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


Thursday, August 3, 2017

50/50 chance

As I was getting dressed this morning, getting ready to leave for an audition, NPR told me there was a 50/50 chance of rain. I stood in my kitchen thinking a moment. 50/50. Do I take an umbrella or not? I hate carrying umbrellas. Truly I do. So when the odds are in my favor, I tend to risk it. But this was 50/50. No one's favor. Hmm.

"No umbrella!" I boldly declared and off I went.

Ninety minutes later, sitting in the train heading home, torrents of rain pelting agains the train car, I am talking to my mom.

"But it was a 50% chance of rain! Why wouldn't you take your umbrella?" she asked. My mom carries 3 umbrellas in her car at all times: glove compartment, back seat and trunk. Because you never know where you will be in the car when you need one. I never carry umbrellas. I often get caught in rain.

"Well there was also a 50% chance of no rain!" I counter, worried as the skies look darker the more north we travel. I am gonna get so wet, I think to myself, certainly not admitting it to my mother.

I often live my life like this. I take chances. I tend to live on the risky side. Hopeful, I might even say, spinning it. What's the worst that could happen? Now sometimes this is not all that smart. Sometimes it is downright stupid, but when the odds are even.....I often think, why not?

Fifteen minutes later, I am about to step out into the deluge full of my odds and free of my umbrellas, when a woman sitting next to me, who I never said boo to the whole trip, suddenly asks if I need an umbrella? The train doors open. Time is not on my side. This is now urgent. I have an opportunity to walk home dry, but only moments to make that happen.

"But what about you? I ask, one eye on my stop. "What about... the rest of your life?" I ask perhaps more profoundly than intended. I don't think I can honestly offer to return it to her.

"I have extras. Here take it," she says, as she thrusts the umbrella in my hands, her daughter looking on in surprise, probably worried she will be the one getting wet later now.

"Thank you so much!" I shout as I run out the closing train doors. "A perfect gift on a rainy day!!" I yell as the train pulls out of the station.

50/50.

As I step outside and push up the umbrella, I soon realize it is crap. It doesn't stay up and is bent down on one side. She so generously gave me a crap umbrella. "What about the rest of your life!" I remember asking her, now laughing. She'll be fine for the rest of her life without this umbrella---not to negate her generosity because honestly, it was such a kind gesture I think, as the wind flips it up to upside-down mode.  I stop and push it back into regular umbrella mode. The wind keeps flipping it up and I surrender, holding an upside-down umbrella, getting about 50% wet.

Oh well. You win some. You lose some.



Thursday, May 18, 2017

I just met a trump supporter

Wow. I'm still in shock. Total shock. Just when you think you're safe. Where else are they hiding?

I mean I know my liberal bubble is massive. Most if not all of my peeps think Trump is a total freak show, destined to kill us all. I speak almost unequivocably against Trump in mixed company, fairly certain most of the people I speak, meet or like agree with me.

Then today. In passing. I mention something about Trump fans and a friend mentions that a woman standing next to me is a trump fan.  I dead stopped. Dead. Stopped. How is this possible? Tara? (name changed to protect the innocent) How is Tara a Trumpie? How can she be for everything I am against and vice versa? How can she support and admire this terrible terrible human being? I just had a lovely conversation with her. I like her! She's nice! I am floored. I now am questioning every nice thing I thought of her 5 minutes ago. I must have been wrong. She is awful. Right?

This is our problem, is it not? How do we reconcile such DRASTICALLY different world views with each other? How do we like the person who approves of everything we hate? How do we talk to the person we now know insane or ignorant or hateful or all of the above? How do we live together in this world?

I honestly don't know. I have no openness in my heart yet for that. Too many innocent good people  have been and will be hurt by that man. Too much is at stake and too much has already been lost. 118 days in.

Jaw dropped to the floor, I ignored this shocking revelation and kept on talking about whatever I was talking about. What was the alternative? At that moment, I didn't have one. I wish I was better prepared. I wish I could have said, "Oh you're a Trump supporter. Tell me more!" I wish I had said, "Are you pleased with all the decisions, threats and idiotic choices he has made so far? Are you okay with his lies? His ego? His relationship with Russia?"

But I was too shocked. Too assuming of my own bubble. Too scared to start a conversation I know has no way out because I know I am not willing to budge. I know there is no compromise here. I am literally unable to see your side of the argument. I want to be on the right side of history. I know I am on the side of justice and fairness and kindness and goodness. She is not.

So, what's the point?

How do we go on from here?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Holy fun book clubs batman!

Just finished up speaking at two book clubs in Palm Beach Florida.

First of all: Weather? Top notch!
                     Host? Top notch!
                     Ocean? Top notch!

But back to the subject.

I was invited to come and speak at two book clubs reading my memoir THREE DAYS IN DAMASCUS. What a joy. Seriously! Not only did most of them read the book! (Honestly, I think they did!) But the conversation was top notch. Thoughtful questions. Engaged readers. Awakened advocacy for refugees. TOP NOTCH! (I don't know why I keep saying that. Jet lag? Ocean longing? Top notch!)

All I know is I am grateful for people's response and love.

If you have a book club who might be interested in reading my book and or having me speak, please be in touch. That'd be top notch! (Can't. Stop.)


 
 
 
 


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

THREE DAYS IN DAMASCUS Book Tour


I'm home. For now.

I have spent the last 6 weeks in 5 cities reading signing and speaking about and from my memoir, "Three Days in Damascus" (published by Palewell Press, 2016). What a whirlwind---Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Washington D.C. and then to London for the UK launch of my book last week.

It has been an honor and a joy to share my book across the world, advocating for refugees. I have so enjoyed speaking about my process and experiences and even more enjoyed hearing people's reactions and questions. We have had engaging and lively discussions on behalf of refugees and dislocated, disenfranchised people everywhere. I have been joined in discussion by advocates on the issue: Roya Naderi (Karam Foundation) and Jamil Khoury (Silk Road Rising Theatre) in Chicago, Kristi Rendahl (Center for Victims of Torture) in Minneapolis, Deborah Oster Pannell in NYC, C.E. Vargas (Int. Center for Religion and Diplomacy) and Erik Gustafson (Education for Peace in Iraq Center) in D.C. and Anna Farina (Syria Relief) in London--brilliant, generous people, sharing their perspectives and thoughts in the discussion. So grateful for their participation.

And I'm not done yet!

I go to Palm Beach next week for some book club discussions and then back to New York City for an author event at Intersections International. Intersections is the organization that brought me to the Middle East in the first place---starting me on this journey. What a fitting way to end this part of my book tour, bookending it perfectly.

If you haven't read the book and want to, you can find it in paperback or ebook on amazon here.

And the full tour and more on the book is available at www.3daysindamascus.com






















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