The Gift of Idleness

Paradise is promised to us
through painstaking productivity
happiness is hanging there
just past more hard work

It's shameful to acknowledge exhaustion
after hours toiling in the sweltering sun
no one dares commit the sin of sitting down
swallowed up by the fear of being labeled lazy

Capitalism is cleaver if nothing else
convincing us to become our own slave drivers
soiling our own perceptions of what it means
to savor this one and only existence

Linking the concept of leisure with sloth
until we never stop moving for even a second
losing sight of our right to be idle
and enjoy the God-given gifts of this life

Standing still is an act of shocking rebellion
in a social system that expects you
to burn your own flesh to feed the never ending
fire of the economy and sacred stock market

These collective misguided morals congeal
making virtue synonymous with profit for the powerful
a seed of shame buried deep within the conscience
of every unfortunate American child

Your blood is worth only as much as the oil
that it can replace in the groaning machine of industry
keep making the products you will always be
too poor to consume yourself

Trying to make us forget that stillness
has been the wellspring of all great art and invention
a futile effort to make us too tired to revolt
they cannot choke off my awe of the open sky 
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Middle Class Values

Last Friday I went to a training and had the privilege of listening to Amy Jo Hutchison speak. If you aren’t familiar with that name, Amy is an economic justice advocate from West Virginia who has spoken before Congress about poverty and been a guest on Jon Stewart’s podcast, The Problem. Her keynote speech was about working with these struggling, underprivileged, poor communities.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything she had to say. I could have applauded after nearly every sentence. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to finally here someone stand up and say the things I have been saying to others in my field since I entered it six years ago. It never ceases to amaze me how many social workers disrespect, belittle, and even despise the very populations we are supposed to be serving. More coworkers of mine have voted against the wellbeing of our clients than vote to continue providing them with the social safety nets that they currently have, which are not nearly adequate.

During Amy Jo Hutchison’s keynote speech, she touched on stereotypes about poor people, the atrociously low minimum wage in America, and even the fact that we are not paying for “poor people to do nothing” with our taxes. We are paying for corporations to continue to not pay their employees fair wages. She had excellent real life examples of the impossible burden of trying to “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” in this country. I was deeply touched by her words, and was more than grateful to be in attendance to hear her speak.

However, there was one phrase that Amy said two different times throughout her talk that left a sour taste in my mouth. That phrase was “middle class values.” I couldn’t help but frown as these words left her lips. What are “middle class values”? Your values have nothing to do with your social or economic status. Middle class people do not have better values than people in poverty. Yet this is what she seemed to imply as she explained a scenario with a woman she knew who was complaining, as so many do, about people taking advantage of the system.

When this woman talked about mom’s getting food stamps and SSI that don’t have a job, Amy would speak up and say that she was one of those mom’s. The woman would quickly dismiss this and assure her that she “wasn’t talking about her.” Amy explained this disconnect as having to do with her having “middle class values.” She was able to blend in with people who were more financially well off than herself because she was privileged enough to spend time in their circles. I’m paraphrasing, but this is roughly what she was saying.

Now don’t get me wrong, Amy didn’t seem to be trying to put herself in a category above those who didn’t have “middle class values.” She wasn’t blaming people for the circumstances they were in, but she was making a statement that I felt showed remnants of unconscious, internalized classism. She didn’t even seem to realize how bad this part of her speech sounded. I wish I would have had the opportunity to speak to her privately and explain how I viewed that situation she described differently.

I would have told Amy that, from my perspective, “middle class values” was not what made this woman distinguish Amy from these other “lazy” poor mothers. The one and only difference was that this woman knew Amy. That’s it. That is the only distinction. I guarantee she wouldn’t be able to maintain her stereotypes toward anyone that she actually had the opportunity to know. It’s so much easier to demonize and disregard a person or group of people when they are just a caricature. Once you meet a person, it becomes apparent that they are in fact trying their best. That they have reasons for the decisions they’ve made. That they have struggles and intricate, complex lives which you have no right to judge them for.

I highly doubt Amy Jo Hutchison will ever come across this blog post. But if she ever did, I hope that she would appreciate what I’ve said here. I respect and admire her deeply. She is doing the world a great service by speaking about these important issues on the national stage. However, we all maintain insidious, unconscious biases that manage to slip by us. Despite all the speaking Amy has done to combat negative stereotypes about poor people, she still missed this one bit of classism in her speech. There is no such thing as “middle class values.” Middle class people do not have higher values, better manners, more intelligence, etc. than lower class people. I’m sure Amy would agree with this statement, and I hope she makes just that one little change in her future speaking engagements.

Self-Care Under Capitalism

Talk therapy can't curtail
financial inequality
there are no coping skills
that can overcome
capitalism

Society has found a way of
insidiously co-opting self-care
transforming it into a tool
for further oppression
and victim blaming

My yoga is a blessed balm
that soothes my chaffing soul
but it cannot numb the suffering
of the world the way it is with
a sun obscured by industry

I resent the way this covert corruption
soils such inherent goods
forcing me to balance getting better
with holding my gaze steady
on social injustice

I don't want my efforts at wellness
soured with the suspicion I'm being sedated
to better benefit the sinister systems in place
to be more comfortable under the thumb
of insurmountable greed

I will not be gaslit into blaming myself
for not being able to find contentment
in a broken world that could be better
but chooses to stay the same
due to a powerful few

I will not allow mental wellness
to be something to keep me complacent
I will still seek it, but instead use it
to give me the strength I need
to create change

Bored Without Work

I don’t know what to say to people that proclaim they would be “bored” if they didn’t have to work every day. I have to believe that I am just misunderstanding them somehow. They couldn’t possibly genuinely be saying that they are that empty, boring, and directionless as human beings. What do you MEAN you would be bored? I don’t think they grasp what that statement insinuates.

To me, when someone says they’d be bored if they never had to work again, it breaks my heart. Do they realize that means they have no personal motivation or interests to pursue? They really believe their heads are so empty that without someone else beating their back with a whip, they wouldn’t know how to move forward? They have no goals other than the ones set for them? I can’t imagine a sadder existence than that.

Also, have these people never been bored at work? I’m bored at work nearly 90% of the time anyway. Our system is set up illogically. We are forced to sit in offices for a certain amount of time regardless of how long it actually takes to complete the tasks we have for the day, leading us to actually be less productive as other (better) countries have demonstrated through shortened work days/weeks for their employees.

Maybe it’s more about the social stigma attached to not working. Perhaps these people have an image in their head that it’s either work 40+ hours a week, or literally sit on your couch 24/7 and watch TV. Capitalism has seeped so deeply into their psyches that they cannot fathom what it would mean to live for themselves. Maybe saying you’d be bored without work is a strange form of virtue signaling. I could never stop working. I have too much self-respect and am a motivated, productive person. I enjoy contributing to society. There is always the subtle insinuation that those who don’t work a 9-5 job do not contribute, which is obviously not true.

I personally think many peoples’ talents are wasted by the way our society is set up. I think I would be able to offer society much more value if I were able to spend my time as I pleased, working towards my own interests instead of struggling and exhausting myself in a structure set up by other people in which I simply do not fit. If everyone wasn’t constantly expending all of their energy stressing about money and working for other people, who knows what amazing contributions individuals would be able to make? Even if you already work in a creative field or are self-employed, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to take into consideration what other people want or what would make the most money? You’d be able to be more true to your own interests and creative ideas. You’d have so much more freedom.

It also saddens me to imagine most people seem to be unable to even conceive of activities other than work that would be fulfilling. Even if you enjoy the work you’re doing, like I do, I would still prefer to not have to do it. That’s not to say you’d have to stop either. It would just mean you weren’t dependent on it in order to feed yourself. Just that small change would inherently make the work itself more enjoyable. There have been studies that show even when you like an activity, if you’re paid for it, it becomes less pleasurable. Your mind begins to rationalize that you are doing it, not for the enjoyment, but for the money, which is less fun.

If you are someone who believes you’d be bored without the need to toil for our capitalist overlords, here are just a few of the myriad of options you could devote your time and energy to:

  1. Volunteer work
  2. Activism
  3. Learn a new skill/hobby
  4. Learn an instrument
  5. Study a different language
  6. Go back to school to learn about a subject you enjoy
  7. Make art
  8. Spend more time in nature
  9. Travel
  10. Spend more time with family and loved ones
  11. Workout
  12. Practice yoga/meditation
  13. Invent something
  14. Clean
  15. Home improvement projects
  16. Write
  17. Read
  18. Draw

I could go on, but you get the point. There are a limitless amount of things that you could do besides work! You really wouldn’t find any of these alternative activities adequate to keep you from boredom? Or are you just considering some of these things as work? If you don’t have to do it for a paycheck, it’s not work. I don’t mean literally any amount of physical or mental exertion when I say work. I mean traditional employment. There is a big difference between doing something because you want to and doing something because you have to, even when it’s something you love.

Capitalism

Capitalism slinks through filthy city streets
with bloodied paws and heaving breath
snarling at the huddled masses
it had once offered hope

There are plenty of those
who still believe the lie
we were all promised
of possibility and upward mobility
productivity and endless progress

Hungry eyes follow trim and tailored suits
down the avenue of ivory towers 
chapped lips mouth the words
"if only I was good enough"
from sallow faces with sunken cheeks

The flurry of chaos
a flock of flapping pigeons
fighting over forgotten french fries
idolizing the eagles
they were told they might someday be

The sickening inward momentum
spurred onward by imagined sins
stealing the joy out of simple pleasures
productivity and profit
replaced purpose long ago

Corruption and greed infiltrate everything
every soul a commodity to be exploited and consumed
egregious inequality passed off as objective justice
sour, scornful faces point fingers
at the people who are suffering

It's your fault if you fail
the mantra of Manhattan
sowing self hatred within misfortune
the cruel optimism of the elite
blame handed out as bread

Don't fall for the fiction
that this system is fair
the land of the free is stained
with red blood, green bills,
and the rusty metallic taste of coins 

The Intersection of Spirituality and Business

People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish desires and schemes that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For love of money is the root of all of evil and some having pursued its power, fall from faith and end in sorrow.

Saint Timothy
Money and Spirituality. Group Game, Russian House #1, Jenner, 20 June 2021

Affirmations are still new territory for me. I’ve been trying to incorporate them into my life for a few months now. I have a couple apps that will generate one randomly for you every day. Although I still find the ones I come up with myself to be the most beneficial, which is to be expected. Getting back to the apps though, there are all genres of affirmations to choose from. There are affirmations for love, health, positive energy, self care, inner peace, etc. These are all beautiful and exactly what I anticipate an affirmation to feel/sound like. The ones that stand apart for me are the “financial” or “monetary” affirmations. These ones leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I’ve been seeing a lot of these types of affirmations recently. I’ve also noticed the realm of manifesting being infiltrated by similar motivations. Far be it from me to tell anyone what to do in their own spiritual or self-healing journey, but in my opinion, these money focused affirmations and manifestation efforts are ill-suited to the overall energy of any spiritual movement. Self-love, self-care, healing, personal growth, even abundance do not have anything to do with property or possessions, monetary or otherwise. The journey of the soul is not concerned with such such trivial, worldly pursuits and interests.

The idea of money and, what I perceive as, the ego’s desire for monetary wealth clash horrendously with things like affirmations, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, etc. Yet as these practices become more and more popular, I see them being co-opted by capitalism, self-interest, and greed. I’ve heard many of the otherwise positive yogis, psychologists, life coaches, and so on that I follow attempt to justify their focus on and mild obsession with business and making money. There is a hint of defensiveness as they try to explain why they have every right to charge people for their advice and services and partner with toxic corporate advertisers. They even lay the groundwork to promote others doing the same thing.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with starting your own business or wanting to live comfortably in life. However, these things are separate from spirituality. Trying to intertwine these opposing energies is damaging to the pure, selfless, loving nature of the spiritual practice. If you want money because you believe it will afford you safety and peace, why not skip the middle man and focus on the safety, peace, and ease that you are truly seeking? Maybe these things will come to you in the form of greater income, but money itself should never be the goal.

When it comes to the purely business side of things, I’m not exactly sure what position I hold. I don’t expect yoga teachers or life coaches to work for free. They have to make a living somehow. Even so, it has always felt dirty to me to charge for my classes. Especially charging as much as my studio does. My goal when I became a yoga teacher was not to make money. It was to give back to my community by sharing the transformational gift of yoga with as many people as I could. I had always planned to get my certification and teach for free, whether in person or online. My teachers even addressed this urge during our training in order to discourage such behavior. They framed it as if I would be cheapening the entire industry and making it harder for other teachers to make a living, which was not my intention. I guess with this in mind, I don’t think it’s unethical to charge a reasonable amount in order to support yourself, but I draw the line when people start getting rich. At that point I do really feel as though you’re taking advantage of people in a particularly egregious way. It reminds me of those awful “for profit” ministries.

In an ideal world, I think all of these spiritual teachings and services would be purely donation based. Then, those that were able could give more, while still allowing the less fortunate to have access to these ancient healing methods. I don’t know how we could make this work in practice, but the energy of this idea feels more right to me. Otherwise, I am just reminded of those awful “for profit” ministries taking advantage of people who are desperate to improve their lives. Spirituality, like traditional religions, should not be about accumulating personal wealth. It is completely antithetical to the ideas and practices being taught. As I said, I don’t know what the answer is, nor do I pretend to. I just had to speak my mind about this issue and how much it concerns me. Let me know your thoughts on this. Sometimes I feel like the only one who finds it unsettling while it appears to become more and more prominent every day.

Financial psychologist: Why it's important to ask yourself this money  question now

Your Income Does Not Reflect Your Worth

There are many forms of income inequality in America. Racism and sexism are evident in the compensation women and people of color receive in comparison to their white counterparts. I am baffled by the conservative push to indoctrinate children with the idea that we are all equal and that society is a fair game that, if played correctly, they can succeed in. For me, this was a bright and cheery message that made me happy and proud of humanity as a child, but it makes the painful truth of reality that much harder to swallow once you have to face it as an adult. I feel continuously confronted by the juxtaposition of the things I was raised for half my life to believe and what I experience as a woman.

I think there are a couple reasons why conservatives fight so vehemently for this picturesque worldview to be the only one our children are exposed to. Firstly, they truly believe it themselves. I’ve always thought of conservatives as primarily wealthy or well off people. They desperately want to believe that their good fortune is a direct reflection of their hard work and value to society. “I earned my place.” so on and so forth. It makes them feel badly about themselves to consider that they had a leg up compared to others. The poor conservatives that dominate my small area of the country are a bit more complicated to explain. I have to assume that despite their personal struggles, they want to believe that if they only work hard enough, they too can be wealthy and successful someday. On the other hand, perhaps its a subconscious form of self-hatred. Maybe they believe that they deserve the pitiful lot they’ve gotten in life through there own failings and flaws. It’s almost harder to accept that our society simply isn’t fair.

Secondly, I think that the data reflecting the income inequality can be confusing and misleading depending on what factors you choose to look at. For instance, not every job comes right out and pays women and people of color a lower wage for the same position. However, these populations are far less likely to be hired, promoted, receive raises, and move up in the hierarchy of their company. Whether this be through implicit or explicit bias is somewhat irrelevant. The fact is that people are suffering because of it. In addition to that, fields that are primarily women dominated are some of the lowest paying fields whereas male dominated fields tend to be the highest paid. Shockingly enough you can actually observe this trend. As the composition of gender within a field changes, so does the pay rate.

What fields women excel in and find meaningful are viewed more negatively and given less value by society, despite the actual necessity and importance of these careers. I don’t think anyone would argue that we don’t need social workers, child care, or teachers to be part of our society. In fact, I would say people would place these fields above things like CEOs, marketing executives, stock brokers, and lawyers in terms of importance. At least, I would. While these other, higher paying jobs are important, I don’t see them as the backbone of our society in the way a teacher is.

I think one of the saddest aspects of this dilemma is that it doesn’t seem to have any hope of correcting itself through the free market. If women (or people in general) began to avoid these jobs, perhaps they would begin to raise the pay and benefits in order to attract more people. They don’t have to, however, because for the most part, I think the people working these jobs do it because they see the inherent value in them. No one that’s a teacher or a social worker is doing it for the money. They are doing it for the children and disadvantaged populations that they serve. Compassion and self-sacrifice are the hallmarks of these careers.

Perhaps even more upsetting than that, I’m not sure things would get better for society overall if these jobs suddenly became the highest paying. I definitely would hate to see people in these fields doing it solely for the money. Imagine schools filled with teachers that didn’t even care about their students or the quality and value of their work. Not to say there aren’t any teacher like this even now, but I think there would be far more if it was a way to get rich. Although it still might be nice if they would at least pay these workers enough to live and to pay for the schooling required to obtain the job in the first place.

With that said, I really don’t have a solution to these egregious injustices that permeate our society and workforce. I just want anyone reading this to know that they shouldn’t feel badly about being paid so little for whatever work they might be doing. One of the important things we’ve learned from the pandemic is that “essential” workers are also some of the most underpaid. So while you might be internalizing the idea that what you do doesn’t matter or isn’t difficult due to the number staring back at you from your paycheck, don’t be fooled. What you do does matter. Don’t fall into the trap of believing we are fairly compensated for our time and labor. In the same vein, don’t assume you are better than anyone earning less than you either.

The judge that sits behind the desk in his ornate courtroom may hand down the sentences to the perpetrators kids disclose about, but the people I work with are the ones that have compiled the evidence used against them that was needed to reach that conviction. Who do you believe has helped the child more in the end, the prosecuting attorney or the criminally underpaid therapist that has helped them cope with and navigate their trauma for years after the fact? Even if you believe their contributions are equal, one makes the same amount in one year that the other makes in one week. Even so, take pride in all that you do to contribute to your community whether you work as a waitress or as a doctor. Neither person has more value or is more worthy of their place in society than the other.

Top 9 Reasons to Study a Social Work Degree in 2022 - MastersPortal.com

Creating Fiercely Loyal Employees

You may have heard about a Seattle CEO that decided to raise the minimum salary for all of his employees to 70K. At the time of his decision, all of the right-wing pundits came out of the woodwork to spew hatred and vitriol. They were not only hoping that he would fail and prove their fear mongering, money grubbing tactics and advice right, but I think they were also petrified that he would succeed and show the world the inherent falsities behind their model of selfishness and greed.

Deep down I truly believe all the multi-millionaires and billionaires and corrupt politicians know that raising the minimum wage wouldn’t pose any threat to the success of the company overall. I do think they believe it will hurt their personal bottom line though, which is all they care about. They have no interest in only making 100k a year instead of 500k even if it ensures that the people working for them, who are creating all of their wealth, are able to live with some modicum of dignity and security. The fact that CEOs receiving a lower salary wouldn’t affect their quality of life at all, but would make a world of difference to possibly hundreds of other people does not matter to them at all.

That is why I think the progressives are going about it in the wrong way. They need to stop stressing the moral atrocity angle of it and instead speak to what these greedy people do care about, themselves. After a few years, Dan Price, the CEO I mentioned earlier was surprisingly not bankrupt. His company hadn’t failed, nor had his quality of life decreased, in fact both his company and his life had improved. I know a lot of people who have bought into the myth of capitalism would like to believe that this is just a fluke, but it was the obvious and expected result for people like myself.

So what happens when you pay your employees a living wage? The company doesn’t go under, nor does it stay the same with a slightly smaller windfall for the CEO, it grows and flourishes. The reason for that is because if you have a job that actually pays you fairly, you will do whatever it takes to keep that job. This is the part of the equation that everyone always seems to leave out. Honestly, even if the company is too small to pay their employees any more, just treating them like fucking human beings will have the same effect.

I can say from personal experience that I go above and beyond for my job, and I do so happily, because I adore my coworkers, management, and the organization as a whole. I may not make as much money as I should, but our organization simply doesn’t have the money to pay us more. What they do have is respect for us as people, which is something I’ve found to be just as rare as a job that pays well. And for me, it’s even more important than the money.

Now, you might be asking, why does it matter if the employees are motivated to stay with the company? Well imagine how much money the company actually saves when it doesn’t have to spend huge amounts of time every year training new employees to do the exact same things the old employees already knew how to do and had experience doing. When employees actually stay at their job for years at a time, they become much better at it. They are also more motivated to perform well as opposed to employees that hate their job. With that experience and motivation, employees add a lot more value to their companies. It spurs innovation and exceptional service, which only makes the company do even better, ultimately leading to more money for the people at the top, even though they may initially have to make less to get them there.

At Dan Price’s company, they hit hards times like the rest of the world when the pandemic began. But you know what happened? The employees hadn’t become “entitled” or “greedy” demanding more and more money despite the financial state of the company. No, they voluntarily took pay cuts in the beginning stages of Covid to ensure that the would continue to have a company to work for. They even pooled their money together and bought Price a Tesla for his birthday. They love their boss, because he values them as people. They are grateful to him. It’s because of him that so many of them were able to buy their first houses and start families. I’m sure for a lot of them, it was the first time they were given any respect or consideration by the people at the top of their organization. And with the work environments that exist today, that means everything.

Paying your employees what they deserve to be making already and treating them with respect, isn’t some benevolent act of charity. It’s just smart business. Even if you only care about yourself and your bottom line, it’s still the right thing to do. I truly hope to one day see more CEOs following Price’s example. I also hope that politicians and political pundits would start emphasizing the stupidity of continuing on the way these companies are now. They are acting against their own interests as well as their employees’ and our society as a whole. Few things are more profitable or personally rewarding as having fiercely loyal employees all working passionately toward the same goal for a company and a group of people that they love.

3 Advantages to Consider for Your Kosher Certification - OK Kosher

Pointing Fingers

How to Stop Vendor Finger Pointing | Digital Dealer

The climate change debate continues to frustrate me in ways I can’t even explain properly. As more and more people come to accept the fact that global warming is happening and is also manmade, now the issue of what can we do about it has finally emerged. Obviously, in my opinion, there is truly nothing we can do at this point to undo the irrevocable damage we have already caused which will continue to collapse larger and larger ecosystems until human life can no longer be sustained on this earth. It’s disheartening to see that most of the world still seems to think everything will work out somehow in our favor.

Despite knowing we are already doomed, it is really irritating to me to watch the rest of the world wasting the short time we have left pointing fingers at one another. The social justice warriors online are trying to place all of the blame on corporations like the oil and gas industries. At the same time, those corporations are trying to pin the responsibility on the individual consumer. Meanwhile, perhaps the biggest contributor to climate change (the meat and dairy industries) continue on as the leading cause of deforestation, desertification, species extinction, habitat destruction, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, etc.

I find this frustrating because it’s so stupid. Two things can be true at once. Yes, the gas and oil industries are part of the problem, undoubtedly. However, these industries would not continue if we were not supporting them with our money. It’s a little easier to play the victim when only considering oil and gas companies. How can any one person practically boycott an industry so essential to our every day lives and survival? The most I can do is not work for them or vote for politicians that prop them up. However, I am not rich enough to buy an electric car or install solar panels on my house. I have to continue putting gas in my car to get to work. Plastic (which is made using oil) seems nearly impossible to cut out of my life completely. Most of the things we use everyday are made at least partially of plastic.

Until we implement plans to divest from fossil fuels as a nation, as well as globally, there isn’t much point in blaming the consumer or the corporation. We are mutually benefiting from one another at the Earth’s expense. Yes, these industries may have lobbyists that are making it harder for our representatives to remain unbiased, but that is a failure of government, not these industries. Capitalism has taught us to make money at any cost, and that is what they are doing. For the most part, they aren’t breaking any of our societal rules. Our government has written corruption into law.

On the other hand, no one wants to mention the meat and dairy industries’ role in climate change. Why not? Well, I think, among many other reasons, it’s because then we, the consumers, are very obviously largely responsible. While it may be unrealistic to give up oil and plastics, giving up meat and dairy is something that we are all capable of as individuals. In a single day, the world’s population could topple these unnecessary and heinous industries.

Arguments that the individual can’t influence the market have already been proven false. Just in the decade that I’ve been vegan, I’ve seen changes with my own eyes. When once there was only one, disgustingly awful veggie burger in my local grocery store, there are now too many options to name. I have multiple options at non-vegan restaurants. Hell, even Burger King has the Impossible Whopper! The largest names in the animal agriculture industry such as Tyson Foods and United Dairy are already beginning to invest in meat and dairy replacements due to the impact vegans and vegetarians have made. Imagine if we were able to get the government to stop subsidizing them. They would go under within a year.

Because of all of this and more, I am so sick and tired of hearing everyone try to shift the blame onto someone else so that they don’t have to make any changes in their personal lives. This is no time for the blame game. At the end of the day, we can only change our own behavior. The only question we need to be asking ourselves right now is: What can I do to make the biggest impact? Even if corporations were primarily to blame, we cannot wait around, bitching and moaning. We can’t expect a capitalist, corporate entity to make moral decisions.

Few things irritate me more than when people refuse to acknowledge their role in an issue. Why is it so difficult for people to admit that they messed up? I will be the first to admit that I could be doing more to make a difference. As I believe it’s already too late, I’m honestly not even expecting anyone to change. It just feels like the very least we could do is own up to our mistakes as individuals and as a species. But by all means, lets just continue to argue while the Earth burns to ashes all around us.

How investors, and everybody, should think about climate change

Scheduling Creativity

Don’t wait to be compelled to do great work.

Richie Norton

I’ve always been a creative person. As children, my sister and I spent hours drawing every day. I honestly probably have my parents’ relative poverty to thank for that. When you come from a family that doesn’t have the money to take you places and buy you new toys all the time, you learn how to entertain yourself with creativity. Not only did we draw constantly, we even made little clay figures, modeling them after Pok√©mon, or what have you, that we couldn’t afford. It’s funny how the things you once felt cheated by in life become the things you are most grateful for and vice versa.

Anyway, for the majority of my life, my creativity was dependent on “inspiration.” Initially, this wasn’t hard to come by. It is easy to feel inspired and excited by simple things when you are a child. However, once I got into high school, that inspiration started to dwindle. This could also have been a result of my increasing anxiety causing me to start overthinking my process. Whatever the cause, I began creating less and less. It didn’t seem worthwhile to make the effort if the outcome wasn’t going to be something amazing. My ideas weren’t good enough, in my opinion. I wasn’t good enough.

Eventually I stumbled upon the fact that many great artists and writers had struggled with the same issue of motivation. It wasn’t that history’s greatest works always spurred from incredible ideas or the energy of inspiration, rather they came from dedication, hard work, and persistence. Many writers swear by having a writing routine where they write a certain amount every day, regardless of if they feel like it or have anything interesting to say. Despite this, I continued to resist this idea for years. Only recently have I begun to see the value in this method.

The hardest part for me, is accepting that you will certainly create more, but each work may not be as incredible as ones that have been passionately inspired. However, with this regular practice, when inspiration does strike, you will be able to use the skills you have been honing to produce the best version of the work you’ve been inspired to create. In addition to that, inspiration will find you more often if you work at it instead of just waiting passively for it to find you.

Since I began writing and drawing every single day a few years ago, it is stunning how much I’ve improved. (I actually don’t know if my writing has really improved, but my drawing definitely has.) Perhaps more important than the higher quality work I am able to produce, is what I have learned along the way. I’ve learned that the outcome, the product, of creativity isn’t what I’m really after. There is a special joy in producing something from within our own minds and seeing it materialize in the world. Writing and drawing and other artistic endeavors are not a means to an end. They are an end in themselves. They are like dancing.

Dancing is certainly a form of art, but unlike other artistic modalities, these is less focus on a “product” and more focus on the experience in the moment, whether or not their is an audience. Capitalism has obscured and cut down the spirit of creativity within each of us. It has taught us that only certain people are “talented.” Only these talented few have any right to spend their time in artistic pursuits. And even then, only if they are intending to market their work in some way and make a profit. Never simply for personal fulfillment or fun.

Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself “creative” or “talented” I believe that artistic expression is an essential, inherent part of being human. I also believe that it is one of the only ways that we are truly free. Don’t allow anyone to take away that freedom. Don’t allow the world to sever the connection to your imagination. I guarantee you that you friends and family would love to see what you are able to create, irrespective of how “good” it may be. Few things make me happier than seeing the drawings that the children I work with make. Some of my favorite art has been made by my best friend who I’m sure wouldn’t consider herself very talented.

Talent is irrelevant. Art is a glimpse into the mind, the soul, of another. There is an inexplicable intimacy to art. That is what makes it beautiful. So please, express yourself freely in whatever way that brings you joy. Share yourself with the world. Make creativity a regular practice. Even if only for yourself. It’s worth it.

17 Ways to Develop Your Creativity