Alana Writer

Life in Ireland

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Hi everyone,

Has it really been ages since I wrote here?  What have I been doing?  Tons of work developing our business at www.Doctoralnet.com. Rather than try to catch you up now, I'll just send on bits and pieces that strike me.  Social media is changing the world of entrepreneurship - but how?  This graphic catches my eye as part of the explanation.

 

All the best until next time, Alana

This is a fast 30 second blog, but I just felt and overwhelming happiness about working on the web.  Yesterday I had a webconference wit 12 people - from 4 countries.  Today I emailed my professor partners at Doctoralnet one of whom lives in Panama and the other in India - our meetings are great fun as we share similarities and differences way beyond what would have been possible if I had stayed in the United States.

Our move to Ireland forced my hand, I had to learn to work on the web or lose my professional connections, but like many life challenges huge silver lining has resulted.

OK - back to work, but this is a quick message to the world (see the picture above)

All the best to everyone for a healthy, happy and unimaginably good new year!

How do you wake up in the morning?
 
What our first moments are like, upon waking up, is undoubtedly a very personal and private moment in our lives. I have found that over time there are many options for this experience: a) perhaps I jumped out of bed ready to go, b) I just lay there and can't imagine rising, c) I have a smile on my face or a song in my heart, or d) I feel somehow irritable and grumpy. Set against the backdrop of all of these possibilities is the soothing, and yet invigorating, joyful backdrop of my solid morning routine.  Icall it my morning Sunday because it layers many sweet things together, starting my day with joy.
 
The base of the Sunay is yoga. It's a practice that evolves over time, but my experience of it, is that it centers my spirit in my body, allowing me to ent my day centered and powerfully present. Other people do that with working out with weights, etc. but the outcome that is essential to me is the awareness in my mind of both my spirit and my body, and how they interact – and this is achieved through the breath.
 
Another aspect add to this morning desert, one that completely pleases me, is my enjoyment and awareness of whether my body is acid or alkaline. As has been written in other parts of this website, alkaline food choices leave me invigorated and more able to lose weight easily. My morning routine now includes a couple very hot water with ginger, lemon juice, or both. Upon starting to drink it, I can feel the sluggish bits in my mouth and body begin to slough off.
 
And finally, to add on top of this morning treat I add the breath. One philosopher has suggested that we are given so many breaths and when we use them up, we die. I don't know about that, but I do know that life feels richer when I breathe slower. There are also patterns to the breath that have been shown, from ancient times, to aid in healthfullness. Recently I read an article that it suggested a one – two – four breath was useful for configuration and decrease of lymph and since that is an ongoing issue I employ it here. You quickly breathe in (the one), hold the breath for two, and released slowly for four. This suits the yoga in the rest of my practice.
 
And so how does this joyful Sunday of my morning routine go together? I come up the stairs in my comfy cotton PJs. I roll out my yoga mat and start the kettle. I go through the first sequence of yoga and by the time I am done the kettle has boiled. I put my ginger/lemon juice in the cup with the boiling water, blow on it so it's not too hot, and enjoying my first sip. Then I complete several more sun citations, using the one – two – four breath, stopping, warming my hands, and enjoying the hot water as I go.
 
I hope this germinates a spark in you - that you have some lovely way you start your day to ensure your own happiness.  No routine is every day, especially not in the best busy hectic Western world. As my nephew reminded me years ago: it is not how well we do something, but how well we started again when we have stopped for a while that supports us over time.  Maybe though, if we share them with each other, rather than keep them so private, we can encourage a life fulfilled and joyous in all around us. 
 
Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

We spent New Year’s Eve at our friends house eating authentic Chinese food. There are very few things which I find as luscious as immersing myself, one way or another, in someone else’s culture, and of course food is one of the greatest delights. Warm memories of these shared hours is what causes me to focus on challenges and pleasures inherent in interacting with diverse people and cultures as my topic today and is part of my commitment for 2013 to feel more joy in life through greater awareness of my moment to moment existence.

I think I first became aware of the concept of diversity, tinged with cultural awareness, as part of my work with low income or minority populations in the United States in the 1990s. Having been raised in the majority, it was shocking at first to think that people see and experience the world from such different points of view. Therefore, the context in which I learned about diversity, comes packaged a little with shame – the self adopted shame of the privilege when they realize that much of their worldview depends upon the hard work and labor of those with fewer options.

Of course travel often ignites a passion for the variety the world has to offer – and those of us who are fortunate enough to have seen many countries and levels of living will always have stories to tell of what it has meant to our lives. Coming from a large country like the United States, and being of an age where travel was originally only for the richer classes, I was in my 40s before I embraced the potential of seeing the larger world, let alone living in it. Our move to live outside of the United States was largely done to make up for some of those years of isolation.

Of course we are also a diverse couple, not being made up of one man and one woman as is the norm. This means Margie and I are aware at some small level of the differences between us and the more typical partnerships of our friends. It is through this difference that I came to my awareness of the subtleties involved in diversity. While we may know others deeply, we will never understand all of those subtleties. Much has to do with the differences in the context in which we were raised.  Perhaps the biggest joy in diversity, although one that is harder to confront, is the awareness of ourselves as similar and yet different from those around us.

I feel blessed by the diversity of ideas, ages, cultures, and orientations of those around us. I enjoy working in talking to other entrepreneurs. We have a different mindset from people who choose instead to work for others, leaving much of the angst in wondering if the next business push will be successful to someone else. Margie and only enjoyed friendships across diverse age groups, interacting with groups within Kinsale where we are often a decade younger than others who attend. We also enjoy the company of many of our friends who are a decade or more younger than we are. They are similar to us in how they structure their lives, but different in worldview simply because of the difference in the time or context in which they grew up. Each of these differences and similarities reach out to us in ways subtle and yet more profound ways than can be expressed in a short writing such as this.

I hope my small musings have provoked ideas or thoughts in yourself about the pleasures you enjoy in the diversities of life. And so I close saying: Happy New Year and may 2013 bring you, and all of us, deeper understandings of the diversity around us – and more pleasure and joy in it as well.

My parents and Margie’s parents would never have allowed dogs on the bed.

I was taught that dogs have to know their place in life or things run amok. While ours were “inside” dogs, as opposed to “outside” dogs, those which never, or hardly ever, came in the house, they still lived (and I can still hear my Dad's voice say this) on the floor. Contrast this with our friends Lynne and Patrick would never have had a dog before they had Monty and so learned the ins and outs of that relationship much on their own, as adults, in tandem with Monty, who of course believed that he should sit on the furniture in the bed. Monty’s personality was given more influence in their relationship than perhaps it would have been if they had been living under a prescribed set of rules adopted from their parents in early childhood.

For whatever reason, when Lynn and Patrick first allowed Monty on the bed, the joys of dogs on the bed were discussed while walking on the hill with other dog owners and, to our amazement, we learned it was much more the norm than we would’ve ever thought possible. Perhaps it’s an Irish thing, or perhaps families in middle-class America also have enjoyed this pleasure and I just grew up in a place that was much more uptight than the norm. Whatever the reason, we gave in and now enjoy our dogs on the bed.

The joy that I am celebrating this morning is that of coming back to bed after a quick morning pee and pushing Peter out of the way, while jumping in to a puppy pile at the bottom of the bed. Have you ever experienced the amazing comfort of a suddenly warm spot? That is what it is like to sit anywhere Peter has been previously curled up. This moment of sensory experience and pleasure involves a complete relaxation of my shoulder muscles due to the warmth of that spot on the bed, a huge smile on my face as I drink in the comforting warm puppy smells of dogs in the morning, and the tactile pleasures of human and dog flesh all around me. Sheer bliss!

I don’t know how you wake up in the morning, and I know for myself that waking up and being ready to get out of bed is a different experience in the winter than it is in the summer. Ever since moving to Ireland, where the winter is most markedly noted by the very short days, I find that early mornings, in the dark, allow for a certain lax attitude when it comes to getting up. These little 15 or 20 minute lie in, surrounded by dogs, chatting with Margie about how our days will run, are pure unadulterated joy and I am glad to share them.

Looking forward, I have a short list for future blog posts as I pull apart experiencing more joy in my life, I’ll start with loving and experiencing the small joys that are already there. How about you?  What funny little moments come to your mind that if and when you shared them would expand your feeling of their pleasure?

Who knows? Perhaps someone reading this will be provoked to write a comment and share back an equally small but meaningful moment. I hope so.

30 December 2012

Years end is always a good time to look around inside where you are, to question is it where you want to be, and to decide where you can go next. This year I am generally very well satisfied with where I am, at the edges 60 years old, and feel as though I’m living a rich and varied life. Therefore, I have three desires in combination with New Year’s resolutions that I’m going to put forth.

  1. 1.My biggest intention in the feel more joy every day in my life. To this end I am going to try to do a little writing, and a little artwork, each and every day – to spend maybe 30 minutes at each. These I will publish on the ealanajames.com site and we’ll see whether regular work begins to catch notice.
  2. 2.My second intention is to be kinder to my body. I will do this through: losing 20 pounds, eating less sugar and more alkaline, and picking up the bicycle once again. I’ll keep tracking how it’s going as part of number one, blogging writing everyday. After all, were only given this body in this life in this consciousness for a short period of time, it is a shame not to fully celebrate it while we are here.
  3. 3.My favorite intention is to be kinder to others. To this and have downloaded an application on Zen and I will also report on how it is going in my writing on this site.

Ending than this first little blurb, with huge hopes and best wishes for everyone in the year 2013 – may we all get as much happiness and joy as we can imagine, and may we all learn to imagine more and more.

All the best,

Alana 

I first heard of the flipped classroom with the Khan Academy and Khan's talk on TED.  Its SUCH a good idea - let people learn at their own pace at home and have schools be for hands on, practical applications of learning. I would love comments on what you think.

 

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Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

I am very impressed with what Knewton is saying about education.

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Gamification of Education

This is the third section, 5th video in the series of workshops, produced in 2012 on tips and tricks for feeling 10 years younger.  While aimed at those reiventing our lives over 60, these ideas are appropriate for all of us at any age who want to live the good life.  Remember - much is to be said about the power of our minds and that connection to our body and spirits!  The more we do to connect "all the dots" the happier and healthier we are.

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