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"What is the point of writing, I think, as I stare at the flashing cursor on the blank screen. What is the point when we keep dying, when we keep having our humanity questioned, when we keep losing our rights. … And I remember that the point is to survive, to add to the map, and to keep lit the lamps along the way.” - Stacy-Marie Ishamel, #awesomewomen
The five:
  1. The fear of financial doom has prevented me from spontaneous travel. I am horrible at spotting deals. Hopefully, these apps will help 💰me break out of the “pervasive, problematic force” of inertia. Speaking of financial doom, if you’re planning on getting married, set the lovey-dovey gobbldy-gook aside and talk dolla’ dolla’ bills 💰with your partner for a while. Also, if you’re making money on the speakers’ circuit and you’re not sure what to charge, check this out 💰. 
  2. If you’re like me, your to-do list is a bit Mr. Hyde and a bit Doctor Jekyll. Here’s how to handle the scariest to-do items on your list. But don’t compare yourself to me or anything, there’s apparently a hidden danger in that. If laundry happens to be one of the items on that to-do list though, here are some sneaky laundry hacks.  
  3. Beware the slippery pseudo-expert. Your mind wants to believe them so badly. Here’s how to know if someone is trustworthy. Rather than fall for others’ expertise, it’s probably best if you develop your own. Here’s HBR on why learning is a learned behavior and how to get better at it 💰. Besides, the information age is over, it’s all about reputation now (which raises the interesting question: what happens when people and companies become just ‘brands’? 💰), and if your reputation is to be a grump in the office, here’s the piece to send to your colleagues who are always telling you to turn that frown upside down.  
  4. Millennials aren’t doing so hot (so we’re told time and time again). Are Baby Boomers to blame? Here is yet another battle of the generations piece. No, seriously though, Millennials are hurting, especially when it comes to loneliness. Speaking of generations, here’s a blast from the past: ABBA’s back together, y’all
  5. "I want and want and want but never allow myself to reach for what I truly want, leaving that want raging desperately beneath the surface of my skin.” Oh, Roxane Gay. I want and want and want to write prose like yours. Also, can we not make health a thing anymore? I also want to share yet another take on Covey’s 7 Habits, this time from The Art of Manliness, which approaches the 7 habits from the perspective of how to live the life you want people to remember after you’re gone. Speaking of those who have passed, Gertrude Jeannette is who I want to be when I grow up 💰, "'She had many opportunities to go to Hollywood, but she always stayed in Harlem,' said Ward Nixon, who was the company’s artistic director. 'She stayed in Harlem to make sure the community had top-notch theater.'" Oh, and she’s believed to be the first woman to drive a cab in New York City, and was also one of the first women to get a motorcycle license. I have a feeling she’d enjoy this piece about life as one of the first female fighter pilots 💰.  
Also, you love puns … no, you really do. As an artist of color who attended The Eugene O’Neill National Theater Institute, thank you Lin-Manuel Miranda. Speaking of art, my friend Erin Williams is a self-taught artist diving into watercolor. I'm loving the artistic energy and the drive. Go, Erin! Finally, before I send you on to the essay today, here’s how to fall in love with how-to essays

💰 = Paywall, though please do consider paying to read what people write. Writers like to eat too.  

How to speak without a voice 😶
My voice is gone. Somewhere, during my weekend jaunt to DC, I did a combination of things that, like a magic spell, made my voice disappear. The challenge, for the last three days (and counting) has been to figure out how to communicate without talking.  

Now, as you probably know, yesterday was May the Fourth, better known as Star Wars Day (if you don’t know what Star Wars is — yes, I’ve met people who live under that very special rock — here’s a guide for you). To know me is to know this day, respect it, and not put anything on my calendar if it doesn’t involve a full-sized R2-D2. Star Wars Day is one of the few things that will send me on a live-tweeting, Facebook-sharing, Insta-frenzy like none other. This year, however, I couldn’t speak. I’d squeak out a few things in a meeting here or there. Otherwise, I spent my nerdiest of nerd holidays “psst!”-ing, gesticulating like a drunk mime and smiling maniacally (to try and show people I wasn’t crazy or stupid … not sure that worked too well). 

Oh, and did I mention I was wearing an oversized Jedi robe … all … day?  

Please bear with me as I take us on a brief detour.  

It turns out that, if you want a really good quality Jedi robe — you know, one made of something thicker than a polyester sheet — you need to be a man over 5’10”, because that’s the only size I could find. News flash, Jedi robe makers here on planet Earth: not all women want to wear Rey costumes. Some of us want to wear a dope Obi-wan robe to go with our Atari/Star Wars crossover shirts. If you’re not going to make robes in our size, well, we’re going to coast down the hallways of our office on Star Wars Day wearing a dude-sized robe and looking fly because, succumbing to gender stereotypes we will not.  

Whew.  

Back to Star Wars Day. Squeak-miming aside, it was a wonderful day, and it helps when you work somewhere full of people who love science fiction as much as you do. There’s that feeling you get when you’re around science-fiction fans. There’s a sense of shared experience, sure, but there’s also a shared belief that a better, brighter, more equitable future is well within reach if we’d all just work together. That was the best thing about Star Wars Day this year, I didn’t have to speak for folks to know what was in my heart. I was simply happy to be wrapped up in my snuggie-sized Jedi robe and sharing space with people who loved what I loved.   

That’s one way to speak without a voice, but speaking without a voice in spaces where you don’t necessarily share a passion with folks calls for a few other adjustments.  

A voice is a means of control. You can control a room with your voice. You can affect how people feel. Your voice is a very powerful tool. When you lose it, it’s important to let go of your old notions about how to communicate and gain control of a situation. It’s amazing what happens when you whisper or say nothing when people expect you to speak. Because they have their voice, they’ll fill in the silence or they’ll drop their volume to meet you. Never underestimate the power of mirror neurons. 

If the other person is rushed, they’ll slow down and lean in to try and understand you. Ultimately, not having a voice forces you to sit with your power as an individual, recognize it, and use it. If you don’t, then you’re going to give yourself a tension headache to end all tension headaches (trust me on this one), and you may even do real harm to your voice trying to out-squeak someone with a full voice.  

When you don’t have a voice, and you need time to heal, it’s also important to put yourself first. This sounds incredibly selfish (because it is), but hear me out. The saying goes, you can’t love anyone else if you don’t love yourself. Well, you only prolong your inability to speak if you try to accommodate every phone call, meeting and social gathering. In short, you’ll need to spend a lot of time alone or with people who will need to be super chill with you being silent. To that end, I’ve declined social engagements this weekend, and I won’t take myself out to eat so I don’t have to risk squeaking at store clerks and waiters.  

That means it’s me, a cup of Throat Coat tea, and a marathon of Marvel and DC action films. ‘Gotta catch up before Infinity Wars. Also, Thor: Ragnarok is actually not that bad. Justice League though … yowch.  

This self-induced exile is difficult. I want little more than to talk to my family right now. As much as I am resigned to the fact I am in California for the foreseeable future, speaking to loved ones makes it so much easier to be at peace with my decision to be here. Without that, being here is much more difficult. That being said, it’s just another challenge. Getting through it helps me build new tools … and make my kitchen spotless.  

Speaking without a voice, requires sitting with yourself, smiling often at people, and owning your silence (or paying a painful price for losing your cool and scream-squeaking at the lady who nearly ran you over in the crosswalk). Ultimately, it’s an opportunity for empathy, because it forces you to consider life in a new way with different challenges as well as new opportunities.  
  
That's me grabbing lunch in my blanket-as-Jedi-robe, because pictures ... or it didn't happen. 
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Emi Kolawole · E is for Everything HQ · Palo Alto California 94306 · USA
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