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Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

call it a family – you need one

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2010 at 10:39 am

Where Women Create has a monthly inspirational saying and this one is just perfect for the end of summer beach days from Borealis Press.  We need others.  So Be Wholly You and Repeat, we need others.

It reads:  “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”  (Quote by Jane Howard).  This post is dedicated to my cousin Monique, who is very dear to me.

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they call me shawnee, little indian girl

In Uncategorized on September 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm

The book Native American Wisdom was given to me by an instructor at the Federal Executive Institute in Boulder, Colorado about five years ago (I think I had won some type of game prize or something).  It’s a selection of quotes from historical Indians from various tribes and covers topics such as The Ways of the Land, The Ways of Living, The Ways of Believing and The Ways of the White Man.

Yesterday, I was a bit disparaging about my family’s support over a difficult set of circumstances.  This morning as I was getting dressed and put on perhaps one of my favorite Native American beaded necklaces, I suddenly remembered that they occasionally call me “Shawnee, Little Indian Girl” (it’s crazy stuff that makes you love your peeps!). It’s a name that’s kind of stuck over the years which I think dates back to a time in my life when I traveled to the Wild West to take a job but you’d have to ask them because my long-term memory isn’t always a strong point.

Anyway, all these seemingly non-connected factoids led me to pull out the Native American Wisdom book to share some nuggets with you to Be Wholly You!

From White Shield, Arikara Chief: “The color of the skin makes no difference.  What is good and just for one is good and just for the other, and the Great Spirit made all men brothers.  I have red skin, but my grandfather was a white man.  What does it mater?  It is not the color of the skin that makes me good or bad.”

From Chief Joseph, Nez Perce:  “We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God, as the Catholics and Protestants do.  We do not want to learn that.  We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on this earth.  But we never quarrel about God.  We do not want to learn that.”

From Anonymous, Shoshone:  “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh through nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keeping what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” (That one, I dedicate to Taryn in the friendship she gave to me yesterday!)

And lastly, from Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), Santee Sioux:  “The true Indian sets no price upon either his property or his labor.  HIs generosity is limited only by his strength and ability.  He regards it as an honor to be selected for a difficult or dangerous service, and would think it shameful to ask for any reward, saying rather:  “Let the person I serve express his thanks according to his own bringing up and his sense of honor.””


how epictetus helped my heart

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I fell in love with Epictetus tonight, isn’t he gorgeous for a slave born around A.D. 55?  Well, it turns out that after being freed from slavery, he taught in Rome until A.D. 94 when he was banished from Italy and spent the rest of his life in exile in Nicopolis, on the northwest coast of Greece.

See, I’ve been struggling with a complex, major decision for many months.  My family didn’t really understand it nor did they support it when I would casually try to brush the surface of its difficulty.  But not Epictetus.  He understood as only one of the great Stoic philosophers could.  And here’s what he had to say:

Take a Stand:  Once you have deliberated and determined that a course of action is wise, never discredit your judgment.  Stand squarely behind your decision.  Chances are there may indeed be people who misunderstand your intentions and who many even condemn you.  But if, according to your best judgment, you are acting rightly, you have nothing to fear.  Take a stand. Don’t be cravenly noncommittal.

So what would this dead, white classical guy do to help a hurting heart?  He showed me how to caretake the moment.

Caretake this moment.  Immerse yourself in its particulars.  Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.  Quit the evasions.  Stop giving yourself needless trouble.  It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.  You are not some disinterested bystander.  Participate.  Exert yourself.  Respect your partnership with providence.  Ask yourself often, How may I perform this particular deed such that it would be consistent with and acceptable to the divine will?  Heed the answer and get to work.

When your doors are shut and your room is dark, you are not alone.  The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.  Listen to its importunings.  Follow its directives.  As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.  No great thing is created suddenly.  There must be time.  Give your best and always be kind.

Now Epictetus as interpreted by Sharon Lebell was the kind of guy who did not give easily to false pretensions.  He wanted his ideas to be used and applied to the circumstances of daily life and he had some strong thoughts about knowledge on the whole including the right use of books:

Don’t just say you have read books.  Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person.  Books are the training weights of the mind.  They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.

So words AND actions are what’s necessary to Be Wholly You.  I’ll be acting on the advice above very soon. And to Epictetus, a kiss goodnight – beauty on the outside AND on the in, where it REALLY counts!

one woman leader for nuclear security: start now summit & white house project team

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Jewells Chambers from The White House Project Team wrote to announce I’ve been accepted to attend the “START Now Summit: Women’s Leaders for Nuclear Security”, taking place in Washington, D.C. Monday, October, 18th – Tuesday, October, 19th, 2010! Nearly 200 women from around the country will gather to learn about the urgency of the issue of nuclear security in our country.

The 2010 START Now Summit 2 day intensive training will take place in the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel on 999 9th St NW, Washington, DC‎ – (202) 898-9000.  Read a great article that the Washington Post wrote about women at the table of nuclear negotiations here.

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WAIT – why am i talking: conflict management & alternative dispute resolution

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2010 at 8:16 am

Yesterday I attended a Conflict Management Skills course offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Appeals Board and the U. S. Department of Transportation Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution.  I was reminded how we’re never truly (formally) taught how to properly communicate – the difference between listening and hearing or differences between perception and opinions for example.  I came away with a clearer understanding of the obstacles that impede true communication and strategies for navigating The Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 (Pub. Law 104-320).   

Classmate Mike (who, as it turns out, works just two floors up from me) offered a little tip – WAIT!  Why-Am-I-Talking.  Mike says he has this little saying taped to the edge of his desk and often reflects on it when visitors stop in his office for a morning coffee.  Mike’s story reminded me that I used to know a guy in the maintenance field who had the word “THINK” posted over his computer monitor, that’s a great tip too – especially in the heat of the moment when the “send” button is only a click away.  Or there’s the woman a few aisles over in this building who has the word “PEACE” posted on her wall.  What’s your office mantra?  Mine is “ENDURE”. 

The course was comprehensive in covering how to deal with conflict, Interest-Based Bargaining, Positional Bargaining, reframing, active listening, case study analysis, mediation, negotiation and litigation.  The things I liked most were the suggested reading lists on mediation and conflict resolution and the wonderful chime the instructor used to help us center our discussion and thoughts.  Turns out, he was a yoga instructor as well – a perfect match for a centered empath.  More surprise when I learned that the course facilitators, Patrick Chapman and Fern Feil Kaufman, BOTH held Juris Doctorate degrees and had experience in mediation with the Indian Health Service, DC Community Dispute Resolution Center, and Federal Labor Relations Authorities – among other impressive qualifications.

Whatever your mantra is, don’t let the word be “FIGHT”.  Oppositional positioning is a lose-lose where collaborative mediation and consensus are always a win-win. 

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journal entries on a toddler's watercolor backgrounds

In Uncategorized on September 12, 2010 at 11:31 am

I’ve put all journaling and artwork at bay over the last few months, sometimes life just gets in the way if you’re not diligent about protecting studio time.  While my work was back-burnered, my son’s watercolor painting has flourished.

And so when I received my monthly installment of roving art journals this month (a sketchbook exchange I’ve participated in this year), I decided to merge his work into my own to get me rolling again. Here are four of my recent installments using journaling, hand-drawn pen & marker enhancements, and the wonderful properties that only watercolor can bring.  The subjects are:  1) Always; 2) Key West – I loved it and it loved me; 3) Tony Williamson Died; and 4) Go Home Again.  All four works are based on backgrounds my three-year-old son painted BY HIMSELF and were completed by me in one evening.

creative conversations 2010

In Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 at 9:35 am

Stephaine Evans recently wrote to thank me for hosting Creative Conversations in 2008 with the Vander Zee Gallery & School and again in 2009 with Art Whino! Planning and preparations are well underway for Creative Conversations in 2010. Stephanie is the Local Arts Agency Services Coordinator for Americans for the Arts in Washington, DC. She’s a hard worker, that Stephanie, and she wanted to share the news that arts groups can check out the new Creative Conversations home page, review the Host Toolkit, and Sign-up events today! She writes:

In 2010, Creative Conversations are partnering with the Arts Action Fund to generate increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the profile of the arts in America. Americans for the Arts encourages all Creative Conversation participants to join the Arts Action Fund for free, and be a part of a growing coalition of citizens who support arts and arts education in their communities and across the country.

Stephanie Evans
Local Arts Agency Services Coordinator

Americans for the Arts
1000 Vermont Ave., NW — 10th Floor
Washington D.C., 20005
T – 202-371-2830 ext. 2036

Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. Celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2010, it is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.

talk to your teen: campaign on adolescent pregnancy

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Parents of teenagers know they need to talk to, or better stated, talk WITH their teens about a whole host of issues and pressures and temptations and societal ills.  We have a teen in our extended family, and DYLAN if you’re reading this, if I ever even HEAR of you in the car with a phone in your hand, I’m flying to Rhode Island and you and I will be having “a little chat”.  Dear God, let the car be a No Phone Zone

Now, where was I?  Oh.  So these little talks need to include relating  to children and young adults about risky behaviors.  The challenge and question for many parents is “how”.  How do I talk to kids about relationships and sex;  what to do when your child comes out to you; how do I handle pregnancy or disease; where can I get help?

The Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP) has put out a guide called Let’s Talk and it is available online at www.alexgetreal.com under New Features. I love this resource because it helps to make the not knowing on the part of the parent be okay.  It’s okay to be traveling a road you’ve never encountered and it’s okay to be a bit unsure.  It’s also okay to recognize you might not have all the answers and it’s more than okay to go out in search of information that’s direct and to the point . This particular site offers statistics, interactive features and relatable videos.  So be encouraged all you parents (and teens, too!) and Be Wholly You  because ACAP says:

The ACAP works collaboratively for and with youth to achieve lifetime success through active involvement and personal commitment. ACAP strives to sustain a reduction in adolescent pregnancy and the consequences for its youth through culturally and age-appropriate education, advocacy, technical assistance, direct service prevention programs and public awareness. For more information about ACAP, visit www.alexgetreal.com or contact Becky Griesse at Rebecca.griesse@alexandriava.gov.

give to the boot: mda telethon

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm

We live and travel each day near an empty parking lot at the Hoffman Building which is used by the Alexandria Fire Department to conduct test runs of their engines and ladders.  Over the past several months, there’s been a young female driver trying to learn how to manuever that big red baby around cones, backing that monstrosity up, and stopping it short – which obviously can be no easy task.  I’ve watched her and how she handles herself and have been really impressed with her courage and tenacity.  Being a firefighter in a major metropolitan area like Alexandria/Washington DC with its traffic, narrow colonial brick homes and its modern high-rises has just GOT to be a special calling and I give kudos to each and every emergency responder.

Well,  it’s a small world and this very same driver was outside the offices of the United States Patent and Trademark Building yesterday for the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association’s annual “Jerry’s Kids” telethon fund-raising.  Firefighters are asking everyone to help give to the cause by filling the firefighters’ boots with cash donations.  It’s a real marker for the beginning of September for me, and it always makes me think of my second husband who LOVED two things in this world:  a) when Jerry sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the end of Labor Day weekend; and b) Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Christmas.   And in September, I always think how blessed I am.  How grateful.  How lucky.

Modern medicine is a miracle in the making and the advancements for combatting MD have never been more promising in this age of technological developments than they are today.  So “Be Wholly You” and help the Fire Fighters Help Jerry’s Kids in supporting the MDA drive.  And as for that role model in my very own community?  Well she reminds us of five fire safety tips:  1) Emergency – Call 911; 2) Check your smoke detectors; 3) Check your fire extinguishers; 4) Stop, Drop & Roll; and 5) Be Safe!  Happy Labor Day to all and remember, when we give to others we give to ourselves. 

Image Credit:  http://www.haporiginals.com/mda/fill_the_boot/images/sign_boot_ahead.jpg

name it. change it. eliminating sexism in the media

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm

I just love the Women Media Center’s newest campaign – Name It. Change It. Designed to proactively reach out to media to make sure they pledge not to engage in sexist attacks (particularly against women candidates and all women in the media).  Bloggers and journalists were invited to add to a growing list of media who have taken the equality pledge. These writers and pathway-makers will be the eyes and ears of Name It. Change It. in  reporting incidents of sexism, to take direct action towards equality.

Now there are a lot of political women in the media these days that I may not necessarily like or agree with for one reason or another.  However, when women support women, others will stop attacking them.  If you remember that a few days ago we celebrated the 90th anniversary of women’s right to vote, it makes you take a new look at the women candidates running for office during November’s midterm elections.  Many have already begun to experience one of the biggest obstacles to their electoral success:  The toxic manner in which they are portrayed in the media.  And many women journalists have long sat as silent victims to all kinds of attempts at limits and stopgaps.  I was browsing through a magazine the other day and pulled out three or four ads that were right in line with the kinds of media portrayal that often exists in our age.

This, from a woman’s point of view must become unacceptable and is one of the reasons why Women’s Media Center, Women’s Campaign Forum Foundation, and Political Parity have partnered to launch Name It. Change It., a national campaign to ensure media accountability.  The Name It. Change It. project aims high: To remove one of the most serious barriers to America’s representative democracy.  When women demand the respect they deserve either for their ideology, their occupation, or their appearance – they honor the generations who have gone before and they protect the generations to come.  Is a smiling woman in high heels vacuuming a real depiction of the women you know, respect and cherish?  Not unless she reaaaallllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy loves vacuuming!  So it is these kinds of images that block true reform – where the idea is more powerful than the speaker.  Where we are judged by the content of our character and not by the color of our blush.

Yesterday, the Women’s Media Center conducted a press conference launch where they made a public plea for active involvement. The mobilization of an active online community to hold media accountable for sexist coverage is one of the top priorities and a viral video also premiered.  A new Sexism Alert System (SAS) will measure media coverage that is “Just Plain Sexist,” “Really Damn Sexist,” or descends into “Severe Misogyny” — and hold outlets accountable for these incidents.  Sexism can be overt or subversive and where it exists, it must be eradicated.  Through Name It. Change It., you too can help prevent the next “cleavage”/”ice-queen”/you-name-it smear and change it to coverage of policies and values.  Join the Women’s Media Center here!  Sexism is a very real obstacle for many of today’s working women – regardless of which generational group they belong to.  When you see it, call it out.  Call it what it is.  And “Be Wholly You” – call it over!