A Crisis of Napoleon and an Aging Coffee Pot

butter-and-syrup

What do Napoleon, maple syrup, and an aging coffee pot have in common? According to my tangled dendrites, they have crises!

Some years ago, I read a book pondering the “what-ifs” of history. Among them was the odd occurrence of early winter falling upon Napoleon’s naval fleet. The author claimed that–had the frozen waters of the French port not immobilized his ships–America would be French instead of English. Crisis! (Understandably, Europeans probably have a much different version of this tale.)

And then there was our aging coffee pot staring weakly at me this morning, daring me to make one last cup of lukewarm coffee. Crisis! Instead, I opted for black tea with honey and lime–something I was first served on a houseboat off the coast of Kerala. Accompanied by a toaster waffle with real syrup and butter, it made for a happy breakfast. (My husband and I have decided that life is too short not to enjoy real food.)

The Greeks coined the term crisis to describe moments of decision, while just yesterday I had quoted President Kennedy’s observation that the Chinese character for crisis juxtaposed danger with opportunity. Today, I’m going to try embracing my crises in hopes of discovering what wonders might lie ahead.

What wonders have crises created for you?

Love, ❤

Mira

 

 

JFK Quotation: Crisis = Danger + Opportunity

crisi-tunity

I do not know anything of the Chinese language, so I welcome comments and corrections for this post-it is a work in progress with your help.

For those who have been faithful followers, I apologize for my lapse. Losing a beloved pet seems to put life into perspective. Watching political developments, however, has wreaked havoc on any perceived assumptions that my perspective was accurate.

This evening, I wandered back to re-read some of JFK’s most beloved quotations. My high-school English teacher had them taped to her walls such that not an inch of cinder block showed anywhere, and she started each class period pointing out yet another…rejoicing in the profundity of a president who was probably ahead of his time. This is one that I do not remember from my days in her classroom, but it stood out tonight like a harbor’s beacon, demanding to be seen.

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
John F. Kennedy

And so, it falls to each of us. We must learn to bear the enormity of our moments, and with equal forbearance, we must hold fast to the unimaginable and wonderful possibilities those moments might provide.

Love, ❤

Mira

I Will Be That Peace

Unfinished

Until we are able to complete our mission of being that peace, our work on this planet remains unfinished.

*Our local community chorus is privileged to have been granted permission to perform Mark Hayes’ beautiful message in song, as part of our upcoming concert, Peace. (This is the YouTube version.)

Words and music by Mark Hayes

Based on a quote by LAO-TZU (6th c. BC)

©2017 Mark Hayes Music

Alexithymia: the bewildering dilemma of emotional void

Dilemma

One of my teaching colleagues had a poster taped to the front of her desk. It ranks as one of my favorites.

RATE SCHEDULE

………

Answers $1

Thoughtful answers  $2

Correct answers $4

Dumb looks: Still for free

To most of us, this kind of poster seems hilarious. For some, simply a bewildering dilemma. For some, facial expressions are impossible to read–and perhaps impossible to produce. The reasons for this are still being investigated and are thought to range from genetic to environmental to perhaps a single traumatic experience. On the edge of the spectrum, there is even a name: alexithymia.

How to paint emotions when the scenery is deep space

Circling back to my theme of equipping children with self-knowledge, assertiveness, and kindness, I wanted to share that app developers are starting to provide child-friendly tools. These apps can help parents and teachers teach the words and concepts of emotions to children. Time and again, developing emotional intelligence is being seen as key to developing mentally healthy children who can form their own networks of supportive relationships. This also builds the inter-personal skills that help them become productive and financially independent adults.

Here is the list of children’s apps for building emotional intelligence.

Mira

Unless you become like little children…

Pretend

childlike

Pretend: the wonder of a child…

Embracing moments of joy and living with the eager anticipation and assurance of more joyful moments to come…

Until I had experienced enough living to equal about 120 childhoods, I hadn’t been able to understand Jesus’ famous words:

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 NIV)

The word pretend originated from the Latin word meaning to stretch forth and claim. Personally, I would like to reclaim my childhood wonder. How about you?

I should probably attribute this next concept to someone, but I have now seen it in so many places and credited to so many philosophically-minded folks, that it has created my own confetti-like words in the wind:

For every enlightened soul who has shared what seems like plausible meaning-of-life wisdom, followers have convened to claim ownership and to construct their own air-tight rules. The result is always the same: destruction of the real grains of wisdom. (I am speaking of religions, political beliefs, cultures, traditions, work ethics…all of it.) In fact, just by writing this, I am restricting your understanding. And that is why Jesus’ parables were so brilliant: we can’t know exactly. We can only hope and trust in something that is similar to what Jesus described during his short life.

Here is my personal little childlike box of confetti that, tonight, is what my picture of the kingdom is like. I can assure you that if you asked me tomorrow, it will have even more confetti. (Apparently kingdom boxes work like that!) Furthermore, I am quite certain that we all gather our confetti differently.

The beautiful confetti of children:

(Job speaking to the Lord) Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. Job 42:3 

When I try to make sense of something or prove to myself that I have made the best decision, I tend to go a little crazy. The kingdom of heaven is like my world-within-my world. It’s the one I cannot hold onto firmly, because if I try, it disappears. It’s a little like staring at a star: if you look directly at it, you can’t quite see it anymore. When I can just pretend…when I can just accept that what is happening in each moment is simply my next opportunity to find love and goodness, each moment becomes an opportunity to learn. Without the baggage of prejudice (prejudging), outdated information, and yesterday’s advice, we live in gratitude for each other and the resources we have.

Does this mean that learning is pointless? Of course not. But learning anything is never static. Learning creates opportunity and invites childlike awe. If we grab it and wield it like a sword, it just gets old and crotchety. Relationships? New, full of wonder, looking for the next opportunity to find more love. Work? New, full of wonder, looking for more ways to care for, serve, and love each other. Backstabbing competition? Back to old, crotchety, and stinky.

What does your kingdom-box of childlike-confetti look like? It is certainly a challenge to keep it in focus, but when we can find others who are humbling themselves to the point of discovering their own gossamer confetti-threads of childlike wonder, finding the laser-like focus doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.

As always, your views, experiences, and comments make us all richer. Please share!

Mira

 

 

 

 

A day without writing…

Jump

bubble-bath
This may be the shallowest, most nonsensical thing I have attempted to shake out of my laptop.

Today was a day without writing. I’m missing my high-board jump into my bubble-bath of words.

For the past ten weeks or so, I have poured out things I thought I knew, things I thought I understood, things I have tried to see through others eyes. Today, nothing. Today, I think I didn’t think. And that was the thought that sparked my comfort-zone of consciousness off the couch.

When even my simplest words haven’t been extruded and examined, I feel as though I haven’t really been here. My eyes, searching up and left (as they always do when I’m trying to get the synapses firing) snatched the day’s random images: the golf shot that I should have been practicing mentally, the synchronicity of fellow bloggers working out why we feel compelled to validate and adopt each other’s view–valiantly attempting to cobble together our own little soul-groups of security. And stranger still–in our  state of nonsensical conundrum–mystified as to why our soul-group is so different from theirs.

At the end of the day, I may not know any more than the morning, but through my struggle to feel alive through the demolition and reconstruction of my elementary words, I’m feeling worthy of taking up space again. It’s the old, familiar brain-muscle-burn, feeling satisfied that I have tried.

How about you? Do you experience a free-falling existential angst when deprived of your me-time bubble-bath of words?

Mira

Staying alive…

declaration-of-independence

Let Gary Debate. (Or, please excuse me, my flag is showing.)

We have a family anecdote that has always reminded us to ask, “Why?”

As the story goes, every Christmas, Aunt Dora would carefully divide her ham into two parts before slipping it into the oven. When her daughter was old enough to ask why, Aunt Dora didn’t really know—it was what her mother had always done. Aunt Dora finally asked her own mother. “Oh, that was the only way I could get it to fit into my roasting pot.”

The Johnson/Weld Libertarian ticket is unprecedented—a new pot. They are common sense, dignity, steady courage, and an adjective seldom heard in politics: compassion. Let’s lift the lid off that old two-party pot: if you are polled, choose Gary Johnson. You’ve not committed your vote. What you will have done is allowed America to hope for something that we had presumed extinct: leadership that we wouldn’t mind our children emulating.

If you are polled, please help us all. Cast your poll vote for Gary Johnson. Let him debate. Let us learn. And think. That will give us a REAL chance to decide. Perhaps our old two-party pot could serve us better in a museum.

And please excuse me, my flag is STILL showing. 😉

Mira

Loving patiently while they learn…

baretrees
Waiting patiently in silence for the returning spring of life-giving love…

Judging vs. discerning; rejecting the person vs. employing wisdom for daily-living

There seems to be a common theme here in the blog-o-sphere, around which humanity has obstacles of communication for developing a unifying understanding. And yet, perhaps we are growing closer.

I found article on the website TheOverwhelmedBrain.com that beautifully illustrates how a form of judgment can destroy relationships. (Click or tap the link above for access to the article. The website itself is linked here, inside the “Daily Balance” of my Starfish Mission.)

A teacher with whom I once worked seemed to have struck this beautiful balance. She often remarked that her mother, also a teacher, had repeatedly instructed her to “remember to always be kind”. Continue reading “Loving patiently while they learn…”

Judgment ≠ Discernment

Hike

 

scoldingpenguin
Take a hike, chump! You’re not worth my time!!! (judgement or discernment?)

Judgment vs. Discernment (Psychology Today)

Wait–don’t we need to make good decisions?

Sometimes my forays into cautionary tales about being judgmental are met with vehement cries of derision–especially when one’s work hinges upon the ability to make informed and wise decisions. As a teacher, I remember frequent reminders that teachers make upwards of 1,500 critical decisions each day affecting students, parents, schools, communities—well, you get the picture. Teachers are hardly alone in their circles of influence.

My new growth mindset of possibility:

I have come to the place where my most solid assurance is that there is no end: that the conversations go on between all the souls who love each other, living and dead. I have no certifiable proof of this–only that this understanding gives me peace and allows me to maintain open conversations with basically anyone. From a mindset of no end,  nothing seems catastrophic anymore; we just continue learning how to love better. That also allows me to allow others’ their own interpretations of end vs. no end. And yet, when I see others in pain, knowing that there can be life here on the terra firma without emotional pain, I suppose that I cannot, in good conscience, stop myself from putting these thoughts out there.  (Most solid assurance, after all, is not without doubt.)

Each person comes to their working core truth in their own way and at their own time. When you get to that place, I don’t think that you never want to leave that solid foundation. You just build from there. I would love to know what you think: have you reached a meaning-of-life that works for you? If so, how has it affected your interpretation of judgement?  

Decisions, words-meanings, and relationships

So, the building: we humans have our gargantuan task of working out the fabric of meanings that fashion our relationships. Our life-raft relationships that we build despite the raging oceans of our many languages, cultures, contexts, values–all of it, might be secured or destroyed upon the interpretation of a single word: judgement. To me, judgement can mean allowing a relationship or dismissing it.

In my opinion, our interpretation and application of the difference between judgment and discernment is worth mindful consideration.

Value of souls vs. value of physical matters

Claim: Judgment addresses the value of a person. If we can accept that we are all differently-gifted for our own unique life’s purpose, every individual would have equal value. We each contribute to the whole in our own way. I see it as the value of one’s soul and worthiness to take up space, to be heard, and to be loved.

Claim: Discernment, according to conventional interpretation, is based upon what can be observed: objective matters. (Granted, there is also a  Biblical application of the word discernment, which may or may not integrate well. This would probably also make for a good discussion!)  I discovered an article published a few years ago (2011) in Psychology Today. It was written by Dr. Raj Raghunathan, who explains it much more eloquently than I. Here it is again:

Judgment vs. Discernment (Psychology Today)

What do you think? What determines the difference between judgment and discernment for you?  How does that kind of distinction play out in your daily living?

Love, ❤ ❤ ❤

Mira