(Belated) Three Quarters of a Year in Review: Autumn and Winter 2021 + Spring 2022

Um…. what happened to time? I cannot believe that it’s already June 2022 when I’m writing this review (Edit: And publishing in January 2023). 2022 especially seems to have flown by.

Anxiety… It Sucks

One reason I feel this is because I was deep in hibernation for the first bit of the year. All of January I was recovering from leading my first end-of-year fundraising (for Sociocracy for All) and then in April I took three weeks recovering from another stressful series of fundraising related work (this time for Youth Power Coalition). Recovering is me hiding from the world, avoiding communicating with people (work and personal), and feeling guilty the whole time. Basically anxiety central.

I came out of my last fog though, thank goodness, and here are some things I want to implement in the future to manage my anxiety:

  • Just take the break – set my auto-responder, say I’m out of touch for a while, and be well. It’s better to communicate with people that I’ll be away than to ghost them.
  • Accept that I won’t do some things until the last minute – instead of being anxious that I’m not doing work that I think I should be doing and therefore creating a situation in which I’m just avoiding everything, I’ll just accept that it’s not going to happen until the last minute and skip the guilt.
  • Tell myself that my reward will be taking my anxiety level from 10 to an 8 – I always feel better once I get past the initial hurdle of just starting the thing I’m anxious about. Maybe I can rewire my brain to seek a reduction of anxiety as the reward.
  • Seek collaboration sooner – when I set meetings with people to work on a project together, that both forces me to have something ready by the time we meet and also makes the project better! That and I stop second-guessing my decisions.
  • Apologize when I do get back in contact – people will understand. I certainly don’t judge others poorly for disappearing, I understand we all have things going on, I don’t need to judge myself either.

As I navigate anxiety, I am incredibly grateful to my therapist and psychiatrist, and the public hospital insurance that makes it possible for me to see them without worrying about finances; my boyfriend who accepts me for who I am; and my friends and collaborators that also prioritize mental health.

In-Person Again… Wonderful but Weird

Speaking of friends and collaborators… I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to spend in-person time with people I haven’t seen for a very long time. These last two months, I participated in a work conference, attended a vow-renewal ceremony, watched Stars on Ice with my family, and had dinner and movies with a friend visiting from out-of-town. I also went rock climbing, started taking self-defense courses, attended college reunions, and went on a group bike ride. I’m taking advantage of the good outdoors weather, low COVID-19 cases, and my vaccinated friend group. But because it’s been two years since I’ve been in-person, when I first started meeting people in person I had thoughts that I have never had before. Am I making the right amount of eye contact? How do I look? Are people having a good time? I find it very, very odd but I’ve been getting over it with more practice.

The Peer Defense Project: Open up the Cages Summit

Vow Renewal

I have a friend who had to cancel her wedding due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was finally able to have the celebration she wanted in the form of a vow renewal + her son’s first birthday party. We then got to hang out the next day. ❤️

Princeton Reunions

Princeton hosts Reunions every year. I always forget how much I love Princeton until I arrive back on campus and then get hit with all the memories. I also get to visit and spend time with so many people.

AAPI Heritage and Healing Ride

Queens Pride Parade

Jackson Heights hosts the Queens Pride Parade. It’s an incredible celebration of Jackson Heights’s deep LGBTQ history. Read more at the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Here’s an excerpt:

“Jackson Heights has been home to LGBT residents since the 1920s, when a population boom included a significant number of Broadway theater artists who were attracted to the convenient subway commute from Times Square to the quiet, newly-built residential enclave. After the opening of LaGuardia Airport, gay travelers and flight attendants waited out layovers by visiting a small entertainment district on 37th Avenue. Beginning in the 1970s, Latino immigrants arrived in Jackson Heights in large numbers and, gradually, gay bars in the area catered predominantly to LGBT Latinos. Until the activism spurred on by the gay-biased murder of Julio Rivera in July 1990, however, the LGBT community of the neighborhood — and Queens in general — was largely invisible.

The Queens Pride Parade formed in response to Rivera’s murder and, more directly, to the 1992 homophobic outcry over the inclusion of gay and lesbian content in the Children of the Rainbow curriculum, which was designed to teach children tolerance of all of New York City’s diverse communities. As a result, current City Council Member Daniel Dromm, who was then a public school teacher in the borough’s Community School District 24 (where the controversy was centered), came out as openly gay and decided to counter the ensuing propaganda with a family-friendly celebratory parade that would promote LGBT visibility and pride, and be based in a neighborhood where many closeted gay people lived.”

Plants… Still Alive!

I’ve been learning from Indigenous movements to reconnect with earth and ancestors. While I have far, far to go, I am proud of my first baby steps.

These plants are Gen and Vieve, our Genevieve Basil. Genevieve basil, by the way, is a killer. We had two other herbs growing – parsley and dill – they didn’t stand a chance. Worked out for us because we didn’t use the other herbs, but whoa, it’s a plant eat plant world out there.

We made basil pesto with our first harvest. Not only was it delicious, but we were so proud of ourselves!

This is Cleo the cactus. I knew nothing about cacti when it arrived and have been really paranoid about potentially killing it. Apparently cacti can be over-watered, under-watered, sunburned, or not given enough sun, infected with fungus, among other things. Cleo has suffered through not getting enough sun, being in a pot that was too large for it, and being under-watered, but I think it’s okay, now! I see a growing root system and a nice, firm plant. I know that cacti really shouldn’t be in a plastic pot, but I decided in this case that it was better for Cleo that I be able to see the soil’s water level.

My building is also starting a community garden. I am looking forward to getting involved!

Edit: At the time of posting, only our basil plant survived. We also have since moved on to growing lettuce.

Date Night Recommendation… Happily!

My favorite new adventure is Happily, a service that sends all the materials you need for an indoor date. It brings the novelty I love because each date is a surprise, and it provides fun prompts for relationship check-ins.

Every kit has multiple activities. The one above, for example, included relationship conversation starters over the best lemonade I have ever had as well as all the materials needed to make string art. It was a lot of hard work so I’m extraordinarily proud of what we made.

Meanwhile, my favorite recipe was for Cookies and Cream Popcorn. SO GOOD. I most appreciate learning that I need to cool homemade popcorn to make it nice and crispy. I’ve made homemade popcorn before and it was always too soft. Now I have perfect popcorn at my fingertips any time I want it in the future.

Interested in trying Happily out? Use my referral link and get $10 off.

Everything Everywhere All at Once… You Need To See This Movie

I’m obsessed. Absolutely obsessed. I’ve already seen it in theater twice, recommend it to everyone I know, and am going to purchase the digital version so that I can organize a third viewing – this time online. For me, Everything Everywhere All at Once comes across as truth. Truth in how many Chinese American families interact, truth in the experience of ADHD, and truth in how we might survive in a world that feels so overwhelming.

Everything Everywhere All at Once Movie Trailer

Social Media… What Social Media?

Last year I decided to get off social media.

Facebook Post Announcement

I’ve appreciated the hours of time it’s given me back in life. I appreciate that I’m not creating content for a platform that incentivizes distraction. I appreciate that I no longer feel the need to respond to events as they happen but instead, reflect more – these past weeks have been particularly bad given the daily deluge of mass shootings. One was in New York, the state I live in, another was at a church that an uncle attends, and the third was at a school in Texas, the state I had also taught in. Just writing the previous sentence made me cry. I appreciate removing the pressure to perform.

At the same time, I find myself missing a couple of things I used to be able to do. Mostly quick, fun updates like, “this is me trying a rock climbing speed route for the first time.” I also miss the serendipity of reconnecting with people I haven’t been in contact with for a while. I’m not sure what the solution is, but for now, I’ll continue staying off.

Personal Finances… I’m Learning

Last time I wrote about becoming anti-capitalist. I’ve continued exploring what this means for me personally in action and philosophy.

Redistribution Circle. I’m part of a redistribution circle. Once a month our circle meets together to explore wealth building and redistribution together. At each meeting we select a member of our circle to receive $25 from each of the other members in support of whatever they’d like to accomplish. It was in this redistribution circle that I heard the most powerful thing about why we must work so urgently to build new systems – because the empire is going to collapse and we need new systems in place to catch us when we fall. Thank you Nafasi, for this framing.

The Next Egg. The Next Egg is a resource and community that shares the tools necessary for people to direct retirement savings into community. Events I’ve attended include “Can We Imagine A World Where Personal Security Doesn’t Require Individual Savings?” and “What IS Retirement Anyway?” I’m experiencing and contributing to community support all ready. Thank you so much to my patrons and Youth Power Coalition donors who are directing their excess wealth to making my organizing financially accessible. Absent capitalism financially valuing the work I do, I can rely only on community, and that can be a beautiful thing. I’m trying to do my part by adopting voluntary simplicity. I limit material consumption, seek community-organized/free activities when possible, and am on this journey of figuring out how to share my own financial resources.

Mutual Aid. I have been organizing with Mutual Aid NYC since the start of the pandemic. My question now is, how can we transition from structures borne out of crisis into structures built to last. I think it begins with my personal transformation. How do I live sustainably and in mutuality now?

The Buy Nothing Project. The Buy Nothing Project connects people through hyper-local giving. When I no longer needed my eyeglasses because I got LASIK surgery, I posted on my Buy Nothing Facebook group and randomly selected someone who said that they needed a free pair. When I needed a pipe snake, I posted my need and received a free one to use instead of purchasing my own. I also appreciate learning from their experience building a distributed community. What I noticed: strong community agreements, do it yourself onboarding, and non-hierarchy.

The Millionaire Next Door. The Millionaire Next Door explains how people who have accumulated wealth in the United States approach money. It explained SO much I didn’t know. I highly recommend checking this book out if, like me, you did not grow up in a household that regularly talked about maximizing income, acquiring assets, and investing.

Resourcing Youth Power Coalition. At the same time I’m exploring low-consumption, I’m also exploring abundance in mobilizing resources, especially for organizers within the Youth Power Coalition. I recognize that an all-volunteer effort is not sustainable while an all-paid staff effort isn’t, either, not when we live in a world that’s so inequitable. All volunteer is not sustainable because those most impacted by inequity are those who most need financial resources. Organizers need to be paid. At the same time, all paid is not sustainable because The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. I’ve also come to recognize that I need to advocate for funding the roles I currently hold because that’s what makes it accessible to the next role holders. Only by funding these roles can I ensure they can be passed on.

Resourcing Sociocracy for All. I am also now a fundraiser for Sociocracy for All, an organization dedicated to spreading the practice of sociocracy as a tool for creating a world in which everyone collaborates to meet their needs in equitable ways and in respect to all living things. In this role I’m working to build an entire fundraising system in partnership with the founders as opposed to being a founder myself. I’m appreciating the challenge!

Self-Defense… My Newest Activity

I’ve been wanting to learn self defense since forever. My previous training in martial arts focused on the forms and the sport, not the application of it in a real-life situation. My desire to learn self defense only increased with the rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve also had a past experience of being held up at knifepoint in the subway. My split-second response was to grab the attacker’s wrist to keep the knife away from me, but I didn’t know enough to make the attacker drop their knife. If they wanted to really hurt me, they could have. What I should have done instead was 1) keep situational awareness and avoid becoming a target in the first place, 2) throw my possessions over and flee while the attacker is distracted, and 3) if I had to engage, make it impossible for the attacker to counter.

Enter, Dragon Combat Club. Dragon Combat Club is a volunteer initiative to prepare people against violent anti-Asian racism. They give classes online and outdoors on a donation-based system. I just started a couple of weeks ago and appreciate them so much! I’m no longer rock climbing multiple times a week because of COVID-19 concerns and because it’s pricy. Self defense, then, is what’s keeping me active. I’m also enjoying the community. I’m meeting new people and reconnecting with my identity.

Participating in self-defense also makes me ponder about something I heard from Tyson Yunkaporta in Sand Talk: Changing the World through Indigenous Knowledge. “You can go your whole life and never have a fight but you do have to be somebody who has the agency, who has access to that agency of violence, and if you don’t have it, if it’s been taken away from you and concentrated into the hands of a selected group, whether that’s by gender or whether it’s by, oh it’s just the police force, no one else is allowed to do violence […] you’ve got concentrated violence in the hands of a few. You’ve got problems […] Violence has to be distributed evenly throughout that [dynamic] system. Violence is a part of it and when it’s distributed, it does really little damage.”

Youth Power Coalition… Year 2 Comes to an End

Our last event of the school year will be on June 26th from 10-11:30 AM Eastern on Zoom. We will spend the time reporting on our year, reflecting, then looking forward. It’s been an interesting year, especially as schools re-opened and founding members graduated. What we nailed down the first year was our governance. What we nailed the second was our story. Next year I want to nail execution.

Up Next

I’m not sure, yet, actually, beyond what I had already written above. This reflection though, was the first step of figuring that out.

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