05 January, 2014 – Most Played Song

010514Last.fm is a music-based social network site that automatically keeps track of the songs played by its users. For that reason, it’s one of my favorite sites. In fact, I met Fish Astronaut on Last.fm, another reason to appreciate it.

I was reviewing what Last.fm has tabulated as my top-played songs and discovered that the song I played the most in 2013 is one called “Here I Am” by Adam Green & Binki Shapiro. 010514bThat came as a bit of a surprise to me but, based on the numbers, it shouldn’t be. I listened to “Here I Am” 41 times. “Room With a View” by the Muffs came in second with 31 plays, quite a discrepancy.

Interested in what I like to listen to? Click on the image to the right. And here’s your chance to hear “Here I Am.”

2 January 2014 – French Kiss

French KissSo you know that painting that Fish Astronaut made for Melinda and me, the one in the background in yesterday’s post? He first created it when Melinda and I launched Kind Living, back in 2011 when we were in France.

At first, the KL website was going to include photos that Melinda and I took while living in France. We started building the website and it didn’t really work.

The KissAbout the same time, however, Fish started illustrating my online kindness classes. I asked if he’d be willing to do the same for the website and he readily obliged.

For the link that introduces Melinda and me, the Kind Living team, we had first planned to use this sweet picture (see above) of a kiss Melinda and I shared in the doorway of our home in Nantes. I sent it to Fish and he created the drawing you see to the right.

And the drawing became a painting that became an anniversary present.

1 January 2014 – 23 Years!

010114Yesterday was Melinda’s and my 23rd anniversary. A lot has happened in those 23 years! A couple of kids, a school, something to do with kindness. Most importantly, it’s been a heck of a marriage so far. And if we make it to the end of 2014 (you never can tell…), it will be 24 years. The year after that, 25. That’s right, I can add.

By one.

Melinda set it up for us to spend the night at a swanky hotel in downtown Seattle called the Inn at the Market (as in the Pike Place Market). We had a late New Year’s Eve dinner at a nearby French restaurant called Le Pichet. We were there from 10:15 until about 1:30, the last customers to leave. The staff were very kind to us, encouraging us to stay as they cleaned up and even giving me a Poire William and Melinda a cognac at a little past 1am in celebration of our anniversary.

Sweet!

The photo here is one taken yesterday by Ella just before Chloe drove us into town. The painting behind us was completed by my Internet artist friend Fish Astronaut at my request for Melinda’s and my anniversary. It’s based on a drawing he made for us, and of us, while we were in France.

20 March 2013 : The Laughter of Children

Ella, always smiling

Ella, always smiling

The laughter of children has always been good medicine for anything that ails me, perhaps some form of meditation or prayer. It’s like a fresh breath of cool air on a warm spring day, or as pure as water formed from melting snow running down the mountainside.

To illustrate this, I offer you this short video. Go take a look and pay special attention to your reactions as you watch it.

See if it doesn’t tap into something else that is natural to being human.

18 March 2013 : My Educational Philosophy

Chloe, PSCS Ropes Course

Chloe, PSCS Ropes Course 2002

It turns education around to say that the first focus of schools should not be on academics, but that’s just what I say at Puget Sound Sound Community School, the school I direct and co-founded with Melinda in 1994. But if you really stop and think about it, it makes sense. Students who do not feel safe or supported at school are going to have a difficult time learning academics, anyway, try as we might to cram them in. So the first focus of schools should be to provide a nurturing environment.

Humans are natural learners. Tap into that and we learn naturally and eagerly. Provide the right kind of support, beginning with the environment, and things like academics take care of themselves.

15 March 2013 : What Makes Us Who We Are?

When I was a little boy I experienced significant night terrors for about two years.

That's me, circa 1970

Me, ~1970

My parents took me to a child psychiatrist who recommended family counseling so we tried that. A behavior modification program was created. Still, the terrors got so bad that I was hospitalized for a week when I was in 4th grade, studied by doctors and nurses to try to determine the root of the problem. One memorable experience in the hospital was when electrodes were attached to my head to study my brainwaves. Nothing significantly wrong was determined and I returned home. Ultimately, I seemed to grow out of the night terrors, but the experience cast a dark shadow on me for years.

For instance, I was horribly embarrassed by it, even into my young adulthood, and never talked about it. It was my deepest and darkest secret. But during college I started to make peace with it and even started to appreciate how the experience helped make me who I am. I believe the empathy and compassion I have for children is a direct result of my experience with night terrors, of undergoing counseling as a child, and from the experience of spending that week in the hospital.

13 March 2013 : Highest Human Calling

I learned in college that holographic images can be recorded on glass.

Chloe & Andy, Feb '96

Chloe & Andy, Feb ’96

Looking at them, they appear 3-D despite being in 2-D form, and seen from different angles give you the look of seeing the image from different perspectives. Further, if the glass that holds the image is broken, each piece contains the whole image. It’s not like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that have to be reassembled to form a whole. Each piece CONTAINS the whole. Learn more here.

My belief is that each person is one piece of glass of a broken hologram, each of us containing the whole. Our job as individuals is to contribute positively to the whole, doing our part to reunite or repair it through positive, conscious action.

That’s the highest human calling.

11 March 2013 : Giving & Receiving Are the Same Thing

I’ve been thinking about the exchange of energy that takes place during an act of giving and receiving.

Chloe's 13th Birthday

Chloe’s 13th Birthday

In short, I think the giver and the receiver are doing pretty much the same thing. The receiver “gives” something by accepting the gift, and the giver “receives” something by providing the gift. It’s an immediate cycle in which both parties take on a level of giving/receiving responsibility.

Think about it. You can’t give something unless someone is willing to receive it, thus giving you the gift of accepting your gift.

Sometimes a great gift you can give someone is to receive what they want to give you.

8 March 2013 : Right Speech – Three Questions

A couple years back, a student in one of my kindness classes shared her understanding of the Buddhist protocol known as “Right Speech.”

Ella's Greeting Card

Ella’s Greeting Card

She learned that the best way to practice “Right Speech” is to ask herself three questions about what she is about to say before saying it:

Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?

The answer to all three questions must be YES or one should remain silent.

This is something I’m working on myself. And I’m expanding it to include email (and text messages and blog posts and…).

Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?