Inequality and the 1%

Funny thing how humans work.  And even funnier to hear about monkey’s behaving like humans.  I love this short video which explains the complaint of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Apparently it’s not just human’s who are upset about not being paid fairly.Wealth Inequality in America The actual distributions of money in the US in a video infographic

It’s funny because I just heard about a TED Talk (first story) that explains in more detail the research on how monkey’s can understand the concept of money and the consequences of treating them unequally.  The rest of the show covers other talks about money which are just as fascinating.  Especially the third story, Does Money Make You Mean? which studies the effects that wealth has on changing people.  Really it just points out how self-centered we can be, and how ignorant of the factors contributing to our success we might be.  If you think for a moment this may not be true, then listed to the third story in this episode of the NPR Ted Radio Hour.  It’s fascinating, and it’s important to understand how money affects our perception, and our compassion.

I’m not in favor of handouts, but decent pay for decent work just makes sense to me.

When you buy an iPhone, where does the money go?

Where people expect the money goes

Where people expect the money goes

Where the money actually goes

Where the money actually goes

I find this pretty surprising myself.  For the 5 minute explanation from Robert Reich, see this video on Upworthy.com. It’s funny that he talks about the economy and the decrease of unions being linked to income inequality.  Today I saw another video explanation, also by Robert Reich, on the rising gap in the U.S. economy, talking about the number of unions rising after WWI.  It’s part of a series of videos called Inequality for All.  Another in the series talks to some people working at an energy plant, and really brings home the question about corporate profits and what is the value of the work people do.  Productivity has been increasing and stress is so high.  I support the recent discussion to raise minimum wage.  It’s not a simple answer, and it may not fix the problems as John Green explains here.   Personally, I can’t believe Walmart can use the catch phrase “Save Money, Live Better” in their ads, as it turns out, we pay $6,000 or more per Walmart Employees due to their low wages.  The government is busy chasing their own tail in elections, they will never fix the problem, because corporations have no incentive.  But someone out there has the answer, and collectively we have the ability to make things better.  That’s why I have increased my spending at stores offering a decent wage and benefits to their employees.  If it means I have to eat out less to save money, that is fine.  If it means I buy more second hand, no problem.  We have more than any other country in the world, we will not suffer. Personally I love the work Mike Rowe (former Dirty Jobs TV show host) is doing.  His promotion of skilled labor is idea for getting people into decent jobs, and improving the situation in the US.  It’s time we stop doing crappy work because we’re being treated like crap.  Personally, when I go on a construction site, I want to see the work being done well.  Check out his website Profoundly Disconnected.

One last tidbit, how does this relate to health care costs in the US.  Yep, saw a John Green video on that today too.  Because we don’t have bargaining power with the providers of medical devices and medications… sounds a lot like the problem of not having bargaining power for salaries due to the lack of unions.  I wonder…

The Golden Rule – doesn’t really work for adults

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Sure when you are a kid, it makes sense that you want people to be nice to you, and so you should be nice to them.  But as we become adults and have specific preferences and desires, this is really bad advice.

For example, I’m not big on celebrating my Birthday.  To me it just like any other day.  I do have friends who care a lot about people making their birthday special.  So I should treat them as they want to be treated, not as I would prefer.  There are so many other examples.  When I’m angry or upset, I first go through a phase of wanting to be left alone.  Then after a bit, I just want to do something positive and get over whatever was bothering me.  That routine does not seem to match with the routine of many people around me.

So we have to learn to accommodate what other people want.  But many times people do not communicate what they need/want.  We can all improve our communication skills, and try to ask for what we want.  While at the same time, we should be mindful of what people ask.  If someone says they need space, or they don’t want to talk about it right then, respect their wishes.  Which came first, people not talking about what they need, or requests being ignored so that we decided it’s not worth asking?

Steps toward a Happier Life

Here are a few take away’s from my informal happiness research, I plan to focus on one of these each day to improve my level of happiness and links to a related TED Talk video:

1. Accept that everyone struggles with being happy because of the natural human behavior effects, discussed below.  It’s not just me.OK happy face_full

2. Our memories directly effect our happiness, and focusing on happy memories or the positive aspects of an event will impact my emotions now and in the future.  Anything I can do to have an event end on a positive note will improve my emotion of that event, and taking time to reflect on the positive aspects of the event will improve the status of my memory of the event.  Dan Kahneman

3. Too much choice causes stress and , choice of where to live, what job to have, who to marry and when, should we have kids and when, what to achieve…  Keep it simple.  Barry Schwartz

4. Happiness is based on comparing our current situation to some expectation.  Consider if the expectation is reasonable, and separately consider to what degree the expectation is helpful to have.  Even better is when we can tell ourselves that the things we have give us happiness.  Dan Gilbert

5. Keep a calm mind, to calm my mind I need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time.

6. Do something nice for someone.  Buy them a coffee, tell them a joke, give a sincere compliment.  Michael Norton

7. Love what I do by focusing on the good it provides.  Everyone contributes to society in some way, performing a task that we don’t have time or knowledge to perform.   Skilled labor is just as valuable as CEO’s.  Mike Rowe

8. Remind myself of my priorities, and try to avoid taking on too much.  I am too easily distracted by many different interests.

9.  Being Thankful.  Thank people for all the ways they contribute to my life and experience.  Science of Happiness webpage, this article by  Mike Robbins., or see tips and ideas about creating a gratitude journalDavid Standl-Rast, or check out the The Gratitude Experiment video.

10.  Make believe is a wonderful thing.  Play is a wonderful thing.

We should have ONE day without shopping

Good old New England, it’s illegal for many store to open Thanksgiving Day in 3 of our states! People have three other days to shop, we don’t need Thursday. For the chains that open elsewhere on T-day, I’m boycotting them for the rest of the year.

BAD LIST:
Open in Morning: Best Buy, Kmart, Lord & Taylor
Not open til evening: Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Toys “R” Us, JC Penny, Kohls, Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Sears, Office Depot, Office Max, Michaels

GOOD LIST:
Pier One, Nordstorm’s, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Sam’s Club, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Ross Stores, Lowe’s, Von Maur and Cabela’s, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Radio Shack

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/thanksgiving-shopping-ban_n_4346023.html

A Successful Marriage

I wish I knew the recipe for a successful marriage.   Although I think the recipe is different for every couple, I have been collecting tips and ideas that may be common to all couples.

480304_10151037275888859_59169761_nThey research by Psychologist John Gottman on relationships shows that it’s okay for couples to fight, and that some disagreement can even be healthy.  The key is there must be enough positive interaction to outweigh the bad, with a ratio of 5 to 1.

This couple shares the secret to surviving 75 years together, “you have to speak each other’s language.”  What they mean is that you have to really listen to what the other person is saying.  Researchers agree that this one behavior is a driving force behind a lot of mental health issues in relationships.  The act of listening helps your partner feel supported, connected, understood and builds them up to be able to support you in return.

A younger man received similar advice from his father, and explains how this helped him understand that Marriage Isn’t for Him…  but rather it’s about making it the best possible experience for your partner.  I love the question from his wife and think that may also be helpful in my personal relationship – “What does it mean to love selflessly?”

Maybe you have figured out how to make your own relationship work.  These people write about the lessons learned during the first year of marriage.   Please share this with people who may benefit from these ideas, especially people living in these areas of high divorce rates.

 

I’m Reading a Book…

Yes, this is a real book.  It has paper pages that you turn to see the next chapter.  I can take this book anywhere, and it never runs out of power so I can read it anywhere.  On a sunny beach, during take-off and landing, and in the bath if I’m careful.

reading-in-the-bathNow I happen to own this particular book.  But I also love to get books from the library too.  Thanks to Benjamin Franklin for creating the free library system, we can use books to travel to a new land, to imagine the impossible, to learn the story and lessons from important people, or to teach ourselves something new.  In fact, that’s why Benjamin Franklin created free libraries, so that poor people can get themselves out of poverty by learning a skill or trade.  At the time, books were only available to people with money who could afford to purchase them or join subscription libraries.

So books can help people lift THEMSELVES out of poverty!  But you have to be able to read first. Illiteracy prevents people from reading street signs and bus signs to get around efficiently, from doing simple accounting to make sure they are getting the correct change for a purchase, or from reading the religious manuscript that guides their life.

buildon-worldwide-mapI know a group that has built over 500 schools in rural areas of developing countries around the world.  Right now, 85,060 children, parents, and grandparents attend those schools and learn to read.  First, buildOn meets with the community members and they elect 3 men and 3 women to form a committee.   The committee works with buildOn to coordinate all the details.  Before the construction starts, all of the community members sign a covenant along with the buildOn members, that promises to send boys and girls in equal numbers to the school and other policies.  buildOn works with the local government to ensure that an educator is provided for the school.  After 22 years since the first school was built in a Malawian village, that community now has 4 more just like it that they built themselves.  Students from those schools are able to learn to be teachers, etc.   It has also improved the standing of women in the community, who are in turn speaking out against some of the awful practices committed against women.

So go read a book, and remember how lucky you are to be able to read.

Love and Marriage…

first-date-worries-400x300Two really good talks about love and marriage:

Ester Perel gives a summary of her book Mating in Captivity, explains how in love we seek security but in romance we seek adventure.  How do we achieve both in one partner?  This is basically the theme of the story Anna Karenina, who struggles to be faithful to her loving husband or give is to her passionate lover.

Jenna McCarthy talks about some of the universal secrets of successful relationships.

 

This PBS documentary provides an interesting history of marriage.

Extreme Politicing

I had a good conversation with friends today.  When did politic change from electing representatives to “represent” our views and interests, to now electing people who think they have political capital to pass laws while ignoring the priorities of their constituents.

Seriously, through Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, … I can’t avoid learning the most intimate detail about the lives of friends and strangers alike.  But we haven’t figured out how to use social media to communicate our instructions to the Elected Officials?

Purple StatesHow did we let the failure of private enterprise to provide services catered to our needs progress into extreme Democratic views that it’s solely the government’s responsibility to give everyone an equal playing field, resulting in a safety blanket and handout for all?

And why do we allow Republican ideals of social networks to provide community support individuals need, to convince us that the government cannot effectively provide these services.  Have you heard about health care in Canada?  Compared to the US where individuals have to fight for profit health insurance companies to get the services they are rightfully owed?

The wealthy are using both systems to manipulate the US population (the Americas are comprised of 20 countries across North, South, and Central America).

  • They tell us government programs are inefficient so that they can create a private enterprise that will make a profit and may or may not be a useful service.  But they make it work for the Congressional benefits.
  • They convince of trickle down economics.
  • The only way for non-wealthy people to hold anyone accountable for their behavior and the effectiveness of their goods/services sold is to spend a fortune in legal fees (that they don’t have).
  • They convinced us to eliminate institutions for the mentally ill, who now end up in correctional facilities with no rights to seek treatment they need.
  • Conditions are even worse in detention centers for illegal immigrants, Amnesty International and others have shown the human rights abuses that occur in these centers, often held by private corporations.
  • The wealthy have learned when they can make extra profits, such as non-bid government contracts that no one is complaining about!

How might our costs for welfare, Medicaid, and criminal justice be reduced if we improve education and opportunities to decent paying jobs (where someone can pay for housing, food, and health care in their community)?

Federal Spending

We’re all connected throughout society.  I did not learn to read and write on my own, I did not invent my own internet technology or small pox vaccine, all of which helped me get to where I am today.  We can’t act as if we accomplish everything on our own.  We also can’t act as if people aren’t responsible for their own actions, however corrective repercussions will help society more than punishments.  This Radiolab show about Blame explains how our understanding of the causes of behavior is improving our ability to respond to behavior.

Do you believe in God? Yes, No, or Maybe?

If you believe in God, then maybe it was god speaking to me as I woke up this morning with these thoughts in my head.  If you do not, then it’s my brain assembling the teachings from recent TED Talks in my head.  For you maybes out there, does it matter which is true?

Things in my Head

Our first human instinct is survival. We learn to adapt and persevere in the most desperate of situations.  Three young women in Cleveland, held hostage, near the place they call home, eventually found help to get rescued.

Yet we also hear news about suicides over something as trite as teasing on Facebook. It does not involve physical assaults, and some of these people do have people around them who love them.  How can someone be treated so poorly, that they lose all hope for a better life?

If our instinct to survive is so basic as human nature, how can we continue a lifestyle that threatens and exterminates the worlds biodiversity?  It feels morally wrong to cause, intentionally or by accident, a species to cease to exist on this world.

Humane Connection Blog

Humane Connection Blog

Nature Knows Best- A recent TED Talk I listened to uses sound recordings to show human impact on wild nature. You can imagine the devastating results.  We need to approach our choices and practices with scientific analysis.  And the scientists are learning how each our actions affects nature and its biodiversity.  Another TED Talk describes how the imbalance when a predictor is removed from an ecosystem, such as reduced whale populations in the southern oceans, actually breaks the circle of life and kills off smaller species of that system.  Google images of the “plastic gyre” and you’ll see the island of plastic packaging and containers floating in the ocean.

It’s not just plants and animals that are suffering.  The impact on our water sources, the loss of pollinating bees in agricultural locations, the loss of our protective ozone layer, it affects our Health, our Food Production, and our Bottom Line (dollars).

There are things we can do to help.  No matter your education level or economic status, we all can improve. We all can learn and support the science to a better understanding.

You can do as little as planting flowers in your garden, or buy some organic foods, encourage others to reduce and recycle waste, TEACH children/adults about nature and our effects on nature, stop spraying chemical indoors kills those spiders with a shoe or paper towel, enjoy nature as it has been shown to have a restoring effect on us.  Whether you make little changes in your daily life, or you go back to school to become a Humane Educator, we all have the power to help the world and everything living on it.

What I learned Today …

This lessons spans a few days.  A couple weeks ago I heard this story about the rise of urban bee keepers.   This increase is a good thing for bees and agriculture, but the uncoordinated effort of keeping bees in urban areas where there may not be enough food for them is also problematic.  So before you decide to get your own colony, you want to find out how many other colonies are in the area.

thIf you have been completely sheltered around 2006 or so, then it could be possible that you don’t know about the decline of bees.  Researchers still aren’t completely sure on what is going on, but there does seem to be a link with pesticide use, and pollution.

Then today, I heard a TED Talk about the importance of bees and the cause of their recent decline.  I knew bees were important, but I didn’t know that 1/3 of food in the U.S. is grown with the help of bee pollinators.   This talk gives a simple way to help bees.  Plant more flowers!  This will give more food for the colonies to thrive and bee keepers can keep their colonies.  And it will make our neighborhoods more attractive too.  Who wants to mow the grass, and

Almonds rely solely on bees to product their nuts, many other fruits and vegetables.  Maybe you can live without brussels spouts, but personally I don’t want to give up my watermelon, avocados, or kiwifruit.  Oh yeah, don’t forget about delicious honey!  It’s an essential ingredient in your favorite breakfast cereal, Honey Nut Cheerios.  It’s not just our food that relies on bees.  Next time you’re eating meat or dairy, that hay or alfalfa to feed the animal was grown with bee pollinators.  Now we listen to Noah Wilson’s TED Talk and he explains his research on how to make bees healthier.

You know what else helps our crops grow?  I can’t even bring myself to write the name of this byproduct of natural decomposition.  Let me just say, the millions of gallons of this byproduct was shipped from NYC to Colorado because it was so helpful on the farm.  But now, it’s cheaper to add it to a landfill.  I think it’s safe to say, you make a little everyday yourself.  It’s the same idea as this description of how whales complete the circle of life and produce the nutrient that their own food needs to thrive.

On the Verge of Revolution…

This is not about Syria, or Egypt, or the European Union, or any other countries experiencing unrest due to political and economic issues.  I expect this revolution is occurring in the United States of America (U.S.).  And I think the upcoming Millennial Generation (a.k.a. Generation Y) will provide the innovation needed for this revolution to prosper.

Unfortunately, the fractionated nature of the Occupy Wall Street protests (OWS), prevented the protests from initiating real change.  OWS’s general complaint is that a small group of the population (the 1%) controls and benefits from the current capitalistic social model.   Before we get into the details of this problem, let’s go back to the Millennials.   Full disclosure: although I am at the cusp of the divide between generations X and Y, I consider myself part of gen X based on the characteristic descriptions and the typical  calendar cut-offs.

Although each generation complains about the group that follows, stereotyping the group based on their phase of life instead of their unique traits.  We all develop and grow with life experience, and so looking at the generations that follows, it’s natural to view the less experienced generation as self-centered.  But when you really look at the Millennial generation, they are already doing profound things.  The second TED Talk featured in this NPR program describes how young people are having a significant impact and are already getting involved with important issues.  It appears the supposed narcissistic generation which only does something for instant gratification, is having to deal with some pretty tough circumstances and is using their confidence to do work beyond themselves.   I see significant social benefits to the Millennial Generation.

The expanding economic gap between the 1% and the 99% is blamed for just about every problem we can think of in the US.  From low wage jobs, to the increasing cost of everything.  I say this is a consequences of capitalism (RSA Video); capitalism incentivizes people to do more for less, improve efficiency, to cheat and manipulate for profits.   The priority to succeed financially has gone awry, and in the process our value on money has defined our self worth.  Generation Y is trying to determine how to reward doing the right thing, helping others, treating your employees well, building stronger and better communities.  We know the answer, but the current economics and definitions of success have yet to incentivize the social good we now value.

doing-good-for-businessBusiness is slow to change, but some companies are finding new models to motivate their staff and still improve profits.  Going green has been good for business lately; as is developing sustainability, providing human rights to factory workers, etc.  Right now you can find out the business practices for some companies and products, check out the Good Guide website or phone app.  Eventually, doing the right thing will have a higher priority than profits benefiting the 1%.  Personally, I’m looking forward to the next business model.

Additional Content Relevant to this Discussion

Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents

Anne Kelly:

If this story is true, it shows that real life can be even more amazing than fictional stories.

Originally posted on The Matt Walsh Blog:

To the fan I lost yesterday:

I don’t owe you an explanation, but I thought I’d offer one anyway. I do this more for your sake than mine. You see, maybe, as you later suggested, I was in a bad mood. Maybe I could have been a bit more polite about it. Maybe I’m more sensitive to it now that I have kids. Maybe I’m just sick of hearing these comments about parents. Maybe I know that my wife has to take the twins with her when she goes grocery shopping sometimes, so she could easily be on the receiving end of your sort of bullying. Maybe I took it personally.

Whatever the case, there I was, walking down the aisles of the grocery store looking for the ingredients for a new chili recipe I wanted to try. I heard the kid screaming from a distance; the whole store heard…

View original 1,453 more words

Week of WordPress – Balloons

Here are the posts about balloons that I enjoyed reading this past week:

See an Iron Man balloon costume.  What about some amazing balloon artwork.  I never would have thought about something like this.

It is my experience, that a child of any culture, enjoys playing with a balloon.  This event in Africa also occurs in Egypt.

There is a new thing this summer, have you heard about Frozen Custard?  Apparently, it’s so great, we all should throw a party to celebrate, and of course the party should be decorated with balloons.

I love the Mickey and Minnie balloon in this Birthday Celebration.

Of the quotes about balloons in this post, the one from Winnie the Pooh is my favorite.

Through the Magic door accomplishes another skill on her list through the help of a family member; see all the balloon animals she can now make.

The video loop of this child playing with black balloons is a little creepy.

Predictably Lost describes how finding lost balloons is a good luck charm.

How far would you ride on a cluster of helium balloons?  Across the Atlantic?  This story came up a lot, especially on news blogs, which I do not link to, except this one which describes what was intended by the balloon design.

What about a more reliable balloon ride?

Week of WordPress – Compassion

Eva Mendes with the children in Sierra Leone

Eva Mendes with the children in Sierra Leone

For a Psychology assignment, I have reviewed posts with the Tag Compassion and summarized my favorites here.  I do not include posts relating to animal cruelty, if you want your heart broken too, you’ll have to do that research on your own.  Next week, I think I’ll look for a less popular Tag to review.  One of my classmates also wrote about their day of compassion.

A Window of Wisdom put words to my thoughts before I was able to.  I’m so glad to have found this quote reminding us that we must be careful not to judge people by the image they want us to believe.  I ‘liked’ this post.

Whasenk teaches us about Compassion Meditation and gives some research on the study of compassionate behavior.  “If you want to make others happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama  There is no ‘like’ function for this blog.  Through the Vortex gets us wondering if acts of compassion can have a neurological change to our brains. Abigail talks about her view of living compassionately, and the profound effect it can have on ourselves.  I ‘liked’ this post.

siahpetermann challenges us to find someone we can show love to, just like my assignment.

Japanese Words of Wisdom explains Japanese proverbs and includes some experiences of why the proverb has personal meaning.  I really like the hands on application of the proverbs to real life.  This particular entry is about sharing life and travels with a companion.  I’m now following this blog.

So I’m an introvert!  Philosophical Diva explains one way to determine if you are an introvert, and that understanding leads her to think about the larger community we’re a part of.  I ‘liked’ this post.

fury’sfrenzy creates a compassionate bucket list.

Patrick points out that we easily find fault with others and should be more compassionate to their point of view, similar to the justifications we provide in defense of our own behavior.

So This Is Now warns us, the video posted “How to make stress your friend” will change your life if watched.  I can confirm this is true, and you’ll how it relates to compassion around 12 minutes into the video.  Don’t miss the extra bit after the first applause.

Definition

Princess Deficit shares her personal experience with learning to be compassionate, inadvertently giving a pretty good definition of compassion.

Work Collaboratively talks about nonviolent communication and how we might apply it to our every day lives.  I think this post nicely summarizes one of the social challenges we have today, western society has moved beyond violence as a means of reforming behavior.  Now we’re challenged by how to apply that new understanding to our foreign policy with Syria.  I’m now following this blog.

The Wren Project discusses forgiveness from many points of view and many different religions, which leaves us wondering, is forgiveness necessary to be compassionate?

Octopus Dance gives an important point of compassion that is often overlooked.  By sharing our difficulties with others, and making them feel as if they are not alone in their experiences, this can improve relationships.

Rose with Thorns writes a moving recount of her struggle with an eating disorder and autism/aspergers, but she teaches us how Comparison kills our ability to be Compassionate, and if we’re conscious to maintain compassion we might eliminate the comparisons.

Bible Study brings up a good point, how does Compassion differ from Sympathy?  How does a Jewish point of view differ, read For the Love of Small Things.

Mark Block tells of the shorted bible verse “Jesus wept.” Reminding us that being emotional is part of being compassionate.  Maybe some of you can have one without the other.

Helping those who Suffer

Who would have thought that reading about a person’s battle with a brain tumor could be so beautiful.  Grey Matter Life writes this post in gratitude for the compassion of the MRI technician which helps bring strength to their dreadful battle with the tumor.

Nexus pays homage to Jane Addams, referred to as the “mother of social service.”

Charlie writes a detailed description of the benefits we might experience when incorporating compassion in to our daily lives.  One of the quotes convinced me to re-blog this post: “A little kindness from person to person is better than a vast love for all humankind.”

Through personal experience with ICU patients, Reflective Nursing shares how being compassionate may be as simple as listening to others and making sure they feel listened to.

Dennis Cardiff writes about meeting a homeless woman on the street, getting to know her story, and sharing a coffee and sandwich.  He also writes the every-day stories of his homeless community on the blog Gotta Find a Home

Be Understanding

Eve Livingston writes a detailed post describing one act of compassion towards people who are hoarders.

The Fuerst Shall be Last writes about this TV show Breaking Bad and how it’s shown insight into the lives of drug dealers and violent criminals, inciting compassion for the way real people make decisions between right and wrong.

Be Grateful

Heidi reminds us to be grateful for the wonderful life we are enjoying.

Untamed Slave writes a lengthy list of what they are grateful for.  I ‘liked’ this post.

Love Yourself and Take Care of Yourself

Banana Map and Indigo Voice 82 share a quote from the Dalai Lama on the importance of self-compassion, while Path Write quotes the Dalai Lama’s message that compassion is the key to a happier world.

Rebecca writes about learning from our mistakes and forgiving ourselves.  This is a reoccurring lesson for me.  The idea that failure is not bad, it’s a learning opportunity.  She goes on to give suggested meditations for healing these types of wounds.  And Jeannie has an unexpected healing and finds ways to meditate during routine chores.  I agree, how can we hurry through life’s experiences and expect to sit quietly meditating to calm our overactive minds?

This VasqueszBlog courageously writes about recovering from Bulimia.  This post is another reminder to take care of ourselves and talks about the guilt and shame that might be prevent us from forgiving ourselves.

Inspired Woman Us gives a compelling reason for self-compassion.  Each day presents many instances of degradation, it could be helpful to balance this out with acts of self-compassion.

Sober Boots descries how self-compassion is affecting her mood and life and how she believes God’s compassion has given her the courage to practice self-compassion.  Beauty in the Design also finds solace in God’s continual compassion.

Helping Those In Need

Loitering with Content quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Words that Serve is documenting compassion in action.  This post documents the 16th week of performing good deeds for others, and the good deeds received from others.  What I love about this post, is the importance of recognizing compassion from others.  Although it’s most important to share compassion, the benefits are maximized when the recipient is consciously aware of receiving it.  This act of tracking your good deeds reminds me of the 29 Gifts experience which is documented in a book and a website.  I ‘liked’ this post.

This Hoosier Fan recaps a story showing us how people have such individual needs, and sometimes the most compassionate act can be a little unusual.  Just a Thought relays a bible story where Jesus provides the healing compassion needed most by an ill woman.  Paulette Motzko recounts an opportunity to help someone in need get a decent lunch.

Eavesdropping on Conversations shares a story of compassion for school teachers and how one person with a good idea must take it upon themselves to baking cookies in support of these teachers.  I ‘liked’ this post.

Mymoena gives us an Islamic poem about life and helping each other.

Paper Gifts for Stefany describes the Barton family who lost their home in a fire, losing everything they had.  So they moved to the poorest country in the world to help Ugandan’s make a better life for themselves.

The Kindness Blog writes how a shoeshiner becomes a hero by donating $200 k in tips to a children’s hospital.  I am already following this blog.

Tracy and Drew shows how you might find just the right dose of compassion in the most unlikely place.

Giving Gratefully highlights the work of the work of a group Compassion, which a is Christian organization sponsoring children around the world.  This post links to several other authors who have written a letter to their younger self, written in response to a suggestion by the Compassion Blog.

karios catcher is also a supporter of the Compassion group, and write about the Kenyan girl she is sponsoring.  It’s funny how when we do something for others, it has such a profound effect on ourselves.

Sawyer Products shows photos from distributing water filters in Togo, Africa.  This groups works with the families support by Compassion.

H. Arnett reminds us that we often become desensitized, calloused in our hearts, to the needs of others and the impact we might have.

Love

shunyata has an Islamic poem about love.

You might also fall in love, just a little, with Tony’s partner after reading this poem.

Just like You and Me describes what’s it’s like to have three 30 something friends battling cancer, and a reminder that we can’t control everything in life.  I ‘liked’ this post.

Compassion Summary

There is a lot of encouragement to be compassionate and love each other, like this post from A Crazy Lady.  I did find a few people reporting how they have shared compassion with others, including this teacher who took her 3rd grade class to Uganda.  Some believe that Practical Compassion are any act of avoiding harm to other people, animals, or the environment, which leads to my final inquiry.  This 22 minute video gives a lengthy description of what it means to live compassionately.

Is Compassion an Act or a Point of View?  I think compassion is the act of easing someone’s suffering weather is be loneliness, hunger, discrimination … now to create my day of compassion.

How were you Compassionate Today?

Help! My Psychology class has an assignment to live one day as compassionately as possible. We are asked to define compassion, and if possible be compassionate to groups that we normally don’t consider or come in contact with.

20130903-095421.jpg

So, I would love your ideas to help me make the most of this experience. Just leave a note below with your thoughts:
1) How to define compassion.
2) Unique ways to behave compassionately, that we normally don’t think of.

I’ll post a summary of my experience for you all to see how your ideas came together.

Thank you everyone for helping me in this assignment, and for the time you spend to read this blog.

Save the Great Barrier Reef

Anne Kelly:

I’m flabbergasted to learn that someone might dredge the Great Barrier Reef. Is there anything in this world that does not have a pricetag?

Originally posted on poet4justicedotwordpressdotcom:

5849_coral_1_460x230

The Great Barrier Reef is at risk of being dredged to make way for a mega coal project. But if one key investor walks away, the deal is sunk and the world heritage site is saved!

Join me to stop this project in it’s tracks here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/australian_coal_disaster_global_rb/?email​

View original

Spread Kindness

Anne Kelly:

I absolutely love this post, I think I’ll post in my bathroom to read at the start and end of every day.

Originally posted on poet4justicedotwordpressdotcom:

15 Ways to Spread Kindness in Your World Today by HENRIK EDBERG

1. Express your gratitude.

Think about what you can be grateful for about someone in your life. Maybe that he is a good listener, that he often is quick to help out or that he always adds great songs to a Spotify playlist. Or simply that he held up the door for you.

Then express that gratitude in a simple “thank you!” or in a sincere sentence or two.

15418

2. Replace the judgments.

No one likes to be judged. And the more you judge other people the more you tend to judge yourself. So despite the temporary benefit of deriving pleasure from the judgments it is not a good or smart long-term habit.

3. Replace the unconstructive criticism.

Try encouragement instead of excessive criticism. It helps people to both raise their self-esteem and to do a better job…

View original 677 more words

Giving stuff Away for Free

Originally posted on Life Is Too Short:

I love TED Talks, there are so many inspiring, inquisitive, and informational talks to watch.  From Steve Jobs to Stephen Hawking.  NPR has a radio program where they feature a few of talks that have similar subjects.  It’s super fascinating to me, to get a coordinated presentation of talks.  And it’s FREE, at least it’s no additional charge beyond what you already pay for your internet streaming/downloading device.

This week’s show is about giving things away for free.  It’s funny because today we want everything for free.  And we want it quick, and 100% accurate.  But it takes time and money to get the right answer, to produce the radio/TV program etc., and to make it available to the public.

free-stuffIt’s also funny to me that we don’t want to pay people too much for services, we’ll drive 5 miles away to save $3 at the store, or to have…

View original 200 more words

Hearing Voices in Your Head?

Hear the first hand account of Eleanor Longden in her TED Talk, discussing her experience of hearing voices, and the long process of getting cured.  At times she was diagnosed with Schizophrenia until the real cause for the voices was determined, unresolved abuse, which finally led to the cure.  The acts she performed on herself at the direction of the voices are astounding, yet her composed and positive recount of this experience is reassuring that the cure is complete.

How many others are experiencing similar voices, and not getting the appropriate help.   Let’s Help them find the Intervoice Community for support, and learn the true meaning behind the voices.

New Federal law on Sunscreen

This article summarizes the science behind the new law, here are some highlights:

  • zinc-oxide-on-nose_thumbSunscreen marketing cannot say waterproof or sweat-proof – I wonder why they could say that before if it wasn’t true.
  • “Broad Spectrum” is allowed for products shown to prevent sunburn (from UVA rays) and skin cancer/aging (UVB rays).
  • If it’s not effective against both kinds of rays, the label must say that it only prevents against sunburn and it does not protect against skin cancer/aging.

There are a lot of questions about sunscreens.  Which ingredients are more harmful than helpful?  Are the best products available in the US?  Are spray on sunscreens okay to use?  I don’t know these answers, and I don’t know the best source for information on these either.   The Environmental Working Group, rated 4 star on Charity Navigator, has some tips on these topics.

You might also check your favorite sunscreen product rating on Good Guide to see how environmentally friendly it is.

Profitable Banking Blunders

Well the sub-prime loans didn’t work out too well, but banks are still rolling in the dough.  They are finding plenty of new opportunities for profits:

  • JP Morgan pays $410m settlement (BBC article) – I have no idea about the legality of JP Morgan’s involvement with manipulating energy markets in the US, but I’m sure they are happy to settle this case and avoid too much publicity in the matter.  Barclays was also fined for similar behavior.
  • Goldman Sacs and others manipulate the aluminum market (Hufington Post article) – I think that people are sympathetic that banks exist to make money.  The outrage comes from literally moving aluminum from one warehouse to another, just to manipulate the price.  This does not provide value to the industry, and this is a waste of time, money, fuel, and pollution.  How many times  a week are you purchasing aluminum products?
  • Did you hear the one about the bank getting a life insurance policy on their staff? (WSJ article) – I’m not witty enough to come up with a punchline for this one.  But I can tell you that this is absolutely true.  I know someone working at a bank, none of the banks listed in the linked article, but apparently the year before he started the bank offered employees $1,000 if they would sign for a life insurance policy that the bank would be the beneficiary of.  Rumor has it, the bank then securitized these policies and sold them off.  It’s bad enough if your employer has financial incentive to end your life, but now it’s some unknown person out there.  I predict a rising demand for professional hit-men.
  • Banks use taxpayer money to pay Lobbyists (Business Week article) – not once but at least twice if you read the whole article. Another case of hidden fees so convoluted, the customer has no idea what they are paying for.  I guess the banks thought our state governments have plenty of wealth to share.
  • And of course, Terrorists need a safe institution to hold their funds (wordpress post of Agence France Presse article)

Earlier this week I was convinced by Charlie Reese’s article that 545 senators and congressmen were to blame for any problem in the US, but now I’m thinking it’s the banks managers.

Soon to be Blunders?

  • Brian M. Lucey points out a WSJ article announcing banks to create securities backed by rental agreements… It’s not illegal yet, what will a sub-prime rental agreement look like?

When to say “I Love You”

Love is a perception, and we all perceive things differently.  And since English uses only 1 word for so many emotions and different kinds of love, to me that makes the meaning of love very fluid.  Since people interpret love in the way that works for them at the moment, what do they actually mean when they say – “I Love You”

bigstockphoto_rose_heart_25472772Generally I think love is a combination of the following, depending on the situation: happiness/pleasure, lust, devotion, care, acceptance, tolerance, respect, admiration, excitement, comfort …

Reaction to Treyvon’s death

I can’t imagine the sadness that Treyvon’s parents are suffering, and I sympathize for every person in the United States who is preconceived to be a criminal.

Although I have not  followed the details of this case, I do have an opinion.  It’s sad when the means to improve a person’s community results in violence and death.  I heard the Black Eye Peas singing “Where it the Love?” today, and it reminded me of Treyvon”s death.  why can’t we find a better way to solve social problems?

I also just listened to the On Point episode discussing the race issue behind the Treyvon and Zimmerman case.  An interesting point, could Treyvon have killed George Zimmerman, and relied on the Stand Your Ground law to avoid punishment?  I suspect not.

 

“Where Is The Love?”

What’s wrong with the world, mama
People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama
Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma

Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin’
In the USA, the big CIA
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK

But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah

Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practise what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love, the love, the love

It just ain’t the same, old ways have changed
New days are strange, is the world insane?
If love and peace are so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong?

Nations droppin’ bombs
Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones
With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone

So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong
In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’ in
Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover

The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where’s the love, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the truth, y’all, come on (I don’t know)
Where’s the love, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practise what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)

Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love (The love)?
Where is the love, the love, the love?

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ the wrong direction

Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema

Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity

That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down
There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
Gotta keep my faith alive ’til love is found
Now ask yourself

Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?

Father, Father, Father, help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love?

Sing with me y’all:
One world, one world (We only got)
One world, one world (That’s all we got)
One world, one world
And something’s wrong with it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong with it (Yeah)
Something’s wrong with the wo-wo-world, yeah
We only got
(One world, one world)
That’s all we got
(One world, one world)

Economic Growth Paradox

You want population growth so that people buy more cars and toys, to put money in your pocket.

But you can’t afford to hire enough people to do the work at hand, because that will hurt profits.  You rehire people at a reduced salary, without benefits, and if possible without benefits.  Now the people can’t afford new cars and toys; they can’t afford to settle down, buy a house, and have kids.

07aNo problem, you provide a no-interest, sub-prime loan to help people buy a house.  And you take home fat profits, until the recession exposes the instability.  But you can still makes fat profits on higher education, because to get ahead in life we need an education, until we’re so far in debt before we even start a career, that we’ll never get ahead.  So we’re enslaved to the thankless jobs, with meager pay, to support your corporations with stock options, business expenses, golden parachutes,

Of course, you still have extremely cheap labor from immigrants so unfortunate that they work for so little.  They clean your house, watch your kids, care for ailing parents, all of the dirty jobs you can’t bring yourself to perform.  Many pay taxes, but never reap the social security or other benefits a citizen would rely on.

You also make fat profits by increasing the number of prisons, I do not believe that rehabilitation occurs but rather further degradation of a person’s character leading to continued criminal behavior.  The number of detention centers is also rapidly growing.  As if monetary gain wasn’t enough, these facilities also provide personal pleasures you might enjoy.

How much money and greed do you need to be happy?

The sad part is, you have been duped even more, by the friends and society who told you that happiness is having a domed cathedral ceiling on your foyer.  I don’t think you can ever be happy, or share real happiness with others.  You naively believe that comfort and luxury is happiness, and that you share your happiness by giving your staff a bonus at Christmas.

The Middle Class is Moving Backwards

The Frontline episode about the middle class experience over two decades in the US, and it portrays the exact experience of my childhood. The hope and dream of the middle class, that a good paying job will carry them through and provide a modest improvement of life for their children. My entire life I have felt that dream slipping away.

In the 90′s, that dream was shattered for the middle class families. Jobs disappeared, and when they came back the jobs were minimum wage and little to no benefits. Families could not survive, so more women went to work, families broke apart under the stress, and now kids are struggling to cope with a difficult family situation and they don’t have as much time with their parents to get the guidance and love and support needed to deal with growing up. And the kids become more susceptible to making mistakes that have long term consequences such as dropping out of school, having kids, or gangs.

My dad worked as a civilian at a military base, which was shut down. He was laid off, after 18 years and missed the possible retirement benefits by 2 years. So he retrained and luckily found a job with benefits, but it did not pay as much. I remember being about 15 when we were standing in the front yard, he said “You will not have to pay for your college education.” Somehow I knew even then, that it was an unrealistic promise. I worked hard to get good grades and good scholarships to pay for my state education. By luck, I avoided the things that can derail people from going to college.

And what are we working so hard for? So we can buy cars and appliances that break easily or don’t last; we have to borrow big money to buy a house, and borrow to go for college. Credit card companies and lending firms trick people into thinking they can rack up the debt but it will be easy to pay off when we get a job. We’re told we can make a life for ourselves, if we work hard, but if there aren’t enough jobs we can take a risk to start a business. How often does this plan actually work for the middle class? Then the neighborhood goes south and crime elevates, until it’s no longer safe to live in the house you have worked 24 years to try and keep.

It’s a bit shocking to see these charts on the wealth and income of the middle class since 1980. But Wall Street was able to make big money in those times. Not to mention the successes of the people willing to cheat, lie, deceive.

Save Money … Live Better

I’m jealous of Walmart for capitalizing on this phrase so profitable.  If only it were true, but I’ll spare you my personal views of the company.  Instead, lets talk about ways we can actually save money, and actually live better.

I recently started using Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for my skin and hair.  I use it on my hair in the shower, after I wash, rinse, and condition I then pour a mixture of water and ACV on my hair and rinse it out after about 1 minute.  It has really cut down the frizziness in my hair in the summer heat.

On my skin, I use it as a toner for my face.  The smell is awful, I’m not a fan of vinegar, but it rinses away nicely and does not leave a smell.  ACV can also be used to treat athletes foot.  Dilute the ACV with water and wipe onto your skin, then rinse off.

obamacare-save-money-health-careMaybe you already have a product for this purpose.  I’m not telling you ACV is better, how would I know.  It seems that things work differently for everyone.  But here is what I do now.  I try the new option for 1 week, then go back to using my old stuff until the container is gone.  When I go to the store to buy a refill, I can decide if it’s worth the cost, or if the cheaper alternative worked well enough.

We have been tricked into using many products, just to make money for other people.  Some of these products are harmful to the environment, to other animals, or to ourselves.   We don’t know the full effects of these products.  I have used eye cream that makes my eyes water, I guess that’s how it reduces puffy eyes.

I heard a report about testing of medications.  The testing is not required to measure effectiveness compared to similar products, the testing is performed and compared to a “Do Nothing” option.  Well it’s pretty easy to show an improvement compared to “Do Nothing.”  Then the sales teams use those studies to sell the products.  And few people are testing different alternatives compared to each other, wouldn’t it be nice to have a group that is incentivised to take this information and evaluate everything together, running comparison experiments if feasible.

Imagine how many products we trust, when testing has been evaluated in this same way?  What if there are better products, or better items that we already have at home.

Vinegar is also great for cleaning stainless steel.  I cleaned a lot of rust from my trash can using vinegar alone.

What are your tricks for saving  money and living better?

Humane Education

indexTo all educators, there is a 4th grade teacher, John Hunter, who includes a World Peace game in the curriculum. The movie and TED Talk are both great ways to hear about the educational experience. I recommend watching the extended trailer (second on this webpage).

It’s funny how much of our development includes winners and losers, in teams or as individuals. This game gives kids an experience where to win, everyone has to prosper and benefit.  It teaches them to think of the impact on others, both in war and prosperity.  They have many world problems to solve including environmental issues etc.  Now watch the film again and remember, these are 4th graders; they are ages 9 and 10.

It’s funny because Mr. Hunter makes a comment in the film about the importance of having a strong relationship with the students, which facilitates their learning.  It reminds me of a TED Talk by Rita Pierson, who shows how human relationships are mechanisms for learning.  She says something to the effect of… we won’t learn anything from someone we don’t like.

IMG_8174_905-350x233Building on this theme, I heard an episode on the radio program State of the Re:Union about an alternative education program for teen mothers.  Holyoke is one of the poorest town in MA, 348 out of 351 on the list; 25% of the population is living below the poverty line.  This is where the Care Center has opened up and helps teen mothers learn the skills needed to be successful in life.  Again, the staff discusses the recipe for success which depends on the attitude of the staff and their ability to connect with these young women.  They go on to discuss a recipe for success…

I’ve been wondering a lot lately, what is the recipe for educational success?  What gives someone the drive to succeed?  Maybe there is a biological aspect, a predisposition for a person to be motivated in their educational pursuits.  But there seems to be big component that is environmental.  What outside factors can we control, to create the most positive outcome?   Humans by nature seem to be inquisitive, and learning begins in the womb, so when does it stop and why for so many people?  Unrelated to teen pregnancy, the number of high school student dropping out in the US results in 1 every 26 students.

A common theme I have been seeing is also described by the radio show host.   Someone, a respected adult, sets the expectation of what the student is able to accomplish, and a support system helps the students make the achievements to achieve success.   Sometimes it just takes one person to make a difference, the power of a good mentor can change a person’s life.  And their success is in their rate of students going on to college; the national rate for teen moms is 2%, but the Care Center rate is 75% of graduates.

Pay no Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain…

SexualAbuse2

Listening to an NPR story about the PBS Frontline documentary A Rape in the Fields, got me to thinking.  So much of the discussion about rape focuses on the victims.  With many social problems, we often focus on dealing with the aftermath of the crime, the “band-aid” fixes.  What would change if we focus our discussion on the perpetrators?

Sadly, at least one in four women in the U.S. are victims of sexual attacks.  We all know that people in positions of power sometimes take the opportunity to abuse that power.  So how can we focus on these situations?

Who are these men, determined to abuse vulnerable women?  Are these men living in isolation?  Are they able to hide this trait from their friends, their peers, their boss, their wives and family?  In this documentary, agricultural workers report knowing about the frequency of attacks, they even go on to call the farms “fields of panties.”  Can it be that all the workers know about this barbaric behavior, but other supervisors and people of authority have no idea that this abuse happens?

Who is letting these people get away with abusing women, or children?  First, we have to stop being dubbed by false impressions.  Jerry Sandusky, and some holy priests, hide behind a veil of charity and “good” intentions; and the Tim Curleys of the world are encouraging such behavior by intentionally hiding the truth of these relationships.  Might this complicity fuel the manic fetish, increasing the prevalence and intensity of abuse?  Given the facade of honest character that lets some people perform such heinous acts, shouldn’t we focus on these types of opportunities where perpetrators have unquestioned authority over others?

Maybe we are at the cusp of change, where the Tim Curleys and Gary Schultzes are also held responsible, and have as much to lose as the perpetrators.

The Future of Education – Happy Teachers Day

Thank you to all of the Teachers around the world, who have the most difficult job and one of the most under-appreciated jobs.happy-teachers-day-wallpapers

There is so much research on education, it’s difficult to think we will ever have the right answer.  And maybe that is the answer, that there isn’t a RIGHT answer.

For one, I don’t believe there is a magic formula to achieve universal learning.  People are so different, with strengths and weaknesses, now evaluated by 24 different characteristics, with at least three different learning styles, etc.  But to know where we are going in education, we have to at least know where we are now.

Right now the education system outlines specific goals for each age group, independent of ability, socioeconomic background, support from home, etc.  We then test students on these limited goals which may evaluate knowledge more than intelligence or understanding.

I’m reading How Children Succeed… by Paul Tough, but you can get a snapshot of the book from this New York Times article.  One underlying idea, briefly mentioned, is not that the school environment is not only a place of instruction.  Rather, it’s a place for therapy, where children are improving the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their goals.  Okay, this idea is also forming from a TED Talk discussion I just listened to on the TED Radio Hour by NPR.  Specifically the talk by Rita Pierson who shows how human relationships are mechanisms for learning.  That’s why some teachers are better for students to learn from, because they are able to develop such strong relationships with the students.  Although it wasn’t discussed in depth, she gives an example of the relationships which address the child’s individual need which allows the child to achieve more in their education.  I think we all sort of knew this, and we know of many great teachers accomplishing this with their students, such as Mr. Foteah who is also a fantastic blogger.

So we go to school for therapy, to address the issues and behavioral problems that interfere with learning.  Now thinking about the future of learning…

In that same collection of TED Talks from the NPR radio show, listen to the bits by Suguta Mitra.  He did some experiments which show how children can teach themselves difficult material.  Even very poor children who have no idea what a computer is or how to speak English.  If you have heard about the Khan Academy, and if you have ever taken an online course, we can see a shift coming in the education system.  People choose what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it.  Salman Khan talks about how his online courses allow students to prep for classroom lectures in advance and teachers now use class time to help students master the skill.  This will allow students to learn at their own pace, and hopefully as the students identifies their best method of learning, they can become more efficient in the learning process.  So the teachers role as an instructor might be reduced even further.  There will be more time to deal with the “therapy work” for students, to help them stay motivated, and help them develop “character” (discussed in the book How Children Succeed).

Not that this is an easy task.  How does one person identify the specific needs of 120 students, and find positive ways to address each of those issues?   But in a way, it’s part of their task now, along with the instructive tasks.

What if education can be a “learn at your own pace” with the instructor meant to get to know you to help you identify challenges and develop methods of overcoming them.  And to help evaluate your learning achievement.  Is that the system we can expect?

Unexpected Answers

I feel constantly in search of an answer for “How to Be Happy”?  Some of the ideas I thought were answers:

  • Fake it till you make it
  • Find a deeper understanding for everything, the more we know about how behavior works the more we can control our emotions
  • Happiness is relative, so keep reminding myself of how much worse my situation could be
  • Happy people had a good childhood and they are able to carry that happiness throughout life
  • It’s all in the brain, everyone’s brain is wired differently and some people are naturally more happy or more satisfied while others struggle to achieve happiness on a regular basis.  Some of these people have such dramatic brain issues that they need drugs to avoid harmful depression.
  • Focus on the little things that bring me bits of joy, avoiding the bigger issues that limit deep and true happiness
  • Keep making changes to keep life new and exciting, without finding a way to achieve happiness without those regular changes.

OK happy face_fullAs it turns out, by trying to ignore the things that cause pain and misery, I also dulled the joys of life.  At least, that’s what I’m thinking now after watching this TED Talk by Brené Brown.

I have always been sensitive.  I cry very easily, and as a kid I hated being called a crybaby.  Now as an adult, I cry when sad, happy, angry, just about every emotion comes out in tears.  Which is hard for my boyfriend because it makes it harder for him to read my emotions.  I wish I didn’t cry so easily, and I really wish I could control it in public.

That is one of the reasons I have tried to limit my vulnerabilities.  If I am vulnerable, there is more potential for me to cry.  So I tried to cut out vulnerabilities, but that has probably had a severe effect on my relationships with friends, family, and my boyfriend.  By trying to be independent, and not rely on others, it’s been hard to form stronger bonds with people.

I would love to hear from others who think they may have similar experiences.

College Savings

If you are happy to trust financial information without second-guessing, then you will not enjoy this post.   Personally, I can’t trust anything without significant evaluation.

I recently tried to plan a way of investing in my nephews future, but I do not assume that they will all go to college.  So I want an option that does not require college enrollment to access the money.  Basically, no plan takes away the money because the kid doesn’t go to college.  However, there are fees or penalties for withdrawing money for other purposes.

Surprisingly, Roth IRA’s are listed as an option for savings.  Money used for education can be withdrawn without the typical penalties if the money is withdrawn before the minimum age.  But the child has to be old enough to have a job to enroll in this plan.   I like the fact that this plan encourages the kids to keep the money in the IRA account if they don’t use the money for college; so that the money grows even more over time.

With each savings option, there are concerns over fees, impact on financial aid for the kids, and tax issues.  I found this comparison table very helpful for making my decision.  According to this financially savey engineer, it may be more profitable to rely on tax credits instead of tax savings.  Also, not all 529 plans are good plans, some have better investment options than others. Tips to know about 529 plans:

  • You can change the investment options for the plan once per year
  • You can chance the beneficiary for the plan once per year
  • Check the list of qualified expenses the plan $ can be used for
  • When you withdraw money from the plan, if it’s paid directly to the student instead of the institution, there may be a penalty to the student on their Financial Aid Application for the following year
  • Read the fineprint for any plan before enrolling

I’m not knowledgeable enough to help you decide, but here are a few resources:

Being Better Parents

I heard this story on the radio show This American Life, and it made me think.  Most parents are trying to give their kids a “better life.”  The dad in the story is maybe an extreme version of a particular behavior that I think all people share.  The main story is a bit crazy to think about, but the underlying story between the dad and the two daughters is interesting and I think enlightening about human nature in general.

The dad had a rough childhood, and we don’t get the full story of what he went through but apparently it involved verbal and physical abuse.  For him, he knew that was not good parenting and he wanted to do better with his own children.  Although he did better than his parents, it was still not good enough to earn the respect of his two daughters and the girls have now cut off contact with him.  Surprisingly, some of the behavior he hated in his own parents, he repeated toward his own family.  It’s hard to know how conscious his re-enactment of the bad behaviors, because during the interview he denies that part of the story.

If the story is true, we can imagine how the dad developed coping mechanisms to distort reality, just to deal with the abuse he suffered as a kid.  In a way, although he knew this behavior was not normal, it was normal to him.  And therefor, the definition of being a good parent was altered to believe that being better than his parents was enough.  I believe, that in a way, his entire parenting process was an attempt to hide the difficulties of his own childhood.  However, having not dealt with his difficult childhood, he wasn’t prepared to be a supportive and non-abusive father.

The same discussion happens in the end of this Radiolab story.  The initial story is wildly unusual.  But it circles around to another difficult childhood and lifelong consequences as a person and a parent.

Teachings Knowledge or Teaching Skills

230px-Nofretete_Neues_MuseumI distinctly remember my 6t grade social studies assignment to write a research paper on Ancient Egyptian history.  We got to choose our own topic, and I was interested in the Queen Nefertiti who is now more famous than her Pharaoh husband.  Those of you who read my blog, have probably noticed that story telling is not my one of my strengths.  It doesn’t come natural, and it’s only once in a while that I think of a good story to include in my posts.  6th grade was the start of this lifelong battle with writing.  My research involved writing down quotes of important information from various sources, and combining them into the final paper.  I do not recall what preparation and training was provided for this task, but I do remember the note on my graded paper to redo the work and this time write the paper in my own words.  220px-Ankh_isis_nefertariThere is a lot I don’t remember about childhood, but this embarrassment, although not public, has seared this experience into my memory.  And although I cannot say I have mastered the skill, at least I’m conscientious not to plagiarize.

I think growing up, my view of education was that we were taught knowledge.  My view of that particular assignment at the time was that I was supposed to learn facts about Ancient Egyptian history, but now I see how the class was teaching me a skill to be used throughout the rest of my life.  Would I have performed better, had I been focused on the development of the skill rather than the accumulation of knowledge, maybe?

Each grade level and class type during K-12 education will vary in it’s focus.  Math and Science I think are more weighted on teaching knowledge with some skills learned as well, but history and social studies  have the opposite distribution.  Maybe this distinction doesn’t make a difference to students, or educators.  Maybe the educators are completely aware of this and subtly build it into their curriculum so that students have no idea.  But I think I might have learned more, if I realized the necessity of learning skills.

My boyfriend used to teach at the graduate level, thinks that higher education is more focused on the learning of knowledge.  If this were true, then we might expect it could be possible to test through an undergraduate degree.  But to my knowledge, you have to complete equivalent coursework to be eligible for a diploma.   Does this suggest we are more concerned about people learning skills?

Boston Strong!

Originally posted on Life Is Too Short:

The past month has been full of remembrance, thanks and gratitude for all we have in life.  Everyone experienced the marathon bombing and the BostonStrongRibbon fiery capture of the culprits differently.  We’re all processing it the meaning of these events and affected by them in a unique way.

Fortunately, such events bring out the best in humanity and the beauty of life.  Sometimes we need these reminders.

  • Steven Tyler and Joe Perry dedicate this version of Dream On to the people in Boston
  • There are so many stories of survival and how people came together to support each other, and forming lasting bonds.

It strikes me, the reason that so many good people are caught up by these tragedies is because most people are good and it’s just a few bad ones who can cause so much pain.

Easter is a great day to recognize the power of hope and…

View original 54 more words

If Hate and Prejudice is Taught, then Love and Acceptance can be Taught too

Originally posted on Life Is Too Short:

AM.jpg-25f11a2331401bc3747794c9315ffe28 It’s sad when people are so consumed by hate, that they don’t even recognize love.

In response to a group of religious fanatics carrying signs of hatred towards certain people, the yellow banner in this photo was created to give a positive alternative for people’s viewing.  After the pastor of the religious group passed away, protestors held up the white banner to offer their condolences for the baptist congregation.  Some of the church members are so filled with hate, they don’t even understand the meaning of the white banner and it’s significance.

If we can teach this level of hatred toward others that they would hold up signs of criticism in public, surely we must be able to teach an equal amount of love.  The yellow and white signs are the first step in that teaching.

View original

Online Tax Software

I personally have used H&R Block and TaxAct before.  They both seemed fine.  H&R Block is a bit more expensive this year.  So how do I decide?

This online article comparison was EXTREMELY helpful.  Given the 10/10 rating for TaxAct on Thoroughness, I’ll put up with a little difficulty in use.  The good thing about filing now, is the return is processed quickly.  Happy tax  season everyone.

Oh yeah, and if you wonder why Social Security taxes went up so much, it’s because the Bush cuts expired.

Sally Kohn’s talk, the “clean” version

Anne Kelly:

This could improve many relationships in my life.

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Sally Kohn had a point to make in her TED Talk. During her career as a progressive lesbian talking head at Fox News, she’d get letters from people who really, really didn’t like what she said, or objected to her very existence. To make this attitude crystal-clear, onstage at TED@NYC Kohn read out the kind of letter she received during the course of a typical day. The hate-filled letter contained one of the last really untouchable curse words. Point made.

We wanted to make sure that Kohn’s message was heard with its full force. But as we’ve encountered in the past with other talks containing strong language or graphic imagery, not all TEDsters were equally happy with this choice. So at the request of several fans, we’ve created a “clean” edit of the talk. If you’d like to share Kohn’s message of tolerance and emotional correctness with an audience…

View original 124 more words