Routinely

We humans are creatures of habits.  We like consistency or at least routine.  Even those of us who claim we don’t, we do.  Want the proof, simply take away a standard routine in your day and see what happens.

Allow me to share, every Monday I receive a motivating and/or uplifting practice to try.  Yep believe it or I do try to add positivity and motivation into my life; having an unrelenting chronic illness can leave you feeling negative and unmotivated.  Anyway every Monday I get one of these emails in my inbox. I look forward to these emails even if all I do sometimes is just read the email.

Yesterday I received an email stating that author of these wonderful things is taking a break for four months.  Of course she is entitled to a break, but suddenly I’m unhappy.  Not because she is taking a break and not because I am applying everything in each email.  Nope that is not what makes me unhappy, instead it is this sense of being set adrift with no directions to follow.

My routine, those moments I spend reading the email and contemplating applying the information, is suddenly been messed with.  It’s not a big deal and I’m already over it, but let’s face it, when someone takes our usual parking spot, it darkens our day a little.  You have a favorite spot for your yoga mat and someone else takes it, well even if you won’t admit it to anyone else, it sucks.  Why because your routine, those moments of consistency and dependable results are somehow soothing.

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Stressing Tests

While getting much needed coffee the other day with a friend, we couldn’t help but overhear university students discussing how stressful final exams are. One of the students went so far as to say the exams really are a form of inhumane torture and should be removed, because school is hard enough as it is. The other student not only agreed, but added the observation that exams don’t prove anything really.

I can’t say that as an educator I give exams to students for the sake of giving exams. I have requirements to test my students’ knowledge and ability to grasp what I am teaching. I have requirements around assigning marks based on a set of rules and policies within my institution.
The institution has a set of standards that students must meet in order to receive a degree from the institution, and part of those standards involve passing courses by proving the students have learned the material to an adequate level. Which takes us back to the reason for the exams.

Perhaps in some fields of studies exams could be removed and students could prove mastery of knowledge through lab type application and assume that the theoretical portion of the learning has been completed. In some fields of studies it would be near impossible to show learning without mechanisms such as exams, papers and other assignments. Regardless of the means used to show the learning has taken place, the stress level would still be present because the stress is based on proving you know the material and can display that knowledge.

If there is no need to prove the learning has taken place then perhaps the exams, papers and other such assignments would cease to exist. And educators could step back and allow the students to make and take of the learning what they would. This has been tried before, sadly with outcomes that were not intended. Since the learning no longer had to be proven the students only had to reach their own personal desired level of learning and determine their own competence with the subject. When those same students went forward with their learning, they discovered their learning was not adequate or the focus of their learning was in the wrong area. Some of the students involved in this exercise expressed increased stress at having to take the full responsibility for determining how much they needed to know, how well they needed to understand and apply what they had learned.

Perhaps we should cease to focus so much on the emotional response to things like exams. Perhaps then people wouldn’t feel so stressed. But I doubt it. Because as humans we tend to stress, we’d just find something else to stress us out. Such as someone cutting in line and thus delaying us from getting our much needed coffee.

My Reservation..And The Dress Code That Goes With It

Someone told me today that I was going to hell.  Probably in a gasoline coated body suit.  To roast eternally with endless suffering.  All because this person happens not to agree with me on something not even related to religion, but rather helping people in need.

Now I don’t really think I’m going to hell in a gasoline coated body suit.  Not even sure it will meet the dress code for the place.  If there is one.  And to be honest, I’m not worried about going to hell.  Which apparently means, according to this person, that not only will my body suit be coated in gasoline, but also tar.  Not believing in hell, it seems, will guarantee you a spot in the place.

Now I’m okay with people believing what they want, provided they don’t force their ideas or beliefs on others.  I know crazy right? But hey you may believe in an afterlife of some sort and someone else may not.  Now it may make you feel better about yourself, or more righteous, to point out that these “other” people are on the path of destruction.  But there is no real concrete proof either which way.  Just a varying set of beliefs and ideas.

But as much as you believe in something coming to fruition, others will believe just as strongly that your beliefs are nonsense.  And that is, of course, their right.  Which means if you believe you have the freedom to tell people what is going to happen to them after they die, you have to accept that they also have a right to tell you their thoughts on the matter.

So maybe it’s better to not tell me I’m going to hell, because you might find yourself most uncomfortable and disappointed with my response!  Now I know where I can get myself some tar, I know where I can get a body suit and even gasoline so I guess I’m pretty much set for hell, if these are requirements.

Beads and Seeds of Faith

Gnarled, old fingers worked their way slowly through the plies of beads until they grasped what they had been seeking.  Turning slowly, he thrust his wrinkled hand under my gaze and told me that it was this one bead that had sealed it for him.

“It speaks to my very being,” he said, cradling it gently, but still where I could see.  As far as I could tell, there wasnt anything special about the bead.  Sure it was beautiful in win its kaleidoscope of colors and shine, but magical?  Nope.  Something sacred?  Not as far as I could tell.  But then again, that’s why I was here.  For him to guide me and show me.

he thought it was best I slowly introduce me into his ways.  I don’t blame him for being cautious, after all I came to him as a skeptic who asked for proof.  Unlike many others, hehad decided to lead  me through his traditional ways.  He, after all, had traveled to the upper and lower worlds on a regular basis so dealing with a skeptic shouldn’t be an issue.

shamans have always lived on the fringe of their societies. Let’s face it “normal” people will always be a bit confused and unsure where shamans are concerned.  How can they find helper guides, animals or spirits.  How do they manage to do battle in the spirit world?  How can you trust one who can fly and steal power if needed?

Granted he had to deal first with the fact that I thought his skills were slight of hand and an ability to make people believe the unbelievable.  So while I had been expecting a drink from plants, or perhaps smoke. He instead decided to start with a small bead.

And in a way why not use a bead?  Faith normally starts small, it is typically not something you can prove to another person in the same way, but nonetheless it is as real as the bead.  It is as beautiful as that bead, as hard and practical too.  It’s all a matter of how we see and experience things.  And a bead is much like a seed, nothing huge, but full of wonder and hope, growth and purpose.