Politics and Friends

Consider friendships, one’s that have no practical need other than the pleasure of the connection.

I have acquaintances that are Trump supporters. I don’t have any close friends that are Trump supporters.  I think I know why.  I do not trust Trump supporters.  I don’t engage in deep or difficult conversations. Why? Conversations are usually futile. By choice or ignorance, most are unwilling or unable to practice critical or ethical thinking. They nitpick “but Obama…”, and refuse to look at the big picture, the destruction Trump and his minions are unloading on the U.S.  It reminds me of gated communities.  They only have to see the pretty things, and shut out the reality of everyone else.

Really though, it really boils down to integrity.  I’ve heard integrity explained as willingness to do the right thing, even when it is not convenient or comfortable.  In other words, a willingness to tolerate a madman as long as it benefits me.  Screw everyone else.  The party of ME is the party/cult of Trump.

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Many are willing to tolerate deplorable behavior from their elected leaders in exchange for a few morsels of self interest, e.g, tax benefits.  They don’t want to consider legitimate news.  They like their narrow focus that Fox News or OAN provide.

By doing so, they don’t struggle with the contradictions of their stated beliefs about love and justice with the hateful injustice coming out of the White House. They refuse to reckon with the truth.  Ignorance is bliss for Trump supporters, until it comes crashing down.

His now emboldened fiercest followers are also the most dangerous.  Think white supremacists and weapons.

Critical thinking skills are essential for making informed decisions. To think critically is to examine reason, purpose, assumptions, facts, consequences, alternate viewpoints, and personal biases before choosing to take action, whether you’re in the voting booth or just talking to a friend. Hopefully, with the help of these examples of fallacies, it just got a little bit easier.”

I could go on but I’ll stop. Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”― W.C. Fields

The last paragraph in this article says it best.
and if you need to read more, this is a good one. 
trump-supporters

Building a chicken Coop

When it was all said and done, I told Danielle that having chickens and going to the trouble and expense of housing them is not a good financial decision. She agreed. It was strictly entertainment. So here it is.

We did a little reading and I had/have a stack of sawmill lumber sitting out in a pile, and for a minimal amount of money for wood, we got this built. Hardware and fasteners were extra.

The coop is way overbuilt.  I used 2x4s, and the posts in the ground are 6×6’s.  Easily accomplished with lighter duty wood.  

 

The planning. Using an older and more comfortable version of Sketchup.

 

chicken coop 3chicken coop 5chicken coop 6chicken coop 7chicken coop 9chicken coop 10chicken coop 15chicken coop 16When it was all said and done, I told Danielle that having chickens and going to the trouble and expense of housing them is not a good financial decision. She agreed. It was strictly entertainment. So here it is.

We did a little reading and I had/have a stack of sawmill lumber sitting out in a pile, and for a minimal amount of money for wood, we got this built. Hardware and fasteners were extra.

The planning. Using an older and more comfortable version of Sketchup.

chicken coop 19chicken coop 21chicken coop 22chicken coop 24chicken coop 25

Cluckingham Palaceplans 5plans 6plans 7

The chicken pen.

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The nesting box.

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A video at the beginning. https://youtu.be/wZJoPcYsKX0

 

Beliefs about making beliefs

beliefs of peak
beliefsI’m fixated, which is different maybe from obsessing. The topic? Beliefs. I’m amazed that highly intelligent people, some of the best in their field, believe things that seem to me to be objectively absurd. But then my belief about reality is only a belief based on the information I choose to expose myself to.

To my ultra conservative friends with whom I have not yet alienated, When I try to bring up information that contradicts their opinion, instead of being curious, they discount it, usually calling it fake news. But when questioned about their sources, the “believe” that Fox and OAN are valid. I shake my head and wonder what it is like to be in their head, not that I want to go there for very long.

Other than current events, belief is critical to our perceptions. Where one person sees problems, barriers, and futility, others see challenge, opportunity, risk but potential reward. And then one can take it too far, of blind optimism, rose colored glasses. Who among us has bought lottery tickets. We know the likelihood of losing our hard earned cash is practically inevitable but we rationalize and hope.

Dr. Martin Seligman, the granddaddy of positive psychology says of the five elements of well-being, purpose and meaning is the most important. It worked for Viktor Frankl. Do you find that people that have some belief that they are born, live, and some say incarnated into human form, a spiritual being having a physical experience, have a greater sense of well-being? Are more prone to look for opportunities, accepting of what is and seek the silver lining? Seligman says they do. I know I do.

Remembering how I felt when I was agnostic, as a young adult. I rejected Catholicism at age 14, found religion again at 17, then rejected that in my early 20’s. (Trying to force myself to believe something that wasn’t more verifiable provided a cognitive dissonance that squelched any “peace that passes understanding.” I made a decision to do my own exploration, read, listen and learn, and ultimately found enough out there for me to believe in a higher power, that there is a reason things are the way they are, and that you life, my life, all of life has purpose. Don’t ask me to get too specific though.

As a result, you, we, become what we think about. Our beliefs are just thoughts that we keep thinking. Right or wrong, accurate or not, verifiable or not, to the point where we don’t need to be able to defend our beliefs. They suit our purpose. Joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.

I’m running out of steam here. My question and I WOULD LOVE SOME FEEDBACK. What are your thoughts on beliefs? Or better yet, what are your beliefs about beliefs? Have you consciously cultivated your beliefs or default to what you grew up with? Do you challenge your beliefs by exploring other ideas, visiting and participating with folks with alternative ideas? If too personal, text me.

Maybe we should have a zoom meeting on the topic.

Life is like a lawnmower

Rough draft of a presentation.  Imagine a powerpoint with great pictures as you read.  

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Your lawnmower engine is a lot like life

Both are complicated and the more you know about it, and take care of it, the better it runs.  The less you know, the more trouble you have. 

There’s a couple of things I’ve been trying to understand my whole life. For starters, how things work? I’ve taken lots of technical courses.  After High School I took courses in and out of college in auto mechanics, sewing, woodworking, graphics and small engine repair. The other thing I’ve been trying to understand is what makes people tick? And more specifically why are some people happier than others and some people are not happy at all and then once in a while you bump into someone who is just completely accepting and happy and joyful seemingly most of the time.

156674-160776I was one of those who was fairly unhappy most of the time. I armored up and tried to put on a happy face. Sometimes, due to a new challenge or opportunity,  I was filled with hope but it was temporary.  

DrWhoFacepalmSo if you ask me to explain in a short presentation how a lawn mower engine works, and everything a person needs to do  to make sure it runs well, with the least amount of wear and tear, I would cringe. That’s not enough time. There is no easy quick answer.  The best I can do is maybe give you an outline of what I do that works for me. 

And after the presentation, you’ll go home and forget most of what I said. That’s okay. You will remember that at one point it made sense and you knew there was a way to figure it out. There are plenty of books, videos and people to give you more information but only if you are inspired to seek them out.  Some will decide that you don’t have what it takes to figure it out. You’ll get someone else to do it for you. And some of you will say screw it, I’m just going to run this thing til it doesn’t run no more.  

 

Life is like that too.  Except, in life, we only get one engine on that mowing deck, and when it is done, IT IS DONE.  

Doesn’t it make sense to do whatever we can to learn the maintenance required to keep our lives running at maximum efficiency, with the least amount of emotional garbage clogging up the intake and exhaust valves of our heart? Do we understand the acronym, GIGO? Garbage in and garbage out!  Not just food but what we consume with our mind and our senses, what we choose to see and hear? Entertainment, books, church and political parties included.

Where is the manual for living a wholehearted life anyway? I’ve been looking for it for a long time.

Despite our attempts to live well, we sometimes neglect one area or another, and the sludge of emotional pain and hurt builds up inside until we are about to blow a gasket. Like putting black tape over the “low oil” or “engine needs maintenance light”, we can disregard the warning signs and choose to numb out instead.  We do something to take the edge off, to feel good, or at least numb the pain; food, drugs, shopping, gambling, and more is readily available to most grown ups.  behavioral-addiction-signs-symptoms-and-effects

 

3a0e3ce6a21f8cf093cfd125d85d78b1WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? What do kids do if they haven’t yet acquired the emotional awareness, the self worth; the perseverance and the resilience to deal with the emotional setbacks and disappointments in life?   Many of our kids see only limited choices. Escape. Numb out. Armor up. Get tough. . Fight or flight, act out or isolate. Numb out. Video games and food. And then, adolescence. When the need for belonging is overwhelming, and if their community is not up to the task, it is no wonder drugs and promiscuity become appealing. What the hell. Who cares anyway. After all, if it feels good, do it.

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Maybe, if we gave our kids an idea of how things work, how to do proper maintenance, where to go for help,  we’d have a lot less broken lawnmowers in the landfill and fewer broken hearts in the world. 

books

 

And one more short one.

Doctor, doctor, give me the news.

When you think about it, there are a lot of similarities between emotional pain and physical pain. With physical pain there’s a reason. With emotional pain, there is a reason. With physical pain you can go to a doctor, and get some ideas of what’s causing the pain. They can do one of two things: fix the problem or he can give you some painkillers. If it is a broken bone sticking out of flesh, the painkillers won’t fix the problem but make the pain more tolerable for a while. Painkillers will make it so you can’t feel. And in fact you won’t be able to feel a lot of things. It might make you sleepy and inhibit your ability to function. Or with some more time and energy, the good doctor fixes the problem, resents the bone, and over time, you heal.  You will never be exactly the way you were before, but for the most part, you are on the mend and over time, you can return to most if not all of your activities.

 

My emotional pain also is there for a reason. If it is minor, I can try to self-diagnose and self medicate. If I have a splinter, I can try to fix it and pull it out. If it is too deep,  and I can’t get a hold on it, I might put some antiseptic/anesthetic on it. For a while I won’t feel it so much. It will fester, become infected. When the pain gets so bad, I might then call a professional. And they’ll fix the problem, not  just treat the symptoms. It is removed, expunged or discharged in some form or fashion. There might still be some residual pain but at least I’m on the path to healing.

 

Thoughts and feedback are welcome.

 

PERMA and Character Strengths

  1. Brief overview of PERMA
    1. Read a short article explaining the acronym.
    2. 5 minute video with brief explanation. The longer video is here. 
  2. Access your character strengths to maximize your well-being
  3. What are your character strengths.  Take the assessment. (You must register first)
    1. Short Survey
    2. Longer survey
    3. Description of character strengths and the virtue category they belong to. 
    4. Optional (but in reality, it is all optional) This looks like a good video on why operating in your character strengths improves your satisfaction in the areas of PERMA.
  4. Discussion
    1. On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being non=existent and 5 being “the best it could be”
      1. Positive emotions (fun)
      2. Engagement (flow)
      3. Relationships
      4. Meaning (sense of purpose)
      5. Sense of Achievement
    2. Times in your life when you were scoring 4-5 in each of those areas.  Take a walk down memory lane and stir up some pleasant thoughts.
    3. What do you do now that gives you the highest levels of satisfaction in each area?
    4. What are some things that you are not doing, or could be doing to increase your level of satisfaction in each area?
    5. How could using your character strengths improve your satisfaction in your life?  Work? Home?  
    6. What’s getting in the way of your taking steps to increasing your sense of wellbeing?  E.g. fear, shame, physical limitations, time, money, etc. What are creative ways you can still operate in your character strengths and experience higher levels of satisfaction in the five areas of PERMA?
  5. I’m looking forward to hearing what you come up with. 

 

For Teachers: Change your Career and Your Life

I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum of teaching.

Image result for kids loved at home come to school to learn

At first, I hated it.  Was overwhelmed not only with the managing the logistics but my own fears of incompetency, fear of judgement, and loss of control of the classroom.  As it turned out, I relied on my child rearing models of crowd control.  Threats, manipulation, pleading, yelling, and shaming.  I did some damage, I hurt many a kid, and some responded with anger, others slinked away, and many grew to hate me and refused to learn. Not all of them.  The good students and I got along.  The challenging ones and I battled it out.

Fortunately, life has a way to teaching us what we need to learn.  About halfway through, I learned about Love and Logic. And then with time and more reading completely changed my beliefs, and then my practices, and then my habits.  I believe I ended on a high note. I learned to love the kids, even most of the challenging ones.  And even the hardest, I could hold space for them to be themselves, within healthy boundaries, and the lessons I learned myself, I passed on to the kids, like communication, appreciate, attitude, and so much more.

How different was it from the early to the later years?  Here is a clue.  In the earlier years, I never bought a year book.  I didn’t believe many students would have interest in leaving a sentiment, and fear several with markers to write hateful things.  In the last few years, not only did I buy year books, but students filled the pages with kind, fun and loving sentiments.

Must of what I learned can be summarized here and if it appeals to you, there is plenty of more information.

Brene Brown and “Daring Classrooms.” 

To really get into the info, explore her website with lots of resources for yourself and classroom.  https://brenebrown.com/daringclassrooms/  Great books too.

You owe it to yourself to have the greatest career, to give yourself a break, learn what is really important, and revolutionize your classroom  Your are in a powerful position  to do either great good, or psychic trauma.  I’ve feel like I’ve done both.  Create a classroom, no matter the subject matter that kids want to go to, where they feel accepted, and even cherished, and learning will become easier for them and easier for you to teach.

Are their other resources.  Yes.  I’ve integrated Growth Mindset, and concepts from other positive psychology experts.  But Brene Brown is in my opinion is the best.

 

 

 

 

Connect at the Heart Level First

Brene Brown talks a lot about courage, vulnerability, fear, resilience and leadership. But we soo too many people who may be discouraged or hopeless that any effort on their part will make a difference. “Why bother”, which is just another way of saying it won’t matter anyway. Nothing will change, I’ll still be the same old so and so, an I’ll still be alone, ultimately unloved and unlovable. 
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I know that feeling. I grew up questioning my worth. It appeared to me that I was just another mouth to feed, and that my existence added to the family’s hardship. I hustled for a way to make myself indispensable, and became quite the people pleaser, always ready to lend a hand, fix this, do that. To this day, at times, I struggle with the feeling that my value is what I do, not who I am. Old habits die hard.5a1c7f5bffbc430df856e25900f68b61
 
As a teacher, I learned late in my career the difference a caring teacher can make. “Love and Logic” introduced me to the idea that it is okay, even necessary to connect with the kids as human beings, as valuable in their own right, unique, talented, capable, lovable and worthy of the investment of our time as teachers. Love and Logic said “fall in love with your kids” and they will do work for you that they wouldn’t do for themselves.
 
I posted a sign where I could see it, “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Over time, I hope they will have the inner strength and history of success if  provided some impetus from a caring adult.
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I should have known. Left to my own devices as a teen and young adult, it was often a concerned friend, or my mom, though tired and struggling herself, saw in me something I couldn’t see. She encouraged me to do things, to try for something a little bigger or better. When I didn’t care, the fact that someone, my mom, a friend or caring adult, did care kept me going.
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You often see articles where classrooms adopt an animal, and even dogs. Kids love dogs. And dogs love kids. I wonder if we could get some kind loving grandmotherly and grandfatherly types to volunteer in classrooms to be that adult that helps when needed, but mostly just provides unconditional love and caring and a reminder that kids are worth the effort. It would help the old timers know that they still matter, but just as importantly, that the kids matter.

Drum Beat

rt n dd after kayaking June 2016Facebook is a funny thing. I suspect most of us are lurkers. I do my share of lurking when not in the mood to say anything. Yes, that does happen. Oftentimes though, I feel compelled to share something important. It might be:
  • a special photo with my grandchildren or Danielle Darter.
  • some general tidbit of fun, like hiking with a friend.
  • political
  • oriented towards personal growth.
Here is the observation. Cute pictures get lots of likes…so I know lots of folks see it. Fun tidbits may get 22+ likes. Political may get 8-12 likes. Personal growth. Hardly any.
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I’m not invested in getting likes but I think it is interesting. I wonder if when it comes to politics, fewer people like or comment. I wonder if people don’t want to be exposed, or fear confrontation, haven’t formed an opinion or is it just apathy?
hiking
As for the personal growth stuff? Very few if any at all likes or comments. Curious and curiouser. I wonder if my attempt to toss out a few seeds is beneficial to anyone. I don’t need it to be. I’m just satisfying my need to express and create, and think and ponder and put it down. If anyone benefits, great.
If no one else benefits, fine too. It does make me wonder. Maybe I’m in the minority of folks that consider personal growth valuable? As for others? Not interested? Is it apathy? Ain’t got time? Too big and scary to explore that stuff. Maybe it’s just too highfalutin. Maybe people are concerned might stir up something? Rock the proverbial boat inside your head or your relationships? Your life?
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I like exploring the thoughtful and sometimes radical side. I like rocking the boat with provocative ideas. That’s why the closest friends I have rock boats. They step away from normal and what is expected and do their own thing. They are willing to venture into the wilderness. Alone, so it seems. I consider it just a meet up of those that dance to the beat of different drums.
And yes, some say I think too much. I believe I think just the right about for me.I don’t work at it. it is just the way I am. And I like it.

Becoming

This started out as a facebook post but then edited it and put it here.

I’m contemplating this morning why so many people are so unhappy and their lives are so unproductive. Only as children are we victims of circumstances. I believe however with age, we have the choice and responsibility to put on our adult panties and take complete responsibility for who we become. Some will…some won’t. Some do so while young, for others it is a long tough life long struggle. Image result for lethargy

What I have read, and now believe is that one becomes what you focus on, think about, etc. Everything we expose ourselves to and participate in shapes us. Hang out with lowlifes, guess what. We begin to act like and even look like the people we hang out with. Hang out with haters, bullies, cheaters and con artists, that’s what one learns.

Hang out with creators, makers, movers and shakers, and you learn, and often get asked to ride along. It is more challenging. It is more risky. It requires some vulnerability, a willingness to fail. But it is oh so worth it.

I started reading and researching happiness when I was pretty miserable back in my 20’s. I learned “if it is to be, then it is up to me”. Read books. Listened to audio tapes…cassette tapes that is. Changed my beliefs. Changed my thoughts. Changed my habits of thinking and doing. Changed who I hung out with. As scary at times as it was, I tried new things, made new friends, some of which I am still friends with 40 years later. Tried lots of different jobs, some lasted a day or two, others for a few years. Moved from Cleveland to Kent, OH. Along the way, also visited and lived in multiple places like DC, Pittsburgh, Vermont, Maine. Eventually, moved to NC. Now TN.

To a certain degree, my choices were the safer ones. The life on the edge never appealed to me. I skipped the drugs, heavy partying, and risky behavior. A few disappointments along the way of course. Stayed in school. Then dropped out, then back when I knew what I wanted to study.

Back in the day, it was Zig Zigler, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Wayne Dyer, Steven Covey. All very very successful and seemingly happy. It wasn’t spiritual, but more formulaic. Formulas were safe. For the spiritual stuff, I turned to psychic and mystical authors, e.g., Ruth Montgomery, Jane Roberts, and others. I tried traditional religion and upon closer inspection, it couldn’t answer the logical questions and didn’t meet my spiritual needs.

Finally, about 10 years ago, someone recommended Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly”. Her research brought together everything I knew from before and provided the basic most fundamental ingredient for finding the joy, joy, joy down in my heart, and the peace that passes understanding, and the strength to carry on, to do the scary stuff. Here it is. Self worth. My lack of it hindered me along the way. To the degree that I have understood it and embraced it, my life has flourished.

In retrospect, it certainly has been an adventure. Three colleges. Two college degrees. Taught in 12 different schools over the course of 27 years. Tried selling cars. Failed. Tried selling insurance. Failed. Tried working in a factory. Hated it. Tried selling satellite dishes, nutritional supplements, and air purifiers. Mostly failed. Waiting on tables and teaching seemed to be the best fit. Excellent waiter. Pretty good teacher. Teaching is a moving target and hard to know how effective one is. I did the best I could.

One can make excuses or one can get on with it. There is no shortage of information, i.e, suggestions on how to grow, excel and make a life. Information is more readily available than ever. It isn’t fast. It isn’t easy. It is a long slow forward moving journey. Good friends make it easier. Good luck. You are worth it.

My friend Stuart sent this to me as a comment on Facebook..thus, making it public and free to the world.  Try it, you’ll like it.

Emotion Hacks for Healthy Eating

My sister share an article the other day that relates to changing ones’ habits to increase health and well being (aka “diet”).  A little rough to follow but here is what I got out of it.

He says “Instead of putting our noses ever closer to the grindstone, he advocates relying on so-called social emotions—gratitude, compassion, and pride—to get things done. These emotions, he says, naturally encourage self-control and patience.” Willpower will fail by itself, and your rational thinking.  Mental fatigue kicks in, and the desire to feel good in the present throws the future out the window.

I’m all about understanding the emotions that contribute to unhealthy addictions.  I think there are so many principles from AA that come into play, and for us serious overeaters, it is an addiction, based in our emotions. For me, childhood emotions that used food to sooth the isolation and hopelessness. And when I feel a isolated now, I head for the cookie jar. One day at a time. Easy does it. Maybe you can suggest some more?

Consider this.  Maybe your beliefs and emotions are different than his cookie cutter approach.  But what if you could identify what really matters for you, and what your emotional strengths are, and then use those for changing your health habits.  TA DAA!!!  Here it is.  the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. helps you identify your greatest strengths.  If you can find a way to use your greatest strengths at the task at hand, i seems you will enjoy it more and be more successful.

My results show:

My Top Strengths:

  • Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith.
  • Humor and playfulness
  • Fairness, equity, and justice
  • Gratitude
  • Forgiveness and mercy
  • Curiosity and interest in the world
  • Creativity, ingenuity, and originality

My emotional hack?  Focus on how this health regimen journey has multiple purposes, physical, practical and spiritual.  Make it fun, practice gratitude for small accomplishments, go easy on myself, seek out new ways to go forward, and explore ways to make it work for me.

Finally, I’ve used this other personality test to identify strengths AND weakness (aka areas needing improvement) to understand what and how to do things to be more effective and enjoy it more too.  I’ll spare you my details but give it a shot.  Reading it is like having a friend tell you all the wonderful things about you…and those areas of needed improvement.

 

All for now.  Feedback is welcomed.