Rocky Road Ahead …


English proverb

 I have been considering rocks a lot lately …


This is especially evident when many of them converge to create rocky terrain which must be traversed.  If you have ever found yourself trying to cross a rocky field, you know the dangers which are often not clear, but can result in nasty falls and broken bones.   At best, it takes time to get across and you have to make a special effort to insure that whatever you are carrying with you is safe and does not contribute to potential injury.


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Listening Intently, But For What Purpose? …

Listening“A man who listens because he has nothing to say can hardly be a source of inspiration.  The only listening that counts is that of the talker who alternately absorbs and expresses himself.”

Agnes Repplier

Sometimes in class, I step out of myself and observe the scene …

There I am, trying real hard to ask open-ended and thought-provoking questions, while I throw a well-constructed visual image up on the screen, and relate the discussion to both the background materials they should have read before class and the real world application of all that theory.   It exhausts me to construct just the right combination of words and pictures in the right order with the right nuances  …

Then I observe the students, who appear to be hard at work, often copying the content of the slide or staring at the handout from the course text, intently poring over the words like they have never read those ideas, concepts, and terms before.  They are very busy listening.

The number of times I get a thoughtful response or question is disappointingly small …

Why do we listen, if not to question?

    Listen to hear what is said …

    Hear to reflect on what  it means…

    Reflect to understand and to question (Yes, you can do both at the same time) …

    Ask the question to learn more and deeper …

    Listen to hear the response   … and repeat

Waiting for the completion of the circle in the Heartland ….


Who Let The Dogs Out? …

Barking Dog“The dog’s bark is not might, but fright.”

Madagascari Proverb

… now, his BITE is a whole different discussion, but that’s for another day.

 When a dog is afraid, it will usually react with forced bravado and attempt to intimidate whatever or whoever it feels a threat. 

People tend to do the same thing … and the escalation to conflict begins.  A perceived threat becomes a real threat, because each party is trying to dominate the other.

 Perceptions are not reality, but they DO create reality when we let our perceptions rule our behavior.   If you think someone is a threat and act accordingly, you might just create the very situation you are trying to avoid.

 Some questions for you on this brisk almost spring morning:

 Whose bark are you misinterpreting right now?

How are you responding right now to their bark?

How might you respond differently to change their bark into a lick?

Ignoring my own tendency to engage in somewhat awkward imagery in the Heartland ….


“Insightful” … Or Not

Reflection“When we are able to see ourselves as we really are, we should take time to be thankful for a sense of humor.”

Via Anonymous, who just gets smarter every time I stumble across one of their sayings …

The Business Insider recently posted about “The One Interview Question That Reveals How Candidates See Themselves.” 

No, it was NOT “Where do you see yourself in five years?” …

The challenge they posed is to describe yourself in one word …

One word that sums up “You”, in all your complexity … 

One word that describes the most important attribute of how you view yourself …

One word, upon which the success of your interview and indeed your very life, might well hang …

… Or not. Continue reading

Five Least and Five Best …

Peace ful cat in widonw

Feeling rather reflective about life today, possibly due to the obvious change of seasons …

As I consider change, I notice some things that we really need to include in our life experiences.  Following are some of my thoughts around this:

At least . . . Travel to a foreign country

At best . . . Live in a foreign country

Travel broadens … and I am not just talking about the delicious foods of different countries.

Traveling to another culture, another country, another place gives you an experience that the world is bigger than most of us can appreciate or understand.  Being out of our daily comfort zone is sometimes challenging, but also exhilarating.  Seeing what our world has to offer is often inspiring and sometimes shocking.

We often find out that we humans are both very similar and very different, at the same time.

The difference between visiting a place and living in a place is significant.   When you visit, the time is short and you see through a stranger’s eyes.  When you live somewhere, your perceptions are more long-term and more based on the daily grind.  You begin to understand others and the issues they face, rather to simply see or recognize.

By the way, this works best if you do not live in a tourist area.


At least . . . Work at a retail job serving the public

At best . . . Work in retail during the Holiday season

Retail means people contact, often without the social filters and safeguards that we enjoy with our family, friends, and co-workers.

I spent seven years in various retail positions and learned a great deal about dealing with people in all kinds of situations.  Learning to politely solve a problem is a very valuable lesson.  The lessons are even more helpful if the person is not particularly grateful for your efforts.  Also useful:  Show up, Smile, Work …even when you do not feel like it. 

I barely survived my first Christmas season in retail.  People Skills 101 … on steroids.  A must experience if you expect to interact with people in your career.


At least . . . Camp out

At best . . .  Camp out rustic

Fresh air, grass and trees, a breeze …who can resist this relaxing scene?

Camping out gives us the best of what nature has to offer and reintroduces we urban folks (which is most of us and continually increasing) to both the quiet beauty and the variety of our world.  Nothing like a starry night out in the boonies far from the glare of the city lights.

Camping out rustic is when you ditch the electronic and gas-powered toys and create your own fire, wash your own clothes, and so on and so on.  Bonus points for actually catching, killing, and preparing your own food … without a microwave.   Less “fun” than what most of us call camping out, but infinitely more useful in really reintroducing us to our roots.  At one time, most of us lived off the land and whatever we had, we created from what was on hand.


At least . . . Join something important

At best . . .  Join something important that you cannot easily back out of doing

Being part of something larger than yourself gives you perspective.

I have joined many groups in my life and always found value in the interactions and the results of group action.  Many of us regularly affiliate with various groups for any number of reasons … often our involvement lasts only as long as our interest.   Very American … I am free to choose what I do and what I do not do.   Yeah, but … 

The first group I joined which I could not just drop if I felt like doing so was the United States Army.  This was what some call an “awakening” to two realities of life:   1)  You do not always get to do what you want to do when you want to do it in the way you like doing it.   2)  You can do much more when you have no choice.

At least  . . . Be present for someone’s birth and for someone’s death

At best . . . Actively take part in someone’s birth and someone’s death

These two things happen to each one of us … no exceptions.

Simply observing the acts of birth and death are experiences beyond simple words for many people.    Even if you are “outside the door”, the emotions and dynamics of these two basic life experiences.  The joy of birth and the pain of death are both part of the journey.  We will experience these two events, both personally and with those we love.

Do not let our modern technology and processes get in the way and keep us in passive spectator roles …

I have personally and actively participated in both the birth of a son and the death of my mother.  I have found that both experiences changed me in ways that do not easily bear description.   The first breaths and the last breaths are truly holy times, for the person and for those who are there with them.


So, these are a few of the things I believe our lives need to include.  

What would you add to the list?

Reflecting and staying warm in the slowly chilling Heartland ….