I am so excited to introduce you to Asha Dornfest – the creator of voteplus1! Asha is a writer and community organizer. She is the author of several books including one of my favorites: Minimalist Parenting), co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and co-founder of Democracy Club, a new model for everyday democratic participation that leads with friendship and trust. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.
This week’s episode is all about community impact and how it’s so much more than political. In Asha’s words “community impact is a form of hopeful confidence in your own voice and your ability to make a difference.”
We explored the idea of informed participation in democracy and I challenged her to speak on the concept of “not being political”. I loved what she had to say about giving away your voice.
Tami: Good morning, Asha.
Asha: Good morning, Tammy. How are you?
Tami: I’m fantastic. I’m so happy to be here with you. For those of you that have not yet met Asha. Who are you and what do you do in the world?
Asha: Oh boy. That’s a big question. And it’s changed over the years. Hasn’t it? my name’s Asha Dorn Fest and first and foremost, I’m a writer.
I’ve been a writer for. geez, like 25 years now, which really sounds like a long time. That is a long time. I started writing books about technology and web publishing back in the mid nineties when there was barely a web. And then, from there. I, have gone on to write about a whole bunch of things.
mostly parenting. I had a very popular parenting blog for many years called parent hacks. And then from there, parent hacks has turned into a book, but I would say most recently for the last few years, a lot of my writing has been about political engagement and democracy. but also, Just trusting yourself and, aligning your life with your views.
So that is really, that has been interestingly where my mind has been, even though much of my writing about that is actually been in private spaces. So it’s not as, sort of out there as much of my earlier writing so that I would say. Writer that’s my big thing. I have gone on to do other things, most notably, a lot of community organizing, but, I’m best known as a writer.
Tami: I actually, I’m the reason I paused and I was looking around my office is I always have minimalist parenting nearby and I always buy that for people for baby gifts. Oh, it’s right here. Literally within arm’s reach.
Asha: I love, that’s just amazing.
Tami: it made the shelf and I will say this when I read it, I pre-ordered, it, of course when I read it and then I gave it to everybody, I just was like, boy, they should have put that self-care chapter first.
Should’ve been a little longer and called in a little co-host over here. But otherwise I thought this book is a spot on it’s one of my favorite parenting books, because it is exactly that thing where you’re like, we’re just going to parent the kids that we have. And we’re going to worry about the life that we want, rather than looking outward.
We’re going to look inward and it was such a relief to find other people who were like, what works for your family.
Asha: so thank you. Thank you, Tammy. Absolutely.
Tami: To, to get that because it also came out when I had a little kid. And so that was really, It was a relief. Also. I love your podcast with Christine COE, edit your life.
I’ve listened to literally every episode. Thank you for introducing me to Amy McGrath. I’ve given her many campaign contributions since then. and so the reason I wanted to talk to you other than I have been fan girling over you, and we’ve been like pen pals online for
Asha: a decade. It’s amazing how that’s possible.
Tami: Isn’t it? I know. Right. I want to talk about your democracy club, your vote, plus one, work your community organizing. Can you tell us a bit more about how you were a tech writer, turned parenting writer? Turned community organizer.
Asha: Absolutely. In fact, I think there is a sort of a surprisingly strange through line between all of those things.
Yeah. Being an early tech writer meant that I had a sense for the potential of the internet a long time ago. And I am a people person. So to me, the internet has always been about people more than it’s been about technology. So when I became a parent, it was a natural thing for me to search for community on the internet.
It was a tool I already knew how to use, and it was not about. At that time when I started my blog parent hacks, which was 2005, it wasn’t about I’m using air quotes, creating content. There was no such thing as creating content at that time, there was literally reaching out to people and that’s what I did.
And so I built the community that I wanted to have and that I needed myself as a struggling new parent. So. This notion of community organizing for me, it didn’t have a political bent to it. It was simply like, Hey, this is what’s going on with me. Is this going on with you? Let’s talk about it and see if we can help each other.
That was basically it for my community organizing. And during that time, that’s when I met Christine. Who is now my dear podcast, cohost, and my minimalist parenting co author, and most notably my one of my best friends. And so those are the, those are the kinds of relationships that could actually come up, you know, through that.
That connective time at the inner in the internet from there, you know, all my years of parenting, I think it’s important to note that now where I am with parenting is that I have one 21 year old child. And my youngest is a senior in high school. I am getting to the end of those active parenting years.
So I started when they were very young. Now I am where I am. And so when 2016 happened, Really all of my political organizing and community organizing around politics happened because I’m a parent. I would say that being the parents of two amazing children is what. Spurred me into it. It really spurred my political awakening.
I care about the future for my kids and by extension all kids. And I felt it was really important for me to get involved, to try to build the world that I hope that they live in, not just me. I mean, it was real them. So my parenting is intimately connected to my politics. And from there, it was about.
Actually doing a very similar thing I did when I started parent hacks, which was after the election 2016, saying to the people around me, Hey, this is going on. I’m not exactly sure what to do. What about you? Hey, why don’t we come together and talk about it? What can we do? How can we support each other? So it was a.
Surprisingly parallel process for me and little did I know that my organizing my local community here in Portland that was happening in cities and towns across the country, by the way, mostly led by women. And non-binary people I should say as well. So not just women were a part of my community, but it was a powerful experience.
And so those three things are really connected.
Tami: And what’s also interesting for me and a watching. You have this political awakening is I actually started my political career or I started my job career in politics. I worked in California politics. I worked in Washington, DC, and then I moved to Portland, Oregon, and I actually worked for Senator Wyden in the 90 and 97 98 election cycle.
I worked on a statewide ballot measure. In Oregon called pro choice Oregon. I was a avid volunteer and volunteer fundraiser for Oregon Narelle. I worked at planned Parenthood in port.
Asha: No idea. That’s amazing.
Tami: Right? So, so I’m like look at all these full circle moments. And so you came to it with this through line of, through parenting.
And I come through my through line is. In every job, I’ve had political, being an elementary school teacher now as a life coach and a podcaster. And that is, I want to create the world to be a better place for women and kids. that’s the through line of my life. That is what gets me up in the morning.
And it’s not just to make it better for me or my daughter, but for all women and all kids and. I have a fundamental belief that our work isn’t done and tell everyone is safe
Asha: in this world.
Tami: Everyone is loved and cherished in this world. And until we’re there, we’re not done yet.
Asha: And I think, first of all, that’s really powerful.
but I think the other thing is that there is for me becoming a parent. Really opened my mind, my heart and my experience to the experiences of other people. Now I will say that, you know, empathy has always been one of my things. So I definitely, I spent a lot of time then habiting the perspectives of other people.
That’s just the way that I was born and the way that I’m built, you know, people talk to me about that when I was a kid. So I’m not trying to, you know, this is not, This is just a way that I am, but I feel like parenting opened that up even further because, You know, these people, these small people come into your life and especially as a new parent, you sort of think to yourself, all right, I’m gonna, you know, mold this little ball of clay, but that’s of course not what’s going on at all.
They come out completely their own little humans. Yes. And you’re like, Oh, okay. Right. I need to get to know you and you are not acting in ways that I expected. And, and so it, it just opens you to the diversity of. Humanity in this world. And that is a beautiful thing. And so I have found, you know, these last four years have been pretty punishing for those of us who are, you know, empathetic.
And, I think that this has caused me to just dig even deeper to, Maintain my faith in the bridges that we can build between each other. You know? And I agree with you that this is about all kids and we, yes, we have more work to do, but that just means that there is so much more for us to experience as
Absolutely. And it’s funny because I came to parenting a later, like I was 40 when I became a parent and my daughter is adopted. And so I’ve always come to parenting through the, I wonder who you are because I did not make you. So I have to get to know you a little child who was not born of my genes. Who are you and what kind of world shall we live in?
And what do we bring the table to the table in your, in the nurturing sense? And what does nature bring to you? And seeing my little one grow up, I’ve always referred to her as a superhero because she is the smartest, the most athletic. The most empathetic and the person who makes me craziest, people always go, it’s no surprise that she’s your daughter.
I’m like, duh, cause she’s also at nine super outspoken and, and down for whatever cause we’re working on. And and it’s made me double down on my sense of creating a place that I want her to inhabit.
Asha: both as a child
Tami: and a grownup. And so I just, you know, whatever I need to do to make the world a better place, but I’m, it’s funny.
I’ve spent some time the last four years feeling, despair and, hopeless,
Tami: mostly what I felt is hopeful and the reason I’m feeling hopeful is people who have never. Privately. And certainly not publicly are coming out in ways, about civic engagement that has. It’s brought me to tears in the good way, because I’m like, this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life.
So here’s a story in 1988 back in the olden days when there was no internet, no. Back in 1988, I was taking a government class at community college and I, it was right after the election. And I cried because I spent a lot of time crying in the late eighties and early nineties about politics. I went to my professor and I said, what is it going to take for young people and people to get engaged?
And to know that what they do every day, it makes a difference. And he said, I think the world is going to have to be on fire. Oh
Tami: And I was like, Whoa, Greg, tell us you better calm down. I don’t think I can handle that because I’m a really empathetic, caring, deeply caring person. But, you know, I think he may have been onto something
Tami: people have stepped up in ways that I’m like, okay.
But look at us now, look at all the engagement.
Asha: you’re absolutely right. And I mean, I consider myself one of those people, frankly, you know, and I think that, you know, we can all point to any experience in our life when we’ve been pushed to our limit in a painful or difficult way. And we found that we could keep moving.
And those are the only times when we can actually be aware of those. Those limits and step over them. And so, yes, I think that on some level that is, I sometimes say that discomfort is required because I think that there’s just no other way and no other motivation that will push us as effectively.
Now I say that, but I am. Let me just be a hundred percent clear. I am not one of those, do something that scares you, constantly kind of people, because I don’t think we need to be in a constant state of fear or anxiety or discomfort, but sometimes, you know, the world hands us an opportunity, a prolonged opportunity for discomfort and, you know, we rise to the occasion and.
Let’s also be clear that rising to the occasion doesn’t necessarily mean that one has to become some total bad-ass community organizer rising to the occasion might just mean getting clear on your own internal values. It may be a completely invisible process to the rest of the world. So this does not everyone needs to be at the front, holding a big flag and leading the charge.
You know, this is. I think what, you know, what you’re saying is you’re seeing people step up in ways that they never have. Or maybe use their voices in ways they never have. Maybe they didn’t even know those voices existed. They didn’t even know they had those feelings. I know that I didn’t, you know, if someone would have said the word to me, patriotic, you know, five years ago.
So do you feel patriotic? I would say patriotic that’s it’s not exactly. I mean, I love. America or whatever, but patriotic is not a word that I would have identified with. I have to say these last four years, I have felt really proud of my patriotism in that I feel like I really care about our democracy.
And, you know, we’ll talk about democracy club and what that means, but it’s this acknowledgement that. No, it’s not perfect. Yes. There are major flaws in its founding, and I care enough and I love this place enough that I want to participate in making it better and it feels good to know. I, myself,
Tami: two words there participate and the concept of making it better, right?
Like we have our way of life doesn’t exist without participation.
Tami: So I know that. I mean, I got to tell you when people are hiring a coach, it’s not because things are going perfectly. They’re like, I want to change. I’m itching to make change. And people also feel overwhelmed. They’re like, but I’m already busy.
I’m already the
Tami: Yeah. So what do you say to people
Tami: are already pushed to the limit? What are some ways that people can be participating and use their time of participation? I love your democracy club. I would love for you to talk about that. And I also want you to talk about vote plus
Okay, sounds good. So I have been really focused on two sort of, I guess, projects. You could say one is totally focused on the election, which is called vote plus one and vote. Plus one is a video series, short video series and podcast that I created simply to point out the easy ways people can help turn out democratic voters just by, Doing things in their own life.
And the reason that why I called it vote plus one is because I’m encouraging people to vote. Plus choose just one of these actions do just one thing to help other people vote. Because like you said, we’re all overwhelmed, especially right now. This is. I actually have an allergy to the word unprecedented, but we’ve never lived this life before that we’re living right now.
And so if each of us chooses one additional thing to do, we will have a massive impact on voter turnout in this election. So that’s what vote plus one is. And so if you go to vote plus one.org, you can see the videos. It’s also a podcast. If you prefer just listening to audio and it’s just me spending two or three or four minutes talking about an action that you can take and you just choose the one that sorta resonates with you.
so that’s what vote plus one is. And really, I started it as a way, not so much to talk to the internet or people in general. It was really a way to connect with my friends, the people that I know, you know, basically the folks that I talk to, you know, In my actual life, because I truly believe that the people that we can most powerfully inspire and influence are the people that already know and trust us.
So that’s who I created this for.
Tami: And I love that because I call it your sphere of influence. It’s who do you listen to when you want something? Right. So if I want to buy a new air fryer, I go to my friends who I know are like super nerdy researchers. And I say, which AirFryer should I buy? And they give me two or three options.
And then I don’t go to the internet. I go to my, who influences my decisions. If I want to, somebody I know has a pair of L like I voted leggings. I’m like, I’m going to go to that person and say, where do you get your. You’re voting participation clothing. Like I, you know, don’t, I mean, like I’m wearing one of Christine’s, Christine ho has a company called brave new world designs.
I’m wearing one of her t-shirts right now. And how did I do
Asha: that? Also wearing one of her t-shirts right now. Which one did
Tami: I worry? My vote one. Which one is yours?
Asha: I’m wearing keep going.
Tami: yes. Yes,
Asha: because that phrase means so much to me. so Tammy, what you’re talking about is trust. And to me, trust is at the baseline of everything that we do.
And let me sort of make a segue to democracy club, which was the second thing that you mentioned. This also speaks to the overwhelm that we’re feeling part of the overwhelm that we’re feeling is that we are inundated with we’re inundated with a narrative that we’re getting, you know, from, you know, just the media, the internet, you know, about the chaos that’s out there in the world.
And. So many of us are feeling disconnected. partially, I mean, in large part because of the pandemic, we literally cannot spend time with the people that we love and the ways that we want to, but also just life gets busy and we get disconnected from the, you know, we get disconnected from friends and when we return to that, those connections, those relationships that actually fill us up and give us energy that.
Can give us so much more energy to engage in other places. And so that’s why my longer term project, and I have a feeling this is going to be something I’m going to be talking about potentially for the rest of my life is democracy club. Now democracy club is the idea of creating a model for political engagement that works like a book club.
So you get together with your friends, say once a month, you. You know, it’s a fun gathering. It’s got food, it’s got something to drink. It’s got hanging out and catching up. And then the focus is on being politically active together, politically engaged, learning together. Now during our pandemic, this probably will take place over video conferencing, but.
Before the pandemic happen. I have a group of about eight or nine folks who I get together with once a month. We do it in each other’s living rooms. We, you know, we bring food. It’s like a book club and we not only get to have a wonderful time together and, you know, strengthen our friendships. We learn from each other.
We talk about. What can sometimes be sticky topics in an environment that is, really scaffolded with trust and love. So even if I don’t agree, you know, in terms of the details with my friend about a particular issue, we know that we can talk about it. From a place of, Hey, but we love each other.
And we talk about these things together and it’s so important to have that space, to be able to talk about stuff, even with people who are politically similar to you, the fact is even politically similar people to you, aren’t always going to have the same opinions about every issue. And it’s important to be able to talk about that.
So that’s what democracy club is about. And I have a dream that democracy clubs will become, you know, if not as popular as book clubs, then popular enough to spread across the country where there just networks of small groups of local, you know, local groups of people just talking about stuff and doing things together.
It just it’s. I think the most important thing about it is that it’s fun and it’s connecting. And from there, it, I mean, it’s what our democracy is all about. You know, informed participation.
Tami: I have chills from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head.
and here’s why I have dreamed of exactly what you’re talking about forever.
And so I, it’s just interesting. Interesting, thing, you know what? You do something. I okay. Maybe this is just my immaturity talking when I do something, I think, God, everybody does this. Right? It’s like that thing that when you find out your strengths on the strengths finder, you just assume you’re like, that’s duh, this is not special.
What is special about me is not special. Cause it’s so ingrained in you that you’re like, what. Does everyone do this?
Asha: it turns out
Tami: Asha you’re onto something. Not everyone talks about politics with their friends. In fact, something like 75% of white women do not actually talk about politics with their friends.
There’s a book that is Al about that. Like how you have these conversations. So can we talk a little bit about the logistics? Like how did you choose who is going to be in your democracy club? Was this an established group of friends that you already had? Tell us a little bit about that because I am, I have my thinking cap on and I’m going to be starting one
Asha: so exciting.
Tami: Oh, yay.
Asha: Okay. So before I answer your question, I am going to, we can talk about the website later. There is a website that talks about this. Dem club.org. So go to Dem club.org. There’s a downloadable PDF and all that kind of stuff. So awesome. So if you don’t, you know, if your listeners do not remember a word that I say there is a place they can go surfing.
Great. Great. so how we chose. who was in our democracy club. It really grew out of, in my particular case, it grew out of my local organizing. So we did a ton of work around the midterm elections. In 2018, I led a group, in my community, focused on voter turnout in the midterm elections. And when did you do
Through a swing left or move on or in divisible or just your local Dems club?
Asha: it was sort of an independent venture,
Tami: but we pulled from all of those
Asha: things. we pulled from all of those things. So, I’m actually, I will share another link with you that gives you a little bit of background of, of my organizing back in those years.
so because I wrote an op-ed about it for my local newspaper, the Oregonian, and that will give you all the backgrounder. So the folks in my democracy club were the, I guess you could say committee leaders that I had been working with in 2018. And so we said, look, we just want to keep meeting.
We know the election’s over. but we want to keep meeting because we had become so close and we work together so well. And so we just kept meeting, but we changed the, I guess you could say terms of our group. So I was no longer the quote unquote. Boss. I was now, we were now just a community of, you know, folks who got together and did this more like a book club.
So that’s how I chose. We did not know each other before 2016. Most of us, a couple of us did, but most of us did not. That’s how we met now. It certainly doesn’t have to be like that for somebody who wants to start at democracy club, it could be, you know, you could sort of reach out to the friends that you’ve been talking to the last, you know, couple of years and say, Hey, let’s like create a group and do this.
I think the main thing is that, You know, ideally you create a group that’s locally, like in local proximity. So that one, the days of Zim conferences are behind us, you can get together in person, but you know, that’s up to you. You can also create a virtual group if you, I think there’s something powerful about getting together in person.
so that is something that I would recommend, but it’s certainly not required.
Tami: Yeah. I mean, I’m a super introvert. And so I’m always down for nev for not meeting in person. However, the pandemic has slightly cured me of that. I’m like, just kidding. I might actually want to see people in person
Asha: like enough is enough already.
Tami: Exactly. I’m like, okay, I get it. I’ve had a taste of own medicine. Okay. also a couple of years ago, I read Gloria Steinem’s book. I want to say it’s called on the road, but I know that’s Jack Kerouac. There is a there’s the word road is in the title. And one of the things that struck me in that book was that she talks about the most effective organizing that she’s ever done, which is why she’s always on the road.
Is she calls it, breathing the same air with people, makes a difference and having that exchange of energy in real life, there’s absolutely no substitute for it, which is why in her eighties, she’s still traveling around, connecting with people. And as I agree, right. And as my, I have to mention Bernay Brown and Everett, every episode in hopes that someday she will come on my stalker ish podcast.
And that is when she talks about him. Brave braving the wilderness about you CA it’s hard to hate people close up.
Asha: and what I talk about when I talk about democracy club is that this is a model that leads with trust and friendship. The trust and friendship is the first part. The political engagement is the second part, because the first part is all about creating a space where you feel energized, you feel, You know, I hesitate to use the word safe, cause it’s not about safe in that.
You will never be challenged. it’s more like embraced. And so. W you start with, with, you know, with a group of people that you want to spend time with, think about your book club. Think about like, how does one start a book club? you sort of think about your friends who seem to like reading and who might like each other and you know, you just get people together.
It’s as simple as that. I mean, if that’s simple, I know that’s not simple for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be, you know, this is not a political organizing project. This is a friend project. Right.
Tami: And thank you for that, thank you for that. differentiation also, there is something to be said about being in community with other people who aren’t the experts and y’all are figuring it out together.
You’re not taking a class. No one’s in charge. The idea is that you’re coming together to learn something new and quite frankly, in order to effectively learn things. You have to feel safe. You have to be in community. That’s why there’s all that talk about, building community in schools. And so kids feel safe enough to take risks by learning,
Tami: There’s this, the push pull of. Being knocked off your center because you don’t know, but being held in that security of it’s okay. To take a risk. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to get it wrong. It’s okay to fall short. And we’re still going to keep trying because when people feel unsafe, it’s when they shut down and they can’t learn and they can’t make change.
Asha: sure, because they’re in survival mode, you know, and I mean, I’ve experienced this as a parent, you know, both of my kids have been through their own educational Odyssey, so I know what that looks like. I know I’ve seen learning completely stopped when. Somebody is under stress on that level. and then I’ve seen the magic that can happen when, you know, it’s sort of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you know, once the sort of food, water, and shelter stuff, and love is taken care of.
Wow, it’s amazing what you can do from there. And I think that’s what democracy club is all about. It’s not about creating an echo chamber. It is about creating a space where you can. Engaged with really sort of like gnarly topics, like race and class and yeah. Stuff that you don’t know anything about.
Like maybe you don’t even know who your representative is in Congress and you feel dumb about it. you know what. A lot of people don’t know why would, you know, you need to go look it up and you know, there’s no reason why you should just naturally know that stuff. So it is really nice ways to have a place with friends where you can sort of ask all those questions.
You don’t necessarily feel comfortable, like raising your hand in some room full of strangers, asking questions, right. Because, you know,
Tami: we don’t always
Asha: know all this stuff, especially those of us who are new and that’s what democracy club makes possible. It makes possible a way for us to engage with our democracy in a way that feels good.
Tami: so Asha, when people tell you that they’re not political. Tell me what you tell me, how you run up against that. Cause I, that of course I silently seed, but what do you, what are your internal thoughts on that?
Asha: I think it means different things to different people, but what I mostly think is that when somebody says I’m not political, you know, sort of with that, like that like crinkle in the nose, that sort of like tone of distaste.
It means that they don’t like to talk about politics and, or they don’t like to think about politics or, you know, or just that whole political landscape is just. Distasteful to them. The thing that is so important to me, especially in the context of democracy club, is that whether or not you like politics, you are still subject to politics.
Meaning that our country is governed by laws and policies on the state and the federal level. And so whether or not you engage, you are still going to have to follow those laws and be subject to those policies. And so when you don’t engage, first of all, what you do is your giveaway, your voice, and you’re letting other people make really important decisions about you and your family and your community.
But the other thing is that you democracy as a whole suffers because democracy is all about people participating in using their voices. That’s what it’s all about. It’s supposed to be messy. And so part of the reason why I think. The idea of democracy club is so important is that it gives us a place for that.
It gives us a place for us to talk about politics or more importantly, our lives and the policies that affect them in ways that. Are empowering, you know, in ways that give us sort of an on-ramp to actually get involved in when does not need to be a political activist to be engaged in our democracy. In fact, one doesn’t even need to think about politics that much at all, but one does need to think about what in our community matters and politics and.
Legislation and all that kind of stuff gives us a way to actually make those changes. That’s how it works in our country. And this gives you a hand in it. it’s really exciting when you think about it from that standpoint.
Tami: I was just having a conversation with somebody recently, who has an idea.
they have a trans child. And they would like to make the world a better place for their child and every other child. And I was like, Oh my God, me too. So we were brainstorming ideas on how. this mom could affect change in her community and by effecting change in her community, in her state and in the country.
And I said, Hey, I don’t know if you know this, but one of the most effective things that really I hate this term gonna use it moves the needle is when real people with real. Issues concerns problems make direct connection with the people who represent them. And what I mean by that is, say something is happening.
I have another friend who her family is on the ACA her family had a very tragic, Thing happened where her husband got gravely ill and obviously used the ACA that was their insurance, this whole shebang. And this is the thing, what that friend did was she wrote a letter to her Congresswoman and then our Congresswoman read it on the floor of the Congress.
And that family’s personal story really got. Into the heart, mind and soul of our elected official. And when she is voting on legislation, she is thinking of that family.
So I used to work for, or, an elected representative. Senator Wyden had these things called sidewalk office hours. And what that was is he would stand outside pals books, usually, the East side, the garden one, and he would stand there with a clipboard and a staff person and anybody who wanted to come by and talk to him, could come by and talk about anything.
And that staff person. That person’s job, right? Is that not Senator Wyden? He, that staff person’s job was to like take notes. This is the staff person that’s in charge of that. This is the concern. And it’s these real connections with real people. Like your next door neighbor talking to elected officials is what makes a difference.
Here’s the thing. So many people are like, it doesn’t matter. It’s all lobbyists. It’s all this. It’s all that I have seen. Legislators change their mind on issues. When they talk to real people, when they have families in their offices saying, this is how that law works in our community, this is how that works.
Their hearts melt. It kind of breaks our brain a little bit. I think they’re like, Whoa, I had no idea. Right. And so what we need is people to stand up and say, Hey. That thing that seems really abstract out there that affects real people and real families.
Asha: boy, are you speaking my language, Tammy? And I think this speaks to that little word that you uttered at the beginning of this podcast, which was hope.
So I think. The thing that needs to be super clear in everybody’s mind is this notion of collective impact. Now. Because there’s a lot of cynicism out there. There are a lot of people who are like, Oh, come on seriously. I’m going to tell my boring story to my Senator, and then they’re going to change their vote.
That’s never going to happen. Okay. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re right. Your single story is not necessarily going to change, you know, your representatives vote on some big issue. However, I would like to now that may not be true. But it may be true. And I just want to remind people, you know, anyone who has ever boycotted a company because they don’t because the company does something, that, you know, something immoral.
And so you’re like, you know what? I don’t want to support that company anymore. Do you really think that your withholding buying, you know, for widgets from that company is going to hurt that company bottom line? No, but yet boycotts are paying. Powerful ways to vote with our wallet. Now I’ll give you another example, you know, your friend writes a book, for example,
Tami: you was just talked
Asha: about pre-ordering minimalist parents came out.
Does it, you know, did you personally did your one pre-order turn minimalist parenting into a bestseller? No, but when you tell your friends and a whole bunch of people do it right. That is we have collective impact and something like democracy club or joining any other sort of organization that I ensue about how our democracy works.
It reminds you that it’s all based on collective impact. When we all participate. When we all vote, when we all speak up and make literally 62nd call to our legislators office. Our representative’s office, whether it’s a state representative or a city council person or our us congressional representative, it’s not just one thing, it’s all the things.
But sometimes that one thing gets all the way through, like the story that you’re telling your friend’s story made it all the way to the floor of, you know, the, of us Congress. And we never know what that’s going to be. So it really is all about. You know, sort of not, everyone’s going to win the lottery, but somebody’s going to win it.
So buy the ticket, make the phone call, put your vote in the ballot box. That’s what it takes to really make change. And I think that. When we come together with our friends to talk about these things. And again, we lead with that trust and friendship. It really chips away that cynicism, because if you just sort of read that abstract media narrative out there, it does hurt.
It does feel hard to break through.
Tami: But when you talk about,
Asha: when you start hearing these stories among your friends and they start telling you know what, I had a friend who. Then did that. It reminds us that this is a human endeavor and human endeavors involve individual humans and that’s us.
Tami: Absolutely. And one of my missions that I’m sort of putting forth because I, of course so many people are like, I had no idea. He worked in politics. I’m like, I know it’s weird and it was a long time ago, but I have a degree in political science. I worked in politics for a decade. I want to demystify the process so that more people feel empowered to make these small changes every day.
It’s so funny because one of the, so many people hate using the phone and I’m like, cool. Here’s a pro tip West coaster call at dinner time, our time to the DC
Asha: office. And leave your name,
Tami: get your voicemail, leave your name and your zip code. Say yes or no, that you’re support or not. And that’s it. And hang up also, PS, if somebody answers the phone, I can almost guarantee it’s a scared college kid on the other end of that phone.
And they are hoping and praying and you are not calling to yell at them. Right?
Tami: know that cause I used to have to, I had a ringing phone on my desk at one point and I worked for a very powerful, I used to work for Willie Brown, the longest serving speaker in California assembly.
Asha: Oh my goodness. I remember Willie Brown.
I grew up in California,
Tami: right? Yep. I mean, my armpits got sweaty every time the phone rang. Cause I was like nobody ever calls the speaker’s office to be like, you guys are doing a great job. Whoo. so my point is. It’s not like you’re ever going to get the member of Congress on the line or even the city council person.
Also, you don’t have to write a dissertation and you do not have to be an expert to participate. You have to be somebody who cares about stuff.
Asha: That’s all. That’s it. You just have to be somebody who cares and
Tami: take it one step further, you care and you call. And you don’t have to call, you could fax, you could telegram, you could write letters, you could do all of the things or one of the things
Asha: it does.
Tami: have to be perfect.
Asha: And that’s a, that is a story that I also really want to keep telling. I, you know, that’s actually a story that I, that was the whole basis of my community organizing in 2016, which was, Hey, let’s get together. There’s some really small, simple things that we can all do that maybe we’ve never done before, call our representative and.
Then, you know, I brought this group together. It was a large group by the time the indivisible guide came out and, hopefully your listeners know what indivisible is. If not, you can just link it up. But basically it was sort of a playbook for how to call your elected representatives and how that really works.
And I learned so much from that. So. Yes, I’m with you there. And that’s something that I want to keep talking about, and I just think it’s so important on the most basic level that, and this actually is connected to what Christina and I talk about on the edit your life podcast all the time we have to trust ourselves.
We have to. Embrace our own voice, our own story, whether it’s to make choices in our own lives about, you know, what we keep or toss in our pantries or how we declutter or how we parent. But that also goes to how we show up in our democracy. It’s. So important that we understand our own values and then talk about them.
That’s, it’s as simple as that, it’s as simple as living your own values, but of course I say it’s simple, but that’s you know, that’s the challenge of a lifetime really. And, you know, and we have lots of obstacles that get in the way, but. it can be an inspiring thing, especially when you do it with your friends.
Tami: Absolutely. I have this vision of, standing in a line and putting my hand out and having somebody else grab my hand and then somebody else standing in the line and holding their hand out and somebody else grabbing their hand, like we really are stronger together and getting out of our own way is one of the things.
Like we need to be, we need to take imperfect action. We don’t have to be experts before we take our first step. We don’t need a college degree. We don’t need a master’s degree. We just need a phone call. We, you know what I mean? and if you can research your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend online, you are well-qualified to speak on whether or not your representative should vote.
Yes or no on a bill.
Asha: Yes. Yes. Like
Tami: your Google fingers, friends are super awesome.
Asha: I think the other, you know, the other thing to say here is that, you know, obviously we are right around the corner from this massive election and, you know, no matter what happens, we. Are human beings here together in this country.
And democracy works when people have differing views that are based in, Similar values. And when I say similar values, I don’t mean similar opinions or like similar religious values. I mean that similar values like kindness and empathy and fairness and justice. Those are very basic values when people of differing opinions come together, but share those values.
That’s when democracy works the best, because we need lots of different opinions. That’s how, you know, ideally, you know, the best opinions rise to the top, you know, obviously that’s ideally we don’t live in an ideal society. We know that, we know that a lot of these political fights, you know, are somewhat twisted and manipulated and all of that.
Sure. But. We have the ability to come together and talk about these things. And when you have that image of people linking arms, that’s the image that I have to, I just want that link. You know, I want that circle of people linking arms to grow bigger, you know, and to grow stronger. And that’s not necessarily about agreeing all the time.
Absolutely not, but
Tami: some people would say, yeah, but look at what’s happening. It’s all this, it’s all that. And I say, the reason things are the way they are is because people have not been participating.
Tami: When you let things run a muck, it’s like toddlers have taken over and they’re like, it’s the me first, the gimme gimmes within suits.
And it’s if you let power go unchecked, that’s what you get. If you want something different, you got to step into the fray, but you don’t have to be there alone.
Asha: Yeah. And
Tami: I don’t know about you, but I’m offering my hand to people to say, let’s do this together.
Asha: Okay. Gosh, I’m getting the chills. I know.
I really, this is so moving, you know, and, you know, I. I see you actually offering your hand all the time, because you know, we interact online all the time. And I think the thing that I would say to all of your listeners is that each of you has the potential to also offer your hand. Again, you don’t have to step up and be some political leader.
You simply need to look left and right at a couple of friends and say, Hey, do you want to get together and talk about some of this stuff? That’s it, I don’t even know what exactly what we’re going to talk about, but I really care and I’m sure we can do something if we do it together, that’s where it starts.
So, you know what your bus has each of us do? That
Tami: is, I actually, I’m going to tell everybody my plans. These are my private plans, but I’ll tell everybody here. Cause you know, Josh and I were just having a chat. So one of my friends and I have been, we meet every Saturday at 11. On zoom. She lives in Oakland.
She’s been one of my best friends since seventh grade. She’s a lawyer. She’s so smart. And we’ve been talking about, yes, we want to flip the Senate, but really we need to, work on making sure all of our all 50 state houses are blue. And so we’re talking about by the end of this year is putting together a giving club where we adopt a state house and we start fundraising like a little bit every month between now.
And two years from now, because guess what? Every two years we’re going to have an election, but we don’t stop between elections. we just do little contributions. So we’re going to do a giving club as one of our projects. And, and I’m like, I want to work with people to help them. I want to have a class called the elections over now.
Right. Which is, this is what we do. this is what we do next. Like I’m glad everybody’s woo. We voted. Oh, we did the one more thing.
Asha: That’s terrific.
Tami: But what do we do between
Asha: election cycles?
Tami: this is the time where we start. Going to meetings. This is the time where we start submitting public comments.
This is the time where we’re following legislation from committee to committee to find out who’s doing what, where things that are important to us, where they are in the legislative process. It’s that whole everyone, if you’re right now thinking of schoolhouse, rock, how a bill becomes a law.
It’s that, and it’s a little bit messier because they couldn’t get all the iterations in the one song. But we start doing that. And then again, I want to demystify this process because when our legislative members of all houses do not hear from us, they
Asha: think we don’t know whatever they want.
They do whatever they want or they do whatever they want. Yeah.
Tami: Do what the last person who spoke to them, told
Asha: them. Yes.
Tami: Right. But each one of us could be that member of the public who makes such an impact on our elected officials that they’re like, Oh my God, I had no idea
Tami: was happening in my community.
I had no idea that’s how this thing would affect your particular family.
Asha: that’s really exciting, Tammy.
Tami: Right? Isn’t it? Yeah.
Asha: It’s really exciting. You know, and I think it’s, you know, I would just add to that, you know, this is your vision, you and your friend, this is your vision that you’ve come up with.
This is clearly Jazzing you know, like I can hear the sparks flying out of your ears as you’re talking about this, you know, another person might say, you know what I want to create. I want to create a new version of schoolhouse rock because geez. I mean, we all saw that school house rock. I’m just a bill, right?
yeah. That’s basically most of our civics education maybe. Lee, maybe one of your listeners is an artist and a videographer or an animator and says, Oh my gosh, we should have a new school house rock. That might be a way that they engage
Tami: or just had a vision of Randy rainbow doing it.
Asha: Oh man. Or LaVar Burton.
Right. That whole, my two very different visions right there. Rainbow versus LaVar Burton or both of them.
Tami: Right. By the way, do you know where LaVar Burton grew up in Sacramento? Oh,
see local guy. I mean, I can totally just call him and be like, dude. So me and Asha darn fast. We’re having a chat on my pod.
Can you pay him in
Asha: Tom? Hanks is in the East Bay. I mean, that’s where he grew up.
Tami: sorry, Tom Hanks was here. First.
Tami: Molly Ringwald, Tom Hanks. I’m just, Oh, by the way, I’m from the East Bay. So like I got whole Northern California covered. I grew up, my mom worked at Cal. I grew up in El Sorito, Elsa Bronte.
Wait, did you went to Cal, right?
Asha: I went to UC Berkeley and I grew up in Contra Costa County, but I lived in Berkeley in Oakland for years and years and years before moving to Portland, Oregon. Okay,
Tami: yeah, let’s just keep our Venn diagram of some similarities growing with each model.
Asha: Yeah. Yeah. It’s totally crazy. Anyway, I just think
Tami: we were in the same place at the same time.
Asha: maybe it was the cheeseboard.
Tami: Exactly. Okay. I have a friend who works there right now.
Asha: Okay. Folks, the cheeseboard is this cheese shop slash bakery slash pizza. like it’s not a pizza company. It’s this.
It’s this amazing place. You have to go if you’re ever in North Berkeley. Yep. Just go there and eat the food. There are a million, more million, more Berkeley food establishments. I could talk about
Tami: it precisely. Okay. So Asha, now that we have done on our connection, I do have to ask, because my podcast is about self care.
How does self care affect your work?
Asha: you know, I’m going to make it an admission. And that is that I sometimes can be terrible at self care. And this is my own, this is my own problem that I am actually working hard to fix. but really democracy club. My idea for democracy club was born out of. Really realizing that for me, self care is about connection with the people I care about and community.
So I am a person who really thrives when I am talking with other people. I am an extrovert. I need to be with my friends. Now, when I say extrovert, I don’t mean I need to go to parties all the time. What I mean to say is that I just need to feel connected to my friends, especially during times of difficulty or when I’m struggling with something.
So I will say that. Democracy club was completely connected to my own desire for self care. And frankly, so is every other communally sort of community organized, you know, project that I’ve ever done, including parent hacks. That was also about self care because I felt alone. And the way that I best care about myself is.
Getting connected to people. And that’s what I did when I started the parent hacks blog. That’s what I did when I started my, my political engagement group in 2016. And that’s what I did when I started my democracy.
Tami: Yeah. And I love this answer because I think people have a misconception that. Self care is prescriptive.
And it really isn’t. It’s like what actually feeds your body, your mind, your community, your mental health. And so we define it for ourselves. Sure. There are some things that are, non-negotiable like sleep and food and movement and quiet. Like we like biologically, we need those things. But beyond that, really getting into What makes me feel alive?
What makes me feel like I can be part of something bigger than myself? What makes me feel like I am living my best life? It looks very different,
Asha: depending on does. And again, this goes back to what I was talking about earlier, and what Christine and I wrote about a minimalist parenting and what we talk about every week on edit your life, which is that the answer to every question begins internally.
You have to ask yourself, what do you need? What do you care about? You have to trust those answers, which by the way, don’t always come right away. You know, it’s not like we just magically know what we need. We don’t always know what we need, but sometimes when we get quiet enough and we actually elevate our voice enough, we can hear, and we do know we have those gut feelings.
So, so yes, that’s really where self-care and my work are connected. And I think the. One additional thing I would say there is that self care and being connected to that internal sense of guidance is also what tells me it’s time to do something different. You know, so when I change my work, when I completely veered from writing about parenting to community, organizing and writing about politics, that was not planned.
Believe me, I had very different plans. I was in the last stages of my. Book tour when the 2016 election happened. I had very different plans for my writing career, but I was, you know, my internal guidance system led me in the direction that I went and I followed it. So in the end, you know, that’s when my best decisions I think get made.
I mean, they’re never perfect. I’m not saying I’m always right. I’m not, no, none of us has ever
Tami: always. Right. Absolutely. And, but to use that. Oh, that was I’m on the wrong road. Doesn’t mean that you blow up the car and you stop. It means you back up and try something else. Right?
Asha: Right. There’s always a, there’s always a turnoff.
Tami: Yes. Yeah. The next exit is available to you. So my question about that is how did you get in touch with your internal compass and how did you learn to trust that?
Asha: my answer is not going to be super helpful because it’s just always sort of been like that for me. I have always been a highly intuitive person and I think the conditions of my life growing up, meaning, you know, I have two wonderful parents and I had a happy upbringing and not a lot of friction, in terms of my school life and friendships allowed me to just say, Hey, you know, whatever I’m doing, it’s working and I’m gonna keep doing it. And I’ve just always done that. So some of it is the luck of my circumstances.
Some of it is just the way that I internally am. And, but. I say that, but obviously, you know, I’m in my fifties, it’s not like my life has been this effortless tiptoe through the tulips ever since then. I mean, I have hit plenty of pretty big obstacles. the good news is that I sort of already had my intuition on board and, Strong relationship with that intuition.
So that was just the way that I navigated. So I realize it’s not like that for everyone. You know, some people are just more in their head and less in their gut and that’s fine. You know, this is what works for me. part,
Tami: excuse me,
Asha: part of why I love doing. The edit your life podcast with Christine is that Christine navigates her life so differently.
And she has a completely different set of tools that she uses to make progress in her life. But, you know, we are so connected because our values are so aligned, but the way that we go about expressing those values and sort of manifesting them out in the world totally different, you know, she, we joked, she’s the queen of the spreadsheet, you know, she can just like.
Have a 100 dot, you know, bullet to do list and just start at number one and go, boom. And be at like 57 by the end of the day, that’s just how she is. And so, and that’s not how I am. So, you know, that’s. That’s such an individual process. It’s such an annoying answer. I realized that, no, I don’t think it’s annoying
Tami: because I, I fall more towards the Christine end of this.
And I will say my answer is lots of therapy.
right. Like I like learning to trust myself either. So it’s if you don’t have it yet friends. That is a process that you can learn. It usually involves a, another mental health professional to help, but it is possible.
Asha: Thank you for saying that because I too have had a lot of therapy.
Let me be very clear about that. You know, I feel
Tami: like it’s misleading.
Asha: Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, I feel like therapy is better than a massage. I mean, like you need someone sometimes to help you guide to help guide you through the, you know, the thicket because yeah. Nobody has a friction-free life.
Nobody does everything they needed when they grew up nobody
Tami: and nobody is born with the tools like, Oh, go to the person that has a full toolbox. Who’s Hey, I have some tools for that. And you’re like, cool. I just have to pay you money and be really uncomfortable for a while for you to share your tools with me.
Asha: Okay. Right. Has to keep going.
Tami: I have to keep applying the tools you say.
Asha: Okay. Yeah.
Tami: Yeah. Okay, absolutely.
Asha: Very important.
Tami: So what I usually ask here is what did you learn about self care growing up? But what I heard you say is that you grew up in a loving environment where you got to be, you got to have your feet in a foundation so that you could go off and learn.
Asha: Yes. Yes, indeed. Now, you know, it’s funny. My parents were very strict, so it’s not to say that I, there wasn’t a lot of room for me to do a lot of expressing necessarily, but it just so happens that my parents got a kid who was pretty easy going, you know how it is like your kid’s just born the way they’re born.
Tami: And they only become more of who they are as they grow.
Asha: They become more of who they are. So I have two kids, one of whom is just, you know, the way he learns is by pushing against things. That’s just the way he learns. And so he was my first. And so I was the thing, I, my husband and I, the, we were the things that he pushed against.
Right. And I thought to myself, geez, you know, I never said no to my parents. then my second child came along. She learns completely differently. It’s a totally different thing. And it had nothing to do with what I taught either of them. It had to do with who they are at their core. That’s just how they were and how I was at my core as a baby, as a toddler, as a little kid was just an easygoing kid.
You know, it’s just the way it was. And my mom only now does she say, geez, I got lucky because you know, for most of my growing up she’s it’s because we disciplined you. And I’m like, I remember at a certain point going mom, it’s not because of anything. It’s because you got lucky. She’s you’re right.
Tami: Oh my God. I love that you share that a couple of years ago. my kid went to a, Preschool. It was parent participation and basically it was a parenting class and then there’s a preschool component and one of the other parents. So we, so in other words, we had weekly meetings. We had weekly classes, it was a really great, community of people to be in.
And one woman had three kids, three sons are these little toe heads and the first two. Yeah, they were just like these, they practically came, installed with halos over their heads. And, and then as she likes to say, the third one reminded me, it’s not me. She’s I was so smug and tell my last one came along and now I’m like, Oh my God, this is so much harder than I thought it was.
And it turns out the first two are raising themselves. She was like, I thought I was such a good parent.
Asha: Yeah. Yeah. You know, it’s just a boy. we could go on for it. We could go on for hours about this, you know, it’s not to say we have no effect on our kids. It’s not to say we should never take any credit when, you know, when they do wonderful things or.
Have no responsibility when they do things that are, you know, but it’s just so much bigger and more complex than that. It’s
Tami: they’re a different person from us, right. Not third party into our marriage. Hey, there’s a new person here.
Asha: Come on in
Tami: on. have are you going to read, you know,
Asha: so true.
Tami: Okay. So where’s your self care going? what needs more attention
Asha: would you say? my self care is going well in terms of my identifying what it is I love to do. And then setting aside time and clearly a license, it looks different right now because we’re in a global pandemic. And so I am not out and about in the world as much as I like, which is actually what gives me energy.
And so it’s really forced me to think about, okay, what can I do in my home? What can I do alone? Or just with my family that actually fills me up. And right now, for me, big time, it’s gardening and, and also cooking. And it’s also just reaching out to my friends individually. And so I am really trying to spend time doing that.
And then the other big piece of this is that I’m exercising and I’m walking. So I’m really trying to focus on my body and this has something to do. this is something I’ve been trying to do for years. I’ve never been able to get a regular exercise habit like established. And, I just, I’ve struggled with doing that for one reason or another, my whole life.
I’m not sure why, even though I actually enjoy exercise, but, you know, so the really big thing that’s happened to me this year and there’ve been a lot of big things, but the really big thing is that my dad passed away in February and my dad was a daily exerciser. So, you know, when he passed away, he was in his mid eighties.
And this was a surprise. This sort of came out of nowhere. The fact is that he was as physically capable in his mid eighties, that as he was pretty much for my entire childhood, and that was a result of daily exercise and good eating. So in a way, now my exercise is to honor my dad and it’s taken on a very different.
cast in my life than just I should exercise or this is good for me or even, you know, I feel good when I do this. This is really also about a way for me to connect with my dad. So that is a big form of self care for me.
Tami: I will say I actually cried when your dad died because. the way that you speak about your dad is so touching.
I could actually cry now, right? The second.
Asha: Me too.
Tami: but also, too, I, my mom died five years ago and I looked down though, my mom was only 69 when she died and I have a young child and I thought, okay, I need to project out 30 years. Where do I want to be in 30 years? And I want to be in my mid eighties.
And to have my kid be like, wow, it’s she’s still 50.
Asha: let me tell you,
Tami: right? Like I take care of future, Tammy. Yeah. Every morning when I go on a walk.
Asha: Oh, I just love the way that you said that just, that sums it up right there. Yes. We’re
Tami: taking care of them. We’re taking care of our future senior citizens.
Right, right, right.
Asha: I will tell you this. I took, you know, one of the most, I would say the before after moment, there are, I mean, there are more, there’s more than one before. After moment in my life. One of the before after moments is this huge hike I took in Zion national park with my dad, to the top of this hike called angels landing, which is.
unbelievable hike. And the end of it is really precarious. You’re literally like hiking on the edge of this cliff. It’s sort of shocking to me that hike is even legal, frankly, because people fall off.
Tami: If every year I was just thinking that I was like, this sounds both heavenly and terrible at the same time.
Asha: Like it was both of those things. It’s exhilarating
Tami: because I could die any moment. Yes.
Asha: So I took this hike with my dad when he was in his mid seventies. The reason I took this hike with my dad was because when I was nine years old, we went camping in Zion, national park. And dad took that hike by himself because I was too young to take it.
And he talked about it for the rest of my life. So one day I was like, okay, I got to take that hike, dad, someday let’s go to Zion national park. And we did it and we didn’t do it until he was in his mid seventies, but we did do it. And. Let me tell you, he actually, there were moments that I was so petrified on that hike that my dad had to say, okay, take your left foot and put it here.
Okay. Now take your right foot and put it there. That’s how scary it was because I was standing on the edge of this 1200 foot cliff or whatever. And I just want to say that he was in his mid seventies. He was, this was something that he could do. And. Exactly to your point, Tammy. And I’m so sorry about your mom, you know, but you like, you have the chance to do this, you know, for your kid.
And I have the chance to do it too. Hopefully. I mean, we don’t control everything, you
Tami: control everything,
Asha: but we can control this
Tami: well, but we, as you says, you can put yourself in front of beauty. You can get in the way of beauty. It’s like I’m putting myself. I’m stacking the deck in favor of my future being flexible, strong and mobile.
Yeah. I’m doing my part. I’m putting my faith in my daily things to help project the future. I want and sure. Some catastrophic thing might happen, but here’s what I will say. my go-to question in my head, honest to God is Oh my God, what’s the worst thing that can happen, but I’m going to challenge everyone.
The real question I want everyone to ask is what is the best thing that could happen? Because it’s really easy to get stuck in. I’m not going to do anything cause bad things might happen. Sure. Okay. That is true. Bad things might happen, but can we for once prepare ourselves for the good that could happen?
What if the election turns out that it’s such a blue wave, that I can go to bed at eight Oh five on Tuesday, I’m going to tell you what friends I’m going to get up on Wednesday. I’m a slap y’all high five. That’s what, I’m a good, and I’m going to hold that vision for the future. I want whether it’d be my daily exercise, completing that damn stress cycle.
So I don’t drop dead from a heart attack between now and Tuesday. I am putting out what I want to see in the world, because for me. For my, how my brain works. It’s really lazy for me to catastrophize. Yeah. It’s that’s my go-to, that’s my easy channel. So when I’m challenging myself to ask what the best thing could happen is it’s not because I will never be accused of being a Pollyanna.
Anyone who has spent any time with me is like, Whew. That was kind of biting. I’m like, you’re welcome. You should hear my inside thoughts. however I do hold the hope of a better world. It’s what gets me up in the morning. It’s what keeps me going. It’s what gives me energy.
Asha: I sort of feel like we need to just stop talking there, but there are 5 million things I could say, but most of them are some variation upon. yes.
Tami: And this is why we’re friends.
Asha: Okay. So,
Tami: what’s your morning routine.
Asha: My morning routine is coffee. First coffee first. It’s you know, that’s just my motto.
Maybe I should put that on a t-shirt you totally should. I love coffee. I love coffee. that’s because I came of age in Berkeley, California, and I, you know, I’d cut my coffee, drinking teeth over there. so first things first I wake up, I go turn on my coffee, which I have set up the night before. I generally sit and read the newspaper.
Although I have changed my routine in that I have now delayed that and I start by writing in my journal because I. actually my most creative and alert the moment I wake up strangely enough. And so that’s very, that’s super valuable time. And for me to spend it, filling my mind with other people’s words and other people’s narratives and then the, just the distraction that comes with that, it’s just not, it’s not a good use of my brain power.
So I write in my journal and then I read my newspaper and then usually I walk my dog.
Tami: What I heard you say is connect with yourself. And, what is it create before you consume and move your body?
Asha: These are, that sounds so much better.
Tami: These are excellent forms of self-care. I love it, girl. Yeah. Catherine, I am a, I’m a professional reframer so, I li I like what you’re putting down there.
and I do have a question. And I think I know the answer. When you said you read your paper Asha, do you get a newspaper delivered to your house? That’s on paper.
Asha: Oh, I used to, I, so I used to, and then I stopped doing it. I greatly prefer a paper newspaper, and I’m still mourning a loss of our local state paper.
The Oregonian. No longer being a daily. It just kills me. I love reading the daily local paper, but we don’t get it anymore. So I get my newspapers online, but I am a paid subscriber to three different newspapers. Let me just say, put out there folks pay for your news.
Tami: I will say free
Asha: the free press and especially local journalism.
Tami: I will say I subscribed to the Washington post and. I will just say, 1990, Tammy is like, why are you subscribed? Are you ready for this, to that conservative rag
Asha: and Erin?
Tami: because of my thought is I need to know what something that’s not as liberal as me as saying. And so I was like the Washington post.
It is, and I read it. I’m like, okay, even they’re being critical of this administration. So I’m just saying I’m not completely off my rocker in my
Asha: criticism. I just think it’s really important for people to remember that there are journalistic standards and now yes, different press outlets have different.
they might like lean one way. The wall street journal leans one way and you know, another. Newspaper might lean another way, but there are journalistic ethics in terms of truth and in terms of facts. And that is really important to say out loud. So lutely, I think it’s really important to know that there are lots and lots of opinion.
you know, sort of more like propaganda sites out there that are not news organizations, these old and trusted news organizations not perfect, but they do run. you know, according to journalistic ethics, and that is absolutely critical or a place like, you know, NPR, for example, this is journalism. This is not just people spouting their version of whatever it is they want to put out
And by the way, we are actually slapping a Hi-Fi right now, again, it’s one of those things where I’m like, are we talking about the air we’re breathing and the water we’re swimming in? Yes. But I realize, again, not everyone has. Thought this all the way through and I’m like, so pay for your journalism and only, also know the difference between an opinion page and an opinion piece versus a journalistic piece.
And please can we only share things that have been vetted through this editorial process?
Asha: Yes. Yes. That’s very important. That’s something, you know, I, I’m, I’ve been pretty active on Twitter these last few years.
Tami: I love that.
Asha: I’ve been a, I’ve been on Twitter since 2008, so I’ve been on Twitter for a long time.
But I specifically say that I only share, you know, vetted sources. I won’t just retweet anything. Like I’m not gonna retweet somebody unless I’ve dug into who they are and it doesn’t have to take long, but. That is absolutely a value of mine. We have to maintain that understanding and have some sort of media literacy.
So we can navigate this landscape. That’s a topic for a whole nother discussion.
Tami: Absolutely. And I’m totally ready to have it whenever you’re, whenever you are. Okay. Asha, what else should people know about you and where can they find you online?
Asha: you can find me online in a number of places. First.
I’ll just talk about my blog, Asha, Dorn fest.com. So that is just the place where you can go. You know, you can just go there and find out what I’m up to. I haven’t been writing as much on my blog recently, but that is going to change because in 2021, my social media presence is going to change dramatically.
We’re still working out the details, but, my blog is always my sort of go-to place. You can also find me on various social media, platforms at Asha Dorn Fest, going forward, that’s going to be Twitter and Instagram and, I think the best way to get to know me though, really is to subscribe to the, edit your life podcast.
Because my conversations with Christine, you know, we cover so many topics and we go so many places and I feel like there’s just, as you know, there’s just something so intimate and human about podcasts it’s really special. So, you could find out more about edit your life, using your podcast app, just search for edit your life or go to edit your life.
Tami: I will say that I have, since I have listened to every episode, I have been feeling like you and Christine are my best friends
Asha: for years.
Tami: and that’s one of the reasons why I started a podcast. I’m like, I feel like I’m best friends with every host, that has ever had a show, joy, the Baker.
Had their show. she and Tracy Benjamin from shutter bean. It was right when I became a parent and I just listened to every single one of the shows. And I, it made parenting not so lonely because I would listen to it. It was like having NPR on, but it was just two gals, two friends talking about totally important unimportant things.
And it just delighted me. All right. I’ll show you ready for the speed round? Yes. All right. What’s your Enneagram?
Asha: Oh, I don’t know. I’ve never done my Enneagram.
Tami: Oh my God. Okay, I’ll just tell you, 2021 is your year. And I have a series. I will send it to you. And a couple months ago, me and my friend, Holly Holt got together and we did 10 episodes on the Enneagram and how it relates to self care.
We give the good, the bad and the bad.
Asha: Oh, interesting. So I’ll send that
Tami: to you. Yeah. And I have a number in my head and when. You finally winnow down what you think you might be. Let us jump on a call so we can discuss. So you already told me that you’re an extrovert.
Asha: Do you know yet? I did the Myers-Briggs like when I was, I think 22.
So back then they said, Oh, I don’t even remember E M definitely E N TJ, but I don’t think I’m an N TJ.
Asha: But I definitely think I’m in an Ian and N. Okay. It’s that way.
Tami: I will say that when I did that, I’ve done a million Myers-Briggs tests and every time I got it back, I was like, this is a bunch of baloney.
And then I did it one time where I was in a super bad mood, like the worst mood. And I’m like, maybe it was get on the verge of getting sick. And then I got my results back and I was like, Oh my God, this is exactly me because I think I was answering the questions aspirationally, like this is who I think I am.
But really when it came down to brass tacks, I was like, No, I’m this other kind of less evolved person. Okay. So Gretchen Rubin has a framework that helps people build habits and it’s called the four tendencies.
Asha: I know them. Okay.
Tami: And so are you an obliger, a rebel, a questioner, or an upholder?
Asha: I’m an obliger.
Yeah, I am definitely a work within the system kind of person. And I love harmony and sometimes that works to my disadvantage, but let me tell you, as I get older, I’m less and less concerned.
Tami: Totally also. But then when you said you’re like, I can’t figure out how to make this exercise thing happened.
I’m like, I bet you’re an obliger. If you got yourself, if you met one of your neighbors, At three o’clock in the morning to go on a walk. I bet you all the money in the world, you would never leave your neighbor standing out there by themselves.
Asha: Oh, that’s absolutely true. This is what, this is why my dog has gotten a walk every single day of his life.
Tami: So, so they can be great accountability partners.
Asha: I know. I’m like, Hey, I really prioritize that guys walk. Interesting
Tami: you. So it’s get a friend, get a pet, get an exercise habit.
Asha: Yeah. Okay.
Tami: Do you know that your love language,
Asha: my love language.
Tami: So it can be acts of service or I to translate them back in my head.
Cause I call it getting shit done. Acts of service. Gold stars is words of affirmation. Physical touch quality time is asses in the seats and gifts are gifts.
Asha: Oh boy. I know, I think gold stars. Okay. Words of affirmation really do a lot for me.
Tami: Oh my God. Me too.
Asha: I mean, yeah.
Tami: You wrote me a letter to tell me I’m nice and pretty.
Yes, friend, you change oil in my car. We’re totally making out. So like, why are real clear? huh.
Asha: Yeah. It’s not, it’s it’s not about flattery, but it definitely is about being seen. That is just Oh yeah. Woo.
Tami: I guess, you guys could pay me in genuine compliments, which is why I was terrible in a regular work environment.
Cause I was like, I’m going to need more specific feedback in the positive regard. And if you give it. You’re going to get the best work in the entire world. And if you’re not really good at this, or you don’t see the value of that good luck motivating me, cause money ain’t going to do it right. Sadly money is not my motivation.
Okay. What is the favorite last book you read?
Asha: The overstory. I haven’t finished it yet, but it is such an unbelievable book. It’s a novel it to say that it’s about trees really undersells it. I’m just going to leave it
Tami: there. Okay. It’s a novel. Yes. What genre is
Tami: Oh, it’s not science fiction. It’s not,
Asha: no. It’s dystopian of stories about people across.
Various sort of eras and epochs and very different people, but there is a connection between all of those people and that connection has to do with trees.
Tami: Okay. I’m in a,
Asha: it’s huge and amazing
Tami: doing this podcast just so I can mind people’s bookshelves. So welcome to my book, my books
Asha: club, the
Tami: club podcast.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
Asha: Oh, boy, that is so hard to answer. let’s see, there was a book that completely changed my life when I read it in my college English class and it was called Pilgrim at tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. And it was, it’s almost like a. You could draw a parallel to Walden pond.
I mean, it’s a memoir and a sort of meditation on nature and connection and it was absolutely magnificent and I re-read it recently and it blew me away all over again. That would be one of them. My favorite classic book was Madame Bovary.
Tami: I love when we read books. And they make an impact.
And when you reread them, you’re like, I was spot on in my twenties. How did I even know how great this was then exactly. Right. Or you experienced in a way that you’re like, Oh, I get why it made sense then? And it still makes sense now because it deeply informed who I was then.
Asha: Right. Or it’s spoke to something elemental that hasn’t changed even though the complete sort of circumstances of my life and experience have changed.
Tami: Okay. I do have to ask a different question. This is not on there, but have you read the book? Hope never dies by studs Terkel. No. Okay. it’s a book about it’s interviews about people and the idea of hope. And all I did was cry through the whole thing because I am. Any eternal optimist. And so therefore I feel like hope runs deep in me.
so I get my feelings hurt a lot because I’m like, Oh my God, it’s not as hopeful as I thought. However, being in community with other people who are also hopeful, it. it brings out more in me. So I recommend that one.
Asha: Let me tell you, I plan to go on a huge crusade for hope starting like tomorrow, because I just think that some people think hope is for chumps.
And I think that hope is the most courageous, possible thing that you can do and it’s born out. it’s born out in this world, so we’ll have that discussion sometime.
Tami: Absolutely. Okay. What is your favorite personal development book?
Asha: Oh boy. you know, I have, I also have multiple answers to that. Great. Said your favorite? I would, you know, it’s not a personal development book. Exactly. But I found dear sugar to be one of the most moving. it was like a revolutionary book for me. Not because Cheryl strayed necessarily said things that like, She did say things that blew me away, but it was the generosity, this radical generosity that she brought to that role as anonymous advice.
Giver that to me was just beautiful.
Tami: I would say tiny,
Asha: beautiful things. Excuse me, dear sugar was their podcast. Pardon me? Tiny, beautiful
Tami: Asha. I read that while I was in Portland. On, like an extended house stay. I was house sitting for somebody. So sometimes I like to come to Portland and stay for a few weeks.
So I just house it for like friends of friends on vacation. And I remember reading that, I think I got the first paragraph on the first page. I started crying. Because I had never read the column. I was like, why is everyone making such a big deal about this Cheryl street? Everyone’s talking about wild, blah, blah, blah.
I can’t like that because it’s so popular. So I was like, I’ll read this other thing that she’s written to see if I can even stand this woman. PS, foreshadowing. I would like Cheryl straight to be on my podcast.
Asha: Okay. but I will say, Oh, you weren’t done,
Tami: but just the kindness and just generosity that they offer through that column to real people in real pain, it kind of made me go, this is the world I want to live in.
Where there is pain that is met with empathy and understanding and generosity. Also zero bullshit. It’s not like everyone gets a pass. It’s not yes, you should totally keep having an affair with your bosses married, blah, blah, blah. But seeing the humanity. Oh
Asha: yeah. Yeah, that was just, it was just unbelievable.
Just tiny fact share lives in Portland. So you can like soak in the energy. We met many years ago before she wrote wild. And even then I was like, what an amazing person we met at a literary salon in somebody’s house. It sounds really sort of like fancy, but it wasn’t
Tami: just sounds that just actually sounds like Portland.
I’m sure everyone was wearing some sort of boot. Dental, probably
Asha: rain jacket. I actually made, I have friends that I still talk to today that I met at that gathering. And she’s been, she’s just been an amazing human being forever. And so it’s just anyway. Yes, that book, I’m just gonna, that’s the book that I’m going to choose.
There are other books that I could offer, but that’s the one that really, has stayed with me, stayed in my heart.
Tami: It’s yeah, I’m going to co-sign on that. Okay. What is your favorite social media channel? Meaning where do you like to actually hang out and interact with people?
I have a somewhat tortured relationship with social media. I would say that, I love to talk to people on Twitter. Believe it or not. not, that’s not where I exactly have my quote unquote community, but that is a place to have. Really interesting conversations, like far beyond my pay grade, so I can reach out to journalists and other people and just engage them in conversation.
I find that super stimulating and interesting, but Instagram is where I really like to talk to my friends. I find that to be, a good, you know, Imperfect, but good place. That’s where I’m hanging out these days.
Tami: And I have to say on Twitter, I feel like it is a cocktail party full of hella smart people, because one of my favorite things in the entire world is to be not the smartest person in the world or in the room, but to be with people who are super smart and kind and funny, and I’m like, Oh my God, this is where they all are.
I think I’ll be quiet and listen.
Asha: Yeah, Twitter gets a bad rap and, you know, people and Twitter, I mean, abuse is a problem on Twitter. I’m not going to in any way minimize that, but my experience on Twitter hasn’t been that it’s been a place for me to talk to people with very different perspectives and different backgrounds, professional, not in my field, you know, and I just find that to be true.
Interesting and useful. Me
Tami: too. What is your favorite TV show? And this could be your favorite TV show growing up your current one, the last one you binged, the one that you’re writing for yourself right now.
What kind of media do you like to consume or
Asha: favorite TV show ever? Is Battlestar Galactica.
Is that show, man, that just Oh, I, first of all, I grew up watching star Trek. So I’m like into this scifi and space shows and all that kind of stuff. So, and I watched the original Battlestar Galactica. I’m talking about the new Battlestar Galactica. Let me tell you that show will blow your mind.
It was so much, it was just so unbelieve.
Tami: I interviewed somebody last week and they said that, so this thing, so you’re. Blowing my mind because you’re the second person in a week who said that. And so meaning that there is a female, captain in the
Asha: new one, just watch it. Yes. Like female president, male captain, you know, Cylons of all stripes.
It is not, it is, You know, you think that it’s about, you know, space aliens and spaceships and everything. It’s really about humanity and ethics and, good and evil and the most basic questions that we face. It is such an unbelievable show. And I’m a total critic. Let me tell you, I am hard to please, when it comes to TV,
Tami: I love that about you.
And I will say that. Once the election is over. I’ll be ready to look into another world. So it’s on my list. Okay. And finally, with a hat tip to inside the actor’s studio, Asha darn fast. What is your favorite swear word?
Asha: Oh, there are so many
Tami: it’s so funny. Cause I was like, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Asha square.
Asha: I don’t swear a lot. I’m actually on my public channels, but it’s really funny because when I text with my friends or talk with them, they’re like, Damn. I didn’t know. You swore so much. I’m like, Hey, so done.
Tami: Well done.
Tami: exactly discourse
Asha: clean. I answer this, cause it’s going to sound coy, but I, you know, cause bad-ass, isn’t exactly a swear word, but it’s also the kind of word you say.
And some people will sort of look at you. Cross-eyed, but I love that word. I absolutely love that word because it just, I don’t know. It really typifies like kind of what I want to be and what I appreciate and other people right now. And, so. That’s not really a swear word. that’s really slinking out of this question.
I’m gonna say that a well-placed F-bomb is an extremely effective tool. It must be used sparingly and it must be used effectively. So if you say it too much, it loses all impact. What, when you say it at the right moment, it’s almost like having comic timing. It’ll get people to wake up and look at you and go, Oh my gosh, she’s really serious.
Tami: Okay. I fall into the. I was an elementary school teacher. And so I had to hold them in for three decades. And so they just fall
Asha: out all coming out.
Tami: They all come out to they used to come out at three o’clock when the door closed. but I will take that. And I, and it’s funny because again, depending on what lens you’re looking at, it bad-ass can be, it will give you a side eye in the classroom, perhaps from your mom.
So it can be that however, I agree that a well-placed F-bomb does in fact punctuate well,
Asha: yes, it does punctuate well, although I have to say, I am totally sick of that word, appearing on book titles. Like I don’t lazy. I think it’s enough already. it’s not funny and it’s not clever and it’s not shocking like enough.
Like you gotta have some, you gotta have a little restraint when using. First words, in my opinion, I
Tami: co-sign that so hard. And I’ll just leave it at that. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. I have thought about this and I agree. So, thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing this conversation. Hey everybody, if I don’t talk to you between now and the election, remember that you matter too.
And so does your vote.