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After the Fire

Large red-orange bonfire

On the morning of May 1, I take everyone outside to wipe a bit of dew off the grass to wash our eyelids so we can’t be fooled by glamours and lying images in the year to come. I pick lilacs and iris and tulips to put explosions of color and scent on every surface in my home. I plan the bright outfit I’ll wear to the May Day Parade with its fantastical puppets and papier-mâché expressions of hope and love. I light candles to celebrate the fertile fire festival of Beltane.

On the morning of October 31, I run around to procure the last elements of our Halloween costumes. I kick through the fallen leaves, whether they’re crisp and fragrant or sodden with rain and melted snow. I luxuriate in the jewel tones of mums and pumpkins and Indian corn, the burnt-dust whoosh of the furnace first kicking on in the autumn dark. I light candles to welcome the ancestors to the fragile dangerous festival of Samhain.

A green forest with palms, ferns, and tall tree trunks in dappled sunlight.
A New Zealand forest in autumn. And spring and summer too, basically.

This year, absolutely none of this applies. Samhain is May Day Eve. The ferns and palms and conifers keep the hillsides’ emerald glow. No snap of frost threatens the extravagant pink hibiscus flowers. My body and spirit are deeply disoriented by this particular inversion of the Wheel of the Year.

There is mourning to be done this year, though. I need this Samhain to process and let go. Because the last boxes have arrived, and we finally know the scale of what we left behind and what we lost in the act of moving around the world.

The process of unburdening ourselves of possessions was incredibly difficult. Decision fatigue became decision burnout became decision trauma. I fantasized about lighting a match and throwing it into the house, turning all those decisions into cinders. It helped to see beloved things go into the hands of friends who recognized them as the treasures they are. It helped to see useful things go to places in my neighborhood where they’d be taken by people who needed and appreciated them. But getting rid of things was getting rid of possible futures, investing all that potential into a single uncertain path.

We catalogued and photographed and shrinkwrapped ninety-some boxes and pieces of small furniture. It seemed impossible that it should be so many. It seemed impossible that it could be so few.

Some boxes go straight into storage, full of papers and mementos worth keeping as a shared history. A few boxes of utensils and coffee mugs to be familiar on the new shelves. Seventy percent of the boxes are books and games, though, not just ones we want to read and play, but ones we want in the library that tells the story of what we think is important. I look at things and wonder why on earth we thought this deserved precious, limited space. Some things get a little surge of excitement and gratitude that they made the cut in those moments of frenzied elimination.

There’s pain too, though. Pain for the things that won’t ever arrive. Things it was too difficult or impractical or replaceable to justify bringing. Things we were certain we’d brought, things we would never have willingly left behind, things that are just gone without a trace. They’re as gone as they would’ve been if I’d tossed in that match.

As far as we can tell, only two things were destroyed, two blue-and-white-striped bowls I brought home from my year in France and moved safely through all the changes since. Ironically, they weren’t broken in shipping; one of my son’s hands slipped, bobbling them into a hard landing beyond the tolerance of the bubble wrap here in our new home.

Whether it was Beltane or Samhain, I’d be lighting candles tonight. I’ll do it by lighting matches the way I’d fantasized in our traumatic departure from the things and people and seasons of the familiar North. I’ll try to embrace the confusion and vertigo of this most unbalanced turn of the year’s wheel. I need to accept that the light of the bonfire only reaches so far into the deepening dark, and straining my eyes and asking questions can’t reveal where things end up beyond the veil.

Mar 15, 2019 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Rooted in purpose

For loved ones around the world, let me reassure you: we are okay. Auckland is at the opposite end of the country from Christchurch, almost the distance from Edinburgh, Scotland to London, England. The government recommended that all New Zealand mosques shut their doors yesterday, but there were no indications that other Islamic centers were targeted.

And for those same loved ones, let me tell you: we are not okay. One of the things about living on a small set of islands is that the national feels local. There’s one main TV channel, one main nightly news program, one weather report for the whole country. When radio stations run contests, people call in from all of New Zealand, not just the metro area where the station is based. To be honest, there just aren’t that many of us here, and spread out though we may be, there’s a sense of closeness. It’s a neighborhood that also happens to be a nation.

One of the most difficult things about leaving Minnesota was leaving behind my neighborhoods. Sure, the geographic ones where we complain about I-35W and cold winters and bike lanes, but more importantly, my neighborhoods built around shared values and experiences. I knew where I fit in. I worked hard to be someone who could be counted on to show up. My place in my neighborhoods was defined by what roles I played in them.

I’ve been learning about the indigenous Maori healing arts found in the wisdom of plants familiar and new. I can hardly keep up with all the new vocabulary I’m learning: not just plant names, but the Maori words to express the energy, the connection, the web of interconnected life reflected in and defined by what the earth gives us and how we use it.

Plants are easy. They show us what they are by what they do. A plant that lays low to the ground, flourishes in busy paths where it gets stepped on, and persists because of its tough, shallow network of roots provides external healing for the wear and tear of life. A plant that spends its energy growing a single, deep taproot goes to the heart of an illness. To observe these lessons is to let the plants tell you how you can both rely on them and nurture them.

I’m like those plants: I am what I do. But without knowing my place in the web of things, the neighborhoods of people and communities, I feel shallowly rooted and unsure of my purpose. My transplant isn’t complete, and I can’t add my strength to the healing, the rongoa, it’ll take this country to recover from the shocking arrival of the white supremacist and Islamophobic violence that was an everyday occurrence with everyday excuses back in America. What do I do for people whose fresh shock tinges my weary horror? What do I decide to be to help heal a new home hit with a familiar nightmare?

I am what I do. When we were in the States, I knew what to do to protect and support beloved communities under attack. In New Zealand, I’m still untethered. I have no connections, no place to plug in and say that this hate can be fought and survived, that I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. So right now, I can’t do anything. What does that make me?

Feb 11, 2019 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Auck’ward: The One About Driving

When my Darling Husband moved to the States to marry me, we had a singularly crappy old car with a manual transmission. I’d never driven one before, and practicing with my mom was so hilariously horrific we had to stop the car regularly because we were laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. So the DH stepped up as our primary driver.

But all his driving experience was in New Zealand, where everything is flipped. Driver’s seat on the right, gear shift on the left, windshield wipers where the turn signal would be. I’d laugh when he walked to the passenger seat with the keys. I’d laugh when he’d clean the windshield while changing lanes. But when he went to shift gears, and he let muscle memory do the work, he’d bang his hand loudly against the door panel to his left. I wouldn’t laugh. I’d say, “We are all going to die.”

I came to New Zealand knowing I’d have to retrain myself like he did so long ago, and that I would probably scare the hell out of myself and everyone else while I did. I’m not like my dad, who picked up the rental car at Heathrow and drove us out of the parking lot like it was no big deal.

The strangest thing was that the driver’s license people didn’t think it was a big deal either. I walked into the office, they looked at my Minnesota license, and gave me a New Zealand one on the spot. No written exam, no driving test. Just “here you go!”

This is baffling. I wouldn’t have given me a license at that point.

I’m getting the hang of it now. I’m not wracked with anxiety when I need to drive somewhere anymore. I’m entirely dependent on Google Maps for getting around, but I was when I drove in Minneapolis, too. I get honked at sometimes for being too cautious or forgetting I have right of way. But it’s not too bad. Keep your shoulder on the center line, and follow other people.

And when I turn on my windshield wipers, I get to laugh at myself now.

Auck’ward: The Burning Daystar

The sun in New Zealand is not messing around.

That seems like an absurd thing to say, but it’s absolutely true. The sun isn’t that friendly yellow circle on kids’ drawings. It’s a vicious predator that will not be stopped.

It’s not the amount of sun we get. It’s the intensity. Once, I sat outside with my book, and I propped my feet on another chair. Five minutes later, I could feel my shins scorching. My shins.

Look at the sun attacking this poor ginger guy and his mate.

Peak UV levels here are 40 percent higher than at the same latitude in North America, and New Zealand has the highest rate of melanoma in the world. Folks take sun exposure very seriously here. Rash guard shirts and full-on wetsuits are for sale in every swimwear section. Homes often have a pump bottle of SPF 50 the size of a mayonnaise jar in Iowa. Long-sleeved shirts and pants are common at the beach. And lots of people wear brimmed hats–you can even buy them as part of kids’ school uniforms.

Okay, skin protection isn’t THIS over the top here.
(The Swim Reaper is a character in a Water Safety New Zealand ad campaign.)

The atmospheric conditions cause the severity of UV radiation here. There’s still a major hole in the ozone layer, but it’s over the continent of Antarctica. That said, “plumes” of ozone-depleted air can wash up over New Zealand, thinning the atmosphere so more UV rays get through. The lower concentration of air pollution here actually lets in more UV rays as well.

And try as I might, no matter how well I SPF it up or cover up, the sun is determined to leave a mark. As a person with the approximate skin color of a recently drowned person, I feel targeted. I know it’s coming for me. And when I let my guard down? It will attack with extreme prejudice.

Jan 8, 2019 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Auck’ward: Dispatches from the Land of the Long White Cloud

Empty road stretching forward into a forest with early morning shadows and haze.

I’m reviving this blog after a period of neglect so I can share observations about my new home in Auckland, New Zealand. When we moved in December, I knew that there would be some culture shock, despite the ever-present American media and products and policies that soak into the culture everywhere.

But there are plenty of things that operate differently. Some of these are practical, like shop hours and food and driving. Others are deeper cultural issues, from manners to political and social attitudes. And on a personal level, I’m navigating living near family and figuring out where my career and my activism go from here.

I’ll tag posts about life in New Zealand with the terribly clever name “Auck’ward,” since I’ll still post more general posts about things happening in the wider world. Welcome back, and thanks for following along.

Nov 2, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

An All Souls’ Prayer for the Near Misses

In this season of remembrance,

as the world prepares for the long sleep of winter,

our hearts draw closer to the ones who’ve gone before.

We open the bundles of grief

whether thickly wrapped by the years

or jagged edges poking through new, thin cloth,

glimpsing the missing who walk at the blurry edge of vision.


But not all we mourn has passed on.

Our hearts sometimes rattle with the terror of near misses,

when the almost-lost are still this side of the thinning veil.

We see their ghostly pictures on the ofrenda.

We see friends and coworkers, and imagine what they’d wear to the wake.


We give no time to recover from these brushes with loss

Of deaths so narrowly averted, our knees still quake

and we listen to their breathing in the night

and imagine how different the house would sound without it.

We wash the clothes they wore the day we almost lost them.

Our hands are drawn like magnets to rub the scars.

We drive out of our way not to see the cursed-blessed place.


Accidents and attempts, panics and scares, on days so near

we might still turn to those pages in our planners.

And when we cry our tears of terror and relief on All Souls’ Day,

when we are pressured toward gratitude instead of grief,

the hundred thousand living specters squeeze the breath from our lungs

at the graves marked but not dug.


Apr 2, 2014 - Uncategorized    3 Comments

The Abusive Cult of Autism Speaks

A brief note: I’m not someone who believes religion is inherently evil and damaging. However, it’s inarguable that religious institutions and self-serving people in them have done evil, damaging things to individuals, communities, and nations in the name of their religions throughout much of human history. If you don’t agree that there’s a difference between religions as philosophies, and the human-run institutions that gather temporal power in their names, you’re probably not going to get much out of this post.

I understand why people flock to Autism Speaks. Really, I do. Yes, as an autistic person and mother to one, I am furious, shocked, outraged, and exhausted by the hate speech this group produces, while still monopolizing the loyalty of millions of people and the attention of the media. But when people ask me how anyone who knows someone autistic could possibly support this organization, I’m forced to admit that it makes perfect sense. Religious institutions have been abusing the faithful for centuries with many of the same tactics.

It starts with a crisis. Autism is not a disease, nor is it a death sentence, but the current public opinion tells parents whose child is diagnosed with autism that they should be devastated. Give up the dreams you have for your child, they’re told. They will never give you those perfect moments that every parent imagines for nine months or longer. They won’t go to kindergarten, or play sports, or go to college, or marry. You may never hear them say “I love you.”* You didn’t get the child you expected; you’re the victim of a cruel bait-and-switch. Autism Speaks validates this fear and betrayal; autism is a thief that abducts children and leaves dolls and monsters in their place.

In the face of this decree, parents look for absolution. They confess to a parade of doctors that they ate linguine with white wine sauce or took an antidepressant during pregnancy, or broke down and asked for pain relief during labor, or followed the recommended vaccination schedule during the first years of their child’s life. Autism Speaks tells parents that they don’t deserve guilt or blame for their child’s condition; autism is cruel and whimsical like a natural disaster.

The only acceptable response to denial and despair is to follow the proscribed path to salvation, and parents are promised that, if they do enough, they can pull their child back from the brink of hopelessness and save their families. Given the choice, what could possibly be too radical a course? To save a child, is there ever too much money, too many doctors, too many hours of therapy? The community of the suffering lifts up parents who pursue the most extreme efforts of self-sacrifice and dedication, and the stories of these saints are shared like talismans of paradise. Autism Speaks leverages the language of battle; autism is an enemy that can only be defeated by militant means.

And someday, the war will be over. Someday, parents’ sacrifice will be unnecessary, but only if we raise more money, hand out more blue lightbulbs, and find a “cure”. A cure would bring back the changelings, the lost children we misplaced through our carelessness. Of course, there’s one thing that’s even better than a cure: a test. If we had a test, surely no compassionate person would inflict this pain on innocent children and those who love them.** Autism Speaks offers hope of redemption and salvation; autism can be escaped and wiped out.

Except that none of this is true. The lie is that autism is a disease, or a thief, or a disaster, or a war, or a thing that can or should be exterminated. If you believe any of those, then you must accept that you believe the same thing of autistic people themselves.

And if you can’t believe that anyone is a disaster or a war or a thing that should be exterminated, then you must reject Autism Speaks. Their rhetoric makes precisely these claims about autism, and they use up the public’s attention span on the subject of autism to raise money that almost never actually helps a single autistic person or their family with what they need right now.

The most important thing about abusive religious institutions AND Autism Speaks is that they cannot tolerate sunlight, and they cannot function without a silent object of devotion. When autistic people’s voices are heard, the lies and hate speech wither in the full force of the logic, empathy, power, and beauty of their real lived experiences.

Because autistic people and their families are fully alive, no matter what Autism Speaks says. And life is messy, chaotic, expensive, and exhausting. It’s also hilarious, and meaningful, and transcendent.

Whether or not you believe there’s something that comes after this life as we’re living it, surely it can’t be won by silencing and abusing others on the way.


* – It hasn’t been that long since the same things were said to parents of LGBT or Down’s Syndrome children. In some places, they still are.

** – This is not a new concept. Most people know it under another name: eugenics.

Dear Santa, You Suck

I was 5 when I figured out the Easter Bunny wasn’t real. It wasn’t that I failed the suspension of disbelief–it was that I noticed the Easter Bunny had the same handwriting as my aunt that year. In my usual, filterless way, I started to announce my observation, but my mom clapped a hand over my mouth and dragged me toward the bathroom like she was making off with the Lindbergh Baby.

To her everlasting credit, she didn’t lie to me. I asked if EB was real; she said no. I remember scrunching up my face, heaving a sigh, and saying, “Santa too?” She nodded silently, then issued the death threat to end all death threats if I wrecked the “magic” for my sibs and cousin. I got it, and we left the bathroom as co-conspirators. In the years that followed, ones of poverty and divorce, I knew that magic didn’t put presents under our tree. I knew that my brother’s Cabbage Patch Kid and my sister’s Barbie Dream House didn’t come from a workshop–they came from year-long savings and a tiring wait in line at the toy store. And I liked the thought of my mom sitting down to eat some milk and cookies after we’d all gone to bed on Christmas Eve. I knew she’d earned it.

When the Darling Husband and I set out to have children of our own, we thrashed out a lot of our game plan far in advance. One of those things was Santa, and the conclusion we reached was that we would never actively lie to our kids about the fat man’s existence. But we’ve done a whole lot of evasion and omission over the years. When they ask if Santa is real, we ask them, “What do you think?” When they ask how Santa knows where to find us when we travel, we ask them, “What tools would you use to find someone?”

This year, though, I’ve really had it. There are so many things about the Santa tradition that piss me off. Let’s leave alone for the purposes of this discussion the whole creepy, stalker, NSA-level spying, remorseless housebreaking aspect. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” should be giving kids nightmares, and making parents peruse home alarm systems instead of Brookstone catalogs.

My first objection is that Santa compliance is mandatory for American kids. Nobody knows how to leverage peer pressure like grade-schoolers, and woe betide the kid who has to explain why Santa doesn’t visit their house. Maybe it’s because their family celebrates Hanukkah or Diwali instead. But maybe it’s because they don’t have money for presents. Kids are quick to point out that how much you get from Santa is an indication of your worth and goodness. No presents means you are lacking as a person, and kids internalize that message along with the holiday mythology.

My second problem with Santa comes from his whole Modus Operandi. To get presents from Santa, you fill a letter with all the things you’re wishing for, stick it in a mailbox, and wait for your wishes to arrive. We don’t write Santa letters in our house, but the grandparents are quite the sticklers about wish lists. This process always begins with the paralysis of choice: they’ve been told all year long not to ask for things we can’t buy, but now they’re supposed to summon up all the things they’ve wished for in the last 12 months? We’ve tried to mitigate some of the stress by constructing categories, explaining that they should have things that are cheap, medium-priced, and crazy-go-nuts over-the-top. I’ve wished for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for the last 20 Christmases; my brother politely requests the Eiffel Tower every year. Recently, we’ve moved to a “Wear/Read/Play” model, which seems to function even better.

My third complaint is that Santa requires no gratitude. Since everything the man in the suit brings is magically constructed (apparently for free) in his workshop, and you get what you deserve, why be thankful? If Santa gets all the credit, kids don’t have any reason to think about what it costs for their loved ones to make those presents appear. Why is money so tight in November and January? Why does Mom look absolutely thrashed by December 26? As much as kids understand that a poor showing from Santa means that they’ve been bad, parents understand that if they don’t give enough presents, they’re failing a part of the parental contract laid out by society.

So that’s it, fat man–I’m cutting you off. This is the last year you get all the joy and none of the blame. I’m not falling for the line that taking away Santa will “deprive my children of a sense of wonder.” You know what they can feel wonder for? Real things, like nature, the cosmos, the infinitely woven tapestry of story and life that surrounds them. Instead of watching the NORAD website for Santa’s supposed location, we’ll bundle up and look at the cold, clear night sky.

When my kids get the things they want for Yule, they’ll know it’s because their parents worked hard, and that every gift cost real money that someone had to earn. They’ll learn the joy of giving by seeing and understanding why we’re happy that they’re happy with their gifts. The holiday magic will come from family stories and traditions, from the candles and songs on the darkest night of the year, and from the Time Lord with a Christmas special that we can feel good about our kids believing in.

Sep 20, 2013 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

What I Can Do For You

I didn’t set out to be a Woman of Mystery. Really, I didn’t–I’ve always thought the whole thing with secret identities was super-hokey.

But it appears that some folks don’t actually know what all I can do. That probably has a lot to do with having a number of different jobs, some of them concurrently. So I thought that maybe I’d write a post that just stands as a more chatty sort of CV, for future reference. I know I’ll be back in here to fiddle with the things I’ve left out, but this is basically me.


I have 15 years’ teaching experience. Most of that is at the university level, but I substitute taught for middle and high schools for 3 years, where I was a special favorite of the foreign language teachers. I also have experience teaching short-term history and foreign language courses for homeschool collectives where kids to get instruction on subjects a little more technical or diverse than most parents can provide.

I’ve written whole courses, including websites and primary source collections, for Western Civ, Intro to World Religions, Women in Religion, Early and Medieval Christianity, and Rhetoric and Composition. I lecture, I organize group activities, I lead discussion groups, I write and grade exams, and I give one hell of a test prep session. And I am exactly the person you want to bring along on a trip to a museum or an historical site. (I may not be the person you want to go see a movie about medieval times with, though.)

I can train folks on skills commonly used in (but not exclusively by) community organizing. I’m a good consultant on issues of diversity, especially women’s and LGBT issues and neurodiversity, because I can effectively articulate the reasons why things do or don’t work.


I offer professional services in copyediting and proofreading, as well as art direction. I edit for content, consistent style and voice, continuity, and flow. I can also check formatting in academic work using MLA or Chicago style. I’m good at highlighting problematic topics and language that might not be accessible or welcoming to every reader. And I’m like the kid from The Sixth Sense when it comes to proofreading: “I see typos. Everywhere.

I have had paid gigs editing and/or proofreading academic papers, roleplaying games, board game instructions, marketing material, self-help books, and SF/F novels. I’m eager to branch out into editing more genres of fiction (I would rule the world at romance novel editing), and I’m looking forward to my first paid job translating a major work from French to English soon.

I adore doing art direction, especially for RPGs, because I get very clear images in my head from the text, and I’m good at describing them for artists to interpret. I include copious photo references (all digital links these days) for people, places, correct period costumes, weaponry, and other relevant details.


I crochet, knit, cross-stitch, sew, and make jewelry, as well as a number of more or less useful one-off crafts. I brew herbal medicines in my kitchen, including “magic stuff” which may be the most useful substance ever invented. I perform tarot card readings (yes, it seems to work equally well over Skype, email, or Twitter). I blog, and I write short- and long-form fiction–I would dearly love to participate in an anthology. I can design meaningful multi-faith (or no-faith) rituals for any occasion, like weddings, memorials, or baby blessings. I’m good at public speaking, and have performed speeches, sermons, and MC duties. I’m designing my first card game; I’m also writing a roleplaying adventure that teaches social skills to kids on the autism spectrum.

How to Be An Activist

It’s been a pretty harrowing June, and the last 24 hours have encapsulated the atmospheric highs and stomach-churning drops of being fully engaged in our democratic process. The Supreme Court decision to gut a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the inspiring filibuster of a draconian anti-abortion bill in Texas, and today’s SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality have been a rollercoaster through elation, despair, outrage, cynicism, hope, admiration, and faith in the people, if not the process.

Through it all, I’ve fielded a number of questions about how I can stand to invest so much of my heart and effort into issues so much bigger than myself, many of which don’t even touch me in my place of acknowledged privilege. Personally, I’ve never felt like I had much of a choice–I couldn’t not care or act on that feeling. But here’s a brief primer in how to find that commitment in yourself.

Step #1: Figure out what you believe in. Everyone has core values, and those are the only things that can motivate someone to stand up and fight the good fight. If all you can come up with are things like “I believe Han Solo shot first,” or “I believe in cake,” or “I believe that Washington is evil,” you’re not digging deeply enough–you’ve got to strike bedrock for this to work.

If you believe in the magical, transformative power of books, put in some time to improve library access or literacy programs. If your faith is important to you, figure out ways to act on the belief that all God’s children are worthy of love, or that this planet was given to us as a sacred trust and should be preserved. If your religion is democracy, work to bring sunlight and integrity back to the broken processes that limit our rights.

My bedrock truth is that every single person has inherent worth and dignity, and I act on this in a multitude of ways. I work for racial and LGBT justice. I strive for more accepting and safe schools for our kids. I speak out for freedom of the press and against the death penalty and mass incarceration. I march for each woman’s right to choose. I stand up for rights and respect for disability rights and neurodiversity. So many issues, one underlying principle.

Step #2: Show up. I’m not being trite or overly simplistic. Inertia is the greatest enemy to getting active on the issues that move you, and it’s why you need that deeply motivating value to clear away obstacles. Don’t know how to get involved? There’s this fantastic thing called the Google Machine. Use it. Scheduling conflicts? I don’t know an organization anywhere that won’t take whatever time you can spare, whenever you can spare it. Afraid of being challenged? Good. New experiences do that. But when you act in spite of that fear, you are most open to the experiences that will expand your views, your world, your circle of friends, and your hope for the future.

Two important things about showing up, though.  First, show up as an apprentice. Too many groups swoop in as “suburban saviors,” with big ideas about how to fix people’s problems in a weekend. These solutions are the likeliest to stick, and they come from a place of privilege and self-gratification, not true altruism. Don’t come with an agenda–show up and ask how you can help.  Second, keep showing up. Again and again, on the issues that matter to the community you’re joining. Let them know that you’re an ally who can be counted upon.

Step #3: Profit. Okay, I’m mostly kidding about this, but stick with me. You’ll never make big money doing good works, but that’s not why anyone gets into it. The dividends are much more varied and durable than money, though. When you keep showing up, you learn new skills, many of which spill over into the rest of your life and make you a better worker, partner, parent, and friend. The base of people you know explodes. If networking is king in the new economy, activism is like LinkedIn that actually helps people. Also, you’re going to have a ridiculous amount of fun. If you’re not having fun at least part of the time, then it’s not activism that’s failing you–it’s that you haven’t found the right group of people to do this work with, so keep looking!

Another important note: Profit happens, yes, but investing yourself in issues and people comes with ups and downs. The only way to keep the fire lit under your chair is self-care. Set boundaries about how much time and energy you can afford to give, so you don’t flame out in a few months–AND THEN KEEP THEM. Organizers are going to test those boundaries, and defending them is excellent practice for doing so in other parts of your life. And when you do feel like you’re burning out, don’t turn inward and shut down. Reach out to other activists who’ve been doing it longer than you. Ask how they stay fresh. Trust me, it works.

So that’s it. It’s not superhuman, it’s not rocket science. Pick something that matters to you, show up ready to work, and keep coming back. Every single person is an activist waiting for an issue, and we never know when we’ll break through and make history.