had to quit the job I worked at all of one day and began the conversation I would have with the owner the very next morning.  And I laid there in bed, rationalizing the action and having the conversation.  I created elaborate excuses and reasons  for why I couldn’t work anymore.  I had it all planned out.  But when I went to the restaurant, I just looked at the owner, apologized profusely and told her “it’s not you, it’s me”.  Like I was in high school breaking up with a pimply boy from the basketball team.

I was that person.  I flaked on a job after one day.  Shit.

Good lord, what am I doing?  I went to the beach, thought about what I was doing and said, well, I’m opening this up to the Universe at this point.

If my gut reacted to my rational action of taking an outside job in such a strong way, there must be powers at work here a little stronger than my rational mind.

But, my inner gnomes all agreed, if you’re going to go this route, there had better be some serious progress being made towards your goals.  I began pulling 10-15 hour days, working on my branding, social media and blogging.  My E-Book is ready to launch next week, I’m publishing guest posts and finally tying it all together.

And as I sit here today and look at the small baby steps that I’m taking towards my goals, I thank my gut and my inner gnomes for that long, sleepless night.  Had they not taken over, I might still be serving sandwiches and kicking myself for not moving forward- again.

By taking this risk and tossing myself at the mercy of the Universe, I have no one to blame but myself for my missteps and shortcomings.  If I don’t make this happen now, I have no excuses.

Here’s a little video from TED talking about our brains and leadership and the Why?  Excellent!

Branding Yourself, Why it Matters to You and Those Around You

Branding.

The word feels slightly dirty to me.  To brand me, myself, just seems like the ultimate act in arrogance and narcissism- at least that was my old paradigm of thought.  I’ve recently revisited my past assumptions and started to re-evaluate my perceptions of personal branding.  When you’re trying to move people to take action, based on your visions of a better, more balanced society, you’d best embrace the act of branding yourself and your beliefs.  Or no one will listen.

I also believe the world is super saturated with corporate branding- it dictates what we purchase, how we interact in certain social situations, and in today’s world, corporate branding is influencing young people’s sense of self worth and their role in the world.  Insert Hannah Montana or Lebron James here and you see what I mean.

During some recent inner reflection on how to grow my blog and spread me message to the world, I realized that the missing link was two fold- my lack of proper implementation of social media and my lack of branding.  Branding, me?

Yep.  I needed to brand myself in order to get my passions for storytelling, independent travel, location independent living and my philosophies on life in general out into the world and hopefully into people’s conversations.  Oh boy.  I had to embrace my inner narcissist, make peace with with my ego and lay it all out on the table.

crystalstreet, twittering, documentary photographer, storytelling from an independent traveler

photo by brooke mayo photography

In this line of work, when YOU are the person delivering the message- not a corporate behemoth or lacky CEO mouthpiece- in the hopes of helping others and sharing your perspectives on a simple life, the brand has to be you.  All you warts, your burs and your bumps- all your beauty, your simplicity, your compassion and your knowledge. You have to become the face of your beliefs.  Not a cartoon, not an avatar, not a fictional being.  You.  Period.

Social media is powered by conversation.  By real people engaging with one another regarding topics they are passionate about. That’s the heart of social media and if you’re going to build your “Tribe” you must be a strong presence and embrace the transparency and authenticity that drives social media.

Let’s face it, if you’re not transparent or authentic, should you really be trying to build a “Tribe” and lead people to a different way of living.  Hell no.  Stop now, find another avenue of work and use Facebook to update endlessly about your dog or your children.

Over the years, I’ve never quite nailed down the art of branding.  Yes, I know, it’s not rocket science. My venture into lifestyle design began 15 years ago, before there was the 4HWW, webinars about blogging empires and social media was what you did at the bar on the weekend and then spread through the gossip grapevine on Monday.  I began freelancing in 2000, before a website was even necessary for a business.  I taught myself the traditional business models and engaged in a ton of trial and error.  I had a darkroom when I launched my freelance business- and I used it for commerce.

Wrap your brain around that one!

So, branding and identity has always been a challenge for me.  What is the business entity, what should it entail, should each genre of photography be a separate business, do I need to have an LLC for each photographic specialty?  Toss in writing and multimedia and blog development and well- my brain just curls up in the fetal position and cries for its mommy when I start to tackle the issue of branding.

Exhausting.

Last week I had my a-ha moment.  Finally.  Its not the business that needs to be branded, dumb ass, it’s you. You are the person behind the camera, you’re the person writing these blog postings, you’re the person producing the multimedia.  It’s YOU.  And YOU are the person people are contacting about how to engage in their own Walkabout to change their reality. (that happened last week- so amazing!)  You’re the person landing multimedia jobs by word of mouth, over conversations in coffees-houses.  It’s because people believe in you and your talent and abilities.  It’s that simple.

My branding adventures are coming together- and my face is now splattered all over my Twitter, Facebook,  Blog and a hiring/ about my services page  .  I tied everything together, made it look the same and branded it all- and it’s still a work in progress.  Though I’m still struggling about whether or not to separate some of the writing and the photography- I will tie it all in with my name, face and color schemes with my font.

I guess branding isn’t the end of the world when you have a positive message and are trying to start a movement, in fact, it’s necessary.  People need someone to trust when they are embarking on the unknown elements of life-altering actions, such as lifestyle design, minimalist living and location independent professional careers. If my branding wasn’t solid and I could not easily be recognized, I’d be doing my readers a disservice and my future “tribe” wouldn’t have a solid leader.  So, I’ll continue to brand and hopefully keep building my readership by providing something that inspires them or calls them to action.

At the end of the day, if your message is not solid, if your content is weak and your heart isn’t in the proper place and people don’t understand who you are and why they should care, none of it matters. Your branding a pile of shit, and people can smell that- even through the Twitter.

Five Simple Steps for Maintaining Your Identity Once You Ditch the 9-5 Chains

Does this sound familiar? Study hard, get good grades, get a college degree, climb the corporate latter for 50-70 hours a week, exit 30 years later with your shiny reward, then sit on the beach and watch the world pass you by, too tired and over worked to truly enjoy any of life’s little nuances and joys.

That sucks.

Obviously, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve chosen a different path or are considering it. And in choosing this path, you’ll be making your own set of shiny new rules, such as work hours, income types- passive versus active, and the definition of your work day.

Information about launching and running your minimalist business abounds, hence your eyeballs on this page, but one element of this style of work, and really, this way of life, gets very little lip service.  Redefining and maintaining your sense of identity once your location independent and lifestyle begins to work.

That initial programming from society geared our minds and our peers to gauge our self-worth based on the numbers of hours worked, money made and the quantity of shit purchased to fill the empty void in the life you created. And for a good reason, our economic system needs worker ants to keep it slogging forward through time.

But once you leap off of the ant hill, build your location independent empire, launch yourself into the simple lifestyle and see your work hours shift dramatically, how do you maintain your identity and still live in this country?

For those who don’t follow this blog and don’t already know, I’m a mid-thirties, single woman whose taken the nontraditional path my entire adult life. I never truly bought into the programming tossed my way by society and am truly grateful for the struggles and triumphs my path provided. I never truly garnered my self-worth from the definitions of society and most of my friends stopped gauging my success on work hours, cars and money long ago- or I just cut them out of my life.  Yet, I still catch myself feeling this sense of guilt from working a minimal amount of hours a week on pure income generation. I devote my time to this blog, building a community of readers, my art and my passions, but they aren’t always generating direct income.  My income generation varies dramatically from one week to the next, regardless of the amount of hours I work for money.

Still, after all this time, I struggle with this sense of identity.  So, what can we do to combat this- besides the obvious answer of “get over yourself, already”?

1. Pull your artistic and creative business ideas off the shelves and devote some of this new time towards cultivating that fledgling idea. As an entrepreneur (which you are if you’re reading this- or at least want to be) you will regurgitate business ideas and artistic endeavors like the girl from the Exorcist. They will spew forth and shoot all over the walls as your head spins from the sheer energy of these fabulous ideas. Yet, in a former life of 50 hour work weeks and weekend warrior escapades, these poor lonely ideas withered on the shelf from neglect. Dust them off, coddle ‘em a little and resuscitate them.

2.  Surround yourself with fellow minimalist business folks. You need a community. Yes, you do. And if your community is like mine, where the word minimalist was violently removed from the vernacular decades ago, move. Now. Pack up your crap (and since you’re a minimalist- that should take less than a day) toss the dog in the passenger seat and drive off into the sunset.  Find your community-  your support system. When you’re friends value time the same way as yourself, they will understand the beauty of a 3 hour brainstorming lunch or the necessity of that quintessential coffeeshop/remote office. Best of all, they will not judge you when you mention that your income generation activities took a whole 8 hours that week. They will applaud.

3.  Live in a beautiful area and find some nature.
Nature is a fabulous friend to have when you have a little extra time on your hands.  She can nurture your creative ideas, provide you solace when your E-Book is driving you mad or simply give you a rock and a view to admire when you’ve found your happy place.  I balance the ugliness of my current community with the beauty of the beach. I live about one mile from the beach and after my coffee shop visit, I spend a 3 hour lunch there everyday, reading business books and brainstorming about my next adventure. It’s the only reason I’m still here and not curled up in the fetal position on a shrink’s couch.

documentary photography, sunset at the beach, crystal street

My family poses for a self-portrait during a beautiful sunset on the beach.

4.  Change your filters. Huh?  Yep, your filters- given to you by society at that young, impressionable age- need to be taken out and replaced with new, shiny, minimalist filters.  Make a list of all the precious things you value in life.  People, moments, memories and experiences- write them all down on a piece of paper and visit them often.  When you see a neighbor or old classmate and the conversation steers towards the dangerous cliffs of “What do you do?” and “Where do you live?” compare the conversation with your list of experiences.  When some douche bag you knew 15 years ago starts bragging about his corner office and unlimited expense account, mention the time you sailed through the Greek Isles for three months while your assistant just dumped your passive income into your bank account and you worked a couple hours a week from your laptop while docked in some ridiculously gorgeous Greek Isle that you can’t even remember the name of.  That should shut him up.

5.  Learn the right answers. A little tricky, but you will always be asked questions about work and where you live. It’s inevitable- it’s our way of politely saying “how are you today”?  Even my barista, who knows what I do for a living, always asks me, “Are you working today”?  And I never have a good answer for her.  I usually shrug and give a noncommittal “maybe”. I feel guilty because she’s got a line of impatient tourists winding out the door and is working way too hard.  When your tan rocks, people will think you don’t work very hard, and roll their eyes when you tell them you were working on the beach.  Learn to love your answers and their reactions.  Get creative- tell them you work the streets at night, so you have plenty of time to tan during the day.  Tell them whatever- tell them you’re sleeping with Donald Trump and he pays you a million bucks a month because you’re so good in the sack.

The point?

Understand the reasons why you work this way and embrace the passions that drive you forward. These passions and understanding of your self-worth will insulate you from the judgments of others.  And while we truly don’t care what that douche-bag bully from high school thinks of us, we do care what our parents, siblings and loved ones think of our work.  And if you’re passionate and dedicated to living this life of simplicity, your loved ones will understand and be your biggest champions.  And one day soon, they may follow you.

Your Next Bold Move and Engaging with the News

“you want to track each trickle
back to its source
and then scream up the faucet
’til your face is hoarse
cuz you’re surrounded by a world’s worth
of things you just can’t excuse”  A. Difranco

I start off most days by reading the news.  Yes, I’m a news junkie.

In an attempt to reign in my digital ADD habits of jumping from one news site to the next and then following a thread of research or dialogue that leaves me in the depths of NOAA or WhiteHouse.gov, searching desperately for a way out of the cyber-blackhole I’ve crawled into, I started using Netvibe. I set up the uber-news aggregator site with my top 10 news site feeds all fed into one delicious tab.  At first, my reasoning had a sprinkling of logic- I can come to this one page, scan the headlines, read one or two relevant articles and move onto my work for the day.

This experiment has been going on for two days and well, I think it is actually like heroin for a news junkie. Wow!  I laid out my page so that on the left side of the screen I get my major news outlets- the NY Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera English, The Economist, The Guardian and the BBC.  On the right hand side are my alternative news sites, The Nation, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, Slate and Dawn (a Pakistani New site).  Then, I laid out different tabs based on topics, so at any time in the day I can go to a page with RSS feeds from news outlets and magazines based on either, Foreign Affairs, The Oil Spill, Economics, or Business.

Yes, its insane, I get that, but I’m leading up to a couple points here. In the past two days, I’ve been drawn to some excellent articles from the Nation and Mother Jones (both of which fully fund investigative journalism- hard to find that in the mainstream media these days) ranging from the wars, the oil spill, the economy and the administration. I find it refreshing that they counter the mainstream media’s headlines with more investigative articles to counter the glossed over version presented to most of the country.

For example, The NYT ran with a lead story at the beginning of the week regarding the “$1 Trillion” in mineral deposits in Afghanistan- conveniently run after last weeks press coverage of the war surpassing Vietnam in length.  The Nation ran an article about how Washington is “drunk on war” and provided a direct counter to the NYT placating to keep the country at war. (They’ve caught quite a bit of grief about the NYT article, its timing, its sources and it serving as propaganda for a long and possibly un-winnable war).

So, this morning, after reading my NYT Op-Eds (a girls got needs) about the pansy-esque presidential address regarding the spewing reminder of our oil consumption society in the Gulf, I scanned the right side of my news screen and saw a headline that had to be read, “Is the BP Gusher Unstoppable?” Couldn’t resist, had to go there.

Wow.

Sometimes I wish I just didn’t feel compelled to engage with current events. Granted, I studied journalism at one of the best schools in the country, so I guess its ingrained.  But, the reason I returned to school to study journalism is because I became a news-junkie many years ago, but had no framework to understand the headlines and the world at large. I would get so angry at the headlines, but had no true understanding of the larger picture, of how the players, the politicians and the State fit into these headlines.

Who owns this media? Whose agenda am I engaging with and why?  Why does this same talking point spin through the news cycle and end up in the mouths of the people I’m serving at the bar where I work? These are all questions that I needed to answer.  I returned to school for professional, practical and selfish reasons, but I also returned so I could understand the news and put my opinion into the mix of things.  So I could understand my world and the f***** up shit that happens in “my name”, for the “sake of my country” and “my patriotism” and yada-yada.

And I find that I rarely get to engage in the discussion of the happenings in the world because so many people choose not to be informed.  I understand the reasoning behind it, “not enough time, its too depressing, its too overwhelming, the “what can I do about it, so I’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist” train of thought. I get that, and I try to respect it.

But, I don’t believe we can ignore the events around us any longer.  We have to engage in current events and we have to create our own framework to understand and process this news and the spins media outlets place on the news and for what reasons. That takes time and effort- but its an imperative in a world run by corporate interests- in a world we need to return to the people, not sacrifice for the corporation.  If we don’t engage and create our frameworks- things like the Tea Party and Sarah Palin happen- or worse- in the vacuum of disengagement, economic breakdown and proper leadership, things like Stalin, Hitler and Milosevic happen.

And its mornings like this, when I read an article sourcing a scientists blog from the oil industry about how its likely that the spewing oil in the Gulf might not stop, it is very close to getting much worse and yet the president said it will be stopped by July, that i think- I need to do more.

Reading and stoking a dialogue are something.  Taking action is another.

A Palestinian man holds OS gas canisters that were just released on everyone at a weekly protest of the Israeli occupation of the town's farm land.

A Palestinian man holds OS gas canisters that were just released on everyone at a weekly protest of the Israeli occupation of the town's farm land.

While shaking my head in disbelief and wondering why I engage in this act of masochism every morning, an old favorite song came on the Pandora and I was immediately taken back to 2004, where I sat reading the headlines of our war in Iraq and shook my head at the direction of our country and listened to this song at the end of every evening to soothe the swelling anger and disbelief. “Your Next Bold Move,” by Ani Difranco.  I’ve posted the lyrics below, read them.  There’s a live version from YouTube posted below.  Listen to it.  Sit with it for a bit.  Then go buy the album.  I did.

There was a time when I listened to this song, and album, regularly.  A time when I discovered the truth that had been hidden from me for many years, through history books written by the victors, media stories edited by their corporate ownership and dialogue guarded by the fear of the consequences of dissent. I find it fascinating that the song resurfaced this morning after years of hiding in my CD collection, while reading about the unstoppable oil gusher, and I’m wondering the meaning behind it.

And I’m wondering what my next “Bold Move” will be.

your next bold move
by ani difranco

coming of age during the plague
of reagan and bush
watching capitalism gun down democracy
it had this funny effect on me
i guess

i am cancer
i am HIV
and i’m down at the blue jesus
blue cross hospital
just lookin’ up from my pillow
feeling blessed

and the mighty multinationals
have monopolized the oxygen
so it’s as easy as breathing
for us all to participate

yes they’re buying and selling
off shares of air
and you know it’s all around you
but it’s hard to point and say “there”
so you just sit on your hands
and quietly contemplate

your next bold move
the next thing you’re gonna need to prove
to yourself

what a waste of thumbs that are opposable
to make machines that are disposable
and sell them to seagulls flying in circles
around one big right wing

yes, the left wing was broken long ago
by the slingshot of cointelpro
and now it’s so hard to have faith in
anything

especially your next bold move
or the next thing you’re gonna need to prove
to yourself

you want to track each trickle
back to its source
and then scream up the faucet
’til your face is hoarse
cuz you’re surrounded by a world’s worth
of things you just can’t excuse

but you’ve got the hard cough of a chain smoker
and you’re at the arctic circle playing strip poker
and it’s getting colder and colder
everytime you lose

so go ahead
make your next bold move
tell us
what’s the next thing you’re gonna need to prove
to yourself