Personal

I don’t know if all blog authors do this, but I know I mostly write for myself. Certainly having an audience is a part of the equation, but part of it is also just writing for my future self to look back on, and also sometimes to solidify the personal commitments that I am making.

So in that spirit, I want to share a bit about some of the changes happening in my life.

Positively I am trying to focus more on my life at home, spending more time and energy on my family, growing garden and staying healthy. And also focusing more of my energy and life on my church community. And I especially want to find as many excuses possible to incorporate riding my bicycle into my life.

Negatively, I am trying to cut back on those parts of my life that are zapping energy away from those most important priorities. Many of the things I am trying to cut back or out are good things, but too much of a good thing is still too much.

Some specific areas include…

1. Seminary – I have been studying half-time at AMBS in their MDiv Connect program (a mix of online classes and in-person short courses mixed with online programming), but it is just too much. I will only be taking one class this summer and then will take a leave of absence for the fall. After that I will decide if I want to stay in the MDiv program at a slower pace or whether I will instead graduate after the Spring ’16 semester with a Certificate (I will 37 hours at that point). This decision isn’t easy, but I think it may be for the best. I either need to find a way to do my seminary classes in a more sane and manageable way or I need to reach a good breaking point to end this season of my life (I of course won’t be ending my education either way, but the education would take a different direction if done in a more informal manner).

2. Law Practice – I’ve been trying to pare back my legal work since getting married 3+ years ago but haven’t done well at it. So I need to stick with it this time, wrapping up my older cases well, and then taking no new cases except for a limited number of conscientious objector claims.

3. Activism – Another tough area to cut, but I think I’m going to use the next few months to end some of my areas of activist involvement and then chose to focus my energy on just a very things that are dear to me and that are sustainable.

So, I’m writing this for me but also for those dear to me (friends and family), so hopefully you can help encourage me to stick to what I need to do.

This post was originally posted at: http://health.jmbranum.com/2015/01/27/entries-close-tonight-now-the-waiting/


I’ve started this blog to tell my story – the story of how I will get in shape and hopefully make my life healthier, happier, and filled with more bicycling.

So, the spark for this is that I’m entering a contest by Genghis Grill (the awesome mongolian-style build-your-own stirfry place), in which 92 folks (one from each store) are competing for a chance to win $10,000.

Want to make bad eating habits ancient history? Health Kwest lets you dig in while watching the weight retreat. In its first four years, Health Kwest contestants lost almost 5,000 pounds by eating a different Genghis Grill bowl every day for 60 days.

Join alongside these intrepid leaders and build your own bowl from over 80 delicious, fresh and healthy ingredients and you could win $10,000 and a healthier lifestyle.

Certainly it would be awesome to win the $10,000 (I already know what I would do with the money – I would buy a top of the line Pedicab to drive in Oklahoma City), but even making the cut for the finals would be a wonderful thing, since it would mean that I would have 60 FREE wonderful healthy meals to jump start my weight loss and fitness plans.

The entries for the first round close tonight and I understand they are picking the finalists based on social media response, so please, please go to http://bit.ly/1wZREFh and post a message of support or share it on social media. Thanks!

I’m changing the direction of this blog yet again, to refocus on those areas of my life that are not related to my professional life, politics or activism. (all of that stuff can be found in the future at GIRightslawyer.com or PeaceReport.org)

For a longer explanation of what this change is about, keep reading…

I’ve published various things online for a long time, first a personal website (starting in 1995) and later a blog (starting in 2001).

These websites have gone through many, many, many changes. In the early days it was mostly about music I liked and things I found interesting. Later on, as my life changed I wrote a lot about my days living in Austin (as my religious and political beliefs continued to evolve). Upon return to Oklahoma, I settled into a routine of mostly writing about radical politics and the peace movement with frequent excursions into the subjects of religion, spirituality and occasionally other interests.

Much of my blog writings were deeply personal. I expressed a lot of sorrow in times of depression, but also enthusiasm for things that thrilled me. And there has been a lot of anger. I’ve railed against the military, the government, corporations, and a lot of others stuff. I hope there has been some graciousness too, but I’m afraid I mostly let the anger rule my rantings. The anger got so bad I gave thought to quit the blog, but I tried instead to redirect the anger in better directions (with varying degrees of success).

As I have settled into a career as a an activist attorney, I’ve seen the blog take less and less importance in my life. Partly due to time constraints but also because I was spending more and more time posting on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking websites. My blog also got hit by denial-of-service attacks and I received death threats from people who don’t like what I do for a living, so I necessarily had to quit posting personal stuff on twitter and I pulled most of website archives down. I hated to do this, but I felt I had to for my own personal safety.

But I’ve missed the blog. And I’ve also began to grow weary of the increased commercialization of social websites like Facebook (and the growing moves to eliminate all vestiges of privacy in those arenas). Facebook’s moves to the creepy have made me want to have more control over my own expression of my own thoughts.

I want to be the one who decides what I will publish for the world and what I want to remain private, not some faceless evil corporation.

So, this blog is going to begin again. I will continue to post occasionally on facebook for my political/professional work (because, boy, it is a good tool for organizing), but will be switching my more personal (and hopefully timeless) things to this space.

Part of this move is for my own mental health and happiness. I do love to express myself, but I need a better venue to think and write about things that are distant from the day-to-day political struggles of the world and my communities.

So, I’m hoping to avoid political rantings and the like over here and instead talk about things that are meaningful to me for other reasons. I’ve been seeing for the last 6 months or so that my life is horribly out-of-balance, and I want that to change. And I think this need is direly important.

In World War II, Great Britain faced its darkest hour. Everything was turned upside down in the epic struggle. Yet, when the finance minister said that Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort, Prime Minister Winston Churchill pushed back with a succinct and potent response: “Then what are we fighting for?” (see Canada.com for discussion of this quote)

I also think about this stirring quote by the character John Keating from the classic movie Dead Poet’s Society:

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

The legal activist life is a “noble pursuit… necessary to sustain life.” But it is not the sum total of my life. There is so much more than the struggle for justice. There must be time for me to tend my garden, and paint, and play music, and enjoy art, and everything else worth savoring. So, this blog is going to be dedicated to “poetry, romance, love” and all of the other things that I stay alive for. I will talk some about spirituality too, but not so much about the political aspects of it, but more what Dorothy Day referred to as “the duty of delight.”

So be it. Carpe Diem. Thanks for reading.

Just wanted to let y’all know that my house hunt is over, as I have a new home (or I should say homes).

My main residence is a room I’m renting in rural Eastern Norman (in Norman city limits but I have a Noble mailing address). So far, I really like the new place. It is in the Cross Timbers, so I’m surrounded by beautiful Post Oaks and Black Jack Oaks. It’s definitely in the country (a good ways from the blacktop down a gravel road), but only 20 minutes or so from the artsy/college town culture of Norman. And best of all, one of my new roommates already has 4 dogs so Sandy has some great pals to hang out with.

My second residence is also a new thing (as of July 4th), it a room I’m renting in a double-wide rented by two dear friends and volunteers with the Under the Hood GI Coffee House in Killeen, TX.

And lastly, I’m going to fix up one room at the farm at Pine Ridge (likely my grandpa’s old office room) to be my little retreat space. The rest of the house I’ll move out of but fix up so my other family and friends can stay out there when they want a little time away.

I’m hoping this new plan will work. Traveling all over creation is just too much for me. I still have a few lingering cases in other locales (New York, North Carolina, etc.) but I’m hoping to wrap them up soon and then just take cases from Oklahoma and Texas.