Finding Spaces

Opening up new doors to walk through
Rooms tall and spacious
Full of delight
Where anything can and does happen
Swimming in good vibes, illusions
Wading through needs, possibilities
Standing in one spot
In a room full of people
Where the air flows cool and you feel so comfortable
That everyone wants to be around you

How to Love

Some great quotes from today’s church service, delivered by author and Reverend Jan Christian (quote authors not all known!):

“Going back can change the way we go forward.”

“Violence arises when we don’t know what to do with our suffering. If you don’t transform your pain, you’ll transmit your pain.”

“It is our suffering that connects us as a human family.”

“The beginning of love is to accept others as they are, and not to twist them to fit our own image.”

“Do you want to be right or do you want a relationship?”

“We are hungry, are we not, for safe spaces to speak from the heart. Places where we do not rush to judge, to fix, to blame.”

“Give up our need to approve or disapprove.”

“In many ways we let our attachment to being right be more important to our relationships and connection to each other.”

“Listen with compassion to others.”

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Go love one another, as I have loved you.’ That’s it.”

“We need not think alike to love alike.”

“If you cannot sing like angels, if you cannot speak before thousands, you can give from deep within you. You can change the world with your love.” Sally Rogers


Into the new chairs
Feeling so much more comfortable
In my skin
Had to leave and come back
Accepting my silly drives
And my youth

So much more patient now
Respectful of the ties that bind
Aware of my surroundings
And the genius currents of fate
I swim with more grace and awe
A wink to the universe

A Good Massage

A good massage will feel like a spiritual experience! It will feel like the therapist is “reading your mind.” That is because massage is like a dance (I would say it’s like sex, but seeing as how we try so hard to keep those industries separate it’s a bad analogy!), where the therapist can feel what needs to be worked on, is tuned in to your body’s acceptance or resistance to his/her pressure levels, and adjusts automatically to what is encountered. Massage is a form of meditation for the therapist in that sense, where the mind is clear and focused, not unlike a good athlete will keep their mind clear and calm, so as to be at their most reactive/responsive state to whatever will be encountered.

I think I need a massage.

Followup – Seeing Red

So, as promised, I’m following up on a hypothesis I decided to test out this weekend: whether wearing red would be more effective for gathering signatures for a political cause. (See: “Seeing Red: To Gather More Signatures for a Good Cause”; Also “Competence: An Informal Makeup Experiment”)

I must say I was quite pleased with the results. While I can’t verify anything I’m about to conjecture with hard numbers, I think this hypothesis holds promise.

So I chose a long-sleeved red shirt covered by a feminine-cut red hoodie with a simple, red girlie flower detail on the front to wear with some bell-bottomed jeans. What I noticed was that my charm was more effective with men for sure, in fact women walking by with male partners or pairs of two women tended to give me the competitive stink eye as a primal reaction before barely listening to what I was saying–not universally, some women did stop and talk with me–but I had better luck with men in pairs, and black men with or without a woman next to them (black men tend to find me more irresistible in general for some reason). The crowd heading to the concert in Stern Grove this weekend was more heavily black so this worked to my extra advantage.

All I had to do was say hello, and once a man (white or black) realized that a woman wearing red was saying hello to them, I could see something go off in their eyes for a split second that was drawing them to me, like I was reeling them in, and I had about 10 seconds to say something that would entice them to sign our postcards. I was getting at LEAST as many signatures as the other 3 in our group, and some people I connected with did stop at the last guy to sign his petition after connecting with me. We kind of operated as a unit because we were so close together.

The scenario was that people were walking down a hill quickly past us to get to the concert, so we had very little time to engage them. I was the only volunteer wearing a red shirt. There were two women, and two men; they were mostly in blue, green, or brown. One older, and one younger in each pair. Obviously we had to use the right words along with the right outfit to really snag our audience. I found a direct and personal approach worked best. Ask them right away to “Sign the postcard” use a couple key words “expose SUPER-PAC funding” of “political ads” and that we had “3 weeks left” to get the bill passed. Avoid the word “help” us. I noticed that that created confusion that we couldn’t fix in 3 seconds. “Do they want money? What kind of help? I don’t have time to help,” they seemed to be thinking. They did seem to notice I was there, which gave them a slight pause too. The red stood out against the trees in the background and at least made people wonder what we were doing.

Further evidence of the red appeal: Later when I was going to catch the train home, I made a mad-dash for a train I saw just sitting at the station. I was 3/4 the way up the ramp, thinking I’d get lucky, when the train took off. I saw the conductor’s blank face in the rear-view mirror and I jokingly pointed at him and mouthed the words “I know you saw me!” and he ACTUALLY stopped the train full of people and motioned for me to jump off the platform and run up to catch him and get on the train. I have to think my red top pulled at his heartstrings a little bit ;-) I then proceeded to sit next to and have a lovely conversation with a guy who had stayed up all night and was having a rough day “until he saw me.”

A couple days prior, I wore a red shirt out in downtown SF just for more data and was actually somewhat alarmed at the attention I was getting. I passed at least five men within five minutes who I felt looked me deeply in the eyes with an “I want to f*** you” message being strongly communicated. This level of attention was certainly above what I would consider to be normal, even for a decent-looking chick like me. So that was pretty strong confirmation of the red data I’ve seen on the internet as well.

I would definitely wear red again to collect signatures, I think this was a clear win this weekend.

What kind of fun have you been having with red?

Political Compassion and Maternity Leave Musings

I saw this chart a friend shared on Facebook, and I wondered if there was any link between how much leave a country mandates for its mothers versus how much social compassion exists in that country. To start answering this, I wanted to look at the economic disparities within the countries. I ended up making a chart of the number of weeks of mandatory paid maternity leave per country (as a percent of Canada’s 50 weeks) versus something I coined as the “Decision Makers Compassion Rating”, which is how much the average household makes per year compared to that country’s minimum wage. The idea being that if the average person makes double what a person on minimum wage makes, they are more likely to be a voter and a decision maker, and they are now so far removed from the less fortunate person’s circumstance that social care may lag. This, of course, assumes that wealthier people have more political sway.

The statistics are not perfectly researched (harder to find for South Africa and Pakistan, for example), but it is clear the the US ranks very very low (2nd only to Mexico on this chart) on the Compassion Rating as well as providing 0 weeks mandatory leave for mothers. The 48% Compassion Rating means the average US household takes in 52% more than the minimum wage earner.

Canada is not much better, showing the average Canadian household makes 40% more than a Canadian working minimum wage. So maybe its 50 weeks a year is a wonderful fluke!

Most of the other Compassionate countries on this chart do not have a wide income disparity between the average household and those making minimum wage. Surprisingly the numbers are above 90% in many cases. Exceptions are Mexico, Japan, and Spain.

A few countries got left off because apparently there is no minimum wage in a few countries. Wages there are determined through bargaining agreements. Learned something new…

Not sure if the evidence is conclusive, but it’s a start to a hypothesis…

Daddy Issues and Reincarnation


Reflecting tonight…one of the greatest tragedies of my business closing in January 2011 was that I was so afraid i’d get into trouble with the city that I didn’t even try to approach them to ask for help or leniency, even when one person suggested it. I think this could be a great, harrowing example of controlling parental authority energy affecting a grown woman. I had a thriving business that the clients, neighborhood, vendors, and landlord loved. And yet I was too afraid to approach a district supervisor to ask for leniency or help in expediting our permit process, having had the city drag its feet for over 8 months, making zero progress. Looking back on the situation, I can now see how conceivably the city could have understood my situation and, with my bright record of having perfectly permitted my previous two spaces could have sensed my good intentions. Yet I feared punishment, and in a rare act of erring on the conservative side, I closed doors. Of course there were other factors, but that one stands out tonight as something I’ve never noticed about that situation.

I think there’s also something to be said about having grown up lower middle class, or higher poor class, haha, that fed me with a steady stream of messages like: The rich are greedy and want to keep the poor poor, politicians are only here to screw us over for their own benefit, etc. I think subconsciously I still have some purging to do from those mantras that brainwashed me as a child. They keep you from reaching out to your community for help when you need it, telling you that you are forever on your own and that others don’t want you to do well, which I’ve really found not actually to be the case. Yes, success at first can alienate some people around you who may feel jealous (witness my last two college roommates who seethed in self pity at my “I got a job!” celebration dinner). But on a whole, if you succeed, that means you’ve probably created something that benefits the community, and it is in the community’s best interest to then help you succeed further, in a positive feedback loop.

I suppose this revelation comes on the downside of tonight’s last astrology class in a four-week session. It’s kind of like going to therapy in a way. You do a lot of talking in a group about how your life makes sense to you through the symbolism on the charts.

Another revelation that came out of tonight was a new way for me to think about reincarnation. I’ve always had trouble with the concept of a soul, and worse, a soul which shows back up in another human body. But the idea that humans are born of light, that is, radiation from the sun and the way it became scattered or absorbed actually caused life to happen in all its myriad forms. So what is dying and being reborn on our planet is not souls so much as it is light running its course from mutation to entropy. THAT I am comfortable with. :)

Seeing Red (to gather more signatures for a good cause)

Time for a new experiment! I’m on a team trying to get AB1648 passed in CA, the CA DISCLOSE ACT, which basically forces (shady) political ads to disclose who ACTUALLY funded the advertisement.

So I had this idea that if I’m going to help collect signatures, I could use SCIENCE to help us maximize our effectiveness. Up until now, the campaign has been wearing GREEN shirts when gathering signatures. My hypothesis is that wearing RED shirts will get us more signatures. What do you think?

Funny, as I gave the opposite advice to the SAVE the RAVE committee when we were preparing to appear at City Hall to speak as a group. I suppose I didn’t want the ravers to come off as aggressive people, as we were trying to plead the case that electronic dance music wasn’t a threat to youth nor law enforcement. I think it worked for us not to wear red in that case!

Red helps you stand out:

Men are friendlier to women who wear red:

Women are more attracted to men who wear red:

Red intimidates your competition or at least puts the judges in your favor:

Results to come Sunday afternoon!

Brainz and Being Neurotic

The last couple of days I’ve felt somewhat neurotic. It helps to remember that that is part of the human experience. We are neurotic–literally–creatures with a central nervous system, including brain matter and retina. What we see or remember triggers the brain to send the body signals to take action in favor of self-protection.

It’s easy to start hating your brain after a while. It’s always telling you how awful things are and causing you to feel pain, or making you want to run back to things that made you feel good, or safe. That’s why so many traditions have emphasized the practice of being heart-centered. People always say things like “Trust your instincts!”, but instincts can be brain-centered or heart-centered. I’m still not super clear on how to tell if you are moving through the heart, but it does help to physically connect with the heart to get its beat, so to speak. I imagine that focusing the mind on the heart allows the chemicals or signals from our thoughts time to mix so that we can act in a more integrated way.

I think those of us with more neurotic tendencies probably have nervous systems on higher alert and we benefit most from practices that literally drain the body of excess nervous energy (vigorous exercise), or slow down the heart and quiet the mind (yoga, breathwork).

But we are here to have a human experience, nerves and all, so the next time you are driving yourself crazy, stop and remember just how wonderful it is that you can do that at all ;-)