26 September, 2016

One more time

Clinton = Aspects were complicated, but not illegal
Trump = Unethically unprecedentedly compromised

May Americans please stop for one moment and listen one more time about the scandals following Clinton and those that should leave massive holes of doubt about Trump.

25 September, 2016

Late autumn sunshine

Precious, precious days of
Beauty and magnificence.
Late autumn sunshine,
Brings both sweet yearning
And tender melancholy
For all those moments gone.

21 September, 2016

Just think twice about the logic

Would it be possible for the US government to just think twice about what is wrong with their logic for refusing refugees entry into the US? You are talking about people whose lives have been devastated. People who have lost everything.

It is as if the US had said after WWII, they would not accept any survivors of German concentration camps because maybe some Nazis could slip in as well.

Sorry, I usually don't react so impulsively, but after listing to John Oliver's critique, I couldn't resist.

16 September, 2016

Making a proper cup of tea

“Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea.”
― Chögyam Trungpa

I just finished having a lovely conversation with a dear friend who lives in the Philippines. We "meet" every Thursday early in the morning (my time) for a cup of tea and philosophy.

This morning's conversation was about finding ways to wrestle with our internal struggles and how to face external demands. This year has been full of difficulties / changes / challenges for both of us and so we try to figure out where we are at the moment. This often leads to insightful discourse. Sometimes though our conversations just lead to a useful quote that acts as a salve.

11 September, 2016

This common and shared plight

My forefathers left Their Ireland
In dire times, surviving the long
Arduous journey in hope
Of fertile farm land
And freedom from poverty
The Canadian government made promises.
Falsely. They found only stones and stumps
Left behind by other poor immigrants
Who gave up the struggle and left for the cities,
In hope of jobs. In vain. In deep poverty.
What little one person earned
Was shared by all. There was never just
One day of fasting a week. Daily mass
Was part redemption, part plea bargaining.

The misery, the misery, seeped into their bones
And was passed on to the following generations
The misery sits deep in our morrow even today.

We are all survivors, witnesses, culprits
To those drowning in the Mediterranean Sea.
How is it we do not offer them consolation
And comfort? How is it possible that
A hundred-years goes by without human beings
Becoming more human, more understanding
Of this common and shared plight?

03 September, 2016

We dehumanize people when we reduce them to a single thing.

You, everyone, reallyreally must watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie giving her speech on World Humanitarian Day 2016 at the United Nations. This speech should be listened to, studied, and discussed vigorously. It is a marvelous feast for thought.

Ngozi Adichie says, “We dehumanize people when we reduce them to a single thing.” She persuasively talks about how insidious and unconscious this systemic process is. Living in our world today, and particularly in Germany, the practice of media and people to refer to those in great tragic need for shelter only as refugees is systemic. We do them a disservice by reducing them to this label. They have so much to say. We should be listening to their stories. We should be opening our minds and borders to their dilemma.

Shamefully, I have heard heated discussion among friends and acquaintances about the refugee situation, questioning whether those who have been admitted entry into this country are “real” refugees and “not real” refugees. The media and people insist on differentiating between war refugees and those how have flown their countries out of dire situations caused by sociopolitical, economic or climate change disasters.

Even though this is only anecdotal, all those I have met who have flown from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, or Eritrea have done so at great risk to their lives. They have suffered beyond belief. Not one did so out of self-service or a wish to profit from our social services. Not one hasn’t suffered or lost dear ones to hunger, in disease-ridden camps, through corporal punishment inflicted by police or government officials, in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, or under unbearable conditions of overland transport. They have lost everything.

In my opinion, future generations will look back at this point in history and judge us according to how we have acted during this great humanitarian crisis and not whether some hatemonger gets elected as President of the United States. Shouldn’t we all, including the media, concentrate our focus on this ongoing disaster? As Ngozi Adichie says, “We cannot measure our humanity, but can act upon it.”

02 September, 2016

Nomad office and working holidays

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I have been experimenting with different work models over the last six years of being self-employed. I started working at home, which proved a bit difficult since the children were still living with us.

Then I tried a marvelous co-working space in the middle of the city and not far from where we lived. This worked very well for a few years. It is a good community of people and the work environment inspired me. Over time though, for whatever reason, my interest to participate waned.

I am not sure it had anything to do with the community, but rather to do with the changing circumstances of the work I was doing and the children leaving home to go off to university. I was doing a lot of in-house training and coaching and felt that I was having to interact with enough people on a day-to-day basis. When I was not doing training, I was creating e-learning and blended-learning material for companies. This required a lot of peace and quiet and that is not always available in the co-working office.

For the last two years I have, what I call, a nomad office. All the materials I need to work are in a small roller suitcase. I go off in the morning into town and spend the day going from one place to another and working. I have a long list of cafés, public sitting areas, libraries, and park benches (if the weather is good) where I while away my time.

I love working this way. It is easy to work with concentration for about an hour or two and then I leave, go for a walk and then change locations and continue working on a task. If the task needs extreme focus or concentration, I do it at home in my living room.

Alternatively, I have been taking working holidays. Visiting friends and asking them whether I can work at their places during the day when they are at work. The photo above was my office space this week. Amazing, isn't it!

So far this year, I have taken working holidays in Amsterdam, Montreal, and now, Wischhafen (a small village on the North Sea). If all goes well, I will also be in Heidelberg later in the year.