Sunday, November 27, 2016

Choosing your battles when you choose to battle by Odilia Rivera-Santos

The recent election has inspired many people to become activists. Before you jump in, learn your limits and respect them. Your mental and physical well-being is the most important thing and then, consider those who depend on you -- children, parents, etc. Prioritizing allows you to show up emotionally sober and stable; a movement does not need emotionally fragile activists who draw attention to themselves instead of the cause. PRIORITIZE, 2. Dependents, 3. Community. Watching violent videos is not a political act if it leads to PTSD and a mental breakdown. Leave that to those who can handle it. If you become a neglectful parent while trying to do more than you are emotionally equipped to do, your children suffer and you drop the ball on priority #1 and #2 while doing nothing for #3. You will not change the world by yourself. The ego will tell you you can, but it's bullshit. Join communities that share your aims and show up for planning meetings. Before you accept a role, think about it and talk to your friends. It's important to take on a task you find manageable within the emotional and activity-laden framework of your life. It's great that you care. The world needs more people like you, and don't be a hero/heroine. Work with others and remember, each bit of service toward the common good is worthy and welcome. Ask yourself What do I really care about? How many hours can I devote to this cause per week? Do I need special training for the activism work I want to do? Do I have friends who are interested in the same issues? How will I use this as an opportunity for transpersonal growth? We can work more effectively if we prioritize and don't romanticize. Activism is hard work, but we can help each other to make our block, city, country more enlightened. Let's work together, ok?

Monday, September 7, 2015

On task in an Off-Task World by Odilia Rivera-Santos

Forward head motion is one of those ailments of the cellphone, FOMO, constantly-connected age. The slightly down turned head to read a tiny screen strains the neck, which can lead to pain radiating down one's back.
For those who know no other existence but one of obsessive-connectivity, the ability to sit for hours at a desk with the dry, non-glossy, non-hypertexted pages of a book may never come. It reminds me of people who can't watch black and white film because the lack of color 'bores' them.
Focus is a practice that requires practice. Without a plan to set aside time for reduced stimuli, we don't do it. Living in New York City means the moment you leave your building, you're thrust into the private lives of strangers: elevator conversations about custody agreements, actual breakups and worse are the abnormal norm. 
We are the Internet in the flesh, spilling over with too much information and poor privacy settings.

Rituals for De-escalating connectivity 
1. Meditation. It is a lot less complicated than you think. Set a timer for ten minutes, sit in silence, breathe deeply, and close your eyes.
2. Write down 5 actions you will take toward an offline goal -- organizing a group to lose weight, write, dance, run, do yoga?
3. Explore a different museum every day for one week. Take a guided tour with an artist/educator.
4. Buy a drawing pad and pencils.
5. Walk/run/bike through all the boroughs with friends, Transportation Alternatives or a Meetup group.

Disconnected and it feels so good.,

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Can you quit sugar for 30 days? By Odilia Rivera-Santos

I am encouraging my social media peeps to quit sugar for 30 days, starting on September 1st!
1.Keep it simple. If it's complicated, you won't do it.
2. Look through your kitchen now and get rid of all sources of sugar. What you do with these foods is up to you. While you may be tempted to binge-eat your way through the sugary foods in your kitchen, I wouldn't recommend it because your withdrawal symptoms will be much worse.
3. Start on a day when you can stay home - if you have Saturday and Sunday off, start on Friday morning.

What do you need to excise from your diet?
1. All sugars - raw honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, agave.
2. All bread!
3. Juice
4. Soda
5. Sweetened yogurt - only buy organic plain yogurt.
6. Alcohol

What can you expect?

What can you eat?

1. Avocado
2. kale
3. lettuce - red leaf, butter, green leaf
4. Spinach and broccoli
5. I cup of fruit per day - I like frozen berries in my protein shake
6. Organic unsweetened almond milk
7. Unsweetened nut butters
8. Beans
9. Legumes
10. Chicken
11. Fish
12. Beef 
13. Yogurt butter
14. Beets
15. Ginger
16. Milk thistle root - as a tea or grind it up in a shake
17. Yams 

Can you do it?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

PTSD Can be a Collective Experience by Odilia Rivera-Santos

1. Choose a cause and know you cannot change anything alone.

2. Join a community at work on your cause and ask how you can help.

3. Devote fifteen to thirty minutes per day to being of service in whatever way is comfortable for you.

4. Keep a journal on your feelings, efforts, expectations, outcomes, and goals.

5. Be gentle with yourself. Ingesting violent imagery on a consistent basis can be very damaging. 

6. Take a time-out to laugh, be silly, have fun, play with your kids, nephews, nieces, watch standup comedy and take your self out of your self everyday.

7. Spend some time doing mindless or mindful physical activites. Walk, run, bike, clean, meditate, paint your apartment.

8. Socialize everyday even if it means going to the movies and chatting with the usher. Isolation causes desperation.

9. Step back when you feel overwhelmed. You cannot ingest a continuous amount of negativity on a variety of issues without slipping into a quicksand of hopelessness and negativity.

10. Watching videos of individuals being murdered is not activism; it's masochism. Unless you are a part of an investigative team, journalist, or a member of a jury, there is no benefit to be gained from watching assasinations. The visceral response to watching a video tends to revisit one's mind at unexpected times and this affects both mental and physical health.

11. Activism is humbling. We can each do a small part to eradicate societal ills and it must be a collaborative effort. To work in isolation is to fail and experience a greater sense of hopelessness.

12. Self-care, self-care, self-care. Often, a person will say "I love myself" because it is an accepted American mantra; however, if you examine your daily actions, do you SHOW yourself some love everyday? 

Monday, July 6, 2015

How to work with volunteers and make them love working for you by Odilia Rivera-Santos

Philanthropist billionaire without the billions: Treat your volunteers as you would any philanthropist who knocks on your door to donate money, because, in essence, a volunteer is putting money in your pocket. He or she is at your organization because of a real committment to a cause or your firm's mission. Subjective Viewpoint: Because the volunteer is not reliant upon your company or organization to earn a living, she/he can provide valuable feedback as to how to improve performance and productivity. They are more comfortable speaking about what is working and what needs work. Clarity and Reciprocity: Before you post an advert for volunteers, make a list of what you would have the volunteer do and make sure you have a clear work flow plan. Assign someone to train and supervise, if supervision is required. Think about what you will offer in lieu of payment. Can your organization provide any free training to enhance an individual's résumé? Can your organization include volunteers in programs providing discounts for your employees? A small token of appreciation goes a long way. Remember, the volunteer is willing to work for free and excited to do so. Respect: A worker deserves respect even if he or she is not getting paid. Be punctual, be organized and if there is nothing for the employee to do, sit down and revise your work flow plan. I have volunteered in many places where no one was sure what the volunteer was supposed to do, so people would sit around doing nothing or a person would be asked to do work meant for a paid employee. There is nothing more important than treating a worker with respect and dignity even if money is not changing hands. How do you get the volunteers to love working for you? Give them clearly-defined tasks. Be prepared for them before they arrive -- don't wait until they arrive to figure out what 'to do with them.' Let them know asking questions is fine. Unlimited coffee and/or tea. If you have employee gym discounts or restaurant discounts, add your volunteers if possible. Allow participation in meetings Know each volunteers name -- these are people, people! Respect their time. They have lives, jobs, families, etc. Before you ask for volunteers, write down what you need. Before you volunteer, write down what you need. IT is a reciprocal relationship in which both the organization and volunteer help strengthen a community and make good on their good intentions.

Monday, November 3, 2014

the Quiet Revolution: educating your kids on a shoestring budget by Odilia Rivera-Santos

By Odilia Rivera-Santos

You can provide an elite private school education for your children without spending any money. It does require that parents take a long look at themselves and invest time and energy in working one-on-one with their children.

1. Attitude - the adults are the prototype for what a child envisions as his or her future adult self. Your language is extremely important. Focus on solutions and not problems when you speak. If you constantly talk about problems, a child will feel that life is difficult and he or she will feel easily defeated. If you state the problem simply and go on to talk about how the problem may be addressed, the child learns critical thinking skills and gains an optimistic outlook. Teach that every problem has a solution.

2. Self-advocacy - young children have to be taught to be activists. They need tools for setting boundaries between themselves and other kids, adults, etc. They must understand that they have rights everywhere they go and that no one has the right to be verbally abusive or to touch them without permission.
Teaching children history with an emphasis on their particular racial or ethnic group as "victims" will create a sense of hopelessness and a person who feels hopeless is less likely to stand up for him or herself.
Make sure to expose children to the history of brilliant leaders and to focus on those who triumphed despite adversity.

3. Goals - the best way to teach children to set goals is to have some goals yourself and to speak to your child about the process. If you are a parent working on getting a G.E.D., do not speak about the experience with regret or in a way that connotes that you feel like a failure; instead, focus on talking about what you are learning and the interesting people you're meeting in the process.
Don't do the "Don't do what I did" speech because it is fear-based, boring and not effective.
Consider presenting yourself to your kids as if you were an employee.
The truth is that your kids are evaluating your parenting skills; your assessment as a parent will come in the way of your child's positive or negative behavior.
Be a dynamic employee/parent who the child will admire. Children listen to people they respect, admire or find interesting. This does not mean that you become their friend and abandon providing structure for children's lives; it means that you must be a person a child would like to emulate.
You are in charge but in order to be an effective parent, you must be humble enough to admit when your parenting approach is not working.
The goal is to have a happy interdependent relationship with your children in which they can make informed decisions when you are not around to offer guidance. If the parenting methods you are currently employing are not getting the results you'd like, change.

4. Standards - there are certain skills that a child is expected to learn before going on to the next grade. You can find a lot of useful lesson plans to do at home on PBS Kids and Starfall is a great website for phonics help.

5. Language - teach your child Spanish by putting time aside to speak only in Spanish. You can choose to speak Spanish on the weekend or at night, but make sure you do not respond to your child if he or she speaks English. If you ask a question in Spanish and the child answers in English, keep asking in Spanish until you get an answer in Spanish. The most natural way to learn language is through employing it in everyday life: watch films, read books, listen to music and have conversations in the target language -- Spanish.
If your Spanish skills need some brushing up, Directo al grano is a great grammar book that provides a comparison of Spanish and English grammar. MIT offers free online courses -- take a Spanish class. Lo que no mata engorda.

6. Recreation as work and work as recreation - you can teach reading comprehension, research skills and critical thinking through doing research on subjects that the child enjoys. You can read the same books and articles and talk about them.
Choose one day per week to go to the library and always keep the appointment.
It is a good idea to read books on library reading lists, as they represent books used in schools. Reading books at home before the child reads them at school will give them a sense of accomplishment and insure they are better prepared.

7. Oral communication skills - boys tend to give one-word answers to questions while girls only need one simple question to talk for two hours. Make sure every question you ask is open-ended. Open-ended questions force the child to think.
Did you have fun at school today? - this is a yes/no question
How was school today? - this is an open-ended question, which allows a child to produce language, review syntax, use of prepositions, etc.

Give the child your undivided attention without staring at them. Some kids feel scrutinized and as if they are being interrogated if you ask questions and make intense eye-contact. Be casual but listen closely. You can try having a conversation as you prepare a snack together or do some other quiet activity.
Do not interrupt a child who speaks slowly; he or she might process information slowly and interruptions will make the child feel uncomfortable about speaking.

Make sure the television is not always on.
Attention deficit disorder begins at home with too much stimulation: cellphones, television, radio, music, a group of people talking at once.

8.Make time for important stuff. Reading and talking with your children is vital. Throw your television out the window, but make sure no one is standing below first. Limit television viewing because there are very few jobs for people that require them to sit still, stare blankly and overeat.

A bad education is hard to undo but a great education is something that no one can ever take away from you. The best inheritance you can leave your children is intellectual curiosity.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Should we ask those who appropriate Black Culture to be activists? by Odilia Rivera-Santos

American culture is Black culture. 
White Content Creators appropriate ideas from Black Communities and earn billions. And everyone wants to be Black until it's time to look for a job or deal with police. 
The demarcations of cultural appropriation are set so that Content Creators and Performers, who aim to loot the stores of Black brilliance for their own gain, can keep walking when shit gets real.

Appropriation and protest. 
Black kids imitate White performers who got their ideas from Black kids. Ironic, no?
This points to the lack of understanding Black kids have regarding their own value and the intrinsic and monetary value of the culture they help create. 

Do White Performers and White Content Creators owe the Black community some recompense? 
Do these people who have the inner resources to take ideas from our 'hoods' and run with them owe the families of murdered Black kids something?

What are inner resources?
The belief you deserve to earn a lot of money from ideas. 
The belief you can change the trajectory of your life. 
The belief that family and friends will offer you support in success and in failure.
The belief you can ask for help without being labeled stupid or weak. 
The belief that asking for help in completing a project is a sign of strength and intelligence, not weakness and incompetence.
The belief that YOUR culture, YOUR ideas and YOUR vision all have value . .. even if you're Black.