Original Thought · Uncertainty

Deliberately

When faced with a choice, is it always black and white? Is it ever that polar or are there other decisions that widen the options in each moment. In Calgary, we are voting in a couple of weeks on whether we should submit a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. The nonbinding referendum asks what seems like a simple question on which until last week, I was sure I would vote “No.”
I had a meeting with a Yes supporter on an unrelated issue. I asked, “ are people in your circle were talking about the Olympic bid?” He said; “ yes, and he was enjoying the discussions.”
I said the same thing I have been saying for a couple of months; “if the vote were today, I would vote No.” Before he asked why I chimed in; “ it isn’t an economic consideration, it is about social issues. I worry that this will draw focus and attention away from the important community, environmental, and social issues we are facing.”
He asked; “what if we can be deliberate in putting those issues front and center in the bid and the way that we do the games?” “ What if in 7 years, we could say that Calgary is the most accessible city in North America?” “ What if we made every decision and took every action with the intent of being deliberately nonintrusive in any development?” “ Could we work towards solving homelessness because we invited the world into our city?”
I haven’t been convinced, and he isn’t finished. He reached out today and offered to connect me and my cohort with resources and that he would be available to answer wicked questions. I am not convinced, but I am being deliberately curious and reflective.

How many other times have I seen my choice as binary when it could have been composite? Am I making biased choices without consideration for how I might leverage a different option to achieve a bigger goal? Is my brain capable of wrestling with a bigger landscape? Am I willing?

Take a deliberation break today and see how big you can expand your options.

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Reasonable Accommodations?

Every day, I read articles, see newscasts or have conversations with people that lead to a pivot point where I/we/society should make space to accommodate someone or something that requires a change of mind, practice or expectations.
In Canada, we are preparing for the introduction of the legal, recreational use of marijuana. For the past 150 years, usage was illegal and mostly secreted. Now we are trying to figure out how we can live together when public consumption has broad consequences and impact.

accommodate

Very narrowly, we are discussing how marijuana smoking in our 154 unit, four-story condo building will impact non-users. How do we accommodate the new state without the intrusion of smoke (odor and effect) into our homes? The reflex seems to be regulatory; create a bylaw prohibiting or restricting the when, where and how. I understand this reaction, but a heavy hand might inflame and incite without using the moment to understand what it means to live in community together. What if we had a dialogue with all parties? What could we come up with? Could an as yet unimagined accommodation be possible?

In a previous life, I helped university students, living in residence,  create, monitor and adjudicate community standards. There were still conflicts and disputes, but when everyone understood that their actions and inactions impacted others, there were significantly fewer incidents.

Maybe that is part of our path forward.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Flowers Grow in the Dark

 

flowers

Daffodils, pansies, asters and even roses may not be appreciated on dull gray days or at night, but they continue to be there, and they continue to offer their inspiration and beauty.

The title of this post comes from a line in Rebecca Solnit’s “Hope in the Dark.” As I was commuting this morning, I was listening to Chapter 21 and was shaken by the reference to flowers. It was a bright morning, and the majesty of the wildflowers along the pathway was easy to spot but having returned home late at night along the same route, I started wondering if they were blooming with such glory after the sun went down.

After a bit of research, or what we consider research today, I discovered that while not entirely correct flowers do continue their growth process regardless of the light conditions.

How well do I stand up to that test? When things are going well, my motivation is high, and I can border on mania. I am productive, creative, cordial, strong, smart, and likable.  When a dark spell sets in, either externally created or internally generated, I don’t do as well. But this is when shining is the most necessary. How can I be the best version regardless of the conditions? How can I become agnostic about my surroundings and internal pathology?

For regular readers, you know what I am going to posit. I must choose to plow through, climb over, go around the obstacles (weather, resources, people, me) and intentionally keep moving forward towards today’s goal that leads towards the higher level goals in my life. I will still falter and fail. I will continue to mope under certain conditions, but if I lay my intention – ‘to continue forward” on the table in front of me, I know that I will continue my growth process.

Take a look at the flowers today, breathe them in so they are captured on or tongue, in your nose and as a part of your memories so you can find them again when darkness sets in. Then be courageous and keep moving towards your goals.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Is That a Knock at Your Door

Today the rap might just be a tap-tap. It might sound like someone banging to get in. Are you ignoring the visitor? Her name is Opportunity and she brings you possibility and challenge. When you open the door and let her in she takes the permission and will be knocking at your door almost every day. She challenges you to do what you should and encourages you to do what you could and leads you to do what you must.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~ Thomas Edison
There have been many times that I heard her rapping and instead of welcoming her challenge, I bolted the door and pretended I wasn’t there. I remained still and quiet and actionless and supposedly safe. I have dealt with regret of missed opportunities by pushing myself to peek through the peephole and opening a crack to see what she brought. I haven’t accepted all or even most of the challenges but my courage grew to the point that I have taken up some of them. I learned something from all of them, even those where I didn’t succeed. There have been some enriching experiences that flowed from opening the door and I have become more comfortable with answering. The knock doesn’t cause apprehension anymore because I recognize Opportunity from our many encounters.

I think the adage that “opportunity only knocks once” is a crock.  If we ignore her, she knocks softly but is still there and when we greet her cautiously or enthusiastically she returns to bring us the abundance (hear experiences, relationships, impacts) that we feared.

Open the door this afternoon and listen to what she has for you.
B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Persuasion

As a form of advocacy and protest, persuasion can seem easier than railing and ranting. It is perceived as easier because it is less likely to offend. Persuasion can be done in writing, in person, on social media, through petition or boycott. It is most often a collective action. We band together with like-minded folks who are dissatisfied with the status quo and wants a different outcome which we can combine our signature or buying power. Persuasion is meant to nudge rather than push, encourage rather than blame, discuss rather than chastise.

The Red Cross movement is in 191 or more countries because they don’t climb on a soapbox. They are able to improve conditions and effect incremental change by quietly presenting a case.

When persuasion is the only tool, it is largely ineffective. When it is combined with the myth of neutrality, it is dangerous and complicit with the aggressor.  Persuasion is useful as part of a sales process or a coaching regime because the nudge is followed by another nudge and another and another.  In the face of oppression,  disaster, conflict, injustice, poverty, hunger or an array of social and environmental issues, it leaves the issue perpetually bringing angst, agony, and acrimony.

If you are reticent about taking a provocative action, I encourage you to write a ‘sandwich’ letter to an official as an easy start to activism. Start the letter with congratulations and cordial greetings and end it with a collegial salutation. In between, fill it with a meaty, well-reasoned position and appeal for change.

What did you see in the last 24 hours that caused you concern? Who can you write an email or a letter to? Will you?

Bob

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Denunciation

protest

The FreeDictionary.com defines denounce as;
1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly.
2. to make a formal accusation against, as to the police or in a court.
3. to give formal notice of the termination or denial of (a treaty, pact, or the like).

Over the past fifty years, I have found myself vigorously and rigorously denouncing public policy, corporate action, charitable practices and individuals from my private and in my public life. I lean towards respectful and evidence-based criticism but have found myself speaking in hyperbole and passionate posturing. Respectful denunciation is a much better and more effective approach.

In a world where injustice, prejudice, environmental degradation, inequity, and violence raises their head in every corner, there is much to denounce. This can be down without standing on a soapbox railing at authorities; Condemnation can look like standing arm-in-arm with the oppressed (physically or metaphorically). It can manifest as a silent vigil in solidarity with a cause or an impacted population. It may be a letter to the editor or an open letter to your mayor, expressing your concern and consternation about a decision or nondecision.

Denunciation is one bookend in the continuum of protest and is valuable and necessary in almost every circumstance. Amnesty International and Greenpeace place a strong boundary on the edge of the situation, and even when it inflames resistance, it nudges the middle to take a well-reasoned position and action. Social, justice or environment wrongdoing needs the point of the needle poking and prodding so that less aggressive forms have space to rise up.

I do appreciate the camaraderie and passionate position of denouncers and could easily find myself standing on a dais with a bullhorn raised in a demonstration of my objections.

Whatever your tendency, consider how far you are willing to go to help and then consider if you will raise your voice, your hand, a sign, your influence to hold those in authority to account.

Power to the people,

B

Original Thought · Uncertainty

Intentional

In the spiritual realm (however you define that) everything is intentional. In the material world (however you define that) everything should be intentional. But, I find myself walking amongst many people who expect that somehow, the change they desire will happen organically. If they wish upon a star and take no other action or make no other plan, they believe that some mystical force will move mountains to make their craving (petty or otherwise) come to fruition. My thesis is that there is a magical force; the individual and collective efforts of our world in consort with the rhythms and rules of the planet.  If I want my heart’s desire to transpire, I need to perspire.
 
I have my superstitions and my supersense catches glimpses of many things I don’t understand. I see cause in correlation and correlation in coincidence and coincidence in confirmation. Often, I comfortably comply with a practice that is based on a ‘gut’ feeling because I have never seen tragedy when following this approach. For all my thought and all my reading and writing, I am still comforted by the convenience of a convention. I am convenienced by the comfort that conformity brings. But when I reflect on instances like this I am troubled by my willingness to concede to heuristics, mumbo jumbo and magic rather than make the effort to persist in discovering and uncovering what might be.
 
In “Behave” by Robert M. Sapolsky says ” displacement aggression (prejudice, anger, fear, love .. emphasis mine) can decrease the aggressor’s stress hormones”.” this world of sensory stimuli, much-sensed unconsciously, is subject to what occurred in the prior hours, to change sensitivity?” What evolutionary pressures have played over the millennia or what stressor in the last day is calling for conditioning?
 
As I ramble through this idea, I arrive at an oasis. If everything is intentional (or should be) and my superstitions are in some way influenced by evolution and bias, why do I/we resist nonconformity? Is fear of change or the unknown a DNA flaw in today’s reality? I am not evading sabre tooth tigers or scavenging for non-poisonous mushrooms any longer so why hasn’t this function receded or disappeared? Is there an impending reversal of fortunes that we collectively foresee? Will I need to stalk, hunt, and slay my meals in the future? Maybe, but it seems counterproductive to not adapt to those circumstances as required.
 
Further rambles – Is there any way to believe that events happen organically without having some belief structure that points towards mythical, magical, supernatural cause and effect? In my world, I can’t allow that two people can meet and without effort or intention fall in love and that cupid or some other intervener has cast a spell to have them live happily ever after. A strong marriage or long-term relationship requires hard work every day and when mistakes are made, and they will be, atonement is necessary. The idea that ‘love means never having to say you are sorry’ is a dangerous myth. Diligent and sincere consideration for the other in the relationship and a willingness to recognize and acknowledge when you have been insensitive or inconsiderate is a healthy, enduring, reciprocal relationship.
 
Further rambles part 2 – If Sapolsky is correct and our behaviour is at least partly controlled by genetic and evolutionary building blocks and hormonal secretion as a result of stimulation and stress, how do I manage my own emotions?  How do I reconcile the chaos that I see in others? When Joe snaps at the slightest provocation this morning but shrugs off a slander tomorrow, what am I to make of it? Can I accurately predict how I may react to praise on a day that I have been frightened by a near-miss car accident? How will I react if my beloved, Heaven forbid, has a serious illness? Yes, I see the superstition in the above sentence. Are all behaviour expectations really just averages and generic or is there a way to know how an individual will respond to a situation or a message? Maybe it doesn’t matter unless I am marketing or selling a product or service. If I am in a relationship, some mystery and an unexpected observation or unimagined acknowledgement are healthy for the alliance. After all ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. If I feel I can forecast my partners every move, I am on a short cut to taking her for granted. The balance between sharing enough tendencies and beliefs to feel at ease in someone’s company and being able to ‘know’ what they will say next is a delicate balance. It can only be achieved by testing the scales regularly and making adjustments to keep things interesting.
fun · Original Thought · Uncertainty

Left Behind

My grandmother left me a world that was better for her having lived her life on it. I suspect that her grandmother had given her the same inheritance. What am I leaving my grandchildren? What will you leave future generations?

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( a stock photo courtesy of Canva.com)

I was taught to model my behavior and relationships through her courage, curiosity, and certainty. Grandma had dozens of grandchildren, and at her funeral in 1977, I was a pallbearer. I was also convinced that I was her favorite until I discovered that all my cousins thought the same thing. Realizing that I shared the position with so many didn’t dampen my enthusiasm but rather encouraged me to try to live my life as if the person in front of me was important. I have failed greatly and succeeded meagrely, but her practice still resonates and rings true regardless of my measure.

Gertrude Edith Lavender Holmlund was born in Gillman, Iowa in 1895. She moved to rural Saskatchewan to homestead with her husband Ezra and raised nine children on the small farm. Grandma was a reader and a reciter who performed long poems, stories, and sagas from stages across the prairies. The love of words passed through the stubble and sunshine through my mom down to me. Between my grandmother’s knee to reading to my grandchildren today, there are 50,000 books that changed me and how I see my world. In the 1970’s, she was still reading to learn and was memorizing new pieces to dazzle and entertain an audience. Recently, my mom who is 90, began reciting Kipling’s “If ” around a campfire. The words and verses poured out of her, and she couldn’t recall when she had first learned it. (likely almost 80 years ago).

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

To the end of her life, grandma was certain about many things. She held and lived a life of Christian faith in the Lutheran Church. She held left-leaning political views about government and cooperation. Family, with all its warts, was the most important treasure she had. She saw her world change from breaking land with oxen and pioneering a province and a cooperative movement to international communications and travel. Over the years, she held to tradition where it was relevant and meaningful. She could be stubborn about somethings like God and social action while open to think and adapt to things like music, poetry, and love.

I don’t have nor desire her certainty. I am comfortable living with more ambiguity than should be comfortable. I lean away from tradition even when it might still make sense. I struggle with being compassionate when faced with people and ideas that I abhor. I get to be a provocateur and contrarian because of the life my grandma lived and the world that she left me.

Make Today Remarkable, by leaving today better than it would have been without you,

Bob

fiction · fun · Original Thought · Uncertainty

Future Forecast for Fun

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Future Forecast for the Week February 6 to 13, 2018

Odin January 1 to February 5

Odin is the lord of all other gods. You are the most knowledgeable.You draw wisdom from the tree of life, which gives you your power. Your friends and associates come to you for advice.
This week your horse rides above the clouds. You will be called upon to offer the highest level opinion on a very big project. Be bold with your voice. By the end of the week, an opportunity will be lost.

Thor February 6 to March 16

Thor is the grand defender of the realm. With your huge hammer and your strength, you bring calm and peace to conflict. You use your strength to strengthen others.
You will be asked to choose between the efforts of two colleagues. Lift both of their creations up and help them become co-creators. Mediate and moderate the tone of discussions on the weekend.

Loki March 17 to April 29

Loki is essentially the god of pranks and mischief-making. You bring levity and disruption to your relationships. As a shapeshifter, you are very difficult to get to know.
Tuesday isn’t a good time to cause discord. Use your humor to entertain rather than to provoke.In the final hours of the week, the fruits of last weeks interjection will be apparent.

Heimdallr April 30 to June 3

Heimdallr is the bridge between the powerful and the weak. You act as a peacemaker when discord rises above functional tension. You carry the weight of others and need to deliberately step back on occasion for self-care.
Your courage and conviction to bring collaboration from the fire of conflict are needed all week. Offer your reputation to and resources to save the day on Wednesday. Be honest about your willingness to continue without measurable results.

Magni and Modi June 4 to July 16

Thor’s sons are the contradiction of bravery and savagery. You are driven to succeed and can step over the line to get what you want. If you are on my side, you do what is needed to ensure that I am fulfilled.
Many associates are struggling at the beginning of the week with what seems like insurmountable barriers. You can help them knock some down and get around others.

Njord – God Of The Sea  July 17 to July 20

Njord is the sea and the net. You represent abundance to many of your friends, but they don’t realize that you are longing for abundance and meaning in your relationships.
Loki and Odin are behind you on Thursday, so it is a great day to take the first step and ask someone that you have been admiring on a date. The weekend will be filled with invitations, accept them all.

Tyr – God Of War July 20 to September 1

Tyr is loyal and sacrifices himself and his desires for those he cares about. You go above and beyond what is expected to your own detriment.
You have been bearing the emotions and scars of your family for the past week so lay low on Tuesday and Wednesday to replenish your own cups.On Monday, you will be asked for a major concession. Consider it carefully.

Baldr – God Of Justice September 2 to October 17

Baldr is the god of justice. You have a strong sense of equity and work unceasingly to balance the scales and bring dignity and honor to the less fortunate.
Before noon on Wednesday, you will become aware of a disparity in your workplace, and you are the only one who has the credibility to speak up and redress it. Your reputation will be intact because of the actions you take not your inactions.
Frigg – Goddess of Family and Love October 18 to November 23

Frigg is one of the foremost goddesses of Norse mythology. You are empathetic and empathic, so you feel the joy and sorrow of others. You carry the sixth sense and can foresee future circumstances.
Caution is required on Saturday and Sunday. Revealing what you see in someone’s life can exacerbate the situation and create unwarranted anxiety and chaos. You recognize that a minor choice on Friday will lead to a big decision on Monday.

Bragi – God of Eloquence November 24 to December 31

Bragi had inspiration carved on his tongue, and he inspires creativity in others. You can persuade and influence with fluency, clarity, and humor.
It is time to express your gifts and change the direction of a small group of people who you care about. The direction they are going needs a different heading. At midday on Friday, be alert to instances where your influence will make the world a better place.

 

As always these Norse future casts are for entertainment and levity. Use discretion in how you receive and use all advise.

 

If you were amused or entertained you can always buy me a coffee by clicking the link on the right bottom.

 

Thanks

 

B

Original Thought · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Partnerships

What does it take to make a successful partnership? According to Chuck Marohn in his post on Strong Towns this morning there are four elements. 1. LIMITED AND QUANTIFIABLE RISK 2. MUTUAL SKIN IN THE GAME 3. A REALISTIC CHANCE FOR A POSITIVE RETURN 4. A PROPORTIONATE SHARE IN THE GAIN

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Chuck is referencing public-private partnerships that make our communities stronger. If you have an interest in the public domain, the post is well written and interesting. I am going to approach the four elements of a personal relationship/partnership lens. I am often asked how my beloved and I had managed 42 years together when we were really just kids when we got started. I often say ” to live happily ever after; you need to work hard every day on being in a respectful, reciprocal relationship.” Some days, it is my job to make her smile, and other days she forgives me when I make her frown. We share the best and the worst of our days with each other and I am learning that most of the time, I just need to listen and hear her. Over the years, we have worked out a rhythm for the daily, weekly and annual tasks that need to be accomplished. We share the load unequally on lots of days, but over the course of time, we achieve balance. So what would Marohn’s elements look like in a personal partnership? 1. Limited and quantifiable risks – In every relationship there are risks. If everything is certain and assured, it is probably failing. Communication helps mitigate risks. What is at stake if an agreement misses its mark because I misunderstood, misheard, or misrepresented my understanding, interest, and willingness? Can my partnership withstand multiple risks at the same time? If I promise to spend more time at home but stay at the office late into the evening four days a week, what are the odds that this will be the straw? Is there an easy to use way to ‘calculate’ the liability and risks. According to Bayes Rule, if I am deciding whether to head home at 5 or stop for drinks with some friends I should ask ” Will J be upset?” If I was going to bet that she would be miffed or angry would I wager $1.00 or $100? My intuition would tell me to place a big bet so I should head home and have a drink with her. If we are considering a major decision that has been discussed and debated, we should be able to use Bayes Rule to improve the odds of success and happiness.

Mutual skin in the game – “A true partnership never allows a situation of heads-I-win-tails-you-lose.” I seem to discover one of these easy to say harder to do quotes every day. At its most basic level, I need to elevate my partner’s needs and desires to the same level as mine. To do that I need to investigate what those needs and desires are. Asking awkward questions and listening to uncomfortable disclosure sets the tone for discovery and in the discovery is a possibility that we can both have our needs met, PS – I hate the concept of compromise because I have only seen it presented as a lowest common denominator. If we can work harder and be more transparent, we can find an as yet unimagined solution that serves both parties fully. Skin looks like honesty, communication, and reciprocity. Both parties need to do their share and graciously recognize the efforts and contributions of the other. Partnerships where one constantly serves and one constantly receives are doomed.

A realistic chance of a positive return – According to Statistics Canada, about 38 percent of all marriages taking place in 2004 will have ended in divorce by 2035. I admit that staying married may not be the realistic chance that some are considering and it may, in fact, be a pretty low bar. I naively believe that all partnerships have a realistic chance at the onset and the chance improves as effort, adaptation, and understanding increase.

A proportionate share of the gain – Gain isn’t necessarily financial or anything as easily measured. I believe, and research supports, that we both are and will live better and longer in our strong commitment to each other and in the ways that we make our coexistence work. Gain might be that one of us shovels walks and does laundry or arranges the social calendar and keeps up to date with friends and family. I can gain time to do stuff I love doing when I don’t need to do ironing, painting or home repairs. I need to make sure that my benefit doesn’t exceed the other person’s by too much or that I am feeling used and resentful about doing more than my share. Whether an intimate relationship, friendship or a more formal partnership, both parties need to understand the scope and accountabilities. We need to be open about concerns and listen to anxiety and unease of partners.
Partnerships certainly aren’t easy, and these four elements won’t maintain or repair every situation, but if you begin with caring and communication, you are likely on solid ground.

Make Today Remarkable for a partner,

B