On Clearing Space and Creating Victory

Spirituality, Temple Building, Text Talk, Women's Health
Over on PhYINomenal, Sojo's self care focus for November is Elimination – time to release, remove, denounce, deny and let go. It's a great time to release that which no longer serves you and invite in affirming energy, new processes, and transformative experiences. If you've never checked out her site, today's a great day to do it. Get the self care calendar for November and see what simple things you can do to release the deadweight and bring new life. Over the years I've found myself in that place many times. One time in particular, I was stuck, stagnant and depleted. I needed something, anything, that could help me recharge my life and get inspired again. I finally realized that I didn't need to look outside myself for the answers. With…
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The People Could Fly

Text Talk, Zaimu Challenge
On a recent visit to the public library, The People Could Fly jumped off the shelf and into my hands. I knew the author, Virginia Hamilton, and the title was familiar, but one I'd not yet read. It demanded to come home with me. It did. Today I cracked it open and was struck. The pictures and storytelling moved me. So much so I could see it – as dance. I could see the brilliant bodies of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater making these pictures. And flying. Revelations is my favorite thing. This would give it a run for the money. I'm currently adapting a children's book into a play. But if I were born with different talents, I would adapt this for dance. If you have this talent, I invite you to interpret this piece for…
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Leading from Within

Text Talk
[caption id="attachment_3285" align="alignleft" width="225"] The final walk.[/caption] Friday seemed quite a distance from Saturday afternoon, but here we are already. Today was the closing session of the Aspen Seminar. We discussed our final round of readings, including my second favorite of the week, In our Postmodern World, a Search for Self-Transcendence by Vaclav Havel. After our discussions, we wrote a letter to ourselves that we can expect to receive six months hence. We wrapped up with personal reflections and thank yous, and one last lunch together. My thoughts during the week were enhanced by the many voices in the seminar. Ultimately, however, I came to believe that my initial thinking on many things is the right way to proceed: I believe in the inherent goodness of humans. I believe society is never fixed…
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Antigone

Text Talk
Today was the final full day of the Aspen Seminar on Leadership, Values and the Good Society. We have a short day tomorrow and then we depart. The theme of the day was leadership, and our readings included pieces by Machiavelli, Confucius and Plato to name a few. Perhaps the highlight of the day was our late afternoon performance of Antigone. Apparently it's a tradition that participants perform the play during each seminar. But here's the thing: you don't have to play it straight. In fact, you're encouraged to interpret the themes and retell the story in a novel way. I don't mind saying that ours was a wonderfully creative, collaborative success. We set the play in the 21st century, narrated through the lens of Nancy Grace.  It was a funny, modern…
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Over the Hump

Text Talk
I'm pretty convinced I won't do today's session justice. Partially because it's getting late and I lose brain cells once the sun goes down, and partially because we had a double session today. We began at 8:30 a.m. as usual. Our morning focus was equality and social welfare. We dissected some pretty powerful pieces including The Communist Manifesto, The Second Sex, and far and away my favorite of the series, MLK's Letter from Birmingham City Jail. Notably today also featured poetry, fiction and writings from women. The latter had been sorely lacking  and frustrated me during my preparations last month. I appreciate reading texts from the canon, and I think there are ways to pair "classic" texts with more modern viewpoints. But I digress. Our discussion of Simone de Beauvoir's piece, The…
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Three Poisons

Text Talk
The past couple of days and today especially, my thoughts have turned to the three poisons. They are a subject of daily inquiry as I reflect upon what is good and how to create more of it in society. In Nichiren Buddhism, the three poisons are greed, anger and foolishness. In brief, greed is the desire for excess - more than one's share, to the detriment of others. Anger is grounded in ego. It's the distorted belief (and behavior) that one is better than others, and is often brought on by lack of self-confidence.  Foolishness is ignorance of the true nature of oneself.  It's unawareness or disbelief in the potential for enlightenment. I believe all of what ails society can be traced to one or more of these poisons. Today's session…
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Toklat

Text Talk
[caption id="attachment_3261" align="aligncenter" width="300"] This morning in Aspen, Colorado.[/caption] Today's readings investigated individual rights and liberty. We had two sessions – one in the morning and one in the evening. In the morning we tackled Aristotle, Rousseau, Sumner and the Declaration of Independence. We discussed the Aristotelian notions of place in society, including the positionality of slaves and masters. We wondered what Rousseau meant by free when he wrote of forcing a man to be free who refuses to obey the general will. We debated the merits of the Declaration of Independence, from the use of the language to its call to action. We closed with The Challenge of Facts, a clearly written document that, among other things, seems to indulge in victim blaming. I like the ways the facilitators ask framing questions. What would Hobbs…
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First Full Day

Text Talk
And so concludes the first full day of the Aspen Seminar. I've done a few group events over the years, but this one is the first one where such significant bonding occurs so quickly. We've had a few meals together and several hours of pointed conversation, and that's been enough for individuals to connect while the whole group creates its own personality. It's fascinating really. [caption id="attachment_3251" align="aligncenter" width="394"] The view from breakfast.[/caption] Today's session was on human nature. Our readings included Aristotle, Hobbs and Darwin. We discussed each text to understand what the authors said, whether or not we agree with their argument, and how we can apply the text to our leadership contexts. At one point I talked about the importance of cultivating the potential inherent in each individual. My point echoed a key idea…
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Opening

Politics, News & Notable, Text Talk
We just concluded the opening session of the seminar. We'll be here another six days so there's a lot in store.  There are many brilliant thinkers here, and it's going to be a challenge for me to step out of my listening stance to speak more. A lot of good insights arose in a very short time, and I can see how these readings and discussions will build on each other throughout the week. We have two capable moderators in Jerald and David. Jerald led the opening reception and introductions while David facilitated the opening discussion. Although I'm not at liberty to report on who said what, I do want to share the question which framed our talk this evening: Why do people disagree? It's a great question, and one which…
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The Aspen Seminar

Personal Narrative, Text Talk
I've had two firsts today. I. I just arrived in Colorado for my first visit to the state. I'm here for The Aspen Seminar on Leadership, Values and the Good Society. Things get underway this evening and I plan to document my experiences while I'm here. II. I ate something called elk chili. I'd probably have called it stew rather than chili, but the important part here is the elk. I wanted something warm and filling, and while I don't eat very much red meat, I felt adventurous. I give it a thumbs up. I enjoyed my small bowl and I think I'll be satisfied for the next couple of hours. [caption id="attachment_3244" align="alignleft" width="300"] The view from my window. Initial descent into Aspen, Colorado.[/caption] I'm looking forward the experience. There…
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