Tag Archives: imagination

life work

life work

Income, jobs, self-expression, entrepreneurship, the economy (or what of it is available to people like you and me), creeping expenses, the shimmering mirage of globalization, debt, health care expenses, and familial obligation have been on my mind a lot lately.

I suspect it’s been on a lot of minds.

music:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZI76J1UDKw

 

I’ve been out of work for longer than I’d like to admit.  I did qualify for a disability check from the US government with the dual diagnosis of motor stroke and advanced heart disease that required surgery for a new valve, generated atrial fibrillation, and got me one of them pacemaker-defibrillators tucked under my left clavicle.

Thanks to an irreplaceable battery of doctors, nurses and their support staff, I am alive, ambulatory, of sound mind, upright, capable of thought and keyboard output.  But I have been told I’ll never work again. And the disability check rolled right over into Medicare retirement.

How do YOU define work? The production of what pays how much these days?, and what will your bosses say about how hard you have to work and how well you will be paid for that? A lot of people have those questions and problems.

I had an e-mail exchange the other day with someone in a particular peculiar predicament; I’ll not share the details (you go ahead and fill in your own details), but what I told him was that the simple investment of something like $150-500 and about five hours time might help him figure out the answer to his conundrum in a way that would set him on a positive and functional course for the next two decades.  In this economy, it’s hard to think about work for two decades, especially if — like him — you have turned the corner and are well into the prime of your life. Or perhaps your particular peculiar predicament doen’t allow you to find $150-500.

Now you could ask, and with good reason, why I thought I had something of value to offer this particular fellow, and the answer is pretty simple. The more complex answer is to look back into this idea of work and life and see what falls out.

As you might have noticed, I have a library full of books that I not only have read but understand.  I recommend many of these books to a lot of people.  You really havde to go and read and discover a lot of this for yourself, and why not? It’s your life.

You really don’t want to be beholden to some distant fellow who is going to tell you what to do, or keep you on a short leash so he and his upstream buddies can harness you to the plow, do you? I told him that he could take me over the local bistro at happy hour and buy me a large plateful of oysters and two two-finger glasses of  single malt while I told him about the time just after I’d fashioned a very successful and very functional 18-hour long-range planning retrerat for my employing organization and the incoming President came in and threw it (and me) out the door.

Or I could tell him about the time when the incoming President of the organization I had kept afloat despite the inepitude of my predecessors and the Board’s own rigidity cancelled my vacation and told me that my “administrative shortcomings” were sufficient to put my job in severe jeopardy.

Or I could tell him about the time when, having taken over for a fellow who had been summarily fired, the Board told me to manufacture the accounting evidence that would cover the apparent embezzlement by he and several of the elected officers.

In the first case, I found myself a new job (I re-invented myself); in the second case, I told the Veep that she had 48 hours to re-instate what was due me or I was going to walk out the door at the very moment when their entire programmatic year was hanging in the balance. Six weeks later, we had a mutual parting of the ways.  In the third case, I informed the Board that the penalty for me to do what they asked was a $10,000 fine and/or some serious jail time, neither of which I would risk for them. They gave me a parting gift of a few grand which did not last as long as I needed it to last. No matter; I am still alive and breathing.

In those instances I had found myself in a peculiar predicament, as I did in yet another case in which I mastered the computer with sufficient understanding that I was able to program it (and me) with a set of templates that allowed me to double and triple my output.  I was paid for the production of typed reports and records at the rate of a dime a line and, having discovered what I had discovered and implemented it effectively, I went to my boss (and her boss) to try to explain that they could stop out-sourcing and bring the work back inside and keep a lot of people (including the “customer”) much happier because the turn-around period was cut in half, and they did not have to pay premium rates for the output.  But despite the fact that, while I listened to the dictation of people with thick foreign accents I simultaneously listened to jazz, and despite the fact that I was regularly interrupted to interpret the complex terms for other typists, my income soared beyond that of the department head, and when she discovered that, I was history.

This was similar to another employment pecadillo when, as the department rep at an inter-departmental meaning to look at how expenses could be cut, I showed them a way to save over $100,00 a year which, when she found out, made my department head livid because I’d apparently showed her up by not having brought my idea to her so she could take the credit. Later, for that same employer, I was placed back on probation for the exact same act that her bosses’ bosses boss gave me a $500 bonus.

So when, in the final instance, I threw in the towel in exasperation, I became intrigued with the field of performance psychology, and I ended up doing a lot of reading about methods of self-improvement.  All this experience with employment (or the lack of it) brought me to the books Zen and the Art of Making a Living.  I began to become interested in coaching. While I had done my share of youth sports coaching, I discovered the fields of executive coaching and life coaching and even considered becoming one.

And there’s the rub, the word life. It’s not because I considered being a life coach that I think I am one.  I am not. I never did the schooling. I never got certified.  I never hung out my shingle. I decided it was not what I wanted to do with my life.  But I did enough work that I have several practice resources and fieldbooks, a library full of related material, and a solid understanding of what a life coach is and what one can do for you. I even wrote about an oustanding exemplar in the field right here in this blog, as well as an oustanding executive coach.

A life coach can help you see clearly where your life is right now, create a vision for where you want your life to go, and make a plan to get you to your destination. When your coach has a good understanding of what you want, they will help you, guide you, and facilitate the process of achieving your goals and dreams. They will collaborate with you and provide the support you need…. A life coach will not tell you what to do with your life. Their job is to facilitate your goals, not push their ideas on you. ”

Lots more here:

https://www.your24hcoach.com/blog/what-is-online-life-coaching-and-does-it-work 

http://www.lifecoachspotter.com/how-to-find-life-coach-guide/ 

http://www.findacoach.com 

http://www.findacoach.com/rightcoach includes business and corporate/organizational coaching

Now, as I said, I appreciate that you the reader may not have the cash to hire yourself a life coach. Look into it briefly anyway so you know what it’s all about and how, especially if you do some work on your own, you can reduce the expense you have to pay out of your pocket.

If you’re here. we know you can read.

If you haven’t gotten there yet, start with the book I compiled when I was out of work.  I thought I was doing it for my kids, but I was really doing it for myself. I was, as a high school friend of mine from waaay back put it, “re-parenting” myself.

Yes, of course… If you want to be a good parent, you have to make sure you got the lessons done first.

That book is right here inside the blog, the chapters are in pdf format, there’s an expanded or annotated table of contents so you can simply figure out where to start, what to skip, and even if you need it at all.

Even exemplars need coaches.  You can’t see yourself as clearly as someone else can.

Life coaches are not shrinks.  There’s nothing wrong with you that you can’t fix. So sit down and have a conversation with a trained professional about where you are, where you are stuck, what you want, etc.

Find some books.  The bibliography of “Summon The Magic” offers you a number of places to start. Go to the library.  If you like the book, buy a used copy. If you have a pretty good idea of where you are headed, find How To Do, Be or Have Anything by Laurence Boldt.

Or get Steve Chandler’s Reinventing Yourself: How To Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted to Be.

If you’re confused about the relationship between earning a livelihood and thriving in your family and community, get Matthew Fox’s The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for Our Time.

If, after you’ve put your toes into the water, you can’t find a life coach you’re eager to work with, or you simply can’t afford to get involved in his or her fee schedule, go back to the book search process and find a copy of Coach U’s Essential Coaching Tools. It’s a pricey reference book loaded with tools to assess your situation; it’s what the pros use when they get started. But there’s one out there right now for under $50.

You do care about the quality and meaning of your life enough to invest $50, don’t you?

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http://www.livelihoodshow.com 

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https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/08/01/bruce-lee-on-performance-psychology-elements-willpower-emotion-imagination-confidence 

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The Science of How Our Minds and Our Bodies Converge in the Healing of Trauma

https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/06/20/the-body-keeps-the-score 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lhe_o4AaN_A

 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/58/0a/be/580abeec694717753a181514e7f2f39c.jpg 

“… Nurses agree that GOOD care is good care no matter whose hands deliver it. Aseptic technique doesn’t necessarily improve with additional initials behind a nurse’s name, and a nurse doesn’t get faster at psychomotor skills because she went back to school. In fact, she may be a little slower getting those electrodes and defibrillator pads attached because of age!!

Nurses agree that GOOD care is good care no matter whose hands deliver it. Aseptic technique doesn’t necessarily improve with additional initials behind a nurse’s name, and a nurse doesn’t get faster at psychomotor skills because she went back to school. In fact, she may be a little slower getting those electrodes and defibrillator pads attached because of age!!…”

Diane Goodman, in a thread at MedScape

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http://hugyournurse.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/great-nurses.jpg

http://hugyournurse.com/what-makes-a-nurse-a-great-nurse/ 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bRb-HzPKBA 

Long-Distance Runaround

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The Third Self: Mary Oliver on Time, Concentration, the Artist’s Task, and the Central Commitment of the Creative Life

https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/10/12/mary-oliver-upstream-creativity-power-time/ 

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music courtesy of

http://thebadplus.com 

no one accountable

no one accountable

 

The only one who can save you … is you!

 

How are Shooting a 12-Year-Old on a Playground and Bombing Hospitals Related?

By Joseph Clifford

May 04, 2016 “Information Clearing House

How is it possible that a hospital is bombed, killing 42 people, including doctors and 2 children burned alive in their beds, and no one is held accountable, punished or has admitted to any wrongdoing? How is it possible that a policeman arrives at a playground, and in less than 2 seconds shoots and kills a 12-year-old, and no one is held accountable?

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music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jiXQmWBXbY 

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The officer, who had been terminated from another police force for an inability to use firearms responsibly, is still on the job after killing a 12-year-old. No one will be charged, tried, or held accountable in any way. No one has admitted to any wrongdoing. How is it possible that a 12-year-old in a playground is shot dead in two seconds, and the authorities say no one did anything wrong? How is that possible? Let that be your 12-year-old, and have them say no one did anything wrong. How did we get here?

This country has dramatically changed its core beliefs since conception. Most Americans are unaware the founding fathers feared, and did not want, a standing military. They were steeped in history and knew full well that strong militaries historically use their power against their own citizens, and the founders fought bitterly over whether there should be any army at all. It was the most bitter argument in the constitutional convention, but finally a small military was created out of fear that Britain would try to reconquer the colony. The military however, was loathed by clear thinkers and viewed as a necessary evil that had to be closely watched, contained, and monitored, which is also the view of this writer. Of course the military has served a useful protective function, but since the end of WWII the public has been led to believe the military must always expand and be honored.

We have 1000 bases around the world and the military is out of control. We have lost the ability to solve problems diplomatically and military power is the only tool in our bag.

We resort to war as the one solution to all problems.

Today, citizens who have no concept of human history revere the military. Every sporting event has a salute to the military. We have “flyovers” and the like, which the founders would have loathed. You have been led to believe the military is a good thing, and you should honor the troops, which would be the last thing the founders would ever have imagined.

So that said, here we are. Last October, the US bombed a hospital in Kanduz Afghanistan, and lied about it, then, because of overwhelming evidence, grudgingly admitted it, but called it a mistake. The hospital had given their exact GPS coordinates to the military many times, and had a huge hospital insignia on the roof, but that didn’t mean a thing to the US military. The hospital, after the initial bombing, contacted the US military and told them the hospital was being bombed, yet the attack continued for another 45 minutes. Fleeing innocents were strafed. The military made up another pretext, saying there were fighters in the hospital, which also was proven to be false. The hospital and the Afghan government wanted an independent investigation, which the US blocked. We said “we” will investigate ourselves. Guess what they found. It was simply a mistake; no one was charged, tried or severely punished.

This, by the way, is not an isolated event. The US has bombed several hospitals in the past, including a pediatric hospital in Iraq. Once might be an accident, but when there is a history of “accidents”, something is wrong. Schools have been bombed, entire wedding parties have been obliterated and incinerated. All said to be “accidents”, while at the same time bragging about how “smart” our bombs are.

No one is ever held accountable for any of these countless horrific murders. The military is now viewed with awe. Years of groundwork have paved the way for the glorification of the military, and they are held high above any kind of law. They can do no wrong. But what happens, for example, to a school teacher who puts his/her hands a child? They are fired immediately and charged in court, as they should be. But police and the military can kill innocents, and not be held accountable.

Meanwhile, back to the playground where the 12-year-old was gunned down by a renegade policeman. Our reverence for the military has carried over to anyone who wears a uniform. Most police recruits have a military background, have military weapons, and use military tactics against their own citizens. They can do no wrong; i.e. shooting down a 12-year-old.

This is not an isolated example; just follow the Black Lives Matter movement for a few minutes, and you will conclude that blacks are just targets. A young man is simply walking down a stairwell, having done absolutely nothing wrong, and is gunned down by a policeman and no one is held accountable.

An elderly man in CT accidentally triggered his Life Alert; the police show up, break down his door and shoot him to dead and no one is held accountable.

A man is shot in cold blood while walking down a street having committed no crime. He is shot not just once, but 11 times. A man is shot 41 times by police in NYC. No officer was found to have did anything wrong.

Space prevents me from continuing with the senseless slaughter by police. They are viewed as an extension of the military, and so, like the military, can do no wrong. How far we have strayed! It is too bad we have no appreciation for the history of mankind and the history of military forces.

The military is so worshipped it consumes most of the available tax money. While cutting every social program possible, the military budget is increased every year. We spend more on the military and security than the rest of the world put together, while slashing all programs for people and infrastructure. This writer will undoubtedly be disparaged for distrusting the military, which proves the point of this article.

Next time you watch a sporting event and see a “flyover” by machines that are designed to kill, stop and ask: What is the possible connection between a sporting event and a “flyover” by killing machines? The answer is simple. There isn’t any, but it does reinforce the concept of reverence for the military.

Most argue that “our” military will never use its power on its own people. Do you see what the police are doing? We are close. Where does it say the US military is an exception to all of human history?

Joe Clifford lives in Rhode Island.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44582.htm 

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“… The Collective does not have imagination. It poaches on individuals with imagination…..”

https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/globalist-peril-vs-the-individual/ 

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Editors’ Note: It is appropriate to announce in advance that these three blogs will undergo some change in the not-too-distant future. I speak mostly of Occurrences, but also its siblings The Sullen Bell and BoyDownTheLane

While I will continue to be interested in news and politics, and will probably remain active in writing about them, transition is upon us, and me in particular. 

The world of social media and the Internet is undergoing significant centralization and compression; one lone individual canot have much impact against the combined weight of the US government and its corporate/intel complex, the social engineering thrusts of the Tavistock crowd, or the stupidly unwavering commitment to warfare and other forms of militancy. 

The continuation of a news aggregating entity like Occurrences must involve others, higher IT skills, some automation, more voices, the next higher level of creativity and interaction, fresh ideas, sale of the web site(s), or abandonment. 

I invite suggestions and input via the contact pages at any of the three sites.

 

human interaction

human interaction

In the age of the internet and smartphones, there is no denying that technology continuously shapes our everyday lives….

featured graphic:

https://notalwaysright.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/1743544_857602394269215_1619534653_n.jpg 

music audio:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WH9HET1j_o 

In the age of the internet and smartphones, there is no denying that technology continuously shapes our everyday lives. Ours is an ever-connected society, and social media in particular has transformed human interactions well beyond the confines of our immediate circles. We can now communicate with friends, family, and likeminded communities regardless of physical location, and sharing even the most intimate aspects of our private lives has become the norm.

Whilst global connectivity is no doubt extremely positive, a closer look at social media highlights a more destructive reality for the individual. In a world where everything is seemingly on show, it is crucial to question just how real social media is and to consider its impact on our mental well-being.

Social Media: What’s The Appeal?

To truly understand the relationship between social media and self-image, we need to recognize what draws us to online networks in the first place. Keeping in touch with far-flung friends and relatives may be an obvious advantage to sites like Facebook, but our fascination with social media runs deeper than that: it taps into our desire to be heard. Indeed, the internet has given us all a voice, with affordable packages such as this one making it easier than ever before to create a website or blog using common WordPress themes. Practically anyone can become a published writer or photographer within the online sphere, and the abundance of user-generated media stands testament to our inherent need to share. Social media presents not only another platform through which to express ourselves, but by apparently focusing on the banalities of everyday life, it enables us to construct an identity over which we have total control.

Through status updates, location check-ins, and photo uploads, we appear to give our online friends all-access insight into our lives, but in reality, the majority of us are presenting an edited version. Whilst this is necessary for maintaining some degree of privacy, the danger arises when we become more fixated on portraying the perfect existence than actually living it. Posting only the most flattering selfies or fun-filled weekend snaps may seem completely harmless – and is indeed a natural reflex for many online socialites – but our obsession with airbrushing every aspect of our digital lives can actually have some rather alarming psychological implications.

The Actual Self Vs. The Online Self

The notion of keeping up appearances is not unique to social media; from job interviews to meeting new people for the first time, it’s only natural that we put our best selves forward.

According to Edward Tory Higgins’ self-discrepancy theory (1987), we all identify with three different types of self: the actual self – the person we perceive ourselves to actually be; the ought self based on who we believe we should be; and the ideal self shaped by hopes, wishes, and aspirations – the person we want to be. Higgins believed that the larger the perceived discrepancy between, say, the actual and the ideal self, the more prone the individual is to negative emotions, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and even self-contempt.

Of course, it is not only our own profiles that affect our mental wellbeing. Several studies have identified a correlation between Facebook usage in general and dissatisfaction with one’s own life, with envy cited as the most common emotion induced by the site. Bombarded with constant reminders of other people’s “perfect” lives, it can indeed be incredibly difficult to see through the illusion that everyone else is flying higher, having more fun, and going to better places. Our failure to fully realize our own goals is once again highlighted, and we feel inadequate – and miserable – by comparison.

External Validation or True Self-Worth?

According to Statista, 73% of the US population had a social media profile in 2015, a figure that grows significantly year on year. The question remains, then: if social media makes us feel so bad, why do we continue to subscribe and take part? Fear of missing out no doubt plays a major role, as online networks have become so integral to the way we interact with our peers. Another key factor is our inherent need to be regarded positively by others, as explained by psychologist Carl Rogers’ theory of personality. There is no denying that posting a picture online and receiving likes and comments is one of the most instant – and measurable – forms of external validation, and gives us quite the buzz. In that respect, social media has made it all too easy to choose the path of instant, short-term gratification, with the ideal or online self often taking precedence over the actual self. Whilst social media provides a quick-fix, the ever widening gap between the actual and ideal selves can leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled in the long term.

Loving Yourself In The Age of Social Media

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.

Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person (1961)

A significant part of Rogers’ theory is the concept of self-actualization through reaching one’s full potential, ultimately aligning the actual self with the ideal self. Although this is an ongoing journey rather than a fixed destination, the more congruent we perceive the two selves to be, the greater our sense of fulfilment. However, in a world where social media paints a glossy picture of perfect lives, there is a growing tendency to abandon the pursuit of self-actualization and to live vicariously instead through the online self.

Someone who knows only too well just how toxic this can be is teenage model Essena O’Neill. Having previously made a living through her social media posts, she dramatically quit Instagram last year, exposing a deeply flawed reality behind the perfect scenes. No longer able to cope with the discrepancy between her real life and the life she was portraying online, she has shunned social media in order to focus on “real-life projects.” In an emotional video that clearly captures just how miserable it made her feel to be “defined by numbers,” O’Neill strongly urges others to follow suit.

Achieving and maintaining a positive self-image in the social media age is not necessarily about quitting Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Rather, it is about readjusting your perception of the online world and finding a balance between digital and real life. Firstly, learning to see through the smoke and mirrors of other social media profiles will break the habit of comparing yourself unfavorably, so that time spent online is more about connecting with friends than highlighting your own shortcomings.

Secondly, it’s crucial to focus wholly on aligning your actual self with your ideal self, rather than simply projecting these aspirations onto your online profile. Be 100% present in every moment – do things that actually fulfill and satisfy you, regardless of whether it makes an impressive social media post. Nurturing face-to-face connections and placing more value on your real-life state puts a much-needed perspective on social media, ultimately boosting the way we perceive ourselves and paving the way to genuine, long-term happiness.

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/03/10/self-worth-in-the-age-of-social-media/  

via

http://www.blacklistednews.com/The_Psychology_Of_Social_Media_or_How_Our_Online_Lives_Are_Harming_Real-Life_Happiness

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http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4TcLyVL8l1w/Ufk2ig7caaI/AAAAAAAAAP4/G-0cGVel20Q/s1600/cartoon.jpg

Source:

http://tmgnorthwest.blogspot.com/2013/08/human-interaction-there-isnt-app-for.html 

 

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Consciousness wants to create new consciousness, and it can. Imagination is how it does it. If there were some ultimate state of consciousness, imagination would always be able to play another card and take it further.

In any arena of life, and especially when it comes to the mind, perception, power, empathy, and so on, there is always a status quo. It’s merely the place where a person says, “Well, that’s enough. I’ll settle for what I have. I’ll stop here.”

Sooner or later, this leads to boredom, frustration, problems, and conflict. It leads to a decline.

Imagination, which knows no bounds, is the source for the most adventurous explorations. It can have great impact on the material world, of course, but one mustn’t therefore conclude it is composed of matter or energy. Imagination is non-material. To think otherwise winds you up in using some version of physics to depict imagination—and then you are imposing limits on it. This is an error. Imagination doesn’t obey any laws of physics.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we’ve flattered reality enough. It doesn’t need any more. Imagination creates new realities.

You can create the same thing over and over, and eventually you’ll be about as alive as a table. Inject imagination into the mix, and everything suddenly changes. You can steer that boat anywhere you want to.

The lowest common denominator of consensus signals an absence of imagination: everyone agrees; everyone is bored; everyone is obedient. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are massive floods of unique individual creation, and then that sought-after thing called abundance is as natural as the sun rising in the morning.

Sitting around in a cosmic bus station waiting for reality is what reality is. Everything else is imagination.

There are those who believe life is a museum. You walk through the rooms, find one painting, stroll into it and take up permanent residence. But the museum is endless. If you were a painter, you’d never decide to live inside one of your canvases forever. You’d keep on painting.

The relentless and obsessive search for all those things on which we can agree is a confession of bankruptcy.

When we re-learn to live through and by imagination, we enter and invent new space and time.

With imagination, one can solve a problem. More importantly, one can skip ahead of the problem and render it null and void.

Imagination isn’t a system. It might invent systems, but it is non-material. It’s a capacity. It feels no compulsion to imitate reality. It makes realities. Its scope is limited only by a person’s imagining of how far imagination can go.

The human race is obsessed by the question: what exists? It appears to be a far easier question than: what do you want to create? This comparison explains why civilizations decline.

Imagination is a path. Walking on that path long enough, you find answers to all the questions you’ve ever asked, as an incidental side effect of the journey. You also find power that most people only dream of.

https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/power-beyond-mind-control-2/ 

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http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-every-human-interaction-offers-you-the-chance-to-make-things-better-or-to-make-things-barbara-brown-taylor-64-12-13.jpg

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https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/004/442/536/426850fa013fea9d930634fa52e2356d_original.jpg?v=1441400319&w=680&fit=max&auto=format&q=92&s=1495993d86bd7b5cb6f41788e8106d2f 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1164329758/the-wonderful-world-of-creatures-and-code/description 

[Ed.: This book arrived last week; I am pleased to have received it for free since I was one of the “kickstarters”. I gave it to my daughter, an elementary school teacher, and just ordered one of the last “leftovers” to read to my grandkids.]

Grow Young … Soon

graphic posted April 25 2013 19:55.26 by Giorgos Lazaridis @ http://www.pcbheaven.com/opendir/index.php?show=440ah2187wt442ef569 

Grow Young… Soon: They’re Coming To Get You

A book fell out of my bookshelf from where I had wedged it — like a squirrel hides a nut for the future — and this piece fell out of the folder where I’d placed it waiting for the right moment to make its re-appearance.

I had set it aside because of its obvious resonance with the overall theme of a personal focus — finding and creating excellence, or summoning it- it follows naturally upon the recent series “Je Ne Sais Quoi”.  And because I’m a grandparent of three, all of whom exhibit many of the characteristics described in that book.

[Here is some accompanying music; 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p5QqKANMWo 

read the text under the YouTube link and act as you deem appropriate.

Or try this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ea2eDyM3RE ]

The book — published in 1998 — is by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. (see more here http://institute4learning.com/ ) and it is entitled “Awakening Genius in the Classroom”.  It could ride along with other books on multiple intelligences, genius, intelligence, neuroscience, and along such authors as Gelb, Booth, Levine, Langer, and others, though it is by no means as heavy a hitter as those. [See also http://www.amazon.com/Awakening-Your-Childs-Natural-Genius/dp/0874776082 .]

The theme of the book, as expressed in the  preface, is “the sheer joy of what it means to learn something new”. Armstrong cites Whitehead’s  “rhythm of education” model http://www.amazon.com/dp/0029351804 and its 3 stages: in reverse order, a period of generalization or application of learning; a period of precision in which substantial energy is committed towards acquiring specific skills on the way to mastery; and Armstrong’s focal period of romance, “in which one celebrates the vitality and passion that accompany learning”, which he feels is neglected by educators. So the book is about how to help youngsters fall in love with, and stay in love with, learning. [Maybe it works for oldsters too….]

In the first chapter, Armstrong explains what he means by the word “genius”  by going back to the origins of the  word itself, as derived from Greek and Latin words meaning “to beget,” “to be born,” or “to come into being” (it being closely related to the word genesis).

“It is also linked to the word genial, which means, among other things, “festive,” “conducive to growth,” “enlivening,” and “jovial.” He zeroes in on  his synthesis at the bottom of page one when he speaks of “giving birth to one’s joy”.

He goes on to speak about the 12 qualities of genius but not before he notes the ancient Roman references to “A guardian spirit that protected all individuals throughout their lives”, and the relationship of the word to the Middle Eastern term jinni, the magical power that lies dormant, as chronicled in the Arabian nights, that is coaxed out of its vessel.

The 12 basic qualities of genius are: curiosity, playfulness, imagination, creativity, wonder, wisdom, inventiveness, vitality, sensitivity, flexibility, humor, and joy.

The child’s full-scale exploration of his world through his senses “branches out into hobbies, pastimes, collections, and interests that may change weekly” and which is later “replaced by a more subterranean curiosity in adolescence through questions that emerge out of “they’re often insatiable need to find out everything they can about their world”.

“… The formal rules and competitiveness  of structured games often force playfulness into hiding….”  Playfulness, described by Friedrich Froebel — the inventor of kindergarten —  as “the highest level of child development… The germinal leaves of all later life”,  shows up as the wise guy in the 11th grade or the fourth-grader who dances his way into the classroom.

Imagination (“stories in their heads”), sagas, odysseys and romances, have “come to be associated with something negative–daydreaming–rather than being viewed as a potential source of cognitive power” that can generate plays, works of art, or “deep dialogues about significant life issues”.

Creativity, too often limited  to gifted students or isolated by educators from the mainstream of American education “where to do the most good”,  is “the ability to make novel connections”, “the knack for seeing things that might be missed”, is  “a part of every students birthright” if “they haven’t been brainwashed… By the conventional attitudes of society”.

“The experience of wonder [as] an encounter with the mysteries of life” “doesn’t show up as a “skill” on any competency checklist; it is “the natural astonishment”, and “emotional experience”  that “underlies something particularly profound about the learning process that receives virtually no attention in education”. Robert Coles’ four books on children [see below] form the background for Armstrong’s statement: “The student who is able to experience the wonder of the world directly, without the blinders of preconceptions and clichés, has access to a certain precocious wisdom different from that of elders….”.

Inventiveness “should be seen as a part of the core curriculum” but “students generally have little time to exercise their “inventive” muscles because educators may fear such amusing side trips of the mind take valuable time….” away from the modern demands of education.

Vitality (aliveness, spontaneity, or vibrancy) “is really the essential spark of genius; the direct energy of the life force surging up into the world….”  “Sometimes teachers worry about containing this vitality in the classroom, believing that the asked classroom is a subdued classroom.”

Sensitivity is about the way that each individual “responds to each stimulus in a fresh and unique way”, allowing them “to be more deeply affected by great works of art, music, dance, and literature, and to be moved by the events of history and the discoveries of science and math.”

Flexibility is about the plasticity of the learner’s mind, its ability “to make fluid associations, the move from fantasy to reality, from metaphor to fact, from the inner world to the outer and back again”. It is about the ability to go on “fantastic voyages”.

Humor lifts us out of the dreadful seriousness of non-genius life, breaks the tension that drudgery all too often fixes upon us, and gives us something new: a funny angle, a new perspective, a broader view of life.”

Joy, the experience of joy, is a core component. “The neurochemistry of the joy of learning is still unclear [but] its importance cannot be underestimated.”

Armstrong goes on to describe for perspectives or theoretical foundations for genius: neurological, evolutionary, biographical, and phenomenological.

By phenomenological, he means the experiential, the “crystallizing experiences” http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED254544 , ”the “ecstatic learning experiences” described in Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory, in “Higher Creativity” http://www.amazon.com/Higher-Creativity-Liberating-Unconscious-Breakthrough/dp/0874773350, and, undoubtedly, here: http://www.creativeeducationfoundation.org/.

Under the biographical heading, echoing Booth’s book “The Everyday Work of Art”, Armstrong speaks of the examination of the lives of adults who were officially acknowledged to be geniuses in every sense of the word: such people as Einstein, Sir Alexander Fleming, Picasso, Matisse, Miro or Chagall, and others.

“…  it appears that many (if not most) extraordinary individuals possess attitudes of mind that are very similar to those of children and adolescents, and that when added to their formal training, years of effort, and unique capacity for synthesis, lead to transformative works.”

The biographical basis is an extension of the evolutionary basis as well as the neurological basis.  “… The absence of role models in the child’s environment that displays characteristics of some or all of the 12 qualities of genius may starve dendrites in those portions of the brain that support these behaviors….  An environment that fails to recognize the importance of the 12 qualities of genius may starve those traits out of existence, while surroundings that are “genius friendly” may well create neurological connections [hardy dendrites] that facilitate their growth.”

Armstrong cites Ashley Montague’s key evolutionary concept of neoteny  when he says “one reason that we have managed to survive and thrive as a species is because our brain is capable of adapting to a wide range of environments–in fact, our brain has the ability to wait until it directly experiences a specific environment and then programs itself to function within just that setting (assuming the environment isn’t too hostile).”

Montague writes:

From their “mature adult” heights, adults only to frequently look down patronizingly upon the “childless” qualities of the child, without any understanding of their real meaning. Such adults fail to understand that those “childish” qualities constitute the most valuable possessions of our species, to be cherished, nurtured, and cultivated.

Says Armstrong: “If our civilization is to keep from blowing itself off the map, we need to cultivate in our educational system people with the curiosity, sensitivity, and imagination, among other qualities, to come up with new ways of preventing wars, disease, and overpopulation. Montagu’s perspective suggests that the qualities of genius, far from being “warm fuzzy” concepts, are the basic building blocks of humanity’s hope for survival.”

Part 2 of Armstrong’s book focuses on how genius gets shut down through factors present in the home and in the popular media. There are 4 factors that are especially significant as negative home influences: emotional dysfunction, poverty, a fast-paced lifestyle, and rigid ideologies.

Parents (and other members of the household) who are crippled by emotional problems including alcoholism, drug dependence, food disorders, chronic rage, anxiety, and depression are identified as generating patterns that reverberate throughout the family system. Dysfunctional families follow “certain basic rules that govern their attitude toward learning and growing; these include the need to be in control at all times; the need to be perfect; the need to blame others when things don’t work out; and the denial of the ability to freely think, feel, perceive, choose, and imagined as one desires.” [One can’t help but think about the extension of these dysfunctional traits into the culture and the political setting.] “In families with emotional dysfunction, a child’s vitality is all too often crushed under a barrage of put downs and insults, curiosities punished or ignored, enjoy is squashed under the heavy blanket of depression. Living in such conditions, children don’t have the chance to explore, make mistakes, discover new ideas, and do the many other things that go along with being a genius. In families in which anxiety hovers over the home like a dark cloud, children lose their playfulness.” Drug addiction is noted by Armstrong as creating special problems that cripple the natural genius in children. This is especially troubling when one comes to awareness about the role of our government, its intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the banking and economic system in the importation and distribution of addictive narcotics. Poverty, the stepsister of those national policies-in-action, also plays a major role in depressing the joy and vitality of children as well as in generating poor prenatal care, poor healthcare, malnutrition, and “other factors commonly associated [which] can damage the child’s brain.…”. But even in well-to-do suburbs, there is destruction of genius.

“Many parents who have adequate financial resources and a solid educational background don’t appear to have much time to spend with their kids because of their own hectic lives. Often very successful in their professions, these parents spend so much time trying to get added in their careers that they don’t have any time left for their kids. When they do up and up focusing on their children’s learning life, they often think about how they get their children on the fast track to success. Hence, families with a fast-paced lifestyle often pressure kids to learn things before they’re ready for them.….Because these kids are given time to naturally expressed their genius qualities in their own way, they begin to retreat behind a façade of cynicism, apathy or aggression.”

“Some families raise their children in an atmosphere of fear and hate toward those who do not share their own rigid belief systems. These belief systems may be on the right or the left politically; they may be related to any of the worlds religions or be atheistic or philosophical in nature. What is at issue here is not the specific content of the belief systems but the way children are taught to fear any other way of thinking and to hate those who stand outside of their own way of thinking.” [Again, one can’t help but think about the socio-cultural milieu,  “the war of the civilizations”, continued and extensive racism, the use of fear as a political psychological weapon, and the ways in which we are divided against ourselves so as to increase the political power of the few.]

Our popular media are noted and discussed [in disgust] for the ways in which they are destructive to the qualities of genius among our children and our adults. “Beyond the violent content of television and video games–which is received the greatest attention and has a huge research-based demonstrating its harmful effects…, At least 3 other more subtle but nevertheless devastating threats to the genius [ of our culture]  seemed to emanate from the vast majority of TV, video, and Internet fair that [we]  are exposed to.” these threats include stereotypical images, insipid language, and mediocre content. The threats emanate from production centers “where the idea of nurturing a child’s or adolescent inner genius has no meaning”. “There is little left to the imagination of the child or adolescent to do in the face of [its] ready-made Logos, characters, plots, situations, and scenarios. As a result, kids simply sit back and passively drink in these images, which then proceed to seep into the subconscious only to emerge in school as stereotypical drawings, stories filled with clichés, and artificial and unreal conceptions of how the world works. Kids’ inner imagination, one of those qualities of genius described above, eventually begins to atrophy through lack of use and eventually disappears entirely….The modern-day image of the child at play is a great single child watching the television set while playing with a battery-operated action toy. With so little for the child actually do in this brave new world of automated playthings and preprogrammed entertainment, the genius of kids has fewer and fewer rich structures within which to develop into maturity.

What Daniel Boorstin once described as “hot and cold running images” include what Jeffrey O’Brien, executive director of the Library of America, called it “a language flattened and reduced to a shifting but never large repertoire of catch phrases and slogans….A dialect of dead ends and  perpetual arbitrary switch overs, intended always to sell but more fundamentally to fill time.” Says Armstrong: “the end result of this homogenization of language is heard in students whose speech patterns are replete with phrases like “yeah, right…” And “you know, then he went, like, you know…” And the ubiquitous, all-purpose response to societies complexities: “whatever.” Absent from these linguistic black holes is any attempted at playfulness, flexibility, imagery, humor, or other qualities that are the hallmark of real genius.

Lastly, Armstrong notes the mediocre content that is present in our explosion of new media, reminding us that Newton Minow, FCC Chairman 50 years ago, Carter rise television programming as a giant “wasteland.” Says Armstrong: “the cumulative force of such mediocrity has created a commonly shared culture based on the trivial and the base.….What do we value in our society? What do we pay most attention to? Clearly, the popular media every made the decision…” Our media fed popular culture extols “those who are often the sleaziest, the rottenness, and the most devious among us.” These are a far cry from the “tried-and-true ruling blocks of genius: contact with inspiring people and exposure to compelling situations, stimulating materials, and challenging problem-solving opportunities that arise out of daily life”.

We have an opportunity in our homes and in our schools and in our society to effect some change and re-direction, though we must probably work with haste and assuredness and probably in the face of entrenched powerful forces whose long-term plan has been the very destruction of our society.  I reference Melanson’s book “Perfectibilists”, Common Core, Agenda 21, the US Department of Education, and other such insidious and occult or covert plans.

Armstrong notes a colleague’s remark at a conference:

“Schools, prisons, and mental hospitals are the only institutions in society where — if you don’t go, they come to get you.”

They’re coming soon.

 

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http://blog.lib.umn.edu/ande8818/architecture/creativity.gif

source: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/ande8818/architecture/2008/03/ 

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Additional resources:

The Aims of Education* by Alfred North Whitehead

* Presidential address to the Mathematical Association of England, 1916.

http://www.faculty.english.vt.edu/Collier/sciwrite/pdfs/whitehead_1916.pdf 

“The students are alive, and the purpose of education is to stimulate and guide their self-development. It follows as a corollary from this premiss, that the teachers also should be alive with living thoughts. The whole book is a protest against dead knowledge, that is to say, against inert ideas.”[20]

Here are some of A.N. Whitehead more famous quotes on the topic of education:

  • “There is only one subject matter for education, and that is Life in all its manifestations.”[22]
  • “The pupil’s mind is a growing organism…it is not a box to be ruthlessly packed with alien ideas.”[23]
  • “Knowledge does not keep any better than fish.”[24]
  • “Celibacy does not suit a university. It must mate itself with action.”[25]
  • “The justification for a university is that it preserves the connection between knowledge and the zest of life, by uniting the young and the old in the imaginative consideration of learning… A university which fails in this respect has no reason for existence.”[26]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_North_Whitehead 

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http://www.innovationmanagement.se/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/imagination-the-number-one-tool-for-innovation-and-creativity.jpeg

Growing Young [Hardcover]

http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Young-Ashley-Montagu/dp/0897891678 

[At $117, I’m gonna have to grow richer….]

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/ashley_montagu.html 

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Dr. Armstrong on tape

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48vaD9CF1CE (3:39)

Dr. Thomas Armstrong on Progressive Education

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClUywtTsTjA (2:06)

Books by Thomas Armstrong

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Armstrong/e/B000APY2HC

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Books by Robert Cole:

The Moral Life of Children by Robert Coles (Feb 4, 2000)

The Political Life of Children by Robert Coles (Mar 9, 2000)

The Spiritual Life of Children by Robert Coles (Oct 10, 1991)

Children of Crisis by Robert Coles (Aug 2003)

The Whole List: http://www.amazon.com/Robert-Coles/e/B000APM210 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Coles 

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The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog [Paperback]

http://www.amazon.com/The-Millennium-Whole-Earth-Catalog/dp/0062510592

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Independent Scholar’s Handbook: How to Turn Your Interest in Any Subject into Expertise [Paperback]

http://www.amazon.com/Independent-Scholars-Handbook-Interest-Expertise/dp/0898155215 

[described by Armstrong as “the best book on adult self-motivated learning” he’s ever seen.]

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The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded [Paperback]

Clifton Fadiman (Author), John S. Major (Author)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0062720732

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http://www.thegreatcourses.com/

Guide to Writers Conferences & Writing Workshops

http://writing.shawguides.com/

audio books available at a number of outlets

 

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