BLOOMIN' ONION

BLOOMIN' ONION

What makes it so hard to make friends as adults? If you think back to the people who made you feel the most welcome in new or potentially awkward situations, what WAS it exactly that they did to bring you into the fold? Why is it that we don't offer more of ourselves to others and take advantage of all that beautiful friendships have to offer? Why don't more of us take time to select and hold aside a special gift of friendship, or spanish onion flowers?

The Great Gun Debate

The Great Gun Debate

In this article, I interview five people about questions surrounding guns, the use of them, our legislation, gun violence prevention and mental health. While their information is kept anonymous, their positions may move you to share your positions as well. 

How To Be a Podcast Guest

How To Be a Podcast Guest

This article, How to be a Podcast Guest (and a great and gracious guest at that), will share the lessons I learned when pitching podcast hosts in 2017. I deep dive into how to be a great podcast guest, so that you best represent yourself, bring value to the podcast host and their audience, and potentially even be invited back for another episode!

Najwa Zebian

Najwa Zebian

Everyone sat enraptured, still and quiet. Nearly 1,000 attendees all glued to her every word. The only phones out and utilized were to snap photos or to quickly scramble to capture her words in the Notes app. No one breathed, moved or shifted in their seats.

We build "home" in other people. We invest in others like we do when investing money. Instead, value, dignity and worth needs to live with you and in you - not in others. -Najwa Zebian

Brendon Burchard, Summit of Greatness

Brendon Burchard, Summit of Greatness

Brendon was the closing keynote speaker for the conference and as with the others, was ushered in with a ramped up version of Legendary Lane and the amazing drum line. But Brendon ... unlike ANY of the other speakers, brought an energy, an excitement and a ridiculous amount of passion to his entrance. He jumped and danced and high-fived his way down the aisle. He approached the stage and paused for just a second - with his arms raised high above his head, soaking up the audience. Closed his eyes ... and then danced for a full 60 seconds ... using the entire width of the stage to jive with the drummers. In a full suit, I must add.

I Am A Triangle Movement

I Am A Triangle MOTTO

Manifesto - I Am a Triangle

We seek out “stretch” opportunities, we don’t flinch at the sound of change. We look at relocation as an opportunity to expand our horizons. We know that everything feels hard before it becomes our norm. We are used to change. We are experts at managing the chaos that comes with the sometimes scary bits of our lives. We have the answers and wisdom not even Google has! We are the masters of what is to come. It’s our super power!  - Naomi Hattaway

 

As we lead up to the big reveal of the website and new community platform (we're packing up our proverbial boxes from Facebook and moving to a new platform called Mighty Networks), it was important that I take an opportunity to share transparently and openly about all of the reasons for this move and what the future of I Am A Triangle looks like - from my vision and desires for the community.

To learn more about the details and rationale behind this decision: read the FAQ post

I have long been in love with the concept of community. I realized that my mother instilled this desire in me when she modeled the concept for our family early on in our lives in rural Nebraska. I was born to a black father and a white mother in the early 1970s when it wasn't quite as accepted as it is now. Add to that, we were homeschooling (before it was legal to do so). To say that we needed community is an understatement.

Definition of Community I Am A Triangle

Today, 'community' has become a bit of a buzz word and may be considered to be overused, however that doesn't change the way I feel about it. When it's being experienced, it feels like a cozy blanket, a warm hug, a cuppa of your favorite bevvy. It feels like you belong, that you are welcome and supported. If you do NOT have it, it's a noticeable void in your life. Community can take hold in different ways (online, in person, etc.) and can be geographical in nature, found because of similar or common identities and often takes shape when shared affinities or activities takes place.

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In each place I have lived, I have quickly latched onto community (in various forms) and then also intentionally sought out ways to give back to my communities. In Omaha, Nebraska, I volunteered heavily with Habitat For Humanity. In Cleveland, Ohio, I created Rock-N-Tot (a family dance party!), a mom's only running club, and a Global PlayDate.

In India, I joined a small group of ladies to create Make a Difference in Delhi, and kickstarted a project to allow incoming families access to the American Embassy School when the grounds were otherwise closed for the summer and created a buddy program to help those new students feel a bit less alone. In Singapore, I led the charge to create a safe crosswalk for our neighborhood children to reach school as well as brought Senior Spirit to Singapore American School (a carryover from what other moms of Seniors had done in other international schools). In Northern Virginia, I assisted with the birth of Ladies of Lucketts, a thriving group for local ladies to come together for fellowship, support and to support local businesses.

These examples are not just initiatives I joined or started, but were in fact, community being created. Friendships were born, problems were solved, children and adults alike were positively impacted and -- in each and every case, I was incredibly moved and inspired by the sheer beauty of watching a community come together. (Side note: have you seen Derek Siver's Tedx Talk on how to start a movement?)

In the middle of this, our family moved back to the United States after four years overseas and I found myself deep in the cavern of no longer fitting in. I felt alone, confused and without any motivation or drive to do what comes naturally to me - create and seek out community. When we prepared for all of our past moves, I incessantly researched our new home. I pored over books at the library to learn all I could about our upcoming relocation. However, for the repatriation (or reentry as the process has been called) journey, I assumed I had it covered and didn't need to spend any time learning about the reverse process of returning "home."

My mom had since moved to Kenya to serve as a missionary and in a debrief session delivered by Mission Training International, she learned of the triangle analogy. When the same was shared with me, and when I allowed the concept to sink in, it immediately made sense. I wrote a blog post in September of 2013, I Am a Triangle and Other Thoughts on Repatriation, and as of today, it's been viewed over 118,000 times. As a result of that concept resonating with other individuals, my email inbox began filling up with stories. Those who identified with the Triangle concept wanted to share that they too, felt those same feelings of abandonment, struggle, isolation and assumed they were the only one.

Facebook had just recently launched its Group Products (primarily for the purpose of families connecting or groups of friends to stay connected) and I jumped on the opportunity to create a place for those individuals to meet each other, share and offer support and to provide a virtual community for those who felt they had lost theirs due to recurring relocations or being the "Stayer" when everyone else close to you leaves.

What you see today when you visit the I Am A Triangle Facebook group is 16,000+ individuals who show up on a regular basis to offer support, share laughs, commiserate together, hold each other up through messy family situations, even help to secure employment, the list goes on and on. It has been a beautiful journey of growth and is an amazing example of what happens when a group of people has trust and faith in each other. It is also a stunning representation of what happens when commonalities are the initial introduction, but the differences in all of us becomes what holds us together.

I Am A Triangle, a home for global nomads where everyone fits

The stewardship of this community began as a very simple desire to get everyone "in the same room" and over the past four years has turned into a full-time job (albeit, one that is unpaid) that has required leadership, personal growth and a flexing of some serious empathy and kindness muscles. The fact that our community is a beautiful, kind and responsive online community is due to two factors. First and foremost, because of the contribution of the members and their willingness to keep coming back into the community to ask questions, be vulnerable, and support each other on a 24/7, 365 basis. Second to that, the community has become what it is today because of the consistent and constant care-taking and watchful eye that I have given to it. I do not say this to be egotistical or to diminish the reality that without individuals IN a community, one does not exist. I state this because often I feel challenged and restricted with the features and administrative help that Facebook lends to its Group owners, but I have dedicated myself to work around those limitations and seek out ways for the community to flourish, expand and be a place that has been quote as saying "the kindest place on the Internet."

As our movement currently exists in Facebook, we are not able to move forward in any logical way that makes sense for our members, and it feels as though one hand is tied behind our backs. Last year at about this time, the decision was made to begin creating a resource website. Simultaneously, a search was commenced to seek out alternatives for our community so that we would not be required to stay committed to Facebook. Several iterations of options and LOADS of research later, I had resigned myself to using a clunky interface called BuddyPress, a WordPress plugin. It would operate like an old school forum and while it wasn't ideal, it was the only option.

Building an app was what I most wanted to do, but the cost was prohibitive. This was how that conversation went.

Me: "How much would it cost to build an app that would do [insert 15 features, including a conversation forum]?"

Developer: "Could be between $10,000 - $25,000, give or take ... depends on how robust you need it to be."

Me: "Are you serious? That's way out of any budget I could ever comprehend."

Developer: "Well, that's just for iOS and would probably would only cover v1.0"

Me: "Well, Version 1.0 would be a good start right? I mean, it would at least get us going?"

Developer: "No, that's more likely what you'll want to start testing on and getting beta users on. If you want to actually have it be useful for your community, that's more like $100,000 + once you go through enough versions to get it right."

Massively disappointed, I decided to continue maintaining a strong focus on working on the resource website and continued my work with the community inside the Facebook group. We launched TriCONNECTs which were widely requested by members and saw a handful of them really take off and have massive success gathering members together in cities all over the world. We expanded our TriCONNECT concept to serve other groups for our members, including our LGTBQIA+ population, those who serve in the military (all branches, worldwide!), our solo / single members, etc.

What began as an obvious need for a community in one big open "room" was quickly turning into a desire by our members to have specific support, and in a smaller group environment than speaking "out loud" to an extremely large community. The psychologists and therapists in the group were starting to reach out to me to ask why I thought our members - who are veritable strangers to each other - had such trust in our community, and had such ease in being vulnerable with each other.

I truly believe it is because of the culture I have developed and insisted on, the stick-to-it-ness of our leaders who have volunteered their time and energy, the evolution of our community policies, our standards of care with each other, and our refusal to allow bullying, bashing or otherwise being unkind.  I'd love to learn of any other truly international online community that has such impact, such kindness and such devotion from its members.

In addition, our community is as strong as it is because of our leadership -- individuals who all volunteer of their time to help run the TriCONNECTs. Scheduling events, showing up to help members in their locations, facilitating engagement in their subgroups. This system though, became quickly too heavy of a burden as Facebook did not provide resources or tools for a Group owner to effectively manage multiple subgroups like this, and again, I turned to hours and hours of research to attempt to find something that would better suit my energy/effort as well as the forward growth and long term sustenance of the community.

It takes actual humans to organize a community, whether that's to schedule gatherings or events, or to organize dialogue and  conversation. It takes effort and energy to help to guide and encourage engagement, and facilitate the growth and expansion of our talents, minds and opportunities. In addition to human beings, it also takes a robust software and platform that allows us human beings to work smarter, not harder. The struggle to find something that would respect and honor the massive needs of our community - for future growth, and to welcome innovation - was growing larger than life and became a frustration.

In addition to humans and software, it also takes TIME. I have been a full-time Realtor in Northern Virginia since 2014 and put a lot of energy and effort into it. I adore my clients and our tagline is "Community Chasers, not Commission Chasers." I realized earlier this year that I was no longer able to devote the right amount of time and energy to both my real estate clients AND to the I Am A Triangle community. I made the decision to intentionally create a process by which I can act as a consultant to my real estate team, and train new agents, but step way back from the daily interaction with the real estate industry and instead give all of that energy and focus to I Am A Triangle.

Fast forward to April of this year while listening to a podcast with Tara Gentile on the power of meaningful communities. Gina Bianchini was launching her new community platform, called Mighty Networks, and as I listened to her, I realized she had built the very thing I had wanted for our community but couldn't afford to put out into the world. To hear that podcast, click The Power of Dedicated Social Networks.

The people who don’t already know each other is the next chapter in how the world is going to create new relationships and a better future. The reality is that it doesn’t take a lot of people to make you feel like you’re in it together. At the same time, being in it together should be able to scale to larger numbers. Where the real magic and power comes from is from people who have shared interests being able to connect and share in many, multiple ways.

– Gina Bianchini

Gina went on to say, "The Facebook newsfeed was invented to allow you to consume updates from people you know. It was a phenomenal way to stay connected to the people that were important to you based on your life. It is NOT built for meeting new people who share a deep interest and are people you WANT to meet because they will help you grow or expand your horizons or because they share a life circumstance like moving your family on repeat around the world. What's needed in networks like these is to support finding, meeting and breaking the ice, it's not a newsfeed whizzing by you that gives no context to what you actually need."

I concur! To me, Facebook is like a speed train going from point A to point B -- with the Facebook engineers at the helm holding all of the controls -- but it doesn't stop along the way to let anyone else on the train. We need an experience like a HoHo Bus!

I've been asked why on earth would I intentionally "mess with" an audience of 16,000 people when I've worked so hard to build a very meaningful community over the span of four years. I've been admonished that I will end up breaking up a community and that I will likely lose members because of this vision and decision to migrate our community to a platform that can better support our needs. I've been told that I am "going small" and perhaps limiting our community to those who are willing to leave Facebook.

Let me be completely honest. Facebook IS making some attempts towards streamlining the task of moderating (the "admin" duties) a large group on their platform. They jumped to attention in May of this year and have made quick moves towards some positive changes - Mark Zuckerburg has gone so far as to change the mission statement for Facebook as it relates to large communities using his platform. As I discuss in more detail in our FAQs, many of those changes continue to benefit Facebook's bottom line and their advertising game, but I wanted to at least acknowledge that there are some efforts being made - but for our community, it's a 'day late and a dollar short'. The Mighty Networks platform is ready now, they have listened to the needs of those at the helm of the movements, and our community is busting at the seams. In order for us to continue to deliver value and make strides towards powerful impact, the answers that I began seeking over 12 months ago all lie in the Mighty Networks platform.

Our community is changing the world that we live in. I am a firm believer in that, and I also strongly believe in the collective power of our community to continue changing the world in the future. Our members have the willpower, the guts, the talent and the support to do big things and impact future generations.

Changing the world is always disruptive. - Rachel Gutter

The value of our community and network becomes MORE and more valuable, the more intentional we are about how we steward the community. That is no longer possible on Facebook. The more people we gain in our community on Facebook, the more diluted your experience becomes as a member, and the more difficult it becomes to manage the safe corner of the Internet that our members are accustomed to. For more information about the details of the migration, the future of the I Am A Triangle movement, it's new platform and why we're leaving Facebook (and the future of Groups on Facebook) please read here: I Am A Triangle FAQ.

When you build strong communities that have at their core a shared mission or interest, what comes out of that can be simply magical. - Gina Bianchini

To the I Am A Triangle community, you are simply magical.

I am thankful that you've been along for this journey and am massively impressed by your beautiful stories, your amazing experiences and your willingness to come along for the ride. I am excited for my vision for this community to come to fruition with the next steps of this adventure!

We'll be discussing the future of our community and I Am A Triangle "2.0" over in our new community home, but it will include philanthropy, better ways to connect, the ability for our children and older members of our immediate families to be supported, a one-of-a-kind relocation professional directory with realtors and agents who actually put the family first, a platform to provide amazing collaboration opportunities for those creating wonderful resources, and much, much more.

To join, visit: I Am A Triangle on the new community platform and request an invite!

Cheers to being a part of a global community where everyone belongs,

∆ - Naomi Hattaway

Learn more about the I Am A Triangle story ----> CLICK HERE

I Am A Triangle FAQ

If you have yet to read my thoughts on this new version of the I Am A Triangle community, please take a moment to do so:

∞ I Am A Triangle Movement ∞

Image Credit: Emily Morter Unsplash
Image Credit: Emily Morter Unsplash

Here are the answers for some of the frequently asked questions on the topic of our new community platform.

Q: Why is I Am A Triangle moving to a new community platform?

Your daily interaction with Facebook is managed by an ever-changing set of algorithms that dictates what it allows its users to see and do. It also impacts how a group is allowed to interact with each other. With our group being so large, often very important (and sometimes sensitive) questions which are posted in the group, are quickly buried due to the sheer number of new posts that are added. The members who are in need of assistance and support are not getting the help they so desperately need because they are not being heard. When this happens, we as a community are letting them down.

Facebook has now started utilizing those same algorithms inside of their Groups Product, which means that each one of our members has a different experience inside our community based on which posts they have previously liked or commented on, or who their friends are inside the community. In a community that thrives on being open-minded and diverse, the fact that algorithms design our experience is opposite to our goals and aspirations in offering support to each other.

We have nearly four years of amazing resources, support, answers and intel however Facebook has recently adjusted their search function, which means that searching for a topic near and dear to you will provide very limited results, only a few months into the past - as opposed to providing the entire search results for a total of 48 months.

Facebook recently held a Community Summit in June (Chicago, IL, USA) and invited 100 admins of "large and meaningful" groups to a think tank. One of the announcements made during that Summit was that Facebook would introduce several new features to help admins "grow their communities." But what about the communities that do not WISH to grow - except by word of mouth and their own members' invitations? In the past two months, Facebook has aggressively added the I Am A Triangle group to their "Suggested Groups" and we are being placed almost as an ad would be, inside other relevant or similar groups. As a result, we are getting bombarded with new member requests from individuals who have no plans to ever live abroad, but sure do love getting postcards, traveling once every couple of years, or going on a once-in-a-lifetime short-term missions trip. While there is nothing wrong with those types of scenarios, those individuals do not closely match the individuals that our community serves and the future culture of our community is impacted by these efforts on Facebook's part.

In addition, Facebook has recently started moving very quickly towards Groups existing with paid advertising being added to our user experience. I have spent an incredible amount of time with my ear to the ground, and many hours upon hours researching what's next for Facebook Groups. The future of paid advertising presence in Groups means that based on the Recommendations our  members suggest, Facebook can then directly court those same businesses with advertising opportunities. Currently in our Facebook personal feeds, every FIFTH post that you see is a PAID advert. That same experience is JUST around the corner for Groups. Facebook launched Groups back in 2010 and Mark Zuckerburg was quoted then as saying:

Facebook Groups will be as simple as inviting your best friends over for dinner. Facebook experimented with algorithmic solutions to understand which friends and information users care about the most, but that those could go badly wrong if, for example, it decided that a tradesman who you had emailed daily over a work project must therefore be a close friend. The conclusion was that algorithms were OK for news feeds and lists of friends for chat, but not groups of friends.

That statement and value has clearly changed as the product has evolved. Facebook will continue to make changes that benefit them, as they are an advertising and media company, without any say from their users. I am forecasting the needs of this community by migrating us to a different platform while we still have the ability to do so with minimal invasion for you - our members. This migration means forward steps are being taken to ensure the future of your community, as well as allowing the continued support and encouragement of future I Am A Triangle members - without interference from advertisers, engineers and a top down company structure.

Facebook owns the content in our group (that means your posts, photos, comments, etc.), and as we intend to utilize the topics of those previous posts to generate long-lasting resources for our community, we will absolutely abide by their policies as it relates to the four years of content and will also not violate any terms of use or copyright issues as it relates to individual members.

Q: Why is the new platform so much better than Facebook for our community?

Our new platform is provided by Mighty Networks (if you're interested in checking it out as an admin / founder of a community, they have an amazing community for Hosts - free to join and learn from some of the greats!). It's been carefully and thoughtfully created by Gina Bianchini and her amazing team, Rachel, Audra, Katherine, Brian and many more brains, for the purpose of promoting community and deep and impactful groups. It is available to you via an app (both for Android and iOS) AND a web interface that you can access via your laptop, phone or handheld device.

Some of the most meaningful features are:

  • Not interested in travel destinations or recommendations for Airbnb homes in Bhutan? Simply unfollow Topics that are not of importance to you, and design your own feed.
  • More easily and seamlessly locate TriCONNECT groups that are near you, or are in locations you are soon to relocate to.
  • Connect simply with other members who have experiences that you are interested in (Mercy Ships, teaching in China, homeschooling abroad, etc.)
  • Find and help create groups that cover the wide array of interests that apply to our members. Missionaries, military personnel, entrepreneurs, parents of special needs children, solo travelers, international educators, the list goes on and on!
  • Robust search function to isolate the content that is most important to you.
  • Find members near you. Whether you are traveling for work - or a holiday - and have a long layover, or you're on a look-see trip and would like to get together with other Triangles, this feature makes that super simple!
  • Streamlined Ambassador program allowing you to invite your friends and family with one click, and you can earn discounts on our Shop!

Coming soon to the Mighty Networks platform:

  • Language localization (read the content in our community in YOUR native tongue)
  • Job Board
  • Courses and e-learning
  • And more!

Features of an online community that remain:

  • Chat with other members, privately
  • RSVP for local events in your location
  • Follow conversations that are important
  • Show support with a "cheer!"

In addition to the above reasons, our community will be free from any corporate decisions on advertising, our members will be more enabled to speak openly and share the nuances of their private lives and truly reach out for support when it's needed. We also have frequent requests to "let us know when you're not on Facebook" as many individuals are not using it for various reasons. This new migration allows us to be truly inclusive and allow the greatness of our community be accessible for everyone.

Q: Do we have to pay now for something that has previously been free?

The I Am A Triangle Facebook group was originally simply created to be a place of support and encouragement for people who had read and resonated with the I Am A Triangle, and Other Thoughts on Repatriation blog post, published in September of 2013. It has since grown by leaps and bounds to become the thriving group it is today. As of the writing of this post, we are over 16,000 members. The group originally was moderated by a small group of four volunteers, then it became two, and for the last year or so, I have solely moderated the main group. We also have an amazing team of leaders for our TriCONNECT groups and they have been generous with their time to moderate their subgroups and that has been wildly helpful. Each time the group swells and continues to grow, it became increasingly difficult to manage the hours required to moderate the group (duties include ensuring new member requests are legitimate, approving new members, welcoming, reviewing posts, responding to inappropriate language or behavior, protecting the group from constant spam, advertising and political posts, etc.). It has been suggested we simply add more administrators/moderators to share the load, but that is simply a temporary solution to a larger challenge.

The feedback received from IAAT members has shown that Facebook no longer supports the larger issues our group face on a daily basis. Our community has outgrown what Facebook allows the success of the group to be, and that, combined with feedback, suggestions and ideas received from a large number of members, led to the decision to go to new community platform. This migration will continue to offer free access to the community and TriCONNECT groups.

Managing the community on Facebook -- while there is no cost charged by Facebook to have a Group -- has cost resources, as the time spent moderating and growing the community results in time being taken away from my full time job - as the owner of 8th & Home, a real estate company. In addition, Facebook doesn’t allow for any institutional information to be captured, collected or created. The creation of the website and new community platform levels the amazing expertise, advice and information that is shared across the whole of the I Am A Triangle group, offers an opportunity to earn a small amount of money from affiliate relationships (more on that down below) and efficiently streamlines the task of stewardship, which will allow me to better focus my time and efforts on things that will bring value to you.

Q: So this is free for members, how are you going to make money?

Originally we intended to create a paid membership site so that website costs, trademarking costs, bringing on team members to help moderate the group and other costs of doing business would be covered, however ...

Along this journey of creating the website and researching platforms, I have since realized that this community -- and access to the resources we can provide -- need to be offered at NO cost to our members. I do believe in the value offered by various membership sites, but believe MORE in the power OF our community. We are stronger and more able to serve if access to I Am A Triangle is offered FREE to members.

The funds raised during the crowdfunding campaign have been used to design, build and create the website, and to partially pay for the cost of trademarking both the logo and name of I Am A Triangle. The remaining trademarking costs not covered by the crowdfunding campaign were borne by me personally as were the costs for the creation of the logo, etc.

The new platform subscription fee is currently being paid for out of my own funds. Those costs and any future costs will be paid for by the I Am A Triangle organization, once money begins trickling in. This monetization will be accomplished by onboarding partners who align with our values and ethics who will be sponsors for our community. Additionally, we have also created a shop, where we will earn a small (keyword: small!) affiliate commission when members purchase items showcased. I aim to be transparent in this regard and hope the value and benefits are appreciated by the I Am a Triangle community. In addition to those two streams of potential revenue, various products, courses and training will be offered at a nominal cost to members, and a portion of those proceeds will be captured by the I Am A Triangle organization.

Launching in mid-2018 will be a philanthropic arm of the I Am A Triangle community. A portion of all profits will be donated to various humanitarian non-governmental organizations around the world, with a spotlight on a different organization each month. I am committed to ensuring that the I Am a Triangle community will meet the needs of our members for years to come.

Q: If I supported the IndieGoGo campaign because I thought I would have to pay for membership anyway, can I request a refund?

The campaign was an invitation to participate in supporting the creation of the resource website and some of our support levels matched the membership prices we originally thought we would be providing. As the membership fees have been removed, and our community remains free to you, all Indiegogo backers will receive a $25 "store credit" to our I Am a Triangle shop, valid when selecting any of our "swag" items (t-shirts, mugs, etc.). When the website launches, I will send out another message with that code so you can shop away! To the backers who contributed $50 or more to the campaign, in addition to the store credit code, a separate email will be coming soon to get correct spellings of your name, along with any tribute message you'd like included, for the Founding Members page.

Q: Is I Am A Triangle now a business?

A: I Am A Triangle was incorporated as a business in October of 2016, doing business in the State of Ohio. The logo and name are nearing the final steps for having trademarks in place to afford protection worldwide. The Articles of Incorporation are on file with the State of Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

Q: Why is there a website AND a community platform?

Imagine two buckets. One bucket holds our community platform. This is where we converse with each other, find events near us, ask for advice and support each other. The community platform is our gathering place where we can come and go from our time together as we need to get filled up, spend time with each other, or ask questions.

The second bucket holds our resource website. In order to best offer the resources that our members - and future members - will find valuable, we needed a smart place to "store" them, and as such, the resource website exists. It is not a final or perfect product - it will be an ongoing project to always bend with the needs of our growing community.  You can find expert's articles, our blog contributors, the shop, a fun collection of Triangle related songs, relevant videos and more on the resource website.

Q: What does the website and community platform look like?

Please see these sneak peek images of the website. The website is very streamlined, user friendly with a simple and classy interface.  The community platform is available both in an app as well as a website interface. Both work seamlessly together, so you can pick and choose in which way you engage with the community.

the resource website:

 

the community platform (web interface):

 

the community platform (app):

 

Q: Will the TriCONNECT groups have the same feel on the new website?

Even better! The new platform will have location and group/topic forums and your conversations exist in a better format! You can immediately join a TriCONNECT group (no waiting on leadership approval any longer!) based on groups near you, or based on interests that you have! You will then have access to events that are planned, contribute to a lively discussion on the best place for sushi, or which parks are dog-friendly around town. If your TriCONNECT is topic or group specific, there may not be events, but the forum will better serve meaningful and purposeful discussions, instead of a disappearing thread.

Q: So who will provide courses, workshops, e-learning, etc?

A Review Committee will take the responsibility for interviewing and choosing our course leaders, workshop leaders, etc. A submission document will be placed on the website for interested parties to submit their work, credentials and other pertinent information.

Q: How will advertising and the services directory work? Are we going to be bombarded by adverts and annoying pop-ups?

All business and service providers interested in either ad space or listed in our directory will be vetted by the IAAT Advisory Board. If approved, they will need to consistently be in accordance with our community guidelines. Advertising will be restricted to a dedicated page that the members can choose to visit if they desire. We will not have any pop-up ads on the website. Any businesses or organizations offering advertising will be vetted by the advisory board.

Q: What happens to the Facebook group, and how long will it continue to exist?

I fully recognize the familiarity and convenience that Facebook offers (I'll stop short of calling it addictive), and know that this will feel like a big change for those of you who wish to keep your social life in one online location. For some of our members, the new platform will not be worth the step of opening the Mighty Networks app or clicking the bookmarked website on their laptops. For those members, we sincerely appreciate your contribution to the community and we are thankful you've been a part of the journey!

As of the writing of this blog post, the main Facebook group has been archived. Facebook provides three options when a Group will not be continuing in the future. One is to *CLOSE* a group, which means each member needs to be removed from the group, one at a time, with the admins being last to remove themselves from the group. As you will likely agree, that does not feel like a great option for more than one reason, and we will not be going that route. In addition to members being removed from the group, the content is no longer accessible. A second option is to opt to leave the content "As Is" and change the settings to be "Admin Must Approve All Posts" which mean that any future posts would be held for approval, which also doesn't feel like a good solution. The final opportunity is to *ARCHIVE*, which means the content remains as it is today, Facebook no longer promotes the community to other Facebook users and you are free to revisit the community to search for past posts, look up a fellow member whom you'd previously connected with, etc.

Have questions that weren't covered or discussed? Jump over to the new platform and send me a chat message! Can't wait to see you there!

To join, visit: I Am A Triangle on the new community platform and request an invite!

∆,

Naomi Hattaway, Founder

I Am A Triangle

All strength is not loud (or wearing red)

The news isn't officially banned in our household, but it might as well be. There are very few sources that offer bipartisan information, so I choose to leave it turned off. I only visit my Twitter account these days to share something impactful I've heard or read lately (via a book, song lyrics or on a podcast) to give the author / artist a shout out that the art they have painstakingly put out into the world has found its way to a soul that appreciates the work.

The moments that my resolve cracks momentarily and I find myself scrolling through the 160 character spew fests, I immediately feel my heart beat faster and I know my blood pressure is rising. I can tell, because of my physical reaction, but yet I hold my phone, and continue to scroll, with my left hand thumb flicking upwards.

Attacking. Spewing. Anger flying. Hurting feelings. Speaking too quickly. 

No fact checking. No regard for the other's opinions.

Maybe they aren't opinions at all, but simply words they heard someone else say?

Name calling. Hashtagging.

Judging because they marched. Judging because they didn't march.

Changing their minds. Wavering between stated positions. Retreating, then lashing.

How dare you? Who are you? Why are you even here? Did you even vote? 

Go back where you came from. You don't deserve a passport. You disgust me.

Keyboard warriors. Laptop Activists. Movement obsessed.

I've removed the Facebook app from my phone, and have long utilized the Newsfeed Eradicator Chrome Extension (which literally means I cannot see my news feed when I log onto Facebook from my laptop). I didn't want to unfriend those who view life differently than me, but I needed to slow down the speed at which their opinions entered my psyche.

When someone near me is talking about politics, I set my jaw hard on the left side. I tap my tongue against the inside of my mouth ... on the smooth part of my teeth and listen. I listen to whether they have something new for me to learn. I want to use every opportunity to add value to the time we are given together. It isn't easy. My blood sometimes boils and my the hair on the back of my neck stands up often ... but we must first listen.

Our staunch beliefs are rooted in so many things. Our opinions are the culmination of how you were raised and how you were not raised. Whether you spoke openly at the dinner table about the White House or barely knew what a voting precinct meant. What we think about the climate of our world is colored by where we've lived and how you view government's control over a place. It is determined by whether you were bullied or supported, loved or abandoned. We even allow our experiences with religion, cultural events and education eek into the way we feel about those running our countries.

I have maintained a "head down" and "stay in my lane" mantra since well before the election. I grew increasingly saddened by the campaigns from both parties as we went into the election -- and that feeling hasn't changed since. Not because he won and she lost, but because the behavior I am witnessing amongst my fellow human race is defeating and disheartening.

It's a weird place to be, this in the middle lane that I find myself in. It's a location I sit squarely in on matters of race, and on matters of feminism and religion as well. I bite my tongue more than I speak, which is slightly ironic because otherwise, my mouth rants and rages on most topics.

What happens when the silent majority of those in the middle isn't loud enough? I recently watched the remake of Beaches with our 10 year old daughter and one of the recurring themes, said by CC to Hillary, is:

Not all strength is loud.


I have given myself permission to live in a "not all strength is loud" way of being.

By checking out of social media, you are not irresponsible

By refusing to watch the news, you are not ignorant

By choosing to get a pedicure and watch The Voice recordings in the afternoons, you are not anti-feminist

By marching or by NOT marching, you are likely still not doing enough

By reading personal or business development books instead of the latest op-ed or Medium article on the most recent EO, you are not turning a blind eye

By asking someone a question on why they believe the way they do, you are dropping a small ripple of goodness on its way towards change

By listening to that person while they answer your question, you are furthering the cause of progression

By insisting that kindness and hopefulness still reign supreme, you are not being ridiculous

By reminding each other that we can impact our local climate, we are supporting each other in healthy ways.


I wrote all of those words a few weeks ago, but was reminded today, on International Women's Day, as I'm being asked from my friends - the world over - if I'm participating in the #ADayWithoutAWoman movement, that I never hit submit.

I could easily get blasted for speaking "from a place of privilege".  I'll be honest that the fear of speaking my mind (on topics of racism, feminism, equality, etc.) and then being subjected to that "place of privilege" being thrown in my face has kept me from saying much on the topics until now. I've never been one to shy away from sharing my opinion and my truth, so I'm not sure why I've let it hush me for so long. I do speak from a place of privilege - I will say that out loud, and acknowledge it. Whether it's white privilege (even though I'm biracial), socio-economic privilege, religious, sexual preference, citizenship, you name it -- I have it.  I have cringed when reading one article (from a "privileged" author) be lambasted and challenged by someone without the same privilege in a "how dare you" tone of voice. I have winced when listening to someone who feels oppressed share their stories, and have felt sad, helpless and hurt for them, only to then hear that someone ("privileged") supported their plight, but was shunned for pretending to know what it felt like.

We cannot continue to -- in a sweeping manner -- call people out on their privilege as IF it automatically negates their activism, waters down their voice, their power or their truth.

 
Whether you are oppressed or have every privilege afforded to you, no matter who you voted for, why you voted for them, or what you're now doing about the world you live in, I am so happy to see SO many rising up, showing up and speaking up. I honestly have been encouraged by the increased discussions taking place around what is happening in our world.

International Women's Day was designed to:
... reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities." - United Nations website
Then there is the #DayWithoutAWoman, designed to encourage these actions:
Do not engage in paid and unpaid work. Wear red in solidarity. Avoid spending money (unless it's at an establishment owned by women or minorities).
If we are celebrating those acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, it seems like the DWAW only takes us a step back. Let's all "stay home" and for some, risk losing our jobs. Let's not spend the money WE worked hard to earn. I still haven't figured out why we are encouraged to only spend money at establishments owned by women OR minorities. Confused, but whatever.
So ... in answer to the questions I have fielded today:

I am not wearing red today.

I am showing up and getting work done.

I am spending money that I earned today.

I wonder what it would look like if we encouraged:
  • Wear a color that is any hue you choose, but be sure it's BOLD (and then when someone sees that boldness, own it and say "thank you!" with the same fervor our male counterpart would).
  • Go to work and teach someone else a new skill or talent that will empower their future paid and recognized work.
  • Spend your hard earned money in a way that empowers the true progress of women in this world, whether philanthropically, buying to support local makers, etc. or in any other manner of empowering and lifting up.

 

Worth a ponder, don't you think?

On another similar, but separate topic. I have a question (a real question, that I'm looking for the answers to): What IS the feminist movement, as it's currently being used in 2017?

 

Danielle Laporte says:
In terms of leadership, I'm not that interested in someone's gender. I'm interested in their wholeness. Just because someone identifies as a female doesn't mean they're working on behalf of the "Divine Feminine." If more females move into positions of so-called power, but they're operating on the patriarchal mindset, then it's hardly progress. It's only adding to the illusions and confusion around what power and equality really mean. (Side Note: used on its own, the term patriarchy can trigger brushstroke judgments that anyone with a penis is a patriarchal asshole. The patriarchal mindset is not gender-specific, it's a paradigm that can corrupt anyone, at any age, from almost any culture. There are MANY men out there who are "heart-led, with spines of direction and ambition, and with profoundly tender attentiveness, who embody wholeness."
What does feminism mean to you? What does it mean for the way you go about your every day?

I am getting up on this Wednesday, March 8th and I am going to work. As a very dear friend said to me, "I am going to work today to lead. I am going to work today to learn. I am going to work today because my family depends on my income, and because it makes me a better woman than I was yesterday."  I have been on a long journey to get to where I am with "my work" and not showing up for it today feels ... not right for me.

I am going to spend my money today and do something that makes a difference in the lives of those around me (my "do something good" scale heavily  leans towards things like Ripple Effect Images or my continuing Kiva contribution or by simply adding some of my hard earned money to my Ellevest investment account.)

It is not enough to wear pink pussy hats or red tshirts with a raised fist in the air. It is not enough to watch important documentaries, but fail to discuss them after you leave the theater. It's also not enough to open your checkbook and give $200 to the refugees. It's not enough to pen thought provoking blog posts or share the most recent Upworthy video all over your social.

Perhaps you'll want to say I'm not "feminist enough", or am naive to today's world, but but I simply support the fight to -- every single day --  be a better person than you were when you went to sleep last night. Show up for people who are creating opportunities for themselves and their families. Stand behind those who see their leadership quotient and raise the bar for those they were called to lead. Share and elevate of the stories and goals of those who strive to learn and expand their consciousness and awareness.

I will however, bolster my strong spine, clear my throat, work my ass off today to be better than I was yesterday, give some of my hard earned money to impact someone else's life, and will do my part to raise children who are empowered to do the same.

The Divine Feminine sure ain't about being the first female president, dean or CEO of anything. Ranking high in a broken system doesn't necessarily make you a heroine of feminism - tho' it very well could, and women's history is abundant with those true pioneers. The Divine Feminine is the warrior and the healer ... it is justice and mercy, carried out with grace. It's economics and the arts ... that nurture the entire community. Being direct and loving the hunt of opportunities - these are characteristically masculine qualities. I am deeply intuitive and nurturing -- innately feminine qualities. When I'm at my best, I express all of these qualities in my ALL-WOMAN ways. My delivery is compassionate and often softly spoken; my business operates on a triple bottom line, so that we can ALL be well fed, even if it means I share my own food. I am BEING the Divine Feminine.  - Danielle LaPorte
 (P.S. / Side Note / This is where you come in -----> What you've just read is a LOT of unedited free-flowing thoughts from my brain. It's rambling and quite possibly messy in how well it reads BUT I welcome a conversation around this. I want to learn more from each of you, and understand more than I did when I hit submit.)

Let's Go To Work Chris Brogan

 

 

 

Ohio Welcome

Our family recently completed our seventh move in 13 years. We moved from Northern Virginia to Columbus, Ohio, after having lived in several places in the United States as well as in New Delhi and Singapore. With so many postal codes and zip codes we’ve called home, you might think that we have mastered the art of fitting in, making new friends and settling into our new digs. I find though, it’s not necessarily true. Yes, I’m a pro at unpacking the boxes, but the connection with neighbors and finding like-minded people is a challenge. I always worry – with each new move – whether the new neighbors will accept our version of crazy chaos, understand that our background includes a diverse collage of experiences, and welcome us into the fold anyway.

We've been in the new house for two weeks now. We have been blessed with great neighbors, a true Ohio welcome: everyone bombarded us with treats, including breakfast one morning, dinner another evening. But as we approached Halloween, I was faced with dread and dismay.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite celebrations. Yes, I dress up. But this year, since we are new, I was freaking out a bit. We don't really know anyone yet and I'm once again left to keep the cheerleading going for the family as we settle in. For instance, my kids have no one to trick or treat with, we have no idea what time the neighborhood starts trick or treating, and we don’t even know if older kids trick or treat here.

eat-drink-and-be-scary

Last week, as I met some of the neighbors, many of them excitedly said, "We gather in the cul-de-sac for Halloween. Bring wine and some food and your candy bowl." I was thrilled.

We have five neighbors on this cul-de-sac, the circular street that marks the end of the neighborhood. Two Italian-American households are related to each other, one couple has grandchildren, another house is occupied by a single, older man, and another is occupied by an older Polish woman and her Japanese husband, who both immigrated to the U.S. 30 years ago.

So when we were invited for Halloween, I of course accepted, and then a few days later, when I was talking "over the fence" to the Polish lady with the Japanese husband, I asked if they would also be there. They shrugged. In broken English, they said that maybe they could come.

Fast forward to tonight. In my head, I knew that we'd been invited, I KNEW that we were welcome, but I was anxious and nervous. Did they really want us to join them? What if we were supposed to cook something? Should I make a quick cheese plate?

Suddenly, I saw the kids were starting. Should I take our chairs over to their driveway, or sit in ours? I poured a glass of wine at 5:30 p.m. and hid behind the blinds, as I peered out and tried to discern the rules. I tried to hide my discomfort from the kids as I encouraged them: "Right! Go get your costumes on! Let's go, let's go. This will be fun!"

A bit later, it was obvious that the neighbors had indeed gathered in one central driveway. Soon enough, everyone was there around a bonfire. We placed our collective candy contributions on the centralized table for the visiting children and we had chili, and pizza from the Italian families' restaurant, and s'mores.

We talked and laughed and then I watched as the Polish lady and her Japanese husband met ---- for the first time in three years ----- the other neighbors in the cul-de-sac.

Flabbergasted, I asked one of the neighbors sitting next to me if they had never met this couple before. She said, "Apparently it takes the newest of neighbors to truly bring us all together."

When I dug a bit further, I learned that this couple moved in to the neighborhood when everyone else had a lot going on -- kids graduating from high school, babies being born, a death in the family. Their move-in was also complicated by a 10-month renovation project, so it was a bit less obvious of a move-in than when WE pulled up with our 40-foot truck, three obnoxious dogs, two cats and a red Jeep.

Tonight I watched them share their stories of life abroad, being expats in the U.S., with our neighbors and new friends. The Italian families then talked about their own parents who immigrated, the couple with grandchildren announced they were soon going to retire and go traveling, with the wife doing "on the road" hospice and other nursing care. Another neighbor's daughter discussed her plans to combine her psychology degree with a master’s in education so she can have an impact on the lives of students living abroad.

We all found we had more in common than simply the same cul-de-sac address. These new neighbors of ours had never talked about their worlds before.

Lesson learned? Just because you're the newbie doesn't mean you don't have something to offer the neighbors.

Moving is hard. Fitting in sucks. Figuring out where and how you belong is exhausting. But sometimes just showing up -- especially when it feels the most awkward and difficult -- is where the magic lies. When I said goodnight to everyone, the Polish lady gave me a tight hug and in her beautiful broken English said, "Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this."

For all those struggling with finding their people, and meeting new friends, I say: Change your perspective ever so slightly. Lead with an intention to serve, volunteer your time somewhere, or invite someone to the table. Asking "how can I help?" can be the best introduction to authentic and meaningful relationships.

I am often asked by my friends from around the world whether I am proud to call America home. With so many nasty things happening in America these days, I am reminded that this truly is the spirit of our country. Our basic nature is to welcome new friends. I am living proof that’s who we are.

God will never give you more than you can handle.

You've heard it before. God will never give you more than you can handle. I'm here to challenge that a bit! This post goes out to all the women who are holding it together.

god knows I'm a badass

The ones who are cleaning up dog shit from carpets that you just paid a fortune to have cleaned.

To you who are making sure that your children have all that they need, even when it means you go without.

For those of you who can't remember the last time someone told you "I like that sweater!" yet you consistently dole out accolades and compliments.

I see you, Mama Bear who wants nothing more than to see her son fit in, and have friends ... but you don't know how to encourage him, so you simply cook his favorite dinner and hope that suffices in some small way.

My friend, who struggles to know what's "cool" when it comes to planning a birthday party for a tween, yet chooses to plan away anyway, with no regard for the eye-roll and the hair flip.

To you folks who have partner who is away more than he or she is HOME. I can see their absence and raise you a "they are providing and doing the best they can."

Maybe you are the leave-ee. Maybe YOU are the one that is footing the bills and trying to make up for homeruns missed and bedtimes passed by. To you, I say, I can see your absence too ... and I don't judge it. Don't let anyone judge it ... do what works for you and your family.

On that note, to the ladies who are traveling for work, packing suitcases and saying goodbye. Make a habit of leaving love notes for your family. And if you're the one staying behind? Start training the leavee to scribble a quick note for everyone before they fasten the seatbelt on the way to the airport.

For those who are hurting because your current load is triple that which you signed up for, I'll bring you a frozen lasagna if you're close enough!

You may feel that god is giving you more than you can handle right now ... but if you'll be a bit transparent, ask for the help that you need, you'll find that people will show up.

(and if they forget to show up or neglect to commit, remind them again)

 

 

What are you? I check the "other" box

Mixed Race and Checking the Box
Mixed Race and Checking the Box

What are you?

I am deep in the middle of writing down my stories. I'm using Old Friend Far Away by Natalie Goldberg and the content of her book is enough to keep you writing for a year straight, I swear. I have decided (since it's a library book) to just pen the prompts that she provides (hundreds of them) into a blank journal and work on them as I have time.

One of the themes that keeps sneaking back to me as I perform her "just write for 10 minutes" suggestion is my mixed heritage. My mulatto status. My half-breed moniker and the box that I used to wish desperately that I could check due to the simple fact that my father is black and my mother is white.

As time goes on, those monochromatic boxes have expanded. Girls like me used to just be relegated to choosing white, black or other. It wasn't that long ago!

Then came the wave of Native American boxes being added ... then the inclusion of the Hispanic box. Now there is the "other" box and ahem ... drum roll, I am even seeing "mixed race" or bi-racial as a box.

Because I was not schooled traditionally, I probably only have 14% of the typical issues that others might be able to share who were born in the late 1970s and raised in the very non-diverse 1980s in the middle of America. I admit that I was sheltered from much of the pain that others have felt, but it doesn't mean that I don't have an opinion on what it means to be unsure of where you belong --- from an early age.

Smith Siblings
Smith Siblings

I grew up in a very small town in Nebraska. Actually, I grew up in the country, 30 minutes outside of a very small town in Nebraska. We were there because my father worked for Union Pacific and as I remember it, there were a lot of Hispanics also working for the railroad, but not very many families that looked like ours. I have four siblings, three of us are biologically related and there is one sibling (adopted as a very young babe) that none of us can imagine a childhood and life without. I can still remember the whispers at Hinky Dinky in the checkout lane while buying groceries, "where do you think that one came from?" (referring to the black kiddo holding hands with his very white mama) or the mean kids at the public pool who called us all names because we weren't pale skinned like them. There were assumptions made about our ability to succeed at sports, and even surprise uttered when my mother corrected a nosy nelly who had the gall to state that there must have been an affair inside of the marriage for there to be different colored babies. Growing up, it was ok for one of my brothers to use the "N" word and not the other.

Smith Babies
Smith Babies

White girls are jealous of the "body" that is ever present in my my curls. I don't suffer from a greasy scalp and have never known "limp hair" or the syndrome of "it just fell flat!" They purse their lips and buy "booty lifters", neither of which I need, because both of those things came with my bod, as do my semi-high cheekbones and year-round tan that looks like an expensive bronzer. The black chicks have been known to dis me (yes, that's a term and yes it's happened to me as an active verb) for the fact that I can comb through my "good hair" and had light skin and great cheekbones. My nose is not one that was handed down from my dad's side of the family and my skin doesn't tend to get too terribly ashy.

Smith Siblings
Smith Siblings
Smith Daughters
Smith Daughters

I cannot be easily identified as belonging to any one race or nationality at first glance.

I get the question "so, what are you?", (what they mean is "what race are you" but no one is dumb enough to put it THAT way). Which box do I check when it comes to my race?  When I tell them what my nationality is (German, Danish, African American and some Native American Indian), most people say "I would have had NO idea!" When we lived in India, I had several experiences where I was asked if I was Punjabi and in Spanish-speaking areas, especially when in Florida, I have to consistently say "no habla espanol!" I am asked this question FREQUENTLY.

Just yesterday, one of the hotel staff, after several curious smiles and long stares looked at me, cocked his head a bit and said "Hey, so what are you?"  Oh, yes he did.  I just graciously smiled and said "Do you mean, what nationalities make up my background?"  I used to get annoyed and frustrated and tell people who asked "I am a girl, what do you think I am?" but have realized as I have matured (a bit) that ignorance isn't always rude or intentional, it's just a product of unawareness. Usually, I try to hold onto the conversation a little bit by explaining that so few of us anymore can identify with just ONE race, or just ONE nationality. The world is better with a melding of backgrounds and richer for it.

Here's where the post gets a little messy.

I do not identify with any one culture, or heritage that makes up my bloodline. I don't have a series of time-honored traditions that represent the nationalities that make up my genealogy. I also don't know where I fit in on the spectrum of issues that STILL divide a nation, a people group, a community when it comes to color and racism. My understanding of racism while growing up, and the issues I had to deal with because of the pigment of my skin revolved solely around the reality that my family was a mixed set of shades. The first life change that affected my interaction with racism happened when my parents divorced in the mid-80s. The next major shift happened when I left home at the ripe old age of 16 and was no longer seen together with the rest of my family. The older I get, strangely, the moments trickle away into a very quiet whisper that are only triggered by stories that happen to other people. I married an Italian man and my children all have olive-colored skin and we all *match* each other. We still get inquiries about the family's background, since we tend to blend in most any place we have lived, but weirdly, people seem to be most enamored by my husband's Sicilian background.

I DO cringe when people describe others using their skin color and get incredibly frustrated when black people holler about racism and white people continue to claim ignorance. I'm consistently saddened that we are still having discussions about equality and minorities and segregation and lack of diversity.

My honest reality is that it is difficult for me to feel I have a voice when it comes to discussing all of those really important things. 

There was a hashtag awhile back that had some air time on Twitter. While I watched tweet after tweet roll down my feed, I was extremely conflicted. I felt that if I were to jump on the bandwagon of a group of women calling for equality between white and black women, that I would literally ... be in the middle.

How am I to know what it's like to be a BLACK woman. How am I to know what it's like to be a WHITE woman? I check the "other" box. 

I bring all of this up to bring a little light into the discussion about cultural awareness and sensitivity as it relates to racism. Obviously the situation is one of complexity and confusion, otherwise we humans would have already figured out a way to live our lives without it. It's not just about black people and white people. It's about not being able to understand those who are different than you are. It's about being defensive when you feel your normal is being challenged.

It's about feeling uncomfortable when you don't agree that someone else is your equal.

It's also quite simply about refusing to listen.

If we would spend more than the 5 seconds that it takes to "tick the box" we might find that we get to know our neighbor, or actually befriend the grocery store clerk regardless of her hajib. The hooded boy who shuffles past your driveway every day after school might need a summer job cutting the lawn that you're too busy for. That grumpy old man who uses inappropriate slurs for that hooded boy might just be a product of a generation that uses the excuse that they didn't know any better.

I have been talking with a couple of people about their upcoming relocation to a place in the world where very few people are going to look like them. I am reminded of the very important need for cultural awareness and racial sensitivity when it comes to moving overseas, or anytime you find yourself in a situation where others don't look like you (or act like you, or eat what you eat, etc.).

What would happen - seriously - if we quit relegating everyone to a pre-disposed set of boundaries based on the way they looked? What if we didn't have to check boxes or label ourselves?

So, what are YOU?

 

Updated March, 2018, nearly four years after I published this: Meghan Markle has had her say on the topic as well. Published in July, 2015, she has this to say: More Than An Other

I wouldn't wish Chikungunya on my worst enemy

I wouldn't wish Chikungunya on my worst enemy

The word chikungunya is thought to derive from a description in the Makonde language (Tanzania), meaning "that which bends up" and describes the often contorted position that you find your limbs when afflicted with chikungunya. This is my story of contracting chikungunya and my journey of living life with it.

I am a triangle and other tips for repatriation

I am a triangle and other tips for repatriation

Repatriation is a secret that no one wants to talk about. However in this article, we discuss a practical concept called I Am A Triangle that breaks down in real terms what it's like to enter and re-enter different cultures. Culture adaptation does impact us as humans and it's nice to know we're not alone.