June 29, 2015


What I Know For Sure…


(p. 193, 194, 195)

‘Whenever I hear Paul Simon’s song “Born at the Right Time,” I think he must be singing about me.  I came into the world in 1954 in Mississippi – – a state with more lynchings than any other in the Union – – at a time when being a black man walking down the street minding your business could make you subject to any white person’s accusation or whimsy.  A time when having a good job meant working for a “nice” white family that at least didn’t call you nigger to your face.  A time when Jim Crow reigned, segregation prevailed, and black teachers, themselves scarcely educated, were forced to use ragged textbooks discarded from white schools. Yet the same year I was born, a season of change began.  In 1954 the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education that black people had the right to equal education.  The ruling created hope that life could be better for black folks everywhere.  

I have always believe free will is a birth right, part of the universe’s design for us.  And I know that every soul yearns to be free.  In 1997, while I was preparing to play Sethe in the movie Beloved, I arranged a trip along a portion of the Underground Railroad.  I wanted to connect with what it felt like to be a slave wandering through the woods, making my way north to a life beyond slavery – – a life where being free at its  most basic level, meant not having a master telling you what to do.  But when I was blindfolded, taken into the woods, and left along to contemplate which direction led to the next “safe house,” I understood for the first time that freedom isn’t about not having a master.  Freedom is about having a choice.  (Sethe says) “I’d wake up in the morning’ and decide for myself what to do with the day,” as if thinking:  “Imagine, me decide.” What a gift that is.

What I know for sure is that we all need to cherish that gift – – to revel in it rather than take it for granted.  After the hundreds of stories I’ve heard of atrocities around the globe, I know that if you’re a woman born in the United States, you’re one of the luckiest women in the world.  Take your good fortune and lift your life to its highest calling.  Understand that the right choose your own path is a sacred privilege.  Use it. Dwell in the possibility.’  



Seth Godin…

The rejectionists 

We can choose to define ourselves (our smarts, our brand, our character) on who rejects us.

Or we can choose to focus on those that care enough to think we matter.

Carrying around a list of everyone who thinks you’re not good enough is exhausting.

MSNBC, Brian Williams, and Rachel Maddow

June 18, 2015

Heartbroken that Rachel Maddow has ‘welcomed’ Brian Williams to MSNBC. When she promoted she would share her thoughts tonight, I truly thought she would share her disappointment. Instead, she has welcomed a pathological liar to her network. Williams is a TV personality who gravitated to entertainment more than news, who had reportedly even shown interest in replacing Jay Leno. This is not about ‘redemption’, this is about leading a country from a platform that he has betrayed, not once, but multiple times. There is no place for him in journalism. None. He crossed the line. He shows characteristics of narcism, and I will not watch, or support him. Rachel was my new journalism hero – – I turned to MSNBC for the reporting and investigative journalism, however Brian Williams’ return to TV and to the MSNBC network has caused me to now turn away. I will no longer support MSNBC. This is a very sad day for me. Very sad. I have lost all respect for TV News and journalism – – I gave up on network news a while ago…CNN, as well. FOX? They have polarized our country. And now, MSNBC, and Brian Williams.

Maria Papova Covers Camus

June 16, 2015


Those who prefer their principles over their happiness, they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.”

“For the first time in history,” Bertrand Russell asserted in reflecting on the impact of the Industrial Revolution, “it is now possible … to create a world where everybody shall have a reasonable chance of happiness.” Indeed, we’ve pounced on that chance with overzealous want: Ours is a culture so consumed with the relentless pursuit of happinessits secrets and its science, that it layers over the already uncomfortable state of unhappiness a stigma of humiliation and shame. But unhappiness can have its own dignity and can tell us as much, if not more, about who we are than happiness. That’s precisely what French philosopher and Nobel laureate Albert Camus considers in a portion of his private writings, collected in Notebooks 1951–1959 (public library).

In a meditation on Oscar Wilde’s relationship with art, Camus considers the notion of sorrow, the exorcism of which is one of art’s 7 therapeutic functions, and adds to history’s finest definitions of art:

[Oscar Wilde] wanted to place art above all else. But the grandeur of art is not to rise above all. On the contrary, it must blend with all. Wilde finally understood this, thanks to sorrow. But it is the culpability of this era that it always needed sorrow and constraint in order to catch a glimpse of a truth also found in happiness, when the heart is worthy. Servile century.

In a 1956 letter to a hospitalized friend, Camus explores how body and mind conspire in sorrow and happiness:

The solidarity of bodies, unity at the center of the mortal and suffering flesh. This is what we are and nothing else. We are this plus human genius in all its forms, from the child to Einstein.

No, … it is not humiliating to be unhappy. Physical suffering is sometimes humiliating, but the suffering of being cannot be, it is life. … What you must do now is nothing more than live like everybody else. You deserve, by what you are, a happiness, a fullness that few people know. Yet today this fullness is not dead, it is a part of life and, to its credit, it reigns over you whether you want it to or not. But in the coming days you must live alone, with this hole, this painful memory. This lifelessness that we all carry inside of us — by us, I mean to say those who are not taken to the height of happiness, and who painfully remember another kind of happiness that goes beyond the memory.

Sometimes, for violent minds, the time that we tear off for work, that is torn away from time, is the best. An unfortunate passion.

Camus later revisits this osmosis between the physical and the metaphysical in a poignant reflection on our self-imposed prisons of unhappiness:

It is not true that the heart wears out — but the body creates this illusion.

Those who prefer their principles over their happiness, they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness. If they are happy by surprise, they find themselves disabled, unhappy to be deprived of their unhappiness.

“All true happiness, as all that is truly beautiful, can only result from order,”Benjamin Franklin wrote, and yet, as Camus so stirringly reminds us, order itself, when worshiped too blindly and rigidly, can consume our fragile chance of happiness.

Complement Notebooks 1951–1959 with the story of Camus’s unlikely and extraordinary friendship with pioneering biologist Jacques Monod.

Dads…and This American Life

June 15, 2015


Wonderful expose on the perspectives of being a dad…for Dad’s Day.


Artificial Intelligence

June 14, 2015

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”, said esteemed professor Stephen Hawking. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”

Reader’s Corner with Bob Kustra/Boise State Public Radio


“Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. But as Artificial Intelligence continues to advance, we should ask ourselves: Can we coexist with computers whose intelligence dwarfs our own? In his book, “Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era,” James Barrat peers into the future to explore the perils of developing super intelligent machines. And he extends a heartfelt invitation to join what he calls the ‘most important conversation humanity can have.’ Mr. Barrat is a documentary filmmaker who’s written and produced films for National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, PBS and many other broadcasters in the United States and Europe.”

“I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be superintelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern.” -Bill Gates

 “Right now, we can handle it, but we just want to teach them more and more, without knowing what it leads to. We do not want to be like pets, but wait until they can think for themselves and reprogram themselves.” -Steve Wozniak.


“Inside Out”

June 11, 2015


NPR’s Fresh Air

{Joy is voiced by Amy Poehler, Anger by Louis Black, Fear by Bill Hader, Disgust by Mindy Kaling and Sadness by Phyllis Smith.}

“The filmmakers did extensive consultations with researchers and psychologists to get the “science” of their animated emotions just right.”

This is going to be a sweet little movie – – Inside Out… from Pixar and filmmaker Pete Doctor who brought us “Up” and Monster’s, Inc…beautiful anecdote about a little boy who saw an advance of the screening and how he named his fear:
“There’s one story that’s pretty amazing. A guy who we work with – and we had screened the film for our friends and family along the way just to make sure it was working and it wasn’t too complex, you know, especially for younger kids. Luckily, they not only got it, but this guy came back the next day and he said, I got to tell you this story. My son has been taking swimming lessons. And he’s been afraid to dive off the diving board. It’s just too high, and he’s scared, so he hasn’t been able to do it. Yesterday, after seeing the film, we went to lessons, and he dove off the diving board. And everybody said, yeah, that’s great. How did you do it? And he said, well, I just felt like fear had been driving, and I asked him to step aside. And for us, we were sort of blown away. Not only did he get the film, but it was actually making an impact in his life.” Just step aside..




From the SEVA Foundation:

“We saw the destruction firsthand but also the resilience and commitment of our staff and partners as they worked to aid the victims of the earthquake”




June 8, 2015



“I am not saying that we should love death, but rather that we should love life so generously, without picking and choosing, that we automatically include it (life’s other half) in our love.”

Mindful Magazine

June 7, 2015

IMG_4138 (1)


June 6, 2015


From Gusto ❥❥

June 5, 2015


Seth Godin…

June 4, 2015

The fruitless search for extraordinary people willing to take ordinary jobs 

‘When I write about linchpins and people on a mission, I often hear from bosses who ask a variant of, “Any idea how I can find people like that for my business?”

It’s unreasonable to expect extraordinary work from someone who isn’t trusted to create it.

It’s unreasonable to find someone truly talented to switch to your organization when your organization is optimized to hire and keep people who merely want the next job.

It’s unreasonable to expect that you’ll develop amazing people when you don’t give them room to change, grow and fail.

And most of all, it’s unreasonable to think you’ll find great people if you’re spending the minimum amount of time (and money) necessary to find people who are merely good enough.

Building an extraordinary organization takes guts. The guts to trust the team, to treat them with respect and to go to ridiculous lengths to find, keep and nurture people who care enough to make a difference.’

Sheryl Sandberg

June 3, 2015

‘There is no end to grief…and there is no end to love.’


“Today is the end of sheloshim for my beloved husband—the first thirty days. Judaism calls for a period of intense mourning known as shiva that lasts seven days after a loved one is buried. After shiva, most normal activities can be resumed, but it is the end of sheloshim that marks the completion of religious mourning for a spouse.

A childhood friend of mine who is now a rabbi recently told me that the most powerful one-line prayer he has ever read is: “Let me not die while I am still alive.” I would have never understood that prayer before losing Dave. Now I do.

I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well.

But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.

And this is why I am writing: to mark the end of sheloshim and to give back some of what others have given to me. While the experience of grief is profoundly personal, the bravery of those who have shared their own experiences has helped pull me through. Some who opened their hearts were my closest friends. Others were total strangers who have shared wisdom and advice publicly. So I am sharing what I have learned in the hope that it helps someone else. In the hope that there can be some meaning from this tragedy.

I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser.

I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother, both through the depth of the agony I feel when my children scream and cry and from the connection my mother has to my pain. She has tried to fill the empty space in my bed, holding me each night until I cry myself to sleep. She has fought to hold back her own tears to make room for mine. She has explained to me that the anguish I am feeling is both my own and my children’s, and I understood that she was right as I saw the pain in her own eyes.

I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need. I think I got this all wrong before; I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. A friend of mine with late-stage cancer told me that the worst thing people could say to him was “It is going to be okay.” That voice in his head would scream, How do you know it is going to be okay? Do you not understand that I might die? I learned this past month what he was trying to teach me. Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, “You and your children will find happiness again,” my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, “You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good” comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple “How are you?”—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with “How are you today?” When I am asked “How are you?” I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear “How are you today?” I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.

I have learned some practical stuff that matters. Although we now know that Dave died immediately, I didn’t know that in the ambulance. The trip to the hospital was unbearably slow. I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass. I have noticed this while driving in many countries and cities. Let’s all move out of the way. Someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it.

I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel—and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning. In the last thirty days, I have heard from too many women who lost a spouse and then had multiple rugs pulled out from under them. Some lack support networks and struggle alone as they face emotional distress and financial insecurity. It seems so wrong to me that we abandon these women and their families when they are in greatest need.

I have learned to ask for help—and I have learned how much help I need. Until now, I have been the older sister, the COO, the doer and the planner. I did not plan this, and when it happened, I was not capable of doing much of anything. Those closest to me took over. They planned. They arranged. They told me where to sit and reminded me to eat. They are still doing so much to support me and my children.

I have learned that resilience can be learned.  Adam M. Grant taught me that three things are critical to resilience and that I can work on all three. Personalization—realizing it is not my fault. He told me to ban the word “sorry.” To tell myself over and over, This is not my fault. Permanence—remembering that I won’t feel like this forever. This will get better. Pervasiveness—this does not have to affect every area of my life; the ability to compartmentalize is healthy.

For me, starting the transition back to work has been a savior, a chance to feel useful and connected. But I quickly discovered that even those connections had changed. Many of my co-workers had a look of fear in their eyes as I approached. I knew why—they wanted to help but weren’t sure how. Should I mention it? Should I not mention it? If I mention it, what the hell do I say? I realized that to restore that closeness with my colleagues that has always been so important to me, I needed to let them in. And that meant being more open and vulnerable than I ever wanted to be. I told those I work with most closely that they could ask me their honest questions and I would answer. I also said it was okay for them to talk about how they felt. One colleague admitted she’d been driving by my house frequently, not sure if she should come in. Another said he was paralyzed when I was around, worried he might say the wrong thing. Speaking openly replaced the fear of doing and saying the wrong thing. One of my favorite cartoons of all time has an elephant in a room answering the phone, saying, “It’s the elephant.” Once I addressed the elephant, we were able to kick him out of the room.

At the same time, there are moments when I can’t let people in. I went to Portfolio Night at school where kids show their parents around the classroom to look at their work hung on the walls. So many of the parents—all of whom have been so kind—tried to make eye contact or say something they thought would be comforting. I looked down the entire time so no one could catch my eye for fear of breaking down. I hope they understood.

I have learned gratitude. Real gratitude for the things I took for granted before—like life. As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive. I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted. When a friend told me that he hates birthdays and so he was not celebrating his, I looked at him and said through tears, “Celebrate your birthday, goddammit. You are lucky to have each one.” My next birthday will be depressing as hell, but I am determined to celebrate it in my heart more than I have ever celebrated a birthday before.

I am truly grateful to the many who have offered their sympathy. A colleague told me that his wife, whom I have never met, decided to show her support by going back to school to get her degree—something she had been putting off for years. Yes! When the circumstances allow, I believe as much as ever in leaning in. And so many men—from those I know well to those I will likely never know—are honoring Dave’s life by spending more time with their families.

I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to my family and friends who have done so much and reassured me that they will continue to be there. In the brutal moments when I am overtaken by the void, when the months and years stretch out in front of me endless and empty, only their faces pull me out of the isolation and fear. My appreciation for them knows no bounds.

I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

Dave, to honor your memory and raise your children as they deserve to be raised, I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B. And even though sheloshim has ended, I still mourn for option A. I will always mourn for option A. As Bono sang, “There is no end to grief . . . and there is no end to love.” I love you, Dave.”

Mark Nepo…


‘The reasons of the heart are leaves in the wind.’

Guns & Hate. And Good. A short essay by Dayle Ohlau

June 2, 2015



Guns and hate. Protests against Muslims outside a Phoenix mosque this past weekend. If there are truly only two emotions, love and fear, then what is it that these protesting Americans fear?

Dean Obeidallal a former attorney, host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show,” and a columnist for The Daily Beast,”wrote a piece for CNN online quoting Martin Luther King, Jr:

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.


He writes about the good he observed that day. The good people, the people who felt love, not fear, who came to counter-protest. Yet, there were also those trying to give what they got, calling the protestors names, like “Nazis”.   When we belittle and fight hate with more hate, and violence, we are missing the opportunity to embrace the humanity of a group that is living in fear, and not understanding the power of the interconnectedness of all people. As a nation, when did we become so ethnocentric, wanting to deny immigrants and religions different from our own? Our country was founded on immigrants and religious freedom. In retrospect of history, it seems, at times, that we have not evolved very far. I am reminded of a chapter in Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung’s book Memories Dreams, Reflections, when he visits the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico, circa 1925:

“I observed that the Pueblo Indians, reluctant as they were to speak about anything concerning their religion, talked with great readiness and intensity about their relations with the Americans. ‘Why, (Mountain Lake said) do the Americans not let us alone? Why do they want to forbid our dances? Why do they make difficulties when we want to take our young people from school in order to lead them to the kiva (site of the rituals), and instruct them in our religion? We do nothing to harm (them). After a prolonged silence he continued, ‘The Americans want to stamp out our religion. Why can they not let us alone? What we do, we do not only for ourselves but for the Americans also. Yes, we do it for the whole world. Everyone benefits by it.”

Many protesting were Christians…in what name did they hate? Jesus? I am reminded of the bracelets that so many wear, “What would Jesus do?” Why did they forget to ask themselves this question before they began their hate-filled, fear-filled protest? I remember learning in my young Lutheran years that Jesus spoke of not resisting evil, but shining the light – – holding the conscious of God within.

The day of the protests I retrieved a beloved book by author Parker Palmer (founder the Center for Courage & Renewal) called, Healing the Heart of Democracy. He writes:“It breaks my heart when democracy is threatened, from within or without – – when we undermine ourselves by indulging in cheap animosities toward those who disagree with us instead of engaging our differences like grown-ups…”

He also writes:

I believe in the power of the human heart to do evil as well as good. The heart leads some to become terrorists and others to serve the hungry and homeless. The heart leads some to blow up federal buildings in order to ‘bring down the government’ and others to see that we are the government and must work together to fulfill democracy’s promise. The heart is a complex force field, no less complex than democracy itself, a maelstrom of conflicted powers that we ignore, sentimentalize, or dismiss at our peril. The human heart, this vital core of the human self, holds the power to destroy democracy or to make it whole. That is why our 19th-century visitor, Alexi de Tocqueville, insisted in his classic Democracy in America that democracy’s future would depend heavily on generations of American citizens cultivating the habits of the heart that support political wholeness.

Palmer dedicates his book to the memory of Christina Taylor Green, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.

“Christina died when an assassin in Tucson, Arizona, opened fire at a public event hosted by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously wounded. Addie Mae, Denise, Carole, and Cynthia died when violent racists bombed the 16h Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us – – our children, our elders, our poor, homeless, and mentally ill brothers and sisters. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy. “

I am grateful for those who chose not keep silent this past weekend and support religious freedom for those who were being protested against. I am grateful that Mr. Obeidallal honored the counter-protestors with his article for CNN. And I am hopeful, as Palmer writes, that when the common good is threatened in our country we will “hang on and hang together – that we have the power to do just that in our hands and in our hearts.”

From Terry Tempest Williams, “Engagement”:

“The human heart is the first home of democracy.  It is where we embrace our questions.  Can we be equitable?  Can we be generous?  Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions?  And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up – – ever – – trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?”





Terry Gross interviews David Oyelowo


David’s films include:  “Selma,” he was Martin Luther King – –  in “The Butler,” he was the son who was active in the civil rights movement and became a Black Panther – – in “Red Tales,” he was one of the Tuskegee airmen.

David was bullied as a young boy facing racism in London, where he was born, and when he and his family moved to Nigeria to escape the bullying he had been facing, only to eventually return to London.  Terry asked him if there were any roles he didn’t want to do?

“I’ve never ever taken a role for money purposes or for some bizarre notion of what may be the kind of career move that would open things up for me. If I don’t believe in it, I can’t do it because I won’t be good in it if I don’t believe in it. (Androles that basically feed into a kind of stereotype of what it is to be black. Don’t send me your script if you want me to play the black best friend; I just won’t do that. —  But you can feel when it’s literally an afterthought; you can feel when it’s like, oh, quick, let’s get some color in here, you know. That I won’t do because it’s disrespectful and I – you know, for me, I’m either part of the solution or I’m part of the problem. So I won’t do that; I won’t do roles that I deem to be stereotypical or caricatures of what it is to be black or even just to be a human being. I won’t do that – I hate horror; I don’t like horror films. I don’t really personally see the value in them. And, you know, also anything that basically is overtly celebrating darkness and to be perfectly honest, sanctioning it; that’s something I can’t personally do. I feel you cannot see the light without darkness but for me, a prerequisite I have for myself is that light must eventually win out. And that’s just what I choose to put out into the world; I believe in it. I know that films affect and shape culture, and I want to put stuff in the world that I feel is edifying as opposed to stuff that is detrimental.”


Full interview:



‘Do what you love.’

“Perhaps what is truly known can not be described or articulated by creativity or logic, science or art.”


From Maria Papova:

In her altogether fantastic commencement address on courage and the creative life – one of the greatest commencement addresses of all time – artist, designer, and Design Matters host Debbie Millman offers:

“The grand scheme of a life — maybe, just maybe — is not about knowing or not knowing, choosing or not choosing. Perhaps what is truly known can’t be described or articulated by creativity or logic, science or art. Perhaps it can be expressed by the most authentic and meaningful combination of the two: poetry.

As Robert Frost once wrote, “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is never a thought to begin with.”

I recommend the following course of action for those, like you, who are just starting out, or who, like me, may be re-configuring midway through. Heed the words of Robert Frost. Start with a big fat lump in your throat. Start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love. And don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can. Imagine immensities. Don’t compromise and don’t waste time. In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide that you want one. Start now. Not twenty years from now. Not thirty years from now. Not two weeks from now. Now.”


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