Vulnerability & Trust.

How do you lead through chaos?

Carefully. Strategically. Consciously. With transparency. In community.

But what most of the general population doesn’t understand, and even those within the industry who have stumbled into our beautiful little hurricane of chaos that is web3, is that information silos can NOT exist in decentralization.

We straight up built this emerging tech as a direct rebellion against the corruption and abuse of humans and the shattering of our communities using information delivery systems that were weaponized within silos. We can debate the intention of the web2 builders who allowed their technology to become weaponized, but there is no valid argument to justify silo’ing information in web3 organizations. And here’s why…

Every single action that happens onchain is traceable. Period. Those of us who choose to work AND advocate for our tech understand that every single thing we say and do is traceable. Cryptography lies at the heart of our emerging technology and info sec experts know exactly how to follow information trails, no matter where they exist. So do journalists. It’s what I love about infosec and why I learned crypto from the best minds in that field. They taught me how to find my own data, how to put it through my journalist’s filter and how to make my own assumptions. They taught me how to be “completely private” and “wildly transparent” at the same time-- and why it matters.

To survive and thrive in web3, you need to know how the tech works and how information flows between sources. All of the information you need to work in web3 is onchain, on socials, transparently existing in the open for all to see. And for those of us who lead in web3, in roles of leadership throughout DAOS, orgs, foundations and companies, we must understand deeply how this all works, surround ourselves with people we trust 1000%, have ways to access information to support that trust and not put silos around any of our information. None of it.

And here's my cautionary tale about personal information silos. This is not comfortable for me to publish, but here's a dose of vulnerability for us all to learn some lessons.

I placed a silo around some personal information in the past few weeks because while I am an open book and my shit is all onchain or in public, I don’t like to talk publicly about my personal life or health. In holding onto this past pattern of privacy, I didn’t share publicly that I now have to deal with a neck injury that is serving as the barometer to what I’ve been experiencing in all aspects of my life for the past few months.

Admitting publicly that I allowed stressful situations to break down my nervous system, manifesting through old injuries in my neck and shoulder is slightly embarrassing. I just spent 2 years studying how to help people heal their nervous systems through the various healing modalities of yoga. I have a 1000 hour, 500RYT yoga certification. I studied yoga on some of the deepest academic levels possible and from some of the brightest minds in contemplative academic studies with powerful and kind mentors. And I just spent the last 10 months driving my nervous system into the ground because I worked too hard towards a mission for my community without being self aware enough to catch myself before I did damage.

I was visiting my family for Thanksgiving after an amazing journey in Istanbul at DevConnect and ETHIstanbul and my 6 year old niece called my ass out. She exposed the fact that I let my job break my body down and it wasn’t healthy. She declared this logically and provided a solution. Quit and move to her neighborhood so we can play more. She’s six. And she came to this conclusion on her own, while we were eating biscuits. I had no good reply for her. She’s right. She’s six. She can see it and she can say it. Why can’t I?

The one thing I couldn’t tell her is that I do this work to make sure her future has some solid tools to navigate the collapsing systems around her when she’s an adult. I couldn’t tell her that I’m now seeing where I dropped the ball in regards to my health, I’m trying to get home as fast as possible so I can be near my healers. I’ll explain that to her one day— or she can read all of this onchain one day for herself. I told her that she was very smart and I'm not done with my mission yet. But one day, we'll live near each other and play.

How do you tell a 6 year old you've chosen such a mission with a collective community looking to protect her generation from the faults of our own? You don't. You make a choice and hope one day she can forgive you for missing Christmas.

After the 6 year old’s reality check, I drove my broken ass to the ER. Not even Oxy helped with that pain and I’ve never taken it before. I don’t believe in or take pharmaceuticals unless it’s beyond necessary. The ER doc was kind and sent me to go catch my plane with just enough pain coverage to get me home.

When I did finally make it home, after the most painful journey possible from the Appalachia’s to the Rockies, I went to my doc and just paid for an MRI out of pocket because I needed information fast. My doc saw my results and immediately called in a large prescription of pain killers. I work insane hours in a fast moving emerging tech sector that requires a very clear mind to always— ALWAYS— see what’s coming at you from all directions, what you can and what you can’t put data behind to justify assumptions and when you need to detach your emotions (governed by your nervous system) from multiple outcomes of a scenario that honestly, very few Hollywood writers could even contemplate.

I’ve dealt with intense, chronic pain in the past, but it’s been a while. What ongoing intense pain does to the nervous system is wild. What it does to your brain's ability to stay sharp and clear is stunning. I’m at the beginning of a long journey here, which is already improving slowly through mindful healing and careful monitoring of the triggers of my nervous system. Something I was already starting to track and put data behind (hello new iWatch), but now there’s no messing around. My pain management plan has to account for the type of mental work I do now, and that, for me, means no painkillers while I’m in meetings or dealing with work. You can do the math on how that feels by 3pm each afternoon.

To do that successfully requires trust. In the absence of trustless technological frameworks to give organizations an internal foundation, we have to just trust the people leading us— and the people we lead. We can only do that if information silos are removed and people feel safe in their communications and their actions. That’s why web3 must, MUST, be done in the open. All aspects of it.

I realized this week that not all of my colleagues knew what I was dealing with and no one knew the depths to which I had to deal with my health. I informed the people who needed to know, but not everyone. In the absence of clear data people will make assumptions based on behaviors-- we all do-- it’s human nature. No one knew my fingers were going numb sitting at my desk and I kept wiggling because of it. No one knew that for a 30 minute meeting, pain was shooting down my spine and my shoulder almost the entire time. No one knew that when I couldn’t answer a question directed at me in a meeting, my lack of listening wasn’t that I was daydreaming or multitasking, it was that I was trying not to pass out or throw up from the pain on Zoom. I never talk about this shit publicly. Ever.

I always keep that shit close to my vest. That’s what strong women were raised to do— don’t complain too much and keep powering forward no matter what. And for women in tech, it’s even harder. We are told we can’t be vulnerable and show our feminine side of surrender and truth because it’s not acceptable in male dominated industries. Fuck that, I’m calling bullshit right now.

In keeping my shit to myself, I set a situation up where trust could have been broken by an information silo and me harboring old belief patterns from the patriarchy. Last week after my doctors appointment and confirmation that we have a plan and a diagnosis that isn’t awful but isn’t great, I began assembling a team of smart people to help me deal with it, spiritual healers to help me navigate the process and a lot of CBD to make it through the days of work until my sick leave kicks in, I embraced detachment, asked my old beliefs to hop in the backseat and ripped the band aid of vulnerability off and told the rest of my colleagues what was actually happening.

In making this personal story public, I can teach from it and others can learn from my beautiful oopsie. And here's why the specific type of yoga I practice, Tantra, is so important. It's not about physical postures of flexibility and meditation. The yoga I practice is one that applies to all aspects of my waking day, every situation, every thoughts, every interaction. Did I act from ahimsa? Did I act from satya? Did I act with compassion? Did I act from a higher level of consciousness? Did I detach from the outcome, slip into witness consciousness and look at the humanity of the situation?

As I spend my evenings trying to find relief from the intensity of my days now, I've decided to embrace Carbs and Comedies. I take the medicine prescribed by my doctor and I laugh my ass off at absurd comedies that mirror my real life journey right now. Then I watch a Ted Lasso episode or two. As I begin to transition to bedtime, I tie up the day with some Ram Dass. I apply his lessons in consciousness and yoga to my day and I try to find enough physical relief to sleep.

Here’s a podcast I dove into over the weekend that brought so many insights and a great deal of grounding. Ram Dass founded the yoga program I just graduated from in May. In 1983, he was talking about consciousness in networking systems and social activism as a spiritual practice.

While some of this may sound dramatic, it's really not, or at least it doesn't feel that way. It feels like the story I just shared is simply the next lesson I need to learn. I noticed my broken internal system fast enough to catch it this time and I’m treating my nervous system with the care and respect it deserves.

Lessons learned and, fingers crossed, back to normal soon(ish). During this forced slow period, I get to actually slow down, reflect on the journey that brought me here and create some space to hear the muse. And when the holidays conclude and we all gear back up for what's shaping up to be a wild run back towards a bull, I'll be focused, quiet and ready to amplify all the beauty we've built in the past 12 months.

Ps…Writing this article was so uncomfortable, that I decided I needed to be in an analog community for a few hours. Nothing fancy, just no tech and something familiar. The fairgrounds just happened to have a Rock & Rails show for the holiday. I saw the event in the local recreational newspaper. Old school. My pasts colliding.

I grew up with an amazing father who loved to build model train environments. He was a maker, a carpenter and he taught me how to build with my hands. He built the train cars, the buildings, the tracks, the trees, the villages, the communities in his make believe world of small trains and community gathering spots along the tracks. We did this every year at Christmas and played with these little make believe worlds for the weeks leading up to Santa's arrival. He also used to take my little sister and I to the mineral and stamp collectors shop on the weekends. And throughout my adulting journey, I’ve spent many winters in the deserts of Arizona with my aunt and uncle learning the fascinating subculture of rock hounds, miners and lapidary artists.

I loved playing with rocks so much, used to have a little side hustle selling crystals at festivals so I had an excuse to buy rocks from old miners in the winters and listen to their stories. Before I wrote this essay, I went to the Rock & Rails show and as soon as I walked in I felt at home. I felt held. I felt grounded. I'd never even been in this building before and knew no one inside, but I understood this rockhound community.

I returned to a simpler time when playing with rocks and making art was my priority for the day. Healthy. Balanced. I saw my uncle in those old timers and their rocks. He passed during the pandemic, in his mid 90s, and I couldn't be there to say goodbye. But he was in that rock show today. We used to spend hours wandering rock swaps, talking with vendors and gathering stories. So, that's what I did today. And I met people who knew my old desert community and I felt that beautiful human connection, where a community ties two strangers together and wraps them in conversation. I then helped a stranger pick out a beautiful necklace while I shopped for gifts that would delight my niece with science and stories as only fossils and rocks can. Hopefully she'll forgive me for not being able to physically fly to visit her for Christmas this year.

I then wandered back to the model trains and saw my father everywhere. He passed before I was able to explore adulthood with him as my support and guide. At age 23, I lost my anchor. And to be honest, its never returned. And that's ok-- I don't expect it to. I've made my own anchors, and for the first time in a while, this digital nomad is committing to one town, one community, and one state.

And right now, having a nest is the most grounding act of self care this wanderer could have given herself this year. All the wisdom I need to heal is located in this home, in the books of ancient wisdom from my schooling and from the mentors, teachers and beloved friends who share this community with me. I truly do have the tools to heal-- we all do. And in order to lead through chaos, we need those healing tools to support our vulnerabilities.

Sometimes the hardest part about healing is being vulnerable enough to give yourself permission to do so. Let’s see if I can evolve and finally give myself that permission.

pss… I wrote this clear-ish mind, but edited it on my painkillers, so let’s just leave the poor editing and rambly prose in place and onchain to drop a little nugget of context onto the blockchain.

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