May we each incite a riot of learning and teaching in our lives. Who will join me in inciting this riot?
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Monday, May 29, 2017
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017
I am so grateful to have my position as a teacher. At the start of each semester I am reminded what a blessing and privilege it is to be in this position. I have heard way too many professors at my school talk about what they have to teach their students. I talk with my students about how we teach each other. Yes, I know a lot and I am here to share my knowledge with them. However, they have taken classes, experienced things, read things, taken courses, and know things I could not learn if I had not met them.
I am also reminded of how much harm the educational system has done to students. I remember reading a book a while back called A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger van Oech. He helped me to understand how our system has taught students that there is A right answer, when there is really not. He wrote,
By the time the average person finishes college he or she will have taken over 2,600 tests, quizzes and exams. The 'right answer' approach becomes deeply ingrained in our thinking. This may be fine for some mathematical problems, where there is in fact only one right answer. The difficulty is that most of life isn't that way. Life is ambiguous; there are many right answers - all depending on what you are looking for. But if you think there is only one right answer, then you'll stop looking as soon as you find one.Read More
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
For years, I have wanted to make a soufflé and never did because I had always heard how challenging it was. I had even heard professional chefs talk about how hard it is to get the perfect soufflé, so I let my fear keep me from ever trying. What I have learned is that making a soufflé is like a spiritual journey. There are times that it collapses or does not rise, but generally it is when you have not done something. The same without spiritual journeys, generally it is when we are not doing something or we stop working on our journeys that we begin to collapse and we do not rise in the face of a challenge.
The foundation of every soufflé is the base. You make a base, you fold in whipped egg whites and you bake it. You can make your soufflé savory or sweet, but the basics are the same. If you follow some basic tips, your soufflé will always come out light and airy.
The same is true in some sense in our spiritual lives. If we do not have a spiritual base, regardless of what that base is, we will not grow and evolve. We will like a poorly made soufflé collapse and not rise.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017
One of the quotes I come back to repeatedly in my own journey are the words of Iyanla Vanzant who taught me to give thanks for those who get on my last nerve. Each of them in their own way is helping me to learn something about myself. So often, when we find someone difficult to deal with, we focus our energy on how difficult they are.
One of the things I have come to realize is that it often times it is those people who are here to teach me a lesson. Sometimes they are challenging me to look at when in my life I have been that way. As much as I would like to say I have never been a pain in someone’s life, I am sure I have and will be, albeit intentionally or not. Being able to look at what it is I find so difficult helps me to see how I have done something in my own life. When I work on my own forgiveness for ever having been difficult to interact with, I come to realize the person I am interacting with now is not quite as difficult as I had originally imagined.Read More
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Friday, May 19, 2017
Thursday, May 18, 2017
This 1969 song tempers optimism with reality. If you look hard enough you can find something redeeming in even the worst of situations.
Best words of wisdom from the song:
You can't always get what you want
And if you try sometime, you find
You get what you need.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
It's Sharing Time! Movie Time http://inspiritual.biz/spiritual-discussion/2017/5/16/movie-time
Monday, May 15, 2017
So often we think about teachers as people, sometimes experiences, even animals. However, sometimes our teachers can be films. It is one of the reasons that several times I have offered a film and spirituality group. It is amazing the spiritual lessons we can learn from a film. Sometimes what we learn is from the storyline, sometimes it is the setting, sometimes the lighting, sometimes the music, sometimes a character.
When I offered this group it was interesting to be sitting in a room full of people who had all just watched the same film, but we all walked away with different things or characters that spoke to us. It is like going to a restaurant and everybody eats the same meal, but different people like different things about it. What you see and take from it is for you and I see and take from it is for me.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Friday, May 12, 2017
Sometimes you have a conversation that takes you back in time. Wednesday night, during the Spiritual Discussion on teaching and teachers, a participant talked to me about all I had taught her since she has met me. It was a truly humbling moment. She said there are times there are not words in my heart to express what I am feeling so I do not say anything. She said she thought there were others for whom this was true as well.
I am not sure why, but this brought me back to a powerful lesson one of my students taught me decades ago when I first started teaching. I had a student whose mother had intentionally enrolled in my class. Her mother was a faculty member at our college and said she knew if anyone could help her daughter pass a class it would be me. I was not able to do so. However, it was not for lack of my trying.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Today is National Liver & Onions day. To be perfectly honest liver and onions is not my favorite dish. However, whenever I think about liver and onions, I think about Grandma Kamin, my mother’s mother. It was one of those things that she used to enjoy making.
When I was growing up she would invite my mother and I over for a girl’s afternoon and we would drive from Nutley to Jersey City to spend the afternoon with her. We would always start by baking something awesome like rugelach, bobka cake or some other delicious baked good. Then she would begin cooking lunch and all too often it was something she and my mom loved – liver and onions. Honestly, it wasn’t then and isn’t now one of my favorites.
I think my grandmother knew this because she would always have a side dish to go with it that was on my top ten list like pasta. Had she not been keeping kosher, I am sure it would have been macaroni and cheese, but since she did, it was pasta and sauce. She never once said anything to me about the liver and onions. I could eat it with the spaghetti or I could leave it, but I always found myself eating it because it seemed like it was a part of the tradition, besides which I loved my grandmother
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Monday, May 8, 2017
Recently in Why the Chicken Crossed the Road, I was reading this story about a student who wanted to be taught the Iron Shirt Exercises. There are a series of exercises used to allow the body’s natural energy to support its structural strength. Dean Sluyter wrote, "There's a story in Chinese martial-arts tradition about a young man who begs a great Kung-fu master to teach him the Iron Shirt exercises, an esoteric system reputed to make the muscles and organs so strong that they are impervious to blows. The master at first refuses, but finally sets him a kung (a formidable challenge). Pointing to a thick tree, he says, "Pull up that tree and bring it to me; then I'll teach you Iron Shirt." After months of futile tugging, the student notices that he can get better leverage if he keeps his back straight. With further experimentation he finds the optimal way to plant his feet. He works on, incrementally adjusting the way he hugs the tree, the way he breathes, the way he visualizes the task. After four years the tree starts to give. Finally he uproots it and lays it at the master's feet, demanding, 'Now teach me Iron Shirt!' 'Now I don't have to,' the master replies. 'You've just learned it.' "
There are lessons we learn in life which we learn quickly. There are also lessons that cannot be learned quickly, they are lessons like learning to pull up this tree, that are learned over the long haul. One of the lessons I have learned in life is that there is always more to a job then is written in the job description. The job description can tell you what you are supposed to be doing, but what you actually wind up doing is far more complex then that. I have been working as an adjunct professor for 20 years now and my job description is simple. I teach the two classes assigned to me each semester and offer office hours to my students where they can access me.
Sunday, May 7, 2017
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Friday, May 5, 2017
So today I want to thank you for the lessons that Dr. Wally and Mr Mittens have tried to teach me. Some of them I have mastered more then others, but at least they have tried. So thank you for sending them into my life. So here goes.
Lesson #1 – Never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Mr Mittens has taught me to be willing to explore what is on the other side of my comfort zone. He always tries to get through the doors that are closed and when he senses it is not where he needs to be he leaves and if he really likes it, then he stays. He has taught me a similar message to what I am reading about now in Kyle Cease’s book I Hope I Screw This Up. It is the same message my Bubby used to tell me, “She who fails to fail, fails to succeed.”
Lesson #2 – Take a nap. Cats seem to do this so well. Whenever they are tired, they sleep, which with them is about 16 hours a day. Working at home, I have the luxury of taking a nap when I really need one. Sometimes it is the way for me to quiet my brain so I can hear your ideas and inspiration coming to me. Sometimes it is just that my brain and body need a break. Even you took a rest from creating, so I should too.Read More
Thursday, May 4, 2017
One of my Pampered Chef Team members always talks to me about the importance of her Community Group at her church. This group meets weekly and serve as a source of support for each other in good times and challenging times. This group ensures that no member of the group ever has to go through anything alone. They celebrate with each other and work with each other to create solutions or to provide support when going through the challenging times. Never does she have to go through anything feeling unsupported or alone.
My son taught me a similar lesson when he first came into my life. He wanted to bake cookies. I was so busy at the time working on my dissertation that I honestly did not want to stop working. However, my time with Nick was also rare. He both wanted me to bake with him, but also wanted to bake like a big boy and do it himself. So I moved my work near the kitchen so we could be together and I could help him when he needed it, but he could also cook like a big boy. It was his first time ever to bake cookies, something his birth mother had never allowed him to do. Each part of the experience was new and exciting. I remember feeling so grateful to be able to witness his joy, although I remember not looking forward to cleaning up the mess he was making. The best part was when he came to see me and I could see all the places he had touched his face, as there was white flour all over his chocolate skin. It is a moment I will remember forever.Read More
This optimistic 1994 song challenges you to dig deep and find out who you are. It encourages boldness, calmness, and authenticity. There are so many words of wisdom from this song, but the best are this: "Stand up and be counted." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oZXJD1NVW0
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Monday, May 1, 2017
Years ago I remember reading or hearing Iyanla Vanzant say we should give thanks for those who get on our last nerve as they have saved us hours of therapy and thousands of dollars in copays. That is not the exact quote, but the point I took from it is that those we find the most difficult to deal with often times have invaluable lessons to teach us.
This month, I am reading Mark I Rosen’s book, Thank You for Being Such a Pain. In it he provides strategies for allowing difficult people to be teachers. He tells a story that reminded me of Vanzant’s advice. He wrote:
"There is a story about the mystical teacher Gurdjieff and one of his disciples. The disciple, who lived in the ashram, was strongly disliked by the other disciples for a variety of reasons. When he left, Gurdjieff actually tracked him down and paid him to return, telling the rest of the disciples that the ostracized man was one of their most important teachers.”Read More