Journal

The Magic of Real Communication

Every act of communication is an act of tremendous courage in which we give ourselves over to two parallel possibilities: the possibility of planting into another mind a seed sprouted in ours and watching it blossom into a breathtaking flower of mutual understanding; and the possibility of being wholly misunderstood, reduced to a withering weed. Candor and clarity go a long way in fertilizing the soil, but in the end there is always a degree of unpredictability in the climate of communication — even the warmest intention can be met with frost. Yet something impels us to hold these possibilities in both hands and go on surrendering to the beauty and terror of conversation, that ancient and abiding human gift. And the most magical thing, the most sacred thing, is that whichever the outcome, we end up having transformed one another in this vulnerable-making process of speaking and listening.  ~ Maria Popova

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The Dark Side of Positive Psychology

I have been a wellness coach for almost exactly 10 years. And along the way, I have gotten thoroughly immersed in positive psychology.  Which, if you didn’t know, is a fairly new field of study typically said to be pioneered by Dr. Martin Seligman in the late 1990s.  It’s all about reaping the benefits that can be had from focusing on the good in life, and where you want to go in the future, rather than on unpacking all the stuff that has happened in the past as more traditional psychology models tend to encourage.  I’ve see it work for plenty of individuals over the years – there’s a lot of benefit to placing your focus on what you do well already and the good things that you want to bring into being.

Right now I’m reading a book called America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks.  Midway through the book, Dr. James Coyne, in an interview with author Ruth Whippman, shared the name of a lecture he was to be giving the following week.  It was “Positive psychology is for rich white people.”

In my work as a coach, I recommend ‘practicing gratitude’ on a regular basis, regularly help people take ownership of their choices, and often encourage calling out the positives in life while staying present in the moments as they unfold.  These strategies have made a difference for many of the folks I have worked with, so I know positive psychology has plenty of benefits.

Plenty of benefits IF you were born into privilege.   Continue reading “The Dark Side of Positive Psychology”

Inspiration Across Generations

If you’ve read Prairie Grown, you may have noticed that I like to quote Wendell Berry. His writing, and his ideas about the world, have influenced my own significantly, and I got to wondering if there was a story behind why my folks have so many of his books. Mr. Berry has written over 40, and I would wager a guess that most of his titles have graced the Hillside Prairie Gardens homestead at some point during the last 40 years.  My parents have a small organic farm, one that is committed to keeping the health of the soil good and contributing in a positive way to the local community — much of Mr. Berry’s writing focuses on those basic principles of sustainable agriculture.

“For the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity but the good health of the land.”
Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

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What is it like to be you?

What is it like to be you?  We inhabitants of planet earth could do well to continually ask this question.

To the opposing side, the ones who are “surely in the wrong”:  What is it like to be you?

To the microscopic sea creatures, the bleached out coral reefs, the seagull who has swallowed too many discarded plastic bits: What is it like to be you?

To the coal miners, the line men, the operators of fracking sites and off shore oil rigs, the families who depend on fossil fuels and all the systems that are steeped in acquiring the earth’s underground resources, selling them, and using them: What is it like to be you?  Continue reading “What is it like to be you?”

Prairie Wind

A trip to South Dakota.  Coming home, here, to the prairie, a place where I go when I don’t know what else to do; where I go when I need to reset and reclaim my center. A place to be absorbed back into the land that taught me how to be alive, how to pay attention, how to see beauty in the ordinary, in the fleeting. Somehow it’s a place of enchantment and magic, even as the population and sprawl grows, as I get older, as the trees get bigger while others fall, as fences and houses go up where I used to roam free.  Under all of that remains the hummus of my youth. I may never live here permanently again, yet part of me will always be found here on this prairie hillside. Continue reading “Prairie Wind”

Remembering How To Live

The real challenge is, and has always been, remembering how to live. ~Ian Mackenzie

This morning the thermometer on the back deck says -9 when I walk into the kitchen to feed the cats after rolling out of bed.  I haven’t been getting up in a very timely manner lately: No work schedule, the sun not rising until 7:50am, plus frigid temperatures means there’s not a lot of incentive for getting up early.  At some point, this will probably shift, but for now, it is what it is.  I’m trying not to fight with myself over the little things. But this lack of routine is throwing me off balance, and sometimes I feel like I have forgotten how to live in the modern world of appointments, deadlines, meetings, phone calls, and quality assurance programs. Continue reading “Remembering How To Live”