Vulnerability and Soothing Blend

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May 11, 2019-

I just finished watching a TED Talk on “Shame”. This came about four hours after someone, with whom I was working as a volunteer, mildly upbraided me for not working at a paying job.  (This person is not working at a paying job, either.)

I am ever willing to stand outside and be vulnerable to criticism, knowing that a) I can’t live with myself, if I am not open and b) The critic is usually seeing, in  me, those things he or she dislikes about self.   That doesn’t mean the criticism never stings- and there are two people who I have banned from my life, in perpetuity, for barrages of that I consider unwarranted attacks. It does mean that those whom I trust, and who do not have hidden agendas, are to speak freely.

The presenter of the above-mentioned video spoke of shame as nearly always a prime impediment to a person being the true self.  Shame is imposed from within, though not always sans influence or instigation from someone else.  When I was younger, it was fairly easy, even for well-meaning people, to wreck my self-confidence and set in motion even false shame.

Since the days when my late wife was in my primary care, I have learned that there are unscrupulous people who will take to questioning even the most basic decisions a person can make- usually with a view towards financial benefit or other forms of power and control over the person they are questioning.  I have learned that there are those who will attack someone who is defending victims of crimes, almost always as a means of gaslighting or obfuscation.  Both of the people I mentioned above are gaslighters, and they came close to doing a good job of making me feel shamed.

There was just one difference, from the days of my youth:  Time, and hard lessons, have taught me the difference between acknowledging wrongdoing and buying into the script of a narcissist or tyrant.   So now, in an intervening period between jobs, I am not ashamed of not presently earning an income, outside of what I have already set aside for myself.  That situation will change- on my terms, not those of the retired critic.

I am not afraid to be vulnerable, or to experience life’s aches and pains.  The physical variety of these is relieved by what is called Soothing Blend (an oil-based ointment).  The spiritual variety is relieved by prayer, meditation and positive action.

Leap of Faith

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February 29, 2016, Prescott- This is one of those days when a person, who is actually 40, can pretend to be 10.  Leap Day is a quirk of Earth time, but has become quite fun to observe.  Some traditions allow women to ask men to dance, to go on a date- even, to marry, on “Sadie Hawkins Day”- something that derived from the country lore of the Appalachian region.  I think that would be enjoyable enough, as it’s taken in a gentlemanly manner.

I waded through a fair amount of criticism, once I cam home from work today, and turned on the computer.  Many people seemed in a nasty mood, for one reason or another.  I did feel rightfully chastened, in one instance, and said so.  In other cases, I felt the frustration of the complainant and in others, I sensed obfuscation in the wind, and called the person out on it.  She gingerly walked her complaint back, and “agreed to disagree.”  That’s fair enough.

There will be some tough choices ahead, for many people, and for our nation as a whole. I won’t get into the politics of it, but most of you will get my drift.  Those of us who have a personal credo will sense that we need to act, based on the precepts of what we say we believe.  I certainly have been, and will be, in that frame of mind.

We Baha’is begin our Nineteen-Day Fast, tomorrow at sunrise.  For all of us who are in good health, not undergoing physical stress (including pregnancy, Aunt Flo and nursing, as well as doing heavy labour), and between the ages of 15-69, the abstinence from food and drink goes from sunrise to sunset.  As with other spiritual fasts, ours is intended to purify the body and cleanse the soul.  What that means to an individual is strictly a personal experience, and personal business.

I know those areas on which I need to work, so I hope this season will set the tone, in that regard.  Stay tuned, and Marvelous March!

The Road to 65, Mile 84: Arcaneness

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February 20, 2015, Prescott-

There has come out of Phoenix, over the past several months, a concern with Common Core- the Federally-initiated set of loose education standards, which are intended to be tweaked to the needs of states and localities.  Because the Federal guidelines are so general, Common Core has appeared, to the average person, as a mishmash of convoluted lesson plans and circumlocution.

In most instances, Common Core has been fit to the state levels by panels of local educators.  The overriding concern, however, has been the mere fact that it is a byproduct of FEDERAL initiative.  There has been a fair amount of obfuscation and deliberate taking things out of context, so as to change education back to- “Heck, I don’t know.  Just make it something patriotic, adulatory of the Founding Fathers, pro-sports, useful for getting minimum-wage jobs, keeping the riff-raff in their place, and making Might the Master of Right.”

The only move the critics of Common Core have made thus far, here in the Grand Canyon State, is to institute a mandatory Civics Test, for those wanting to graduate high school.  That’s fair enough.  People who master Civics are less likely to be bamboozled.  All the same, there is nothing in Common Core that forbids or discourages mastery of Civics, or of any other subject.  We had a few years ago, in the Dysart Unified School District, in Surprise, AZ, west of Phoenix, something called Core Learning.  There were, in the social studies classes in which I taught, off and on, specific units on which it was felt everyone should focus:  The War for Independence, Slavery, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Great Depression.  I filled in the gaps, though it was discouraged by the administrators.  Several students, though, were more than glad to examine the Industrial Revolution, Gilded Age, the Spanish-American War and the Dust Bowl.

My point is that Common Core is a basic framework, not United Nations mandated indoctrination.  There are frivolous, off-center lesson plans being advanced in its name, but these have occurred in the names of any of its predecessors, from “A Nation At Risk” to “The First Days of School”, as well as “No Child Left Behind”.  Arcaneness is a peculiarly American aspect of education, more reflective of our freedom of expression, than of any Globo-stomp, Monolithic control of what kids learn.

I had these thoughts as I supervised groups of middle school students, who were working on learning somewhat arcane computer design applications, during the course of today.