Monthly Archives: November 2012

I Think I’ve Broken My Brain—and Invented a New Word

Are you a hyperlearner? Maybe it’s hyper-learner. I think I just made up a new word. Hyperlearner. And it’s not related to “hyperlearning,” which is education made possible by using technology and “hypermedia,” which is a system in which various forms of information  (data, text, graphics, video,audio) are linked together by a hypertext program. And “hypertext”  is… well, never mind. It’s not connected to my definition of ‘hyperlearner.’

So, here it is. Sharon J Little’s official definition of ‘hyperlearner.’

A hyperlearner is someone who constantly crams huge amounts of information into the brain, through various media, such as reading, webinars, teleseminars, CDs. A hyperlearner has an educational CD in the car, has filters in her inbox for each of a dozen or more authors, speakers, coaches, mentors who teach on a wide variety of topics within one larger topic. This hyperlearner tries to read, listen to and watch everything; typically she does NOT have the same kind of filter in her brain as in the inbox. A hyperlearner could be seen to be trying to learn too much on too many things in too little time. A hyperlearner is, by definition, overstimulated, overinvolved, over the top, about learning.

This is not just your typical lifelong learner. That would be a lifelong learner; someone who keeps the brain in gear,

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning (Photo credit: Stephen Downes)

exploring new and interesting things, la de dah … de dah…. de dah….

A hyperlearner absorbs more information than a monster sponge. Holds onto it and then wrings it out in all kinds of ways—speaking, writing, teaching, seminars, workshops. But before the wringing comes the overwrought! The over absorption. The point after which not one more speck of information can be absorbed…. and then, the hyperlearner tries to suck in more.

Raise your hands, hyperlearners.

The sidebar to the constant learning is the inner demand, determination and directedness, which leads the hyperlearner to think that one cannot take a break. Or, rather, that breathing, doing a little nothing, listening to a little music or taking a full day off just to dream and think and sort it all out, is ,well, a waste of time.

Now, I KNOW that it’s OK to take a break. I know about walking, about smelling the roses (or, at this time of year, the composting leaves). I know about tai qi in the morning and having tea. And I do all that.

The problem right now is that I’m so interested and excited about what I’m putting together, that I don’t want to sleep, I don’t want to break. I want to dig in and get all kinds of content written and interviews set up and teleseminar series created….

And I will.

But today, before I launch into concert week and shore up some PR and get the groups focused on the last few things to get together…. I’m giving myself a break.

Not in the “You deserve a break today” (remember that McDonalds tune in the 70’s, which I don’t buy and which I think was a curse of an ad campaign, leading a generation of people to think they “deserve” things. That’s another post…) but in the… “It’s OK. You can take a day off and NOT hyperlearn. It’s not an excuse to let it all go. It’s needed and OK and everything will carry on. Just STOP” kind of way.

And I just bought the domain name… http://www.hyperlearner.com

Don’t go there… there’s nothing. But I’ve got the name. I’m gonna OWN this!

“Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break and do nothing.”   Sharon J Little

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One Thing a Week

It’s not just the big things, like jumping out of an airplane.

When I came across this idea last week, the first thing that came to mind was… jumping out of an airplane. Something I would do—and my hubby wouldn’t.

But then I started thinking about small things I haven’t done or places I haven’t been.

walked in a Santa Claus parade

played the bagpipes, a sousaphone

learned to speed read

explored any of a number of buildings on the campus of the university

eaten oxtail

climbed a really big mountain

hiked pretty much most of the Bruce Trail

walked all the trails in the London area

biked several of the bike trails in London

explored Elgin county from end to end

driven a combine

attended a polka dance, punk rock concert, heavy metal concert or monster truck rally

It’s now on my weekly list… to do SOMETHING or go SOMEWHERE I haven’t yet.

This week, it was to the Danforth and Greektown. And into Leonidas Chocolates on Danforth where they serve a civil cup of hot chocolate.

Highly recommended. Hot chocolate comes with a small chocolate on the side.

And I sat outside on a warmish November day to enjoy it. And I loved the kale garden in the parkette I was sitting in.

a beautiful fall garden at Danforth and Logan, Toronto

Simple, small, memorable.

Three Months is a Long Time…

…to go without making any excuses.

Can I pay attention to and dramatically decrease my capacity to make excuses for not doing what can be done?

I’m pushing myself. It’s not easy. I can find all kinds of reasons not to drive in to work out—or, once I’m there, to just do a little. It’s late, I tell myself, I didn’t bring the right shoes, today’s just a treadmill/bike/elliptical day, I’ll just do arms, it’s too busy, I didn’t bring the iPod…I’m listening for them and heading them off at the pass. I hope.

I’m also looking for times when I’m mindless. I need to finish that up so it doesn’t go bad, even though it won’t. I can leave the dishes for tomorrow. I haven’t been home all day, I’m tired.

Then there’s business. I’m not ready for that step yet, I need to plan a little more, I’ll get to that after these other things are done, there’s a lot of work to get to that level.

I think what I may do is write a whole list of all the excuses I give myself. Write them right out and, because I KNOW I’ll not have a perfect 90 day run, I’ll check off the ones I use… and even better, the ones that I am TEMPTED to use… and don’t! Wouldn’t that be cool!

Think I may also have to extend my perception of excuses… how about making good meals rather than throwing something together? not picking things up? putting things away rather than leaving them out?

The list continues…

It’s all about awareness. And not being an absolute wimp.

No Excuses. For 90 Days.

A list of possible excuses. Among the ones that I will not be using for the next 90 days. (I’m feeling a little punchy and pissy about excuses and what they really mean.) I know this is going to be a challenging 3 months. I’m getting tough on myself. Mostly, I simply tired of listening to myself, as quiet as the excuse voice is. Because it’s a pretty quiet one. One that runs like a hum, like the electrical buzz you don’t notice until the electricity goes off in a storm.

I’ve done this on a smaller scale before. But never for 90 days. That’s sustained and persistent.

I forgot. (No, you didn’t. You didn’t bother.)

Sorry, I’m late. (No, you’re not. You didn’t plan well enough.Especially from people who are consistently late.)

I didn’t finish the dishes last night ’cause it was late. (find a better time to do them. You hate seeing dishes on the counter in the morning.)

I woke up late. (And so? Get going.)

I don’t feel like it. (Too bad. It has to be done. Get on with it.)

I have to drive ALL the way into town. It’s too late to go to the gym. (Stop it. Three times a week. Plan it. Do it.)

I don’t have time. (Yes, you do. You just haven’t set your priorities properly to get done what you said you would. Or, you really don’t have the time. In which case you’ve over-committed. About as bad.)

Just this once. (Yeah, right.)

I can have just one. (ditto!)

I’m not good enough.(We use this to keep our dreams small. Stop it.)

I haven’t got the right stuff. (Either get the right stuff, if that’s really true, or just get on with it)

It’s too cold. wet, windy outside. (Layer, bundle, cover. Go. Unless it’s -30, there’s a tornado or a flood. Then it’s just dumb to even think about going outside.)

Really. I sent that email.(The equivalent of “my dog ate my homework.”)

I meant to. (But you didn’t)

Excuses are rationalizations we use to live small. In doing so, we often evade the hard work or even the five minutes it takes to do something properly.

I’m not sure how many times a day I’ve used an excuse to keep me from doing something that would advance my business, my health, or would add beauty and order to a place. I know it’s a subtle form of subterfuge and I’d like to eradicate it.  And I think it’s endemic in our world. We all make excuses for things.

Time to stop it. So, here come 90 days of no excuses. At least if I use an excuse, I’ll catch myself.

 

Thank You For Everything, I Have No Complaints Whatsoever.

Blooming lotus in peaceful mind...

Blooming lotus in peaceful mind… (Photo credit: Thai Jasmine (Smile..smile…Smile..))

Thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever.

There was a low period in my life just a few years ago when I repeated this thousands of times. Daily, nightly, during the day. When I woke up and going to sleep. For several weeks. It changed my life.

The story goes that a woman, looking for healing in her life, asked and asked and asked for the name of a healer she could visit. “Go to this person,” she was told, ” she is an amazing healer. Everyone who goes receives a special blessing.”

The woman went to the healer and stood in line, as many people were there to receive a healing. She saw people go in bent over, sick and crippled and they would come out walking tall and healed. She grew more and more excited.

The woman reached the doorway, removed her shoes and quietly entered the healing room. The healer sat on a cushion, welcoming each petitioner. She kneeled before the healer.

The healer smiled, leaned forward and told her to repeat, “Thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever,” over and over and then dismissed the woman.

The woman was in shock as she left and then she got angry.Who did she think she was, this healer? THAT was no healing! I was expecting a true, real healing! This woman is a charlatan! She felt embarrassed at having been duped into believing that this woman could heal her.

As she went home, fuming, the phrase kept rolling around in her mind. Thank you for everything; I have no complaints whatsoever, Thank you for everything; I have no complaints whatsoever, Thank you for everything; I have no complaints whatsoever.  Over and over and over. And soon, the woman was healed.

This mantra filled the space in my mind where the chatter and negative self-loops would have been. Whenever I heard those voices of doom, I’d start the repetition. It didn’t matter what other thoughts, the negative ones, tried to seep through the cracks and crevices, I’d overwhelm them with this mantra.

The thoughtforms changed. I moved through and onwards. I remember the sensation I had when I realized the shift had happened and I was able to move forwards again.

When we talk about gratitude, and being thankful for everything we have, we forget to be thankful for the bad that happens in our life. We often say, “I’m thankful for everything I have” when things are unpleasant and we use gratitude to make us feel better. It’s a way of escaping the true muddiness we’re walking through, the sinkhole we’ve fallen into, the crap that is happening around and in us.

When I say this, I am thankful for EVERYTHING… the good, the bad, the ugly, the frustrating, the depressing, the heartbreaking, the falls and crashes, the flying high… everything.

The good and the bad are perceptions and reactions we have of whatever is happening to us. We forget that we bring the thoughts upon ourselves; we don’t take responsibility for them and we try to get through the crap as quickly as possible. What usually happens is that the fight ensnares us and the ties that bind, bind further.

When we can sink in, taking responsibility for our life, being grateful for it all, knowing that there is a way out, the trip is easier. We don’t fight. We let go, we accept, we go to work and we transform.

Thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever.

Stop. Be Silent. You’ll Be More Creative.

We’ve all heard it and we’ve all ignored it to some extent or other.

Meditate. Find a quiet space. Be in solitude. Sit.

We all need it; we all know we need it. And yet, we’re more likely to get hyped about drinking all that water we’ve been told to guzzle or about visualizing our dreams or about adding value to everything we do in our business than this. We’re likely to spend more time doing our makeup or washing our car, updating our status or cuddling with the cats than taking the 20 minutes needed to meditate, or to sit absolutely still, with no agenda, or to walk through a park on the way home. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

We’re more focused on the technical aspects of building our business, or the skills needed to teach the children. We attend meetings, network, connect on facebook. We listen to webinars, dash to the gym, get trapped in the agendas of others through the inbox. Children take music lessons, gymnastics class, play hockey and have play dates (really, WHAT IS THAT?! Can’t they just play?!)

We’re too busy and yet we can’t stop. This talk has been going on for at least 40 years: in the 70’s we started talking about stress and we developed stress “management” techniques. We might be able to manage the stress, but we’re still stressed. And getting sick of and from it.

We must Stop.  Every day. Sometimes we need to stop for several days and unplug. Apart from vacations, which many times is just another excuse for being busy somewhere else.

The Point of Silence

For the musician, the artist, the writer, the creative, the silence is the ground. Everything comes from a silent centre. That centre, the soul, infuses us with the energy— that creative, soulful energy—which has inspired the creative impulse in us since the beginning of life. Since the beginning of the beginning.

Recognizing the Soul

We can recognize, though perhaps not name, that soulful connection when we see it in a leader, a teacher, a conductor. We can recognize, too, when a conductor or a teacher has not done the necessary inner work: we can’t name it, but we can sense it.

Be Do Be Do Be

… while many musicians have developed highly sophisticated technical skill, and teachers have developed highly sophisticated teaching methods and strategies, they are devoid of the very spiritual energy which has provided creative impulse in humankind since the beginning of life. One simply cannot grow as a musician without serious and profound work on self in order to access soul.

The search to find and understand soul must be the foundation for all musical experience. It is to that end that every musician, regardless of ability or calling, should commit his or her entire being.”

from “The Musician’s Soul” by James Jordan (p. 46)

What I wonder is… if this is so important, why

a) do we hide the process of our journey from others

b) don’t we talk about this more often

c) do we spend SO much time in school on the doing.

I know of very few musicians, music teachers or conductors who have a defined, focused, regular, intentional—yes, that’s it, intentional— spiritual practice.

For the record, when I was teaching in school, I took the bus, biked or walked. This gave me time to focus, to unwind, to get into a rhythm. When I took the bus, I got off a stop early and did tai chi in the park, or went into the gym to do it. I did a 10 minute meditation every morning for most of those years.

Now, my practice is longer and involves writing, meditation, reading and qi gong. Every day… about 57 days out of 60. I consider it mandatory.

The excuse that “there’s no time” is bogus. Create it. Spend 5 minutes less on Facebook or Twitter. Get up 15 minutes earlier and really get UP. It’s a choice and we have control over this part of our life.

Make 10 minutes of quiet alone meditative space a priority. Every day.

Re-thinking Hunting

Here’s my take on hunting. The season of which is now upon us. Our wine cellar expandeth.

http://gravelroadlife.blogspot.ca/