Blind to ourselves - there are places we cannot see, even with a mirror; cannot touch, even with other's hands. The mirror sees us though, and others can touch and see us, but what they see in us is this thing we take most for granted. Our great gift, our contribution to the machine of the earth, looks so ordinary and boring to us, while others see it within us as a bright and shining sun.
And our greatest gift is also our greatest weakness.
Those gifted with passion, energy and focus are prone to burn out to the point of losing everything gained. Those gifted with seeing the gift in others tend to lose their own identity, wander for direction and search for self-esteem. Those gifted with empathy and healing are crushed by the weight of suffering in the world. Those gifted with unconditional love can never understand the resentment, fear, hate and anger that others harbor, and it shakes the very foundation of their world. Natural leaders are overwhelmed by the hubris of unnatural power. Entrepreneurs with an acute sense of what people want and need are overcome by the lurking monster of greed.
Our soul's journey is a quest to find these gifts and shadows, to reveal and embrace them both, to integrate them into our physical lives and in so doing, we make the world a better place and we free our selves from the boundaries of our mortal cells. This is the arduous, treacherous and yet rewarding work of our lives - to find a balance between pure inner giftedness and the reality of the planet upon which we have been placed.
To find our place and to inhabit it wholly, and in so doing, to see ourselves as clearly as the mirror, to touch ourselves as gently as a lover's hand, and to then more fully become the light that shines within; this is the goal of a life of service.
Imagine that the economy is a big, fat tire. The housing bubble burst in 2007 and that sent the US into the Great Recession of aught-eight (it was maybe a global recession, but whatever). Congress passed the ARRA stimulus package and TARP and stuff, and the tire was kind of pumped up again. This all makes sense if you have a doctorate in Economics and you understand the relationship between spending and GDP and all that. Sweet.
Now, we've got this Star Chamber of Presidential Appointees
and Federal Reserve Bank presidents who have been, since 2008, pumping extra air into the tire with no visible effect.
Either, (a) the little pumpy thingy at the end of the compressor hose where it attaches to the tire is broken and no additional pressure is getting through, or (b) they've inflated the tire, it looks good but not perfect, so they keep putting more air in, and then, since it still doesn't look like anything is happening, they turn the compressor up to, say, 1000 psi.
I kind of think any sane person (group of people) would be a bit nervous at this point. Here's what I see. The Fed, dropping the discount rate to zero for the first time in history - ever - and also pumping excess reserves into the banking system in unprecedented volumes - we're talking three trillion dollars within the past five years. That's like taking four wheelbarrow loads of brand new twenty dollar bills into each home in the US and dumping it on the floor.
The Fed has the unique ability to create MONEY (not currency, only the Treasury Department can do that) out of thin air. HOWEVER, when they do that, they also create INFLATION. The major tool that the Fed uses to control inflation and employment (it's dual mandate) is the expansion and contraction of the supply of money in the US; namely, excess reserves in the banking system, i.e. loanable funds, that then, once loaned out, become deposits of the borrower into some other bank, who then loans out that money, which then becomes a deposit in some other borrower's bank account, and so on.
So what? The Fed right now has NEVER, in HISTORY, come EVEN CLOSE to executing this much INFLATIONARY POLICY. The low discount rate (rate at which banks can borrow from the Fed) and the incredible amount of assets on the Fed's balance sheet
should be driving inflation to astronomical levels, OR, the economy should be growing at a reasonable rate (3.3%?) and unemployment should be at it's natural target level (5%?) which would put the US economy at 32psi. Too much pressure and you bust the tire. Again. Plus rampant inflation.
I know that the Fed Board of Governors are some of the smartest, best-educated people on the planet, but they are also blinded by job security and entrenched thinking. I think we have a new economy here, post Big Recession, with a smaller percentage of people in the workforce and therefore a higher natural unemployment rate and a new track for GDP growth.
What I'm saying is that the current FED policy of QUANTITATIVE EASING and LOW INTEREST RATES is going to blow up on us.
I hope I am wrong. If I am, then at the very least, we've got to find a new model of economic reasoning that better fits our current fact situation.
I guess I am assuming that someone is watching over the Fed? If so, whom?
Desired Outcome for participants: at least ONE take-away – an idea, technique or tool that the participant can integrate into his or her curriculum right away that is fun, engaging, entertaining and instructive, something that engages the students even more deeply into the subject matter.
Structure of the workshop
Introduction (10-15 minutes)
- The On-Course philosophy; how students learn, how we teach and the connections between the two
Body 1 (15-20 minutes) - break out into small groups
- Brainstorming/cross-pollinating through sharing of ideas
- Discussion and demonstration of different kinds of curriculum enhancements and how they might be used in specific instances
Body 2 (10-15 minutes) - assembly of the whole
- Debrief ideas, compile into themes, discuss
Body 3 (10-15 minutes)
Conclusion (10-15 minutes) including reflective time to create and discuss an implementation plan for integrating at least one new idea into the current curriculum
- Break into groups based on interest/subject matter
- Discuss application/integration of at least one idea/enhancement
Seminar evaluation – feedback
The following checklist is a guide to creating curriculum innovations and enhancements that will help students move away from unsuccessful habits and toward more successful habits (in bold) with some vague guidelines that teachers can use to assess the general direction of the idea and how it comports to the goals of helping students become better life-long learners.
Checklist for creating empowering curriculum: Moving from - Victim mentalityMoving toward - Personal responsibility
Small doable projects that reinforce successMoving from - Lack of direction, inability to planMoving toward - Self-motivation
Real world applications, current events, relevant case studies, instructions on how to create a paper/project/speech with examples, study guides, checklists, calendars, time tracking sheets (i.e. computer skills), goal setting and assessmentMoving from - Procrastination, helplessness, giving up because it’s too hardMoving toward - Self-management
Guided projects that consist of small steps, end-of-term projects that build from the first case study, teaching students how to study through classroom study guides, time managementMoving from - Loner statusMoving toward - Interdependence
Group projects, cohort tutoringMoving from - Unconscious decision makingMoving toward - Self-Awareness
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.”; finding new inner pathways, exploring ‘how to learn’ while learning contentMoving from - Resistance, entrenched thinking, gullibilityMoving toward - Curiosity, logical thinking, research-based opinions
Debate and dialogue in the classroom, research projects on current relevant issuesMoving from - Angry, depressed, anxious, in a hurryMoving toward - Logical, deliberate, thoughtful and caring of othersMentoring, tutoring, group projects, debate and dialogueMoving from - Self-doubt, low self-esteem or no sense of selfMoving toward - Love of self, appreciation of self, sense of worthiness
Creating pathways to success, note-pages with blanks to fill in, graphs, charts, personal assessments, ways to assess success over time
I think it was Robert Kiyosaki, or maybe Jack Canfield or one of those best-selling authors that talked one time about the difference between being a best-selling writer and a best-writing writer, with the gist of the message being that it didn't pay to be a best-writing author, and that anyone could be a best-selling author, because you could always get someone to ghost-write your material (I don't think Jack wrote very many, if any, of the Chicken Soup stories.)
I struggled with that for a long time, wanting to be able to make even a meager living as a writer, and realizing that fiction was probably not the sure bet for that. I was selling feature articles for a thousand dollars and short stories for $4.23. Seriously. However, I don't want to be a best-selling author. I want to write the way Michelangelo sculpted David and painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the way Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises
, the way the Universe makes a sunset.
To allow ourselves to write, as a responsibility, take courage and persistence. It takes not isolation, but the support of kindred spirits. It does not take money. Certainly life would be easier with lots and lots of money, but Stephen King was dirt poor working as a teacher and in a laundry when he wrote Carrie
, it took Victor Hugo seventeen years to complete Les Miserables
, and Ian Fleming is said to have called Casino Royale his, "dreadfully oafish opus." Unlike King's Carrie
, which Stephen's wife fished from the garbage, Fleming's friends advised him not to publish his manuscript, or at least to submit it under a pseudonym.
I digress. Our western culture, focused on economy, wealth and material significance, seems to dissuade and discourage the artists within us, seeking instead to proliferate mass-marketing and strict adherence to large-scale success; however, the needs of the soul stay the same. Prisig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was turned down by over 30 publishers. Countless lovely and wonderful books, maybe all of the ones that broke traditional cultural lines and norms, were written not for fame and glory and monetary gain, but for the love of the art, like the statue David.
That's why we do what we do, and we don't need permission to allow ourselves to create. It is our responsibility to tell that which only we can tell. To touch the lonely souls that inhabit this planet with our thoughts and our words and the pictures we create.
All I ever wanted to be was a good writer. Leave the selling to t
I am writing this post in the Dog House.
My best friend, Katie, owns and runs a doggie day care (and overnight boarding as well) and we co-parent our combined five kids and pretty much combine and commingle our lives unabashedly. She's out getting her hair cut right now, and I am sitting at the dining room table writing on an almost complete novel about a 13 year old girl that conjures up thoughts of Stephen King, sitting in the laundry room of his double wide trailer, with his wife and two daughters putzing about in the next room, an old Olivetti typewriter balanced on his lap or on a kid's school table, writing Carrie and thinking all the time that it was trash. In fact, at one point, he even ditched it into the waste bin and his wife, Tabitha, fished it out and encouraged him to finish it.
Because the dogs have been going in and out as I write, and because it is September in Walla Walla, the flies are thick and aggressive. The tools of my trade are my laptop, my Kindle, a cup of coffee and a fly-swatter.
I'm off to our first informal writer's group meeting at Maple Counter in a few minutes, creatively entitled, by me, "Creative Writers Eating Lunch."
What I learned from Stephen King: you don't have to wait for the right time or the right space to write. You just write. Julia Cameron says the same. I wrote my first novel, Elysen, in the unfinished basement of our house in Vancouver, WA, with weird creepy crawly bugs for company (I think they were millipedes?)
Don't wait. Start right where you are. The here and now is always the perfect place to begin.
Centipedes, I guess they were. Gross, anyway.
I love words - the use of them, the etymology, the misuse, the application of words to things, words as metaphors for things, and they way that people's words display not only their thoughts, but their personalities. I'm thinking, specifically, today, of social media posts that seem to fall into three categories: the plain dumb, the opinionated left and right, and the idiotic.
Plain dumb for me usually obviously visible, such as:
The opinionated usually identifies itself with some outlandishness, rhetorical, absolute: "Obama is a communist and will drive our country into a fascist state if elected." If the posting agent was standing before you, he or she would stare you down and wait for you to make some attempt to respond, or would continue to wax pontifical while you turned cross-eyed.
Neither of these two kinds of posts show anything non-Democratic to me. However, the third category, that of being "idiotic" are the most subversive, the most dangerous and the most innocuous. Beware the antithesis of the citizen. Walter Parker defines idiocy thus:
Idiocy shares with idiom and idiosyncratic the root idios, which means
private, separate, self-centered — selfish. “Idiotic” was in the Greek context a term of reproach. When a person’s behavior became idiotic — concerned myopically with private things and unmindful of common things— then the person was believed to be like a rudderless ship, without consequence save for the danger it posed to others. This meaning of idiocy achieves its force when contrasted with politēs (citizen) or public. Here we have a powerful opposition: the private individual versus the public citizen.
- excerpt from Walter C. Parker, “Teaching Against Idiocy,” Phi Delta Kappan, Vol.86, No. 5, January 2005, pp. 344-351.
These idiotic posts are all about First World Problems, such as, "I am so infuriated because I was delayed at the airport and couldn't find any bottled water AND I didn't have adequate cell phone reception. I expect better!"
Self-centered, self-seeking, "why is this happening to me?" mentality.
Beware the dangers of the anti-citizen. They are taking over our country and ruining it. Just kidding. But they are Idiots. By definition.
By my definition, anyway.
It's seems no coincidence to me, being guardedly accepting of Julian Jaynes' theories of consciousness, that the codification of the bible, as we now know it, coincides with the breakdown and collapse of the bicameral mind, beginning in about the 10th Century BCE and ending about three thousand years ago.
Perhaps two of the most significant evolutionary leaps that have brought humankind to this current stage of consciousness were, first, becoming bipedal, and second, gaining consciousness, which, in Jaynes' theories, relates to the fall of the bicameral mind.
According to Jaynes, up to about three-thousand years ago, the human mind was bicameral and operated quite differently than it does today. Bicameral man received instructions, in the form of what we might today call hallucinations emanating from an independently acting right hemisphere, visions and voices that originated in the right temporal-parietal lobe - the area that corresponds to the language areas of the left hemisphere. Bicameral man interpreted hallucinations as "voices of the gods" and thus, as in the Old Testament, we have a different relationship with the gods, being polytheistic and moving toward henotheism in the latter days of the codification of the Old Testament. It's clear that in the early days of Israelite religion, the people worshiped many gods (Polytheism) and that the new religion was a movement toward worshiping one god above all others.
As the Bronze Age collapsed, perhaps in part due to the evolution of this new kind of consciousness, scholars and kings began to use another newly evolving science, that of written language, to capture the fading voices of the gods. Looking at the King James bible from a stepped back, broad and scientific view, the evidence to support Jaynes' theory is all there, from the mythology of the book of Genesis to the Ten Commandments, and then the long intervening years between the Old Testament and the New, where people struggled to come to terms with the silence of the gods.
What is of particular interest to me, besides the rise of our current consciousness, is the role that written language may have played in this mental evolution. Perhaps the use of words as metaphors, written down for the first time in human history, gave rise to and/or accelerated the shift away from unconscious bicameralism and toward consciousness. And now, are we experiencing yet another meta-shift in consciousness? We certainly need to.
I see the religious picketing marriages between people who clearly love each other, zealots screaming, from fear and hate, about a god that will burn disbelievers in an eternal hell. I see countries stockpiling weapons that will destroy the earth, based on a spiteful massive inhuman egocentric and immature perception of bullying. I see people escaping into drugs and addictive behavior in order to placate an intense emptiness that seems to emanate from consumerism and the concept that nothing is ever enough.
I hope that our children and our children's children look back on this time and this world and shake their heads, collectively, as they try to figure out what to do with all the toxic waste, nuclear weapons and dead culture we have left them, as they hold hands, live in peace and love unconditionally, under a new, higher consciousness that knows no bounds.
"When Julian Jaynes...speculates that until late in the second millennium B.C. men had no consciousness but were automatically obeying the voices of gods, we are astounded but compelled to follow this remarkable thesis through all the corroborative evidence..."
− John Updike, in The New Yorker
"The bold hypothesis of the bicameral mind is an intellectual shock to the reader, but whether or not he ultimately accepts it he is forced to entertain it as a possibility. Even if he marshals arguments against it he has to think about matters he has never thought of before, or, if he has thought of them, he must think about them in contexts and relationships that are strikingly new."
− Ernest R. Hilgard, Ph.D. (1904-2001), Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
You think maybe you're done crying, moving on now, because that's what he would do, not that he ever cried, at least not like we do, but he was the expert at living in the moment, even in those final months when he was so tired and so achy and even the drug cocktails morning and night could no longer stave off the effect of old age.
But then, unable to sleep at three in the morning, you get up and he's not there outside your door, sprawled out on the floor, one eye open, eyebrow raised like Spock, not judging, just happy to see you, tail wagging once or twice. In the kitchen, making coffee in the dark, quietly, so not to raise the consciousness of the other sleepers in the night, prancing like a marionette across the runner in front of the fridge that used to always be wet because in his old-age he'd developed a bit of a drinking problem, unable to swallow as well as he used to, prancing because there always used to be at least half a dozen sodden, soiled tennis balls near the water dish where he'd drop them at night before he'd curl up in the hallway outside my room, in that kitchen, making that coffee, I'd tear up again because he's is so plainly not there, my friend, my teacher, our dog of many years who served at hospice and in schools and faithfully at home, who taught us all that simple presence is our most precious gift, to be, to love, to live a life of gentle, selfless and un-assuming service, the kind of way that when someone says to you, wow, you did that, you nod, smile and move on.
You done good, Simba.
In January of 2013, our little jazz-pop-rock-country-folk combo, Bizarre Love Triangle
, was chosen to participate in AMC's "unscripted" (read as 'reality') TV show, "Showville
" - showcasing a lineup of small-town talent. We spent four days followed by a camera crew and wired up with microphones (on the fifth day, we crashed and realized there was no food in the house because we'd neglected the actual duties of real life in favor of being TV stars). The show premiers on Mat 23rd, and our episode airs on June 6th at 9pm. It was a great experience, we had maybe more fun than anyone else on the show (we have fun no matter what!) and now, we finally get to see some of the edited for TV content. After this session with Lisette Bustamante
, one of our coaches, we were all pretty sure that some or all of this would end up on YouTube. We were right.
Success is an outcome, not a goal. I've also seen it said that success is a habit, which reminds me of the saying that:
Thoughts become words;
Words become actions;
Actions become habits;
Habits become character;
Character becomes destiny.
It follows then that a successful character, or a destiny of success, comes not from luck or even blind ambition.
Neither does success come from great thoughts, wishful thinking, or talking.
Success arises from the middle ground, from action. Thoughtful, deliberate action.
So does not-success.
In other words, the successful achievement of desired outcomes in life come from daily tasks done well. The experience we are having today, as individuals, as a society and as a world, are the direct and natural consequence of every small thing we have ever done in the past.
Life is cause and effect, it’s an if-then proposition, with random elements thrown in, or at least events that may feel random. Many of those events, unlike a supernova of the sun, are the natural consequences of someone else’s actions, accumulated over time. We all affect each other in some way, tiny or dramatic, therefore, whatever we do to make our own personal world a better place, will make the larger world better.
Change begins at home. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
So, if you were to list out your daily activities, you could probably trace forward to see where you will be over time, in a year, five years, ten years, by predicting the natural consequences of those actions. It’s that simple.
If you eat at McDonalds every day, a fish sandwich, side of fries and Diet Coke (studies have shown that people that drink diet sodas end up putting on weight, probably due to the high sodium content, which encourages snacking and more drinking) – you will gain weight. Also, those high carb foods tend to sap energy, so you’ll be less likely to exercise. If you do not think this statement is true, try an experiment for yourself. Maybe this is not true for you. Maybe it is.
Now, if you want to lose say, ten pounds, and you look at your daily task list, and it says, “Eat at McDonald's,” then you might have a problem.
Retrospectively, then, if your lifetime outcome is a long, healthy, productive life, then you might want to set a goal to be strong and at an ideal weight with healthy eating habits. Your shorter-term objective might be to lose ten pounds by the end of the year, or to weigh 165 pounds by the Fourth of July. Then your daily task, of eating at McD’s, is in conflict with your long-term objectives. So, change it.
If I (DAILY TASKS)
Work out on weights three times a week at the YMCA
Take long walks every day
Swim or jog or other aerobic exercise four times a week
Eat fruits, vegetables, some protein
Avoid eating out, fast food, junk food, corn chips, soda (replace with fizzy water)
Drink lots of water
Then I will (OBJECTIVE)
Lose ten pounds, feel better, sleep better
Which means that (GOAL)
Reach a new level of health, stable body-fat relationship, develop strength and resiliency
And that means that (OUTCOME)
I will live a longer, healthier, more productive and happier life.
You don’t actually have control over anything but the daily tasks and the objectives that arise from them. You may indeed lose ten pounds and feel great, and then get in a terrible accident that is not at all your fault. You may have a heart attack and drop dead, or a stroke and be disabled (chances of those are, of course, greatly reduced by being in top physical condition.) The reality is that stuff happens that is out of your control. Fretting about that or operating today in a sloppy, uncaring fashion is a ridiculous reaction to something that may or may not happen in the future. The future is unwritten and infinitely unpredictable. Worrying about it is fruitless. Planning for it and working toward a goal is actually far, far easier if you are not focused on the future. However, when the future does arrive, unbidden and without any help from you, your situation at that moment in time will be directly and significantly influenced by what you do right now, so RIGHT NOW IS ALL THAT MATTERS.
You may be falsely accused of a crime and end up in prison after leading a life of immaculate public service. – yeah, maybe. But probably not.
You may have your legs blown off by a terrorist bomb. Yeah, maybe. But chances of that are astronomically slim.
You may get overweight and have heart trouble and mobility problems in your old age, and be miserable for years and years as your health slowly and inexorably deteriorates. Yes. Probably, if you eat at McDonald's every day. Highly likely.
You may get cancer after smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for forty years. Yes.
Every day, I circle back around, review and reiterate my outcomes, goals and objectives, and then I look at my day and ask, “Are these in alignment?”
They never are, so my life is a continual process of correcting my course. The very tired and yet still very apt analogy is that of an aircraft, travelling from point A to point B, suffering through the changing atmospheric conditions that ever throw it off course. I can vouch for this, having held the controls of a two-seater Cessna from Walla Walla to Wenatchee, a process I did not enjoy but that taught me a valuable lesson. Wind shear would drop us 100 feet in a half-second. Cross-winds and head-winds would push us to and fro, and all the time my job, as the pilot dozed peacefully, was to keep the nose of the aircraft pointed toward a v-shaped notch in the distant mountains, the access point to the Wenatchee valley. When they say that 99.9% of the time the aircraft is off course, and only by focusing on the distant goal and by always and diligently making sometimes tiny and sometimes major corrections in course do you reach your destination, they are under-stating the process. Constant, diligent attention to details is the difference between ultimate success and the alternative.
Every day, concentrate on your daily task list. Stick to it as much as you can. Be value-oriented so that as things pop up, you can automatically assess their place on your list. Your mom calls from the hospital. Okay, drop the list and go.
The more time you spend assessing your list, being aware of it and revising it, the more natural it becomes. Ideally, you create the list by beginning with the end in mind, by describing your ideal life, and then working backwards from that desired outcome to your ideal task list. And then, you make your actual task list.
They will be different. Over time, work to align them.
Want to write a book? Write every day.
Writing for one hour not on your daily list?
Probably not going to result in a book then.
You can’t just add it to your daily list and then not do it. The daily list must be sacred and honest. If you are not writing, then don’t put it on the list. Do be aware that you want it to be there. Hold that thought. Over time, if you really want to write that book, and when your mind finally grasps the idea that you have to actually write, and practice, and journalize, and take classes, and network, then one day you will find on your list of things that you do every day “writing”.
It’s kind of like voodoo magic, but it really works.
Also though, you have to ask yourself WHY you want to write a book. Just to be rich and famous? Or is it something else, something more basically and truly motivating?
As Oprah Winfrey says, "If you want to have success, you can't make success your goal.. the key is not to worry about being successful but to instead work toward being significant—and the success will naturally follow...When you shift your focus from success to service, your work as a teacher, clerk, doctor, or dot-comer will instantly have more meaning."
Significance, like success, comes from all the little things you do every day, done well, to the best of your ability, with love and care and heartfelt enthusiasm.
What follows is a map of the basic process I’ve described. You have to do it twice to make it work. From Outcomes to Tasks. This is your ideal list. And from Tasks to Outcomes – this is your actual course of destiny. Over time, work to align the two, so that your actual (reality) aligns with your desired. Always though the most important of these two is the ACTUAL. That is what is creating your destiny, not your desired. That’s just wispy wishes until you make it real by doing the stuff on that list. Actually, really, honestly doing it. Not talking about it, not writing it down, but:
Now, do it.
There appears to be much in-fighting around ownership and attribution of this simple quote from such unauthenticated sources as the eponymous Frank Outlaw to a sixth-grader named Shannon Pouge. The most likely source, if it can be called that, is that this is a paraphrasing of ancient wisdom such as that found in the Upanishads, i.e. the Brhadāranyaka Upanishad or perhaps the Chandogya Upanishad, both circa 8th century BCE.