The Modern Elder Academy

I attended a two week beta program at The Modern Elder Academy.

The program was presented in three pieces:

  1. A look at what made you who you became and are now.
  2. A, no kidding, nine hour ‘vision quest’ alone in a teepee in the desert – which I saw as a reset.
  3. How you’d like to construct what’s next for you.

It didn’t hurt that it was on a beautiful beach on the western Baja coast in a spectacularly appointed compound.

I wrote about the experience in my Forbes series.

 

Meditation

Here’s the thing about meditating. With enough practice you can call it in times of anxiety, confusion or overwhelm. It’s that simple. You will immediately find yourself more at peace and give a more balanced amount of energy to that which has you in a knot.

You sit on a pillow, on folded knees or on a chair as upright as you can. I get within a couple of feet of a wall as I meditate with my eyes open and this helps for focus. Breath in through your nose to your abdomen. Breath out through your mouth. Count 10 breaths, start again, then again. That’s one set. Do that three times.

Your mind will wander and you’ll zoom in on a topic and you will obsess on it and lose your count. Start again. The only thing to concentrate on is breathing in and breathing out and your upright posture.

When you find yourself obsessing on a thought. Acknowledge it and let it go. A good metaphor is a that you spot a cloud, acknowledge it, then let it float away.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

For 40 years I’ve gone back to Shunryu Suzuki’s foundational book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind“. It’s short chapters progress to a deeper understanding of the concept of zen along with simple how-to’s about sitting in meditation. It will confuse at times and seem to be written in riddles. Not to worry, it will make sense over time.

It’s that easy. Do it every day if you can. Do it somewhere that is not very distracting if you can. Do what you can. I like the middle of a meeting. Go for some hard-core training and try it in a noisy house. … more

60 and Gay in Tech

Below is the video and text of a presentation I gave at Tech Inclusion in San Francisco on October 19, 2017

Today is my epic story and some techniques for surviving as a graying, gay person in tech.

I’ve worked in tech for close to 35 years and alternative newspapers before that. 

I was always interested in changing the status quo through media and associated myself with organizations that I thought at least accepted who I was.

When there was discrimination it was often subtle, but thanks to some early activism I was always reactive first.

Sorry mean people.


I survived with a technique I’ve come to call

“The Humanist + Activist Approach”

Here’s how it works and why it’s more important than ever today.

  1. If you haven’t noticed… blatant harrassment and discrimination is filling the news cycles.
    1. We’re in a dangerous political environment.  Those in power today are turning back the clock on many gains in civil rights. Just yesterday our vile, so called president was joking about lynching gays. Seriously
    2. This thinking is becoming normalized and will bleed into the workplace and discrimination will become even more OK.
  2. This may be hard, but before you react, take time to understand the experiences and point of view of the people you interact with. That’s the Humanist part.
  3. You DO have a right to be at the table without discrimination though. so, Don’t ever back down.- That’s the Activist part.

Humanist Stance

  1. Some Signs
    1. Subtle uneasiness. Always can tell that something is off that you can’t put your finger on it. This is when understanding that person matters.
    2. Still, a lot goes unstated. You can almost hear it “He’s old and doesn’t get it” “Gay people are different” “I’d rather not know about that thing I don’t understand” “we don’t
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My Oakland Garden

In the late 80’s it was a good idea to settle my ass down after a debaucherous run in San Francisco’s fast-paced art and nightlife scene.

I ended up in a little cottage in North Oakland behind four apartments. Without the distractions of city lights and easy vice I put my hyperactive energy into a bland plot of lawn.

From the street it was hidden, but by taking a few steps up, a few down a pathway and then through a gate, I would enter my retreat. A narrow sidewalk around the cottage and along the property line formed a long L. And there was a stoop which served as my surveyor’s perch for the next couple of years as I dug in.

The yard was approximately fifty feet by two hundred feet of mostly old grass and a few struggling bushes around the edges. There was a perimeter bed that was dense and deep with ivy and it’s notorious complex root structure. Over six months I dug up that web of relentless vine. In some spots I probably went three feet deep to stem the invasion. I did save some as I went along. I had time to consider it and it became a living foundation for what would come.

There were also some hydrangea bushes. One blue-purple and the others pink. They ended up being quite showy and good producers. When I first found them they had stopped flowering much and were in need of some pruning to have a new start. I took it a step at a time.

I began the process with small experiments of pansies and such I knew there was a lot I didn’t know. Undeterred, I kept going further and further with my trials. With little money to invest in the hobby … more