Welcome

When I dream alone, it is just a dream. When we dream together, it is the beginning of reality.” –Brazilian proverb

We are all muses. Through our intentions and interactions, we have the power to inspire personal and political change.

The purpose of The Activist’s Muse is to:

  • Encapsulate the various ideas that have infiltrated my heart and my mind
  • Explore my ideas through writing and share them with the progressive community
  • Examine my personal experience through a social and political lens
  • Enhance critical thought with curiosity, creativity, and compassion
  • Expand our individual and collective understanding of progressive ideas
  • Connect progressives around the world to provoke conversations and promote community

This blog is my playground and laboratory. Everything that I write is intended to be the beginning of a conversation, not an ending. I invite you to play and to explore with me.

Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question.” — Niels Bohr

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Meet the Muses: Wisdom

In this installment of Meet the Muses, I’m going to introduce you to Wisdom.

Wisdom is a mysterious presence that is multiple and continually evolving. They adore seeking with curiosity and openness, cherishing their loving relationship with uncertainty. Wisdom has many expressions including nature, conscience, intuition, insight, and ideas. They are both complex and simple, nuanced and subtle. Wisdom is the wellspring of eloquence, brilliance, clarity, and understanding. 

In the next installment of Meet the Muses, I’ll introduce you to Community.

Meet the Muses: Integrity

In this installment of Meet the Muses, I’m going to introduce you to Integrity.

Integrity is all, they are whole. They reflect consistency, patterns, and connections. Integrity inspires alignment and resonance, they provoke our awareness and attunement. Integrity reflects nuance and context. They continually move toward balance and harmony with resilient energy. 

In the next installment of Meet the Muses, I’ll introduce you to Wisdom.

Meet the Muses: Transformation

In this installment of Meet the Muses, I’m going to introduce you to Transformation.

Transformation is continuous, they have no beginning or ending. Every ending is a new beginning; these are inseparable. Transformation moves, flows, becomes, decays. They are an infinite cycle that responds every moment to adjacent processes of transformation. Transformation is not the goal, it is the way. The process and the destination are inseparable. Transformation desires our partnership to influence its course. Without our collective good intentions, transformation will respond to others’ collective disparate intentions. They slow down and hasten but are never finished, they are always evolving. It is where continuity and chaos coexist. 

In the next installment of Meet the Muses, I’ll introduce you to Integrity.

Meet the Muses: Joy

In this installment of Meet the Muses, I’m going to introduce you to Joy.

Joy is an energy that makes life feel not only worthwhile but also fulfilling and thrilling. Joy nourishes our dreams and ideas so they may flourish. They invite us to have fun and to experience pleasure without guilt or shame. Joy can be sweet and delightful or exhilarating and awe inspiring. They compel us to soften and slow down, but also to seek adventure and to take blissful risks. Joy is our purpose, joy is our foundation, joy is our connection. With joy on our shoulder, we can endure pain and hardship while also seeing past our trauma to reimagine our relationships and our world.

For more ideas about joy, see my exploration of the word ‘happiness’ and its seven manifestations in Whole Happy and Healthy.

In the next installment of Meet the Muses, I’ll introduce you to Transformation.

Meet the Muses: Optimism

In this second installment of Meet the Muses, I’m going to introduce you to optimism.

Optimism whispers to us what could be possible and compels us to take risks. They inspire the devotion of an ingenue and the conviction of a visionary. With optimism by our side, we have the audacity to trust the process and feel instilled with hope when our values and freedoms are taken for granted, or taken away. Optimism is never complacent or complicit, nor does optimism dismiss or fail to resist the real challenges of life. Optimism is resistance that creates.  `

In the next installment of Meet the Muses, I’ll introduce you to Joy.

Meet the Muses

I first heard the word muse when I was completely enchanted by the movie Xanadu as a five-year-old. In the movie, Olivia Newton John portrays a muse who inspires a painter to complete a record album cover. Aside from the great music (i.e. Magic by Olivia Newton John and I’m Alive by Electric Light Orchestra) and roller skating, there was something more to the movie for me–I felt intrigued by the idea of a muse, or a source of inspiration.

In Greek mythology, there are nine muses–the daughters of Mnemosine and Zeus who are goddesses of the arts and science and often portrayed as voluptuous women with exposed breasts and alluring smiles. When I created this blog, it was not to suggest that I was a muse in this vein. Rather, I wanted to play with the idea that we can inspire each other, and also be inspired by the non-human world. The intent of this blog is to be a source of inspiration which sparks many more ideas from you.

And so I’ve given some thought to what inspires me, and it seems fitting that I should explain that to you in depth as the basis for further conversation at the Activist’s Muse. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be describing each of the eight muses that I have identified as an important source of inspiration to me.

  • October 4, 2021 – Optimism
  • October 18, 2021 – Joy
  • November 11, 2021 – Transformation
  • November 15, 2021 – Integrity
  • November 29, 2021 – Wisdom
  • December 13, 2021 – Community
  • December 27, 2021 – Creativity
  • January 10, 2022 – Meaning

These words are what some people might call values. They are that, but so much more to me. A value is something that is pre-defined that we feel obliged to follow because of our faith, the law, or our moral compass. A muse is, instead, an open-ended source of inspiration and enrichment. I’ll explain who each of the muses are, how they inspire me, and how I tune into them in the weeks that follow.

How will we heal?

Silence is not necessarily complicity. An important part of demonstrating my commitment to an equitable society includes resisting the temptation to control the narrative, to fill up space with my ideas when there are so many voices to be heard. Silence also creates space for reflection to ground our actions.

Yet, silence that is based on avoidance or lack of conviction speaks volumes. During challenging times, we have an opportunity to demonstrate care for others and our communities by offering hope, direction, comfort, and inspiration. We can use our voice and whatever formal or informal influence we have to contribute to positive change.

But whatever we say, it needs to be linked to meaningful, sustained action.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve asked myself questions like how could so many people not be aware or not care enough to get involved – in whatever way is meaningful to them – before now? How can companies conscionably use their platform to pander with trite sentiment when we all know their motives are questionable? Maybe you have had similar thoughts. These questions reveal my rage linked to systemic injustice and serve as a distraction from the most pressing questions. Which are:

How is it possible for four people to commit such abominable violence in front of a crowd of people and walk away perhaps thinking that they did nothing wrong, or that they did the right thing or what was expected of them; and why is it possible for police to remain accountable only to certain people?

And, secondly, how do we make sure this never, ever happens again?

I have a lot of possible answers to both of these questions, and I’m sure you do too. I believe there are many right answers. My head has been swimming with thoughts as you can probably tell from the scattered nature of this message, which I’m sharing with great vulnerability.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can heal. By healing, I do not mean complacency or retreating into the safety of what seems familiar. I mean putting in hard emotional and intellectual work and committing to consistent awareness and action to create a world that is ruled by love and compassion. I’m thinking about how we, all of us, can:

  • Lay down our arms and lift up our ideals
  • Value our connections more than our investment in the way things are
  • Ensure that all mothers can sleep soundly at night, each and every night
  • Enjoy our (non-consumer, non-militant) freedoms without becoming complacent or complicit
  • Allow or create space for others to flourish
  • Resist retreating into authoritarianism and remain curious about nuance and complexity
  • Create a world where it is no longer necessary to accommodate hate
  • Have hearts heavy with hope rather than despair
  • Gently challenge each other to keep learning and unlearning
  • Acknowledge anger and despair as openings to transformation
  • Safely and freely move in a world where connection to place is not based on a political or monetary system
  • Show up for each other when our people are hurting without competition or judgment
  • Be consistently engaged and committed to the creation of a more just, equitable, and loving world

I would love to hear from you. We need to be there for each other. What have you been thinking about? What actions are you involved in? What helpful resources have you come across? Is there anything I can do to support your involvement in this and other movements for human rights and dignity?

Leadership Should be Messy

Leaders have historically been portrayed as polished to perfection. As a result, we sometimes unfairly expect leaders to be superhuman. We ridicule and shame when they make mistakes and reel in disappointment when they don’t live up to our ideals. 

That concept of leadership is dying. People are increasingly recognizing leadership as complex, emergent, and shared regardless of formal position. In other words, messy. 

Some people resist messiness. To them, such disorder reflects a lack of discipline, healthy habits, and quantifiable results. It goes against how we have been programmed for decades. Others, like me, are open to messiness because it creates possibilities for challenge, engagement, and transformational results. 

So unstraighten the surely minimal piles on your desk, misspeak and offend someone, let someone make a mistake, and try something that seems daunting if not impossible. Heck, throw up a bunch of papers in the air. Give up the seductive illusion of control. Let go and see what happens. 

Changing the Culture of Leadership

A striking headline recently caught my eye: 

Masculine Traits are Still Linked to Leadership 

The researchers created a list of stereotypically masculine and feminine words associated with leadership – both those with positive and negative connotations (though I don’t necessarily agree with the binary assignment to categories, for example, ambitious to masculine). They found that traits associated with women were seen as luxurious – valuable, but superfluous, to leadership. Nice, but not necessary. 

Steering our priorities toward the austere, I would argue, is a masculine trait – if one must choose at all (perhaps forced choice can also be thought of as a masculine approach). And one that makes our world more bleak, divided, unnecessary tumultuous, short sighted, and wasteful. So making this choice to veer toward the masculine, regardless of our gender, reinforces these stereotypes and creates the type of world described above. Artful integration of masculine and feminine (and uncategorizable) approaches to leadership, I think, is a more interesting and helpful way to realize the world we dream of living in. 

Why I Don’t Have (or Want) a Mindset

If you’re a self help junkie like me (and even if you’re not), you’ve probably been repeatedly exposed to the word mindset. We should shift our mindset, we’re told (with nothing but good and honorable intentions), if we want to create and achieve the wonderful life that we deserve. 

I don’t have a mindset. Nor do I want one. 

To me, a mindset is a fixed place in our emotional-cognitive space. The theory suggests that we ought to move from one fixed place, where we are apparently stuck, to another predetermined fixed place. 

But what about the rest of our emotional and intellectual capacity? 

From my perspective, we should instead practice mind elasticity, or mind resilience — the ability to freely move around in our mind in response to internal and external stimuli. Rather than simply move from Point A to Point B, we should recognize the infinite points of wisdom within and joyfully explore them from moment to moment.