finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story


Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Morning After

The day after the election...shell shocked and mournful

...I took the train to go to rehearsal.

As I advocate for refugees and Muslims, I am uberaware of what a trump presidency could mean for them.

So as I walked across the platform, I saw a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. She looked like she could possibly be an immigrant or refugee. I hesitated a moment but then, realized I needed to talk to her. It was so fresh. I thought she may feel scared, vulnerable. So without thinking, I walked over and said something about how I noticed her hijab and that I stand by her and I would protect her if need be, that Trump does not represent all of us and that there are still good, open and welcoming people in this world. She smiled softly at me. And then I was crying but I kept going. All my emotions and fear and protections were spilling out. I want you to feel safe, I continued. You *are* welcome here. And I have love for you as a fellow human. My heart...Blah blah blah.

I went on like this for maybe 5 minutes. Seriously. I was on a post-traumatic roll. Then finally, still crying, I paused and smiled at her.

"No english!" She responded apologetically. 

Yup. No English.

We do what we can. :)

Keep looking out for each other, world. These are dark times.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Trump's view on Muslims is Wrong and Dangerous

This originally appeared on Medium.com after coming oh so close on major papers. Oh well. I still want you to read it! Be smart Tuesday America!
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I had tea the other day with my Iraqi refugee friends.
I invited them to my local coffee shop. It is a mother and daughter and they both wear the hijab. As we sat at a central table, I noticed they both looked around a bit more than usual and seemed to be speaking in hushed tones. At first I swept past this, thinking I must be imagining it but after a while I realized I was not. They were scared out in public. Because they were Muslim.
This is the world created in no small part by Donald Trump, a presidential nominee 35% of this country thinks is the best choice for leader of the free world. As Donald Trump inches closer and closer to being the President of these not so United States, fear among the Muslim, immigrant and refugee community runs high. And I for one, as a non-Muslim, non-immigrant and non-refugee but American, nonetheless, am horrified.
From the start, Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s uninformed and hate-mongering leader has stoked fear about national security and the threat of terrorism to drive his base. He has said “I don’t want to see hundreds of thousands of people from Syria coming in when we know nothing about them’ — when in fact we know quite a bit about him. He suggested something called ‘extreme vetting’ — although he doesn’t quite seem to be able to define or distinguish this from what we already do. In fact, he is suggesting a blanket ban on Muslims — unconstitutional and unbecoming to who we are. All this while, according to the State Department, the Syrian and Iraqi people, with their wide array of religions, are the most vetted of all refugees. Long and arduous screening processes are already in place.
No one chooses the refugee life. This is not a life anyone wants. It is the last resort. Most refugees are simply desperate to save their families, feed their kids, and on a good day — try to get them a decent education and a shot at some future. I know this to be true because I sat in their homes. I drank their tea. I even fell in love with one of them.
Yes, I fell in love with an Iraqi refugee, a Muslim even. I didn’t mean to, but I did. Hard, fast, furious. Omar was his name. He was exiled in Syria after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.
For almost a month, I had been travelling in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria having tea and hearing stories from Iraqi refugees just like Omar. I was on a fact-finding mission, with a New York based non-profit, interviewing Iraqi refugees to share their stories in the U.S. in hopes of creating awareness and empathy around this silent, invisible crisis. This was before ISIS, before Syria fell into its civil war, before the Syrian refugee count surpassed even the largest numbers of the Iraqi refugee crisis. This was before all that.
“I miss the good, old days of Saddam,” one forgotten refugee told me. “Sure, he was a dictator, but now there is chaos.” And another: “I fear the worst is yet to come.” And: “I used to be well off in Iraq and now look.” And: “Leaving your home is like leaving a part of you.” And: “I feel like I am dying slowly.” And: “I am human before I am Iraqi, can’t you see?” And: “It is like a prison here.” And: “Do not bother to feed us. We are dead already.” And: “There is no future for me now.” And: “Who asked you America? Who asked you to do this? Who asked you to be God on Earth? Stop interfering!” And, and, and….
And on that day, heart bruised and conscience heavy, I met Omar.
Since my time in Syria in 2009, the refugee crisis has grown exponentially into the largest global refugee crisis in history. There are roughly 65 million refugees in the world today, including 13 million people displaced from Syria and another 5 million from Iraq. They bleed in ambulances, drown in overcrowded dinghies and wash up on sandy shores, creating pictures we want to forget, pictures we force ourselves to forget, not wanting to see.
We vilify refugees — ironic for a country built on, by and for immigrants. Refugees are far from being only Muslim and far from being synonymous with ISIS and yet we make out those seeking asylum to be sneaky little terrorists, criminals with bad hearts and bad intentions, bent on killing us and sullying our “American” way of life with all their “Muslim-ness”.
Fear and racism is truly alive and well, well-stoked by Mr. Trump himself. If only, we all offered our homes and hearts as freely as we offer our fear and hate. If only we all saw refugees, Muslim or otherwise, as they are: human beings just like us.
On Tuesday, we go to the polls. And I hope on Wednesday, Omar and all my Muslim friends, known and unknown can walk into a coffee shop without fear.
On Tuesday, we decide who as a country and as a people, we are going to be.

Kim Schultz is a writer, actor and refugee advocate. In 2009, she traveled to the Middle East as an artist/activist to meet with Iraqi refugees, falling in love with one, forever changing her life. She is the author of a recently released memoir, “Three Days in Damascus” (Palewell Press, 2016) and will have an essay published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles (Chicken Soup for the Soul, 2016) this fall. She blogs, tweets and can be generally found at kimschultz.net

https://medium.com/@kimschultz1_68343/trumps-vision-of-muslims-is-wrong-dce4dcf8a5c7#.wbkwksnox

Thursday, November 3, 2016

THREE DAYS IN DAMASCUS

So, I wrote a book.

A memoir, in fact. And it launches tomorrow. Big day. Big week. This has been 3 years in the making. 3 years of writing, editing and writing some more. 3 years of looking for an agent, a publisher. 3 years of figuring out how, when, why and how again. 3 years of telling this story that happened during 3 DAYS IN DAMASCUS.

I hope you will read it. I hope you will share it. I hope you will enjoy it.

The timing of the book's release is not accidental. In this current election season and the overall political climate, I hope you agree we need to speak for, with and about refugees, humanizing them in a world bent on dehumanizing 65 million people. I hope this memoir is a step in that direction.


THREE DAYS IN DAMASCUS (Palewell Press)
is about my 3-year fight for love with an Iraqi refugee I met in Syria. Against the backdrop of war, revolution and an arranged marriage, this urgent memoir speaks about and for the millions of refugees languishing worldwide. It is the story of an American woman and an Iraqi man, of an epic journey to safety, a story of culture, devastation, redemption and hope
…a story that isn’t supposed to be a love story. 


Buy it on 





Sunday, August 21, 2016

Jungle Reflections


Twice in my life now, I have been literally plopped down in the middle of a jungle with no transportation, phone service or guarantee of people to assist before nightfall.  Weird, right? Both times I watched my ride drive off down some dusty road leaving me in oblivion. And both times it was really hot. I mean, really hot.

People say I live an adventurous life. I guess they are right.  I am very often flying by the seat of my proverbial pants, hoping I land in one piece. But adventure can be challenging, make no mistakes about it.

Five years ago it was on the outskirts of Cayenne, French Guiana. Although worrisome at first, I ended up having one of my most memorable nights ever sleeping in a hammock in the jungle. Today it is the outskirts (deep jungle) of Akumal, Mexico. This night’s outcome is yet to be determined.

Both times, dogs barked in angry greeting only to quickly become my friends.

Both times, I wandered aimlessly around for a bit, wondering what one does in a situation like this.

Both times, I seemed to be foodless until morning. (There are worse things.)

Last time, as the taxi pulled away wishing us luck, I wondered if I should cry.  On the surface things appeared rather discouraging. But who has time for tears when you’re abandoned in the jungle.

But this time, as I watched the car of friends leave me behind, although part of me again wanted to cry, I decided it was another adventure, the way I choose to live my life. It was another excuse to fly and hopefully land on my feet…with any luck, pants-ed.

And both times, I was fine, completely fine in the end.

Life is short, folks; Have an adventure.


(Oh, and sleep in a hammock whenever possible)


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Change Ahead.

I have been doing a 21-day meditation with my good friends Oprah and Deepak. They sure are nice. We have coffee and chat and then meditate. They have lots of good advice too. I love friends like that.

Anywho...

...one of the afternoons I spent with O and D, they said some things I thought I would share with you
---about change.


Change is hard. We all hate change. In fact, I just auditioned for a TV show where my character said the exact same thing. (It's following me!) CHANGE SUCKS. We think keeping things the same is easier. 

Well Deepak says "There is wisdom in change." Yes I know. Blah blah blah. Wisdome-schmisdom! Change still sucks, kim. But he's right. We learn in change, right? We learn more of what we want, what we don't want, who we are. Etcetera etcetera etcetera.

It's in change that we begin to more closely align our lives to what we want. It's like a "get out of jail free" card. Scary but true. 

So seek out the new and fresh. See how it feels. Try something unknown. There is nothing terrible in the unknown. It's just unknown. It could be wonderful. How do you know? So no need to be afraid.Improv teaches us to SAY YES. Foundational improv tool: SAY YES. It's how things move forward. It's how things happen. So I'm a firm believer and coach in always saying yes. I try to also live by that philosophy as much as possible. 

YES!

Well my buddy Deepak likes the idea too. But he says it a little differently. He suggests us to "say yes more than you say no." Love that Deepy! It's even easier for those of us more fearful. You don't have to say yes all the time, just say yes more than you say no. Today. 

And then tomorrow.

And then the next day and see how your life changes. 

You have a little courage today so you can have more tomorrow.

ALL of this leads to a more dynamic life. And isn't that what we all want?

A more dynamic life.

Hang on, Oprah's at the door. I gotta get this...


YES!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Death Slide


"What a stupid way this is to die."

I thought to myself as I squatted at the edge of a ledge in the middle of a jungle, strapped in a harness, tied to one single wire via a pulley---my life dependent on a couple of stoner dudes and a handful of carabiners.

"For real. If I die, this is my own stupid fault. I agreed to this. I said yes."

(Sometimes living what you preach ain't easy.)

I was zip-lining. I did not want to be zip-lining. I had no intention of zip-lining. Ever. (Zipping is also referred to as a "deathslide" ---for a reason!)

But my best friend treated me to this experience along with her whole family on the vacation to Hawaii I was co-opting and there was no turning back now (unless I wanted to waste all the money and look like a scaredy-cat.)

I adjusted my helmet ---like this pathetic little thing is gonna make a speck of difference as I plummet to my death.

"As a grown woman, I should be able to do this! The kids aren't afraid. Why am I?" I said to myself still squatting, a gajillion miles above land. Safe, safe, beautiful land. How I missed it so!

I had a choice: I say yes and I jump. Literally. And possibly die. Possibly, seriously. literally die. Because at this height, there are very few other ways this turns out.

Or I don't. I let fear make my decision.

I have always considered myself a jumper. I take chances. I'm a risk-taker. I tell a great story about jumping off a train in my youth. I JUMP! 

But I'm older now, less reckless. I consider all the options more than I used to. I also have apparently developed a sincere fear of heights in my old age. All these things matter. A fear of heights matters!

The stoner, surfer dude asks if I am ready. I ask him to triple check all my connections and wires and other zipping apparati. He obliges me, again, smiling. I am not the first afraid to jump, nor will I be the last.

We are all afraid at one time or another. Afraid to move, afraid of a new relationship, afraid to make a change, afraid to take a chance. We have the option of fear all around us. In fact, we are encouraged towards it. Watch the news sometime---

Stormageddon coming! Deadly virus coming! Immigrants coming! Be afraid!

Fear is easy. Fear sells. Fear of people who are different from us, fear of different religion, different culture, different race. Fear of the other. Fear of ourselves. Like I said, fear is easy. It's jumping that's hard. Seeing and jumping...and trusting.

So I jumped.

As I was flying across the abyss, jungle volcano lands far below me, I loosened my grip on the wires just a bit to look around and enjoy the scenery from this vantage point. I tried to breathe.

"Look down at the lake!" Stoner, surfer, new-best-friend dude yelled at me from his own parallel high wire.

I looked and smiled. Beautiful.



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Follow the joy.

I was in a conversation with my friend Deb a few weeks ago and she was discussing her life and the changes she was making to it. Casually she mentioned: "I'm just trying to follow the joy, Kim."

I stopped her and made her repeat the phrase.

Follow the joy.

What a great reminder how to live. I love it. Imagine how happy we would all be if we just would/could follow the joy.

Following is active, engaged. It's not passive or waiting. It is steps in motion. Finding is hard. Following seems easier.

We would be in wonderful relationships in wonderful jobs with wonderful friends doing wonderful things. There would be joy. Sure, this may sound pollyanna, but there's truth in this. Yes?

Something not making you happy? Stop it

Someone sucking joy from you? Unfriend them.

Someplace not right? Change it.

Follow. The. Joy.

It's easy and hard all at once, right? If where/what/who you are isn't bringing you joy---change it. Go to where/what/who makes you happy and maybe the joy will follow you.

Follow. The. Joy.

Certainly makes more sense than the opposite.