It's Been a Minute

Hello everyone! If you're a regular Slow Down follower, or if you're new and you've noticed the wildly out-of-date timestamps on the front page blog posts, it probs appears that I've slowed so far down that I've ceased movement altogether. 

Here are some of the reasons why. And how what I have been doing during this extra quiet interim will (hopefully) be important for advancing the mission of The Slow Down.

I've been reading

Like, a lot.

And I alllllmost did a paid Amazon-linked round-up of the books I read between January and October 2017, but then I started boycotting Amazon for these very  numerous  and  well-documented reasons.

Most of the writing and other media that I've been consuming recently has been focused on decolonization. My political worldview has shifted significantly as a result and is now primary centered on complete decolonization, predicated 100% on land return. Reform and even revolution are empty goals without first addressing land. 

While my politics have always been radical, I am embarrassed at how much they've been focused on reform and mitigation-of-evil rather than on comprehensive decolonization.

I'd previously committed myself to disavowing imperialism as much as possible, and with special urgency after witnessing US-funded state violence first hand, for the first time, several years back. Land return has long been the foundation of my politics re: Palestine. Now, as my understanding about the settler-colonial character of the United States* has advanced, thanks to the generous labor of amazing Native Studies + Post-Colonial Studies scholars/writers/thinkers, I'm making land-return and full decolonization the heart of my politics.

Of course, my politics remain firmly anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist, etc. But I wanted to be transparent about how I've been learning A LOT lately and I've wanted to remain mostly quiet as I absorbed these important teachings. I'm still no expert and I have a lot more, truly a lifetime's worth, of reading and listening to do, but I'm dedicated to it. And I probably won't speak much on decolonial issues myself but rather I'll share links here on the blog to those who are the experts, exclusively prioritizing BIPOC voices. 

I've actually been enjoying my job?

This fall, I had the privilege to travel and meet some of the amazing people on the receiving end of the work I help do. I am still highly critical of the industry I work in (international development), but meeting people who experienced tangible benefits and improvements to their well-being, who received critical services that the local governments refuse to provide -- in direct violation of international humanitarian law -- was extraordinary. I'm deeply grateful for that opportunity and proud that I work for a great org within a typically problematic sector. 

This isn't to say I'm sold on the whole 9-to-5, physically-being-in-the-office thing. If anything, being in the field again further unsettled me in this regard. 

Meeting badass refugee entrepreneurs on my trip also reminded me that valuing a flexible schedule and autonomy isn't just a desire born of privilege. Everyone wants independence and treating your body like a work machine (which is especially complicated for disabled and chronically ill people) is not an obsession that has much currency beyond toxic U.S. work-culture, despite globalization. Of course, I could be dead wrong, but this is the impression I've gotten time and again whenever I've lived in or traveled to the Middle East, Europe, or Central America. We (U.S.) Americans perform a particularly sadistic form of committment to our jobs. 

So, I've written less lately in part because I've had less to gripe about re: work. Plus, I've been kept very busy at my job, and happily so. I will nevertheless continue to work towards my freelancing dreams, fueled by inspiration from the folks I've met in my current career. And I'll continue to document that journey here at The Slow Down.

New routines under construction

I've spoken before about the sacredness of my routines. My routines both enable and reinforce my spiritual practices and soul-health. But they've been in near-constant flux in recent months, thanks in part to shifting living arrangements, work travel, and then the horrific holidays.

 Art by the author, N Marie

Art by the author, N Marie

Since all of that is now over, I'm working to re-set the routines that work for me and establish new ones to help develop my creative and social life. I'm very wary of resolutions, but I can say that my intentions for 2018 are to be:

  •  well-nourished (physically/mentally/spiritually),
  • well-connected (community), and
  • to be more myself than I've ever been before.

This requires prioritizing and stating my needs. This also means defending and advocating for the needs of others, even if it means my own discomfort. Because of the constraints of time --  even though TIME IS AN ILLUSION -- I want to see if I can integrate + embed these 2018 intentions into my daily routines. I will, of course, report on this progress here on the blog!

Since that's the whole point right? Learning in public. For the benefit of others and to track my growth. 

Rethinking the blog's direction

Speaking of "the whole point": I started this blog with the mission of reviewing and sharing self-care resources. And while I still plan to do that, I have been rethinking 1) the utility of doing so, given the more expert resources on the subject made available online throughout 2017 and 2) doing so as a white-coded and therefore pretty privileged person who is transitioning to middle-class socio-economic status. Yes, I'm still disabled, queer, femme, and not-actually-white, but I am cognizant that I need to be mindful of how much space I take up when the oppression I face is much less acute than many others'. I will continue to cover the same topics, but with great care and a willingness to course-correct if and when I'm called out or recognize a misstep myself. 

I also want to share more art! Reviewing the site analytics of The Slow Down have shown much higher engagement when I've included a really jazzy me-made illustration. So I'm going to do more of that. And I'm considering setting up a wee shop to sell prints of them. I still plan to pair my art with blog posts, which will continue to focus on various topics of healing. 

I've long been wanting to expand in this direction, so look forward to my fragile efforts at more creative living!

Reading list

If you're curious, here are some of the books I've been reading lately:

  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (I've become an evangelist of this book. It's the best, go get it.)
  • Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
  • An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
  • Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici
  • Ojibwe Heritage by Basil Johnston 
  • Mean by Myriam Gurba (CW: lots of sexual assault)
  • The Settler's Empire by Bethel Saler (much less Indigenous-centered than I'd hoped)
  • Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine by Steven Salaita


* NB: I say "character" and not "history," because colonization of Indigenous land and people is ONGOING.