Archive for the ‘morality’ Category

Agape – and Values for Going Forward

Loving kindness and compassion – agape – isn’t as easy as it first appears. Each day I find myself reviewing situations where I could have responded in a better manner. I am becoming hopeful that enough individuals around the country and the world will want to bring about peaceful change. The following was in my inbox email a week ago from the Obama Foundation, and I share the bulk of it here with you as we attempt to move toward a peaceful, equitable society and world.

“A little over a year ago today, President Obama walked out of the White House for the last time as President and stepped out onto the street as a citizen.

Since then, working alongside tens of thousands of people like you, we’ve been building something new — an organization that bears the Obamas’ name, but belongs to all of us. An experiment in what it means to be an active citizen in the 21st century….

As we head into this new year together, our work will continue to be guided by your input, and by our values — the pillars that hold this organization up. Our values are what we stand for — what we all have in common….

So I wanted to share those values with you directly. They’re what drive my work each day — and I hope they serve as a source of inspiration for you, too:

Teamwork. We’re building a global community that will work together and support one another. We’re invested in the success of others, we treat each other with respect and kindness, and we will work diligently to lift each other up.

Humility. We share a passion for impacting the lives of those around us. Sometimes that means speaking up and other times that means stepping aside to create space for other voices….

Integrity…How we do our work and how we collaborate with others is just as important as what we’re seeking to accomplish.

Inclusivity. We value each other’s contributions and hold the conviction that only from diverse backgrounds and divergent points of view can we find the best solutions.

Stewardship. We roll up our sleeves, work hard, and focus on what we’re giving back to our communities — rather than what we are gaining ourselves….

Fearlessness. We have a fearless mindset. We’re not afraid of taking risks, sharing a new idea, meeting new people, or admitting when we just don’t know the answer. Something great might come out of it.

Imagination. We strive to be novel thinkers. Unconventional ideas and new perspectives are why we’re here. We’re willing to make big bets on ideas that haven’t been tried before as we aim to solve the hardest problems of our times. Be yourself, and be bold.”

David Simas, for The Obama Fountation

Random Ramblings

In honor of marching – this was made last year as part of the Threads of Resistance project. I hope to show it this year…in another law office – we shall see if it gets “censored” again. You can see the full story of the resistance quilt “Women’s Work is Never Done” here and here.

Back to my regularly scheduled ramblings….

Yikes, what a busy three weeks! My organizing system is working really well – as is my “self-care” plans to keep me healthy. I am discovering a number of things with my lists – I get lots done, I don’t have to remember all the time, but I also get tired and don’t get my sewing/quilting/artwork done. With all the shows this year, that needs to change quickly – move to the top of the list. I won’t even talk about cleaning….just not happening, and maybe if I just consciously did one thing a day – like wipe down counters – I could accomplish that in baby steps.

My word for the year – agape – is proving to be very interesting. I am reading “Conversations with God”, book 1 – and I will get a copy of my own, as I want to reread this many times. Love, trust, belief in oneself – all things I need to work on. At the same time, I am taking an online course from Coursera.org called Love as a Force of Social Justice. Fascinating, and the readings to go with it are wonderful – there is a book to download where we have exercises that go along with the readings, and they are proving to be very powerful. Plus an amazing TED talk that is worth every minute of your time – one I will watch again and again to inspire me – changing our lives of our community through generosity and love.

At a time when the nation is in such dire straits, I need to feel like I am helping and making a difference. I struggle with the idea that simple random acts of loving kindness and compassion make anything more than a small difference. But I need faith that the ripples will spread, while I await those opportunities to step up to others in an impactful way. I missed the new march today because of care-giving duties, but I am trying to consciously send compassion out to all who are making a statement.

I was particularly disturbed by an article that talked about 45’s problems and that he could conceivably start a nuclear war to take our minds off all his missteps, incompetence, and craziness. What on earth (literally) will that mean for us? These are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night, feeling helpless while trying to control my anger. Talking, helping, providing food and shelter, sharing ideas, creating art – sometimes it feels like less than a drop of water in the bucket, but I know there are many of us doing exactly this – so we will prevail, but it might be in a different world than what we knew as children – or know now.

In the meantime, I want to write and create and contribute. Screw the housecleaning….

Reflections

It’s been an interesting time for reflection this last month, as it’s been an emotional roller coaster of a year. This time last year I was excited because I had decided to retire a year early, in May of 2012. Three semesters left felt do-able. However, I was also still stuck doing lesson plans every Sunday for most of the day. Yet I told myself it was better than the previous year, because I wasn’t spending as much time week nights marking papers, since I had an additional prep period each week.

Then came January 8 and the Tucson shootings. I had almost convinced hubby to go to the Congress on Your Corner, but by the time we were finished with his chiropractic appointment, it was too late to head over. There but for the grace of God…..Like most Tucsonans, we were glued to the television all day, through the NPR reports that Gabrielle Giffords had died to all the aftermath.

By Sunday afternoon I was working on the Art From the Heart website as a way of dealing with this tragedy. To date we’ve had artwork from 14 states, and some amazing artwork it is. President Obama came on Wednesday, and hubby and I sat transfixed in our living room, listening to his speech. On Friday I faced another challenge as a teacher – the Westboro Baptist Church had said it would boycott Christina Taylor-Green’s funeral, and then decided to boycott my high school instead for their ethnic studies program.

Here’s where I realized how much teachers are also first responders. It had been a hellish week, trying to get teenagers to understand what was going on, and how to respond in a nonviolent manner to a group like WBC. You can read about it here, here, here, and here.

Events like this make you really question so much about your life, especially when it appears to you to be a close call. The depression began to sneak up, slowly, and everything at school just became more intense. I began to think about leaving the classroom in May. After all, it had been 40 years. The end of February we attended some meetings with state retirement and made the decision that May 27 would be my last day as a teacher. That made me smile.

March and April are blurs pretty much, just existing and coping with the depression. I was reading on a blog by Dale Anne Potter about how positive she was and how many great things were happening to her. I emailed and got the information about Cocreating Our Reality and practicing the Law of Attraction. On May 1 I was determined to enter my first 100 days of this challenge being positive. You can read about that here. This really was the beginning of the turn-around for me. I finished school grinning from ear to ear during that last month, driving teachers I worked with crazy.

I wrote my Abundance checks with faith that everything would work. And it did. These seven months of retirement have been wonderful. Some health challenges, but hey, who hasn’t? The marbling business has picked up, great things are happening, and I’ve been able to create some new art. Two successful seasons of 100 days and working on the business – doing things – and creating art  that I hadn’t been able to do while teaching full time.

But December was a melancholy month for me, which was a change after the past six months. Some things weren’t right. The vision had gone in one eye, I had started a new set of 100-days, but the motivation wasn’t there. The weight issues got me down almost immediately. In retrospect I think it was the consumerism and blatant conspicuous consumption (yes, I know….redundancy….) that weighed on me. This led to some decisions to go a very different route next year with gifts – making donations in family’s names to nonprofits they support. Giving back, rather than giving to.

Along with that, the continued violence around us….it seemed like no matter where you turned or what you watched, there was violence all around. I can’t watch the news anymore, as I just get too upset. Movies and television shows are full of gratuitous violence. People are unkind, peace seems so far away, and our politicians – and those who are supposed to lead us – aren’t doing their jobs. I find everything about this country – and the world – to be so topsy-turvy. Nothing is right, we can’t seem to learn from our mistakes, and our country is lost in its original path. Part of me wishes to withdraw completely, and the other part of me wants to make the changes. I look ahead and see no hope…and 10 months of a VERY LONG election season.

So now it’s New Year’s Eve. I need to look ahead, as we are having some great things happen for us. We are making fabric like crazy, heading for an overnight at a king suite in a local hotel so we can do planning for the first quarter of 2012. Tutoring clients are coming in, finances seem to be assured, and we’re both feeling positive. I know there will be decisions ahead, as I think 2012 is going to be a pivotal year. But right now all I can do is all I can do.

Here’s wishing you and yours peace, happiness, and prosperity for this coming year – and whatever else you would like. Life is good, and we need to embrace it!

The Events in Tucson, Part 3

Being a teacher is hard work at the best of times, but this week is definitely one for the books. Dealing with your own emotions in a time like this is hard, but trying to help teenagers understand the ramifications of their own actions as well as trying to understand the motivations of groups like the Westboro Baptist Church – well, it’s a supreme challenge.

At 7:30  this morning is news that the WBC will be picketing my high school on Friday to protest our ethnic studies programs. Oh, good. How do you explain to young people whose brains are not yet fully developed to make good choices that they will be confronted with hateful messages and they shouldn’t respond? In my classes, after managing to get some math accomplished, the questions just kept coming. Why are these people coming to our school? Do they hate us? Why do they say that God is glad little Christina is dead? Can we protest? Why do these people hate Mexicans? Are they really Christians?

Wow. Makes finding the equation of a line using only two points pretty insignificant. How do you get kids this age to understand the wackos who spew hatred deliberately to inflame and sue and collect damages, regardless of whom they hurt. My high school has amazing students within such incredible diversity: we have a support group for homosexual students, we have strong ethnic studies classes that help students understand their own diverse cultural backgrounds, we have fine arts programs to rival small colleges, and we have students who are organizing to present a calm, peaceful face to these protestors.

But we also have kids for whom violence is a fact of life. Too many students here have lost loved ones through acts of violence. You tell them someone wants to cancel their classes because they’re a minority, and they want to lash out. It is so difficult – and so needed – to get the kids to listen to your message that what these people want is to have you react, to mess with you, to get you upset, and that the best way to cope and make a statement is to stay silent. They lose when you don’t respond.

So they leave my class after 30 minutes of intense discussion and historical background, and you wonder how much made sense, how many would reflect on this evil that will take over our sidewalks on Friday, and how much more can you as their teacher take? This has been a very hard week. So many questions, so few answers, so much hate.

I’m going to sit and watch the President. I need this.

Top Ten Tuesday – A Word from Your Mother

This is from the front page of the blog “A Word from Your Mother:”

“The world is a dangerous place to live;
not because of the people who are evil,
but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
~ Albert Einstein

Very powerful words to introduce an extremely powerful blog about our planet. Normally I have ten different things, but this time I want to introduce you to A Word from Your Mother and ten different entries that you should read if you are at all concerned about our planet. There is some very troubling stuff on this blog, but I firmly believe that we need to understand as much as possible about the potential fate of our planet and the sentient organisms inhabiting it. Our history has been woefully uninformed on many of these issues. Be prepared to be worried, upset, and more knowledgeable. With knowledge comes action.

First up, Indigenous People: Not Only Plants and Animals Face Extinction. “According to the latest estimates, there are only approximately 370 million indigenous people, spread across 70 countries, left on earth.” There are loads of great links to human rights and the UN Declaration of Indigenous People’s Rights.

Chief Seattle sums it up well:

“Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.”

~ Chief Seattle

Next, a video from TED, Ideas Worth Sharing: America’s Native Prisoners of War.

OMG – One More Generation – Saving endangered animals for the next generation, an organization started by children. This is just one of the many interesting and important organizations you can get to on the sidebar of the blog.

Monsanto – a company most of us have never heard of, or if we have, we connect it to rugs. Unless you read Michael Pollen (Omnivore’s Dilemma), Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), and watched Food Inc. Then you’re aware of what’s happening with our food sources, and potentially our farmer’s markets. This entry, Do You Know What You Are Eating and Breathing? takes on Monsanto. This is part 1 of 10. Again, be prepared to be troubled.

Mother Earth Still Has a Few New Things to Show Us is more uplifting.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind is an entry looking at the Gulf oil spill. Take a close look at the issue of plastic in our environment.

Protected Area of the Week from ICUN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) –  world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. Take a look at what’s disappearing from the planet.

And finally, (I know, it’s only 8…) a reminder from Randy Newman…It’s a Jungle Out There.

Monday Marketing – Sun Tsu and The Art of War

I’ve never read The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I suppose as a history major I should have, along with my reading of Machiavelli…but my college history department at the time didn’t have much related to Asian studies, let alone economics. So when I stumbled on this from Dumb Little Man, I was interested.

Hmmmm…..Five Factors for Life-Hacking Domination. Whoa – kinda strong when you think about marketing…but maybe not. Let’s explore this further. Something that has been around since the 6th century BC probably has something to teach us.

Life-Hacking – getting to the essence of life and making it work for you. Most of us struggle with this until we realize life is short and we need to get the most out of it before it’s too late. On a marketing level, most of us don’t know how to market our art, and we need to before we are left behind.

Teaching 1: The Moral Law

Sun Tzu said: “The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.”
Whoever is our ruler, spirit, creator, God – we must live in harmony with that. For me all my decisions have been predicated on the “do no harm” and “do unto others” principles. The same has to be true for me to be successful with my art and my business. What is the best possible product that is true to who I am, that is environmentally responsible, and that will bring me and an art buyer happiness? This can only be a great morality to live by.

“Every eye forms its own fancy.” from Mrs. O’Malley, Irish proverb, from “Native Wisdom for White Minds.” We all see what we want to see, or what we’ve been trained to see, and hence we miss whatever else we’ve not been taught to understand. Our reality isn’t the only reality…can we be open to other possibilities in our art and in our life that will serve us well?

Teaching 2: Heaven
Sun Tzu said: “Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.”
To Sun Tzu, Heaven is a consistency and a variable, all at the same time, and not necessarily religious. We know where we are going, we have a plan laid out, but we need to be aware of possible changes, pitfalls, opportunities. In this current economy, how are we reacting to sales and the health of our art business? What are our contingency plans till people start buying art again? Are we still making art, planning, creating product, connecting with others, teaching ourselves new skills? Above all, we need to be flexible: study the environment and decide how we can make it work (great advice from Tim Gunn…).
Teaching 3: Earth
Sun Tzu said: “Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.”
I’m quoting Dumb Little Man here: “Those entrenched in the status quo make the obvious and socially-acceptable choices – regardless of how ineffective and/or inefficient those choices are. They don’t take the time to observe the ground beneath their feet. Hence, they are incapable of seeing and feeling the optimal way forward. The life hacker thinks and acts unconventionally. She looks for the paths of least resistance, the 80/20 shortcuts, and the hidden passageways through life.”

That’s a huge mouthful, and one most of us will not consider. Having always been accused of “unconditional optimism,” I think I am quite prepared for this one. Everything has a solution; it may be one we haven’t thought of, one that is uncomfortable for us, or one that forces us to seriously change our paths. A sluggish economy is a huge problem, one that will take extreme  courage and innovation to survive. Are we ready?

Teaching 4: The Commander

Sun Tzu said: “The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness.”
This ties in to all morality. We must all take the higher path, and I editorialize here that in this economy – and our lives in general – I don’t see this. There is so much incivility the ugliness among us that I think we’ve lost our courage and sincerity. Living by a moral code can only help us be better individuals, more productive citizens, and better artists. We do art not for the short-term gain but because it feeds our soul and hopefully those around us. We do art because we must, not because we have found the secret to making great riches. We can’t sacrifice our virtue and integrity.
Teaching 5: Method and Discipline
Sun Tzu said: “By Method and Discipline are to be understood the marshalling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.”

This is marketing. How are we building our business? How are we preparing for sales? A personal story here: we did a number of demos of our marbling in the past, to some critical success. People loved what we showed them. But we missed a CRUCIAL piece – we had no product with us to sell. We had plenty of examples of what to do with marbling but nothing for people to buy. No sample fabrics, no remnant bags, no cards, no digital work. We totally missed the “buying” piece. Needless to say, we don’t make that mistake any more.

Think about everything you need to do to build your business. Do you have a plan? This is “method and discipline.” I need to take my own advice and be sure that I continue with the blogging; this is discipline, and this is focus.

Well…..I didn’t expect this to turn into an essay, but I guess it did. I had read the piece initially and felt it would be good for a post on marketing, but with the writing came analysis and lots to think about. Ultimately I feel validated, in that the moral life and the decisions and turmoil that come with it are the way to go. I am interested in your comments….what resonates with you? What method do you most follow? Leave me a comment below.

Native Wisdom for White Minds

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