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He was me. Who are you?

Inside every adult, there is a child crying, “Let me out.”
Lucia Capacchione in Recovery of Your Inner Child

I am online every day and if I’m not I feel lost. Recently I have become aware that my online behaviour has changed significantly. My primary reasons for connecting to the internet are either to search for something specific or, far more importantly, to communicate with other people whether they are in the same house or on the other side of the world.

I don’t seem to have the time these days to do any kind of random searching. Everything I do online has a purpose. I even struggle to read the blogs I subscribe to. I seem to rely on other people to do the searching for me. Thanks to the viral nature of the internet things reach me. Some of them spark my interest and motivate me to do some further reading, thinking and possibly even some writing. Other things I ignore. I can choose what I react to. This is how I am surviving.

Living in today’s world we are being bombarded from all angles by: information, demanding jobs, technological advances that aren’t always beneficial to our well being, global events that invariably have local ramifications, the expectation of always achieving more with less, and then there are the pressures we place on ourselves.

More often than not we can be our own worst enemies, especially when we allow ourselves to succumb to the doom and gloom that surrounds us. Worst of all is the belief that we are somehow helpless and that we have no control over the things affecting us. We manage to talk ourselves into believing there is nothing we can do to change our situation. This kind of thinking is so destructive and you can choose to turn it around.

Change your thoughts and start trusting that you know what is best for you. Connect with your inner being. Our intuition is an essential part of who we are and it won’t let us down. Even more than this we need to have the courage to listen to our intuition. This is our inner child talking to us. All too often we choose to ignore it, we keep it trapped because this is what we think we should do. Our serious adult takes over and it really doesn’t help us. This is not the creative and energetic part of us. It tends to be the kill joy who doesn’t know the meaning of spontaneity or having fun. By letting the serious adult rule our lives we are less likely to achieve the healthy and fulfilled life we dream of.

The other day, thanks to Patti Digh, I was exposed to a fantastic video that reminded me of all this. It is called ‘He Was Me’ and it was created by Peter Reynolds.

He was me by Peter H Reynold

Source: The Stellar Cafe blog

Who is the you that sits within? Have you let him or her out lately? Are you going to get on that bus today or are you going to do something different?

How about trying to let your inner child out for a breath of fresh air today and see how that feels? I bet it will put a spring in your step. Believe in yourself and trust that inner part of your being that only wants what is best for you.

Being grateful

I love this reflection by Brother David Steindl-Rast where he invites us to become aware of the constant miracle we live in. I have watched this many times and its message still has the same impact on me today as it did the first time I heard it. As we are being inundated by doom and gloom messages it is so easy to forget that we all have so much to be grateful for.

Positive psychology has suggested that gratitude is a key component of personal happiness. Try incorporating gratitude into your daily routine. A simple way to do this is to pick a moment every day where you think of one thing for which you’re grateful. You could even record your thoughts in a gratitude journal.

Gratitude is a powerful emotion. It is an emotion of the here and now – not of the future nor the past. It has the capacity to transform our lives.

I hope you all have a really good day today and that you allow gratitude to work its magic on you.

A Good Day

You think this is just another day in your life.
It’s not just another day,
It’s the one day that is given to you, today.
It’s given to you, its a gift.
It’s the only gift that you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.
If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is.
If you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life, and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.
Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes you can open.
That incredible array of colours that is constantly offered to us for pure enjoyment.
Look at the sky.
We so rarely look at the sky.
We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment with clouds coming and going.
We just think of the weather, and even with the weather we don’t think of all the many nuances of weather.
We just think of good weather and bad weather.
This day right now, this unique weather, may be a kind that will never exactly in that form come again.
The formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same that is right now.
Open your eyes, look at that.
Look at the faces of people whom you meet.
Each one has a incredible story behind their face.
A story that you could never fully fathom.
Not only their story but the story of their ancestors.
We all go back so far,
And in this present moment on this day,
All the people you meet,
All that life from generations and from so many places all over the world,
Flows together and meets you here, like a life giving water if you only open your heart and drink.
Open your heart to the incredible gifts that civilisation gives to us.
You flip a switch and there is electric light.
You turn a faucet and there is warm water, and cold water, and drinkable water.
A gift that millions and millions in the world will never experience.
These are just a few of an enormous number of gifts to which we can open your heart.
And so I wish you that you will open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you.
That everyone whom you will meet on this day will be blessed by you.
Just by your eyes.
By your smile.
By your touch.
Just by your presence.
Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you.
Then, it will really be a good day.

From away to home

Oh to be able to draw like a child

I cannot believe it has been six months since I last wrote here. During my absence I have repeatedly asked myself why I stopped posting anything and what’s prevented me from getting back into it. My mind kept telling me that a blog needed to be fed regularly for it to achieve its purpose (who needs pressure placed on them by others, I do a great job of this all by myself). In this case ‘food’ equates to content and for me this generally never happens on a whim – it demands my time, thought and energy. I have even spent time wondering whether my blog had reached its natural end. I questioned its purpose and the commitment it required of me. The simple solution was to remove my blog from the web. However, something prevented me from doing this. A voice deep within kept nagging at me saying, “Hang in there, this too will pass and you’ll be back home soon.”

The ability to write seemed to have deserted me yet the desire, and the need to reflect and write, was still present. I stopped writing here because I felt I had nothing to say that was of any significance and I didn’t want to waste my time nor that of any of my readers. The old saying “If you have nothing to say, say nothing at all” seemed particularly pertinent.

Over these last six months I haven’t felt whole because I haven’t been doing the things that I need to do to sustain me on an ongoing basis. As each day passed I seemed to stray further from my ‘home’ and a disconnect began to develop between what I was doing and what I wanted to be doing.

Very quickly the days turned into weeks and then into months.

During this time I have been hassled (in a friendly way of course) by some of my more regular readers (yes, I appear to have some), especially my sister Valentina.

“I am over the bag story,” she has been saying to me, “I’m waiting for something new.”

I promised I would write something but I kept finding excuses for not delivering anything. Unfortunately the usual prompts weren’t working their magic on me.

During the last few weeks a new energy and confidence has begun to emerge resulting in the feeling that something is about to change. Then today I watched Benjamin Zander’s TED talk entitled Classical music with shining eyes. A blast of emotion flooded me. As I sat transfixed on the screen in front of me the passion that flowed from Benjamin Zander reminded me of a comment by Cassandra Gaisford’s in her blog Powerful Creativity:

Passionate people are like vitamins for our souls. People who do what they love with all their heart radiate an invisible ray of energy that touches all those who stand in its path. Passionate people make what they do seem so easy. Yet it takes great courage, hard work and often sacrifice to pursue ones true calling.

At the end of this talk I felt like I had taken an extra strength dose of vitamins and it felt fantastic. I hope it has a similar effect on you …

Benjamin Zander reminded me what has been missing in my life – the ability to engage my creativity. I want my eyes to shine all the time, not just sometimes. The saddest thing for me is that I don’t get to be creative in my paid work. Consequently it can feel so unfulfilling.

I used to play the piano – actually I sat the exams to be able to teach the piano – yet the last time I sat at a piano to play was about 20 years ago. I don’t sew anymore. I don’t embroider or knit or crochet either. I don’t play. When I listen to music these days it is always when I am doing something else. I am not writing. I’m not taking as many photos as before. I even feel my cooking has become boring. I’m not even being very creative in my thinking these days. Possibilities have been taken over by responsibilities.  Life seems to have become functional as a way of surviving the pressures placed on us daily.  I am always in a rush; always trying to fit more and more into my life. Watching this talk was the first time in a long time that I devoted my full attention to only one thing and didn’t try to multi-task. I sat there listening to what Benjamin Zander was saying and I let the music he played infuse my whole being. I allowed myself to absorb the experience and I was really surprised the way my body reacted.

My experience is not unique. Our world is changing dramatically as we deal with the unparalleled global economic crisis. It is time for us to turn to our internal resources and get back to basics. It is creativity in all its guises that is needed now more than ever before.

Twyla Tharp in her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life talks about there being a creative code hard wired into our imaginations similar to our genetic code found in our DNA. This creative code determines the forms we work in, the stories we tell and how we tell them. Twyla emphasises how  important it is that we all get a handle of our creative identity:

If you understand the strands of your creative DNA, you begin to see how they mutate into common threads in your work. You begin to see the “story” that you’re trying to tell; why you do the things you do (both positive and self-destructive); where you are strong and where you are weak (which prevents lots of false starts), and how you see the world and function in it. (p.44)

Twyla has devised a questionnaire as an honest self-appraisal process to help us discover what matters to us. There are no right or wrong answers to this questionnaire. She suggests that you respond quickly and instinctively to each question and not dawdle.

Your Creative Autobiography

  1. What is the first creative moment you remember?
  2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?
  3. What is the best idea you’ve ever had?
  4. What made it great in your mind?
  5. What is the dumbest idea?
  6. What made it stupid?
  7. Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?
  8. What is your creative ambition?
  9. What are the obstacles to this ambition?
  10. What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?
  11. How do you begin your day?
  12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?
  13. Describe your first successful creative act.
  14. Describe your second successful creative act.
  15. Compare them.
  16. What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise, rivals, work, play?
  17. Which artists do you admire most?
  18. Why are they your role models?
  19. What do you and your role models have in common?
  20. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?
  21. Who is your muse?
  22. Define muse.
  23. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?
  24. When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?
  25. When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
  26. When you work, do you love the process or the result?
  27. At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?
  28. What is your idea creative activity?
  29. What is your greatest fear?
  30. What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?
  31. Which of your answers would you most like to change?
  32. What is your idea of mastery?
  33. What is your greatest dream?

Source

Tharp, T. (2006). The Creative Habit:Learn It and Use It For Life. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, pp.45-46.

The whole intention of completing this questionnaire is to learn when we are playing to our strengths and when we are sticking our neck out. Going out of our comfort zone is scary yet it provides the possibility for growth. We also need to be aware of what we definitely should not be doing to save ourselves pain and anguish further down the track.

Benjamin Zander made my eyes shine today and I thank him for that. I love classical music. I particularly  love Chopin and always will. What I am more excited about is that the fire within has been reignited. Benjamin Zander unknowingly helped me come from away to home.

I’m left pondering one more question: How would I walk, how would I talk, if I was doing what I loved all the time?

I can imagine what it would be like. I can see all the possibilities. I even feel it. My challenge now is to make it happen.

I’m glad to be “home”.

Never give up

I bought myself a new handbag the other day. It is big and I am still not used to carrying it around. It feels like a modern day black leather version of Mary Poppin’s bottomless carpet bag.

I have been searching for the ‘right’ bag for a while now. My new bag had to meet some very specific criteria; it needed to be big enough to hold my two cameras along with a journal and all the other minutiae we women need to carry with us everywhere we go. As you might imagine this new bag is not a handbag for wimps. Every time I lift up my laden bag and slide the strap over my shoulder the weight of the contents automatically triggers the same question in my brain: “Why do you lug these things around with you every day?”

It’s a good question. Why do I do this? Why do I need to carry both my cameras? After all the smaller point was all I had before I gifted myself the bigger and flasher Canon camera.

Susan Sontag comments in her book On Photography:

The possession of a camera can inspire something akin to lust. And like all credible forms of lust, it cannot be satisfied (p. 179)

I’m not so sure this is about lust for me. I agree with Susan Sontag on the grounds that there is an insatiable connection with the infinite possibilities of photography enabled through possession of a camera. However, lust seems so superficial and short lived. My relationship with my cameras is much deeper. It goes beyond the cameras themselves into the realm of where the camera can take me. It is about a driving passion that comes from deep within.

For me taking photographs has become a way of capturing the stories of the everyday. Through the viewfinder I am experiencing my world in new ways. I am learning to see and not ignore what is there in front of me. Taking photographs of the ordinary fascinates me and I am determined to get better at doing it.

As much as I dislike having to carry my cameras with me everywhere I go I am learning to accept that if I want to take photos I need the tools with me to do that. When I see professional photographers carrying all their camera equipment around it makes my pathetic little bundle insignificant by comparison.

Another key aspect of my photography skill development is to learn from the work of others. This morning I was watching the TED talk by photojournalist James Nachtwey. He was a TED prize winner in 2007. He has devoted his life work to documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues through photography and is considered to be one of the greatest war photographers of recent decades. As a student of the 60s pictures had a powerful influence on him: “Our political and military leaders were telling us one thing and photographers were telling us another. I believed the photographers and so did millions of other Americans.”

As a photojournalist James Nachtwey set about documenting the everyday struggles of humanity so that he might be able to wake people up and stir them into action.

I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.
James Nachtwey

I sat spell bound in front of my screen watching this talk – the sound of James’s voice and the pace at which he spoke, his photographs, my emotional reaction to it all, the thoughts whizzing around in my head – it all reminded me that the one things I wasn’t focusing on was the quality of the images. I was hooked into the story of the photogrpagher and his relationship to the subjects of his photographs. Many different aspects of the photographs spoke to me. What was present and what was missing. The colours or the lack of colour. The photographer’s eye being used to connect with me the viewer and help me to see what he saw. I felt as though I was there with him.

James Nachtwey: Famine victim in a feeding center
Sudan, 1993 – Famine victim in a feeding center.
Source: Witness photography by James Nachtwey http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/

Starvation was being used as a weapon of mass destruction. Primitive but extremely effective. Hundreds of thousands of people were exterminated, slowly and painfully. The international community responded with massive humanitarian relief and hundreds of thousands of more lives were saved … I am a witness and I want my testimony to be honest and uncensored. I also want it to be powerful and eloquent and to do as much justice as possible to the experience of the people I am photographing. This man was in an NGO feeding centre being helped as much as he could be helped. He literally had nothing. He was a virtual skeleton. Yet he could still summon the courage and the will to move. He had not given up and if he didn’t give up how could anyone in the outside world ever dream of losing hope.

Here’s the full talk, Share a vital story with the world

Inspired by James’s talk and his TED wish designer Bas Groenendaal has created a prototype camera which places emphasis on the looking and framing aspects of capturing a photogragh. Bas presents the interesting concept of photography from within with his protoype: “I believe that photography from within, made by the people/children themselves, can make a powerful impact on not only the outside world, but also on the people themselves.”

Bas Groenendaal

The work of people like James Nachtwey has such far reaching consequences. It is easy to sit there and say this is nice but it isn’t relevant to me or I can’t do anything about it or contribute anything. All too often passing the buck is the easiest option; it is someone else’s problem to solve.

I believe we all have a role to play and every little bit counts. It’s all about the process because by concentrating on the process achieving the desired outcome is inevitable. If each of us did something to bring about change in our lives and the lives of others we are making a contribution. Changing the world is a huge job. It requires collective action. Changing our world is our responsibility. It begins with us.

I have learnt a lot this morning. Never give up. Try. Fail. Try again. It’s okay. Being idealistic is okay. Have the dreams. Hold on to your dreams. Keep going. Become aware and do what you can. We all have the capacity to make a difference in some way for someone. Live passionately and act accordingly.

Ulitmately I look at that picture of the famine victim and the all consuming message this incredible human being is sending to me is “Never give up. Never. There is always hope.” I feel ashamed to have started this post by complaining about carrying around cameras in my handbag. How totally decadent of me. We need reminders on a daily basis to help us put things into perspective.

Story of a sign

The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust

You”ll never guess what; it is raining again.

On this cold wet Friday evening I feel blessed to be warm and dry. I am so grateful for the protection of my beautiful home. The sound of the torrential downpour taking place outside makes me think about people who are not as fortunate. So often it is the simplest things that we have in our lives that make such a difference and yet they are the very same things we take so for granted.

In my mind there are only a few things worth doing on a night like this and these include curling up in bed with a good book or watching a great movie. Tonight I discovered a short film version of the latter option.

Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign) is a film by Alonso Alvarez Barreda which won the short film online competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. It is a good reminder of the power of being open to different perspectives. In this story merely changing the wording on a sign from “I am blind, please help” to “Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it” evokes a totally different response from people.

We need to think carefully about the messages we transmit to ourselves and to others.

Rain and shine

It’s official – we have had a lot of rain but it’s not all bad news. We’ve also had our fair share of sunshine in the gaps when the rain decided to take a break.

Figures released this week by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research will not come as any surprise to most Wellingtonians. Everyone has had enough of the rain. It has been falling incessantly for what feels like an eternity. Most of us are feeling waterlogged and the ground beneath our feet is still very squelchy. Evidence is all around us of the impact all this water has had on our environment.

About 205 millimetres of rain fell in Wellington in August – 167 per cent more than normal, based on a 30 year average – while the 155 sunshine hours were a fraction higher than usual.

Source
The Dominion Post, Tuesday 2 September 2008, p.A3

As Enya says in her song It’s In The Rain, ‘Listen to the rain, here it comes again!’

I am longing to be able to dry my washing on the clothesline outside in the fresh air, sunshine and wind. I am sick of the ever growing washing pile that sits there waiting in hope of a dry day. On the flip side when I can’t wait any longer and I do do the washing I then have to figure out how to get it dried. My lounge feels like a laundry with the clothes horse taking up far too much space. To tell you the truth I am sick of the sight of clothes drying inside my home.

Today, as I was out walking in my lunch hour I looked up at the apartment buildings I passed along the way and I noticed many other people had the same problem. The manufacturers of those white plastic coated metal clothes horses must have had fantastic sales this winter. Window after window featured them laden with clothes.

I am so glad spring is here. It has felt like a long winter. I am ready to be renewed by the energy of new growth and to enjoy simple pleasures like the crisp fresh smell of clothes that have been dried outside.

Patti Digh with Life is a VerbPatti Digh has posted on her blog my contribution to her 37 Days Challenge which she has been running as part of the build up to the official launch of her new book Life is a Verb. I am so excited about this. The best part is that I will be receiving a signed copy of her book for my efforts. This is a very generous and special gift.

I am continually in awe of the possibilities the internet offers us to communicate, share and learn. We have the ability to connect with people across the globe from totally different backgrounds and yet a commonality emerges. I have formed friendships with like-minded people that I probably will never meet in person. These online friends have become an important part of my life. I would be lost without them. I cherish their willingness to be authentic and to take the time to connect with me and all the other people whose lives they touch.

Blogging has taken me places I never imagined possible and it is all about doing what I love. I only wish I could do more of it.

I first discovered Patti’s blog and her work after she linked to a post I had written about desire lines. Over the years I have read her blog and been interested in her work. The publication of her book is a wonderful achievement and a real inspiration to me. I particularly love how she has engaged her readers in many aspects of the production of this book. I hope one day to be able to do the same thing and realise one of my dreams – to publish a book.

Googling and the future

As I woke to the news blaring from my alarm clock radio this morning an item caught my attention. In my sleepy state I couldn’t remember the specific details but I was aware of the ramifications of what I had heard because this is something that has come up a number of times in various discussions I have had over the last few weeks.

In summary, a New Zealand District Court judge has ordered that the names and images of two men accused of murder are to be suppressed but only in one medium – the internet. The main rationale behind this decision is once your name appears online it’s there forever and this can have negative consequences in the future for the person involved and the fairness of their trial. The judge was not only concerned about the powers of googling to get information but also the viral aspects of digital publications.

Judge suppresses web reports
Law Commission considers court order
Monday, 25 August 2008

The Law Commission is to consider today’s court order preventing the name and images of two men accused of murder from being reported online.

The two men, aged 23 and 21, were remanded in custody when they appeared in Manukau District Court charged with murdering 14-year-old John Hapeta.

Judge David Harvey allowed their names and images to be published on television news bulletins and in newspapers, but would not allow them to be published on the internet.

Judge Harvey reportedly said that he was “concerned about someone Googling someone’s name and being able to access it later”. He was also “concerned about the viral effect of digital publication”.

Law Commission President Sir Geoffrey Palmer said today that the order would affect a commission study into name suppression.

“It will have to be taken into account … this is a very interesting development from the point of view of our project.”

He had never heard of such an order before, but suspected it was to do with the huge rise of “googling”, which jurors could potentially do at home on nights of the trial.

Lawyers for Stuff.co.nz are considering the suppression order this afternoon.

Media commentator Russell Brown told 3 News that the ruling was “unusual”. He said it had the feel of an experiment to it.

“A point that needs making is that Judge Harvey is no mug when it comes to the internet. He has written a text book on cyber-law in New Zealand.

“On a technical level he probably knows more about the internet than any other judge in the country,” Brown told 3 News.

Judge Harvey’s textbook on the internet and law is called internet.law.nz.

Brown says that bloggers will be unhappy that the main-stream media has access to something they don’t.

The two men each face three further charges.

They were remanded in custody to reappear in Manukau District Court on Friday.

A 15-year-old boy also appeared in Manukau Youth Court today facing charges of assault with intent to rob and using a pistol in the commission of a crime.

He will reappear in Manukau Youth Court on Friday

Source
NZPA (Monday, 25 August 2008). Judge suppresses web reports: Law Commission considers court order. The Dominion Post. Full article available at http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominionpost/4668473a6000.html

It will be interesting to see how this particular case unfolds. However there are many aspects to this situation that are directly relevant to you and me as well.

Have you ever tried googling your own name? If you have never done this I strongly suggest you do. I remember the first time I did it I was surprised as to how much information was available about me out there in cyberspace that those wee bots are able to put their hands on.

For years I have been dealing with comments by people who don’t believe in the internet and see it as the playground of people who are out to harm others. They perceive that the footprint you leave could come back later to bite you. I have never subscribed to this philosophy and consequently I have engaged rather vigorously in a variety of online activities. However I have always been mindful of the data that was being stored and have never done anything that may in some way incriminate me; well that’s what I believe. How do I actually know this to be true because what I believe and write about today may not be viewed the same way in the future. I may even change my own ideas and opinions.

My husband attended the DEANZ Conference last week and this topic arose there as well. One of the keynote speakers, Michael Barbour, commented on the work he does with his students about their online identities and keeping themselves safe. He was talking about long term safety rather than the immediate concept of stranger danger and protecting yourself from perverts on the loose on the internet. He asks his students to consider the personal implications of the following question, “Do you want what you’re doing today online to be permanently documented and accessible to anyone in the years to come?” He also pointed out that no-one at their university gets entry into a Masters or PhD programme without being googled as part of the acceptance process.

Another conversation I had on this topic was with someone at work. He said he always Googles applicants for advertised positions to see what he can find out about them. This is something I would never have thought to do. He continued to tell me about the kind of information he discovered. I was surprised to hear about people who had their Facebook sites available for public viewing and this was only the beginning.

As I researched this a bit more I soon discovered that googling is a normal employment practice in today’s workplaces. The June 2007 Harvard Business Review had an interesting interactive case study – We Googled You – on this topic.

Summary of the We Googled You Interactive Case Study

Hathaway Jone’s (a luxury apparel retailer company) CEO has found a promising candidate, Mimi Brewster, to open the company’s flagship store in Shanghai.

Mimi grew up in China and she spoke both Mandarin and a local dialect. She was young scholarly woman who possessed all the necessary qualifications and experience the company was looking for.

The CEO was impressed by Mimi’s CV and her personal professionalism, and her interview for this key position goes off without a hitch.

HR routinely Google applicants. They scan the first 11 pages of search results for any potential hire. in Mimi’s case page 9 reveals that fresh out of university Mimi was involved in a nonviolent vocal protest group that helped mobilise campaigns against the World Trade Organisation. After digging deeper a newspaper story featured Mimi sitting outside China’s San Francisco consulate protesting China’s treatment of a dissident journalist.

Should the CEO hire Mimi despite her online history or should she be disqualified as ineligible for the position?

What would you do?

Here is a summary of the three key commenters on this case study provided by the Career by Choice blog:

Jeffrey A. Joerres is the chief executive officer of Manpower, one of the largest employment services companies in the world. He felt for a number of reasons that he would not hire Mimi. He believes that “online content is public information and is fair game for employers to ask about it”. In his opinion the information online was just as relevant as that on her resume.

Danah Boyd, doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley and an advisor to major media corporations, has been blogging for ten years. Her opinion was that Mimi should have been hired. Employers need people “who play by the rules”, but they also need creative thinkers and people not afraid to speak their minds when their ideas are not considered to be mainstream. Actively posting to share a person’s present views can remedy thoughts shared in the past that may be particularly damaging to a person’s online reputation.

Micheal Fertik is CEO of ReputationDefender, a company that finds and removes digital dirt for their clients. Clearly he feels one’s online identity is important or he wouldn’t be in the business he is in. He indicated that hiring Mimi would undoubtedly create problems for the company. He believes that one must monitor your online identity as a person’s reputation is not just about you share about yourself, but what others’ say about you. His quote from the last paragraph says it all: “Don’t tell me that it {a negative comment online} wouldn’t have an enormous impact on your emotional and professional well-being”.

This has all provided me with more food for thought than I really wanted today. This is a huge topic with huge implications today, tomorrow and well into the future.

Some days I do wonder if I’m doing the right thing by writing in this blog space and participating online in a variety of other ways. A nagging question I have is will this all come back to bite me? I certainly hope not. I write from the heart, in a genuine, and open way. I research what I write about. I acknowledge my sources.

This is a snapshot of me today and my thoughts and feelings. Obviously with time these may change. Isn’t that what we want for people; to learn and grow and change? The past only informs the present and future. It is not the present or the future. The only influence we really have is over the present moment. The key is to making it a worthwhile present moment and not something we may later regret when it shows up in a Google search. However, our mistakes are also important. Most of the time we’re not consciously making a mistake but the consequences of that mistake can live with us for an incredibly long time and sometimes be difficult to shake off. The internet may be unforgiving but we are human beings and we have the capacity to forgive and to let people move on as appropriate.

The up side of all this is – we will never die thanks to the internet!

Winter of discontent continues

Waitangi Park Market, Wellington, NZ

It’s official; this has been a bad winter and we are paying for it in unanticipated ways. Let me explain …

Yesterday Lynsey and I headed to the fruit and vege market. This is a weekly event where growers from the Horowhenua area come down with their trucks laden with fresh produce to sell directly to us city folk. There are two market sites located at opposite ends of the city: Victoria Street Market and Waitangi Park Market. These markets are extremely popular especially as the increase of inner city living has turned the centre of town into a suburb of itself.

We have friends who go every Sunday to buy their fruit and veges from one of these markets. My husband and I have never been that disciplined about this activity. We go along every now and again.

This morning we decided to head down and check out the produce because we have been so disappointed with the poor quality vegetables available to us in our supermarket. We felt sure we would get better produce if we bought direct from the growers.

As we walked around and around the stalls, in the rain, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy. Everything looked unappealing and damaged. The lettuces looked by far the worst of all the vegetables – they were tragic, even at the bargain basement prices they were being sold for of one dollar a lettuce head. You would have been lucky if you managed to get one or two decent, edible leaves from the shrivelled up ball that looked like it wanted to be a lettuce but hadn’t quite got there. This was so disappointing because as we drove to the market I kept imagining the beautiful salad we were going to have for dinner – only that was not to be. I kept wondering if things had changed and we were being duped. Where these growers now selling produce they couldn’t sell anywhere else? How could these vegetables look even worse than the ones available at the supermarket?

Then today a news headline drew my attention: Winter of discontent hits vege prices hard. As I read the article I discovered why I couldn’t buy a decent lettuce or anything else green for that matter.

Skyrocketing vegetable prices are about to climb even higher thanks to months of rain, hailstorms and frosts that have wreaked havoc on crops.

Shoppers are turning to frozen vegetables as one of the worst winters in two decades pushes prices up – and quality down – around the country.

And with more rain expected this week, industry experts are predicting a rise of 15 to 25 per cent, record prices in October and shortages till Christmas.

Alastair Turner, a senior trader at Fresh Direct – which supplies New Zealand supermarkets, retailers and wholesalers – said it had been one of the worst winters in his 20 years.

Crops, especially green leafy plants, had been hammered and vegetable growth in hot houses stunted by lack of sunlight, he said.

“People are paying the highest possible prices in retail stores but the quality probably is the worst.”

Grower John Clarke, who owns 161 hectares at Levin’s Woodhaven Gardens, said his 17 crop varieties had been destroyed. Lettuce and spinach were hit worst.

“Big gaps” in the market place were likely for six to eight weeks as rain stopped planting.

Fruit and vegetable prices rose 8.7 per cent in the year to June, with lettuce, potatoes and broccoli the biggest drivers.

Source
Jenny Ling (Monday, 25 August 2008) Winter of discontent hits vege prices hard. The Dominion Post. Full article available at http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominionpost/4667349a6479.html

Weather impacts in so many ways that we often don’t think about. Oh how I long for a crunchy green lettuce salad. It looks like I’ll be waiting a while and paying through the nose for it when the ingredients are available. Even more reason for us to get our own vege garden underway. However, even with our own garden the forces of nature will always win out despite our best interventions and this is something we simply have to accept. Sometimes you can’t change what is meant to be.

Dreams

In a recent post I wrote about making every day count because life is precious and we never know when it might end. Today I came across this song by Priscilla Ahn entitled Dream. Priscilla has managed to sum up the point I was trying to make only she does it a lot more succinctly. She says:

I lived it full and I lived it well, there’s many tales I’ve lived to tell.
I’m ready now.

Here are the lyrics for the whole song …

Dream

I was a little girl alone in my little world who dreamed of a little home for me.
I played pretend between the trees, and fed my house guests bark and leaves, and laughed in my pretty bed of green.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest swing.
I had a dream.

Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I’m supposed to be.
The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie. I said a prayer and fell asleep.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest tree.
I had a dream.

Now I’m old and feeling grey. I don’t know what’s left to say about this life I’m willing to leave.
I lived it full and I lived it well, there’s many tales I’ve lived to tell. I’m ready now, I’m ready now, I’m ready now to fly from the highest wing.

I had a dream

What’s your dream; for yourself and for your life? Have you taken the time to record it somewhere? Do you have a dream journal, for example?

By moving your dream from something that is only in your thoughts to something more tangible that you can see, it is more likely to become real. Remember that a goal is merely a dream with a deadline. Lucia Capacchione in her book Visioning talks about this at length and provides practical advice as to how we can use a pair of scissors and some glue to achieve our goals.

One thing that all Visionaries have in common is that they practice making “thoughts become things.” They cultivate their creative ideas like loving gardeners. And they have faith. They don’t have to keep digging the seed up every five minutes to find out if the plant is growing. They germinate ideas and trust the creative process.

In addition, visionaries are committed to taking all the steps necessary for giving birth to their creations. Their attitude is: whatever it takes … they face doubts, fears, rejection, disappointment, delays, and other obstacles that everyone faces in life. Yet, they hold true to the creative idea, knowing that sooner or later it will take form in the physical world. Some gestation periods are longer than others. One idea may take twenty years to hatch, another may take twenty days. The creative thought is the thing. Nurture it, charge it with energy and enthusiasm, and the world will be drawn to it as to a magnet.

Source
Lucia Capacchione (2000). Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., pp. 26-26

As an aside, I was fortunate to attend a workshop with Lucia Capacchione back in June when I attended the Journal Conference in Denver organised by Kay Adams. This was a dream come true for me. Firstly, to be able to attend a conference in the United States devoted to journalling with people I know only through their work. Secondly, to attend workshops and meet women and men whose books I have used in my teaching and my personal development. Making this dream come to fruition pushed my husband and I to the limit in some respects. However our determination and sheer grit paid off. The extra bonus was that our daughter who is currently living in London joined us for the trip and together all three of us visited friends in Texas. At the beginning of the year none of this was even a dream, a goal or a possibility.

Dreams can come true but not on their own. We need to do our bit. We play a major role in the whole process of turning dreams into realities.

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