Thank you, to everybody…

street art brooklyn

Spotted on the wall in Williamsburg a few weeks ago…

First off, let us all remember that the true Thanksgiving story is one of rape, enslavement and massacre of our native people. We must acknowledge this truth first, so that we can begin to heal as a nation and move forward together.

But we must all remember that life is full of contradictions. On the one hand, today is a Thanksgiving like no other. But there are certain things that remain constant. While there is so much suffering in this world and so many injustices and so much sadness, there are also so many things to be thankful for and so many reasons to get up in the morning and keep moving forward. I am watching my husband and daughter bicker as they make a mango pie (thanks NY Times) and I am overcome with gratitude for them both, in all of their excellent stubbornness.

And the other night, while texting to GOTV for the Georgia Senate runoff race, I got this incredible reply when I reached out on behalf go the Working Families Party:

“BTW we’re white suburbanite retired people in Roswell, a suburb of Atlanta. Worked all our lives to better our families. Not rich but have our hard earned savings and our children. We pay attention. We use our brains and reason. We support. We vote. Count on us and thank you again… So very much! Crazy times but we will prevail. You’re a hero of our times.

“Also.. Getting too wordy here.. Please ignore the bigots and haters. Carry on with your ideals. People with any sense will be with you and yours. Trump and followers are an aberration, a cancer and not necessarily a sign of what’s to come. I fully believe we can change this”

It is people like this, total strangers, who help me to remember why we are all in this. Why America is, actually, a profound place to be and why this great experiment is worth fighting for.

So this year, I am especially thankful for all of my various communities, the man I parent with, the kid I laugh with, the family I grew up with, the reSisters I sing with, the activists I fight alongside, the friends that help me feel connected, and all the strangers I have shared a moment with during this crazy year. May this beautiful network continue to strengthen.

Roller Derby!

rose quartz roller

A rose quartz face roller from Goop, naturally…

A couple of years ago, my husband showed up with one of these facial rollers in hand as a gift, saying he thought it would be something I’d be into. I took it as a mild insult, because this thing seemed to be the type of contraption used by eccentric silent film stars in the 1930′s who were terrified of aging, and it languished on a shelf for at least 6 months.

Until one day, just for the hell of it, I picked it up and rolled it around on my face. And like magic, I could actually feel the frown lines melting off of my forehead as if I’d just had an hour massage. It became a secret ritual… whenever I felt stressed out, I’d quietly pick up the roller, roll it around on my face randomly (while thinking of Nora Desmond) and then feel better.

After awhile, I decided to get more methodical about the whole procedure and began to actually look into what was happening. Was it fairy dust? Or is there some real science behind the magic? I scoured the web, did some first hand research, and happily discovered that those glamour queens of the olden days actually knew what they were doing. And there are a whole bunch of present day divas reaping the benefits of this little tool as well.

Turns out that facial massage actually reduces anxiety in many people (including me!) But also, it can detoxify the skin by stimulating lymphatic drainage. A roller can also be used to drain fluid from the face, reducing puffiness and increasing blood circulation to the cheeks giving the face a natural glow!

face map

Just follow these arrows to reach facial and mental serenity.

Here’s how you go about the whole ritual:

Start with a clean face, and be sure to apply whatever moisturizer or serum you love so that the roller can help you with a deeper and more even distribution. In order to really effectively drain the lymphatic system, you need to clear the passageways in the neck. So begin on your neck, gently rolling down towards the clavicle before moving to the face.

Once on your face, you want to roll outwards, away from the center towards your hairline to really get the juices flowing. Follow the lines on the diagram above and remember to be gentle. Too much pressure can cause capillaries to rupture. Once you are done for the day, be sure to clean your roller with warm soapy water before putting it away. And if you really want to up the ante, try storing your roller in the fridge. A chilled roller will tighten the pores and wake up a weary face!

So now that you’ve got the moves, what type of roller should you buy? The restorative motion works with all different stones— the difference is more about which crystal you want to introduce into your skin care routine.

Jade is a happy stone praised for emotional healing and eliminating negativity. It’s also known as a lucky charm, which makes it great for keeping you calm and feeling positive.

Rose quartz is all about love. It is nourishing, helps calm anger and is also very good for balance as well as strengthening the blood circulation.

Amethyst is a healer— it’s equally good with physical ailments as it is with caring for the nervous system. It provides hormonal balance, helps with insomnia and stress and encourages a general sense of serenity.

You are now armed with all you need to know. I started my journey with a rose quartz roller from Goop, but to be honest, I am tempted to pick up a jade and an amethyst roller too, just so I have all my bases covered!

GOTV

vote pin madewell

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Hell, it’s been a crazy year. And while we may not be able to bring the madness to a dead stop, we can most certainly put the brakes on… HARD… if we get out and vote.

So of course I hope you are all double checking your registrations and making sure you and your posse have a specific plan for voting. You can also join the Demo Crew and reach out to potential voters to help us out with all of the above.

And then you can keep voting at the forefront of everyone’s minds by rocking some of this gear. Because now is the time.

iamavoterT2 copy

Studies say that people respond more to being part of a group (voters!) than to a command (vote!) So invite them all to be a part of your glorious family of citizens with this T shirt. They have hats, masks and sweatshirts, too… I am a voter T, $25

vote socks by kule

Maybe you’re playing tennis or basketball. Or maybe you hate sports but your feet are cold. Whatever the reason, these are your socks. So you can keep voting top of mind. Women’s VOTE socks by Kule, $28

vote bobby pin

VOTE rhinestone bobby pin. Need I say more? Vote hair pin, $29.

vote sweatshirt

If you say it over and over again, maybe the message will get through… Vote sweatshirt, $85.

vote safety pin

A safety pin to remind you of what you are supposed to be doing at some point between now and Nov 3. Vote pin, $39.95

je vote tote

Get your message across while also learning a new language that you can use when you go to the land of red wine and pain au chocolat. Clare V canvas tote, $25.

vote mask

Because it is a pandemic, after all, and we all want to stay safe. Vote masks, $11.20.

(Oh and by the way, the enamel pin up at the top of the post is by Madewell and runs $4, so you can get a few and give them to friends!)

Monday, Monday… or a few links for #GivingTuesday


Even if you do noting else, watch this trailer and make a plan to see Just Mercy when it comes out.

It seems like every day is hashtag something day, and to be honest, I would really love a #bekindtoyourselfandturnofftheinternet day right about now. But that’s not happening any time soon. And as today is the one #day I can get behind, I figure I may as well harness the power of the world wide web for good and highlight a few places that you might not be aware of and that are well worth donating to.

Today is the day that we are supposed to “give back”… hopefully after we’ve shopped ourselves silly on #blackfriday, #smallbusinesssaturday, and #cybermonday. And there are so many organizations that could use the help– especially in these crazy times. If you are anything like me, you probably feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do with the limited resources you have to spare. So I thought I’d help by narrowing the field a bit. If you’re concerned about women’s reproductive rights or mass incarceration (aka modern day slavery), check out these slightly under the radar orgs where even just a few dollars will go a long way.

Mass Incarceration:

The Equal Rights Initiative is a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama working to eliminate unfair sentencing, to exonerate innocent death row prisoners and to confront abuse of the incarcerated and mentally ill. Founded by Bryan Stevenson in 1989, EJI has been working to change the narrative about race in America both in the courts, and through writings, films and memorials. Mr Stephenson’s memoir, Just Mercy, has just been made into a film by the same title. It hits the theaters on December 25… and man, after you see it (which you will), you will be so glad you supported this work.

The Gathering for Justice is working to build a national movement to end child incarceration while removing the racial inequities in the criminal justice system that enliven mass incarceration. Founded in 2005 by Harry Belafonte after he witnessed a news report of a 5 year old black girl being handcuffed and arrested in her Florida classroom for “being unruly”, The Gathering is currently led by Carmen Perez and has been working tirelessly to engage disadvantaged and underserved communities in the work of empowering themselves to combat injustice in our prisons and on our streets.

Women’s Reproductive Rights:

We all know about the amazing work Planned Parenthood is doing. But there are so many lesser known organizations where even a small donation can really move the bar. Check out these places–

The National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.

The Texas Equal Access Fund provides financial assistance to low-income people who want an abortion and can’t afford it.

The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world.

It’s Mother’s Day again!

Every time someone asks me what I would like for Mother’s Day (and believe me, I never tire of answering this particular question) the first word that comes to my mind is: sleep. If only some enterprising entrepreneur could put a good night’s sleep in a bottle and sell it– I would have a lifetime subscription. And I’m sure I am not alone.

That said, sleep is not currently for sale, and Mother’s Day is around the corner, so I’ve come up with a list of things that might at least help the mamas in your lives feel more rested, cared for and loved.

goldies candle club
Goldie’s Candle Club.
Because what mom doesn’t want an all natural, mystically formulated scented candle arriving at her doorstep each month to help her find harmony with the seasons? Each candle also arrives with a beautifully written discussion about the particular qualities of each scent and how it relates to the time of ear it arrives.

urban moonshine energy tonic

Photo courtesy of The Alchemist’s Kitchen


Organic Energy Tonic by Urban Moonshine
Because the one thing all mothers can use is more energy. And if we can get it through a combination of roots, berries, herbs and flowers from Vermont, all the better!

CBD bath salt

photo courtesy of The Alchemist’s Kitchen

CBD bath salts by Vertly.
Because nothing says relax like soaking in a big old tub of CBD infused oils. I would like a lifetime supply, please.

Lauren's All Purpose Salve

Photo Courtesy of laurensallpurpose.com

Lauren’s All Purpose Salve.
Because what mom wouldn’t appreciate a creamy salve full of sumptuous natural ingredients that is as good in your hair as it is on your elbows, palms and feet?

Porter ceramic coffee mug

Photo courtesy of Goop

Ceramic to-go mug by Porter. Because sometimes you are just tired and are going to have to go straight the the cafe for a cappuccino. And wouldn’t it be nice if you had a reusable mug with you that is as kind to the eyes as it is to the earth?

Happy Earth Day 2019!

What if we actually believed that we could change the world for the better? That we could steer things in the right direction, reverse global warming, respect human rights and help people to live their fullest lives? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez narrates this beautiful short video (by The Intercept and Naomi Klein) that imagines just that possibility from the vantage point of herself, twenty some odd years from now.

I give you this beautiful vision of what the Earth can be as a challenge. What if we actually worked towards this positive future, instead of assuming that the end of life-as-we-know-it is a foregone conclusion? Imagining that future is the first step in making that brighter reality possible. Because you can’t be what you can’t see.

Thank you, Dr King

MLK and kids

Photo: Carl De Kayzer/Magnum Photos

First, a much overdue thank you note:

Dear Dr. King,

I don’t even know where to begin. There are so many obvious things… I get to sit wherever I want on the bus, drink from all the water fountains, I can vote. And while all of these things are rights that I believe are inalienable, we all know that they were hard won for people of color in this country. And you were right up front, leading the charge.

But what I really wanted to write about, and thank you for, is how you continue to inspire me to stand up to today’s oppression, even long after you departed this world. Your righteous anger and boundless love, your wise words and tireless energy, your fierceness… these are things that I carry with me. Even as I turn more toward women leaders as role models and mentors, and as I look to my right and left for inspiration and teachings from my sisters who form so much of the front lines in the current struggles, I still am uplifted by your eloquence. Your words, spoken a half century ago, continue to resonate today.

So thank you for mixing beauty and poetry with force and direct fierceness, for being a foundational part of my activism, for teaching me so much about the revolutionary power of love, and for being a part of my revolutionary universe.

With gratitude,

BW

And second, for those who want to take a deeper dive into the man, his life and his words, here are a few links of interest:

The New Yorker has a whole set of links to various articles they have published about Martin Luther King, Jr. All interesting and worth checking out.

From late 1957 through December of 1958, Dr King wrote an advice column for Ebony Magazine. Check out these selected letters from that year of “Advice For Living.”

Here’s an opinion piece in the New York Times about MLK’s critique of white northern liberalism. These words are perhaps even more relevant today than they were in the late 60′s.

It would be well worth your time to listen to Dr King read his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, which is arguaby his most important piece of writing. It explains so precisely the ethos behind the non-violent acts of civil disobediance and why they are so crucial in any fight for human rights.

And lastly, a piece about 5 young women who are currently fighting for education in the spirit of Dr. King.

Another year, another #GivingTuesday…

Josh's hand

Every year, for #GivingTuesday, I put up another photograph of hands. This one belongs to Josh, before we were married. It is one of the most generous hands I know.

Ok so we’re back here again, living through the week where every day has a #Name that is supposed to inspire us to spend spend spend for the holidays. For the most part, I tend to plug my ears and pretend it’s not happening until maybe halfway through Hanukkah when I panic because we haven’t started to deal with getting gifts out to the Jewish half of the family in a timely manner. (Maybe this year will be different?)

But one hashtag I wholeheartedly support is #GivingTuesday, which shines a light on giving to the non-profit organizations that do so much of the heavy lifting in our communities– especially now, as government funding is being cut right and left. I feel like so much attention lately has been placed on political campaigns (at least in my inbox)… It’s important to turn our attention to other areas, all of which are in dire need of support as well.

Here are some of the orgs my family is thinking about giving to this season:

Chef José Andrés founded the World Central Kitchen in the wake of the 2010 hurricane that devastated Haiti, because he believed that food can be an agent for change. The WCK has expanded to serve underfed communities all over the world (including the US!) with a network of Chefs all working “to empower people to be part of the solution, with a focus on health, education, jobs, and social enterprise.”

The 24 Hour Plays bring together marquee artists to create time limited theater around the world. And by “time limited,” I mean write, cast, compose, and produce entire pieces of theater in 24 hours. They also mentor a young diverse group of theater artists (24 Hour Nationals) and raise money to benefit The Lilly Foundation, which uplifts women in theater. Storytelling is a crucial way that we as humans make sense of our surroundings, and the group experience of watching a live performance fosters the type of community that is so important, particularly during these turbulent times. Oh and also, I’m on the board, so this crew is especially near and dear to my heart!

The Studio Museum in Harlem showcases and supports the work of artists of African descent and celebrates black culture and its influences on both art and society. It is more than a museum, it is a cultural nexus, a central gathering place for learning, exchanging ideas and for celebration by and of the African diaspora in all of its incarnations. Art + Community = Better everything. Just saying.

Next we have two organizations devoted to our oceans, which, by the way, cover the vast majority of the Earth’s surface. Surfrider Foundation is all about protecting the oceans, waves and beaches for the use and enjoyment of all earthlings. Oceana focuses specifically on the world’s oceans and works to protect and restore them to their former richness and diversity. It is the largest preservation and advocacy organization focused entirely on the undersea world.

Earth Justice may have the best tag line of all of these groups. Quite simply, we should all support Earth Justice “because the world needs a good lawyer.” Tell me about it.

Girls Who Code is all about eliminating the gender disparity in the tech world by teaching girls how to code. Many of these girls just happen to be people of color and come from disadvantaged neighborhoods, which is also a profound change from the predominately white male tech universe we see today. Sort of like the incoming freshman congresspeople, but I digress.

And last, but definitely not least, the good people over at Refinery29 have put together this list of ways that you can help victims of the devastating fires in California. Thousands of Americans have lost everything and are now homeless for the forseable future. FEMA, it seems, is overwhelmed and not super effective. Even a small bit of cash or in kind donations will go a long way.

Oh and if you want more ideas, click here and here for two past #GivingTuesday posts…

America

This is David Bowie’s heartbreakingly beautiful performance of Simon & Garfunkel’s love song to America. He sang this at The Concert for New York City, right after the World Trade Center was destroyed on 9/11. In case we need to remember what the hell it is we are all fighting for.

Monday, Monday… the Election Day edition

vote

I found this beautiful artwork on Instagram and it’s by @eejart

Ok so we are finally here. Election Day 2018. The mid-terms. The day when we are able to really make our voices heard about how we feel things have been going these past two years. As I’m sure you’ve heard about a thousand times, this is the most important election in most of our lifetimes. So don’t let rain or a fuzziness on the issues hold you back. Here are a few links to help you out as you make your way to the polls…

First off, you can watch this video that explains why it is SO IMPORTANT that you vote.

Avoid surprises! VoteSaveAmerica has a great voter guide where you type in your address and they give you a preview of our ballot so you know what you’re getting into today.

WNYC and the New York Times and Curbed also have good voter guides that are worth checking out.

For all you NYC voters, I found this great explanation of the 3 ballot questions on a friend’s private Instagram feed, so I reposted it for any and all to see. Don’t forget to flip the ballot!!