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It's Time to Get Involved January 25, 2007

01-25-2007  |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
It's hard to listen to the news these days.  Not that it was ever easy.  But now, with crises abounding here, there and everywhere, coupled with impending crises that haven't yet happened but could or might, or will depending on your mood or point of view, I am feeling a sense of percolating frustration that just won't go away.  At times, the frustration gives way to anger and downright rage that surprises even me.  I have always been a quiet champion for causes, for peace not war, for doing the right thing and being consistent about it, politically, domestically, personally. It doesn't help that I was a history and political science major in school, or that I was in college during the Viet Nam war and was an honorary member of the VVAW (Viet Nam Veterans Against the War), and was an active protester during those years.  But that perspective was also informed at the time by my half time job working for a professor, Dr. Wesley Fishel, who had been the head US advisor to Ngo Dinh Diem, then the President of South Viet Nam.  Actually, I helped him edit his books on Viet Nam, and spent many hours talking to him about his experiences there early on.  He was a very controversial professor.  Unbeknownst to me when I enrolled in his class, he was on the cover that month of Rampart magazine in a highly negative article, presented as a major hawk of the war.  When I showed up for the first class, there were hundreds of Viet Nam war veterans picketing his class.  Wesley, in his first of many surprising moves, invited them all in to his class.  Then began one of the most interesting learning experiences I had.  Learning about the history and political environment of a small, remarkably complex country refracted against the life and near death experiences of students and professor alike.  So why do I bring this up?  What makes that experience relevant to now?  Simply this.  Knowledge really is power.  Societies are complex, history is important.  By the end of the class, most, if not all of the Vets, understood the mistakes of Viet Nam.  They also understood that Wesley Fishel believed that if you start a war, you better know how to win it.  It was clear to him then that the US did not have a clue how to win the war in Viet Nam.  Our elected officials did not remotely understand what they were getting into.  We, as Americans, suffered greatly for their folly, ignorance and arrogance.  Allowing yourself the openness to consider learning by hearing more than one point of view is not in vogue right now.  Many people have hardened opinions based on little actual knowledge but voice them anyway and loudly.  It's not easy to define issues for yourself especially when we have leaders trying to shape our thinking by framing the discussion in a way to play into their selected strategy.  Of course, that's fine, when the strategy works.....  Now we have many issues on the table to consider.  What are we willing to suffer greatly now and in the near term future?  Again, we have leaders that have led us into a dark corner, not just with the Iraq war, but with failed leadership on many fronts - energy, health care, climate, worldwide terrorism, to just hit on some key areas that need immediate attention and action.  We have much at stake and many reasons to consider stepping outside of our protected remote-controlled cocoons to see where our contribution might make a difference. Which is why I will using my just-born and launched jewelry webstore as a platform to provide assistance, monetary and otherwise to issues and organizations that I support as a woman, and others that I support as a citizen of our great country. (Though many of us haven't been feeling too great about it lately)  I am currently working on several projects, some longer term, some imminent, that will shine a light, raise awareness or simply provide enthusiastic support.  Individual effort can be substantial and can and does make a difference.  Particularly when it coagulates with other individual efforts.  But it takes doing it.  The first step is the most difficult.    I'm taking it. Stay tuned. 

01-25-2007  |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

Doing Good for Others; Doing Good for Yourself

01-12-2007  |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
  January 12, 2007  This concept should be the motto of the Oh's or aughts, whatever.  It's my new adopted philosophy for the rest of my life, however long that is. The short story is this: when you do something good for some one or some organization or some business then the subsequent goodness that you bring comes back to you, and voila! you feel better as a human being, better as a participant in this crazy experiment called society.  And, not inconsequentially, other people regard you as a human being as well.  It's an unavoidable good feeling, after doing a good deed.  Kind of like the feeling that pervaded Ebenezer Scrooge when he did his abrupt about face and started helping Tiny Tim.  What a concept!  And it works. The news of the day, any day, is filled with stories, most you really don't want to hear.  It's hard to avoid hearing about the daily disasters that affect countless thousands around the world.  I'm sure that each one of us has a disaster of some kind that affects us, whatever it is - medical, family, job, etc., a sort of microcosm of the ills that we face as a society.  There are instances when we are affected by the situation but not in a position to affect the ultimate outcome.  Sort of like watching a train wreck in slow motion.  My prescription for these unfortunate situations is action of some sort, whatever it is, that may positively impact those around you or just yourself. It's easy to get carried away by all of the negativity out there.  It is important, therefore, not to screen out the positivity that is happening at the same time.  Recently, there has been coverage of Oprah building a school in South Africa for girls that will emphasize leadership.  When asked why she got personnally involved in the school, she replied that she was (I'm paraphrasing) tired of just writing checks, she wanted the satisfaction of knowing the people she was helping.  I agree with her.  Scaling down doing good to the individual level is more personal and more personnally gratifying.  Look at what Bill Gates spends his time doing.  And lots of noteworthy others. So I leave with this optimistic note for today.  Feeding your soul gives you strength.  And we all need strength. Thanks for visiting.  Stay tuned.  

Being Yourself or at Least Trying

01-04-2007  |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
  January 4, 2007  Seems simple enough.  Be yourself. Get up in the morning when you want, get dressed in the clothes you like, have the body you want, look the way you want to look, work where you like, talk to people you like, live the life that you want to live.  Well, maybe not so simple.  It seems to me that being yourself is a complicated subject.  To begin with, it helps to know who you are antecedent to actually living a life consistent with your identity.  Many of us women get stuck right here.  Many of us define ourselves in relation to others ie, I'm such and such's daughter, sister, friend, mother, wife, girlfriend, colleague, etc.  It's a bit intimidating to define ourselves individually, as a unique person in the world with a unique constellation of talents and abilities, personality traits and physical attributes, interests and needs. Many women aren't really encouraged to think this way, as an individual. Yet, that personal assessment is key to living in a harmonious state of being.  Many women that I know, both well and not so well, are living in situations, working in environments, having friendships with others that aren't satisfying to them, or are downright stultifying.  It can happen to any of us and does, more often than we would like to admit.  So the next question is, how can I be myself and find myself doing things I don't want to do, looking the way I don't want to look, living my life the way I don't want to live it? I believe that a good part of the answer lies in the ongoing difficulty of actually being yourself, actively living in the world and at the same time, not allowing yourself to be engaged by those people or situations that can cause you to veer off your course.  Or you find yourself having made decisions that, in retrospect, have impacted your life for long periods of time that are inconsistent with your fundamental sense of self.  This can happen in the relationships that we choose throughout our lives, particularly long term ones.  Some of us know the path we want to pursue when we're young and are able to follow it.  Many more of us simply don't develop that compelling direction early in life and get carried along with the current of life, not really steering ourselves in a specific direction.  And sometimes those that were on course, suddenly veer off, for whatever reason.  It's this veering off that presents the challenges of being yourself, I think, because once you have veered off, it's very hard to achieve that harmony within yourself that I referred to above. You can find yourself living a life you may not like or want. Some of us are able to convert a wrong turn into a right situation. For example, taking a specific job in a company that in the cold light of day, doesn't really suit you, but quickly assessing the situation and identifying a better fit within the company or exiting instead of trying to force yourself to fit in.  Like exiting a marriage before kids, not encouraging a friendship that you early on perceive will be troubled. Many of us get mired in situations that aren't consistent with the true self we know and it takes a long time to do something about it.  Still, I think that it's better to act more in keeping with your self and to keep moving in that direction.  As we get older, this becomes more complicated and usually involves more people than just yourself. Some of us change careers.  Some of us move away to somewhere else.  Some of us trade in husbands or wives.  Or go back to school.  And some of us don't have the luxury of even contemplating change, until their responsibilities (children, sick parents, etc.) change. My conclusion is that being yourself in the environment of your choosing is a function of having an ongoing and deep understanding of yourself coupled with an equally deep appreciation that decisions made early or hastily can redound for years to come.  Of course, I haven't mentioned the issue of luck, a pivotal thing that no one can count on. But with luck, that's just it, you can't count on it. I don't have any answers, just observations at this point.  What I'm doing now is very much involved with expressing yourself in your appearance and being more deliberate about the message that you are communicating.  It's all part of having a keen awareness of ourselves and meeting the outside world face first. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting.   

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