Die Empty, Friend to Strays, and Two Years at Plant With Purpose


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“Die empty. You can’t take your ideas with you.”

– Todd Henry

This book puts into words some things I try to live by. I don’t want to end this life having left important words unsaid, encouraging things unwritten, creative works unmade, relationships unpursued, curiosities unexplored, or adventures unlived.


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Sometimes the ones most in need of love will ask for it in the most difficult of ways.

I remember seeing that phrase in a special needs classroom back when I used to work for a fairly challenging school district.

Lately I’ve been having thoughts that feel parallel regarding difficult conversations. Sometimes the more difficult a conversation is to have the more important it is to have it- and to have it in a constructive way.

Like, right now it feels harder than ever to have conversations with people who don’t share our worldview on sensitive topics, and yet, this might be the sort of time where those conversations are especially important. And when you need to bring something up in a relationship of any sort, The feeling of resistance sometimes indicates how badly you need to bring it up.

Whenever something feels easy to put off or ignore because of how hard it is to do, consider that this might be the case because of how badly you need to do it.


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About a year ago @deanna.suzanna and I picked up these @frogandtoadpress badges from @powellsbooks, because strays indeed are our friends.

Then a couple weeks ago I passed by a little black lab mix while walking from a coffee shop. I didn’t think much of it at first, then I realized it was weird that the doggy was all on its own.

After temporarily naming her Ube Cake and surprising Deanna with her in the car, I then dropped her off at the humane society. She had a couple weeks to be claimed, otherwise she’d become ours.

She ended up reunited with her owners, but I figured that story had a happy ending either way. And I’m earning that badge!


Well, well. This week marks two years since I joined the @plantwpurpose team and started partnering with the coolest people like Dieula.

In some ways it feels like I’ve been around much longer, with how much of a connection I’ve built to our work. In other ways it feels like I’m just getting started. I do think I’m just getting started.

I could list endless things I’ve learned over those two years but here are three quick ones that resonate a lot right now:

🌿 Remember that the world is almost entirely made up of people just wanting the best for their families and neighbors. For every act of horror in the world there are a thousand unreported acts of good.

🌿 Urgency and patience. Patience and urgency. They seem like opposites but the real difference makers know how to act with both.

🌿 Everybody can bring something to the table. Different skill sets and work styles are a strength. Build a diverse team. Don’t hold back your perspective and respect the takes of others. Captain Planet ain’t gonna show up if your powers don’t combine.


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Sometimes there’s a bit of an assumption that doing something that helps humanity full-time is limited to certain careers. Being an activist, being in ministry, or working for a nonprofit. Doctors and teachers and social workers. We don’t say this assumption out loud, but it’s there in people’s reactions when I explain my career choice.

You don’t have to do any of those things to do meaningful work. You aren’t limited to those options to make a difference.

It’s not only about what you do. It’s what you do with what you do. Doing something for a profit doesn’t rid it of its purpose, (unless it’s exploitative, of course).

Whatever you do, figure out how you’ll use it for good. Superpowers don’t make people heroes, because villains can have powers too. Certain careers don’t make people helpers either. Its what you do with what’s in front of you.


Did you know that if you’re following me here you’re likely only getting half the content I post? Because every day I also add to the @plantwpurpose account and I have been having a lot of fun over there.

Take this week for example. I worked with an intern to come up with a series that looks inside what our village savings groups are like. I’ve been to several of their meetings and it’s really hard to put into words how special they are to the community, but trying to virtually recreate one sorta helps.

If you’re not following yet, go do it! As far as I know, it’s the only Instagram account that plants a tree whenever you hit follow.



Since we moved we haven’t started up internet service. I could probably just use my phone and rely on its hotspot, especially with no data limits, but the spot we’re in is in a weird black hole where connectivity just vanishes.

So I’ve been mostly using the Internet from my office or coffee shops while going analog at home.

It’s not the most convenient thing since I often find myself wanting to do quick tasks on my phone late at night or to fill gaps of time scrolling Insta. Also, all those little tasks like paying bills and booking flights kinda add up if you can’t do them on the go.

But here’s what else I’ve experienced:

🕒 Time moves a lot slower. Without a device to connect every single gap, the simple evenings spent together don’t zoom by as quickly. As someone who wants to soak up every minute of a life that moves too fast, I love that!

📝 I get creative. When my Argentine homestay didn’t have Internet I wound up practically writing a memoir. I haven’t quite done that this time around but I’ve been able to enjoy more creative energy.

📚 I read like I wish I could all the time. Six novels down in the short time since we’ve moved. Mostly good ones.

When we get more permanently settled, I’d love to find some kind of middle ground without losing those three big perks.

Philippe Lazaro