Category Archives: Season for Nonviolence

SEASON FOR NONVIOLENCE (SNV) – DAY 14: HUMILITY

Day 14 – HUMILITY: Making mistakes is part of learning and growing. Freely acknowledge at least one mistake you make today, and reflect for a couple of minutes on what you have learned.

I took a few weeks off from contributing to the SNV project because I got sidetracked with other blog entries…guess that’s the ADD in me. Anyway, my approach to completing this project has shifted and the new plan to allow for the flexibility of going with the flow of life and what speaks to me; therefore, I will contribute to this series when my inner being moves me to do so.

google images
google images

Marriam Webster Dictionary defines hu·mil·i·ty as “the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people; the quality or state of being humble”.

When John Travolta mispronounced or changed Idina Menzel’s name to Adele Dazeem in front of millions of people worldwide, I didn’t think much of it because, to be honest, I didn’t know who he was talking about. Well, the audience and Ms. Menzel’s fans jumped on the fumble and the video snippet went viral in matter of minuets.

Admired for his good looks, blockbuster movies, and generally being a nice guy (as stated by people who know him), John’s response to the media storm after the event increased this writer’s respect for him. Mr. Travolta did not show anger with the media for blowing the whole thing out of proportion, instead he released a statement shared with the public:

“I’ve been beating myself up all day. Then I thought…what would Idina Menzel say? She’d say, “Let it go, let it go!” Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!”

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Yes, I am a fan of Mr. Travolta, not because of his movies or his acting, or even his good looks. I’m a fan because the thing that shines brightly during his interviews is his humbleness. This legendary movie star does not put on airs and seems to genuinely enjoy and appreciate his fans. Additionally, reading about the death of his son in a heartfelt article, he also seems to be a caring and loving husband and father.

The Oscar blunder could have gone sideways. He could have blamed  error on whoever wrote the cue cards/teleprompter, he could have blamed in on his eye contacts being blurry. Indeed, the blame could have been directed in many directions but he was man enough to acknowledge his slip –  “I’ve been beating myself up” over the misstep.

Furthermore, to his point, all he needed to do was “let it go” because we’ve all made blunders (some more public than others) and had to learn to move beyond it in order to maintain our sanity. It happens.

It seems to me that he was more concerned with Ms.  Menzel’s reaction (after all she was the inadvertent object of his gaff) than how he was perceived by the public. He also seemed genuinely happy that the movie Frozen was awarded two Oscars of which the theme song was sang by Ms. Menzel. He did not turn the situation into a pity party or made it all about him. That’s Humility in action.

Humility: google images
Humility: google images

Mother Teresa shares with us a few ways to practice humility:
To speak as little as possible of one’s self.
To mind one’s own business.
Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.
To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
To pass over the mistakes of others.
To accept insults and injuries.
To accept being slighted, forgotten, and disliked.
To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never to stand on one’s dignity.
By Mother Teresa, The joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living

Source:
Season for Nonviolence: http://www.agnt.org/season-for-nonviolence

Next Entry: REVERENCE – enjoy the beauty around, above and below you.

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Season for Nonviolence (SNV) – Day 13: Creativity

Day 13 – CREATIVITY: Identify ways in which you express your creativity every day. Today, allow something unpredictable and joyous to express through you. Write about it.

‘Creativity is about liberating human energy.’ Howard Gardner (American psychologist and educator)

Create (Google Images)
Create (Google Images)

Last week I spent time helping my friend Natalie edit an assignment for her writing class. For a long time she’s verbalized that she should write her memoir, but didn’t think she was creative enough to write. Natalie is an engineer by trade who, on numerous occasions, have said, “I am a left brain thinker, give me numbers all day and I am happy. I don’t think I could ever sit down and focus on putting words together to write my story. That’s not fun to me.” It’s an interesting statement because I run from numbers. Well, I’m happy to say that she is facing her fear head on by attending a writing class that is giving her confidence to explore her creative writing side, as well as, give her the tools that will help her write her memoir. She has an interesting story to tell.

Are we solely Left brain or Right brain thinkers? Natalie’s mention of being a left-brain thinker put me on the road to look into this Left-brain vs Right-brain thing.

To get through our day-to-day, we must use both sides of our brain to make sense of the world we live in; however, research has shown that each of us have a dominant side, which makes up a larger part of our personalities, hence Left or Right brain. Well, most of us have been exposed to information regarding our brain hemispheres. Left-brain thinking, sometimes labeled “the judge” consists of: language, numbers, words, science, logic, reasoning, objective, and analysis. On the other side is Right brain thinking, sometimes labeled “the artist”. Characteristics include:  emotions, imagination, subjective, intuition, holistic, art, and music. Now, Scottish researchers have added new terms to our understanding of the brain hemispheres – “Hard” and “Soft” thinking. These new terms are associated with creativity and reflect the neurological processes associated with the left and right hemispheres of the brain. (1)

Left-Brain / Right-Brain
Left-Brain / Right-Brain (Google Images)

In other words, Left = Hard, Right = Soft.

“Hard” thinking is verbal and understands symbols. These thinkers process information in an analytical and sequential manner – they first look at the small pieces of a situation or issue then put the pieces together to get the whole picture. In contrast, “Soft” thinking is visual and responds to color and shapes. These thinkers process information in an intuitive and simultaneous way – they first look at the whole picture then breaks it down into small pieces to grasps what’s going on. (1)

Wheels are turning
Wheels are turning (Google Images)

This information is useful for researchers, therapists, educators, trainers, but for the layperson such as me, I just think it’s fun to have this knowledge in my back pocket. I gravitate towards “Soft” thinking using the Right side (the artist) of my brain, but experience has shown that I can’t successfully maneuver through everyday life by just using one side of my brain so I had to develop the muscles in the Left side of my brain for communication and logical thinking. I must employ both sides in order to solve problems and to be creative.

So, even though Natalie believes she is a Left/Hard thinker who only understands numbers, she, like everyone else, can develop her Right/Soft brain hemisphere just by being curious and having the willingness to try something new. Many researchers indicate we can develop a creative state of mind and foster creative habits by:

  • Overcoming the perception that ‘I am not creative’
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Have fun playing with ideas
  • Practice not knowing – tolerate ambiguity
  • Be curious
  • Face your fears
  • Share your ideas with other people
  • Be proactive and “Just Do It”

We can display creativity in many ways. Researcher Zoran Ivcevic Pringle found that people who participate in any form of creative activity such as: taking photographs, writing, singing – tend to be more “open-minded, curious, persistent, positive, energetic, and intrinsically motivated by their chosen activity”(2). Over the years, I’ve noticed that people who tell me that they are not creative tend to be those who are afraid of failing, so they don’t risk anything and remain in their disillusion that they are not creative.

Stanford Ph.D. graduate Roger Von Oech, whose focus has been in the study of creativity, believes that creative thinking involves both “Hard” and “Soft” thinking (“judge” and “artist”) and both are required to bring about creativity. Even those who are naturally inventive and thrive on spontaneity need to seek logic and be analytical if they hope to be successful in life (1).

I was in my 30’s when, for the first time, friends told me that they saw me as a creative person. Prior to that, “creative” was never a term paired with the person I saw myself (creativity was not stressed in my childhood home). I always equated creativity with famous inventors, designers, and artists. I wondered, “What do they see that I do not see in myself, and why haven’t I heard this term in respect to me before?” I then thought about what naturally fueled my interest and got me excited: Music – I was in the orchestra and choir when I was a kid, but I also escaped into storybooks. Modeling – as a teenager, I loved coordinating clothes/shoes and showing it off on the runway (I even won a scholarship to attend the local modeling school). Decorating – I still love arranging furniture and accessories. Color – I absolutely hate rooms with bare white walls; they must have color of some sort. I’ve owned two homes so far and in each home all my walls were painted. When I rent a living space from a landlord that does not allow me to paint, I fill the walls with colorful photographs (some of them my own) and paintings. Come to think of it, my office space is very colorful as well.

Samples of my need for color in my house:

Yes, I love color! Sample of my wall painting and decorating.
Yes, I love color! Sample of my wall painting and decorating. (pictures taken by Del)
Not even the ceiling is safe from my need for color
Not even the ceiling is safe from my need for color – hard to see but it’s painted golden yellow (pictures taken by Del)

Intellectually, I may not have equated my interests as being “creative”, but I now see that I have always gravitated towards using the Right/Soft side of my brain. Unfortunately, due to the sh*t I dealt with in my formative years, my creative side was not nurtured. Living in survival mode does not leave room for fun. Thank goodness, I am past that and now I get to play and explore the things that bring me joy. I am drawn to color and shapes, but I also love the use of words and logic. I might not be a famous inventor or a designer, but I am filled with joy when I take photographs, write, paint, solve puzzles, and collage, just to name a few. Yes, I embrace my creative side, now I encourage others to explore theirs!

Creativity brings joy: “It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew, and in that there is joy.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

The main take way on creativity:

  • Most individuals believe they are not very creative. Creativity is not just about special people doing special things. We all have the potential to be creative and creativity is a skill that can be developed.
  • Creativity embraces both hard and soft thinking, left and right brain. The most powerful creative thinking occurs when the left and right hemispheres of the brain combine to apply both creative and evaluative processes.
  • Stop holding yourself back in thinking you are not creative. Get out of your way (or out of your head) and take the leap, try something new.

Sources:

(1) – http://www.journeytoexcellence.org.uk/resourcesandcpd/research/summaries/rsfosteringcreativity.asp

(2) – http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/2013/10/03/the-real-link-between-creativity-and-mental-illness/

Note from Del — This post took longer than usual to write (a few days) because I kept having “Aha” moments regarding my own creativity. Thank goodness for writing, this was very cathartic.

Tomorrow’s Preview: Day 14 – HUMILITY: Making mistakes is part of learning and growing.

**Season for Nonviolence campaign, also known as The Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence (SNV), asks us to focus our attention on attaining peace through nonviolent actions. More info at: http://www.agnt.org/season-for-nonviolence**

Season of Nonviolence (SNV): Day 12 – Groundedness

Day 12 – Groundedness: Gandhi said, “To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”  This is how we are going to feel grounded, like a tree planted in the earth.  Stand up straight and close your eyes.  Imagine your body is a tree.  Send down roots into the soil, feel the sun shining from above.  Feel your branches and leaves blowing in the wind.

Tree of Life
Tree of Life

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful.  Everything is simply happy.  Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance.  It is simply unbelievable how happy trees are.  ~Osho

Crooked Trees of Alticane, Canada (Google Images)
Crooked Trees of Alticane, Canada (Google Images)

Blossom where ever you decide to plant your roots!!

Tomorrow’s Preview: Day 13 – Creativity: You must create in order to be a whole human being.

**Season for Nonviolence campaign, also known as The Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence (SNV), asks us to focus our attention on attaining peace through nonviolent actions. More info at: http://www.agnt.org/season-for-nonviolence**

Season for Nonviolence (SNV): Day 11- Contemplation

Day 11- CONTEMPLATION:  “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is”.  For at least 3 minutes, relax, breath, and let your mind be fed by “whatsoever is good and beautiful.” Open your eyes and write your good thoughts.

“Writers have an opinion about the world and offer arguments about the world. They should offer contemplation.”– Salman Rushdie

There is so much suffering going on in the world. Whether it’s people living in war zones, children made to fight in these wars instead of enjoying their childhood, people dealing with illness(es), the pain of losing a loved one, an unwanted romantic breakup, people living on the streets (especially in the winter cold), unexpectedly losing a job, or any type of suffering people might be dealing with at this time. Suffering is devastating no matter how you look at it.

Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press
Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

Let’s not forget though, that not only people experience suffering. Since the Olympic Games is the top news of the day, I will contemplate what’s going on in Sochi. A few days ago I read about the plight of stray dogs around Olympic Village. The report stated that since October 2013, the Russian government authorized a pest removal company to round up stray dogs and kill them. Since the eradication began, 300 stray dogs have been killed each month from a chemical injection that causes suffocation.

Now, I am not one of those PETA members (nothing wrong with being a member) or go overboard about cruelty to animals. I was not raised in the type of environment where pets were our “best friend”. I was born in a country where “pets” belonged outside. They may wander through the house now and then, but for the most part they are outside animals. And please, let me not even mention what my grandparents would do if they saw a cat walking on their kitchen counter. My got my first pet (a cat) when I moved out on my own and was able to allow them inside the house. But when I read about the dogs in Sochi being killed so they would not spoil the aesthetics of the games, I was outraged. Sure strays might present a safety issue, so rounding them up to keep people safe is acceptable in my book, but must they be killed? Why not put them in a shelter?

Well, today I was happy to read that Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska has paid for a rescue team in conjunction with his charity organization to bring stray animals to a local shelter. The hope is to get these animals adopted by pet lovers. Sounds good to me!!

So, my good and beautiful thoughts go out to Mr. Deripaska and his rescue team for rescuing these animals. What they are doing is humane and compassionate. My good and beautiful thoughts go out to those who will adopt the dogs and save them from euthanasia. It’s a temporary fix, but at least an effort is on the way to save these animals.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/05/world/europe/russia-sochi-stray-dogs/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/sports/olympics/racing-to-save-dogs-roaming-around-sochi.html?hp&_r=1

 “That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.” Edgar Allan Poe

Tomorrow’s Preview: Day 12  GROUNDEDNESS – Gandhi said, “To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”

**Season for Nonviolence campaign, also known as The Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence (SNV), asks us to focus our attention on attaining peace through nonviolent actions. More info at: http://www.agnt.org/season-for-nonviolence**