This is the last week of exploring #softskills in the e-mag S P A C E. Things will change thematically in the summer. I’m going to talk about ‘A Change of Perspective.’ You might be wondering why anyone would make a magazine for themselves to focus on topics and write about them in a series. I was told by KT, an artist I admire and respect, that I create ‘collections’, and I couldn’t agree more. After he pointed it out, I stopped writing personal memoirs for Kismuth and though about what kind of collections I could create, instead. Some of the seasons of S P A C E I recall with great affinity have titles like, ‘In the Vernacular,’ ‘Autumn Leaves,’ and ‘A Philosophy of the Moment.’ Going to places, seeing what I might find, running into people, going out of my comfort zone, looking into the new, and packing what I heard, saw, felt, and discovered into a 16-page zine every week was a satisfying way to process as well as create an artefact, too.

I think all this exploration has helped me refine my communciation skills quite a bit, given that there were so many cross-cultural contexts (Finland, Denmark, Viet Nam, Malaysia, etc). You had to be on your toes and read the air and follow the rules. You had to listen. You couldn’t learn without doing those things. I was taught, in schools in the United States, that the thing to do is assert your point of view (loudly, sometimes aggressively), but this does not work in most places I found myself looking for the stories, over in Southeast Asia and Northern Europe – quiet does, however, and it’s the quiet that I like to write about a lot for Kismuth, now. See Into the Quiet, for example.

The zines in S P A C E are a documentation of the human connexions I took care to note; these were formed through multi-layered conversations with just a handful, in each place. It takes time to build rapport and trust, and I take that time to do it, when I am making S P A C E issues because they have to be genuine, honest, and reported from a place of having done one’s homework to understand. Deeply, not superfcially. So it was, and so it is, to me, to this day as well.  Discover more about S P A C E, how to subscribe to get it, and how to be part of the ongoing conversations, too.

See you this summer for S P A C E | Summer 2024, ‘A Change of Perspective.’

Here is a link.

http://chuffed.org/project/spacethezine

Thanks.

100 Conversations, space

Communication skills

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At the beginning of February, I began writing in earnest on the theme of ‘Soft Skills’ for my weekly e-mag, S P A C E.

The stories were a mix of things, some of which were researched pieces from internet articles that then peppered up some personal commentary to add to them, which I felt comfortable sharing through the online space for the zine because I know everyone who subscribes, personally. I mean, you have a mini-mag with an esoteric name like S P A C E and you don’t go head to head with the likes of TIME. Wait.

Wait.

Some of my favorite stories in the series this time are Q&A interviews with HR experts. The titles of those issues of S P A C E are: S P A C E | ‘Is it an Employer’s Market, or an Employees?’ and S P A C E | ‘People Operations.’ You can find them in the shop.

Subscribe to ‘Soft Skills’

I can send you all the issues in the series if you subscribe to S P A C E.

To do that, here is a link.

http://chuffed.org/project/spacethezine

Thanks.

 

&Cojournal, space

April

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Here is my column this month, in Saathee.

 

Trust the Process

vignettes, writing

Trust the Process

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It’s 2024.

People I know who are 24-35 are asking, ‘Why am I doing this?’ They’re asking, ‘What can I do to make meaning in my life?’ I’m digging into this question a bit, for good advice for young people.

Honestly, there’s not anything to find that’s readily applicable across the board. For now, I’m reading, listening, joining email lists about the topic of Personal Growth, investigating blogs, finding out about podcasts, and, of course, occasionally dipping into the ocean of social media posts. Rarely, I find something that I can say ‘Yeah, that applies, even with the pandemic-adjusted world, it still fits.’ Sometimes there are commencement speeches that I used to think were amazing, but they failed to take into account all the things we know now and factor in that mark 2024 and not 2014, which was when I landed in Southeast Asia. In the decade since, much has changed. Of course. Naturally; and talking about change comes easily to me since I was exploring this well before arriving here, too.

Now, I’m understanding more and more that when some talk about ‘change’ they’re not really talking about change at all – that is a given, after all, that change will come – but they’re talking about something more internal than that.

More personal.

The reality of it is becoming clear to me. I’ve observed countless startups, and nonprofits, and NGOs talking about change and making change and the center of what these things are really about is emerging after a decade of sitting back and watching from the sidelines.

I’ve already talked about it.

Ego.

People in the higher-up places in their positions corroborate this. It gets in the way.

But it’s there. It’s always, always there. Ego, competing with the big thing that the true self is seeking: connection. Oh, there’s so much to say, and so much to feel, and of course, it’s a personal take anyway no matter what I could write or share. I know that.

Still, I want to try.


What is the meaning of growth & change, truly?


I don’t mean to get too philosophical here, today. But I think there’s a parallel you can draw between the design process, which was my practice for a decade in Seattle and Raleigh-Durham, and that of finding inward transformation which is what we explore in Kismuth columns, books, and articles (and conversations – but that’s hard to share since it gets so personal and what we say together is confidential, besides).

Why is trust so important?

Because it takes time. It takes learning, uncovering, and feeling okay with what you see. Who you’re with. It takes aeons to build. It means something: it means lowering your guard. Not everyone is ready to do that, of course, but it’s requisite for real change, I feel.

During the design process, I asked clients of Design Kompany to think bigger than just what other people would think of their new brand identity’s ‘look’, which, if I’m honest, is what people often think they want when they sign up for a design with DK. I’m glad they wanted to work with me because they liked DK’s portfolio, but I encouraged them to go a step further and investigate more deeply into the ‘why’ of what they wanted to do, say, make, and share with the world. This of course got personal and I started to focus more on owner/operated firms with just a few people because DK’s process could be the most useful, in those cases. People who were ready to ask questions, big ones. And think through lots of stuff, with me asking the questions to get them to explore.  I think that what we always find out together is that the design process can call out something cool. It’s not external validation that people care about, after trusting me through this process, it’s something else. More personal. More true to who they really are.


An inward transformation


I believe that the process – with trust in it – can lead to a deep and meaningful inward transformation. Fixing your issues, resolving what’s been unresolved. I’ve helped people make tattoos or personal brand identities for themselves, when going through a big shift in life.

Such stuff to talk together and get a design together to give concrete form to those shifts can be giant work.

I see it. I find out. I watch people start coping with old stuff and dealing with it. Dealing with baggage – the traumas of childhood baggage, relationship baggage, all the stuff you never coped with. I had friends in the past who were therapists and they used to talk a lot with me about their own issues. Long story short, I tried my best to learn how to be a good listener for them, in those times. I learned how to lean on others, too, in other times in life, when things got difficult. Sometimes the skills in listening – soft skills – can be a great source of support. Just listening. Which takes a lot of energy and giving, of course. I feel that a process of inward transformation can truly happen… with trust. Trusting the process. Trusting yourself.

My opinion.

Here’s another one. You can listen to a podcast interview I did with a guest, SV, who had a fascinating take on this. Listen to my episode of the podcast ‘New Baselines’. Which is at this page:

Podcast

 


Being very honest


More to say about the work to find inward transformation and peace, as we all converse and connect and try new things n our own ways wherever we are. It’s a conversation, but it’s also a zine. A zine called S P A C E. More about it is at my crowdfunding page. That link is:

http://chuffed.org/project/spacethezine

Thanks!

100 Conversations

A true process of change begins with trust: this is why

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I’ve spent a lot of time during the pandemic with the videos and podcasts that are online that you can listen to, recordings that capture the things that Jiddu Krishnamurthi gave us to think over. Many of them talk about thought being the bad guy, how it got us to feel that we are separate from others. The dividing that happens is where we get into trouble. With each other. Things create conflicts, clashes, and gettings-in-the-way; misunderstandings. I like this video. I like most of them, especially when he talks about coping with the world and co-existing with the whole of it all. Seeing things clearly. As they are, with both sorrow there, and joy, too. When you feel sort of alone in a foreign country because you’re stuck and it’s a pandemic, it’s helpful to have these philosophical pieces to ‘visit’ because it’s like visiting someone cool and wise and whom you can learn from. I had missed this opportunity being far from my other ‘homes’, and the people in those places who used to give me great feedback, imparting words of wisdom, wherever and whenever luck was with me, and I could hear them.

HT PR


When you look at yourself as an ego, the ‘self’, the self-centered entity, what is it?’ Actually, what is it? The name, the form, the shape, the idea, the concept, the image? That is the me… With all the tendencies and all the rest of it. Essentially, it is the product of thought… Thought is the past, modifying itself, all the time… limited, narrow, can never been whole.

 

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Ego: ‘Essentially it is the product of thought,’ J. Krishnamurthi

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Journal to reflect, and to get to know yourself better. See patterns, over time. You can, and maybe you already do. But what if you could share this journaling and reflection experience with others?

 

Writing for reflection

The Cojournal Project started in 2014. It’s me sending a weekly writing prompt, and then, us talking together about it, over email, in asynchronous and international conversations. There are no more than four people per circle. Several dozen people have taken part, over the years.

I feel this is useful and important for people who don’t know how to find time and space to ‘learn and grow’, in a way that isn’t prescribed like through a class or a course or something that is formal, and usually one-way (or top-down).

Personally, I love the conversations that meander, are informal, and sort of jazzy in style. We talk, and we riff, and something happens in that space. I feel that the beauty is the emergence that’s there to explore, and invite to come to the surface. Words are the notes to the music we make, together.

 

 


Making conversation spaces: in real life, online


Before covid, I used to host conversation roundtables like ‘Make: What is the creative process?’, ‘Origin: What is fromness?’ or ‘Beauty: What is it, who gets to decide?’, and maybe 100 or so, more. All around the world, wherever I was, I’d find people and invite them to convene and connect. Riga, Tokyo, Warsaw, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Oulu… Yes, a great deal of movement, pre-covid. (None, now. I’m quite stationary, and content, where I am).

Still, I recall these moments with a great deal of fondness. The people were amazing. It takes courage to ‘opt in’, I see that it’s harder and harder to do this, given the age we’re in. Many times I had highlights and even more times, it was completely a fail, lol, but that’s okay. That’s how you figure out how to make it better, redesign slightly, retest, keep going. Making conversation spaces that really get people inspired, not recording anything, and never sharing, after we leave, the contents are so personal, after all. That’s why there aren’t any pictures. I’m not keen on ‘marketing’ these things, showing off all the cool photos of all the cool people. That’s just not my style.

I loved meeting and connecting people with one another, before the pandemic. I loved experiencing the gatherings of us, in real life, to see each other, and to investigate and inquire. Even now the (few) people I know who wind up visiting cities in which others are whom I know, I will connect them. So they can meet. In the way I love: meaningful conversations, I’m certain, will come of these initiatives.

Now, though, I’m less inclined to make this effort to go and physically meet people in real life, and get them talking. It’s a lot of overhead.

So now it’s online. I send prompts to those who want to be part of the conversations (you’ll apply, then you’ll register to set up a weekly fee, and we go from there).

Asynchronous email conversations are my way of continuing to host dialogues that advance our ideas together and challenge us to dig a little deeper. Writing isn’t just publishing; it’s exploring, and discovering, too, I feel. Journeying in real life is this, too. The destination isn’t the point: it’s how fun it is, along the way, to move through the world and see what is out there for us to get to know, to understand. More and more, I see that Kismuth was never about publishing books, as much as inviting these kinds of curious, fun, light, and informal conversations. To happen.

 

“A journal is your completely unaltered voice.”
— Lucy Dacus

 

The Cojournal Project, then, is a chance for you to talk to me and others, through our weekly online prompt-led conversations. Who joins? Mostly, people I’ve met personally, as I’ve gotten to know and invite people to read my books in Kismuth, or talk together at conversation salons, or simply connect over the occasional group zoom call. I remember a time when serendipitous encounters were much more common and welcome than they seem to be today (in an era of too-much-info, too any new things can overwhelm). Let me curate this opening for your window into whatever’s next, whatever’s possible, by placing you into a circle with me and up to two others.

 


Journal with me and others: write, share, converse


We’ll meet there when we like, talk together, and expand on ideas that might have been blooming, but remained stuck, due to lack of freshness, inspiration, or a chance to simply share in a way that doesn’t judge and isn’t with people you already know. Originally that was my hope, to build a group of conversation spaces for us to semi-publicly connect (not a group, not a club, not a clique, and not a company). The differently-minded, meeting in the humble, casual, informal spaces I love to convene in, for Kismuth connections.

Be a part of it. Here’s an application form.

 

&Cojournal, vignettes

Kismuth Connexions

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To more conversations of the shape that makes us feel more interconnected, then, for 2024! Happy New Year.

writing

‘Wherever you go, there you are’

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100 Conversations

Zines

These days I’m making small format zines. A5.

I’m publishing them here where I live and distributing them, too, through a local cafe outlet. This is new for me since most of the work from the Atelier S P A C E teams was online work. We collaborated in the cloud. We published there, too. Conversing and talking and connecting and making zines. A new issue, every week.

The new projects are coming into shape for winter. One is the series, Winter 2023/24, ‘An Ecology of the Moment’.

This issue, ‘If we don’t know each other,’ is one of them.

The beginning of that story is online. It’s at dipikakohli.com/if-we-don’t-know-each-other

Checkit!

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An Ecology of the Moment

Atelier S P A C E | Virtual

Be part of the S P A C E-making editorial conversation. It’s fun, light, and informal. See how it all works, in real-time, interactive, hands-on zinemaking sessions. Choose any three Tuesdays in December or January to be part of making the series, S P A C E | Winter 2023/24 collection.

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Zine Launch

After much anticipation on the part of Kismuth, we’re ready to announce that the zines from the collections ‘Lands on the Moon’ are ready to share in real life. This will be at a zine party set to take place at a secret venue in Phnom Penh. The idea is to keep an atmosphere of comfort and conviviality, not too big, not too small, but just right. Come with your own zines or stories to tell, and we’ll listen to each other on the day. Your ticket comes with a copy of the zine ‘Belonging,’ pictured here. Tickets are USD7 at the door. RSVP requested. Location details to be shared from there. RSVP here

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Book Club | ‘Breakfast in Cambodia’

‘Her writing is almost poetic.’ -Reviewer on Amazon Kindle


Join a virtual conversation to meet other writers/readers, and share your questions and comments about Kismuth’s books. October’s Book Club selection is Dipika Kohli’s Breakfast in Cambodia, which is set in Phnom Penh.  We’ll discuss it for 40 minutes in a Zoom voice call. To book your spot, you can purchase an eCopy of Breakfast in Cambodia. Here is a link: https://designkompany.gumroad.com/l/villagereport


 

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S P A C E | Stammtisch

A zoom voice call speakeasy. First Mondays through the end of 2023. By donation of USD48, for joining 1+ sessions. See you in the cloud.

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