Monday, March 31, 2014

Millionaire or not...

I little while back, I think because Powerball was having yet another super jackpot, my dad and I were talking about what we would do if we won the lottery.

I used to have it all planned out ... way back when, maybe more than twenty years ago, just about when California got the lottery.  I'd help my siblings go to college (no need now, they did it!), buy my brother a movie studio so he could make his movies/tv shows (alas, he is no longer here to do it), etc...

As my dad told me about his plans, I thought about all the plans I had for those millions and how I hadn't thought about it in a while.

These days, I think about winning the lottery when my computer shows its age.  Buying a new macbook pro will take me winning the lottery.

For some reason, I started thinking about what I wished I were doing ... and what came to my mind is running a scholarship organization.  Perhaps it is because once again my dad and I were talking ... this time about scholarships. 

I started thinking through what it would be like.  How would I choose students? How could I help them beyond just paying for school or making sure that they had other needs met?

Then I read this article

What's funny about my lottery musings and my awe at this woman's actions is that she didn't wait til she won the lottery.

She saw a need, devised a plan to help, did what it took to the have the time and money, and then did it.


No matter how much money she ever has, she will always be a millionaire because she has helped so many to realize their dreams.

This is my favorite part:

"'People say it's incredible. It's not," Brown said. "No kid wants to grow up to be a bum or in prison or on drugs. When they're young, these kids all want to succeed. All I do is push them a little bit.'"

I think she would agree with me that kids who make it out of difficult situations are not the exception ... they are examples of what could have been for all those kids, or at least most of them.

May she get that charter and continue to do this fantastic work.

Friday, March 28, 2014

NRU mish mash

Another time when I wish I were in NYC -- sorry to have missed out on this trilogy, maybe it will head to this coast someday.

The past eleven months or so, in terms of wine, have been spent dabbling in whites.  I gave in to the corporate wine world (read big box wine store) because they had so many white Burgundy choices. I worked through them in the summer -- but forgot to take really good notes.  Tried a few others, and then got a lovely Rose in the mail from my wine clubThis is the next one I want to try. Just got to figure out how to get my hands on it ... that won't break my bank.

I was enchanted by the title [The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter] and somewhat amused by most of the piece -- though it left me wondering if I should have sent that angry email to the manager of the restaurant that shall not be named *anymore* -- if I should write the email and post it here or just be happy that it turned into a funny story that has made everyone I have told both laugh and commiserate.  Hmmm....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Poetry Thursday from Daily Affirmations

And you would accept the seasons of your heart 
just as you have always accepted that 
seasons that pass over your fields 
and you would watch 
with serenity 
through the winters of your grief. 
~ Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NRU education edition

Schools are using meditation -- and teaching children to figure out when they need their own peaceful moments -- and claiming results. I have no doubt it is useful, but the article never gets to the proof of the results.  I wonder if we can read an article about education without finding some claim to results -- and then never have them founded.  It says too much about our lack of introspection about what exactly test results *mean* and what other results might exist and how we might *measure* those.

Yeah, and this article, gives us more to think about in terms of what we think results look like ... it's another piece on Common Core -- but all fluff and no substance, again.  This is how we got parents to think that NCLB based test scores meant something... Don't get me wrong, I love critical thinking. It is, in fact, a fine thing to be teaching.  I am just not sure that the journalist writing this story caught the essence of what critical thinking is.  Or maybe it was the principal and the teacher who were pushing the notion that repeating, or even using correctly, big words means critical thinking.  It is not.  That is hooked on phonics on steroids.  But, bad reporting doesn't mean that some good teaching and learning wasn't actually happening here.

This piece on charter schools and the new mayor of NYC demonstrates the author's understanding of the complexities of the issue of charter schools.  He clearly sees/knows/understands that the issue goes far beyond *education* right into business, politics, wealth disparities, etc.; and he even seems to hint that he understands the exceptionalism mentality that has the mice fighting over the last piece of cheese and calling it social justice.

Monday, March 24, 2014

On *Not Getting Over It*

**The therapist asked me to write about myself.  That didn't quite work out, but this came out.

The thing about grief is that it is always with you, right there below the surface. It is always brewing, always bubbling, waiting to blow like Old Faithful or to percolate up like the La Brea tar pits.
We, the grieving, alternately try to hold it in, push it down, run away, shut it down or give in to it. I don't think we always make these choices willingly or consciously. So our minds are prey for the wandering thought, the triggering utterance or sight, or the simple memory. The thoughts we want to conjure are also prey for the grief - swallowed along with our ability to concentrate - in the black hole of our loss.

I believe when others want us to get over it, they bring both compassion and selfishness. Our grief hurts them because they love us and because it triggers them. For who has not lost someone close? 

I am sure there are all kinds of other issues intertwined - guilt, remorse, fear, insecurity. You name it and grief probably amplifies it.

I am hopeful that with practice, compassion and skillfulness we can come to cope with grief in such a way that it does not control us forever.

I am hopeful that we can learn to confront the moments with the understanding that they will pass. That we will learn that facing the grief doesn't mean falling into the abyss. That someday the memories trigger the flip side of all those issues: innocence, gratitude, safety, confidence, joy and acceptance.

Moon over ABQ from Sandias, October 2013

Friday, March 21, 2014

NRU, attitude edition

It turns out that attitude is everything.  Sometimes I call it perspective.  I think it really does involve the introspection that brings about perspective, but attitude can get you there, too.

So, here are some stories that kicked me in the butt -- it's all about the attitude.

I love this story about a man who suffered a seriously debilitating accident -- and now leads his job's cross fit team.  It is the perfect story to kick off the attitude matters NRU!

For a while now I have been worried that we are destined to labor under the GOP/Fox news black cloud forever ... generations of Americans lost in the cynicism and hate spewed by these lovely resources.  No where seemed more demonstrative of this than the South. Yet there were glimmers of hope -- remember that group of undocumented students who outed themselves in Georgia a while back?  Well, the New York Times thinks this is a mini movement of liberals learning to exercise their voices via demonstrations.  I have a complicated relationship to demonstrations, but I wholeheartedly support these folks finding their voice!

This is a lovely piece about a living tribute to a man who has touched many lives/writers.  Read it, and the role of attitude will become apparent.

For fun, I am including this piece on dark chocolate.  For years, I have been telling folks that I am not eating chocolate but fighting cancer. Turns out I was actually lowering my blood pressure.  I think my dark chocolate intake is going to have to increase now that I know about this benefit!  I think some cocoa in my smoothies will become a new standard.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Quote Thursday

Life shrinks 
or expands 
in proportion to 
one's courage.
~Anais Nin

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

yeah - today

I was in a sb today far from home and I asked an older gentleman for some directions. 

He didn't hear me, didn't understand what I said, or something.  When he realized I was talking to him, I tried again to explain what I wanted to know. 

He never fully understood my question -- but eventually he understood the problem that had prompted my question.

Because he wanted to be helpful but didn't know how to answer my question, he offered to come out to my car and try to help me. 

It was sweet in a very unhelpful way.

As I left, I waved to him, and he offered again to help me.  I told him I would be ok. (And I was.)

As I walked out, the first thought that hit me was, "what a wonderfully sweet man."

And the second thought was, "he's probably a serial killer."

I immediately caught myself in that vortex of fear and cynicism and self doubt -- I felt physically buffeted as I faced those other emotions that made me smear someone (albeit only in my mind) who had been nothing but kind to me.

I tucked it away as I drove home ... and then I read this

Andrea's post hit a nerve, so I decided to share this little tidbit on the blog.

Watch the video in Andrea's post, and HOLY COW, try to remember what it was like to be without the fear of what might happen.  I wonder if it is possible to get there again.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

slight NRU

Fascinating finds for the paleontologists digging near the creation of the Westside Metro in LA.

Over a week into the search for the missing Malaysian Air flight 370, it is increasingly like an unscripted episode of Lost or a bad Where's Waldo book.  It went this way; no it went that way; it was an accident; it was no accident.  Basically, if there is someone out there that knows anything substantive 1) we would not be able to tell, and 2) they are not telling us the whole story.  But it is the slow motion crash we cannot stop watching (or in my case reading about).

My heart breaks for those families wondering (and hoping) this means that their loved ones are still alive.  Not knowing must one of the most horrible feelings -- and yet as they face the alternative, believing that no news is good news becomes their only ray of hope. 

Need to finish digesting all the other articles still open in my browser before I can decide if I will post anymore.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Quote Thursday

Giving up 
doesn't always mean 
you are weak; 
sometimes it means 
that you are strong enough 
to let go. 

~Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NRU education edition

I have been hoarding a few education articles.

I am glad that the papers are still following the debate on the Common Core -- particularly the implementation.

Here's a piece on magnet schools' resurgence in cities. I wonder if the pressure to show achievement and charter schools siphoning off some of the best students can help school districts to find the best in their students regardless of their preconceptions about said students.

Sometimes my uncle asks me to explain this charter school thing - and when I start the complicated answer, he insists ... but aren't they better than public schools?!  It's complicated and there are no real studies to point to charter schools (en masse) being *better* or more successful.  Do they get a lot of press? Absolutely -- and waivers of all sorts.  Small schools were once the darlings of educational reform -- and there was never proof that they were inherently better either -- more expensive, yes, just like charters.  Here is some press on one kind of waiver a small school that has survived -- not necessarily because it is better or more successful and despite that it is more expensive to run.

Wow.... success fees at state run/mostly funded colleges...what's next? Was this is in the Master Plan?  YIKES!

Here is the NY Times view on how the SAT got changed (again).  I am reserving my right to think more on this and write more later.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

NRU heartbreaking and beautiful, sometimes together

I guess I was in a long piece mood ... launching into the NYTimes with an unbridled abandon I haven't really allowed myself since I started graduate school while I was visiting friends in Oakland.  You might ask yourself why I was reading articles online while visiting ... it's just a safe space where I can do all sorts of things.  Here are two gems that are both utterly heartbreaking, but in their own ways also beautiful.  Enjoy.

This is a heartbreaking story about thirty years of abuse for mentally disabled folks.  It is important because, as the reporter points out, many had not heard of this story even though it has been out and in the courts since 2009.  It also fills in a gap in our understanding about the minimum wage debate.  I hope that it makes more than a few folks consider that all of our citizens deserve the rights promised by our legal documents, that our taxes should go to finding better solutions, and that we need to continue supporting and investing in better collaborations between public/private institutions.  One of the things this story debunks is that mentally disabled folks are incapable of competing in the labor force.

In this piece, an obviously loving father details his autistic son's climb out of the seemingly dark whole that autism appears to be from the outside.  It is a long piece, but worth every second you will give to it.  Perhaps if you are not close to someone on the spectrum you may not appreciate all of what is contained here ... but you might find the tenacity of this family and the love compelling anyway.  I have been thinking about picking up books to read about what it is like to be inside for these folks -- to understand better what I can do to relate instead of hoping that they will learn how to relate to us.  But I haven't had the time ... so maybe there are many others who take you inside the way this father/writer did.  For me, it was a revelation to see inside.  It is also an interesting story for all those folks who hate Disney and see it as an evil empire bent on destroying the minds of young children with one princess after another.  Turns out that my mother was right, again.  It is what you make out of something, not the thing itself. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Quote Thursday, meditation edition

It takes wisdom and strength to surrender to our own helplessness and to accept that we, just like every other human being, have limitations. The gifts of surrender are numerous. We discover humility, gratitude, and a deepening understanding of the human experience that enables us to be that much more compassionate and surrendered in the world. 
 From Daily Om Relying On Others

The "mountains" in the distance are the Channel Islands.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

NRU more mish mash

I wish I could do a whole entry on happy stories or silver linings, but I was having a hard time finding the silve on this story.  It is good that the story is out ... but the story itself is awful. For all those who think that there is not problem with calling people illegal, this is a cautionary tale for you.  For all those folks that spout out of one side of their mouth about how much they love their country and out of the other side hate about immigrants... this is what that hate begets.  It ain't democracy or anything you will find in the bill of rights or the constitution.  Hate only brings death and destruction, so thanks.

This was an odd but intriguing story about helping a friend prepare for his time in prison.  This is what I still love about the LA Times... where else would you find this story?

You don't have to quit your job in order to help people, even though the woman in this story did eventually.  The best part of this story is that it started because she had a talent she wanted to share.  That she ended up as helper, mentor, conduit to services was just a lovely by product.  We all have talents to share. 

I am sorry to say that the SF Chronicle has had great material lately and still can't write a truly compelling story.  Here's an example