Monday, October 26, 2009

What are my Habits

One of the more enchanting people in my life works as a teacher. She teaches young people, helping them improve their English speaking skills, and has also run many classes where she teaches them basic cooking skills. I always figure, I can do that! The truth is I can. Sigh. I have had troubles from time to time finishing projects. I will discuss more on that some other day.

I am tickled to recall a day when I stood in line at Barnes and Noble bookstore where I filed past all the tables of discounted books. I passed a book on procrastination. The title was Overcoming Procrastination. The book was very exciting with ideas filling my head. I had my purchases in one hand, and this book in the other. I was waiting in line, knowing this book was placed on that table just for me, certain it was there just for my perusal, on that one day. I put it down, my eyes tearing up with hope for change in my heart, and knew I will come back someday to buy that book.

Anyway, my girlfriend teaches, and I listen often to the day to day experiences of this world of teaching. I do not hear about the fights, the noise, the chaos of managing children under the age of ten. One thing I hear about is this thing called a lesson plan. What is a lesson plan? My memories of elementary school involved some time with eating snacks, weekly fluoride treatments, nap time, snack time, recess, and storybook time. I remember walking home with papers of mysterious content pinned to the back of my shirt.

One thing that escapes me is that amidst all the things I remember from my childhood, teachers were constantly following programs of teaching me important skills on a somewhat fixed schedule. Why would I have ever thought that these fine teachers everyday took time out of their day to reflect on what they were going to teach me the following day. I remember how many skill sets, and how many expectations are placed on each child in order for a teacher to recommend that child proceeds to the next grade.

Well, she works at a private school that loves Stephen Covey, and encourages their staff to demonstrate the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in their planning process, even asking them to model the Seven Habits in written communications (like lesson plans). I am still reeling over the concept of planning what I do before I do it. What expectations would I create in others should I set this precedent in my life? I have been told that what anyone thinks of me is none of my business. Perhaps, then, I can explore these ideas further. Disregarding other people's expectations may be very practical in a time like this.

I have read Covey's book. His is a book about action. Just as I said before "bring the body, and the mind will follow" I will possibly gain more from the indicated actions in these Seven Habits. I will not write more about these habits, unless I am actively applying them in my life. Funny how useless learning a habit seems, unless I engage in the indicated actions discussed in the book.

I will explore some more on Covey the next time I write...

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two Bags of Steer

Along time ago, a flock of birds traveled south for the winter. One of the weakest birds fell behind. Flying through a low pressure system, feeling the challenge of cyclonic winds, the bird learned his weakness to be possibly fatal. He fell behind, and was forced to crash land in a field. Having never lived long enough to face this experience before, he lay dazed, lost in reflection, preyed upon by waves of self-doubt and indecision.

The weather system had passed, and he basked in the warm sun, until a cow -unaware of him completely- proceeded to have a bowel evacuation atop the small bird. He knew this was to be the end of him. He was denied sunlight. He was lost, unable to breathe, and was certain death was imminent. But his drive to live prevailed. Aiming upward, he struggled, wriggled, and pecked ntil he forced his head out to suck in his first gasp of breath in several moments.

Still encased in cow's dung, he could hardly contain his joy at his seeming salvation. He started chirping, and chirping, and chirping. Along came a cat who heard, and spied the stranded bird, dug him out, and ate him.


Not everyone who shits on you is an enemy.
Not everyone who digs you out of the shit is a friend.
Sometimes, when stuck in a pile of shit, you should keep your mouth shut.

A member of the United States Air Force shared that inspired story with me in 1993, and I have remembered it ever since. But, at the peak of my maturity (age 22) I would have no idea that bthe story was not just cute or funny. I now know that remembering that moral can save me much headache. In 1993, I lived with my family, I had no true responsibility, and I was oblivious to any possible needs I had, because everything I needed was provided for.

Now the question arrises as to who is my friend, and who isn't. Or, looking at the story, perhaps the question is actually what actions are helping me, and which are hurting me. Reading the moral of the story, I am assured that people's motives, good and bad, are becoming less and less significant. After a time, I found that listening to people's explanations of their actions - at times insulting, hurtful, misleading or debilitating- did nothing to change a situation.

Perhaps what I am saying is in the end, I have to view an action solely on the merits of what it accomplishes. So much time gets lost listening to people explaining why they chose to lie to me, chose to steal from me, choose to mischaracterize me to others, and I am sure that the explanations that offered the best of intentions for me or for someone else. Try listening to someone elucidating why they tried to screw you over... One man actually stuttered while talking to me: "I never any harm." Perhaps the stutter was not an affectation, and I am insensitive for the disgust I had that day. There is a chance for forgiveness, but I cannot walk around pretending everyone acts with the best of intentions. Human beings just are not like that.

But, if the discerning reader presupposes I have a dung pile of my own, that that is the cause of this little post, they also know the third part of the moral. I have much to gain in keeping my private issues private. I once read from a man who said "nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue. Maybe I am wrong for expressing public grumpiness, with hints of cynicism. Still, I am smart enough not to throw stones in public. Even simple-minded folk like me can learn from the past.

The hope for forgiveness comes in no longer caring about people's intentions. If someone behaves carelessly I can look for a pattern. If that person cannot stop behaving in a careless fashion, I will simply move away from them. Maybe I did learn something useful from those Al-Anon meetings.

Thank you for reading

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This is my home

After one person viewed this video, I was asked to take my batik hat away from the stove. Amazing the details people notice in this short 90 second view of my little place.

The filming was made possible with my Olympus digital camera, and my electric wheelchair on a slow setting. If I filmed this on foot, I am sure the video would have been more action packed.

(The music selection is the Talking Heads singing Naive Melody(Home, This Must Be The Place))