Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Negative Thoughts

Friday, March 4th, 2011

“This is where I get most of my negative thinking done.”

New Yorker cartoon of a woman showing buyers her home office

Economically and environmentally, for Americans the past three years have been difficult, at best. Even those whose jobs were secure and finances healthy have felt the impact: government cuts to essential programs, neighbors who had to sell their homes, friends who were unemployed, new carcinogens and ever worsening global warming. Worst of all, the nightly news reminds us how bad things are. All that in addition to our personal  challenges.

In times like these, optimism is hard to summon. The cartoon I quoted above is not far from the truth — we often get so trapped in worrying that we can’t do Good Work! (more…)

Fast, Pray, Love

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

This weekend I went to see the new movie based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. It follows a young woman’s classic New Age search for personal fulfillment, as she leaves her angst-ridden marriage, takes-then-leaves a lover and travels alone to Italy, India and Bali. Along the way, she re-examines her ideas about the pleasure of food, the way to enlightenment and the difficulties of relationships.  

While enjoying the story, I left the movie theater struck the character’s self absorption and by our general American sense of dissatisfaction, including about religion. (more…)

Olympic Gold

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

 

 

The thrill of last minute victories.

Excruciating spills on the ice and downhill.

Poetry in motion – on skis, skates, snowboards.

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games have given spectators plenty of drama and delight, as we have watched the world’s athletes compete for gold, silver, bronze and sometimes just the priviledge of being a competitor on the world stage. While the distance of television can’t match the excitement of actually being in the crowd, those of us who have tuned in each evening have shared some amazing moments. (more…)

Wisdom – In Politics of All Places

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

“Two monologues do not make a dialogue.”

Jeff Daly 

 

There were two notable events in American politics this week. As with most things, if we are mindful, there is wisdom to be gained in each. The first news item was President Obama’s much anticipated State of the Union Address. In it, the President affirmed America’s strengths and issued a call to our best intentions.  With calm resolve, he reminded us of how progressive economic policies have avoided the second Great Depression imminent just a year and a half ago; he also encouraged us to have the courage and conviction to continue our progress. Most commentators agree: it was a good speech with a timely and encouraging message. Those of us who deeply believe Barak Obama is uniquely-suited to lead America forward were re-inspired; for their part, the President’s detractors also seem to feel positively about his intentions, if still somewhat skeptical about his ideas.

The second newsworthy political event of the week, though much less publicized and prognosticated, was just as significant. It was the invitation of the President to –and his appearance at — a meeting of the Republican caucus. While fewer Americans watched this drama unfold, those who did witnessed a powerful example of peace in action. With humor and candor, the President framed the current political crisis as a bitter squabble between old friends.  He disdained name-calling, suggested dialogue and promised an open ear. Republicans responded by speaking their concerns and asking tough questions. Even from the distance of a television screen, the lessening of tensions was discernable. People began to remember we all want things to be better. (more…)

Empathy 101

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

“If there is any great secret to success in life,

 it is the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place

and see things from his point of view as well as your own.” Henry Ford 

As I worked on a poetry presentation this week, I realized that the the ideas I am presenting are not limited to writing — they are, in fact, InSpiritry ideas worth sharing! The workshop I have been developing is a lesson for poets about persona poems. For the uninitiated, the persona of a poem is the person speaking to the reader. In some persona poems the writer assumes an identity other than their own.  That persona can be another person, an animal, a place, even something inanimate. In a persona poem, an alternate point of view means using an intentionally different way of speaking, to become that other voice. Enough about literary technique, though; back to my original reason for this post.   

What drew me to widen my considerations about writing persona poems was my assertion that “persona poems compel us to consider how it feels to be someone else.” (more…)

National Day of Listening

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

“I love that simple story that ends on a grace note,

and you go, ‘Wow, I’m just happy to be alive right now.'”

Cameron Crowe

We all love a story; here’s a chance to hear one! 

As much as the economy needs a boost, the Friday after Thanksgiving can be more than a shopping frenzy (who thought up the frightening title Black Friday for a day people are buying gifts anyway!?). Friday, November 27, 2009, is the second annual National Day of Listening, a day to spend time in conversation with someone you care about! Sponsor National Public Radio and the event’s founder suggest we use the day to each become autobiographers, interviewing people in our lives to document their stories. (more…)

Free Speech: America’s Second Best Idea

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

See full size image “Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Action

are meaningless without Freedom to Think.”

Bergen Evans

 

What a pleasure it has been to enjoy Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea on PBS (if you haven’t tuned in, it’s inspiring!) As I have been watching the nightly episodes, it occurred to me to consider America’s second best idea. I didn’t have to think long; the blogosphere offered a couple of controversies that confirmed my choice. If the Parks are America’s best idea (although I might suggest it could have been our consitutional democracy), then the second best idea is our First Amendment, and in particular freedom of speech. (more…)

If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

You Lie!    

Representative Joe Wilson to President Obama

I have been thinking a lot the past few days about free speech. I have also been reeling from our abuse of it.

In 2007, long before the current controversies over the economy recovery and healthcare reform, a friend of mine, Donna Bowling, co-authored an insightful book called, Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square – 101 Rules that Work. While I have often recommended it to those I know in leadership, I must admit that in the past two weeks I have been tempted to send it out en masse. (more…)

InSpiritry Question for the Day 6-11-09: Electricity

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

“Poverty, Violence, War, Earthquakes, Floods…all reasons families are forced to live in Third World conditions.”

Last night, a line of dangerous summer thunderstorms raced across North Texas, full of sky-splitting lightning strikes, damaging winds, tornados, heavy rain and hail. As our huge, old trees heaved in the gusts and thunder rattled our windows, we heard a high pitched POP! and then total silence. (more…)

InSpiritry Question for the Day 6-10-09: Small Towns

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

The best part of living in a small town…

Yesterday, I had lunch in Honey Grove, Texas. I was speaking to the Friends of the Library there, a group of 75 people dedicated to supporting the public library in a community of descendants of farming families. Some had lived there all their lives, but many have retired from successful careers to this struggling town of historic buildings and fond memories. My topic was Celebrating Small Town Life — (more…)