Sunday, October 30, 2016

Use The Force


Today, Reshma Saujani's work with Girls Who Code is an inspiration to mine.

"Civic tech" is a thing for me. It's becoming more than a thing for me, and I'm owning it to become my thing. Advocacy. Advocating for people, improving their chances of succeeding, by being present. Knowing that my “presence”, my suggestion, my contribution in any form made someone’s life richer, better, head in a direction that improved their chances to succeed - is my thing. Definitely a part of my work, which I've been involved with for a while now. I was only able to put a name to it last week after attending the Grace Hopper Conference/Celebration of Women in Computing.


Earlier this month, a co-worker Robb* blogged about how he used his tech expertise to lay out a prototype for an ailing friend of his father's. This friend was diagnosed with a terminal disease, was no longer able to speak and needed to answer yes or no to some very important questions. In his blog post, Robb was able to get the patient to communicate to his hospice team by using his brain waves, which was phenomenal. For a little more detail, the solution involved combining a consumer grade EEG with a Node.js application that could interpret/display thoughts.


In addition to this, a piece that stood out to me was that Robb attributed this to a connection he made when he volunteered to teach at a Code workshop for kids which we held at my organization this past summer. And what was special about that? I had come up with the Code workshop and was the lead volunteer. It was a couple weeks after I had launched and started teaching kids at my church, when the announcement was made at work for volunteers to host a kids program. I remember thinking, “why not throw in code?” and made suggestions. Robb was in our first brainstorming meeting that day. He thought the code workshop was a good idea, offered to be my assistant and we collaborated and got to planning. On the D-day, he took it farther by bringing an actual robot that could be hooked up to the portal where the code was deployed. The kids loved it. He also shared this YouTube video called: Use The Force - Move a BB-8 with Your Mind. Yes, he's a Star Wars enthusiast, and was quite disappointed when he learnt I wasn't so keen about the space opera franchise :)



"100 percent of the shots." 
So no one needed to know this, but I glowed when I read his blog post knowing that something so "wild" happened as a result of our collaboration. I am glad I did not hold back my suggestions, which went on to enable someone else to champion a solution for improving someone's life. I'm reminded of Google's Astro Teller's speech at GHC last week, where he said, "everybody loses when smart people hold back." Show up, you just never know!

The other day my mind went off to some of the problems, challenges, difficulties, struggles yet to be remedied, that the human race faces everyday. And I thought, 100%. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Maybe someone who was vital to the solutions did not show up. Maybe they were afraid of failing or speaking up, or appearing stupid. Maybe they were lost or stuck pursuing a different calling, or never got to realize their calling. Really, diversity of thought is important, and we will never get to measure or know the impact of the loss or absense of contribution. 


Reminds me of this song I learnt in primary school, called Brighten The Corner:
Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do, Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true, Brighten the corner where you are.
... Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar, Brighten the corner where you are!

* real name changed

Travel

One of the reasons people should travel is to find empathy. And empathy is easily at the root of advocacy. How can you care about what or who you don’t know about?


We find empathy where we go or when we return, because we tend to step outside of ourselves, or open ourselves up, and form connections with other forms of humankind - individual or collective. As we identify with others and their differences, we realize different parts of our own identity.


Travel does not have to mean getting on a plane. It could also mean getting out of yourself first. In my mind I think “travel" and “open” are synonyms - allowing yourself to learn, exploring new ideas - expanding bases of knowledge and frames of reference. It’s like throwing more elements into the equation. You might not know when but rest assured you will use them later.


So find or create opportunities to do this. Travel! Be open and connect with people and with yourself. Feel a new emotion. It usually starts with a yes, which you very well know comes with a disclaimer. Say yes to life, and by all means keep yourself out of harm’s way while at it.



Travel

Sept 6, 2016.
Train transit thoughts on the Metro North - @ Cold Spring, NY. 

Reach In

What do you want?

Apparently we all (need to) want something out of life. Sometimes we're at a point where we don't know or have enough to answer this question, and it may sound like,

"What should I want?" or
"Should I want what someone else has?"
"What is safe for me to want?"

That's not it, but you're on your way. Keep going, keep living, keep searching, keep asking.
Soon enough, you will come to the point.
And you will know.


This makes me want to quote Rainer Maria Rilke a second time, in Letters to a Young Poet where she says, “And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far into the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer...”

Saturday, October 29, 2016

At Home

When he calls her on FaceTime
She throws on a blanket
"Please tell me you’re wearing clothes,"
Well, I’m under the covers
"How do you do this?"

What?! I’m at home.

..........................................................................

When we were kids, my dad was usually in his underwear
He hung out in white Fruit of the Loom briefs around the house, just doing his thing
We were never embarrassed, we thought it was hilarious and got used to being around him undressed like that
Those were probably when he told the most jokes and had yabs for days.

When I lived alone for the first time
I would come home from work or grad school 
And just the way corporate men rushed to take their ties off after a long day at work,
Freeing my legs from clothes jail was top priority once I was behind closed doors
I'd set the workbag down and trousers off!

Soon enough I graduated from emancipating my legs to campaigning for my whole body
Just hanging out, living life, strutting around my space with doors locked of course
And no guests around
Knowing freedom like this easily makes everyday (my) Independence Day :)

Yes! You tell 'em Cinque!

Favorite Little Things

"You remain my most favorite thing."

Love songs can evoke memories of people and places and emotions. They were a thing for certain, they just didn’t know what thing they were.

Days ago while about my travels, I stumbled on a Yuna concert last minute. I was ecstatic and made a recording of her soulful stage performances. And yes, she did it. She performed our favorite, and I sang it just the way you mix the lyrics up, replacing "butterflies" where she says "lullabies." Ugh! Just the thought of this love thing gets me feeling so lousy, so mushy. Yea, bleh!

In the time when they were a thing, they binged on each other’s favorite playlists among other things. Between Yuna and Somi, they made loving memories, and shared bits of themselves until their paths split. Now in the few weeks since their reconnection, they’ve become some thing else - a familiar but different kind, with both treading lightly to see where they do or don’t go.

On some days these days they talk everyday for weeks, then there's that stretch where it's total silenceUgh! It aches sometimes, and when it does, she accepts she's no longer privy to access all the parts of you whenever she wants to. "Two to tango, right?" She's not interested in forcing herself in. She's following your lead, what's your next move?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Improv

She's managed to set her life up as a warm, hearty but romance free zone, up until recently. Despite being somewhat anxious about appearing mushy, she thinks to herself, "Whose blog is it anyway?"

Tempting Embers

You tempt her to look forward to November
To give up daily pleasures and live on the edge
There's a timer waiting to start a countdown in the back of her mind
She's yearning, yes, but she won't cave in to anxiety
Calm each moment and present in each day until your day


It's cowardly safe to hope instead of ask
She wonders (if you know) what you're signing up for
She hopes this time you come to her with intention
She's clear, she says, and won't have it any other way


She hopes you two would pick up in a heartbeat
And hopes that you find each other to be grown,
She hopes you two are bolder, stronger and ready
And hope deferred makes the heart sick

Thoughts on Consumerism

When you look at your face in the mirror, and tell yourself you need a ‘concealer’ instead of sleep.

Riding the Wave

I'm skipping a Halloween party for some alone time tonight. Not because I don’t want to socialize but eh! it’s noise and booze I’m not quite in the mood for. I’ll plan to be boisterous and festive tomorrow, and attend another one tomorrow. Looking for a little more meaningfulness and perhaps bits of poetry tonight. Quietly seeking and asking myself what I want, and the answers are coming. I don’t want to break the wave, I'm enjoying it. Also cheers to the gems on Spotify, I stumbled on Warren Buffet and Bill Gates' audios on there.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bookmark

These are the best days of my adult life. I have journaled (offline) so much over the last three months. And I want to self-publish, and I want to read some really good books. Currently reading Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety, which I randomly found discovered in my Medium feed. It's a pretty intense and engaging read so far.

Social Angst


On publishing a post, and coming back anxiously to check for likes. You just created knowledge! No one has to validate or cheapen that with ‘likes.'

Notes on Sensitivity

You ruin your life by desensitizing yourself. We are all afraid to say too much, to feel too deeply, to let people know what they mean to us. Caring is not synonymous with crazy. Expressing to someone how special they are to you will make you vulnerable. There is no denying that. However, that is nothing to be ashamed of. There is something breathtakingly beautiful in the moments of smaller magic that occur when you strip down and are honest with those who are important to you. Let that girl know that she inspires you. Tell your mother you love her in front of your friends. Express, express, express. Open yourself up, do not harden yourself to the world, and be bold in who, and how, you love. There is courage in that.  

Bianca Sparacino, in Thought Catalog: How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Home and Away

Two weeks is a long time to be out of the gym. I'm not meticulous about the gains and things, so I'm really fine with gradually easing into my workout practice. However, what I'm not fine with is the cravings for comfort foods, sweets and junk. Those lousy high fat and carb cravings that stem from a lack of positive influence on mood, energy and stamina that you get from exercise. I went off to Nigeria late last month, and really just enjoyed some quality time with family. I had set an intention for my trip before I left, and my goal was single. Or simple. Be the instrument that holds "us" together.

It was an eventful trip, to say the least. From burying my dad, bonding with family, discovering new family members, exploring more depths of self - examining personality and behavioral differences at home here and at home there, new attitudes to old beliefs, new siblings. I remember thinking to myself, "You are Am0ge. You don't do that. That's not how you live."

How I live.

I'm out of shape with yoga, and treadmill records. Going forward, I want to be able to take my life with me wherever I go, instead of putting whatever I practise on hold till I get back.