Give Yourself the Gift of Rest

Lessons from the Edge:


I had the good fortune to produce a meeting where the great Tony Schwartz spoke. LINK

He reminded us that people are not computers and that in order for us to function at our optimal potential we need to – ready for it … REST.  The essential message was that if we all treated ourselves more like professional athletes, balancing stress – rest, focusing on a healthier diet and sleep for 7-8 hours a night not only would we be more effective and productive, but happier too.aa775d55c6e7d602c8faf563f6ec22ff

None of this is new information. It has all been said many, many times. The attack on our attention from email, conference calls and a constant pressure to work more hours is actually reducing our productivity and is making us very unhappy.

So, my holiday message to you is this, take advantage of a world that has slowed just a hint and put down your smart phones for 72 hours. Enjoy your families and get some very well deserved rest.

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Holiday Survival Guide – Chappy Style

I know that this can be a difficult time for people. Family histories are hard, feeling alone and end of the year stuff brings judgements and other negative feelings. I get my dose around New Year’s after all the fun of Christmas dies down and I am left with my thoughts, doubts and self flagellation.

Here are some things that may seem corny but help:

  1. Be Present. Leave the phone in the kitchen drawer and take a break from the Jones’s
  2. Wrap your loved ones in hugs
  3. Send peace in the form of cards and notes to everyone you know
  4. Donate food, clothes and anything you can afford, including time,  to those who’s holiday might be in jeopardy or thin
  5. Make sharing your love the priority not your disagreements
  6. Be your own light in every room

When the gloom sets in, recognize it for what it is and say hello for me. Know it will pass. Make yourself make a coffee date with a close friend (I’m free) and get out in the fresh air. I have been known to throw a party as a F’you to the gloom.. works sometimes. Try it.

Happy Solstice

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukah

Happy Kwanzaa

Happy Arba’een and Mawlid an-Nabī 

Boxing Day

St. Stephan’s Day  … etc & etc.

Sending you and yours love and light for the holidays and the New Year!

PS: I always say Happy Holidays because I am not so arrogant as to believe everyone else celebrates Quantum theory like I do  😉

 

 

 

 

 

Education, education, education ..

It’s the drum I beat in every political, civic or social discussion I have. It is so basic and so necessary that it seems too obvious to be the fix we are looking for. Fixing, improving and expanding our public school systems is no easy task. I understand, personally, I did my best with our local K-8 school and it was a snake pit obstacle course with head winds. There are vast competing interests, egos, philosophies and economies, the deck is very stacked against change. If we are going to close the divide in this country we have to dig in and start here.

I am not talking about test scores. That is a fools distraction and proves only that special interests are the winners. Real, enriched and in-depth education that promotes thinking and real problem solving for all our children is what I mean. This includes literacy, art, music, civics, global history, math – beyond just the rote numbers, the sciences and all in a safe place with well paid teachers. No small task. We have to get there. We have to invest in this or we will loose our country for good.

Let’s look to countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland who spend some of the most money on education as a percentage of their gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. These Scandinavian nations all ranked in the top third of Best Countries istock_000014186302mediumby Education, generally outperforming Asian nations. (Source) We can take what works and improve on the rest. These countries, not coincidentally, also rank among the top 10 places for quality of life for all it’s citizens.

The conspiracy lover in me thinks that the defunding methodically, over the last 20 years of public education and demonizing the educated has been a slow and deliberate plan to make the electorate ignorant, uniformed and susceptible to believing just about anything. It is much easier to rule an uneducated population. H.G. Wells was not wrong when he created the Eloi. All you need is to scare them enough and they will pretty much do whatever you tell them.

This election is a wake up call for all of us. Once the protesting and fervor dies down, I hope we will all get to the hard work of fixing what lead us here.

Read this article by Nate Silver: LINK

 

Certain Truths

There are a few Truths that I thought, naively here in my Libra-Bubble, we had all agreed upon…

  1. The Sun is the center of our solar system not Earth
  2. The Earth is round
  3. Gravity, while wondrous and magical is not magic
  4. Mass extinction and Climate change are real and happening
    1. and We as a race caused it. If you are not ready to accept responsibility for this mass issue – OK – I hear yah.. so let me put it this way, for our purposes it does not matter who is to blame, us, earth, time .. We can help to slow it down, everyday doing small things.. What do you say?
  5. Our Universe was created by the Big Bang
    1. OK creationists, before your knickers get all twisted, I offer that I believe there is more evidence of the Devine in hard science than in any man made book… Does that help?
  6. War is bad for everyone but Halliburton
  7. bill_of_rights_pg1of1_acALL humans are created equally and deserve to be treated equally before the eyes of the law.
    1. I know I am in grey waters here.. I am not totally sure that everyone believes this, as evidenced by who populates our prisons and who get’s their asses grabbed on the subway. Even if this is not absolute yet, shouldn’t we be working towards this?
    2. Being equal, having provenance over your own body? … I am hedging my bets – Reproductive rights? Anyone?
  8. Freedom of Press, Speech and Expression wether you like what someone has to say or not. Just please don’t insight a riot – Do all the protests Trump has started count?
    1. If I could add an amendment it would be that the Press MUST be impartial and Factual ONLY.. let story tellers, comedians and entertainers do their job, you do yours.
  9. A Right to Privacy – My life, my choices
  10. A Right to pray to whomever you choose and express your beliefs as much as you like as long as they don’t infringe on mine.

Given who was just selected as our president elect, I woke up to find out that these above were not all understood, agreed upon much less absolutes.. If as a nation we cannot agree on the most basic of issues, it’s not a wonder we can’t figure out genderless bathrooms.

Changing Demographics

Thinking about the myriad of reasons America chose the hateful, narcissist for our leader, one thing stuck out to me this morning after reading this article in the New York Times: The Two America’s of 2016. I have been thinking about why it is that the urban population, on the whole, voted for our neighbors and in rural America they voted against them. Other than the compression of humanity, access to culture and the other elitist things they tell us is why, I was wondering, why really? … What is it about the experience of a rural American that is so different. There are many things I am sure, but the one that struck me this morning is, we here in the cites are used to having our neighborhoods change constantly and whole new populations come through about every 5-10 years. Our cultural landscape is in constant flux. Beacons of gentrification and the wave of white privilege that follows are often the least welcome.
My mother has lived in the same neighborhood since 1962. In that time there have been waves of new groups who have passed through. When she moved in, the neighborhood was was the Puerto Rican and Cuban neighborhood of West Side Story – That’s right we lived in Shark territory, with it’s coffee shops and bodega’s. Then more Spanish speaking neighbors joined them from South America, Dominican republic and beyond. I remember a Santeria card reader who would sit on the corner and give us candies. As the 70’s marched in a new wave of black working class families started to move in. People from Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad 5218635164_e2d1e7f71etoo. Music poured out on to the streets and ladies wore bright colored outfits. Following them in the 80’s were students of all colors, the first sign of gentrification. They were mostly from NYU and Juilliard; dancers, artists and musicians. The 90’s brought a wave of middle class professional gay families and the YUPIES. On their heels came the wealthy 1%. Now only the Saudi’s an afford an apartment in her neighborhood. The area has traveled through rich cultural influences, restaurants, boutiques, music, styles of hanging out on stoops to a white washed, sterile, amenities-less mall. White privilege is ugly, pretentious, cold and most of all brings NO practical necessities with it. With in a three block radius of my mothers house she has gone from having multiple bodega’s, groceries stores, hardware stores, and pharmacies to now there’s a Papyrus, Kate Spade and Sephora – Yay! The “ism” of the City is Classism .. we dread gentrification more than any population. Hillary’s “level the playing field” message especially resonates here.

port-jefferson-long-island-ny-main-street-business-section-ca-1920s-postcard-badc3e3cfa0e840b68ae2cf8bf9d3bfcBy contrast a close friend of our family lives in rural Long Island, on the outskirts of a small town well past the end of the 495.  When he bought his house in the early 70’s it was a dominantly Polish and Easter European town filled with people who he and his family had known probably for generations. There were black people sure, but they were segregated to their own part of town, and his world rarely if ever crossed theirs. The town had always been this way. Seasonally there would be migrant workers who would pass through, to help with the harvests of potatoes, sod and other agriculture, but they never stayed. Then it happened. These migrant workers started to stay. There was enough work available that they bought houses and started to live all over town. Their children started to go to the local schools and they were in line at the grocery stores. This wave happened to be dominantly Mexican and following them were small waves of other Spanish speaking peoples. Our friend was/is very unhappy about this. While he may not think of himself as a racist, he blames ALL of that areas troubles on these new neighbors. So, when Trump demonized this population, our friend could relate.

There are racists in cities too, don’t get me wrong. There are people who grumble about the changing nature of their neighborhoods. You hear, “This was such a nice place to live before the (fill in the blank) moved in.” The difference is that in cities the “fill in the blank” changes all the time.. it is in constant evolution. In the outer, rural areas everything moves slower, including cultural evolution. The rest of us will need to take notice of this and respect how disorientingly fast the world is moving for these people.

Compassion is what is going to get us through the next four years.

#TeamHumanity

Silence is Permission

“Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear. Making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet.” – Hillary Clinton’s concession speech full transcript: 2016 presidential election

http://www.vox.com/…/hillary-clinton-concession-speech-full…

Let’s please stop blaming the 3rd party candidates. They only made up about 3% of votes cast. One path to fixing the choices we get is to encourage third, fourth and fifth parties.

Here is some math from an angry Dyslexic:

Problem number 1 – There are 218,959,000 eligible voters in this great country. 146,311,000 of those are registered, so, 72,648,000 don’t care to participate in our democracy. Nearly 73Million people! ..Lazy? Disenfranchised?

Problem number 2 – In 2012, a year of huge turnout, 126,144,000 cast votes.. so the 20 Million difference who are registered just could not be bothered.

Problem three and why Hillary lost – Turnout this year? 124,344,129 (this is still evolving). That almost 18million (or 38Million if you count all registered voters) decided it wasn’t sexy enough an election to get their butts off the couch.

A non-vote is still a vote.. in this country if you believe in progressive ideals, you HAVE to vote. We win by turn out. No turn out = Conservative agenda. There are actually more of us than them, but it does not matter if you don’t show up.

#Silenceispermission

#TeamHumanity

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”

— Edmund Burke

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FP

To my true mind all of the sounds of the alphabet are arbitrarily assigned symbols that represent those sounds. It’s the arbitrary part that always caused me the most trouble. Someone, somewhere in the 1st millennium BCE – likely an old, mean monk – decided the sound “pah” should look like “P” combining at least three different alphabets. Everyone acquiesced and then POOF several thousand years later I am just supposed to agree? (I can hear an english teacher I had in the 8th grade shaking her head and say, ”dear, dear, Aryn, why do make it so hard?”…)

2015-03-05-04-54-34-pmIn a way Dyslexics are natural born linguistic philosophers. No part of letters or numbers is taken for granted. It is only through conscious repetition that sound and symbol eventually get married. Now, you are saying to yourself, isn’t that true for all kids? Yes, to a degree. The difference is that there is always a lingering skepticism. There is always some air between sound, meaning and symbol. This makes reading forever slow.

“The large brown cow grazes in the green meadow.” You skim, “Lg Brwn Cow Grazes Grn Meadow”. I read “The   large   brown   cow   grazes   in   the   green   meadow”. You will forget that sentence by breakfast tomorrow. I will forever have an impression of Ferdinand with a flower behind his ear grazing in the tall green grasses outside of Madrid not remembering where I read such a lovely sentence but glad nonetheless.

Teachers are the saviors for us Dyslexics. (They can also be our biggest hurdles.. I have heard some pretty terrible stories) Good, well trained, patient, loving teachers are what make the difference. I had three that I can remember clear as day. I’m even friends on Facebook with one of them – shout to you MM! There were others, like my Chemistry teacher in the 10th grade who seeing that I was smart, but totally ill equipped for science, and wanting me to at least learn something in his class, let me write a 20 page paper on the Armenian Genocide just to pass – Thank you Mr. A. (He is Armenian and was lobbying in his off hours to have the genocide recognized officially by the UN)

There were also the countless hours with parents and guardians hovering and helping. My step mother would take dictation and type my papers for me. Into the wee hours of the night my mother would all but write my papers for me. Uncle M. would help me with geometry and my poor dad would try and muster the patience to explain multiplication again for the tenth time – 7s still give me trouble. It always confounded him that I could grasp scale, but multiplying 9×7 was torture. All this and the tutors, it truly takes a village.

My stepmother tells this story, she challenged the then headmaster of The Calhoun School to stay true to her word, that they wanted children of all learning styles. It’s right there in the mission statement still, “At Calhoun, teaching and learning begin with the strengths, needs, questions and diverse life experiences of the individual student.” I can promise you telling my stepmom “no” is not easy. So, that is where I went for eight years. Thank goodness I did. Progressive education saved me.

Most class curriculums, including most progressive formats, are based on the concept that you build up on the lessons before it. This is done linearly. The essential assumption in that concept is that the students must commit the lessons to memory and be fluid with the information. Often we do not get fluid and some simply can’t memorize any more than they could turn themselves purple. Imagine trying to do Algebra when you are still counting on your fingers.

Things like Math and Science are taught with a heavy amount of rote memorization and “it’s true because it is so”. We have already established that, for me, that argument is fruitless. I have always wondered how much easier and fun it would be, not just for the Dyslexics in the room, but all the kids, if curriculums were turned upside down and inside out. Teach the concept, the reasons, the stories and then the facts and figures. Use the numbers and signatures to illustrate the content. This way you would have a population that at least understood the basic principles of physics, even if they cannot do the problems. It should be noted here that 1 in 5 Americans are Dyslexic. Progressive could take on a new gravitas and not just be code for small classes and hands on projects.

I have mentioned this over the years to a number of teacher friends and heard all the lazy reasons why it won’t work. I can tell you that A Brief History of Time and The Tao of Physics are among my favorite books. Smart is not the issue. Different is not lesser. Once culture truly absorbs that, then anything could be possible.

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#Dyslexia #DyslexiaAwarenessMonth #Adulting #Education #LearningDisabled #Neurodiversity

Building Castles

castle_in_the_clouds_by_i_twitch_when_i_walk
Castle in the Clouds by KatieRuckerArtwork

 

  • Work Hard.
  • Do what you love.
  • Leave every place and person better than when you found them.
  • We are all in this life together, moving toward the same end.

These are my values. The four pillars that hold everything else up. I assume I get them in part from my parents although they were just among the few who raised me. Countless teamsters, carpenters, wardrobe supervisors, chorus girls, production assistants, Sandra, and Unca Mark make up some of the village that raised me. The patchwork of ethics, values and morals is very … colorful. I certainly learned that people and life are kaleidoscope early.

A friend of mine always jokes that she will never play poker with me, having been taught by a teamster in Boston, it’s probably wise. There was a wealth of perspectives, values and prejudices to choose from to be sure. The 12 step tenant “Take what you like and leave the rest” has definitely been something I used to full effect. Those pillars above are what the spinner of life seems to have left as the remaining absolute truths by which I guide all my actions and build all my castles.

Working hard is what I do. I work on myself, work on my business, work at my relationships and work to try and make this world a better place. I love working hard.. In fact one of my favorite projects was re-landscaping my father’s property and doing 90% of the labor on my own. That was extremely satisfying. My Grandfather blames our work ethic on being Irish. I’m not sure.. although we are Irish. When everything starts to fall apart, my go to self help mantra is “Get back to work”. It always seems to pull me out of whatever tailspin I was starting.

Seth Godin has a good posting about this : “When you find a trick, a shortcut, a hack that gets you from here to there without a lot of sweat or risk, it’s really quite rewarding. So much so that many successful people are hooked on the trick, always looking for the next one. … There’s a meta-trick that’s far more reliable. One that works over time and doesn’t depend on avoiding being out-tricked: Make great stuff. Satisfy needs. Do the hard work that leads to growth which leads to investment on its own merit. It turns out that the trick-free approach is the best trick of all.” @thisissethsblog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/09/looking-for-the-trick.html)

Lucky for me I have built a business doing what I love to do. My dad has often said, “Do what you love and hire others to do the same.” I’ve always liked that quote. Some people love book keeping. I Know right?!? But it’s true, so why take that position away from them? “Work” is not a chore for me. This is where some people get caught up.

Work does not need to be a chore, but work is work and sometimes it is not fun. If what you have is a J-O-B and you are not doing what you love or even like then get out. There are literally thousands of options of what to be and do.. So go find it. Working hard at something you love is a gift.

The other two are the intent by which I enter every interaction. I am a populist at heart and believe deeply we have an obligation to do better in every way than our parents and ancestors. My husband and I tease our son that as long as he is talking about different things than we did in therapy, we did our job right. Everyday building on what came before us and moving toward a better world and culture, with big and small actions, is ultimately why we are all here.

  • Work Hard.
  • Do what you love.
  • Leave every place and person better than when you found them.
  • We are all in this life together, moving toward the same end.

What are your pillars? How do they manifest in your life?