Words to Live By: 2017

As part of trying to walk into 2018 with a greater level of intentionality… I decided to design a series of posters to pull together some of the words that have stuck with me in the last year. Hope you enjoy!

“My life is mine.”

This is from a speech Tracee Ellis Ross gave, saying “My life is mine. Those words stopped me in my tracks, … Those words brought tears to my ears because, yes, I’ve been living my life — but not to my own expectations. Not for me.” I’ve starting using this as a mantra to recenter myself anytime I feel like other people are defining my actions or boundaries more than I am.

“What you focus on grows.”

Tbh I don’t remember exactly who said this, I know it’s pretty common saying and was repeated at around Allied Media Conference a few different times as well. Similar to the quote about our words being the houses we live, I like this saying for how it helps me visualize how recurring thoughts/patterns are what I’m “growing.” It helps to pull me out of my head and remember if those aren’t the things I want to grow I have to change where I’m putting my energy and focus. I have agency and choice even though it can be difficult to remember at times.

“Only power is power.”

Both this and the next quote are from my notes from a speech that Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice, gave at the AMC in 2017. The first quote comes from something that Malkia’s mother taught her. She said she learned from her not to believe in the saying “knowledge is power” …that that’s insufficient without actual power “…only power is power.”

She went on to say “Stories are powerful… what stories can do is empower us, versus the steps we need to take to build material change — it’s the combination of stories taking root in actual infrastructure that movements are born.” So, the second quote, “Disorganized truth can easily be overcome by organized lies.” really speaks to the need to be organized about strategically telling our stories to build real power. This is a tool that the political right in the US has been much more successful than the “Left” at doing effectively and one of the areas we need to focus on if we want to shift that power.

“Everything moves at the speed of trust.”

Christine Cordero, Executive Director at the Center for Story-based Strategy said this during a meeting and it stuck with me because so many times it feels like we’re rushing from deadline to deadline rather than taking the time to build the relationships and shared analysis to really move our work forward in a meaningful way.

“Building a movement is ultimately about just that – restoring humanity to all of us, even those of us who have been inhumane.”

This is excerpt from Alicia Garza’a moving speech on building power at the opening ceremony for the Allied Media Conference (AMC) last year. Read the full speech here.

Let me emerge as myself
Rise above fear, distractions and time
Let me emerge in my truth with clarity
Freed from what weighs on my mind
and the feeling that I always need protection

This the spell my wonderful group wrote at Adrienne Maree Brown’s spell-casting workshop at the AMC. It has been a touch-point for me in the months since then, something I come back to time and again when I’m feeling tired and world-weary. Read more about the workshop here!

“The words we use are the houses we live in.”

This is a phrase a woman shared as her intention for a new moon yoga practice. It reminded me of something that Adrienne Maree Brown said in her spell-casting work shop (and I’m paraphrasing), but essentially “the words we use hold power… you can’t just walk around all the time saying fuck my life, fuck my life, fuck my life and then one day say jk, unfuck my life. It doesn’t work that way.” So, I like this little reminder that we create the space we inhabit with our words. It helps me to catch myself when my internal monologue starts to become overly negative or self-deprecating.

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