Love Life & Your Friends Fiercely

If you have to let go of everything else to get a good hold on this, do it.

Care. Madly, passionately.

Be yourself. There's no such thing as "larger than life"; be fully alive and present and true and it doesn't get more important than that.

Laugh. Loud, long, often.

Smile. And get other people to do it too.

Be kind. Randomly, bewilderingly, unexpectedly, sweetly.

I'll miss you, Leslie. But you won't stop being an inspiration.

Feel the fear and do it anyway, relationship edition

Sometimes it's very scary to consider revealing your feelings and fears. You know, those parts of yourself you aren't so proud of and those things you have figured out are the potential weak spots for keeping it all tickety-boo with this sweetheart?

This is that terror territory where life can get harder, things could turn out to be dealbreakers, all kinds of uncomfortableness could arise and it's just so easy and tempting to stay in the safe zone.

At some point to get things better and stronger and more rewarding with a partner you must venture out of what feels pleasant and predictable. Have some deeper conversations. Share some fears. Expose some vulnerabilities. Talk about what you really want, what you really really want.

There are levels of intimacy you can't fall up into; you have to climb.

It's worth it.


Heather's comment on my post about always learning was a great example of the principle of sharing group knowledge. As I was writing it, I was thinking "hmm, really should put in something about determining the authority of sources, but maybe that's a post of its own…" and then – cool! – she came back with that bit that was needed to help round out the post.

I encourage you to use tools and conversational techniques that provide an opening for others to weigh in with their knowledge. Blogs with comments on, wikis, giving other people a chance to talk in meetings, asking leading questions when you know someone has knowledge they could share, giving credit where credit is due, all of these are good ways to create better experiences for everyone involved.

Celebrate the Whole World of Music

Go to the library or your local music store or iTunes or somewhere and find some music you like from another country. I've been finding myself enjoying more & more African and Nordic music over the last year. Good artists to try out:

Angelique Kidjo – African, Benin – genres: Afropop, Jazz, Gospel, Latin
Ashwin Batish – Indian – genre: hmm, let's call it 80's sitarpop
Chaba Fadela And Cheb Sahraoui – Algerian – genre: Raï
Cheikha Ramitti – Algerian – genre: Raï
Cheb i Sabbah – Algerian/French – genres: dj, North African, global groove
Ekova – French-based, American/Iranian/Algerian – genres: global groove, glossolalia
Gabby Pahinui – Hawaiian – genres: slack key
Garmarna – Swedish – genres: scandanavian folk, rock, trip-hop
Groupa – Swedish – genres: scandanavian folk, jazz, African, Arabic, South American
Hedningarna – Swedish/Finnish – genres: scandanavian folk, Yoik, rock, Aboriginal
Les Yeux Noirs – French – genres: Romani (gypsy), jazz, Yiddish, Klezmer
Los Fabulosos Cadillacs – Argentinian – genres: rock, salsa, ska, rap, jazz, folk, big band
Mac Umbra – Scottish – genres: bagpipe, salsa, drum, rock (Only place I've found them is on the collection Roots, Reels & Rhythms, but worth seeking out just for that one track)
Maryam Mursal – Somalian – genres: Somali jazz, African, blues, soul
Miriam Makeba – South African – genres: African, jazz, Xhosa, folk
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Pakistani – genres: qawwali, khayal, techno
Pierre Akendengue – Gabonese – genres: African, French, pop
Rasto – Algerian? – genres: Raï, hip hop, reggae
Samy El Bably – Egyptian – genres: Arabian, jazz
Sheila Chandra – English/Indian – genres: raga, Indian pop, Asian fusion, solo voice, drone, folk, plainsong
Sileas – Scottish – genres: folk, harp, puirt a beul
Swåp – Swedish/English – genres: folk,  roots, reels
Yma Sumac – Peruvian/American – genres: Incan & South American folk, exotica, lounge (the album Mambo is an entertaining introduction which also shows off her over 3 octave range)

May I also encourage you to eschew the label "world" as one big undistinguished bucket for everything that isn't from the U.S./Canada/U.K./Australia and in English? Imagine if restaurants were classified like that!

Celebrate Freedom

Your political freedom matters. Don't take it for granted – if habeas corpus can go, what's next? – and think your vote and your voice can't make a difference. Elections are often close and your opinion counts.

You can make it count even more by being prepared and informed.

Many of my readers have an election coming up on Tuesday, so, gang, if you haven't already prepared your sample ballot, get to it. Review the information that's come to you in the mail, your email and from discussions with friends. Check out the non-partisan information at Smart Voter. Consider the options and make your choices.

While you're at it, confirm your polling location and see if there's anything you can do in advance to make your day go smoother as you take a few minutes out of it to vote.

Don't have an election? Take a little time to go through any mail, email or to-do notes you have about political involvement or charities. Been meaning to write that little check to Doctors Without Borders or Amnesty International? Planning to write a letter or a blog post about a good cause or change people can make? Do it today.

Get inspired by a hero

As you move forward on your own path of making your life less the one you don't want and more the one you do, work in a little time and/or money to help someone else on the same route. We all do better when we all do better.

As we're all learning from discardian  acts and small habit changes, the little stuff adds up, so notice that the same can apply to huge efforts like eliminating poverty and debilitating health conditions.

There are some great inspirations in this area – I'm a long-time fan and donator to Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter's Carter Center, for example – and the latest one in the news is Bangladeshi microloan pioneer, Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. I really like microcredit a lot as a concept and am active in it through Kiva, where I am an investor to a man named George Bomboko in Uganda. I put in $25 of the $450 he needed to start his business and he's already paid back about a third of that 4 months in on his 12-14 month loan period. I feel great about helping him out and about having this direct connection to someone else in another part of the world and am glad to know that even when I can only spare a few dollars, I can be doing something valuable.

On a local scale there are often good programs to provide emergency housing, showers, assistance with resume writing, etc. which can offer the kind of small help that allows someone having a hard time to get or keep a job. Just volunteering for them for a day or making a little donation of small things that will be handy for people who are homeless – disposable safety razors & travel packets of shaving cream, for instance – can give enough of a boost to help make someone feel things are getting better instead of worse.

Where do you like to make a difference? Are there organizations you donate to or volunteer with that you'd like to recommend? Chime in in the comments – and go make a little difference today somewhere!