Is your country at risk of becoming a dictatorship? Here’s how to know | Farida Nabourema

Farida Nabourema has dedicated her life to fighting the military regime in Togo, Africa's oldest autocracy. She's learned two truths along the way: no country is destined to be oppressed — and no country is immune to dictatorship. But how can you tell if you're at risk before it happens? In a stirring talk, Nabourema shares the four key signs of a dictatorship, along with the secret to defiance for those living within an oppressive system.
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A Handmade Tale

Recently I learned to bake sourdough bread. If you have ever tried it, it is a time-intensive labor of love, taking days to create two loaves of bread. I felt immense pleasure creating something so tasty with my own hands. I am hooked.

Soon after my triumphant achievement, a friend sent me a story of Silicon Valley’s love with sourdough-bread baking. Unlike me, they are engineering the perfect loaf with sophisticated technology that includes custom-made bread ovens, laser thermometers, and temperature controlled proofing boxes. I am low-tech: starter, flour, water, a ceramic dutch oven I bought at Target, and my regular oven. Although my bread may not have had the perfect cell structure and was slightly over browned on the bottom it still tasted like freshly baked bread does filling my kitchen with an intoxicating aroma. I started to reflect on my experience. While we reach the same outcome, our experiences seem different.

It came to me that baking was a great metaphor to life and that the qualities it took to bake the bread were indeed qualities I want to cultivate more in my everyday life. While technology provides great benefit we have become addicted to it. It can alienate us from connecting on a deeper more personal level to ourselves, to our inner creative, to others and the world around us. It would be good practice to slow down and focus on making things again.

Here are my reflections.

1. Patience is a great quality to cultivate and makes the ride a lot smoother. It takes days from start to finish to make bread. It isn’t so much labor intensive, but it is time intensive. From getting your starter active to the countless times you knead and rest the dough before you get to the oven. You can’t rush the process. It was satisfying to slow down and enjoy the process as it came together step by step. It requires patience, and, as in life, we don’t get what we want and desire overnight. Practicing patience in the kitchen and in life helps us slow down and appreciate the now that we often miss rushing, anxious and uptight that things aren’t happening fast enough. We rob ourselves of the pleasure in the nuances of the journey.

2. Enjoy The Small Wins. Each step was a win and set up the success of the next. I was excited every time I experienced the results of my labor. We often are so busy or focused on getting to our end goal we don’t appreciate and enjoy our small victories. We often forget to prize ourselves and others along the way. Life is much more fulfilling if we make time to enjoy the wins, even the little ones.

3. Simplicity. Flour, water, a dutch oven, heat, and using my hands. The experience using the technology of fancier ovens and thermometers may have made more ‘perfect’ bread but mine was imperfectly perfect, and I was just fine with that. Things don’t need to be complicated to be better.

4. Creativity Fills Our Hearts. Made by hand comes from the heart and having my creative energy flow through my hands tapped into the place inside of joyful self expression. Kneading and stretching dough with my hands satisfied the artisan in me. I wanted to learn to do it well, with integrity, and create something with quality using my hands.

5. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. When we learn something new, it kneads and stretches us, taking us out of our comfort zone. Beyond our comfort zone is where our growth lies. It takes patience and self-compassion to remember – like a child who learns to crawl then walk – that learning and growing is a process. It serves us well to be kind to ourselves through the process. Tell that inner critic that all is well, let go of the judgments that you aren’t doing it right, and move on. Life is like that and if you are a life-long learner, failure and less-than-perfect is guaranteed. The good news is the more you try, the better you get.

6. Enjoy The Journey. I would not have appreciated those two loaves of bread as much as I did had I not labored over them for days. I was present when I was on task and enjoyed each step along the way and my bread tasted that much better for it.

7. A Life Long Learner. I learned something new and I felt great! I was proud of myself. Learning keeps us fresh, pushes our edges, stretches us. Like in life. It fosters our curiosity and creativity. It keeps us engaged in the world and enriches our life and our well being. Our talents grow. Life is more enjoyable. We become more aware inside ourselves of what brings joy and meaning to our lives. If that is not enough, research continues to support cultivating a growth mindset is good for our brain.

Sure my bread could have been more perfectly textured, more tangy and less brown on the bottom. Using technology to help me along the way would have helped those goals but I got immense joy doing it by hand the old-fashioned way. I felt connected to my heart and my creativity, I enjoyed the journey and I am left remembering qualities I can cultivate well beyond just making bread.

Kim Garner brings creativity, imagination and inspired leadership to notable projects and experiences within music, entertainment, media, and technology. As the Head of Marketing and Artist Development for Republic Records, Kim successfully crafted and launched campaigns for such global icons as Prince, The Who, and the Rolling Stones to newcomers Amy Winehouse, Florence & The Machine and Jack Johnson empowering them to celebrate their vibrant authentic nature from which she created powerful image and brand positioning. Through her marketing consultancy, she recently produced LA Times’ NEWSTORY event as part of Festival of Books bringing new ways of storytelling to the festival stages including music, film, TV, and technology. Kim coaches and leads workshops in personal growth and development. Through her own pursuit of greatness she loves to inspire others to recognize their superpowers, to love and trust their authentic nature and boldly share it with the world. An ever-blooming “perennial”, life-long learner and adventurer at heart she is always maximizing her own potential by tackling a myriad of adventures whether cycling up Tour de France mountain routes, white water kayak around the world or trekking to the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

Image courtesy of Nadya Spetnitskaya.

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The post A Handmade Tale appeared first on Positively Positive.

You Have to Stop Fixing What Cannot Be Fixed

It comes like a tsunami.

It forces itself inside your house.

With madness.

You run out your front door.

When the tsunami ends, your house is destroyed.

Your things don’t look like your things anymore.

Your bed is not in your bedroom.

Your kitchen has no food that can be eaten.

You sit and cry on the floor.

You say to yourself I can make this work.

This is better than trying to find a new house.

You spend your days attempting to move the bed back inside the bedroom, but it won’t fit.

Your kitchen appliances have stopped making you dinner and cleaning your dishes.

The tsunami ate them up.

You think you can start doing their job too.

Make dinners from scratch.

Clean every plate, by hand.

By the end of the day you are exhausted and your bed is still in the hallway.

Days go by. Then weeks. Months.

Years for some of us.

And your life inside the house starts to look like the tsunami did.

The destroyer. The chaos keeper.

The end of you.

But this is what it will take.

Complete life destruction to move out.

It takes exhaustion. Pain. Torture.

The daily kind.

And now you know. At last.

You know.

You have to stop fixing what cannot be fixed.

The torture of making a new life may not be as hard as trying to hold on to the old one. @SecondFirsts (Click to Tweet!)

And as you exit the door of your old house.

Heading towards the unknown.

You find the courage to not go back inside.

You find the strength to look away.

Take your first breath and make your way to living once again.

With lots of unknowns,

Christina

Christina Rasmussen is the creator and founder of The Life Reentry Institute, Second Firsts, The Life Starters and Star Letters. Christina is on a crusade to help millions of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the power of their own minds. Christina’s work has been featured on ABC News, NPR, The White House Blog, and MariaShriver.com. She is the bestselling author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again, which has also been translated in Chinese and German and just released her second book Where Did You Go on expanding the mind in ways that allows co-creation with the forces of the universe. She is also writing her first work of fiction: a science fiction story about a woman on a quest to start over and begin a new life. You can find more information on her website and follow her on FB or Twitter.

Image courtesy of Armin Lofti.

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The post You Have to Stop Fixing What Cannot Be Fixed appeared first on Positively Positive.

The self-assembling computer chips of the future | Karl Skjonnemand

The transistors that power the phone in your pocket are unimaginably small: you can fit more than 3,000 of them across the width of a human hair. But to keep up with innovations in fields like facial recognition and augmented reality, we need to pack even more computing power into our computer chips — and we're running out of space. In this forward-thinking talk, technology developer Karl Skjonnemand introduces a radically new way to create chips. "This could be the dawn of a new era of molecular manufacturing," Skjonnemand says.
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The Beauty of Doing Nothing: Why I’ve Embraced Being Unproductive

“Every good cause is worth some inefficiency.” ~Paul Samuelson

I made a mess yesterday. The mess is still there. Who knows when the mess will disappear.

The mess provided me with one of those sense-pleasing plates of food that lingers in the mind long after the last bite. The kind that makes you wonder if there is a rhyme and reason to our world after all. A plate of food so delectable it provided a raison for my être. (If only for a little while.)

But this story is not about the art of nourishing oneself. It is about dirty dishes and unfolded laundry. And also a little about unfulfilled potential and the beauty of living in the maybe.

You see, I have been living rather inefficiently lately. To-do lists have been decorating the inside of my recycling bin. I’ve been measuring my progress by the amount of naps taken, and I have forgone the opportunity to expand my productivity. Because productivity requires focused effort. And lately, effort has been spilling left and right, wasted a little here and a little there.

I’ve consciously decided to use my time frivolously, dipping in and out of idleness like a bag of crispy treats.

This newfound way of organizing my days still feels very fresh and raw to me. It comes after years of optimizing every aspect of my life. Formerly, I neatly arranged my life into one-hour timeslots in an attempt to mold a perfect career, body, and even perfect relationships. I tracked my success with a meticulous timesheet. And success I had (or so I thought).

I was ticking off one accomplishment after the other and always strived to be, do, and have more. Although strenuous, the method worked. Until one day, it didn’t.

About two years ago I woke up and nothing worked anymore. My body had decided to no longer cooperate with my frantic behavior. It had simply been worked too hard for too long, and it had nothing left to give.

Stubborn as I was, I treated my worn-out body like a new project. I took every vitamin in the book, quit sugar, quit gluten—basically quite everything tasty—did #yogaeverydamnday, went on social media detoxes, and hopped from one alternative healer to the next.

Nothing helped, and I became increasingly desperate. I had developed stubborn back pains, anxiety-inducing tinnitus, and crippling insomnia. My concoction of remedies did pretty much nothing for me. My will to live plummeted with each misshapen step to health.

And then a little (and at the same time big) miracle happened.

I decided to simply let go. I surrendered to the sleepy eyes and the fuzzy brain and the profound, yet inexplicable sadness inside of me. I let go of trying to make it go away.

I tossed my strict diet and exercise regimes in the bin. I didn’t meditate anymore at times when I would rather sleep, or spend money on health practitioners at times when I would rather spend money on a movie ticket.

I simply let go and accepted my current reality. I gave in to the impermanence of life and accepted that I could no longer do what I was once able to do. In return, I have received a gloriously inefficient approach to life and a deep sense of the present moment.

Let me illustrate what this means with a typical Saturday in my current life:

6.30 AM – I wake up in accordance with my natural body clock. I vow to no longer wake up so early on weekends.

9.00 AM – I am still in bed.

9.15 AM – I get up and make myself a simple porridge. I proceed to eat this for the next hour and a half. The porridge gets cold halfway through. I vow to eat a little quicker next time.

11.45 AM – I proceed to alternate between reading my book and dosing off for short periods of time.

2.00 PM – I have a short lunch and contrast this with a long stroll in the park afterward.

4:00 PM – I make an attempt to write, but mainly just stare at a blank piece of paper. I vow to stare at a blank piece of paper more often.

5 PM – I start preparing a meal. I don’t use a recipe, but the dish is surprisingly tasty. I vow to use fewer recipes going forward.

7.00 PM – I pick up my book but decide to do a mindful stretch instead.

9.00 PM – I wanted to do a meditation before bed, but the stretching has lulled me into a sleep-like state. After a day of doing nothing much at all—especially not the dishes—I go to bed early.

I vow to do the dishes tomorrow. Or perhaps the day after tomorrow. (I have no intention of keeping any of my vows.)

I know there are still so many runs to be ran, works to be worked on, and loves to be loved.

But lately all the runs and the works and the loves have had to wait. Wait in order to make room for all the nothings I have been neglecting for too long. The nothings that have been patiently accumulating in my mind and are now pouring out with urgency.

Nothing has been more important than those nothings and the inefficiencies that come along with them. There are, of course, still occasional runs and works and loves. But mainly a lot of naps.

When life doesn’t move forward it moves backward, they say. But was life really that backward, back in the day? What I mean to say is that it seems silly to me. To run around and produce all of the greatness. Greatness that allows us to be seen, and heard, and held, and kept. By our friends and our lovers, our colleagues and our neighbors. Yet is it good to be great? Or is it greater to just be? Like a two-year-old child. Like back in the day.

The neighbors’ grass might be greener, but I wonder if they have time to lie on it.

To look at the clouds passing by. To feel the breeze on their cheeks and hear the birds in their ears. To dream about the life they’ve lived so far. The life to come. And the life better left for another round. The neighbors might have cleaned their dishes, but I doubt their naps are as glorious as mine.

Perhaps tomorrow I will be productive again. After all, balance is key. But not today.

Because today, I risk wasting my time for a chance at feeling alive.

About Lizzy Dean

Lizzy is a dreamer and a writer from the UK. After a health crisis in 2016, she now chronicles her attempts at cultivating a slower and more meaningful life on her blog Lizzyfied. On this platform, she explores how to live in the question and anchor into the present in a non-judgemental and (self-)compassionate way.

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