I did something amazing. I got 7 hours of sleep a night the last 6 nights. I’m on a roll! It’s been quite a feat to unlearn habits and practices that lead to poor sleep. But this post isn’t about sleep, it’s about how we’re doing in the era of COVID.

From the tragic loss of over a half million of lives in the US alone, widening inequality, and anti-Asian violence to the trauma of frontline workers, the social and emotional isolation of all generations and zoom fatigue, this pandemic is impacting all of us in different kind of ways.

For me, as a cis-man of color, I have been conditioned to be remarkably calm, conditioned to think about others before self, trained to “power through,” and not really share how I’m really doing.

But, I’m unlearning and learning everyday… Unlearning thousands of years of Chinese feudalism, US-based capitalism and hetero-patriarchy. Many things. I’m learning to be gentle on myself and centering love, care and purpose.  

So here is my intention to share (and not over share!) how I’m doing. 

Last year, I started having a pretty serious health issue, which I hinted at in a few of my blogs. With all the stress and lack of sleep that accumulated over time, I started getting intense facial spasms on the left side of my face and cheek. It was so bad that it could impair my vision and hearing and sometimes my speech.   

But for a number of reasons (I named above) I downplayed the impact this had on me. I’d mention it in my checkins but had no real “emotional content” (as Bruce Lee would say). I was pretty worried inside but I also didn’t want to freak people out. I knew this wasn’t a winning solution. I knew I needed to reach out to others and take care of my health. After the tests, it was clear that it was not fatal. I’m in a much better place now health-wise and have made some significant life adjustments.

It’s taken me some time to have the courage and confidence to share – to share weakness and vulnerabilities. But luckily I had some good friends and comrades call me in.

I’m now on the slow road to recovery as my acupuncturist says. Every day and week I’m taking tiny actions – literally – towards self and collective liberation.

Image of Collin biking towards the sunset in the Brooklyn Basin in Oakland. This is one of our weekly routines together.

Here are some of the things I’m doing:  

  • Being more vulnerable: This is the most basics and obvious. When I’ve been able to share with others about how I’m doing including my health issues, I’m also hearing how others are really doing in these times. What a concept!
  • Countering zoom hegemony: Remember the days we just talked on the phone? I’m limiting zoom screen time and having more phone calls. Some days are more successful than others. 
  • Sleeping more: This one was harder than I thought. I used to pride myself in being able to sleep anywhere but as my generative somatic therapist reminds me, “being exhausted is different than getting rest.” Last May, Collin started sleeping on his own (finally) and I wasn’t used to getting uninterrupted sleep. My body would wake up after 4-5 hours and it would be SO hard to fall back asleep. I gradually untrained and retrained the body. After the election last year, I started getting 6 hours of sleep a night. These days, 7 hours of sleep is a total WIN!

“being exhausted is different than getting rest.”

-A wise politicized healer
  • Flanking others: As I turn 45 this year (!!), I realize more and more how important lateral leadership is to support and build up others, especially young fem and queer leadership on the frontlines. I’m also more clear about the intersection of my purpose and where I’m needed most to make clear long term movement interventions.
  • Spending quality fam time: It’s only taken a year but the last 3 months we’ve been practicing monthly family days and date days. This pandemic period is so odd. We see so much of our pod and yet have very little “quality” time. We’ve taken lots of hikes and outdoor adventures.
  • Taking care of self: I’ve been doing weekly acupuncture, regular generative somatic therapy, biking, and writing and study. I need to remind myself that the body and mind are hella resilient and can heal and regenerate over time. I still remember how I injured my ankle many years ago and had to allow it to slowly recover with daily stretches for a year or so.
  • Deepening my political purpose: While we have an emboldened right wing, we also have racial divisions and millions to organize. We also need to think in decades about the long arc. From the movement infrastructure to the pacific pivot and the role of revolutionaries in the 21st century, I feel fortunate to have a clear political purpose and collective project in my paid and non-paid movement work. AND… to be clear, part of my “political” work is also raising an awesome and autistic son, which is transforming me every single day.

part of my “political” work is also raising an awesome and autistic son, which is transforming me every single day.

Finally, I know I said that this post was not about sleep but if there is anything to take away from this post it is GET SOME SLEEP. It is probably THE most important way the mind and body regenerates. This is especially for cis men in their 40s (even 30s), who may think they are invincible. We need more love and compassion not martyrism. As always, I’m also down to talk more offline. Much love to you all!

Here are some pictures of our latest outdoor adventures. Images include (left to right) My bike at the Bay Bridge, our bikes at the Oakland Embarcadero; Me and Mychi on our date day at Lake Chabot; Maverick Beach at Half Moon Bay; Collin on a motor boat at Lake Chabot.