The Influence of Common Women

For inspiration and support, I often look up to those I respect and know well.
I am fortunate enough to say my mother is among these influential women, but there are so many more.
The best part is I don’t have to share her with that many other people, she is a great resource for strength and encouragement in my life, and she is present. I am grateful and fortunuate.

We don’t have to worship those very successful and spotlighted women, not every day at least.

Common woman can be very influential.

Look around and notice them, they are everywhere.
They are the grease in the wheels of the world.
They are the ones who smile at the deli counter because they are exchanging words with another human.
They are polite, and respectful.
They offer insight from their own precious experiences, they will help you through your harder times.

They understand the world and seek to make it better. They are setting an example every day, every minute, and they know it.

Take a minute to yourself and reflect on your influences.
Who are the common people you look up to and respect?

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Why I Chose Philosophy

When entering college (the first time) I was pretty vivacious.

The fire that ignited from my very wonderful high school years at http://www.jeffcoopen.org/ made life a very out of the ordinary experience for me.

By the way, view the about page if you think you understood educational goals before.

After seeing where my love of learning stemmed from, you might see the common struggle in what Open Schoolers refer to as “the real world”. Funny thing is we all had to go through this awkward early 20’s experience where we had to try to be part of the existing social paradigm, and as adults we grow to realize it’s not as important as we thought to be part of this different community. I am finding myself engage with other like-minded individuals, rather than trying to conform to who I thought the rest of the world wanted me to be. I think we are all better off by doing this, but it takes time and reflection.

Coming from modest means I wanted to get the biggest bang for my buck in college. I attempted grants and scholarships, but funny thing is we didn’t have grades in high school. No grades = No GPA… applications alone were enough work because of this. I tried to skirt classes by taking others, for example: I didn’t meet the math entrance requirements for College Algebra but didn’t want to waste a $emester on pre-algebra (my mom tutors math) so I took College Algebra based Physics. Not sure why I thought this was a good idea but I passed, even got an ‘A’ my second semester. So then I thought physics was fun and worked towards all the prerequisites to be a physics major. After failing my Calculus based physics course, miserably at that, I figured maybe it wasn’t in the cards. After all, I only kind of liked it and the career prospects were not really going to fulfill my life-long desire to understand the parts of the world I was truly curious about.

Philosophy spoke to me.

I would get up extra early to study philosophy. I was waiting at the door of the coffee shops until they would open so I could get a warm cup of joe and sit in with my next new assignment. Philosophy was always the first book I would pick up to study when I had the time. I would highlight the excerpts because I was unquestionably going to keep this textbook.

Philosophy is not a class, it is a discipline.

People always say to me, “oh, I loved that class.” I find this amusing because it is not just one class you had to take in college. It is the thinking that transformed and created every other discipline. It is what inspired psychology (philosophy of mind), science (hello Aristotle), political science (ever heard of Plato- “The Republic”, perhaps Macciavelli rings a little true in our given political climate), and all others.

Philosophy gives you the tools to critically analyze and truly understand.

We question everything in philosophy. Our biases become apparent through this experience. We can free ourselves from them, or we can back into a corner defending them. In philosophy, the process of setting up your problem to solve must be precise and accurate. There is no b.s. allowed, it is obviously baseless and intentionally confusing.

The stigma isn’t true.

Philosophy majors don’t just care about what the bark on the trees is made out of, please remind my spouse. We are concerned with the nature of this world, hint, hint. We are trying to figure it all out, and we demand rigor and deep analysis. Often we explore things we consider unknowable, yet further examination won’t hurt. We feel gratification when reading the works of a great thinker who came before us and there is an “aha!” moment, we connect with the message. We get it, because it makes sense. This isn’t to say we have to agree whole-heartedly with the view.

We have to defend our reasoning to seasoned professionals, every time.

People think it’s just a bunch of hippies sitting around with nothing better to do, wondering about the world. Not quite. This is a very intense discipline. You won’t succeed with mere fascination. There is application of self, and critical analysis of everything that comes into or out of your mind. Professors of philosophy got as far as they did because they are practiced, and you have to prove to them you understand and can expand. The nature of things examined in philosophy don’t already have a script, and if they do, you aren’t really doing philosophy. You write the new script by doing. Reading is reading, engaging as it is, it is reviewing and trying to comprehend past works.

Career training doesn’t matter to philosophy majors.

Ok, this might sound scary. We aren’t training for a specific career, but we are learning very important things that will carry us forward into the right career. You might work as an advocate, a speechwriter, a poet, or even the person who makes all the cool quotes for a tea company. We all (meaning everyone, not just philosophers) shape the world, and philosophers know it. People often giggle, and wonder why even bother. Philosophy will only make you a better person. The jobs/careers for philosophy majors are plentiful, you just have to know what you are good at.

Philosophers aim to make the world a better place.

This is why I chose philosophy.

‘Epic’ phenomena

Language tends to catch on with trends.
The latest: ‘Epic’.
What message are we sending with the common usage of this term? The irony is that quite the opposite is being conveyed in my opinion at least. When you use a word that means something so incredible, and incredible is supposed to be rare (which is what makes it incredible), you can only rarely use the word.
The sensation it has become, dilutes the essence of its intended usage.

The only other thing I notice with this word choice, it makes your audience think that your experience was above and beyond any every day occurence. So please, don’t make me think your life is always epic, leave some epic-ness for the rest of us to enjoy.

Have an epic week!

What other words do we grasp on to for emphasis, further diluting their strength?

30 Years Old

Let diligence temper my ambition.
Let ambition fuel my success.
Let success be graceful and noble.

 

About 3 weeks from now is my 31st birthday. I wrote this note last year, to guide my way into this newfound adulthood of thirties.

Looking back on the year passed, and wondering where I grew, where I failed, and what can make the next year great.

I am glad I unleashed the beast in me and began to write. I must approach it will care, and thoughtfulness. I must be modest and accept defeat, but award my accomplishments. I must move forward and strive to improve in this endeavour (yes, I like the british ‘u’ in certain words…)

Should we all take this moment, our birthdays, and reflect on what we can do better for the world and ourselves? Can we afford the serious time and critically analyze our year prior, take note of the mistakes and learn from them? I think we can, I think we all can….

Next years poem is on the way, stay tuned!

Leaders initiate opportunities.

Being a leader means you have to try first.
You initiate.
You can visualize what questions to address in order to be successful with your goal.

Where do leaders get this?
Some are driven by an internal fire to fulfill a quest, or a vision of a better future. That can be simple, as long as you know where you are going and your intentions are positive.
How do leaders do this?
Initiate conversation, open the airwaves with those around you. Most people will be surprised that if this is done cautiously and with respect for your surroundings, there are opportunities screaming your name around every corner. Create a vivid and in-touch community through your dealings.
And please, don’t just facebook status update all the crap you are selling. That is not engaging.

Example please?
Offer to volunteer, it may or may not be needed. Yesterday my offer was taken! I am happy when my local library asked for my help (after I offered of course) with the work of organizing some of the functions I actively participate in. Instead of being a patron, now I am an involved community member. A program I support is enriched through the fruits of my labor, this is better than only voting to increase the tax funding… my time adds value too. I can also bring together a few others who regularly engage in the same functions to see if they want to partner the work, or brainstorm with me, or help in the process of creating the event. I have casually accepted a potential leadership role in my community because of initiation.

Leadership is not waiting for someone else to do it for you.
In August 2011, when the first round of national budget talks fell through, my facebook status originated from frustration with all of the rhetoric from media and lawmakers. It went something like this, “Why do news writers assume it is the governments job to create jobs? Are we not ambitious enough as individuals to find and create our own opportunities?”

As you can imagine, this garnered some back and forth, but my thought is still the same. Regardless of regulations, or other strategies politics has to manipulate society according to the benefit of one party or the other… we have a collective interest to do better for ourselves and the nation as a whole. So get out there and get your skills, and get to work making your work. Don’t sit behind a desk at home, filling out mindless applications for nowhere jobs, you can do so much better than that.

 I am a leader and I am proud of my accomplishments.

So, here I am. Creating my own opportunities. It is not easy to make the first move, take the risk of putting yourself out there. If you do it, the right way for you, it will carry you forward. Not every attempt will be successful, learn from the experience and move forward.

What are you doing to initiate your opportunities??? Please share if you care….

2013 Drought Burden

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U.S. Drought Monitor March 12, 2013

Water is a major topic in Colorado. We are a headwater state, meaning water originates here and flows downward. Western states rely on compacts and treaties with CO entitling them to a reasonable portion of all waters flowing naturally through their states. States to the east of Colorado also rely on water from all rivers flowing towards the Mississippi. Let’s not forget the groundwater systems relied upon by midwestern agriculture are recharged by seepage and flow from rivers originating in Colorado, too.
Colorado has a responsibility to the rest of our country to be good environmental stewards as water pollution, consumption and usage affect the entire country. The way we chose to treat the environment as it relates to water flowing from Colorado impacts the nations food supply, fuel production, and human health.

What happens when there just isn’t enough to go around? I was born and raised in Colorado, you better believe we were taught from the outset not to waste. Every year around this time, the snowpack reports begin to create anxiousness and nervousness for Colorado residents, which is a growing population. What are going to be the drought restrictions this year? Will my grass die ( even though we probably shouldn’t have grass but it is a free country)? etc. It seems as though every year is a drought, should we begin worrying about the apocolypse?

One thing to think about is just how wasteful is wasting water? For example, if you leave the faucet on while you brush your teeth (big no-no), does the water just disappear down the drain? No. It doesn’t just disappear. It goes back to the same source it originated from, the water treatment plant (WTP). They got it from your local source (we should all know the source of our local water supply but most don’t), and the water is treated again because it is effluent- dirty. It will end back up in the water system as it is discharged from the plant. Every drop either evaporates or makes its happy little way downstream, eventually recharging water supplies, and used again by someone else for something else. So this makes me wonder, is it really wasted? Not in the sense that the water is gone. But it is wasteful in the sense that the WTP must consume energy to filter and clean the water coming through your drains.

Which brings up another topic. The most wasteful user of natural resources is “industry”. Highest energy consumers, water demanders, and produce the most pollution. We will shelve this one for another article, or 5.

Ask yourself this- Would it be wasting water if we polluted a LOT of it with a LOT of very harmful chemicals, and then dug deep holes in the ground, and then buried storage tanks with this polluted water? And they say natural gas is the answer, drill baby drill.

Back to what we can do for ourselves… are there ways for households to use their water wisely? Absolutely. Vegetable gardening is a great way to use your water supply to reduce the nations food supply burden, and recharge those groundwater systems the local agriculture economy is relying on. There is of course, no reason to over use this precious resource, but if we use it wisely we won’t need as much. I mean, after all, the fountains in Las Vegas wouldn’t be so pretty if all grew our own vegetables… Which reminds me, it’s time to start seeds!

What are you going to do this year to relieve the nation’s drought burden?

Perfectionism

When reviewing my article “I am a Writer”, I noticed something written at the end. I question you if your writing is perfect.

What does “perfect” mean?

Is there even such a thing?

The point of communication is to, well, communicate. So, if through punctuation and proper enunciation of words the message is delivered… did communication occur? Would this mean that following the written language rules is unnecessary, so long as the efforts result with a clear channel of understanding. Now I could reference all these fancy textbooks I have read, and giving credit to my local College (now University!) for the training and guidance I received while paying tuition and other related expenses of higher education; I will save you the academic rigor and jargon. Quite simply consider:

If a goal of communication is understanding, does it really matter how we get there?

Does “perfect” always have to mean following the rules set forth? Now, we could say the rules are there for a reason, or because they are true. I give credit to the notion that organization functions better than chaos, but that is only when there is a goal to be achieved. Wouldn’t you say chaos can be really fun sometimes, maybe the unpredictability is refreshing.

Here is another quest for you, take notice of the words people could have said but didn’t. As a writer (or reader) do you think you know where something is going but it’s not as expected? Does this make you a better writer, sidestepping the obvious and choosing the unusual presentation of your idea because maybe, just maybe, that is part of the message itself?

Notice the details, are they intentional? I hope my readers don’t view my work as careless or sloppy, quite the contrary… provoking thought is my goal. Read along as we explore. examine. everything.

Next stop: tbd

Public Sharing of Optimism and Positivism

Let's be positive together.

Let’s be positive together.

Facebook and other social media outlets, Pinterest, Twitter (which I am not very attracted to for some reason), even LinkedIn for example; all have one very noticeable trend in common. Quote sharing of optimism and things of a positive influence. My sphere of influence has been inundated with not only humor, but more importantly and very specifically- good ideas. One of the most misunderstood notions of positive thinking is Karma. When studied at depth it is not supposed to mean the direct effect of your positive actions being rebounded into your life, or more commonly stated, “What goes around, comes around.” The idea is that we live in an interconnected and vast web-like world (kind of ironic I am writing about this on a www page, you know, the world wide web). Whatever actions chosen by people will resonate and create the chain of change… does this make sense? Well, quite literally if we all choose good or positive actions (let’s leave the defining of good for another time, when I have waaaaay more time to explore this sticky mess), there is an increase in good and positive actions to be accessed by all- the net gain is positive. If those in your immediate surroundings, including your very responsible self, choose to input positive and good actions… well, by darned, there’s just more good to go around.

I hear this buzz that people aren’t interested in Facebook anymore, many people are considering closing their accounts or merely not participating. I find this interesting. The reasons are varied, but mostly the same two at heart.

  1. The public sharing of their private information is uncomfortable, even risky.
  2. The input of thier audience (if you will), is not valuable enough for the “time-suck” it becomes to remain involved. In other words, they don’t enjoy it for what it’s worth.

Personally, I enjoy social media for the freedom it has given me to remain engaged with those I choose to interact with. Another attractive feature for me is the location; I don’t have to go anywhere, and I can do it wherever I feel so inclined. Actual face time with individuals and communities is also good, but I often can’t have a casual, undisturbed conversation longer than 5 minutes or so because of my very distracting (and very wonderful) young children.

With that said, my favorite thing about social media is inherent in the title. The public sharing of optimism and positivism. There lies a personal gratification when experiencing something positive or motivating, even if it is just a quote you identify with. So, while we all toil away endless hours participating in this social construct, and the fabric of our lives become intertwined with those in our sphere of influence, let’s remain optimistic. If optimism is a difficult perspective for you, understandably certain life circumstances can feel overwhelmingly disappointing, let’s shoot for positivism. Begin to notice those “status updates” that are positive, or uplifiting. Engage with them, repost them, and carry the thoughts around with you whenever you can. After practicing this, you will feel like there is benefit from doing so, and hopefully you will continue. Little by little we can help one another by living in a more pleasant world, and this is a service that social media can provide for free.

Another note, perhaps there is a question about the distinction between how I understand optimism and positivism. I am probably a little crazy on this one. I am sure some of you will wonder what I am even talking about here, and others will disagree with my distinctions entirely. But, out on a limb, here they are from my positivist heart 🙂

  • Optimism seems as though it is reliant on the hope (maybe even expectation) that the future holds good things, always looking to the better tomorrow is kind of another way to see it (i.e.- that better tomorrow is most certainly deserved and on it’s way ~big wink here). Almost as if optimism chooses to ignore pessimism, or general negativity. Kind of innocent, in that the exposure to negative might be limited or unbelievable to the optimist.
  • Positivism, understands that there is negative and accepts it, but makes the conscious choice to engage in the betterment. It’s a struggle for a positivist approach, because the strings pulling down are recognized and often even addressed. This is the genuine effort to be and do good, even if there is internal conflict with it. Really it’s like you think the world isn’t always a bowl of cherries, but you still work towards making it such because that is the right thing to do.

So here is the deal. I challenge you to publicly share the positive. Every one of you is challenged to share something positive, or beneficial to another. Do this today. Do this tomorrow. Do this every single day. Help someone, somehow, somewhere. If they aren’t expecting it, that is pretty awesome too. Let’s influence the fabric of our lives in a deliberate and positive way.

Please leave one sentence about how you shared positively today in the comments section, it would stand to benefit us all with new ideas and ways to help one another.

Thank you for sharing!

Awkward Moments

photo credit: Shandi-lee / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

This is awkward

So here we are, sitting at a table with some lovely ladies at my husbands church. I had been invited to join them for a women’s conference and dinner. We are all chatting, vying for airtime, trying to be humorous and most of these jokes are centering around our role as mothers and wives. One question is posed about baby showers. Do you have one for every baby? Or just for each gender? Or just one? So the friend who asks the question makes a comment, “I mean, seriously, what do you buy someone who already has 4 kids?”

I cofidently blurt out “A noose!” Well, two of the dignified ladies almost spit their food out in sudden laughter because I am sure they were quite surprised that this not-yet-member of their church is daring enough to say something so absurd… and it obviously hit their funny bone. The other two, gave me the most polite dirty look I have ever seen and remained silent for the next 10 minutes or so.

Oops.

So what is the right thing to do here? Do we apologize for our words? It was obviously well-received by half the table, and if my vote counts- that makes a majority. Should I have said something apologetic in quiet to the ladies who were unaccepting of my radical joke while I was in their modest setting? Well, I of course did the casual ‘forget I said that’ hand wave- and the “I’m just kidding, just kidding, just a joke, just kidding” sidestep.

Well, that was an awkward moment.