Soapbox Rant: Down With Apathy

On August 29, when I started writing this post, the people living in Hokkaido, Japan woke to sirens and messages from the Japanese government to seek shelter from a North Korean missile.

“There’s nothing I can do, so I try not to think about it.”

According to NPR, this was a quote from one of the residents of Hokkaido when asked how she felt about North Korea’s missile launches.

This understandable quote has brought forth my ire and disgust. Not at this woman but at what seems to be a shared response from communities across the world to choose inaction when all around us the world is crying out for help.

I have empathy too. It is easy to fall into the cycle of becoming inundated with so much information, not knowing how to help and then becoming paralyzed with fear and then a last-ditch hope (or maybe it’s more like a wish) that someone else will take care of it.

So, let’s empower ourselves to not become crippled by too much information and seek inaction as our refuge. Down with apathy!

Call To Action Section: Because inaction was never a valid option

Surprisingly, and not, I was tested right from the get-go. At this stage of writing this blog post, I went searching for resources and, instead, was plunged further into that feeling of hopelessness and despair. All search results returned news articles that sounded increasingly dire.

But I stayed with those uncomfortable feelings and ultimately found some examples of things we can do to effect positive change. If you have other suggestions, please share them with me and I’ll update this post.

North Korea

Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia

Continue to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey (and Irma, Jose and Katia) but be sure that you don’t fall victim to organizations that would love to scam you out of your good intentions.

Black Lives Matter

Institutional racism is here and it is not going away without our help.

Refugee Crisis

According to NPR, “The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes is the highest since World War II.” And many of the refugees are children.

 Be the best version of yourself

The days feel more somber of late. In these times I’m reminded of a meditation exercise I try to practice regularly*. Try it out with me:

Take a few deep breaths in and out. In an in breath think to yourself: “I’m going to die.” Let whatever thoughts and feelings arise. Exhale. In the following in breath think of the people you love, know, and those you feel neutral to but interacted with throughout the day.  Say to yourself: “You’re going to die.”  Let whatever thoughts and feelings arise. Exhale. In this in breath think to yourself: “And we have just these precious moments.”

If more of us treated each moment as precious, which it is, I believe that we would find pettiness replaced with kindness and compassion.  And then, it would be as Gandhi wished for us —  we would be the change we wish to see in the world.

Consider the following:

That petty thing you wanted to say about your co-worker: don’t say it. To the guy on the highway who you’d rather cut off: let him pass you by. To the person who is speaking to you: turn your whole body in their direction and put your phone down.  To that person you appreciate: tell them. Pick up trash. Drop the need to be right and replace it with the need to be loved and to love others.

Let’s be true to the best version of ourselves. In doing so we will we start to recognize that others, just like ourselves, just want to be happy (free from suffering). And I believe we’ll see more empathy in the world.

With gratitude,

Martita signature

 

(*Source: Exercise by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and shared through Tara Brach.)

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Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?

Children's poetry book

Guys! Gals! I am so excited to share my latest project!  My husband and I are currently promoting on Kickstarter a children’s poetry book called “Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?”

The Origins Of This Children’s Poetry Book

A little less than two years ago, while I was nursing my son in the middle of the night my husband, David, would stay up with us (most nights) and in an effort to keep himself awake, and me entertained, he started to write fun, rhyming poems.  It worked at keeping us from dozing off as we tried to come up with themes and rhymes.

But something happened to David. He just couldn’t stop himself. He would be in the shower, driving to work, or feeding our constantly-hungry child and new ideas for poems kept popping into his head. And they were getting better and funnier.

Six months ago we realized that he had quite a large collection of poems — over 200!

Could we turn these poems into a book? Wouldn’t that be something, we thought. What a gift to be able to give to our little boy for his first birthday, his second birthday for an upcoming holiday. But a children’s poetry book needs artwork.

I could do it!  I thought. Out came the sketching pencils, chalk, watercolor and my sudden realization that I lack the skills to illustrate the whimsical things he was writing poems about.

Watercolor and chalk drawing of "Grass" for a children's poetry book "Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?"
Drawing grass isn’t too bad. Maybe I could do this. But gorillas wearing mittens and a peg-legged, hook-handed ninja …? Hnmm. Maybe. But, maybe not.

So, we found ourselves an illustrator and we’re much closer to making “Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?” a reality.  I am immensely proud but I can’t celebrate just yet.

"Grass" illustration for "Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?"
Behold! The actual artwork for “Grass” — one of the many poems in “Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?” And, a really good example of why you work with professionals.

Help “Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?” Come To Life

The poetry book is within our grasp. Kind of like this …

Just GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

So, close little buddy. So, dang close.

But Kickstarter is All-Or-Nothing. Meaning that if we make our fundraising goal then we can make a beautiful and fun children’s poetry book. If we are shy of our goal then, well…

Nothing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Why is Kickstarter so extreme, you ask?

Great question! As taken from their website:

All-or-nothing funding is a core part of Kickstarter and it has a number of advantages:
It’s less risk for everyone. If you need $5,000, it’s tough having $1,000 and a bunch of people expecting you to complete a $5,000 project.
It motivates. If people want to see a project come to life, they’re going to spread the word.
It works. Of the projects that have reached 20% of their funding goal, 81% were successfully funded. Of the projects that have reached 60% of their funding goal, 98% were successfully funded. Projects either make their goal or find little support. There’s little in-between.

Well, boy howdy, we are motivated! And so far the response has been positive but we can’t let our foot off the gas.

Please Support Us

Raising a large amount of money for a project you believe in can be scary. So does asking friends, family and folks who you hope won’t unsubscribe from your blog, but then there are moments (to me this is one of them), where I can’t not ask.  However, the neat thing about Kickstarter is that folks can back a project at whatever price point they are comfortable with.

So, please, consider backing our labor of love and in return (if we get fully funded), you will get a lovely children’s poetry book that you can keep for yourself or read with a little in your life.

And, since I’m already asking, please also help spread the word. If more people are aware of this project and know that that time is running out to act, we may increase our chances of bringing “Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?” to life.

Watch Our Video To Learn More

Video Transcript:

Hello Kickstater. My name is David and I’m very excited to share with you my new project. It’s a children’s poetry book called “Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?”

Let me tell you a little bit about this project. One of my son’s favorite things is to grab one of his books and hop into my lap and ask my wife and me to read to him.

I wanted to create something from my own imagination that I could share with my family. This started as a small scale, personal project. It started as a handful of handwritten poems that I was hoping to one day be able to read to my son at bedtime. But just like my son, this project has grown. It’s now a collection of over 220 poems. It’s my dream to bring these poems together in one hardbound collection just perfect for small hands.

I’ve partnered with a wildly talented artist whose illustrations bring these poems to life. Her illustrations are whimsical, fun and really captures the spirit of what it is to be young. We have poems that appeal to everyone. There’s one about a vegetarian lion, there’s one about a time machine. My wife’s personal favorite is one about a pirate and a ninja who decide to switch jobs for a little while. My personal favorite is about two people on opposite sides of the world who don’t realize that they are planning a game of tug-of-war on the same piece of grass.

We’ve put together a few samples that we’re ready to share. I wanted to make something for my son that would last him the rest of his life. Maybe even something he could share with his own children some day. And I want to share that experience with you and your family.

“Have You Seen My Pet Dragon?” is almost ready to hit a child’s bookshelf near you, but we need your support. How many poems we can afford to print and illustrate really depends on the success of this campaign. What we need is the seed money to help get over the initial hurdle of the first round of production.

Please check out our donation tiers as we’re offering copies of the book as well as hand-printed bookmarks and even postcards that are beautiful enough to send or frame. Please help us spread the word on social media so we can bring some awareness to this campaign.

 

With gratitude,

Martita signature