You are not defeated

You are not defeated when you give up. You are not defeated when you’re beaten. You are not defeated when you are abandoned or rejected.

You are defeated when you are embittered. You are defeated when what happens or doesn’t happen shifts you away from fullness of life and your heart’s active quest for greater fullness of life. Those who are uncompromisingly in touch with life always win, defeated or not.

You are defeated when you are dead, in part or in full.

Look what j-school did to me: journo training changed my brain forever

I just wrote a Facebook post sharing the video above. So did a colleague. Here’s how two people, one with journalism training and one without, see the exact same video with local news value:

  • TEDxAsheville Video time: ANOTHER outstanding youth presentation from TEDxNextGenerationAsheville. Ever heard about the alleged toxic spill IN ASHEVILLE? Studies are inconclusive, but there’s widespread sickness in a South Asheville neighborhood, and residents blame toxic groundwater. One young cancer survivor, Gabe Dunsmith, speaks out about alleged contamination at CTS Corp. Six-minute video.

  • TEDxNextGenerationAsheville Asheville LOOK at the spill that is happening in our own backyards. A courageous young leader, Gabe Black Walnut Dunsmith, is not willing to stand for innocent people suffering and dyeing. He’s taking a stand. Will you join him?

Can you spot the  writer who sold her soul to Edward R. Murrow in 2009?

Eh, I’m not sorry. A friend one told me that the way a scientist sees the world is the only way to see the world, and that stuck with me. I tried to learn to see the world as a scientist does, but I didn’t have the right mind. But when it comes to words and information, I’m your woman. Journalism is a magical combination of words and truth, and is its own royal road to discovery. A scientist, I suppose, finds new things, and a journalist interprets things to find a new truth, however humble. Both, when they do it right, chase something elusive and magical.

The mental paces a learning journalist goes through are the best exercises in fairness I have encountered, and freshman newswriting rewrote my writing mind in the best possible way (of all the classes I took in college, its the one that I think should be required for any writer). It taught me how to write with the truth in mind first, and the needs of the reader second, and gave me a formula to do that. Before, I was just regurgitating information onto a page.

I’m not saying my colleague was wrong and I was right in what she and I posted. Hardly. I’m saying there’s a place for both ways of presenting information. Passion and reason are excellent bedfellows.

Anyway. If you live in Asheville, watch this 6-minute video on what seems to me to be one of the most disturbing and under-reported stories I’ve heard in the 30 years I’ve lived here.

What is a friend?

First you are acquaintances, then you are friends. What’s the transition?

Today I was thinking about the difference between one stage and another. What happens?

Here’s what I think a friend is. You are truly friends when…

– you spend time together because you want to, for pleasure.

– the other person’s counsel and welfare become exceptionally important.

– the silence between you is comfortable.

– you are each yourselves when you are together.

– when the other person is not in your life, you notice.

– you help each other and rely on one another.

– there is mutual fascination, trust and understanding.

If you have something else to add, please comment!

First Year Teacher to His Students

Gorgeous poem from the 5/18/2010 Writers Almanac

First Year Teacher to His Students

by Gary J. Whitehead

<!– (from Measuring Cubits While the Thunder Claps) –>

Go now into summer, into the backs of cars,
into the black maws of your own changing,
onto the boardwalks of a thousand splinters,
onto the beaches of a hundred fond memories
in wait, where the sea in all its indefatigability
stammers at the invitation. Go to your vacation,

to the late morning cool of your basement rooms,
the honeysuckle evening of the first kiss, the first
dip and pivot, swivel and twist. Go to where
the clipper ships sail far upriver, where the salmon
swim in the clean, cool pools just to spawn.
Wake to what the spider unspools into a silver

dawn dripping with light. Sleep in sleeping bags,
sleep in sand, sleep at someone else’s house
in a land you’ve never been, where the dreamers
dream in a language you only half understand.
Slip beneath the sheets, slide toward the plate,
swing beneath the bandstand where the secret

things await. Be glad, or be sad if you want,
but be, and be a part of all that marches past
like a parade, and wade through it or swim in it
or dive in it with your eyes open and your mind
open to wind, rain, long days of sun and longer
nights of city lights mixing on wet streets like paint.

“First Year Teacher to His Students” by Gary J. Whitehead, from Measuring Cubits While the Thunder Claps. © David Robert Brooks, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Paid social media professionals, or social media gurus?

As a full-time social media professional (I’m a marketer for a company that promotes music, art and design), I get called a lot of things other than a social media professional. You’ve heard the words:  social media guru, maven, queen…

I’ve done it myself, once calling a colleague a social media guru. (She gently corrected me, reminding me that as a paid freelance professional with several years of social media campaign leadership experience, she is a consultant.)

I figure we use these terms because so-called social media is so new and so technology-based that there are many geeky people very interested in it who think they know more than they do — or who actually do know a lot but haven’t yet been able to make much money doing it, as with any hot, new field, paid pro work is hard to come by.

And these people are called gurus and mavens, since they often really have drawn extensive knowledge from multiple experiences. But so often they don’t really have jobs in social media, thus the lack of an official title.

I’ve compiled a list of terms I offer for people for use in referring to people who are paid to do social media. We might be gurus and mavens, but we are also people with jobs.

Gurus and experts speak at conferences. People with jobs can too, but we still need a name for our work identity.

USE these words for people who are paid to do social media, and make a living that way

* consultant

* professional

* marketer

* campaign leader

* strategist

USE these words for people you wish to annoy or insult, who spend more time talking about social media than actually using social media tools, or who have several years of experience using social media in challenging situations, esp. while working with different clients or in different fields, and who share that knowledge publicly

* expert

* maven

* guru

The Tao of Community Organizing

I heard this chapter of the Tao Te Ching today at church and it really spoke to me as an organizer of nonprofit events and community initiatives. I wanted to share.

There are important tips here: work a huge task one bit at a time as it comes, frontload and work hard out of the gate to take pressure off the always-stressful last stages, expect to sacrifice and be inconvenienced — the work is not worth doing because it is easy or fun.

Be ethical. Be ambitious, but don’t seek glory.  Seek something outside yourself and within others.

Do not expect it will be easy. It won’t.

Three translations of the same short verse:

1. Tao Te Ching, Ch. 63, translation by Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall

“Do things noncoercively (wuwei),
Be non-interfering in going about your business (wushi),
And savor the flavor of the unadulterated in what you eat.

Treat the small as great
and the few as many.

Requite enmity with character (de).

Take account of the difficult while it is still easy,
And deal with the large while it is still tiny.
The most difficult things in the world originate with the easy,
And the largest issues originate with the tiny.

Thus, it is because the sages never try to do great things
That they are indeed able to be great.

One who makes promises lightly is sure to have little credibility;
One who finds everything easy is certain to have lots of difficulties.

Thus, it is because even the sages pay careful attention to such things
That they are always free of difficulties.

2. Tao Te Ching, Ch. 63, Western transation

Act without doing;
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.

The Master never reaches for the great;
thus she achieves greatness.
When she runs into a difficulty,
she stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn’t cling to her own comfort;
thus problems are no problem for her.

3. TaoTe Ching, Ch. 63, translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English

Practice non-action.
Work without doing.
Taste the tasteless.
Magnify the small, increase the few.
Reward the bitterness with care.

See significance in the complicated.
Achieve greatness in little things.

In the universe the difficult things are done as if they are easy.
In the universe great acts are made up of small deeds.
The sage does not attempt anything very big,
And thus achieves greatness.

Easy promises make for little trust.
Taking things lightly results in great difficulty.
Because the sage always confronts difficulties,
He never experiences them.


Image snitched from the Frog & Princess blog

Quite possibly the most magical thing I ever saw was compost.

A housemate and I composted all year, and I’d never done it before. When he emptied out the composter and I saw that all the carrot scrapings and mouldy potato peels had become moist, cakelike coal-black soil that smelled earthy and delicious and healthful and new–it was like a magic trick.

Even though I knew what would be in there, I had not expected it to be so black and richly gleaming, like a gourmet brownie or a $7 slice of truffle cake. To this day I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

I wanted to taste it, to eat it.

For Jeff Drum

Track list: my mondo ’80s music mix

Been working on this for a week, somewhat obsessively! I DO love to make a nice mixtape.

I got the idea for this one when a 22-year-old friend told me he’d never seen Night Court, the ’90s-era sitcom. I wondered how much else he’d missed out on… I tried to make a nice David Bowie mix for him but it didn’t gel.

Somehow it evolved into this. I’m pleased. Wish I could share the actual music, not just a track list.

I welcome your comments — yes, I was pretty loose about defining ’80s music, which IMO continued into the early 90s. And I know the last track is from 1996! But it fits.

1 Senses Working Overtime – XTC
2 Arc of a Diver – Steve Winwood
3 Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel
4 Girlfriend – Matthew Sweet
5 How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths
6 Desperate But Not Serious – Adam Ant
7 No Myth – Michael Penn
8 Fall on Me – R.E.M.
9 The Boy With the Thorn in His Side – The Smiths
10 The Ghost in You – The Psychedelic Furs
11 Pure – The Lightning Seeds
12 Just Like Heaven – The Cure
13 Spirits in the Material World _ The Police
14 Under Pressure- Queen with David Bowie
15 Don’t Change – INXS
16 Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand – Primitive Radio Gods

How Do You Do It?

I probably do get a lot done, and sometimes people ask me how I do it. I think I’ll point everyone who asks to this blog post.

Here’s how I do it. How do you do it?

advantages I was born with

I am a high-energy and excitable person. Having fun and doing things that matter is like crack to me.

I like working and am naturally busy.

advantages I wasn’t born with

I rise early and work late.

I am good at asking for help and work well with and on a team. I often build teams for what I do. Many hands mean shared work–and new friends and allies.

I cultivate a network of passionate and talented people.

I don’t have kids, a spouse or a boyfriend. (I could really use a wife, though.)

I leave space in my life to do things for free because I want to and I can.

I have easy-care pets.

I cultivate multiple revenue streams.

I am good at managing multiple undertakings at once.

I listen to critics and take haters as a compliment.

I make my home my refuge — it’s warm and comfy, and it smells nice.

I spent years working on what I wanted my life to be. I put myself through college and multiple internships. It cost $40,000 and took six years. IT WAS WORTH IT.

I take risks. I find people who take risks with me.

I dream big. I find people who dream big with me.

I ignore people who tell me I can’t do it. Unless they give perspective and a good reason. Then I listen. But I still make my own judgments, and have seen people make a predicted failure into a smash success. Heart + risk + hard work + help = what can feel like a miracle.

I surround myself with people who share my values (have fun, be real, do what you can to help, etc.)

I preserve my freedom by staying a freelancer. I decide what I do and when and for who.

I recognize the signs of exhaustion and know when to stop.

I do yoga and breathing exercises (BECAUSE I HAVE TO).

I try to eat right (Paleo, Michael Pollan and the Zone have it right — lean meat, tree nuts and plants. The rest is killing you). (BTW balance is also important, IMO. Ice cream is not good for the body but it is good for the soul.)

I try to exercise. A body that is not ruined from being chained to a desk is a body that can do more, and holds a minds that can do more. Invest in your body.

I try to spend time with friends and family.

I try to cultivate an artistic identity.

I get the sleep I need.

Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs Sampler

After James and Chall’s SMASH success concert at the Grey Eagle last night, Asheville is asking: who are the Magnetic Fields?

Here’s a little sample:

my favorite, the wry and resigned I Don’t Want to Get Over You

A favorite of DonMak, and the wedding song of my friends Katie and Laura. A straight-up beautiful love song covered by Peter Gabriel: The Book of Love

The one that NYST just KILLED last night: Washington D.C.

My friend Katie’s (Magnetic Fields maniac) favorite: The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure (Night’s Bright Colors ROCKED IT. Admit it, you picked that section so you could do that song!)

And two more:

Papa Was a Rodeo

Absolutely Cuckoo (done as a duet by Electric Owls last night, what a great idea!)

Don’t fall in love with me yet
We only recently met
True I’m in love with you but
you might decide I’m a nut
Give me a week or two to
go absolutely cuckoo
then, when you see your error,
then, you can flee in terror
like everybody else does
I only tell you this cause
I’m easy to get rid of
but not if you fall in love
Know now that I’m on the make
and if you make a mistake
my heart will certainly break
I’ll have to jump in a lake
and all my friends will blame you
There’s no telling what they’ll do
It’s only fair to tell you
I’m absolutely cuckoo