Identity – Perspectives & Possibilities

Tag: Identity

Title: Codex for the 21st Century | Author: Ruben Trejo | Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum

Identity and Unity

I was listening to a Krista Tippett podcast on a recent 8-hour car ride. Krista was interviewing Nikki Giovanni, a world-renowned, African-American poet, activist and educator. Ms. Giovanni was discussing the poem she delivered at Virginia Tech after the horrible shooting tragedy there in which 32 innocent people were killed by a troubled loner. I was struck by the power of her words and their relevance to where we are today – particularly after Orlando Read More

Title: orange | Author: Bob May | Source: alternative_illustrations on Flickr | License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Balance and Unity

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” —Abraham Lincoln, Nov. Read More

"what's the answer" | Author: Erich Ferdinand | License: CC BY 2.0

Quests and Questions

As long as humans have told stories, we’ve shared tales about people going on quests. There is a long list of these tales about quests of one sort or another in history and in literature. Here are a few of the more famous quests. About 2,000 BC, Gilgamesh embraced the quest to find the secret to eternal life. He started out as a cruel despot who raped any women he fancied. After losing his best Read More

Title: _MG_3044 | Author: Hugh Letheren | Source: Flickr | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Courage and Creativity

It’s scary to be outside the margins of “normality.”

As any person (whether they they think of themselves as creative or not) knows, introducing newness goes hand-in-hand with disruption of established rules and expectations. But if we can find the courage to break out of rigid structures, we may be rewarded with finding a clearer path to joy, meaning, and purpose.

Illustration for the ‘Mansion. Mizgir.’ fairy tales (1910), by Heorhiy Narbut

Experience and Expression

Spending 8 years in juvies and jails certainly changed my perspective on what it feels like to have all your values violated. Fortunately, I was serving time as a counselor for incarcerated inmates in county jails and juvenile delinquency “homes” — not as a convicted felon in a federal prison. I had no trouble responding to inmates’ experiences and helping them find more constructive ways to express themselves. These days I’m wondering if we are really jailing the right people.

"Chess in the rain," by Kelvin Pulker

Imagination and Identification

One of my favorite writers is Philip Roth. I loved all of his books, but American Pastoral tops the list. The book seems eerily relevant now. In American Pastoral, Roth follows the life of a successful Jewish businessman and high school star athlete from Newark, New Jersey, whose upper middle class life is ruined by the domestic social and political turmoil of the 1960s when American went “berserk.”

Michigan fall landscape, by Rick Bellingham

Emptiness

I remember the knock on the door. It was 1982, and we were living in Basking Ridge, NJ. A fresh-faced and earnest 10 year-old wanted to know if he could mow our lawn. He said he was saving up to buy a car. Even though I was perfectly capable of mowing the lawn myself, I said, “Fantastic, you’re hired.” Today, 34 years later, we are still friends. Richard is now a 5th degree black belt Read More

"Lego Wars," Credit: FFCU on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/free_for_commercial_use/ (License: CC BY-SA 2.0)

Letting Go and Letting In

It seems like we always have to let go of stuff. As babies, at some point, we have to give up our pacifiers or security blankets. As young adults, we have to let go of our dependence on parents and become independent. As we grow older, we need to let go of our defensiveness in order to let in constructive feedback. Over the course of our lives, our security blankets and dependencies change, but we Read More

Title: Fox at Malone Bay Campground -2 | Credit: Ray Dumas | License: CC BY-SA 2.0

The Tao of Money

I just spent a few days on Isle Royale, one of the best kept, National Park secrets in the United States. I walked ten miles a day on rugged trails on this spectacular island in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The views were stunning: pristine lakes, lush forests, breathtaking views, and occasional sightings of fox, moose, and wolves. These walks filled me with renewed appreciation for Teddy Roosevelt for founding and funding the National Parks Read More

Eastern States Penitentiary, by Victoria Pickering

Jails and Justice

My daughter, Emily, asked me a great question the other day: “How did your work in jail rehab inform your work with executives?” My answer: It was the best training I could have ever had. Why? Because the same principal applies to both: to get out of jail you need to move up the scale. Here’s the context and explanation. After returning from Vietnam, I spent 8 years in jail (1970-1978)—fortunately, not as an inmate, Read More

Mirror Pond at Belton House, by Flickr user Rich Bamford (https://www.flickr.com/photos/myrialejean/)

Awareness with Acceptance

Call it serendipity. Call it luck. Call it random events that just happened to be connected. Call it anything you want, but I just experienced a strange coincidence that boggles my mind a bit. I had been thinking about a new post (yes, that’s what I do with most of my free time) about the notion of awareness and acceptance. Incidentally, my process for writing posts is to latch onto an idea from something I have read, Read More

Photo by Sérgio Rola | License: CC0

Range and Reach

I recently visited the Picasso Sculpture exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. It was a stunning display of the range and reach of Picasso’s work over five decades. As the introduction to the exhibit suggests, Picasso upended categorical distinctions. The retrospective collection provides ample evidence to support that observation. What struck me as I moved from room to room through MOMA’s beautiful exhibit spaces was Picasso’s range of materials (plaster, bronze, wood, Read More

20101230-dontvnctoyourself by Flickr user ClintJCL https://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/

The Wisdom of Walls

In response to public charges against his high school principle for soliciting sex from a 13 year old, Liam O’Brien, a 16-year-old student at the school, said: “I guess it’s unnerving, but at the same time I almost feel bad because it seems like the Internet creates this wall where people are separated from the reality of their decisions and so they explore things that they normally would never be OK with – that sort Read More

"Moon Chest," from Ai Weiwei's exhibition "According To What" | Photographer: CarrieLu

Nietzsche, Nazis, and Now

“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.” ―Henry A. Wallace When I ride the subway, I often take out my kindle and open up Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. It transports me immediately from the hustle, Read More

Johannes Vermeer, "A Maid Asleep," ca. 1657-57, Oil on canvas; 34 1/2 x 30 1/8 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.611) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/437878

Values, Valuing, and Feeling Valued

I often hear people say they don’t feel valued or appreciated at work. After I respond with something like, “It’s a pretty lousy feeling when you work hard but don’t get the sense that people recognize the importance of what you do.” And then I ask, “What do you value and how do you want to be valued?” The question is usually met with a blank stare that indicates it’s not a question they have Read More

Title: one size – fits all | Author: Cees Wouda | Source: ceesjw on Flickr | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Labels, Limits, and Levels

Dr. Bill Anthony, the highly respected, world-renowned, executive director of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center at Boston University, initiated classes with new students by throwing the DSM into the waste basket. This dramatic statement was intended to communicate to people entering the mental health field that labels limit our ability to see the potential and possibilities of another human being.

"Ai Weiwei at AGO," | Author: Alyx Dellamonica

Development or Deterioration

As I turn 70, I’m sure the first thought that crosses peoples’ minds when they meet me now is, “He’s old!!” Most people associate aging more with accelerated deterioration than continuing development. But I think there is no end point for development. Growth may take a different form or shape, but it doesn’t need to end.

Bell Systems Technical Journal

Getting Distance on Our Problems

Everyone has issues.  They could be physical.  They could be mental.  They could be emotional.  Or they could be a mix of all three.  Some are minor annoyances.  Some are major trauma.  The challenge is to get enough distance on them, so we don’t get lost in them or identify with them.  Our bodies may not work the way we would like them to work…but we are not our bodies.  Our minds might not function Read More

Author: Elizabeth Lies

Conscious Dualism

Dualism means the tendency of humans to perceive and understand the world as being divided into two discrete categories. Dualism exists in many belief systems including Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Taoism and Confucianism. In these beliefs the universe is divided into the complementary oppositions, e.g. good and evil. In traditions such as classical Hinduism, Zen Buddhism or Sufism, a key to enlightenment is “transcending” this sort of dualistic thinking.

Image by Thomas Hawk

Being at Home in the Universe

An Internal Space or an External Refuge At my older daughter’s wedding, she sang the song, “Feels Like Home to Me” to her husband. It struck me that we are all searching for a sense of home in our lives and I was so grateful that she had found a man with whom she felt at home. Her beautiful voice filled the reception hall and my hope for everyone there was that they felt, in Read More