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Join me in Love

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Published by hartmans on 2019-03-24
The Libreplanet opening keynote had me in tears. It was a talk by Dr. Tarek Loubani. He described his work as an emergency physician in Gaza and how 3d printers and open hardware are helping save lives.

They didn't have enough stethoscopes; that was one of the critical needs. So, they imported a 3d printer, used that to print another 3d printer, and then began iterative designs of 3d-printable stethoscopes. By the time they were done, they had a device that performed as well or better than than a commercially available model. What was amazing is that the residents of Gaza could print their own; this didn't introduce dependencies on some external organization. Instead, open/free hardware was used to help give people a sense of dignity, control of some part of their lives, and the ability to better save those who depended on them.

Even more basic supplies were unavailable. The lack of tourniquets caused the death of some significant fraction of casualties in the 2014 war. The same solution—3d-printed tourniquets had an even more dramatic result.

Dr. Loubani talked about how he felt powerless to change the world around him. He talked about how he felt like an insignificant ant.

By this point I was feeling my own sense of hopelessness and insignificance. In the face of someone saving lives like that, I felt like I was only playing at changing the world. What is helping teach love and connection when we face that level of violence? claiming that sexual freedom is worth fighting for seems like a joke in the worst possible taste in the face of what he is doing. I felt like an impostor.

Then he went on to talk about how we are all ants, but it is the combination of all our insignificant actions that eventually change the world. He talked about how the violence he sees is an intimate act: he talked about the connection between a sniper and their victim. We die one at a time; we can work to make things better one at a time.

He never othered or judged those committing violence. Not as he talked about his fellow doctor and friend who was shot, radioed that he could not breathe, and eventually died pinned down by gunfire so that no one could rescue him. Not as he talked about how he himself was shot. Not as he helped the audience connect with grief-stricken family members facing the death of their loved ones. He never withdrew compassion.

To me I heard hope that what I try to teach can matter; it can connect. If he can face that violence and take a stand against it while still maintaining compassion, then this stuff I believe actually can work. Facing the world and making real changes without giving up compassion and empathy seems more possible: I’ve seen it done.

Somewhere in this talk, I regained a connection with my own value. People like him are helping save people. However, the violence will continue until we have the love, empathy and compassion to understand and connect with each other and find better options. In my own way I’m doing that. Every time I help someone see a different way of looking at things, I make it easier for them to start with empathy first rather than fear.

Everything I’ve written about sex is still true. That journey can bring us closer to accepting ourselves, stepping past fear and shame. Once we accept our own desires and our own need, we’re in a better position to meet in the Strength of Love and advocate for our own needs while offering compassion to others. Once we know what we can find when we have empathy and connection, we can learn to strive for it.

So I will find joy in being my own little ant. Insignificant and divine: take your pick as it’s all the same in the end.

Bringing that Round to Debian


Debian is back in the center of my compassion work . I'm running for Debian project Leader (DPL). I served on the Debian Technical Committee for over a year, hoping to help bring understanding of diverse positions to our technical dispute resolution process. That ended up being the wrong place. Everyone seems to believe that the DPL is currently at the center of most of the work of helping people connect. I hope to fix that: more than one person should be driving that work.

After the keynote I found myself sitting between Micky Metts and Henry Poole . Micky asked me what I did that I loved. “Ah, she’s not expecting this answer,” I thought to myself as I talked about my spiritual work and how it overlaps with my Debian work. It turns out that she was delighted by the answer and we had a great time chatting about self empowerment. I’m looking forward to her keynote later today.

Then Henry asked how I was going to accomplish bringing empathy into Debian. I talked about my hopes and dreams and went through some of the specifics I’ve discussed in my platform and what I’ve had success with so far. He talked about similarities and overlaps with work his company does and how he works to teach people about free software.

Especially after that keynote it was joyful to sit between two luminaries and be able to share hopes for empathy, compassion and connection. I felt like I had found validation and energy again.

Published by hartmans on 2019-01-28
my project to put together a mix for each of the sabbats continues with Imbolc: the Time Between .
This focuses on Imbolc as a transitional period. It's our time to prepare for the spring and for the return of the god. Yule was a turning point, but it is still the dead of winter. We know the change will come, and this is our time to prepare and celebrate those closest to us.
I think this is likely to be the hardest sabbat for me to approach. I made several false starts and learned much along the way. I ended up splitting the music between songs of anticipation and songs that honor what is. Like my Yule mix, the songs are cold with the exception of honoring the fire that keeps us alive through the winter. In Yule the tension was between dark and light. Here it is between what will be and what we have now.
My skill, especially at coming up with something I'm happy with in a single take continues to improve.

Published by hartmans on 2018-12-20
I've released my Yule mix . Yule is a time of contrasts. It's the longest night, deep in the dark of the winter. Yet it is also a cusp where the nights begin to shorten. Even though the coldest part of the winter is still ahead, this is the turning point where we lend our energy in celebration. Together with family and friends we add our energy to the returning light and the returning god.
This is my best work musically and I'm proud of the progress I'm making. I hope you enjoy.
I've always been captivated by the myth of the god accepting mortality and dividing from the goddess at the beginning of time so he could love her. This mix opens with the goddess looking back on that event, looking back to the night before time.
This continues my project to use modern EDM and Trance music to explore traditional pagan themes.
Published by hartmans on 2018-11-18
Last Month, a former convention chair of Arisia
wrote
that she would not be attending the convention, because her rapist
was president of the organization yet again. Crystal showed amazing
courage and vulnerability as she told her story.

This was hard for me because I know the people involved. I
am reasonably sure that I've been introduced to Crystal a number of
times. I worked on a project with Noel a few years ago. I have been at
parties hosted by some of the Arisia board members who were involved in
the incident. That makes the event more viscerally real for me. Arisia
is not my primary community: I have gone in the past
sometimes, but I’ve never been on a panel or staff. However, I feel I
need to learn what I can to try to create a safer world and to try and
avoid these mistakes myself.
Because I know the people involved, I keep wondering whether I will end
up in one of these roles.
First, Arisia had been regarded as one of the better conventions for
handling incidents and consent issues. I have been in multiple
conversations where people suggested that parts of the kink community
struggling with consent could learn in positive ways from Arisia. The
training staff received in incident handling was held up as a
particularly good thing about Arisia’s approach.
We must treat people better than Crystal is treated in order to create
safe space. I am disappointed, because I thought Arisia was a relatively
bright spot in the bleak landscape of our rape
culture
. It’s just that much harder to hope that we will find a way to
create truly safe spaces for intimacy and vulnerability.

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Published by hartmans on 2018-10-22
I wrote about my project to put together a mix for each sabbat. My Samhain mix is live.
I'm very pleased about this mix. It's intended as a meditation to let us lose ourselves in the music as we struggle with death and the darker aspects of the cycle of life. Our struggle with loss and our own mortality is acknowledged. However, we're invited to consider what it will be like to approach the vale with acceptance and understand it as a natural phase along with the rest of the wheel. Once we are in harmony with the dark, we can connect with our ancestors.
Musically this may be the most varied mix I will produce. The songs that have been most influential in my own connection to the vale do not come from the electronic canon that I've been using for my other work. Yet the story they tell is critical to an approach to the vale. So, I faced the challenge of widening the music I drew from. The electronic sounds are there; I'm still following my goal of showing the parallels between the modern and the primal. However, I've reached beyond that to open and close the set.
I'm proud of the advances I've made with a DJ. Things felt more natural to produce, and I'm pleased with the results. I focused on managing the energy much more explicitly. When I danced through my final review, I definitely succeeded in losing myself in the music.
Published by hartmans on 2018-10-11
For the first time since 2013, I was officially part of putting on ritual at a festival. I helped with the fire rituals at Crossroads . Over the years, as I've identified myself more strongly with the community, I've worked to help out with the rituals. However, prior to this event, I was not part of planning the rituals beforehand.

It felt good. I brought in one of the core lessons from Nonviolent Communication . I talked about the role of guilt and walked through an exercise for how we might approach feelings of guilt. We can work to understand our needs that generate the feeling; we can understand both how we wished we behaved and how we're actually behaving. We can work to understand the tradeoffs and to connect with all aspects of ourselves that come forward. Then we can either choose to change or actively choose not to change. Accepting guilt as a force that can help guide us without crippling us or making us small is one of the most important self-care lessons I have ever learned. Sharing that is not something I could have done from the side; it's something that I could do only by being involved in the planning.

This was a lot easier than 2013. For one thing, I was only one of the people planning the ritual rather than someone leading the effort. Also, that was a difficult ritual. We were trying to carry forward aspects of the Fires of Venus work even though it was clear that the community didn't have a lot of energy. As part of that, we wanted to have the ritual put together by a team of people who had not put on the previous event to symbolize transition and the power given to the community at the 2012 fires. As a result, none of us had experience leading ritual of this type. While I'm quite proud of that work, putting on ritual with an experienced team who work together well is a lot easier.

I look forward to working on ritual in the future. One thing I hope I can bring to the community is a focus on looking at the big picture and integrating things together. For example, at the Saturday ritual, we decided to use breath, brain, blood and bone as the elemental symbols. That symbology has been used for a number of rituals in this space. Typically in that symbol set, bone is used as a focus on ancestor work. The invocation in this ritual was the traditional ancestor-focused invocation we use. And yet in this ritual, bone was much more about the sensual aspects of our physicality. Perhaps we used the ancestor-based invocation because it has become a tradition in our work. I actually think that we did not consciously make a decision and as a result we introduced symbolic dissonance into the ritual. I don't know if we would have acted differently had been aware, but thinking about that sort of issue, looking across multiple rituals, and understanding how elements work together is something I'm good at. I want to be careful of course: I want to find a way to offer what I have without disrupting something that is already working really well.

Published by hartmans on 2018-09-21
Putting together the dance mix for my wedding was a lot of fun. This year for the first time, there was a dance party at Beltane. I'm hoping to be part of that next year so I've been looking for opportunities to practice my DJ skills. I don't know anyone who wants me to DJ for their events, so I've decided to set myself an exercise.
I'm going to prepare a dance mix for each of the major sabbats this year starting with Mabon. As I've discussed in the past, when I don't have a fire to dance around, I still find dance and movement a key approach to worship. Without a fire, I tend to dance to electronic music rather than pagan drumming. Either can be a focus for meditation and celebration.
So, rather than just throwing on music, I'll prepare a mix and share it. It will be good practice both for my DJ skill and give me an opportunity to focus on what each sabbat means to me.

Mabon

My Mabon mix is here . Mabon is a time when we focus on sharing our community. We call to those who might join us, welcome them, and share our harvest.
My practice is focused on transformational work and in particular on self-transformation. So I have focused more than is usual on our own role in the journey home. The mix starts far from home when the shine and glitter of the material world has eclipsed community and home. It follows the journey to home and community and celebrates the connection we can find. It's entirely electronic. Certainly one of the things I'd like to play with is the power of EDM and particularly Trance in expressing traditionally pagan ideas. However, I suspect I'll end up ranging wider in some of the other mixes. Trance has such a broad canon of songs about community and being together that I chose to explore entirely from that focus.
I'm really interested in any comments you have. I'd also be very interested in any EDM tracks you think would be good in a paganish mix.
Published by hartmans on 2018-09-16
I’ve never been happier. Over the past year my wife and I have worked to figure out how we got here. Whatever the formula for success is, we want to keep it up.

We eventually came to the conclusion that willful gratitude is what has brought us this happiness. People have all sorts of ways of indicating happiness. You might smile, say “I’m happy!” or in the early stages of a relationship, squee with glee, “I love you!”

All too often, we don’t focus on those signs of happiness. We’re happy; things are going well. Why do we need to analyze and dissect our happiness?

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Published by hartmans on 2018-08-12
Debian has always been filled with people who want to make the world a better place. We consider the social implications of our actions. Many are involved in work that focuses on changing the world. I’ been hesitant to think too closely about how that applies to me: I fear being powerless to bring about the world in which I would like to live.

Recently though, I've been taking the time to dream. One day my wife came home and told another story of how she’d helped a client reduce their pain and regain mobility. I was envious. Every day she advances her calling and brings happiness into the world, typically by reducing physical suffering. What would it be like for me to find a job where I helped advance my calling and create a world where love could be more celebrated. That seems such a far cry from writing code and working on software design every day. But if I don’t articulate what I want, I'll never find it.

I’ve been working to start this journey by acknowledging the ways in which I already bring love into the world. One of the most important lessons of Venus’s path is that to bring love into the world, you have to start by leading a life of love. At work I do this by being part of a strong team. We’re there helping each other grow, whether it is people trying entirely new jobs or struggling to challenge each other and do the best work we can. We have each other’s back when things outside of work mean we're not at our best. We pitch in together when the big deadlines approach.

I do not shove my personal life or my love and spirituality work in people’s faces, but I do not hide it. I'm there as a symbol and reminder that different is OK. Because I am open people have turned to me in some unusual situations and I have been able to invite compassion and connection into how people thought about challenges they faced.

This is the most basic—most critical love work. In doing this I’m already succeeding at bringing love into the world. Sometimes it is hard to believe that. Recently I have been daring to dream of a job in which the technology I created also helped bring love into the world.

I'd love to find a company that's approaching the world in a love-positive, sex-positive manner. And of course they need to have IT challenges big enough to hire someone who is world class at networking, security and cloud architecture. While I'd be willing to take a pay cut for the right job, I'd still need to be making a US senior engineer's salary.

Actually saying that is really hard. I feel vulnerable because I’m being honest about what I want. Also, it feels like I’m asking for the impossible.

Yet, the day after I started talking about this on Facebook, OkCupid posted a job for a senior engineer. That particular job would require moving to New York, something I want to avoid. Still, it was reassuring as a reminder that asking for what you want is the first step.

I doubt that will be the only such job. It's reasonable to assume that as we embrace new technologies like blockchains and continue to appreciate what the evolving web platform standards have to offer, there will be new opportunities. Yes, a lot of the adult-focused industries are filled with corruption and companies that use those who they touch. However, there's also room for approaching intimacy in a way that celebrates desire, connection, and all the facets of love.

And yes, I do think sexuality and desire are an important part of how I’d like to promote love. With platforms like Facebook, Amazon and Google, it's easier than ever for people to express themselves, to connect, and if they are willing to give up privacy, to try and reach out and create. Yet all of these platforms have increasingly restrictive rules about adult content. Sometimes it’s not even intentional censorship. My first post about this topic on Facebook was marked as spam probably because some friends suggested some businesses that I might want to look at. Those businesses were adult-focused and apparently even positive discussion of such businesses is now enough to trigger a presumption of spam.

If we aren't careful, we're going to push sex further out of our view and add to an ever-higher wall of shame and fear. Those who wish to abuse and hurt will find their spaces, but if we aren't careful to create spaces where sex can be celebrated alongside love, those seedier corners of the Internet will be all that explores sexuality. Because I'm willing to face the challenge of exploring sexuality in a positive, open way, I think I should: few enough people are.

I have no idea what this sort of work might look like. Perhaps someone will take on the real challenge of creating content platforms that are more decentralized and that let people choose how they want content filtered. Perhaps technology can be used to improve the safety of sex workers or eventually to fight shame associated with sex work. Several people have pointed out the value of cloud platforms in allowing people to host whatever service they would choose. Right now I’m at the stage of asking for what I want. I know I will learn from the exploration and grow stronger by understanding what is possible. And if it turns out that filling my every day life with love is the answer I get, then I’ll take joy in that. Another one of the important Venus lessons is celebrating desires even when they cannot be achieved.

Published by hartmans on 2018-06-25
On June 2, I got married. Our wedding was everything I could have hoped for. I got to hold a goddess! and we showed our true, authentic selves to the people we most care about. They understood us and shared themselves with us. I truly choose to live in the best of all possible worlds.
I’d like to talk about how this came about, because that’s not where we started. I thought I was going to have to make huge compromises, so much so that I thought I’d have to do real work to appreciate the wedding I had rather than longing for the one I could not achieve. Instead, I got better at creating love magic.
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