Seva for Millennials

Seva is a Sanskrit term that means “service.” We are in a political time when we need full-on and present engagement in service. We need to be and stay woke. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, we need to practice self-care in ways that serve others. For the purpose of this post, I want to focus on the latter part of that mission statement: serve others. What are some efficient ways to serve others, mobilize fellow 20-somethings, and contribute in effective ways while still holding down the one, two, or three jobs that most millennials have (plus, you know, grad school, yoga, and other hobbies)?

Call your representatives!

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My roommate got me hooked on 5calls.org, which makes it extremely easy and user-friendly to make targeted phone calls and to log your engagement. This website runs the gamut of sociopolitical issues from legislation regarding climate change to education to immigration.

Volunteer for one organization.

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In an effort not to spread yourself too thin to the point where you quit everything, choose just one organization that is involved in a cause you’re passionate about. Maybe that’s Planned Parenthood or the ACLU or a local tutoring program. Find out where they need volunteers the most, take out your planner or log onto GoogleCal, and schedule it in. Time is change-making currency, baby! (Pun intended.)

Donate when you can’t protest!

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Recently, I made a rule for myself: for every mass protest I don’t show up for, I will donate to an organization that does the kind of work that protest is fighting for. Two weeks ago, I was unable to show up to airports to protest the ban. As I shared my guilt with my friend on the subway back from yoga, I took out my phone and donated to the ACLU. It took me less than two minutes. I am not saying that donating is the same as protesting! I am also not saying that we shouldn’t do both if we can! But, there are so many ways to be involved and engaged, and to make a contribution. Time and money are both forms of currency. I am going to try to use one when I cannot use the other.

Practice positive reinforcement: write thank-you notes.

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This is my third year of teaching elementary school. In elementary school (and many of the classes I take in graduate school as well), we talk a lot about the idea of positive reinforcement. The psychology blog Very Well defines this age-old field-tested concept,

In operant conditioning, positive reinforcement involves the addition of a reinforcing stimulus following a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. When a favorable outcome, event, or reward occurs after an action, that particular response or behavior will be strengthened.

Thank the people who are doing good work. Thank them genuinely – because you really appreciate what they’re doing – but also thank them because you want to encourage them to continue doing the good work that they’re doing. Finally (as if you need more reasons to intentionally say “thank you”), it shifts everyone’s mind to the positive, which is so important…especially if you’re making a lot of phone calls or going to a lot of protests to get legislation changed. My roommate is writing thank-you letters to her representatives that stick out to her as speaking out against the administration in productive ways. I wrote an email to my principal thanking her for broadcasting immigration stories on the announcements. The possibilities are varied, and bottom line: taking this action is refueling!

Which one of these are you going to do today? Let’s get to work!

Top 5 Tips for Taking Your Practice Off the Mat

The following post is part of a countdown series leading up to the release of my first e-course (!!!), which comes out on Friday, July 15th. You can pre-register here with a special discount rate using the code LIVELEARNER for taking the course LIVE. These 5 tips come from the final lesson: Off the Mat.

  1. Meditate. Allow the physical practice to fulfill its initial intention: to prepare for a seated meditation. Choose whatever format you’d like. Sit down. Set a timer for 5 minutes to start out with. Close your eyes and let the fluctuations of the mind pass.
  2. One of the best motivators for a yoga practice is to involve other people in it. A practice is often fueled by specific forms of service to others. Try volunteering for a yoga service organization such as Off the Mat, Bent on Learning, Lineage Project, SONIMA Foundation (there are so many!).
  3. Breathe. Practice taking deep breaths throughout the day. Set a reminder on your phone if you need to at the points of the day when you’d need it the most!
  4. Talk about your practice with your friends. Don’t proselytize it; simply tell them that you’re doing it. You never know when the ripple effect will take place.
  5. Intention. Let your intention fuel all that you do, off the mat as well. Practice recalling it throughout your day and check in rigorously throughout the day to see what tweaks you’d need to make to fuel it better.

Register for the e-course here. The discount code for registering by July 15th is LIVELEARNER.

December Link Love: Burritos, Heart + Justice

image via rachael taylor designs

Introduction to the monthly Link Love column: One of my favorite blogs (and a total blogger role model of mine) is Gala Darling. Every month, Gala Darling publishes a link roundup in a narrative form of what she’s been reading. Lounging in bed on lazy Friday mornings (when I was in college) or Sunday mornings (now that I’m a working lady), I open up the links Gala posts like presents on Chanukah evenings. I want to create a similar experience for my readers…with the added bonus of documenting these reading gems so I no longer have 17 tabs open on Google Chrome. So, without further adieu, thank you Gala for the inspiration. Here is a delightful (Central Park) link carousel of my own.

Warning: This month, brace yourself for some extra links. I’ve been at home with a broken leg, reminding myself of the face that the internet is a BFF of mine at times. There are links galore!

The son of one of my volunteers at the school I do my AmeriCorps service at started up the Burrito Brigade, an organization that fights food insecurity with vegan burritos in Oregon. Clearly, social justice runs in the family.

Speaking of social justice, this has been quite a month of fighting for it. Jezebel doesn’t know what to do with “good white people” and a student from my sister’s high school got arrested for walking under red tape at the protest he went to with his afterschool poetry club.

In case you haven’t gotten the picture already, the world needs changing. That change might lie in teenage girls.

Politicians and their machines need to pay attention to youth voters, and if they’re smart they’ll look to the internet to better understand the issues that are most important to them and — critically — how and where to talk to them about these issues.
We can’t assume loving a boy band prevents a girl from thinking critically about her experiences and the experiences of others. Don’t assume teenagers can’t understand complex social theory. Pay attention to teenage girls; they just might change the world.

And Michael Franti.

On a lighter note, these are apparently the best 15 cities for single women.

A beauty blogger reveals how she does her makeup every morning.

I claim the seat of a student with an injury as I seek guidance from my teachers.

Real Simple shared these DIY Christmas decorations.

So thrilled I get to start filling out my new daybook with this blog post on schedules by Kimberly herself in mind!

Gala Darling shares what it means to have a heart-centered business.

Being heart-centered means that you’re adding light to the world. Heart-centered or not, you are running a business. A business is a profit-making venture. Anything else is a hobby.You are only as powerful as you will allow yourself to be, so stop playing small! Don’t shrink down to make other people comfortable. Don’t water it down.Don’t be Diet You. BRING IT! We need you!
But in order to make the impact you seek, you have to step into your power fully. You have to own it.
Sometimes that can be scary. But if you really want to add to the world, you have to stand up and be heard.

What a f*cking FANTASTIC article. A feminist take on blogging. Truly inspirational.

A few months ago, I listened to Lena Dunham’s memoir as an audiobook. this article has me question if I can justifiably call it memoir. Though lately I doubt the valence of genres anyway…

Well & Good asked Daphne Oz how she stays healthy during the holidays. And they asked Alexis Jones what her tricks are for being a bada*s confident + inspiring woman. Oh, and I really want to start contributing to the I Am That Girl blog!

SoulCycle instructor from this Refrigerator Look Book started the Movemeant Foundation (not a typo) to inspire young women by helping them to feel confident about their bodies!

Guess who’s back? Back again? Mia’s back. Tell a friend! HOLY F*CKING SH*T. The most relatable princess on the planet is back! And better than ever. Reading this, with her voice still the strong and poignant feminist fictional role model that I had from middle school through high school would have made me cry…if it didn’t make me roar with laughter first. Goodness gracious, Mia Thermopolis, I’ve missed you. I cannot wait until June! Meg Cabot also wishes her readers a lovely happy holidays and I am so #thrilled that through this post I found out about this excerpt for the book I am anticipating most this year (Princess Diaries X…I didn’t know this day would come!!!) and a collection of Meg Cabot’s short stories!!! My sister and I were actually just having a conversation about how we are disappointed by the lack of three-dimensional female characters in young adult fiction. Mia Thermopolis, however, is proof to me that creating three-dimensional female characters with quirk, feminist inclinations, and sheer human awesomeness is totally possible. I am so grateful to have grown up with her!

J.K. Rowling made a Jewish wizard. L’Chaim!

I am really excited to see Still Alice when it comes out.

Tim Ferris tells us how to build a brand.

It’s been a year of T-Swift and neither me nor the NYT are complaining.

HerCampus reveals how life changes after graduation and they’re sad…and true…and sad because they’re true.

Whoot whoot to Cuban bloggers!

If you’ve ever struggled with body image, this Kickstarter is for you.

The Atlantic believes that there’s power in writing about yourself.

Here’s the history of one of my favorite bookstores in the world and the highlight of my trip to Paris.

Anne Lamott is one fierce spiritual lady.

A Curvy Yoga body gratitude printout…I’ll OM to that!

A 24-year-old author just broke J.K. Rowling’s sale record!

30 people under 30 who are following their passions.

What can I say? My generation is filled with “career jugglers.” I’m living proof.

The director of my kids yoga TT had a piece published on cross-country love lost.

Glamour Mag learned these 5 beauty lessons from Beyonce this year.

Love, love, love the movie Obvious Child.

New wellness site Sonima shares master teacher Raghunauth Cappo’s story.

The New York Times shares the best TV shows of 2014.

I am so glad that friends Z + N introduced me to the Happy Mindful People + their blog.

My high school writing mentor shares her year in books.

Ella tells us the parts of being 22 that T-Swift left out. Beautiful.

Tiny Buddha encourages us to be the best versions of ourselves a lot more often.

When I was studying abroad, a documentary filmmaker came to talk to us about the importance of the media – and just representation within it – in Cuba, a place where media is vastly more scarce than it is in this country. That was the first time I heard the name Assata Shakur – click for her open letter to the media – and I am hopeful that “restored” relations between countries will allow us to hear her name more often – on her terms – in this country where media is abundant and justice within it is scarce.

BONUS: This SNL GIRLS skit is a true gem.