Tuesday: Solutions To Alcoholism In The Caribbean...

Part IV is going to be short and sweet because as you may have noticed, my inspiration has taken me elsewhere this week and I’ve neglected to write as much as I wanted. On the subject of alcoholism the past few days, I’ve been mulling over some solutions that are practical and enforceable within our small island. Unless we the people and/or the government take these policies in action, we may not see an improvement in alcoholism amongst the young people in our country.

Here are our most practical demands to make a real difference that don’t involve leveraging mediocre-at-best social media count into ineffective “celebrity” based campaigns:

1) Enforce laws regarding legal age you can buy alcohol. There should be consequences for selling alcohol or providing alcohol to minors. No, not jail, but consequences of some kind.

2) Ban alcohol advertising along highways. Clearly, this whole concept represents a conflict of interest.

3) Create community based support groups. Whether faith-based or gender-based, there’s huge potential for this to help.

4) Practice encouraging friends and family members not to drink excessively or drive while drunk.

5) Give teens and young adults in your life space to rely on you if they do make a mistake without being punitive.

6) Take “open container” laws into consideration which dole out consequences for traveling with open liquor containers in a vehicle.

These are some of the most obvious ideas that stand out to me. What do you think?

Saturday: Reasons Why West Indians Should Care About Alcoholism (Part III)

Part I

Part II

I took a small break from writing Part III because I’ve been busy traveling and getting back into the swing of things with work. We need to talk really simply about the “why” when it comes to caring about alcoholism and alcohol addictions in our country. Caribbean people tend to fall into two camps — prohibitionists and deniers. Prohibitionists think that not only is alcohol un-Christian (or some other form of “pure evil”), everyone should feel this way too and be forced to act on it. Deniers believe that there is no problem and that all alcohol consumption is normal unless you are making yourself look bad publicly, in which case, this is not indicative of a wider social issue. There seems to be no in between.

I’m hardly a prohibitionist, but there’s clearly a problem with how alcoholism is treated, and I use many definitions of that verb at once, and the impact on our culture. Here are five reasons Caribbean people should care more about alcoholism. Whether or not you’re a prohibitionist, our culture surrounding alcohol needs some discussion and most likely some serious action whether this means increasing the drinking age, taking alcohol salespeople to task for who they sell alcohol to, or changing the culture within our homes and families. Everyone will have a different view of what should be done, but hopefully after today, we can agree on why.

Here are five reasons why West Indians should care about alcoholism:

1) Alcoholism poisons every organ in the body, affecting the health of our people

Clearly distressed drinkers love telling you that they feel “fine”. Yet many of those people who were so “fine” end up dying of complications directly correlated to their illness. Whether or not they accept these effects, they play a huge role in long term health outcomes. Alcohol consumption changes your mood and behavior, negatively impacts your memory and cognition. Alcoholism also increases your risk of heart problems, liver problems, pancreatic problems and significantly increases your risk of cancer diagnosis. Partially because of how it’s ingested and processed through the blood, alcohol has a wide impact on the body. Because the alcohol molecule itself is very small, it can travel throughout many different systems and both in the short term and long term, poisons them. A population with many alcoholics and binge drinkers will be signing on for the long term health impacts. Are we prepared to treat them?

2) We completely lack proper treatment and support systems for alcohol

While Alcoholics Anonymous has questionable efficacy for the majority of alcoholics, we lack both the medical and social treatments for alcoholism. I struggle to imagine “Alcoholics Anonymous” working in a country so small that anonymity is mythological. Could you really go to a meeting and confess harm you’ve done to your family when you may be sitting in a room with your wife’s second cousin? Additionally, even while volunteering in the health care system and speaking to health care professionals that I know, I haven’t heard of the medical treatment for alcoholism, naltrexone, either. If we do care enough about alcoholics in order to want them to get better, we’re left with a health care system without the adequate support for them. This indicates a huge public health problem which we should definitely care about. Even if you believe (which hopefully you don’t by Part III in this series) that alcoholism is a personal choice, shouldn’t you care about the non-drinkers who are affected?

3) Alcoholism and domestic violence are strongly linked

There’s a strong link between alcoholism and domestic violence and while there’s disagreement over whether alcoholism causes domestic violence or whether it’s simply used as an excuse by batterers, the prevalence of this link alone makes alcoholism an important women’s issue in a country where women have few resources and avenues of escape from violent partners. In a seminal 1986 study on alcohol dependence and domestic violence, one particular statistic sticks out.

“Findings indicate that 83% of alcoholic subjects behaved violently in past relationships, compared to 28% of the normal population.”

Several other researchers have noticed this link. To cite a more recent 2015 study, not only were people dependent on alcohol more likely to engage in “violence perpetration” which included: physical assault, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, [and physical] injuries”, women dependent on alcohol were more likely to be victimized for abuse. Especially due to the prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence, it’s clear feminists need to pay attention.

4) We have no clear answers on the exact prevalence of alcoholism

Sadly, we have no clear answers on the exact prevalence of alcohol dependence in the Caribbean. How terrifying that no one has bothered to do the research on a population as large as ours and encompassing so many different countries. How troubling that rum has formed the backbone of our economies since Europeans enslaved our people, yet no one has bothered to study the impact this may have had at a cultural level.

The prevalence of alcohol dependence in the general American population is around 6.2%, yet alcohol dependence is often worse in poor and disadvantaged communities. The fact that we have no clear answers, yet face the likelihood that the prevalence is higher than we may expect, means we should step forward to tackle this issue and not just in the face of another highly publicized tragedy.

5) Alcohol abuse is linked to road accidents in teens

Alcohol abuse among adolescents is linked to high-risk driving among new drivers especially as well as more statistically significant cases of road accidents and encounters with the law. I believe that many feminists online (perhaps because many of us are young and do not have children) forget that children’s issues are integral in feminist praxis. Children have no one else in society advocating for them, so when an issue affects children, it typical becomes the responsibility of their primary caregivers (mostly women) to advocate on their behalf.

Of course, any men who want to pick up the mantle are more than welcome to. Anyway, given some of the highly publicized road accidents in Saint Lucia, as well as other news items across the Caribbean and anecdotal experiences which many of us share (I do view our “oral history” so to speak as important), road accidents involving alcohol abuse have the terrifying ability to destroy families and kill children who did not have to be killed. As adults, we shouldn’t blame the children and we shouldn’t blame their parents, but recognize this as a manifestation of a larger cultural issue. If we address the root causes of alcoholism, we will be able to reduce the incidents involving teens and children on the road.

Why do you care about alcoholism in the Caribbean? Or why don’t you? Comment down below and let’s talk about why you think this is important.

Thursday: 3 Things Most West Indians Don't Realize About Alcoholism (Part II)

Yesterday, I posted Part I of my series of posts on alcoholism and you can read that post right here. I’m not going to give much of an intro today, just dive into Part II:

What most people don’t realize about alcoholism

Not only do we believe many common myths about alcoholism, we’re missing some important information in understanding alcoholism as a disease rather than a moral failing. Make no mistake, empirical research agrees that alcoholism has a powerful neurological basis.

1) Cues to drink work differently for alcoholics than non-alcoholics

This is one of the strongest components of alcoholism that I learned during my Physiological Psychology class at Middlebury College. Before we engage in any habit a series of “cues” work at both the conscious and subconscious levels to prime us for the behavior we’re about to engage in. For example, waking up in the morning primes me to walk to my coffee maker and put on a pot of coffee. Sitting with my cup of coffee primes me to turn on my meditation app every morning. Cues exist all around us but for addicts, cues related to their addiction are “more salient”. In layman’s terms, alcoholics notice cues that prime them to engage in drinking more than non-alcoholics. The cues also have a stronger effect on them, releasing dopamine even before they’ve engaged in the behavior that they’ve grown accustomed to (having a drink).

Because of this, I argue that the presence of large billboard advertisements for alcoholic beverages along our highways in Saint Lucia poses a particularly strong danger to alcoholics. Keep in mind that not all alcoholics are aware that they have the disease and most are likely not aware of the myriad of cues in their environments priming them to drink. In some states in the US (which isn’t a perfect place, mind you) alcohol is kept in separate sections of the grocery store because the state realizes that alcoholics are not in control of how these cues affect them and even walking past a bottle of liquor in the grocery store can be enough to cue binge drinking in an alcoholic.

This also makes quitting alcohol difficult in a society with few social and medical support systems. When you drink alcohol, your friends, family, jobs and activities that you associate with drinking can all become cues that stimulate a powerful release of dopamine in your brain — all outside of your awareness. This is why a key part of Alcoholics Anonymous involves admitting that you have no control over alcohol. While there are some valid issues with AA (see the second point), the program touches on an important point about alcohol addiction. The addiction really does control you. The release of dopamine stimulates a strong reward for engaging in alcohol consumption and related behaviors that is legitimately stronger in alcoholics.

West Indians need to realize this because whether we are coping with our own relationship towards alcohol, larger cultural attitudes, or addictions that exist in friends or family members, we need to divest from the moral approach to alcohol addiction. For me, understanding the scientific facts allows me to do this best.

2) Faith based programs are not necessarily more effective than administering drugs

Christian cultures tend to have an intensely moral view of addiction that can be hard to shake. This isn’t a judgment, but a fact of our society that reflects beliefs that I’ve found to exist within myself and others. I was surprised to read about the inefficacy of AA, a program which I know has personally helped many individuals recover from their addictions, in contrast to treatments that view alcohol as a strictly medical problem. While I can’t divest completely from the social problems that lie at the root of addiction, I can’t ignore scientific evidence of superior treatments for alcoholism.

The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous, an incredible piece published in The Atlantic highlights all the evidence that suggests we need to look for alternative treatments to alcohol addiction that don’t rely on blaming addicts and holding them wholly responsible for their “decisions” with regards to their illness.

I’m open to this view because in a country with few social support systems, especially with regards to mental health, we need to explore every option open to us. This article was SO GOOD that I couldn’t just pick one quote to post here so PLEASE, I urge you to read this article when you get a chance.

3) Alcoholism runs in families

Early onset of alcoholism is highly correlated to alcoholic families. The incident involving the drunken teenagers was not created in a vacuum, nor is this behavior entirely the fault of the party promoters and security. While I agree with the idea that there should be stricter management of 18+ parties, or any adult venues, the notion that this was “caused” by party promoters ignores an important truth of alcohol addiction. Teenagers that belong to families with alcoholics are more likely to begin drinking earlier. While this is entirely genetic or from learned behavior is up for debate. And remember, this does not mean that all individuals who are exposed to alcoholic families will mimic this behavior. This statement is simply a risk analysis and important to understanding the far reaches of what’s widely recognized as a family disease.

What’s interesting about this fact is that while it’s widely debated by those who tout anecdotal evidence of this one person whose parent is an alcoholic who never touches a drink, this facet of alcoholism has been noted as early as Plutarch and Aristotle’s time in Ancient Greece and has been confirmed by contemporary scientific research. Therefore, when we treat alcoholism, we cannot treat it as a problem with an individual and must address the multitude of familiar factors that contribute to early onset of binge drinking.

Up until this point, I have not discussed meaningful solutions for alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction and excess alcohol consumption amongst young people. How can we discuss solutions if we have not laid out the problem, understood the problem and what motivates it, and come up with an empathetic approach? I have cared deeply many alcoholics in my life at various stages of recovery as friends and family members. I have also cared deeply for many children of alcoholics who have suffered the brunt of their parent's disease. Before I touch upon any possible solutions on the individual level, familial level, and cultural level, tomorrow, I’m going to tug at your heartstrings a bit (hopefully) and explain why this issue is so important to me and why it should be important to you, even if you’re tempted to judge binge drinkers and alcoholics as “irresponsible” and therefore somehow deserving of their fate.

Wednesday: Another F*cking Alcoholism Post Because Why TF Not (Part I)

I’m trying out my “edgy please come click me” titles so if it’s NOT working for you, please leave me a COMMENT down below chastising me for being inappropriate and WACK AF! If you’re already over it, then let’s hang out, chit chat about alcoholism and reflect a little bit on our culture. Why? Because we’re f*cking nerds, that’s why! Deal with it!

For some reference, here is my first post about alcoholism on this blog that actually made it through my five rounds of editing on this blog Intersectional Feminism: Addiction & Discrimination: https://www.westindiancritic.com/blog/marijuana-alcohol-how-we-focus-on-one-substance-while-ignoring-the-other

Here is my other post, 1 year later about alcoholism and substance abuse:

(2016) Alcohol Addiction: Our Silent Public Health Emergency

I’ve written a bit more informally, but none of these posts made “the cut”, so suffice it to say, these two posts summarized my thoughts up until that point about alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse in general.

Today, I’ve decided to make my daily post about alcoholism because of a recent event in Saint Lucia, “Live N Colour”, an end of summer party marking the end of Carnival season for young people in Saint Lucia. One of our country’s most prominent newspapers, The Voice, tackled the issue of teenage drunkenness at the party, an issue which rose to prominent attention due to a viral photo of five or so teenagers passed out drunk and covered in powder in disturbing positions that made the teenagers in question look dead. The image rightfully raised cause for concern, however due to the fact that those teenagers were likely minors, I will not be sharing the photo here. You can view an article about the subject on The Voice website here.

While the seemingly annual occurrences of fatal car crashes related to youth consumption of alcohol have promoted various anti-alcohol abuse pledges, these public displays against excess intoxication seem to have been muffled by the louder voices of ongoing cultural practices, family culture, and repeated instances of Heineken billboards and Chairman’s Reserve billboards plastered across our country’s highways. While I just pointed out the cultural component to alcoholism, this isn’t to say that the country I’m currently in (the United States) is actually any better. Alcohol addiction is present and highly visible to me in both countries, even if of course, we do things differently in Saint Lucia. So do not think this is a “compare and contrast” kind of blog post.

I wanted to cover five subtopics here somewhat informally since again, this is my daily blog post and doesn’t require the rigor of hours of research and citations that I would publish along with my long form blogposts. Here are the five subtopics and I’ll move quickly through them so that you don’t get bored and decide to flame me for coercing you to read something longer than a tweet.

OK, are we ready?!

Common myths about alcoholism that crop up during publicized alcohol related incidents

Myth #1: The blame and responsibility for alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction lie solely in the hands of the alcoholic. Alcoholism and abuse are personal failings that reflect poor character.

Truth #1: I understand why it can be hard for people who have never struggled with alcohol abuse to understand that it is not a personal failing. Personally, I have no trouble turning down a drink and I rarely drink despite keeping a fully stocked liquor cabinet in full view right in my home. If you’re like this, you might see someone binge drinking and think that they just need to control their behavior. The truth is, alcohol abuse and addiction are rooted in many factors, not just personal choice. There’s a large genetic component to alcoholism which predisposes different people to alcohol abuse. Even if something may seem easy for you or me, this doesn’t mean it’s the case for everyone else.

When searching in recovery circles, I found this graphic that accurately depicts some of the different root causes of addiction and where they may lead if someone doesn’t turn to alcoholism. It’s not just a matter of mimicking behavior, but how people are predisposed to respond to their environments. Some people grow up with alcoholics and become alcoholics while some grow up around alcoholics and never touch a drink in their lives. This doesn’t mean however that these people are immune to codependency, overeating, or abusing another drug.

 
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Myth #2: Alcoholism isn’t a problem as long as you’re “high functioning”.

Truth #2: This one can be the most frustrating as it enables many intelligent alcoholics with severe issues related to their alcohol abuse to deny that their alcohol consumption is an issue. Many “high functioning” alcoholics hold down jobs and keep their lights on, enabling them to live in denial for years. Most of these alcoholics would be unable to appear “normal” without the people they surround themselves with covering up their addiction for them. While their friends and family suffer, they are able to maintain the façade that their drinking falls within normal limits. This quote from The Recovery Village outlines the issues many high-functioning alcoholics are covering up. I urge you to focus your attention on the bold and underlined section of this quote:

They ask friends or family to cover up for them. A high-functioning alcoholic might ask her husband to call in sick to work for her when she’s struggling with a hangover, or borrow money from a friend to pay bills when she’s spent too much on alcohol. In reality, high-functioning alcoholism is usually made possible through the enabling behavior of loved ones.

They restrict their drinking to specific times, situations, or beverages. You might hear a high-functioning alcoholic say, “I never drink on weeknights,” “I only drink at bars,” or “I only drink beer.” These self-imposed limitations might help the alcoholic convince himself that he is in control of his drinking when in fact, he often breaks his own rules.

They isolate themselves in their private time. High-functioning alcoholics may act sociable and outgoing at the office or at company parties. But when they’re not at work, they often prefer to spend their personal time drinking alone or at bars. They may even discourage their family from inviting guests to the house because they don’t want their drinking habits to be exposed.

They break personal commitments because of their drinking. A functional alcoholic may receive awards at work for meeting high-performance standards, while forgetting an important anniversary or missing a family celebration because he or she was drunk or hungover.

They secretly struggle with mental illness. Many high-functioning alcoholics use their substance abuse to mask psychological disorders like depression, social phobia, or an eating disorder. They may suffer from anxiety about their competency or their material security. When they’re not under the influence, they may be moody, withdrawn, tearful, or irritable. They might even talk about suicide or attempt to harm themselves. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 25 percent of functional alcoholics struggle with depression.

Functional alcoholics are often intelligent, hardworking, and well-educated. Their professional status or personal success can make it hard to approach them about having a “problem” with alcohol. However, it is impossible to continue drinking heavily for a long period of time without suffering the physical and psychological consequences of alcoholism, such as liver disease, heart disease, neurological damage, cancer, or depression.

Click here to read the full article.

Here is some more troubling information about high-functioning alcoholics from another website Blueprints For Recovery

People who are in denial about the harm of being a “high functioning” alcoholic often:

Joke frequently about alcohol addiction

Keep employment but not earn raises or promotions

Get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)

Binge drink to “relax”

Forget conversations and activities that occurred while drinking

The clear trouble with “high functioning” alcoholics is that their addiction may not catch up to them for many years, but the long term effects of binge-drinking are not up for debate; they’re verifiable scientific facts. High-functioning alcoholics are likely to underreport their drinking as well due to remaining in a high stage of denial. Since around 20% of alcoholics are “high functioning”, this allows many to hide their trouble with alcohol abuse for years.

Myth #3: Some alcohol consumption is actually healthy.

Truth #3: Oh sweet summer child… Sadly, the facts just do not back up this commonly held misconception. The negative effects of alcohol consumption especially on a regular basis vastly outweigh the benefits. Additionally, alcoholics are likely to drink far more than “moderately” and far more frequently. They underreport their drinking yet rely on studies to validate their addiction that rely on alcohol consumers taking in the smallest doses — which they themselves are unlikely to consume. This article digs deeper into the myth regarding a glass of wine a day and was written by a physician. This article discusses common “big alcohol” myths regarding alcohol consumption and debunks every single one.

Reuters recently summarized a large 2018 study with this quote which more accurately portrays the effects of regular alcohol consumption:

Blood pressure and stroke risk rise steadily the more alcohol people drink, and previous claims that one or two drinks a day might protect against stroke are not true, according to the results of a major genetic study.

We believe a lot of horse shit about alcohol whether or not we are big drinkers. While education in and of itself will not necessarily stop an alcoholic from having their fifth pint of beer and calling it their second, it will certainly help those of us who want to learn more about alcoholism and alcohol consumption to contextualize their behavior and will help us to understand our deadly culture surrounding drinking.

Stay tuned for Part II of this post tomorrow! When I’m done with the series, they’ll all be linked and combined into one post.

Tuesday: Top 6 Better Ideas Than Paying Attention To Celebrity Activists

I so rarely build one post off of another, but today I’m treating you (and myself) to some ideas that have been weighing on me recently. I’ve never been one for celebrity activism as it has never quite seemed genuine to me. I didn’t grow up engaging with a lot of media in my early years so I didn’t form these early bonds and emotional attachments. I love Rihanna’s work for example but if someone wanted to cuss out Rihanna ‘til next Tuesday in front of me, I would remain completely unbothered and emotionally unaffected. So when I see celebrities who are detached from working class and middle class communities claiming to have all the answers, I feel rubbed the wrong way in particular.

In the Caribbean, going abroad for a year or two can tarnish you enough that any ideas you have for social equity are immediately branded as detached and “foreign ideas”. Yet celebrities who may have spent decades hoarding more wealth than most people will ever have in their entire lives feel completely qualified to pick random communities of people and tell them exactly what they should do.

The concept of a “Black community” in the United States strikes me as a little odd because from my experiences, Black communities in California and New York differ from Black communities in Atlanta or Washington D.C. There isn’t a monolithic solution for every Black community and while racial unity and unity of goals can be powerful — for example the “Black Lives Matter” movement — there’s a reason why that particular group of activists is diffused in terms of leadership and specific goals within different cities.

Grassroots activists recognize that there isn’t a one size fits all solution for the “Black community” in America. Celebrity activists on the other hand talk down to communities and preach at them. This has been happening since Bill Cosby preached to Black men about how sagging their pants was a direct cause of racism and it’s happening now with Jay-Z’s comments about “moving past kneeling”. Rather than expend my limited energy writing why these celebrities are wrong, let’s have a little think about what we can do instead to better our communities:

1) Spread awareness about local activist groups

In Saint Lucia, few people are aware of some of the most effective activist groups in our country. United & Strong, an organization for LGBT rights, and Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia, are two groups that many average people have not heard of even if they do great work directed at the appropriate level. These are examples from my environment, but every city and country has their own groups like this one. Take some time to research and then spread awareness by sharing posts, fundraisers, talking to your friends and family members about how different groups are helping your community.

2) Talk to people in need within your life/your community

Often times, we project what other people need based off of our own assumptions and beliefs. If we meet someone who can’t pay their rent, we assume they need a financial literacy app when in reality, they may tell us what they need: a job that pays better. Rather than making assumptions, we can have non-judgmental conversations with people we meet and discover what they feel their needs are.

3) Read news bulletins by community organizations to educate yourself on their needs

Community organizations often put out news bulletins discussing their ongoing projects, their future projects, and their financial needs for the future. You can also find out what organizations need from volunteers or donors. If you read news bulletins, tweets or public posts, you can come across valuable information about what different organizations actually need. Do they need coats for the homeless? Do they need period related hygiene products? Do they need volunteer hours? Doing this also builds the habit of not making assumptions that we know better than those we are trying to help. Privilege does not actually mean you are superior.

4) Study successful activists and community leaders of the past

Studying successful activists and community leaders from our present and past can also inspire ideas for how we can help our communities. I enjoy reading about the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast programs in the United States as well as reading biographies of various activists and community leaders. Rather than giving our attention to celebrities, we can direct our attention to folks who dedicated their lives and time to improving our communities. This doesn’t mean to never listen to music or watch movies, but when it comes to politics, let’s focus on those who made a real difference every day!

5) Create your own solutions to problems in your community

This point relates to my previous one. When you learn from the past, you shouldn’t just be content to memorize facts. Think about how you can apply these lessons to your lives. I know many Christian activists for example who participate in food drives and clothing drives for the homeless and impoverished in society. Every community can use some help and every person is capable of offering something according to their own needs and capabilities. Coming up with solutions to problems in your community and even in your household can be beneficial. For example, if you are producing a lot of food waste, you could start a compost heap. Ideas can be THAT simple. You don’t have to start a revolution to make a difference in your life or the lives of those around you.

6) Donate money or time to organizations that help people in your community

When in doubt for what to do, you can always donate your money or your time to organizations in your community. In Saint Lucia, the National Trust always needs help with beach clean ups. Typically grassroots organizations need money and they determine how best to put it to use. Every little bit that you do will count for something!

One of the troubling things about celebrity “activism” is that we hold two false beliefs. First, we assume that celebrities are superior to regular working class people and they’re blessed with some kind of special insight that we don’t have. Second, we believe that doing ‘more’ is about how much money someone gives specifically. Neither of these beliefs are true. Celebrities are not specially gifted with knowledge of communities where they don’t live. More money isn’t necessarily better if that money isn’t put to effective use. These ideas are designed to strip us of the realization of our individual power and give credence to the notion that more capital creates superior individuals. You can have so much more power in your community than you realize and make a real difference if you direct your energy in the right way. We may not have the power of wealth, but we have power in numbers, and that means a hell of a lot.

Monday: Financial Literacy Apps Are A B.S. Solution To Ending Poverty In Black Communities

Two celebrities have gone viral recently for investing in a “financial literacy app” designed to help “end poverty in the black community”. The celebrities in question do not in fact live in black communities and their estimated net worths are $60 million and $300 million respectively. For anyone who doesn’t know, these numbers sit firmly in the “accountants manage my money and I could throw $100,000 into the bin annually for the rest of my life and it wouldn’t matter” territory.

The median net worth of Black Americans is $9,590 which is vastly different from a net worth in the millions. I strongly doubt this is because Black Americans are mismanaging $59,990,410 throughout their lifetimes. In fact, if you take the median income of $38,000 annually and extrapolate, you’ll find out that Black Americans median lifetime earnings will be $1,300,000.

I have my doubts that learning how to have a savings account will cause an additional fifty-eight million dollars to materialize out of thin air. If that’s the case, then I’ve been doing savings all wrong, clearly. Actually, screw it. Let’s do the math. If the median household invested every single dollar they earned and their earnings compounded annually at an interest rate of 6% due to investment in the stock market, their lifetime earnings would still only be about $4.5million — again, nowhere near $60 million dollars.

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I’m sharing this to demonstrate just how easy it is for people with large amounts of money to remain totally out of touch with the lives of the average people in the Black community they claim to want to help. I wasn’t raised sucking on the teat of media propagandized celebrity worship, so I don’t feel any particular need to be “grateful” that these celebrities are “trying to do something to help” either.

Financial literacy is clearly not going to bring in massive amounts of wealth considering you could have zero expenses and never attain celebrity levels of wealth. I’m the last person who will argue that financial literacy is “useless”, but it’s not a solution to socioeconomic problems facing black communities. The solution also posits the problem as one of individual choice rather than structural issues that disenfranchise black people and black communities in general.

Government policy has gone out of its way to stymy black wealth building specifically as discussed in The Color of Law : A Forgotten History Of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein, a book which discusses how black people were blocked from acquiring land and property by de jure practices of the US federal government. De facto practices also prevented Black Americans from acquiring wealth and one of the most prominent examples of this was when a white mob destroyed an area known as “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the 1920s. These examples point to a different locus of responsibility than a financial literacy app aimed at the black community would suggest.

I’ve seen an alternative theory which suggests that “all Black poor people are financially literate anyway”. This is another black and white way of looking at the problem that frankly isn’t true either. The fact that any Black people are financially illiterate is still not the cause of their poverty regardless. We don’t need to pretend to have advanced financial literacy to critique this “solution”.

It’s quite rich that people who by and large have teams of people to manage their money believe that they understand how to live within a budget of $38,000 a year — before taxes! Their solutions are quite obviously out of touch. Giving away 80% of their wealth would probably do more for “the community” than creating an app, but that’s another discussion for another day. Quite simply put, instead of coming up with detached top-down solutions, our attention would be better served by focusing on grassroots activists who spend all day interacting with people living below the poverty line or middle class people. These people know what they need and individuals who won the socioeconomic lottery are not somehow intellectually superior to them.

Believe me, if you know many rich people, you will quickly understand that having a team of people to manage your money isn’t a sign of greater intellect or financial literacy. Rich people are simply less impacted by terrible money management because they have more money at their disposal to insulate them from the consequences of their stupidity. Not all rich people are good with money, not all poor people are bad with money, and that’s the bottom line here. Instead of looking for individuals to blame, we need to tackle the systemic issues that have left the black community with a dwindling net worth and low wages. Is there any way we can get an app for that?

Tuesday: Vacation Flux

If I didn’t write this blog post, I’m not sure that I would even recognize this was a Tuesday. My holiday has been going well, but I have fallen off the wagon with so many different daily habits that it’s hard not to feel generally demoralized and demotivated, despite the knowledge that the best thing that I could possibly do would be to get back on the horse and keep going with the habits I want to maintain. Here are some of the things I’ve been missing on my vacation:

  • daily meditation

  • dedicated time to read daily

  • writing every day

  • blogging daily

  • regular and intense exercise

While I’ve been enjoying other activities on my vacation including long walks, sight-seeing in Central New York, and general relaxation, I’ve been feeling a huge weight from a sense that I’m being “unproductive” or somehow setting myself behind in my goals. It doesn’t help that I also have to face some pretty infuriating differences between home and New York, like less space and time to myself, different responsibilities and in some realms, even greater responsibilities than what I would usually like.

I’ve been trying to make the best of things and to accept that sometimes, we are in flux and not drawn to one thing or another in particular. Instead of feeling guilty due to a lack of productivity, I’m working to see down time as necessary and healthy for my development and my future plans. Instead of feeling lost and left behind, I want to focus on the restorative aspects of taking a break.

Things haven’t worked out perfectly when it comes to managing my anxiety, fears, and guilt, but for me the biggest step is to allow myself the space to figure things out and to not have everything “perfect”. When I’m back from my vacation, I know I can get into all these great habits again, and I won’t have to worry about things being “imperfect”. Maybe I can use this time to recognize that “perfection” is not a healthy goal at all anyway, and sometimes, it’s okay to simply exist without being dragged in one direction or another.

Saturday: SLUMP ALERT!

I haven’t published a daily blog post since Wednesday and WOW. I’m shocked that I let so much slip my mind but what can I say? Now I’m on vacation, and my laziness has shot up. I have a few days off and I intend to use them well. Here are a few bullet points about what’s been going on in my world these days.

  • I’ve started a new novel project and I’m working deeply in the outlining phase as well as studying relevant works of fiction. This has occupied a lot of my mental space and I’ve become OBSESSED with world-building.

  • The craziest thing about writing slumps is that the last thing you feel like doing is almost always the best thing you can do. Write more! Today, I’ve been feeling agitated and uncomfortable even after my morning meditation. This sucks. A lot. So I’ve decided to apply my anxious energy into this blog and I feel much better. (Here’s my new “long form” post.)

  • My book idea has taken up so much of my time that I’ve barely been reading the past week. It’s shameful! I hope when I travel (which is soon) I get to stock up on some delicious new reads.

  • I’ve been excited to make time for my meditation habit lately because one thing that no one tells you is that the cumulative effect of meditation makes a BIG difference. For example, meditating 20 minutes once a week is so much less effective than meditating 2 minutes every day. I wish I’d known that before because feeling guilty for not doing enough (LOL) meditation has always been a BIG thing for me.

  • I’ve slowed down on my drawing the past couple of days and I’m in a complete shame spiral about it. I know, I know. There are ways to pull myself out of this. Don’t even talk for my photography slump. It’s messing with my head!

  • Unrelated but: WHY on earth do people ask redheads if the “curtain matches the drapes”? What barn were you raised in to think that’s an appropriate question?

  • Today, I’ve been working on a scene weave but went on a long drive. I’m tired now so going to end this post! Sorry!

Wednesday: 6 Real AF Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Are Not Better Than Employees

I was scrolling through Pinterest this morning when I came across this image. This picture summarizes every reason why a lot of the ‘get money’ and ‘rise and grind’ entrepreneur types seriously get on my nerves. I’ve been a successful entrepreneur for four years — aka I put a roof over my head, I’ve grown my business each year, and I’ve been in the black the entire time all while doing all these other responsible things adults need to do like get health insurance, therapy, retirement accounts, investing, etc. Yet when I see pictures like this, I bristle with revulsion.

Let’s break down every annoying bit of these “people with jobs are idiots somehow” meme…

 
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1) The Title: Stay ahead of the competition

I have news for you baby entrepreneurs or internet people who’ve sold a t-shirt and now have delusions of grandeur. Your competition is not people working a 9-5 job who have never been entrepreneurs. Those are your freaking CUSTOMERS and posting crap like this will alienate them because guess what? Most businesses fail. And most people have jobs! To start from the basis of seeing other individuals who are not even in your specific niche as competition reflects a level of narcissism that’s honestly confusing more than anything else.

2) Watch webinars while they watch Netflix

This one makes me chuckle probably because my fiancé is one of the world’s most sought after webinar consultants in digital marketing. I’ve seen a lot of webinars. I’ve read a lot of webinars. I can assure you that there are some Netflix shows that are WAY more valuable than a webinar depending on your niche. For example, I write sci-fi romance. Would a sci-fi fiction show that allows me to study the beats in sci-fi fiction serve me better than watching John Doe explain the principles of business I should have learned years ago? Yes, it would.

Down time is critically important for entrepreneurs and creatives since we suffer from burnout more than many other professions. Maybe the guy watching Netflix to avoid burn out is doing better than the person who spends every waking moment thinking about their business (but not actually doing anything since watching a webinar is still consuming content and most webinars are designed to sell you something.)

3) Go to seminars while they go to concerts

I don’t get it. Do seminars happen every single day and only when concerts are in town? It’s unclear to me why you can’t do both and it’s also unclear to me why one is superior to the other. Many seminars especially in the self-help/business niche are again, designed to be elaborate sales pitches. Concerts on the other hand can be relaxing, fun, and for many influencers a time to create good content. One of my fun side-hustles involves designing and selling t-shirts. If I spend my time at a concert, I can covertly observe what clothing is popular, what t-shirts I see and get ideas for my business. Any experience is what you make of it.

My down time point still stands here too. Not to mention that many concerts would be way less expensive than seminars. I’m not saying don’t go to seminars or networking events. I’m saying that a $400 ticket to see Beyoncé is going to cost you way less than the $2,000 required to go across the country for a major networking event. Most concerts aren’t even in the $400 range! How is spending $40 to see Beres Hammond cheating you of business growth?! It isn’t.

While only one is tax deductible (maybe, I’m not a tax expert and this isn’t financial advice), one may be more valuable to you than another depending on your niche, your strategy, and your specific needs as a business owner. And again, there’s no reason on God’s green earth why you can’t do both and attending concerts has never been directly linked to failure and stagnation as either a professional or an entrepreneur.

4) Go to the gym while they go to bars

Is it normal and healthy to go to the gym in the middle of the night? Sometimes, I guess, but I really wonder what the purpose of this is. I typically work out first thing in the morning, leaving plenty of time to socialize in the evening. I’m not really a bar person, nor do I think that going to the bar is better than going to the gym, but again, I don’t see why someone can’t do both. The people with 9-5s who some entrepreneurs think they’re better than somehow have the time to go to both the gym and the bar on a daily basis.

The point here is that there is no “either or”. I exercise every day and even if I choose not to go to the bar daily, I certainly have the time to do both.


5) Work on your side hustle while they go to bed early

I run two successful Amazon bestselling pen names including countless social media accounts and email lists associated with them, sell audiobooks, run ads on a YouTube channel, and sell t-shirts on a major online platform, plus I write this blog. On average I go to bed at 8:30 p.m. It’s not terribly difficult to work on your side-hustle AND go to bed early. Again, there’s nothing wrong with not working on a side-hustle. Or not going to bed early.

You have to question the superiority complex in someone who needs a side-hustle looking down on someone who might not. For example, I don’t need the money from my t-shirts. I enjoy making them and designing t-shirts and learning about print-on-demand in the eCommerce space. If I decide not to work on it for five to six months, I’m not missing out on anything. If you’re making a good income and you don’t need or want a side-hustle, why should you work on it? Go to bed early instead of burning out. You’ll be better off in the long run.

6) Do what you love and travel the world while they slave away at their 9-5

This really cinches this pyroclastic flow of contradictions and nonsensical logic. Be a workaholic who works dead in to the night, never doing anything fun, and focus exclusively on gains physical and financial, but somehow also travel the world while other people are working. So will you be working, or nah?

People who “slave away” at their 9-5 jobs often travel the world. In fact, some of the best traveled people I know work 9-5s that pay them enough money to travel to Caribbean carnival celebrations all over the world, or interesting locations across the United States. I’m doing what I love as a writer. Someone else might be doing what they love as a software engineer, a bartender, a café manager, a teacher, a swim coach, a banker, a lawyer, or a freaking farmer. The presumption that “the hustle” is the only thing pleasurable gives off the distinct impression that a fulfilling life wasn’t part of the equation when this graphic was created.

To conclude

This whole post reeks as if it appeals to the type of wanna-be entrepreneur lacking in grit and filled to capacity with get-rich-quick schemes and appealing to people who only want to sit around and look down on others. Of course all these contradictions will appeal to you if you aren’t actually walking the walk, but if you’re filled with propagandized notions of entrepreneurship.

Well, I’m a small business owner, and so is my fiancé and we both say this is complete nonsense. Looking down on 9-5s is totally inappropriate and isn’t justified by any negative things about entrepreneurship a person might have heard in the past. We aren’t competitors anyway, we’re comrades. But that’s another story. 😉

Tuesday: Top 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Professional Writer

I’m short on time today, so outside of some small expansion on my points, I’m going to keep this brief and give you a list of the Top 7 things I wish I knew before I became a professional writer. Phew! I’m sure this list could be much longer since I knew absolutely nothing before I went into self-publishing. If it weren’t for a couple of mentors, I might still be blissfully unaware of how self-publishing can be a lucrative way to support oneself. Here are the things I wish I knew before I got started

1) start earlier

I wish someone had told me to just START when I had the first inkling of what I wanted to do. I got started writing 2 years after my mentor tried to put me on to the whole thing and I missed an entire era of much easier money in self-publishing. The best time to start is now is DEFINITELY true of writing.

2) solve “writers block” early

The difference between a professional writer and an amateur can be found in their entire attitude towards writer’s block. Amateurs use “writer’s block” as an excuse. Professionals recognize that whether you have writer’s block or not, you have to find a way to push through it and write. Professionals realize that you can train yourself to be more creative and have more creative ideas. This is not a fixed skill! This is also something you should solve early on so you keep having good ideas.

3) network professionally

Online networking has made a lot of difference for me from keeping tabs on industry changes to getting helpful tips and reliable subcontractors. The sooner you can join a real professional network, the better.

4) you will get over bad reviews

Amateurs think negative reviews are the end of the world. Professionals realize that there will always be someone who has something negative to say about your writing. Even Harry Potter has some horrid reviews, scalping JK Rowling and dragging her name through the mud. It’s impossible to write without criticism whether it’s justified or not. You must get over it! And you will!

5) the naysayers are wrong (but not for the reason you think)

Most people who speak negatively about the money making potential of writing or self-publishing do not make money in writing or self-publishing. While some gatekeepers like to think it’s impossible for anyone new to break in, these folks are rare. Most professional writers who make money self publishing are aware that it is possible for anyone who puts their mind to it.

6) editing counts

I used to hate editing and do everything under the sun to avoid it. I learned that editing is actually just as important a process as writing. Even if you have to pay someone, exchange labor, or get a friend to help you, editing is crucial and counts for so much.

7) writing should be fun, even when it’s work

Usually when you’re writing fiction, if you’re bored that means the reader is bored. This is especially true in commercial fiction, which I write. Writing should be fun. Your stories should be fun. A good measure of whether you have a fun story will be whether or not you are having fun while writing it.

What do you think of these tips? Is there anything else you wonder about writing professionally or self-publishing?

Monday: Oops!

I didn’t write a post yesterday and spent most of the day in a negative state of mind. I don’t feel bad about this, I simply recognize that I needed the time to myself, and I have been feeling the pinch of a lot on my plate. I will be traveling soon and I can feel overwhelmed about that, even if I’m accustomed to traveling a few times a year. When my anxiety gets the better of me, I need to learn to RELAX!

Today, I’m excited about the work I’m getting done. Despite the intense heat we’ve been facing here in the Caribbean, I’ve been happy to set about writing all day long. Recently, I’ve been working on a passion project and have made some decisions to change a huge part of the story planning. The whole thought of getting rid of hours of work pains me, but I know what I will replace it with will be so much better.

When working on creative projects, it’s hard to detach, but the longer I spend as a professional writer, the more I’ve come to realize that I need to detach. When I have a bad idea, I need to let it go. When something doesn’t turn out the way I want, it’s okay to adjust and make changes. Creative people can get wrapped up in so many myths about creativity, and we feel like there is one “correct” way to do things. We also behave like there is a “punishment” for getting things wrong. Even seeing a specific result as a punishment can be a problem in itself.

Well, I’m probably rambling on here, so I’ll make a tiny list of some takeaways from the past couple of days when I missed my daily posting and this morning as I muscle through some work.

  • There is no one correct way to be a creator.

  • Nothing that happens as a result of our creative process is a “punishment”

  • No good can come of fear in the creative process.

  • Sometimes we need time to ourselves, and that’s okay!

I hope today I can feel a bit better, but for now, I’m going to be sipping water and staying cool while I write my daily fiction requirement and try y best to enjoy my day.

Saturday: 7 Ideas For Self-Care Saturdays

It’s Saturday, and for the first time all week, I’ve done my hair, putting in little braids and tying them to my scalp. I’m relieved as I finger detangle my hair and coat it with some Cantu potion before tying it up. I realize that I haven’t done anything this soothing all week outside of my short daily meditation practice. Self-care doesn’t cost anything, and it shouldn’t. I sit with the same cup of coffee that I have every morning and take an extra moment to taste the notes on the medium roast. I jot down ideas in my journal, and check my sales just once before moving on to personal projects.

One of the reasons I enjoy writing and working from home in general is the time I get on the weekends to check in and take care of myself. At the end of the day, no amount of work, money, drama, or stress is worth our peace of mind. Here are five of my favorite ways to recharge on the weekend (and this time, I won’t include meditation, which I still love).

1) Take a really long time to get ready for my day

When I’m working during the week, I usually get up early and quickly brush my teeth, shower and change into my clothes. On the weekend, I slow everything down to a snail’s pace and take my time getting ready. I also do “extra” things to pamper myself like doing my hair, or giving myself a neck massage.

2) Read an interesting book

I’m typically reading something interesting, and I like to make progress on the weekends because I have a lot of uninterrupted time to read. I’ve been reading a book about the history of Washington DC recently, and really enjoy reading books on history, psychology, and politics in general.

3) Shut my phone off & go outside

I love stepping away from my laptop and phone on the weekends, especially because I’m forced to spend so much time on them during the week. Especially since I’m in the Caribbean, I like doing something outdoors on the weekend whether that’s the Castries market, heading to the beach, or going for a long walk with my fiancé.

4) Bake bread

I love baking, but recently, I’ve been into baking bread and find kneading my dough unreasonably therapeutic. My fiancé doesn’t complain about the rolls, and I lose tension in my neck. Win win!

5) Visit family members

Sometimes visiting my family members doesn’t recharge me, but even introverted people need to socialize, and connect with their communities. While I truly love time by myself, visiting family can give me an added boost of encouragement and connectedness.

6) Research creative projects on Pinterest

Recently, I’ve been researching helpful drawing tutorials and story references for books, but there are all types of projects I research on the weekends. Some times, I obsess over the aesthetics of place settings, or find motivational quotes to post during the week, or I just learn from infographics and other blog posts. The key is to approach this with intention and purpose so that it’s not mindlessly scrolling through social media.

7) Take things really slow

I tend to be an anxious, harried individual, so on the weekends I do my best not to rush anything. I take my time to cook, to draw, to exercise, to relax, to play, and enjoy a few hours without the weight of obligations pressing on me. I really appreciate the time to slow down.

What do you do for self-care on the weekends? Put how you recharge in the comments below.

Friday: Personal Choice & Feminism

I’ve been officially exercising again, a big change since I broke my toe four weeks ago. It’s been a painful four weeks and I’m not comfortable with the level of inactivity I experienced. As I grow older, I’m beginning to truly realize how valuable it is to exercise and actually take care of myself. The teenage lifestyle of scarfing down Skittles and Swedish Fish without a care in the world is over. Although, I did always recognize that it was unsustainable.

This morning, I woke up to find bird guts and feathers spread all over my office, which kicked me into high gear for enjoying my Friday. So we meet now: workout complete, meditation complete, massive cleaning project complete. The best part is it’s just after 6 a.m. How do people not like waking up early?!

I’ve been mulling over one of my biggest issues with “Hashtag Activism” the past week or so and coming to the conclusion that I really need to be done with the “mainstream” internet feminist topics. This isn’t about people like Tarana Burke and the #MeToo movement, which has a clear impact on not just spreading awareness on a major feminist issue, but has led to justice for victims of sexual assault. However, the few people who focus on issues like this can sometimes be crowded out by people online with generally good intentions who may not have clarity and nuance about feminist issues, so they apply broad brush analysis and understanding to what’s important in their world: whether not liking Sansa from Game of Thrones is misogynist, how many men they can and should have sex with, and other individual problems.

This quote from MindTheGap, a feminist blog from Cardiff, UK, explains Audre Lorde’s intentions when she said the personal was political:

First, it’s important to note that the phrase ‘the personal is political’ manifestly does not mean that everything a woman does is political or that all her personal choices are political choices. In feminist terms, the ‘personal is political’ refers to the theory that personal problems are political problems, which basically means that many of the personal problems women experience in their lives are not their fault, but are the result of systematic oppression.[SOURCE]

Taken out of context, and spread as a slogan decontextualized from the original work, “the personal is political” has come to mean whatever anyone projects onto it. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. I think the issue comes when people with explicitly anti-feminist agendas adopt phrases like this and propagandize anti-feminist beliefs using this phrase. A good example of this is “feminist advertising” of any kind in industries who rely on women’s low self-esteem to push products, yet may sell the idea that purchasing their particular product is more feminist than others. “Eyeliner sharp enough to kill a man”, and all that jazz.

Consumer choices have become “political” to some people, but they haven’t examined how a patriarchal society has impacted the more invisible parts of woman’s daily lives like division of labor in the household. Focusing on individual choices and our personal lives as our primary and individual concerns also removes the community aspect of feminism, where women with greater privilege can ally with less privileged women. If we think our work here is done when we purchase the correct razor, or watch the correct most feminist TV show, we don’t think about other people.

Lately, I’ve been disillusioned with a lot of the feminist conversations online which mostly involve lobbing hatred towards other women for likes and retweets and false communities that do nothing for our human need for interpersonal interaction, and leave room for despotic personalities to control political conversations in groups that they potentially know nothing about. (Not all black people, communities, islands, nations, cities, towns, and families are monolithic, so presumably, one person cannot speak for all of them.)

I’ve been discouraging myself to think of feminism as a form of individual expression. This rampant Western individualism is nearly invisible to people living within and practicing it. As such, I like drawing attention to this individualism within myself and considering whether there is a more ethical approach to social problems. It can’t hurt to consider ways we might be focused on our communities rather than ourselves.

Thursday: Thoughts On Inequality

This Thursday, I want to jot down some of my thoughts on inequality, particularly because of a conversation that my fiancé and I had this morning regarding All The Rage by Darcy Lockman. Gender Inequality, income inequality and other forms of inequality are the foundation for social justice. We seek a more equitable society where resources are distributed equitably, labor and responsibility are shared, and where every human being is guaranteed their human rights according to the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

With this in mind, here are some of my thoughts for the day, again, loosely organized so that I may expand on them in a longer post later. If you find any of these interesting, and want me to write more, just let me know in the comments below, because I am definitely interested in hearing what any readers may think…

  • Inequality makes both parties unhappy, including the party benefitting from the inequality. This idea is postulated in All The Rage, and within heterosexual couples at least, studies show this to be true.

  • In general, men seem to believe the trade-offs they’ve agreed to make by benefitting from patriarchy and doing nothing about it large-scale are women’s responsibility. They worry about “not expressing their emotions” but not about how they will profit off of decades of women’s thankless, unpaid labor. The two are connected.

  • One thing I don’t understand about society in general is why the concept of equality is so fundamentally repulsive to some people. What has to be so wrong with you that you cannot agree that everyone should have equal access to food, water, shelter, etc? I think about Non-Violent Communication strategies and how they could be used to address this issue quite often.

  • Inequality can often become invisible, which is one of the problems discussed in older books on poverty like “The Other America” as well as recent books like “Evicted”. One of the major issues we have is that disguising poverty has become easier, which makes the problems easier to ignore. This is particularly disturbing to think about when you think of recent cities initiatives to block out the homeless from sleeping publicly. Even if hostile architecture has an upfront cost, the long term benefit involves making inequality more invisible. The long term prognosis for solving homelessness involves more accountability.

  • I had an up close experience with inequality that gave me pause. Sandals recently purchased a large amount of golf course land in Cap Estate St. Lucia, and they’ve been ripping up the old gold course in order to plant new grass and redo the landscape. As we drove by, I noticed large pipes spraying gallons and gallons of water into dirt that was only going to become grass. Later that evening, I read a local news story about a single mother whose kids were taken away because she can’t afford to have running water in her home, and has to get some from her neighbor. The government has determined she is too poor to be a parent. These two experiences co-exist within the same 26 mile long island.

  • Inequality manufactures a sense of perpetual dissatisfaction. The two go hand in hand with each other and I wonder how much happier people would be if we dedicated our lives to pursuing equitable living for all people rather than hoarding resources for ourselves (uhh, if you happen to be a resource hoarder that is and not struggling to make rent next month. I’m not sure who is reading this.)

  • What’s the most personal level we can practice reducing inequality on? Is it giving to people who have less than us without strings attached? Is it taking the time to help our neighbors with something? Is it sharing our skills and wisdom to empower someone to leave a difficult situation? Maybe the only way to tackle inequality is via practicing some kind of active politics?

I’ve had some experiences recently that fall in line with many of my life experiences involving privileged people. I feel disturbed at the lack of contentedness I see amongst the people who hoard resources, or exploit labor at the expense of others. I wonder if they feel empathy towards other people. Or maybe empathy is only reserved for stray dogs, and only other inferior creatures who don’t run the risk of getting uppity.

When I see water, fresh water, that people in this country need, getting sprayed into the ether so a multi-millionaire on a golf vacation can see useless ineffective sprawling lawn and leave a three star review on Google, it’s hard to feel patient, hopeful or idealistic about the world. But I do. Because despite all of that, I know the truth is that we, the caring, kind, compassionate people are many, and the greedy, selfish, hoarders are few. For today, I need to believe at least that.

Wednesday: What To Do On Mediocre Days With No Motivation

I’m here with little motivation to write, partly because I lost the blog post that I slaved over yesterday for half an hour, and I am still a little wounded to put much effort in today, silly as that might seem to you. I’ve finished my writing for the morning, done some meditation, and made a pumpkin soup for lunch at home. Overall, for a “mediocre” day with no motivation, I’m doing alright. This morning, I got some sad news (which I will write about later) and I’ve been dragging myself along ever since. Unfortunately, sad news doesn’t stop time. We still have to go on and get things done. “Adulting”, am I right?

‘Here are my three simple tricks I use to keep me going when I feel like curling up in bed, re-reading King Lear, and shutting the world out:

(1) Mindfulness Meditation

I wouldn’t keep recommending meditation if it didn’t really work for me. I’m not the only one who agrees. Scientists know that mindfulness meditation has real effects on reducing anxiety, and the spiritual practices centered around mindfulness meditation do so for a reason! This morning before work, I added 5 minutes of quiet meditation to my day so that I could get my mind a little quieter and focus on what absolutely needed to get done.

(2) Socialize

As an introverted writer, sometimes I forget that my “social battery” does actually require some depletion in order for me to recharge on my own. I’m quiet, and I enjoy spending time alone, but on tough days, it’s actually better to reach out and remember that you’re connected to a wider world. This doesn’t have to be time consuming. Today, I texted my sister, my family members, and spent some extra time with my fiancé, which has been lovely and reminded me that there are reasons for me to pull myself out of bed.

(3) Draw or Color

“Adult coloring books” are all the rage now because we are beginning to recognize that creative activity, no matter how small, can play a huge role in making us happier. People are inherently creative and when our creative spirit is fed, we feel really good. Coloring and drawing can also have a meditative aspect to them that make both activities very relaxing. The final thing I’ve done today is spent 30 minutes or so with a pencil and paper, just having fun and drawing something new.

What are your tips for mediocre days when you have little motivation? What is your “bare minimum” self care routine? Comment with ideas down below.

Monday: Thoughts On Deception

My brain is scattered and I’m behind today and I want to treat this blog like a fancy tumblr right now, so buckle up, strap in, and let’s talk about deception…

  • We have all encountered a pathological liar in our lives, but what I have never been able to understand is why do some people choose deception as their primary strategy?

  • How do liars keep track of all their lies when I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday morning?

  • I tend to hate definitive labels that portray certain traits as fixed, including the word “liar”. Has anyone ever met a liar who has changed though?

  • Are the ends of telling a big lie (since of course, yes, all humans do tell small lies), justification enough for the means of deceiving people who are close to you?

  • Out of curiosity, I researched the most common lies and found them uninspiring and lacking the weight of what I consider so be a truly morally harmful lie.

  • Can a lie truly harm no one? I wonder.

Sunday: 10 Skills I Want To Learn

Pop-science articles about neuroplasticity have many people convinced that there’s an age when we can (and should) stop learning. I contest that this isn’t the case and learning new skills is a matter of practice, determination and building new habits and identities.

Here are a few skills that I’ve always wanted to build and some ideas for what I plan to do in order to build them.

  • Gardening — I’ve started a few small gardens before that haven’t lasted very long. My next goal will be to review my gardening books and plan to start my garden after I’ve moved out of my apartment. My goals here are to increase my food security and take a more scientific approach to gardening.

  • Illustration — now that I’m writing more science fiction, my desire to bring the ideas into life has risen. Small stick figure drawings in my journal plus a lifelong frustration with my artistic abilities mean I have a lot of psychological blocks surrounding drawing.

  • Ceramics — I’ve always admired homes with kitschy imperfect but beautiful handmade ceramic plates and mugs. This isn’t an immediate goal for me, but I would love to learn how to at least make mugs, plates and basic items for my home.

  • Bread making — while I’ve definitely mastered my simple dinner roll recipe, I know making bread is so much more than that! I want to learn everything about bread making especially how to create a sourdough started and how to use different grains. So far my sourdough starters have become fly infested failures, but I’m not unwilling to try again.

  • Solar power engineering — simple solar cells fascinate me and the future of clean energy fascinates me too. From the time I took advanced physics in high school and then electricity & magnetism, I’ve had a secret wish that the practical applications for solar power could be a lot of fun to learn

  • Videography/direction — anything I can learn behind a camera, I’m up for. I’ve made YouTube videos, cut together book trailers, and I love working on new skills of this nature.

  • Screenwriting — another form of writing I’m obsessed with right now. Again, my desire to expand my writing skills has led me to this goal. I’ve read a few books on the subject and feel excited to carve out time to flesh out my ideas!

  • Photo retouching — the inner workings of photoshop and Lightroom enchant me. I recently learned how to use Lightroom to enhance photos and for once, feel confident in a skill in this department. My next step is proper retouching which I feel intimidated by. For this, I’ve watched a number of YouTube tutorials but I know practice makes perfect.

  • Sculling — Always a coxswain, never a rower, that’s how the phrase goes, isn’t it? 😉 I always felt like sculling would be a powerful workout and totally meditative. I dream of renting or buying a scull and taking it out onto lake Cayuga. Step 1, get myself into rowing condition! This will be one of my top priorities when I move to New York.

  • Tennis — I have a love, hate relationship with tennis that has mostly been hate. It’s time for me to get out of my awkward, uncoordinated fear and practice again. Having a good outdoor sport under your belt will always give you something to do in the summer!

I was was supposed to publish this yesterday but didn’t meet my goal! Here’s the short/simple post today. What new skills would you like to learn? 👇🏼

Saturday: My Release Day Work Routine

I self publish novels every month and this week, I’ve more or less neglected this blog all in preparation for this magical Friday — my release date for my latest full length novel. Yesterday, I uploaded the book to every platform that I could, and today I got into my “release day” routine.

  • Double check book links in all the stores and reply to any emails related to the book being for sale on my website

  • Write sales email and social media posts to schedule today and throughout the weekend. (5 emails, and around 20 posts)

  • Hop onto social media accounts to engage with frequent posters in real time and potential buyers right away and keep them updated.

  • Write Facebook ads for my Facebook advertising strategy

  • I usually write Amazon ads too, but my latest release is in a romance niche too dirty for Amazon so I can’t run ads on their platform with the book given my metadata.

  • Update all my smart links and add my books to my Author page on BookBub, Goodreads and Amazon author central

  • Email recipients of advanced copies to get their reviews out

Those are the fundamentals of my release day routine which requires a lot more of the marketing and design aspect of self-publishing. I love studying marketing data, so I enjoy this part of the month plenty.

Thursday: Thoughts On “All The Rage” by Darcy Lockman

  • This book definitely makes it on my required reading list for anyone considering becoming a parent or co-parenting with a man.

  • Great complementary book to Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, which explores neurosexism and patriarchal bias in science examining gender differences

  • The funny/humorous tone in this book in the trend of Jessica Valenti’s writing style makes it really easy to dive in and relate plus the analysis of Facebook groups and other contemporary forms of community women create makes many of her points even more salient in our social media saturated world.

  • This book comes with many other recommended reads on gender and division of labor that I’ll hopefully be able to review.

  • The clear & negative impact of inequality is interesting especially when you think of it in terms of the covert contracts that appear to be implicit in most heterosexual relationships. The scary part is that more equal labor distribution before kids can totally vanish once a woman decides to have kids. Sinister to think about.

  • At around 50% of the way through the book, I thrust it straight into my required reading list before having kids. Eye opening and the book will probably spark many projects.

I know this blog post is short but I’ve been writing a lot for work this week and trying to keep my head above water there. Do you have any summer reading? Drop your latest read in the comments below. 👇🏽