2019: Stop to Smell the Flowers, Love self, Love Others (repeat) – Diary of a Baba
Posted on January 14, 2019
2019 has already started with a bang. I haven’t written in some time and I started feeling that uncomfortable itch. Since so much happened last year, I was waiting for the “right” time for all the “right” reflections but really there is never the “right” time or reflection, there is only time when you make time to reflect.
So here’s to me making time on a very busy week. I’m writing this on my iphone in between meeting commutes. AND, actually, I can’t think of a better time.
Many things have happened. To name a few: I transitioned out of my Executive Director role after 15 years at the Chinese Progressive Association (applause); I’m getting new and exciting movement building projects off the ground; We are planning a family sabbatical to Vietnam this year (YES, I said Vietnam!); I faced my fears and made a children’s book for Collin!
(Note: With my color blindness, I have avoided drawing and coloring for a long time but Collin gave me the courage to bust out of that abelists shit. This could be another blog!)
As I’m entering 2019, I have a few things I’m carrying into the year of new beginnings.
“Stop to Smell the Flowers, Love self, love others (repeat)”
This mantra is a bit of departure from my mantra of being a BOLD PRESENT BABA. With the support of my (awesome) somatic coach, I feel like this mantra has become a part of me, my daily practice, like a habit. Also as the context has shifted, this will continue to be with me. This mantra came to me over 2 years ago the week Trump was elected President and the week we got the results of Collin’s autism diagnosis. Both were a bit of a wake up call. There were feelings that I needed to “double down” on politics and fight Trump(ism) or “double down” on life and be present for Collin. Two years later, I see it is both; it is a marathon and not a sprint. To take it further, being more present for Collin has been the BEST thing for me (and hopefully him!).
This new mantra sounds simple but it is definitely not easy. I remember the first time I gave myself permission to “stop to smell the flowers” was at a celebration of life for Bill Sorro, a long time activist, organizer, mentor and committed leftist in the Bay Area. I remember his son Giulio shared that one of the best words of advice his father told him was to “stop to smell the flowers.” In the moments of sadness and grief, I felt a gentle relief hearing a revolutionary say those words. It’s taken me time to fully absorb this but parenting has been a great reminder, as well.
“Love self and love others” is another reminder to basically love myself. It is also about doing it for myself and transforming with others. I’m not doing this for others, there are no martyrs here. I’m not doing this out of guilt and obligation, I’m doing this because it is truly connected to my purpose and the collective liberation of all peoples. As a the oldest son of a Chinese patriarchal family, this is difficult to say out loud. Much of my training at a very young age that it was my responsibility/obligation to do for others, not for myself. For me, my transformation is just as important as others.
2019 will be a year of practicing my mantra of “Stop to Smell the Flowers, Love self, Love Others (repeat)” How will I do this?
One, I said this publicly so please when you see me, you can ask how it’s going or maybe in a few months. Next month, this will reset with Lunar New Years 😀
Second, as mentioned earlier, we are going to Vietnam later this year, for 6 months! I’m going to take language classes and have space to write (and even draw!). But most importantly, Mychi, Collin and I will have precious and rare time TOGETHER. How amazing is that?
Finally, what gives me complete inspiration that self and collective transformation is possible is seeing it unfold right under my nose. Everyday, Collin is exercising his rights and expressing himself in so many new ways.
From asking for space/privacy and demanding consent to verbalizing his anger and frustration, I’m so amazed how our little human is growing up. Although I don’t always understand and don’t always have the patience (another blog post), I’m feeling my core truly transforming with him and our entire family and community.
2019 will be the year to give more space to all of this.
Stop to Smell the Flowers, Love self, Love Others (repeat)