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It helps us to be constantly self-aware and mindful of our thoughts, choices, and actions. I leapt to the top of the landing and skipped the final three steps, in a hurry to end the violation they had begun of my hidden thoughts. I ripped the journal out of my brother's hands, and began to unravel in front of them both, practically crippled not only by their insensitivity, but by the reality that my mother was not going to sweep me into her after all. Her joy was the result of her finding humor in what I had written in secret. Her exposure of me was what was tickling her from the inside out, and what was stabbing at my soul from within. As I struggled to stay on my feet, with tears soaking my uniform blouse, Marc and my mother continued on with their laughing. Treat it like a job, listing your skills and seeing where they might be applicable. For example, if you have carpentry skills or experience in project management, you might find an organization committed to the creation of affordable housing in the community. If your background is development, you might get involved with raising money for the local library or community center. Activism is a great way to engage with like-minded members of the community. Obviously, you should choose an issue you're passionate about, whether it's climate change or education. Activism and volunteerism often go hand in hand, though joining a cause might be less of a time commitment if you're worried about overextending. This approach demands the most skin in the game, but your ability to effect true change in the community will be that much greater. The first step is figuring out which office you want to run for. The very act of partaking in self-care is an act of rebellion and sends a signal to those around us that it's OK to do the same, resulting in a lovely ripple effect. So many of us, though, keep on keeping on, ignoring our internal cues to stop, take stock, and recharge. When life feels as though it's bursting at the seams and everything feels hard--even the most intuitive and seemingly simple of tasks--that's a massive internal neon sign saying Stop! We all know how not taking care of ourselves exhibits itself: a weariness that sleep doesn't seem to ameliorate, clumsiness, forgetfulness, heavy bones, foggy head, aches and pains, numbness, apathy, the buildup of many emotions over time. We feel wired and tired at bedtime, there's a slowing down of our cognitive functions, strain in our relationships, crankiness, emotional shutdown, and we have no energy to brush our teeth or deal with general life admin. If we're starting where we are and we're currently feeling any of those things, then yes, it's absolutely time to pull up the drawbridge and construct robust boundaries to make room for recovery: prioritize and renegotiate expectations, cancel what we can, ask for help, say no to anything that doesn't light us up, and build in pauses.

Our brain functions in such a way that it seeks patterns, seeks out what it knows and those who are similar to us--it always wants us to take the easy route. That's why change can feel so difficult, because it conflicts with how our brain prefers to work. Wait until your father gets home and I tell him how crazy you acted just because we read your journal, was her response. Marc chimed in, and tossed a few dynamite sticks of his own on my already flaming wounds. The two of them, like two schoolyard bullies, left me alone in my room to deal with the havoc they created, mocking me as they walked down the stairs, griping to one another about my psychotic reaction. As I teetered on the verge of adolescence, my tolerance of my mother's intolerance of me began to wane. Once a tiny, innocent child starving for her nurture, I was now slowly growing resentful of her passive-aggressiveness and her constant invalidation of the emotional, psychological, and intellectual being I was. I was tired of being the whipping post, and even disgusted by her insensitivity as well as blatant disregard for my mind, my body, or my soul. In her eyes, I knew that I -- whoever I was -- didn't matter. It was impossible for this woman whom I called Mother to see me, to consider my feelings, by seeing past her own. There are positions at the state, county, and city levels. Once you've written the story of your future (that is, picked the office you want to run for), you need to find the people, tools, and experts to propel you forward. For example, the website Run for Office enables users to search through more than 150,000 elected offices throughout the US. The League of Women Voters, meanwhile, is committed to helping women get involved in the election process. These types of resources will be invaluable as you put together your backcast. The future is local, whether you're looking for your next job, the love of your life, or a better tomorrow for your local community. As I've talked about throughout the article, the future is also built by people. There's one final common denominator to futurecasting that I want to share with you, and it's one that strikes fear in many people's hearts. And, let's face it, nobody enjoys feeling conflicted. There's an old story about a lady who would lop off the end of a joint of meat before she placed it in the cooker.

Somebody asked her why and she explained that she did it because her mom had done it. Being asked why made the lady wonder why her mom had done it and so she asked her mom the same question. Funnily enough, her mom had the same answer: She did it because her mom always had, and again, being asked why got her thinking, and so she asked her mom why she always cut the end off before cooking. Her mom responded, Because our oven was so small we couldn't fit the whole joint in, so I always had to cut the end off. How many things do we do, think, believe, or say because we're simply modeling behavior that we saw growing up? Some of the behaviors we've adopted won't necessarily serve us, but we do them because we always have, because someone before us always did. It's healthy to question everything, including ourselves; There are boundaries we'll end up keeping, some we'll end up being more flexible about, and others we'll give up all together once we get gritty about the whys, wheres, whats, hows, and whens. I was so angry that I stuffed the torn articles into my backpack, instead of putting them in our trash. I was afraid she'd go through the pieces and tape them back together. But let me assure you, this tech talk, unlike others you've experienced in your life, won't leave you confused and uneasy. I'm going to show you how you can have control over technology, and how that control is one of the greatest tools in creating the future you desire. Technology Doesn't Get to Decide the Future, You Do When people learn that I'm a futurist, technology is always one of the topics they want to talk about first. Technology, which I'll define as the application of scientific knowledge for practical use, has been a main driver of human discovery and development ever since some enterprising cave dweller decided to turn a jagged stone into a pickaxe. In my futurecasting process, it's perhaps the single most powerful enabler in the creation of new futures. In short, technology helps make the future possible. Swap your plastic-wrapped toilet rolls for the eco-friendly ones from Who Gives a Crap, who donate 50 percent of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. Buy your organic, toxin-free tampons from Ohne, which donates to a girls program in rural Zambia that provides innovative health education, improves hygiene through the building of new and clean toilet blocks, and helps girls learn how to make reusable pads and how to sew. Buy an extra box of pasta when shopping and drop it in the local food-bank collection box near the checkout.

There is an increasing amount of social enterprises and initiatives that replace supermarket items with products that are kinder to cultures, societies, and the environment. It's also never been easier to find like-minded people to unite with over a shared passion for things to change, to widen our awareness, and for our actions to have impact. Our impact is often greater than we understand and realize it to be. Passion, integrity, and determination are infectious. I have specific memories of thoughts like, Okay, it's been three days and I haven't been attacked yet. The house hasn't exploded in a while, so I'd better be on the lookout because I know it's going to happen soon. My parents never knew it, but I felt like living in that house was like trying to live a childhood on a mine field. My mother was unaware of how unhappy she was, and that she had either psychologically projected her abusers' abuse of her onto me -- or perhaps she was simply playing out the lack of connection with me that she felt between herself and her own mother. My father was simply a workaholic, who could not deal with conflict. Unfortunately, at some point along the way, the power of technology started to outstrip our basic understanding of it. Instead of technology being seen as a force for positive change, it became an agent of fear and trepidation. This fact was hammered home to me one evening in 2007, during an audience Q&A session that changed my life forever, and specifically the way I think about the relationship between humans and technology. I was standing in front of an audience of about six hundred in a vast event space at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, which sits atop Nob Hill in the heart of San Francisco. The bottom hadn't yet fallen out of the economy, though the first jitters were starting to be felt. I'd been with Intel for about five years at that point and had done enough public speaking that crowds of six hundred or more no longer fazed me. Still, there was a bit of tension in the air as I reached the Ask me anything portion of my presentation. The first few questions ping-ponged from topic to topic. There was a lot of interest in self-driving cars, which were starting to seem a little less like science fiction; When we talk with our peers about environmental, cultural, and societal issues, we increase awareness and understanding, which ripple throughout their families and friends. Lots of us might have gone to schools where they didn't teach this stuff, and so we're having to teeter into the unknown and actively shut down that feeling of ignorance and clumsiness that comes from a place of privilege.

We can leave people and the planet better than we found them. And we do that by caring about equality and equity; We can volunteer, lobby, protect, campaign, donate, fundraise, and sign petitions. We can work together to build bridges and smash those barriers that try to belittle and undermine our confidence--the ones that protect the wrong people and create widespread vulnerabilities. We can rally our peer troops into action to help create boundaries to keep us, and others, away from harm. When we look for them, we can see examples of everyday people doing extraordinary things, whether it's your friend Gary climbing a mountain for a charitable cause, your cousin Debra who set up a local support group, or the hundreds and thousands of people who volunteer their time in soup kitchens. There really is a way we can all contribute our resources in some capacity. Who was I to turn to, then, with my soul's hemorrhage? For a short while after my mother read my journal, I found refuge in the cocoon of anger. I would come home from school and hide away in my room. I would complete my homework away from my brother and sister, but especially away from my mother. And when I was done, I would lie on my bed, close my eyes, and talk to myself inside my own mind. It was difficult, however, to keep my anxiety under control. The inability to get out what I was feeling inside, was taking its toll on me psychologically. I refused to look at her, or answer her questions with more than one word. Automation was another hot topic, with several questions riffing on the notion of robots rising up and taking over humanity. After about forty-five minutes, I was ready to wrap things up, so I called for one final question. A man at the back of the room stood up aggressively. He was dressed like your average suburban dad, but something in his manner was off. Even the security guard at the front of the hall seemed to take notice.