Friday, January 27, 2012


Great radio show today - missed most of it, but the mindfulness sure would come in handy.

Friday January 27, 2012, 10:06 AM


Ellen J. Langer, Ph.D., Professor, Psychology Department, Harvard University; Artist
Ellen Langer
It’s possible to go through life carrying out a range of complex tasks without consciously paying attention to what we’re doing.  While it is possible to live that way, you end up missing a lot. We will talk with Harvard professor Ellen Langer, a scholar who has been called the mother of the psychological concept of “mindfulness.” It’s a very simple but powerful idea--that, by paying attention to what we are doing, we will better understand ourselves and others, and in the process live a more full and healthy life.

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I do at least intend to listen the the entire show asap. Intrigued by her comment that all (?) human ills can be traced to lack of mindfulness. It's been a godsend in my office to have the local public radio show consist of high quality interviews. Not just Terry Gross but also the local show called Focus... no, the irony did not escape me.

Yes, I missed my Tai Chi class both days this week. No, I did not make it to Yoga. (deep Breath). Nor dance on Tuesday night. I did however lose a few pounds, ate mindfully and plan to enjoy a walk today. I have been doing epic battles with my beloved child in re-learning math. Each night, exhausted, I miss reading and movies and just find some rest. I think I did knit about 4 rows this week :)

There is something that most people don't realize about teaching. Think of your time with your children, doing anything. Now add to that a teachable moment. IF you are an extrovert, as many teachers (most?) are, then you must pull yourself back, make space for the child to learn. You have to ask questions rather than making demands. You have to wait to let their brain work. You must edit any critical or impatient thought (if you have them, usually mine are directed at me). You hold the space.

This lets the child/person think for themselves, discover answers, and reap the deep reward of having very little help from you. I've found this is also true when teaching computers, knitting, math, and dance. It doesn't matter if it's left or right brain, physical or spiritual. As a teacher you are just trying to help the process of learning gently and yet with right enthusiasm. You are staying out of the way, and guiding. You may have 30 people or 3. But you have to pay attention.  You have to figure out where to add guidance or info. You are watching how their brain is working, real time.

It's wonderful. It's intensive. Rarely is it mindless.

No wonder I'm exhausted, after working as business owner, being wife and managing my family duties, connecting with friends, helping guide Youth Group, and tutoring G for about 2 hours each night. Perhaps I should be babbling?

I saw something on Facebook today about leaders. Paraphrased: If you inspire and encourage then you are a leader. I agree. Unfortunately, leaders are human and can make mistakes.

Below is my post in reference to the suicide of Barry Bowe - principal of a great public arts school in Charlotte, NC where many of my friends have children attending. It was a really sad situation that surfaced  on Facebook a few days ago. I wrote this in response to his niece, who thought that the press revealed too many details of his death. I suggest it's time to pull back the damn cloak of shame surrounding suicide.

ok - I'm far removed from the local news, but I have an interest in what happened. I have friends who are affected and more importantly their dear beloved children are affected - it's not a small matter at all that a school leader decided to end his own life. I'm sorry for your loss Carrie, but it is completely wrong (imnsho) to say that the details of his death are not news and should be kept private. In fact every suicide should be a call to battle for all those who care for humankind. It's a loss most tragic and often avoidable.
Should we not advertise that someone died of cancer? Do you think we could get funding for research if we covered it up and pretended the illness didn't exist? Do you think people would know what early signs to look for or how to support those who suffer with it if we were all embarrassed about cancer? Diabetes? Heart disease?
Suicide is a huge problem in this country. I've experienced in my immediate family. Twice. I consider it a call to arms - for those of us who battle for the souls of those who are confused, ill, heart broken, crazed and/or depressed and need help. Make no mistake - it is a matter of life or death. I'd suggest we strategize.
Yes, mourn the dead. Damn right hold CMS accountable. But comfort the kids and explain the extreme myopia that precedes suicide. The dangers of depression. The need for accessible help. The warning signs. The preventative measures. And do remind them all that those who die by suicide were very very sick. It's preventable. But not if we pretend.

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