Archive for the ‘Bits & Pieces’ Category

Walking Backwards

I woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks back and wrote this in my notebook:  “Time to face up to my problems.  That’s why I’ve been walking backwards all the way.”

Does anyone know what it could mean?


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bpart.jpgIn August, I read It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh which presented an interesting take on clutter and how to reduce it.  The book suggested that one problem with clutter is not about the stuff, rather it is about the relationship people have with their stuff.  I found two things really useful about this concept:  1. Stuff has memories attached to it and people think that if they throw the stuff out, they are trashing the memories.  Not true.  2. If something is not adding value to one’s life, it is junk and should be trashed or given away.

I kept thinking of my one box of stuff that I have had for several years.  It contains my high school track ribbons and medals and many letters from a high school friend I have since lost contact with.  It contains other stuff too, like mementos from traveling abroad and ticket stubs and playbills from events I attended in high school and college.  It even holds the printed program from my former step brother’s graduation.

Some people throw that stuff out even soon after getting it.  I have never been one of those people.  I have always saved all of that stuff.

As I read It’s All Too Much, I did stop and wonder why many times.  Why save that stuff?  Will it ever be useful?  I surely doubt it.  I am totally different than I was in high school and so much has happened in my life since that time. I do not use the stuff.  I do not display the ribbons and medals, nor do I read over the letters for any purpose.  It just sits there in the basement.  It just takes up space.  Granted, it does not take up much physical space.  Regardless, I ask again:  Why keep the stuff?

The same night that I was reading the book, I watched the movie “The Peaceful Warrior” based on Dan Millman’s “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” and there were scenes where Dan had to escape from his former self; the one clinging to his dreams. The point being that all that truly exists is this moment and that thinking about the past and the future clouds one’s mind.  I connected that concept to my box of stuff and how it serves no purpose and is like thinking of the past.

Well that night passed, the next day, and the rest of August (and now all the months to March) and I still have not tossed my box of stuff.  Perhaps I will tomorrow.

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A Tool for Achieving Peace

A book I enjoyed reading when I was in college that really made a difference in my life was Peace is Every Step by Thich Naht Hanh.  It is a book about mindfulness and truly living each present moment.  I especially remember the parts about being in the moment while doing mundane tasks.  That mindfulness is something I think about often and wish to recapture.

Mindfulness has taken on a new importance now with having two toddlers and an infant.  Finding time to meditate or just relax and commune with myself or just sit and think without interruption is, presently, a rare occurrence.  Being mindful in mundane moments is a way to get that reconnection without needing additional time to do it.

I am in the process of tracking my copy of Peace is Every Step down.  It is a book I definitely recommend to any busy parent.  I will refer to it in the posts to come as part of my quest for achieving peace in my life.

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The Duluth race for mayor has been reduced to two candidates. One is Charlie Bell. His main slogan is: “JOIN ME! Together we can build a better Duluth!” Here is one of his ads that he has plastered on billboards all around town:


The first time I saw the ad on one of the billboards in West Duluth, I was struck with a strange sense of deja vu. Where have I heard a similar message before? Why does this sound so familiar?

Then I remembered something from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…


Darth Vader beckons to Luke Skywalker: “Join me! Together we can rule the galaxy as father and son!”

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bpart.jpg I no longer do much with New Year’s resolutions. In the past, I would write out a few goals and attempt to follow through on them. Before too long, they became empty lists that are ignored and lost. I used to make similar lists on my birthday in June and even random times during the year. But, alas, the lists never amounted to anything more than that.I was intrigued, however; to read in Anne Truitt Zelenka’s blog about what she calls a “class schedule.” She shared nine things that she is planning on doing during the fall months. It is like a class schedule of goals, ideas, and actions to take. This may be the holy grail of goal planning and project management for me.So what does my fall “class schedule” look like?

  • Blog consistently (3 posts per week) at geminitao.net.
  • Create updated suicide prevention presentation that focuses more on my story as a survivor and shares more of the impact of suicide.
  • Share current suicide prevention presentation with local action group.
  • Learn (memorize) one passage from a Shakespeare play. I did this the first time in 1991 and can still recite many passages from Henry V.
  • Read one Shakespeare play.
  • Read one other piece of literature, probably something by Mark Twain.
  • Write one short story and share it.
  • Continue becoming more mindful by daily reading, writing, and meditation.
  • Learn Cocoa programming so I can create a project management application.
  • Continue spending quality time with the children and family.

These are the main things I wish to focus on over the next several months. One difference that makes the concept of a “class schedule” more than “just another list” is that it is presented as a schedule which translates into an action plan with intention for completion.

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bpart.jpgMy leave of absence request was unanimously approved on April 16, 2007. The beginning of the new school year and the consequences of taking the leave of absence are fast approaching.

Facing the unknown of not having a job lined up for the fall is both frightening and intriguing. It is frightening because of the the severe reduction of income that will soon occur and not knowing how things will work out. It’s intriguing for the same reason as well as learning to have trust in the future and the unknown.

Facing the prospect of going back to my teaching job is also frightening and intriguing. It is frightening because the past two years really have been quite miserable. It’s intriguing in the unknown of whether this year away could make a difference and if I could recapture the enjoyment the job once held for me.

Time will tell. In the meantime, I will have to learn to deal with the fright and intrigue.

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bpart.jpg George W. Bush will soon die. Or else Al Gore will. Unless, of course, the 20-year curse is broken. Or perhaps it is all coincidental hogwash.

Starting in 1840, in what has become known as the 20-year curse or zero-year curse, U.S. presidents elected every 20 years have died in office. Here’s a brief summary of the curse:

1840: William Henry Harrison was elected and took office, but died thirty-one days later from pneumonia.

1860: Abraham Lincoln was elected and served his complete first term. He was reelected in 1864 and served just 41 days into his second term before being assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.

1880: James Garfield was assassinated after six months and fifteen days in office.

1900: William McKinley was reelected in 1900 and was assassinated about six months into his second term.

1920: Warren Harding died of a stroke or heart attack in August 1923, about two and a half years into his term.

1940: Franklin Delano Roosevelt won his fourth presidential election in 1944, but died shortly into his fourth term of a cerebral hemorrhage.

1960: John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

1980: Ronald Reagan dodged the curse, but did not dodge the bullet from an assassination attempt early in his first term.

Now some questions:

Was the curse broken with Reagan? Or does it only confirm the curse in that there was a serious assassination attempt and Reagan was hit and nearly died?

If the curse is still active, will President Bush soon be dead? Or did Gore’s conceding to Bush, though Gore won the popular and electoral vote (had Florida’s votes been correctly counted), break the curse? Since the President (Gore) never took office, does that fulfill the curse? If one never takes office, one cannot die in office, right?

Or given that Bush is President and became so in 2000 (regardless of how it came to be), will something happen to him in the remaining months of his term? Is the curse still active?

Or is there no curse, just an odd series of unfortunate coincidences going back to 1840? If that is the case, I take back the first three sentences of this piece.

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