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On Sue’s Desk

On Sue’s Bike

unnamed As you may have read here before, my best thinking happens on my bike. DARE small I feel ‘at home’ on my bike (no matter where I am) which liberates me from the pressures of society so I can free my mind and Think For Myself!  (My first ‘product’ was the DARE parody sticker you see here, which I made to sell on Grateful Dead tour in 1993).  When I can let go of what think I should be doing, what I failed to do and what I could do better, I can focus on my relationship with myself and the natural world in which I am completely entwined…but from which I sometimes – falsely – feel disconnected.

I am alone on the bike trail more often than I am with others.  When I encounter other riders at home or on trails all around the country, I usually see that, like me, they are very happy to be there.  When we smile in passing we raise each other up!  I love feeling that connection.  There are areas in the country where people rarely smile on the bike trail, however, and connect with me through a stare or a scowl. I feel less comfortable around them, but I still smile.

When I get a few miles down the path and my mind can really start to wander, I almost always think about ways I can improve life.  I want to improve my life, my relationships, my community, my region, my state, my country and my world, of course, but I realize none of this will happen without improving life for everyone. Some of my thoughts include: how can I get other bicyclists to smile back at me on the bike trail? Why is it that we know so much about technology but know less and less about ourselves or each other?  Why is it that we accept increasing levels of stress, anxiety, depression, addiction and cancer while not studying and working to remove the factors that contribute to these debilitating illnesses?  (And not just debilitating for individuals, but debilitating for our communities, our morale, our potential…)  And why on earth are there not more people here on the bike trail today when riding bikes makes people so happy?

On my bike I feel like I get above the busyness of my immediate surroundings and can finally see the forest for the trees.  I can’t say this in front of most groups of people, but on my bike I can heartily feel that I do NOT accept our increasing illnesses and weaknesses.  I can tap in to my power and KNOW that we can greatly reduce our mental and emotional suffering if we put our (large and creative!) minds together to solve to reverse this trend. We can become stronger, wiser, more capable and more connected.

Our Choose Your Perspective documents in the Reentry Packet and Swellness area of our website are my initial efforts to challenge difficult, sticky and very human topics.  Encouraging people to feel their power is very difficult.  We are comfortable with the power of anger, disappointment, and expectation but we are not comfortable with the power we have to create and own our happiness including establishing clear boundaries, confronting ‘bad actors’, understanding ourselves and our society. We’re also uncomfortable with the deep and difficult power that can only come from introspection: the power to direct our lives.

How can I help us feel better?  I will likely work on this for the rest of my life.  I feel like what I can do in every moment of every day is to be my authentic self… tell the truth, not obsess about others’ opinions of me, lift people up and let them know I need them, and engage, engage, engage to try to understand myself and what I can do by learning more about others.

OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS:

TELL YOUR STORY! 

Everyone wants to be heard. We all want to tell our story in the hopes that people will be able to understand us. Can we first give what we want to receive?  Can we be the ones to LISTEN to others? Can we be the ones to TRUST others and hope our investment pays off so they can then trust us? Or can we listen and trust and care unconditionally because this is just what we do?

I believe that listening to others is the first step toward being heard by them.  Our goal is to look for things we have in common; things we both care about that we can build on.  Sharing stories helps us connect as humans to discover that we often have similar joys, concerns and desires. We all share many more similarities than differences.  Focusing on the similarities: educating and caring for our children, creating safe and enriching environments to live in and learn in, to improving the quality of the roads and also the drivers…these are things everyone can get behind, so how about if we start here?

I want to hear your story.  I want to know how we can make our lives, and the lives of others, better! 

I want to tell you my story.  I want you to know where I have come from so you can have a greater understanding of my drive and my belief that I am somewhat of an expert for this work.  I don’t want my story to in any way draw attention away from my efforts here, however.  I want the story to bolster my efforts which is tricky.  I realize that how I tell the story is as important as the story itself.

It’s coming… I’m getting closer to the answer….  Every bike ride clarifies my path a little more.  Just a few more rides and I’ll have it!! 

New Bubbles

The original, purple bubble truck pictured below is great.  It is especially great for Burning Man, where we don’t have to look ‘professional’, but was not great for traveling to prisons. Presenting Fair Shake in institutions is a crucial part of our work. Traveling by plane/hotel/restaurant is out of the question.  I need to stay healthy at work!  Camping satisfies the need to get from point a to point b while living in a ‘tiny house’. I felt I had no option other than to create our new Ubuntu rig.

unnamed unnamed (1)

I have a delightful ‘ubuntu’ story from our first trip out. I lost my transfer case and water pump within 30 miles of each other and had many other challenges throughout the journey.  Although we had some tough times, we also found the most amazing people who taught me a great deal about engaging the spirit of Ubuntu.  They greatly raised my capabilities through their creativity, joy and dedication and I feel I have to tell the story to help our readers and website visitors understand how wide the circle of reentry is…wide enough to surround everyone in the United States! I will write the full story soon and it will be in the new software next spring. Short version: Do Not Assume!  Just as we do not want to be reduced to cultural stereotypes, we cannot reduce others to the same.  Beauty, richness and caring can be found in the most surprising of places.

Capture2 Footnote:

The original bubble truck is still doing great.  It is now my work truck and seems quite content hauling its owner and little1989 racecar buddy to dirt and ice race tracks.

Bubble Truck Philosophy

Bubbles. They always bring a smile.20150530_092552_resized

Whether someone is blowing bubbles or making a bubble bath or drinking champagne, bubbles are always welcome. They lighten things up; they remind people to celebrate!

Bubbles are beautiful as individuals and they are also beautiful and very fun in groups!

In 2008 I needed another camper. My 1973 Volkswagen camper van, while still an awesome traveler, was not up for the extra-difficult journeys I wanted to make to a temporary town of 50,000 souls that comes alive once every year on the dusty alkali desert called Black Rock City. I wanted a pickup truck and separate camper so I could have more room and more power…and have a useful pickup truck the remainder of the year.

 

I found my magical truck online; the ad read: 1989 F150, 4wd, manual transmission, 6 cylinder, 107,000, runs well: $850. When I went to check it out I found out it had no brake master cylinder and the paint was peeling very badly. I loved how it sounded and I bought it when the owners said they were willing to put it on a trailer and drive it to my mechanic’s shop over 60 miles away! After my mechanic made it safe, sound and travel-ready, it was time to make it look as good as it sounded.

The interior is an unapologetic shade of red. Very few colors could stand up to that power, so clearly the truck had to be purple.

Once that was done it looked like it needed a little something more. People like to play with their trucks and paint flames on the front fenders as if they are super-powerful and rocket-fueled. I was buying this truck specifically to go to the Burning Man festival, so I thought that red, yellow and orange flames would look really great.

I asked my son if he would help me design the art and we got into a conversation about the flames and what they say. We agreed that they say the truck is generating something…in that case heat/fire/power…. but when we talked about it a little more, we realized that I don’t really generate that stuff…I’m the kind of person that tries to generate smiles, good feelings and connection.

We thought it would be fun to make the truck look like it was throwing bubbles from the engine instead of flames…like I’m out here driving around the country making bubbles for everyone!

But as we continued our conversation, we realized that bubbles (now meaning lightness, celebration, connection) just exist. I don’t make them. They are everywhere all the time and we just remind each other that they are there ~ .

When you look at the truck you can see that we painted the bubbles to look like they are splashing up off the ground…like I’m driving through puddles of them. As I travel across the country, I stir up bubbles and the truck reveals them…and children and adults smile and wave and together we all add more bubbles in the world.

The bubble truck does not generate bubbles…we just reveal them…they already exist and we all have access if only we will remember that although they are invisible, they are there!

 

Biking to Nirvana

Doesn’t that sound nice?  I just love to ride my bike. Bikes are so liberating!  I like to feel free to find my own deep relationship with life…under my own power…like a bike…that will connect me to my personal heaven / nirvana / inner-peace / self-actualization.

I think an awful lot about how we can create a better future for all of us living together sharing the earth’s bounty and humanity’s skills, ideas and creativity.  I believe that – for how smart we are (individually and collectively) – we should be doing a much  better job at  taking care of ourselves than we are presently doing.   I think we can expect more out of ourselves; and I do expect more.

Our number one need/goal is super-simple: to figure out how to live together more successfully! The details are many and involve all facets of life in all of cultures.  The work requires dedication, tenacity, faith in each other/ourselves (same thing), and the utmost care and respect for all.

To this end, I spend a lot of time on subjects like personal transformation, values, capability, happiness and morality to address hot-button issues of rights, freedom, happiness/satisfaction with life, power and ownership – to name but a few.

The information I share on this page is not meant to push specific ideas; it is my blank canvas…my version of art…created to encourage deeper thinking and conversations to grow critical and humanitarian thinking skills.  I figured that maybe a few folks might want to know a little more about the philosophy and ideas that drive Fair Shake.

Small Notes:

In order for things to get better, we need to be more virtuous.

(…and stop waiting for others to become more virtuous…or for laws to be created that demand we become more virtuous!)

Evaluate RELATIONSHIPS:  whether they are a BOND (loving, respectful, authentic, allow for individuality, authenticity and personal growth) or a BIND (built on dependency/needs, debt, control and expectations (of individuals and society) …see Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence)

 Cost / Benefit: does this relationship satisfy my belonging needs while allowing me room for my individuality?  Do I offer and receive respect in this relationship?

From a song on the radio: we have an innate desire to be somebody.
(this is backed by research…our motivation is way beyond carrots and sticks)

Painted on a wall in a women’s prison: When the past calls, don’t answer; it has nothing new to say.

Speak your truth; pay the price!!!  It’s important to have clear boundaries.

Ban the Box: “Green”, “Cultural Creative’, ‘Community-supporting’, etc. Corporations can demonstrate pro-social support for this initiative by creating policies NOW vs. waiting for the initiative to become law.

David Woo: People won’t remember what you say, they’ll remember’ how they FEEL…and your AUTHENTICITY.

Developed Thoughts:

New book on my desk: Moral Courage: Rushworth M. Kidder 2005 Harper-Collins  Highly recommended reading!

Moral Courage = Principles + Endurance + Danger

Quotes to consider:

…moral values, in many ways, are aspirational as well as normative.

“Courage, for example, has so far as we can tell, been admired in every society known to us. There are universal values.” ~ Isaiah Berlin

As quoted from Authentic Happiness (2002) by Martin Seligman – liberally paraphrased: “there is astonishing convergence across the millennia and across cultures about virtue and strength. Confucius, Aristotle, Aquinas, the Bushido Samurai Code, the Bhagavad Gita and other venerable traditions disagree on the details but all of these codes include six core virtues….”wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence.”

Moral Courage

Seven Checkpoints to Moral Courage: (liberally paraphrased)

  1. Assess the situation: Do I think it calls for courage?
  2. Scan for values: identify the values…and take a stand for them!
  3. Stand for conscience: what principles need to be stated; what values need to be recognized by all?
  4. Contemplate the dangers: can I clearly see the risks I’m taking? (and the fears I might encounter or be consumed by along the way?)
  5. Endure the hardship: am I willing to stay the course? What gives me confidence to persist?
  6. Avoid pitfalls: Can I stand firm against inhibitors of moral courage (and great pressure to appease the status quo)
  7. Develop moral courage: (sue’s perspective…not the authors) by starting with small instances and working up to large challenges we can become increasingly able to live our values.

Questions to ask ourselves as we consider being morally courageous:

  1. Motives: why do I feel like I need to take a stand?
  2. Inhibitions: what might stop me? what are some deep fears I have about taking a stand? (could possibly include: ownership, cowardice, indecisiveness, lack of commitment to the principle, sensitivity, desire for acceptance)
  3. Risk: Challenges ahead could include: disapproval, lack of support, suffering, shocking conventional opinion, shame, humiliation, ostracism, loss of status, loss of job and much more.

Principles:  Convictions, core values (basically the 5 below) that include ends-based principles, rule-based principles, and care-based principles.

Danger:  Recognizing risks. (Courage is not the absence of fear; but rather the recognition my fear…and then deciding to ramp up my capability to do what needs to be done. To surmount my fear.)

Endurance:  Taking a stand on an issue may be a long, slow process. Weigh out the challenges such as ambiguity, exposure and loss.

Timidity:  Occurring when principle and risk are present but the will to endure is missing

Foolhardiness:  Occasioned when endurance and principle coincide with out due regard to the dangers involved.

Physical Courage:  Arising when risk and endurance come together without regard to moral principle.

Moral Courage is the courage to be Honest, Fair, Respectful, Responsible and Compassionate.

Values Prism

Possible metaphor:   Maybe moral courage is the hardware upon which the software of other values operates; or even the operating system running in the background, allowing all our other values to function.

Sue:

When we think of VALUES…how can we call them values if we don’t actually practice them? Aren’t they then  just called wishes or judgements?

How is it we can be morally courageous in some areas and weak in others?

To muster moral courage (or emotional courage) can we tap into the power we feel about things we easily defend, protect or otherwise take a stand about?   Make a list of things I would, absolutely, take a stand about…even in a crowded room of people.  Would I protect babies? Kittens? Elders? My best friend? Myself?

PRICE: I might find myself alone more often. Am I okay with this? (bond/bind? indy/belong?  this is intense stuff and not many people are on this path )  Observation: although we are encouraged to live authentically, most people just want us to just agree with them, do what they want us to do and buy stuff like the stuff they buy.