Building community in a changing world

July 11, 2022

DEI at Work

This Brene Brown podcast with Aiko Bethea is awesome. Here are some random thoughts shared during it:

– There is a need to not be “transactional” but rather be “transformational.” That requires introspection. That requires stories; not just numbers.
– DEI is about getting comfortable being uncomfortable. This is hard work and may involve grief as it challenges who you are and what you do.
– It’s hard because armor is not rewarded nor required.
– With this topic, there’s always blood in the water.
– DEI efforts should always be led – or co-led – by those with the experiences that the system has suppressed. You can’t get caught up with white timing as our governance systems aren’t built for that. Too many white leaders today and there is a need for group and collaborative learning.
– There is a tendency for action bias – a desire to fix the problem fast, which is driven by discomfort and vulnerability. This involves trying to solve the problem before its even defined.
– Invisibility is one of the most painful experiences.
– For white people, the mentality should be “I didn’t create it but I’m in it now and I have a role in fixing the system.”
– BIPOC folks also have to extract themselves actively from old mentalities. They face a much bigger imposter problem than others.
Sonya Renee Taylor’s book “The Body is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love” should be read. Her three tenets are: Peace with not understanding; Peace with difference; and Peace with your body.

June 28, 2022

Mindfulness Mumblecore

Not sure why this feels appropriate today – but here are a group of random thoughts and concepts to consider. Mindfulness improv:

– Love is being present for someone else. Informed and touched by each other.

– See yourself in others.

– Energy flows through us.

– Consciousness takes flavor of what you dip it into.

– Remove yourself from desire and move to presence. Then your mindfulness practice gets quickened.

– It’s hard to practice mindfulness alone. To deepen your practice, you need a teacher and/or sangha to help you on your path.

June 15, 2022

Why “RealGoodFresh”?

In this short video, I talk about my three guidelines for selecting domain names for websites. It’s one of my favorite activities. But I want to devote this blog specifically to why I selected “” I can boil that down to four reasons:

1. I was drawn by how each of the three terms reflects what I intend to do on this blog. First, I intend to be “real” – look reality square in the face. Tell it like it is. Second, I strive to be “good” – both as a person and in my works. Finally, I want your experience in consuming the content to be refreshing.

2. It’s short & sweet. Three syllables. And easy to spell.

3. Each of the terms – “Real,” “Good” and “Fresh” – on their own has a high value in the world of domain names. Good domain names is big business – and there are algorithms that determine their worth. You can’t argue with an algorithm. Then again, this blog has a tiny audience and will likely stay that way. And I’m more than fine with that.

4. I’ve always been drawn to those people whose full name consists of three first names. Such as “Jimmy Earl Dean.” “RealGoodFresh” has that kind of feeling. Like it belongs in an episode of “Rockford Files”…

I remember the exact moment that I hit upon the name of my first website – – more than twenty years ago. I had been mulling a number of other names for a few weeks but they didn’t quite seem right. I was socializing on a friend’s deck and kicking names around with a few people when someone threw out the name. I knew instantly that was a winner. More often than not, it happens like that. You start with a few names you don’t quite love – and eventually you get there.

To be fair, most folks that I bounced “RealGoodFresh” off of weren’t enamored with it. So I kept it in reserve while I auditioned a slew of other names. But the siren of this one was too strong to resist. Something about it seemed right for my purposes…

June 8, 2022

“Enjoy each breath”

I was on a long weekend silent retreat a few days ago and it opened with each of us being urged to find a mantra that came to us easily. For me, it was “enjoy each breath.” I’ve blogged before about this 5-minute guided belly-breathing relaxation from “Mindful” – and how it’s an example of “diaphragmatic breathing,” a technique explained in this article.

During the retreat, we were reminded to use techniques during meditation such as simply counting to five during an inhale – as well as comparing one of these long inhales against the next inhale – as a way of lengthening your breathing and becoming grounded. With the mere act of counting as a way of becoming centered with that serving as an anchor. So simple, yet so effective, as a way of being present. Always coming back to the breath!

June 2, 2022

“wisdom says i’m nothing, love says i’m everything”

I’m not sure the quote in my title as pulled from Nisargadatta Maharaj’s book – “I Am That” – has any real meaning but it sounded neat when I first heard it. I understand it as saying “it’s more enriching to open’s one heart and feel compassion as a way to live than to be glued to a device (or two) and be quite knowledgeable.” Except maybe being learned is one’s passion and that’s it’s okay.

Or maybe I should just stick to the Kier Eagan’s quotes from the “Handbook” in “Severance”: “Render not my creation in miniature” or “No workplace shall be repurposed for slumber”…

May 24, 2022

Trying to Become Stable During the Endless Free Fall

Continuing on with Roshi Joan Halifax’s “Standing at the Edge,” the lesson I learned in Chapter 5 was powerful. That we are all constantly in free fall. That no one will ever find the moral high ground where we are finally stable and can catch all those falling around us.

It’s more like we are all falling above the infinite groundlessness of life and trying to learn to become stable in flight. And supporting others to become free of the fear that arises from feeling unmoored…

May 16, 2022

“Love is giving your heart without expectation.”

One of my favorite shows is “This Is Us.” You’re almost guaranteed to shed a tear each and every episode. A recent episode involved going over the life story of a character that sort of got short shrift over1 the years – Miguel.

There’s a scene in which a middle age Miguel is receiving good advice from his mom. She offers this great one-liner: “Love is giving your heart without expectation.” Followed by another line that essentially boils down to “stop and smell the roses.” Meaning “enjoy the small things in the sea of life that contains a whole lot of suffering.”

It’s hard to remember to stop and smell the roses. One trick I’ve found is to take a mundane activity that I do daily – mine is raising my window shades in the morning – as a trigger to think about something small from the prior day that I really enjoyed. Training myself to find something small to appreciate after-the-fact with the hopes that I fully appreciate it in the moment when I’m experiencing it…

May 9, 2022

The Three Tenets of Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness and Compassionate Action

Continuing on with Roshi Joan Halifax’s “Standing at the Edge,” I learned about the Three Tenets of Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness and Compassionate Action. Here is a summary of those concepts:

– “Not-Knowing” is the practice of letting go of fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe. When encountering someone suffering, ask “how can I keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions or actions?” and “why do I really want to be of service in this situation?” “Do I have what it takes in this situation to truly serve?”

– “Bearing Witness” is the practice of being present for the suffering and the joy of this world. Bearing Witness is not about being a bystander; it’s about being in a relationship and it’s about courage to face the whole catastrophe. Practice helps here to be aware of your own responses in the face of another’s suffering and having the equannimity and compassion required. Returning again and again to being grounded.

– “Compassionate Action” is action that arises from Not-Knowing or Bearing Witness and that fosters the healing of ourselves and the world as a path of practice. Grounding really helps here to discern which action might best serve the situation – including whether doing nothing is the most compassionate response.

Another lesson I learned is the difference between helping, fixing and serving. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. A teaching by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen…

April 28, 2022

Recognizing the “Edge States” in Our Lives

Recently, I’ve been reading Roshi Joan Halifax’s “Standing at the Edge.” The premise being that when we recognize the Edge States in our lives, we can stand on the threshold of change and see a landscape abundant with wisdom, tenderness and basic human kindness – but at the same time, seeing a desolate terrain of violence, failure and futility.

The Edge States are: altruism; empathy; integrity; respect; and engagement. You can lose your footing with any of these and go over the edge. The destructive side of the Edge States. But as Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “no mud, no lotus.” You sometimes have to take the risk of going over the edge in order to achieve psychological transformation. Our suffering can feed our understanding and be one of the great resources of our wisdom and compassion.

I love Roshi Joan’s analogy of the Edge States to a red-rock mesa. It’s top is solid and gives us a vast view, but at the rim is a sheer drop-off. The edge is an exposed place where a lapse in concentration can cause us to loose our footing. We have to work the edge, expand its boundaries and find the gift of balance. It’s at the edge where we can discover courage and freedom. The Edge States are all about how we see things, a fresh way of viewing and interpreting our experiences of those States – and their shadow sides. To help us better understand when we are standing on the edge – and when we are in danger of going over…

April 19, 2022

Sleep Well (Or Better Than You Currently Are)

A long way back, I blogged about how I wasn’t sleeping well. Since the start of the pandemic, my sleeping schedule has dramatically changed. I go to bed much earlier than I used to – and I’m often up by 4:30 am. On the whole, it’s worked for me – but it can be challenging because I can’t seem to break the cycle when I need to stay up for an activity that lasts beyond 9 pm.

Most people would say they are someone who gets insufficient sleep – either in duration or that they have an abnormal pattern. I’ve spent a good deal of my adult life that way myself. It’s a bummer.

Recently, I read the wonderful book by a neuroscientist, Matthew Walker, entitled “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.” My wife had been handing out copies to friends for over a year – and I finally caved to see what the hubbub was about. Subconsciously, I think I was avoiding reading it because it illuminates just how important sleep is.

The book is chock full of fascinating revelations. Here’s the description of it from the Amazon page selling the book:

“Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don’t sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life—eating, drinking, and reproducing—the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

An explosion of scientific discoveries in the last twenty years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity.

Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses.”