How to be a conscious tourist

The holiday seasons are upon us!! And with it, comes much traveling. Last summer and during the beginning of Fall, I did so much traveling around Europe, and it was the first time I really country hopped a bit as an adult, having to fend for myself and figure out where I was going to stay, etc. Also, because I was living in France and traveling the continent with my French passport, the way I viewed other tourists had changed as well, as perspectives change depending on who you travel with and where you originally came from.

Since I’ve been in France for two years now, American tourists feel foreign instead of someone coming “from home”. The fact that I have lived in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, and Paris, La Rochelle, and Bordeaux in France, means that I have lived places that at one point or another have been completely filled with tourists. It was in experiencing tourism as a native or tourist myself that I began to realize the ignorance we display sometimes in going to another country. I have had this blog in my head for quite some time but had to chew on it a while before deciding to write it. Finally, I figured I’d break it down into 8 convenient bullet points to help you be a more CONSCIOUS traveler during the holiday seasons, and always. If there’s anything you’d like to add, go ahead and do so in the comment section below!

And so, without further ado,

8 Tips on How Not to Be a Douchebag Traveler

  1. Learn some basic words in the native language

You ever gone to a country and actually not known what language they spoke until you landed? Because I have. That’s really ignorant. Don’t do that. Assuming that every one does or should speak English is a very close-minded and self-centered way to look at the world. Not everyone has the privilege of education of learning another language, first off, and secondly, it is not another country’s responsibility to cater to their tourists. While English is spoken in a lot of countries, it should be your job as a conscious traveler to at least try and be aware of the language(s) spoken, and try to at the VERY least, learn how to say “Hello/Goodbye”, or “please” and “thank you” depending on your own level of being able to memorize things. Just so that you can acknowledge people in their home language. Of course some people might want to practice their English with you and will be excited to do so, others won’t mind trying to help you figure out what you need through miming, while some people won’t even care that you tried and will be upset just at the mere fact that you can’t fluently speak their language (you can’t please everybody, so don’t try.)

2. Respect the natives

Listen to me. Black and brown babies are not props. It is so cringey when I see middle class white women taking pictures of a black or brown child with them because “look at this cute colored child isn’t it cute” like in their own home country they’ve never seen a child of color, and if they have, it’s like in a zoo, you know, in “those” neighborhoods, where they would never be allowed to grab a random child for a photo op.

Or people taking photographs of the homeless without so much as their consent or giving them money, or food. Yes, taking a photograph of someone we find beautiful because they are different than what we are used to can be a way to remember that, but this should be a learning opportunity and not one for you to improve your instagram’s aesthetic. Learn about their cultures and dress, and ask, ask, ask if you can take a picture. And read their body language first, don’t just aggressively pull someone aside suddenly to photograph them. Do not take a picture of a child without their parents consent.

And taking a picture of poverty? Is so inappropriate. Are you providing for it or just exploiting it for your own ego? Help them, instead of trying to photograph them. Unless you’re a journalist whose work might help these people, capturing others peoples misery and posting it on your facebook is too self serving for it to be appropriate under any means, unless you’re actively trying to help it. If you enjoy something and find it beautiful, instead of exploiting it, try to appreciate it through a way that may help the community in question.

3. Don’t litter

Unless you’re one of those really amazing people who are fully aware of their carbon footprint, chances are you litter on the regular. In your country, where you’re paying taxes and breathing the own gross air of your car polluting the atmosphere, that’s one thing. But going to another country to enjoy their goods, to then throw your gross cigarette bud on the ground, or letting your sandwich wrapper blow in the wind and away, or throwing the plastic bag of your souvenir next to the garbage, is rude, selfish, inappropriate, and ignorant. Be EXTRA mindful of other countries. However much careful you are usually about these things, triple that when you’re elsewhere.

4. Watch where you’re going

Dear family of 5 walking slowly down the street or sidewalk, everyone hates you. Watch where you’re going, and for the love of God MOVE TO THE SIDE.
Dear ANYONE that is walking slowly and unpredictably sort of zig zagging or coming to a full stop, what you’re doing is dangerous, annoying as hell, and inconsiderate to those trying to live their every day lives not revolving around you. Pretty much, walk how you would drive. (But better, and remember you don’t have turn signals here)

Would you come to a sudden complete stop without looking behind you first if you were in a busy highway? Probably not unless it was an emergency, because then you might cause a serious accident. Imagine a local parent with their kid and stroller walking down a street on their way to the grocery store when suddenly some douchebag turns unpredictably and runs into them because they tdont want to consider others. This isn’t the Truman show, we aren’t sitting here prepared for your every move. I’ve seen people run into strollers, other people, and even oncoming traffic. Be self aware, or you might hurt yourself or someone else at the worst, but at the least, you’re making your stay unpleasant for those that live here.

5. Do a minimum research of the laws

Try doing a quick google on things like religion and social laws when entering a culture that is very unfamiliar to you. For example in Japan, it is rude to blow your nose in front of someone, while in many other countries giving a “thumbs up” is actually a middle finger. You can Google things like, “what not to do in {country you’re traveling to}” for some help. No one is expecting you to know everything, but some kind of self awareness and attempt at respect is always appreciated.

6. Be self-aware

The other day in Paris an American tourist went to the Eiffel Tower and got a special deal on a tour which they felt completely entitled to anyway because “Paris is like, so expensive.” Do you know how I know that? Because even though I was 4 seats away trying to read my book, this small group of 3 adults apparently felt they were the only ones in the metro and were speaking so loud, I felt myself engrossed in their conversation, despite me not caring, because of how LOUD they were. Another time, in Rome, I had to stop a conversation that I was having with my boyfriend because another small group of American tourists were having a conversation so unnecessarily loud, it went over whatever we were discussing. Of course you’re excited, that’s wonderful, and if you’re in a large group or in a loud place, we get it. But if you’re in a metro, restaurant, or other place where people can hear you just fine if you use a quieter voice, try and gauge your volume. Don’t just assume you’re not loud, actually question it. Maybe ask someone else. If someone speaks loudly to you, try lowering your own volume. Be self aware of the space you are taking up in someone else’s home country.

7. Buy local

Whenever I pass a McDonald’s in any other country that isn’t the USA I am always perplexed. (I find McDonald’s in France to be completely humiliating for the French, for one, who love to talk about their fine cuisine and criticize American food.) However seeing an American walk in is disappointing, to say the least.That you want to go to a fast food restaurant at all is whatever, I’m not going to judge that, but that you’re feeding massive corporations that damage the local economy and land is not conducive to this country lasting in their rich culture and traditions, and therefore you should not help support them. Try to avoid large chains because you never know who actually owns them, and support Farmer’s Markets, artisans, and mom and pop shops.

8. Don’t Swim with the dolphins.

In the United States, Sea World is bad enough, but in other countries you should never swim with dolphins, and if you absolutely have to go to a place where you will see an animal in captivity, (avoid it, but if you must) inform yourself thoroughly before going to any zoos or aquariums about the treatment of their animals and how they help capture and keep them. Probably also inform yourself before riding an elephant somewhere, or coming in contact with animals. Don’t trust the company, they’re counting on your ignorance to get your money. Do your research, or if you aren’t sure, then don’t do it.

Basically, another country is not a theme park. I understand your excitement in visiting somewhere new and how bewilderment makes it hard to be fully aware of the damage we’re doing sometimes. We can’t always really control what we do. That’s why simply trying to be as aware and conscious as possible of our impact when traveling is so important. Our planet and resources are dying, coral reefs aren’t what they used to be, indigenous tribes and native lives are ruined, and virgin beaches are becoming more and more extinct due to poorly handled tourism. Let’s try and minimize that.


 

And, to end this blog post in a large bout of hypocrisy, in January 2017, I’ll be going on a cruise trip around Europe and you have no idea how problematic this is for me. Initially, I did not want to go because sipping a mojito in the lap of luxury with the current state of things in Aleppo, Venezuela, and even the USA, among so many others, felt a little disgusting for me. So when my mom originally asked me if I wanted to go on the family cruise trip I turned it down. However, due to schedule conflicts my little sister ended up not being able to go, and so I accepted her ticket because, hey, free cruise, and I’m not that much of a saint. I’m sorry.

But what I am doing, is reading up on why Cruise Ships are problematic to try and see if I can actively counter any of them, and also be aware of them so that next time, I can say “maybe let’s do something else instead of a Cruise Ship” and have my facts and alternatives ready and lined up, so that I can do something more solid and effective than writing a blog about how to not be a problematic tourist. 😉

Sometimes we make mistakes and realize too late, other times maybe we know we’re doing something problematic while we’re doing it, but it’s more complicated than just not going. Be as self-aware as possible, be forgiving of yourself but always hold yourself accountable, and always do better.

Happy globe-trotting.

 

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“And medicine for the people”

Hello my people,

I’ve been writing this post for various days. It’s very long, and I have a lot to say, so take your time reading it, it’s going to be content heavy, but it’s supposed to be, and there will be many more to come. It’s divided into parts for easier reading, and at the end you will find links to come and go back to.

Happy reading.

The silver  lining of chronic depression . 

The deep and intimate understanding of grief, as well as the paralyzing fear of feeling useless.

I was having panic attacks. My life has some serious stress triggers, but I was not handling it, I was having all types of panic attacks all the tipe. Despite nothing  happenning I told myself.

Except something was happening. The grenade I was afraid would explode despite everyone telling me it didn’t exist, not only did it exist, but it fucking blew up and EVERY ONE felt it.

Turns out it was humanity’s grenade and I was just feeling the aftershock of all the karma we had accumulated in accepting division.

And now here we are. Alive. Because cruelly, or beautifully, life goes on.

I’ve been seeing it. The beauty. People taking care of themselves, people loving.

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On my newsfeed, people showing love to my gay latino friend after losing his home state of Florida to Trump.
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Click on the picture to go to the article

 

We were grieving, we still are, but through it we are loving.

If you think people are over reacting, or don’t know that people are extremely scared, you are either not paying attention, not listening, not being empathetic, or you don’t care.  All of these possibilities make me incredibly sad, but the good news is, people that care outnumber those that don’t. We are made to believe we are a minority, because Fear works faster than Love. But the work that Love does, is solid. That is why despite everything that has been happening, we are still here.

 

Every single person in my life that’s talented, kind, ingenious, creative in any way or form, that gives goodness, shares knowledge, expresses their best out of any sense of compassion whether civic duty or natural calling, has been a part of what makes humanity worth living for . 

Because there have been wars, horrors, atrocious nightmares come reality, dictators of maximum oppression of uniqueness and humanity…yet there has also always, always also still been art, rebellion, expression of self and sexuality, the quest for happiness and pursuit of knowledge. Fierce friendship.

The Holocaust did not abolish the love that a mother has for her son. Slavery did not abolish friendship. The Great Depression did not abolish art.

Time and time again, we have actually persevered.

“The future is never gone, never hopeless. No one has ever lived in the best possible world. There has always been a fight to fight.” -Neil DeGrasse Tyson 8/Nov/16

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s OK for it to be this hard for more of us to have it, and ignoring our brothers and sisters because we don’t want to admit their pain, is inhumane, unspiritual, and unethical. We are One, we must heal as One. And we must All take active pursuit of it, however that may look to each and every one of our unique capabilities, understanding that we must share a minimum of discomfort. Courage can be a small voice, but added to many others, the roaring of who we are in undenyingly powerful, and that is why we have been kept divided for so long.Some people may wear a Safety Pin. Some people may choose not to.

Right now we are rightfully grieving as we must as a people. We are all hurting. All seems hopeless and much of what we feared may come true, if it hasn’t already. Many of us feel as if all faith in humanity is useless, and I deeply empathize with the notion.However our grief and anger must eventually become active plans and steps of love and compassion.

For now, I have been writing, writing, writing. (This blog entry has been written and drafted about 5 times, something I’ve never done, to make sure my thoughts are short but articulate, and that it is all assuming responsibility for what I must do while also supporting others in being active.) I have also been reading, reading, reading. Listening. Questioning my self. Re prioritizing my thoughts and reactions.

Do not look away. See what you are up against. It is scary. But once you get past through the fear, and take the binds off, you will see something else. That you are not alone. There is more support among the marginalized and oppressed than there are among the oppressors.

I have fallen out of grace before. With everything, with myself, with my God, with humanity. And in me falling out of grace with it all, I also learned something else. Humanity doesn’t stop existing because you stop believing in it. Neither did I. Neither did God.

We will be here. We will be here because we still thrive in making each other laugh, (which is why some people rely on memes and jokes) and we are still expressing ourselves freely, no matter what anyone is saying. And no matter how many of us die, we are still here as a people, whatever new way that looks like. We’ve not lost the beauty of what it means to be alive together. Even hate needs Love to exist.

A few weeks ago I asked what acceptance meant and I got no answers .I guess not too many knew. But to me, these past events finally allowed me to have a reference point I could express in words. Going with what you can control to continue to live and thrive. A survival mechanism, maybe.

So we must grieve. And I sit here, and hold space while we grieve together.

Then, I offer some next step actions, or options for coping, hopefully a bit of relief, help in accepting the situation, or maybe just some information so that we can all move forward in this together.

On forcing positivity on to others…

Forcing your views on people instead of listening is leaving them alone in their shit, and therefore unsupportive. It’s doing something to make yourself feel better, at the cost of the other.  Telling people they are wrong for their feelings, telling them they’re making you feel bad, that it’s negativity, is you actively choosing to not listen because it makes you uncomfortable to own up to what you are doing wrong. Peoples livelihoods are at steak and that’s a very real fear. A lot of people were aware and prepared but a lot of other people weren’t . We need to be compassionate of everyone who took a while to get to the field but we’re here and it’s now and it’s go time.

On “It’s not my job to teach you”

This one is not going to go well with too many people, but I do know there’s many of us that agree, so in case you’re one of those, I’m mentioning it here.

I learned about Racism in America, in my teens, because it was keeping me from getting close to people due to how we were programmed to interact with each other due to a broken system that people wanted to ignore because it made them uncomfortable or inconvenienced them. Growing up in Dominican Republic, I have a very mixed group of friends. We were all types of black, brown, and white, and mixed cultures. I went to a French school, so it might have been a particular setting, but as far as I remember Santo Domingo is pretty mixed. Touching each other through play and affection, our hair for example, or holding hands, being friends, was not weird or wrong because it was all in consent and curiosity for each other differences. (I got to touch hair that was different from my own when playing and braiding other children’s hair, which made me conserve my essential understanding that difference is normal, and to be celebrated and explored so that it can be better understood and respected.)

However in the United States, it was drilled into me that it was incredibly rude to touch someone else’s hair if they were black. I understood why, so naturally I stopped, but it became a wall of racism that I had not had before. I was forced to see my black friends as Other because the system of Oppression against them had made it so that we had to protect their bodies even more from people with my hair and skin color. However, I understood that. That it wasn’t “them” black people, but “them” that small percentage of humans that had seen the power of division and fear and had used it to rule, never seeing how it was damaging them, their children, their own future.

Some people, didn’t grow up understanding that. Because of lack of context, lack of exposure, lack of a lot of things that were actually very much not their fault, they grew up feeling divided from other cultures and races, not knowing how to transgress that line, and feeling like utter shit because of them. Feeling wrong. Feeling stupid. And surrendering to the division. A fantastic example of that, is this guy, and I really recommend you listen to him, because though he is dripping in self-pity, he raises a lot of amazing points. And while he does attack me and people like me, I do not take it as an attack. I take it as a desperate call for help. “I do not know how to learn, so I may say the wrong things, but I want to learn, please teach me”. And so many of us look away because they didn’t ‘say’ the right thing. And while I am fervent that people need to learn compassion, I think there is a sliver of validity in that trying to always be “PC” killed a lot of communication. Because so many people in wanting to learn were turned back aggressively. We contribute to division by doing that, no matter how valid our reason for doing that.

So while I will not tell or police someone to be more open if their anger does not allow them to, (I myself am in a situation where I am trying to not react angrily to ignorance, and I am not succeeding) I do think we should realize that not only do we need all the help we can get, but many people want to give it. My white friend recently told me she was advised against going to black rally for black lives matter because it wouldn’t go over well. So, sure, she can start a rally of her own, but instead of fighting alongside, we are doing it in division. It takes longer. It doesn’t seem real.

We do shame people for not knowing things, for not having grown up with the context, culture, and exposure we did. We close them off, tell them to go Google (how are you going to Google if you don’t know what you don’t know?) We’ve been creating very needed safe spaces for people to come and share with us our grieves and pains, but there were not nearly enough safe spaces to be stupid and make mistakes and learn how to deprogram yourself when you’ve pretty much been in a cult you’re entire life. Some people could do it, a lot couldn’t. They felt unheard. They voted.

Even dipped in white privilege and being out of the country, I am too multicultural to not feel intimately related to most of the world. America is my blood. The entire American continent, even the ones who come from those who colonized it, are my people. This problem is my problem and I wouldn’t have it any other way just like I wouldn’t leave my own sister out in the world like this. My privilege allows me fearless hope combined with my righteous anger and i plan to use everything I know how to do to benefit, provide, and help those who may need it most.I’m going to pay more attention to better understand politics despite it being like math to me. Corrupted Math. And I encourage you to do the same.And the very first step, is to listen. We have not been listening to the countries in war, we have not been listening to our people, we have not been listening our side of our bubble. We must be open to spreading knowledge, it is an ultimate weapon. If you don’t start listening now, that bubble will be popped. If you’re already listening, share what you are learning, share the knowledge you know, stomp the eggshells, shatter the bubble, speak your truth. We need to heal. And in order to do that, we’re going to have to shatter the stressed connections we had and be open to our culture, share it with people that are trying to learn, humanize what they are afraid of, show them what they have misunderstood.

On Self Love being revolutionary 

In Self Love lies the strength that you have to offer society, or your community or country, or family or people. In Self Love is the understanding of who you truly are and what you bring. In Self Love is the sturdy grounds you need to know that you are worthy and of use to others. In Self Love is the confidence to speak your truth.

Now is not the time to be shy about who you are. Now is not the time to be selfish, and the first true act of generosity is with yourself. Figure out what that means and use it. Stop hating your body. Stop using the word fat as an insult. Some of us have crippling anxiety and depression and are biopolar and etc. Some of us think we’re in too much physical pain or limited movements to make a difference. That makes it hard to self love and I get that. But actively pursue what will make you happy. Believe in yourself again, because we need you. Figure out your light. What is it you offer? What is it you give that makes people happy? What can you do that may help someone in need? What do you have that someone might not? Don’t be stingy with who you are. And when you see someone being shamelessly them, celebrate them, let them know it, support them.And support your support system. If you don’r have a support group, find one, if you don’t know how to find one, google who you think you are. Look on Facebook. If that doesn’t work, write me. Don’t know how YOU can different, personally? Write me.

If we cannot abolish it, let us not let it control us. Do not despair. 

If ever there was a time to exchange our cultures, and not put up a wall, and answer questions that maybe shouldn’t need to be asked but they are, now is that time. Knowledge is power. We can redefine, play with, and put a dent in how much racism is going to divide us. We can redefine lines that they have drawn for us. All for the sake of spreading information, and facilitating compassion, to things that are essential no matter what your revolutionary act looks like. That is the first step. We need informed people. Too many of us have been dozing and there have been so many that are awake. Listen to those that are woken. Hold YOURSELF accountable. We can no longer point fingers, rather, we must holds hands.Blaming is a waste of time. We have to make every day count now, and blaming is useless. Seeing the root of the problem, yes. Spending time talking about who fucked us, unless we move toward planning and strategizing, is simply distracting us from us holding ourselves accountable.

“It is the very nature of this fight for civil rights and justice and equality that whatever gains we make, they will not be permanent. So we must be vigilant. Do not despair. Do not be overwhelmed. Do not throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves and fight for who we are.” – Kamala Harris, the first indian-american and second black woman ever elected to senate.

On humanity

Life cycles through, we have wars, great depressions and unworthy villains, but we still thrive, persevere, laugh, share, succeed and love. No matter how meager 2016 might be,  I got to live during the Era of people like Prince and queen Beyonce.

That’s still progress. We have all been through worse and advanced greatly. We come from survivors, peace makers, brilliant minds, fierce activists, brilliant politicians and conscious people in power, and we did that despite everything we’ve been through in history.

It’s stolen land and built upon the blood of many heroes, we must respect the history and unite with the strength and wisdom our ancestors left in us. Prioritize as a people. If we do not have ideas and actions, let us spread and share the ideas and actions of others. Let us let people into our culture so that we humanize our cultures. Let us remove the character from the cliché by giving them no choice but to acknowledge our humanity. Dronald Frumph is not the only criminal leader. Let us listen to each other. They are big but we are bigger. We must re-evaluate how we’ve been relating to each other and adapt to the times. Humanity is sick and we have to change our game plan and understand the new reality.

Opening our eyes

I didn’t used to like to see or even share the bloody images. It seemed like gratuitous violence, which a lot of is, and it upset me too much to see it. But I read the stories. And now I’m reading more of it. And not only that, I’m no longer turning away from the horrors so as to not “ruin my day”. My day has been ruined, and it will remain ruined until there is a level of livable peace again. So I will open my eyes to others’ pain. I will acknowledge them. I will learn their names.

Suicides have already happened. People are already gone. To a lot of us it does feel like the world has ended. We’re still here for you, who is alive. It’s a huge change and it’s going to take time. But any and all progress is necessary. There are many ideas out there already. Movements, protests, people with money and access that are also waking up. 

Hope is hard, and fear is powerful.

Rebel against anything that causes separation between you and another person. Find the ways to at the least, listen and understand, and respect. Many of us did not listen. Many of us did not respect Dromal Flumph, treating him like nothing more than a joke, which while helpful for coping, is still dangerous. Not respecting the danger he posed and not listening to the rest of the people and remaining ignorant is on us. We know who we are.

Rearange social barriers . If we can’t diminish racism, let’s put a dent in what that means. If it’s going to be four years, let’s survive. Reform. But let us do everything for it to not come to that first. Open your eyes so that you see what you are up against. Open your eyes so that it doesn’t pull the rug from other you again. Open your eyes so that if ever you can do something else, you will know, you will be ready. Open your eyes because perhaps you are the Opressed, and your hate has blinded you too. This hate is not our own. It was created. Let us use our anger to also Listen. Racism has locked some white people into an image too, one that they do not know how to get out of either. In order to destroy racism, we must not let it rule our hearts. Our anger is warranted, yes, but so is our capacity to overthrow hate in the name of our personal freedom.

And if someone wants to be in the revolution, in this fight, then let us arm them with knowledge . Of perspective. Of understanding of our culture and humanity.

For the hopeful: Have hope, but do something. Are you saying “I hope…” or “let’s hope…” or “here’s hoping…”?  Have hope . But do something.

Here’s some things you can do. Feel free to add to this list in the comments section.

  1. Be weary of what you post – I am guilty of not doing this enough. But fact check before you post something. There is no need to spread hate if it’s not real, we can’t afford to spread more negativity that doesn’t even exist. But also fact check the good things, because people need real hope too. If you aren’t sure, and you don’t want to fact check, don’t share. If you’re called out, be gracious. If you see others posting false thing, graciously call them out. Be weary of your humor. Be sensitive to others. Listen.Call me out gently, I am listening. Call me out angrily, I am still listening, though it might take a second longer for me to get the message.
  2. Speak Up – What are you, afraid that someone might not like you for being controversial? If you’re “controversial” by talking about the reality of the situation and trying to spread love, you dont WANT or NEED those people to like you. Let them judge you and get the fuck out of your life. If they can’t support you in wanting this world to better for everyone, and you’re still afraid they’re not going to like, you need to re-evaluate how genuine your desire to help is. Are you actually doing anything, or just inciting others to do it? Don’t be friends with people that don’t improve you, challenge you, and deserve your goodness. They are rotting you and your life.
  3. Read, follow, and listen – to voices of color, the LGBT+ community, disabled people, WOMEN, latinxs, learn vocabulary you were maybe ignoring before, understand it. Inform yourself on what the OTHER SIDE has to say. I sometimes look for groups on Facebook that are followers of things I am battling against, just so that I can understand their point of view and how things are presented to them. I have realized that many people on “the other side” are just so intent with their refusal to see facts, they are unable to see facts when you present them to them.
  4. Choose your battles – I was recently in a discussion with a French family member about the situation in the USA, and when I tried to explain to him that the popular vote had gone to Hillary Clinton, he just flat out said “no.” His TV had been giving him “facts” and information that was erroneous, he felt heard and like someone represented him, he felt intelligent in having things to add to the conversation, my argument would completely destroy his entire bubble. So his response was simply “no”. So instead of getting angry with him, I realized I was not going to be able to do anything there. So I continue to read on things I CAN control and do. Maybe in my reading I will find a better response for next time. For now, I keep informing myself of better ways to be effective.
  5. Write. Draw. Speak. Build. Dance. Delegate. : This is where Self Love comes in. So long as you care, there will always be something you can do. Whatever your talent is, whatever your gift, whether it just be knowing how to listen to people, or make them laugh, cook for them, taking care of them, or go out and be active in your community, it is all good so long as you are always trying to do something. If you can’t think of something, keep reading my blogs, contact me, or google “what can I do to help (insert group youd like to help)?”. You first have to believe that something can be done. If you say that nothing can be done, not only are you wrong, but you’re choosing to remain blind so as to not assume responsibility. And lose any valid right to complain about what “they” are or aren’t doing. We are they. The longer it takes us to realize this the longer for things to get set back to where there is balance.
  6. Listen to marginalized voices: This one is so unbelievably important. This is by no means a comprehensive list but it is ones that I follow and like, and maybe they will lead you to other voices that you will follow and like. Either way, starting somewhere is incredibly important.
    Priscilla Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez is founder of Latina Rebels, writes at the Huffington Post, Vivala, Philadelphia Printworks, and probably a million other places. She is also a speaker, and a personal favorite of mine in general.
    Franchesca Leigh is a Youtube Star turned comedian, social activist and now appears on MTV’s Decoded and The Nightly Show.
    Luvvie Ajayi just wrote a book that went to instant best seller about how to do better. Besides being a writer and blogger, she’s also a comedian in her right, totally brilliant way of slicing through and getting the message across in a way that’s going to make you laugh even if it means checking yourself. Actually, she does so many other things I got lost trying to link you to it all. You can follow her facebook here.
    Evvelyn from the Internet is a YouTube Star that vlogs about her every day, except she’s hilarious and her way of expressing herself is so funny, she can talk to you about the world ending and you will feel somehow hopeful and calm afterward.
  7. Self Care is essential. We need you: Are you balancing out what you’re taking in? Before, it was as if we cast aside the need to take care of ourselves because we couldn’t afford to take time for ourselves. Now, it’s gotten so bad, we can’t afford to not take care of ourselves. Disconnect from the computer, from social media, watch videos that help you relax, or that help you sort out your emotions. Stop listening to the sad songs, or at least make sure you are listening to more empowering music. Draw bubble baths, do martial arts, go jogging, play chess, read, play mindless games on your phone. Whatever it takes to help you get restored. This following video was a video that helped me deal with my emotions after the elections.

I’ve also been watching a lot of TV shows that have got me pumped up and ready to deal with all of this. The Walking Dead has helped my emotions sort of balance out my having things play out on the TV that I can’t control but still give me hope. In a way, Rick and Michonne and the rest of the cast is part of my support group. Which leads me to the final point that I’d like to make:

8. Invest in a support group: They are hard to find and hard to build. People that not very good at relationships might have a hard time establishing a support group because of their belief that they are not good enough. This is also why Self Love is so essential. Believe that you deserve a support group. Very often people want to care for you, but due to our low levels of self esteem or ultimate grumpiness, we push people away. Right now is the time to check yourself, to love yourself, to let yourself be loved. If you already have a support group, make sure that it is not one big pool of bobbleheads. The point of a support group should be in supporting you to be your best self, and that doesnt come from always telling you what you want to hear and never challenging you. Gentle call outs and the ability to love you despite disagreements and faults is an essential part of any relationship. Support groups are no different. Get yourself a support group that helps you grow, not stagnates you by agreeing to everything you say without causing you to question anything ever.

That would conclude, for now, this lengthy blog post. However I have much more to say, and I know you do too because of all the conversations we’ve been having. Over the next few days and weeks I will be trying to sort out my thoughts in blog form and respond to articles and things I read. Feel free to start a conversation with me, to kindly disagree with me, to provide valid sources for any information you would like to share, and to share your stories with me. I’m listening. I care. I will give you a platform to be heard as well, if that is what you need. I leave you with a beautiful video by Nahko and Medicine for the People, and more articles to read that about “what you can do”.

In love and power,

Maëlle

  1. How to easily be a white ally to marginalized communities by Christopher Keelty
  2. Organizing for Action, a movement with Obama’s name on it.
  3. Electoral College Can Stop Unfit Trump written by David Halperin
  4. We have to create a culture that won’t vote for Trump

She shifted her sails…and all was well.

I think I may have abandoned my website a little. I’m moving a lot, there’s too much change going. I would say that it was silly to think I could keep my business going while I moved, but I didn’t. Think, I mean.

I told you guys what I did, right? Well, now I’ve been here (“here” being la rochelle) for 4 months, And in France for 5. Holy shit, next month I will have been in France for half a year.

Here’s La Rochelle in yellow. Yep I live next to the ocean.

Every decision I had made had been made on a whim. I hadn’t taken the time to think about my business life.

And then, I did. And I couldn’t figure out what I was doing, or what to do. Sure I could keep working on Skype with Americans and other English speakers, but did I really want to continue to market myself all the time to be someone’s coach?

It took a while for me to realize the answer was no. I wanted to live my life, and assist others, and continue to be of service…but the way that I was willing to, and able to help, shifted and changed depending on where I was.

What would I do for money then? No one ever talks about how to afford quitting your job and going out to live some crazy dream life.

Well, I dont know how everyone else does it, but here’s how I do it: International Prostitution;

Juuuust kidding.

The real answer is I do it day by day. Sometimes I work as a waitress, other times I do freelance writing, translating…In France, there’s a lot of financial aid for people looking for jobs and getting settled. Other times, people believe in your cause and they donate money as a way to keep you doing your thing.

I’m trying to live life in a way that a lot of people nowadays are doing but it doesn’t mean it’s easy at all. It’s just as hard to do this as it is to get a job that you go to every day, if not harder because it’s a daily hussle. This week pays for next week shenanigans. But then it does something fantastic. it forces you to minimize. To prioritize. Think about it…All that stuff around you..why do you have it? A lot of times, the reason why we have things is just to distract us, appease us, so that we can continue to do what it is we think we want to be doing or think we should be doing.

It wasn’t by accident that I made it to 31 without children. Being single, for the most part, is actually kind of awesome. Being alone? Not so much. So I look for friends. That pushes me out to. How long will this person and I be friends for? Will they still write me if I were to leave? Is this person even worth the trouble?

And so..I think I gave up my website because I’m still in a lot of movement. I need to figure out what I can and want to do. How to continue living this life. In the meantime, however, I’m living. I’m just living. Right now I’m resting. I didn’t realize I needed to. I didn’t realize I could. So I’m resting. Giving my body and mind time to adjust to all the craziness I put it through.

Am i going to stop doing the Love Letters?

I dont think so, no…I just need to figure out what it is I’m doing. In the meantime, today I scratched up an item on my bucket list. Actually, the first item on my bucket list. I did’t use to have one, but I figured in France, why not!

Today I went on a day trip to Bordeaux, and I had a glass of Bordeaux…in Bordeaux.

In a beautiful plaza that people dream of drinking wine. With a guy singing opera and playing the guitar. In positively charming company. (French guys, amirite?)

So….I hear you. I’m off Facebook and not everyone likes it, so I’ll get back on. I just have to set some intentions, and before I do that, I have to figure out what they are.

Thanks for still being there….For still reading and listening. I do this with you. 🙂