250,000 words.

250000I first signed up with 750words.com in July of 2012, though I can’t quite remember how I discovered the site. As you can see in the screenshot, it took me a while to get anything close to a regular habit… and even then, it was short lived.

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve got a 57 day streak going, as of now. Some time earlier this year, I decided that I needed to put together a daily list of small things to do that would benefit my well-being. Writing every day on 750words is a part of that list. I write about whatever comes to my mind, though my goal is to take the time to write something creative and expressive. I got so engrossed in the daily habit that I didn’t even notice I’d passed the 250,000 word mark on March 19th. Here’s to many more days, months, and maybe even years of writing daily!

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“I am a work in progress.”

Or: The glorious paradox of a life worth living.

Seeing.My partner and I parted ways in December. Shortly thereafter I began implementing an electronic scorched-earth policy, going through my digital domains and hitting the “Delete” button wherever I saw pieces of us. I’d never interwoven somebody into my online life as deeply as I did her, so I found myself embroiled in a removal process that became increasingly tedious until finally I decided to terminate with extreme prejudice — no excuses, no questions asked. Tweets? Automatically and completely expunged, courtesy of tweet delete. Pinterest page? Obliterated. Facebook and Google+ accounts? Annihilated… vaporized, even. By the time I got to my blog, though, something was beginning to gnaw at me. I had to make up an excuse: “well, I haven’t posted in months, and that doesn’t look good, right?” Yeah, sure… but then I thought about how some of my earliest posts were my favorites and how they’d attracted comments from people that I admire. I gained a bit of sanity and decided not to exterminate the whole space. Instead, I took away some posts mentioning my former partner, then surveyed the landscape of quotes that I’d peppered throughout my blog during 2013. I started cutting the ones I thought I got from her, but I realized that most of the time I couldn’t really tell which ones those were. Finally, I had an exasperated awakening:

“This is absurd. What am I doing?”

I couldn’t go on.

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“I cannot live with myself any longer.”

“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. “Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”

– Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

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I unplugged in certain ways for much longer than July 15th. And in doing so, I realized this: the digital noise of the online world wasn’t what was holding me back. Even after unplugging, I still felt that I didn’t have enough time to do all that I wanted. Did unplugging help with my life? Definitely. But the help didn’t come in the form of more time and space; instead it came in the realization that I have not been taking responsibility for my time and space.

I moved to New York at the beginning of August to be with my life partner Anandi, the founder and Executive Director of SustyQ (the grassroots initiative for a sustainable Queens, New York). In the middle of that same month, I attended the Landmark Forum, and two weeks ago I took the Landmark Advanced Course. Landmark gave me access to awareness of the barriers I didn’t even realize I was placing in front of myself. One of those barriers was the story that I never have enough time to do all that I want and that I’m too tired anyway. In telling myself that story, I got to justify not putting in the work of determining what I really care about and putting my focus on that. Because, see, I believe that I can do it all; I just can’t do it all at the same time. There are people in this world who are active on all kinds of social media and still are able to achieve what they want. Then, there are people who have no online presence whatsoever and yet still feel overwhelmed. Thus, success is not about unplugging; it’s about taking responsibility for the ways in which I choose to spend my time and energy. In taking responsibility and living up to my commitments I get access to the possibility of fulfillment.

I’ll be exploring this much more over the next few months and years.

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“Happiness arrives not in the absence of problems but in the absence of rules about when you can feel it.” ~ A Note from the Universe

Away until the week of July 15. Call if you have my number. #unplug



I’ve been saying to myself and my girlfriend for weeks now, maybe even months now, that this digital life has become too noisy. Twitter. Facebook. Google+. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Good old fashioned email. The amount of data is potentially endless. I know that many people have already written on how to control all of these digital streams, because we can’t process everything that comes in (at least, I can’t). I’ve resonated with those kinds of articles and have actually made some positive changes over the last few months. Even so, Baratunde Thurston’s story of how he (almost entirely) unplugged from the internet for 25 days struck a chord with me. I think the reason it touched me is that it brought to the fore three questions that have been sitting underneath the surface of my “this digital life has become too noisy” thought-stream:

  1. Do I need all this data? (Note that “data” is not the same as “information.”)
  2. Who and what would I miss if I took a break?
  3. Who would miss me?

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The Indo-Caribbean Alliance honors Anandi A. Premlall.

On Friday, June 7th, the Indo-Caribbean Alliance of Queens, New York honored my girlfriend Anandi A. Premlall for her work with SustyQ, along with two other members of the Indo-Caribbean community in Queens. I’m very grateful to know Anandi, who has worked tirelessly to inspire and revitalize southern Queens. She’s also taught me much about sustainability and placemaking, and she’s been wonderfully supportive, loving, and strong in our relationship together.

Congratulations, Anandi.

Anandi’s bio:

“Anandi A. Premlall is a grassroots artivist and founder of the organization and social movement that inspires and integrates AWE: Art, Wellness and Ecology in creating a Sustainable Queens. SustyQ, as the organization is affectionately known, seeks to support multi-ethnic communities through encouraging environmentally conscious-lifestyles that cultivate empowerment, wellness and creativity. Anandi held many firsts as a young Indo-Caribbean leader — from having her poem published at the age of 8; her socially-conscious art displayed at the United Nations and Queens Museum of Art at 9; to Managing Editor of The Olivetree Review: Hunter College’s Literary and Arts Journal; as President of Golden Key International Honour Society at Hunter College; as winner of World of Good and eBay’s Eco-Super Hero Award in 2010; as featured in Green America’s National Green Pages for healing her home; as a special guest on Let’s Talk with Lakshmee’s first Going Green episode (which aired in the USA and Guyana); and with an organization focusing on random acts of beauty and wickedly delicious kindness: SustyQ.

With degrees in English and Art, she fuses her skills to create more just and restorative worlds through collaborative murals, sharing ideas, nurturing words and adding beauty. As a solutionary, Anandi cultivates a diverse community through collaboration and mentors people who want to join the movement. She sparks conversations across a wide audience and transforms public spaces to manifest positive change. Anandi’s local activism through environmental and artistic endeavors shows her passion for making her neighborhood Richmond Hill, the borough of Queens, New York City and the Earth beautiful. She has undeniably inspired many souls to reflect on their own lives and take steps toward positive change.

SustyQ’s off to an outstanding start with grant-winning ideas such as The Critical Moss, a project that uses thought-provoking and environmentally conscious moss graffiti street art to create eco-awareness; and Taking Liberty, a project that will beautify Richmond Hill with tree-lined streets, lush tree beds, sidewalk benches, and raised beds of colorful wildflowers, fragrant herbs and sunny marigolds to reawaken the nature-loving cultural roots of Southern Queens residents. Anandi‚Äôs determination for seeing the abandoned Rockaway Beach Branch right-of-way become the Queens High Line led her on a journey to seek those who share the dream. She is now part of the Executive Steering Committee of The QueensWay and is working on making this 3.5 mile cultural community greenway a reality. Anandi represents the Southern region of the proposed greenspace, serving as the eyes, ears, and voice of the various populations residing along these tracks. Anandi is also a proud member of Coro’s Immigrant Civic Leadership Program, where she works on creating healing spaces in immigrant communities.

When this Guyanese native is not playing with dirt; crafting shenanigans and up to her elbows with guerrilla gardening and tactical urbanism; connecting with her Indo-Caribbean and South Asian roots through Farm School NYC; and using social media for good, you can find her snuggled up with books and organic fair-trade chocolate.”

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The Human Smart Cities Manifesto takes us forward.

I came upon the concept of smart cities some time last year, as I began exploring the field of urban planning and design. I’ve seen different definitions of “smart city,” but the essence of the concept to me is a city that leverages physical, social, financial, and environmental data streams for better performance. On the surface, this sounds great. All kinds of activities go on even in small cities and towns, and putting sensors in the spaces where things happen could give us all kinds of data. We could pipe that data to some heavy processing hardware and software, then empower people to make sense of the data (that is, to extract information from it) and take action. Power, generated more efficiently. Water, wasted less. Water quality, improved. Traffic jams, minimized. Crime, eradicated. With just such a picture in mind, a number of large companies have established smart cities initiatives and built relationships with city governments to install and operate smart cities systems. But how should these systems be built?

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“Let us be about setting high standards for life, love, creativity, and wisdom.”

"Let us be about setting high standards for life, love, creativity, and wisdom. If our expectations in these areas are low, we are not likely to experience wellness. Setting high standards makes every day and every decade worth looking forward to." ~ Greg Anderson