Stewardship-A Care Full View of the World

Well, this planet is not mine, it’s not yours, and it’s not anybody’s. It is here to sustain us and as such we are its caretakers.

The Amazon is burning. Why should I care? People are starving. Why should we care? The Earth is warming. What is the big concern?

We live but a small time in the ongoing existence of our planet. Humans lived only a small time on this planet according to scientists. Why then do we face such a broad array of problems from the environment to politics to social woes and why are those problems so critical right now?

It is promoted by society, particularly commercial society that we should be striving for financial independence and security. Those who have this to sell believe that those that don’t have only themselves to blame. It’s a pitch made to a world that believes that it can own something. Well, this planet is not mine, it’s not yours, and it’s not anybody’s. It is here to sustain us and as such we are its caretakers.

In church, one of the hardest topics for preachers to preach on is finances. It’s in the Bible that God owns everything. He also requires the first fruits. It’s a hard pill for Christians to swallow so it’s delivered with so much “tact” that it has lost its meaning. The truth is that it is a universal truth. We can’t own anything here…ever. Oh yeah, we can possess it for awhile, but we can’t own it. The only thing that we can own is our mindset. It is this that will cause us to destroy the very world that we live in.

I am not an owner, but a caretaker. While I am here, I have to take care of that which gives me life…my planet. I cannot be careless because if I am careless then I am just a taker. If I am a taker without giving as so many of us are…we will keep on taking until we tip the scales. I cannot be carefree because without the care I cannot be free.

As the political season continues to drag on in the US, we need to care more and not care less. When the tipping point is reached in the environment, there will be nothing we can do to recover. When the tipping point is reached in the economy, there will be nothing we can do to recover. When the tipping point is reached in international politics (aka Presidential trash talk), there will be nothing we can do to recover from the devastation.

My Shit Doesn’t Stink

I have lost over 14 pounds in 30 days. This is faster than what I thought was an aggressive weight loss program with counting calories.

I know that this is usually a comment made in the second person or the third person, but for years I’ve been acutely aware of the opposite. Well, since I have begun a new eating program, I can actually say with confidence that my shit doesn’t stink. It really doesn’t and it doesn’t stick either. I have found the exercise in use of toilet paper is just that…an exercise.

On May 13, I started a program that is based on a book that I bought called The Plant Paradox. This book was written by a Cardiologist named Dr. Steven Gundry. He described his life as a heart surgeon as somewhat frustrating. He was 70 pounds overweight and telling his patients that they were unhealthy and they had to do something about their health. This prompted his own journey of discovery and now leads me to mine.

I used be able to manage my weight by simple calorie counting and exercise. This no longer worked for me and in spite of anything I tried, I couldn’t get the weight off. This program finally explained my situation by identifying my current situation and documenting symptoms that I was experiencing. I made the decision to go on the program and I committed to giving it the time necessary to make a difference. That is 6 weeks. Well, it has been a month and not 6 weeks and I can say without a doubt that there is evidence that what he says is true.

I have lost over 14 pounds in 30 days. This is faster than what I thought was an aggressive weight loss program with counting calories. I was thinking that 2 pounds a week was a little aggressive. My results are about 3 pounds a week and it is not slowing down. I haven’t really changed my exercise routine. Other changes that the doctor said would take place in my digestive tract included less bloating, easier time in the bathroom and the fact that the toilet paper would be clean. He never mentioned about the smell going away. That is part of my evidence of cleaning up my act.

I will definitely finish up the 6 weeks and then go beyond. At the 6 week time, I will make an appointment with my primary care doctor and see if I can get off my blood thinning medication. Also, I will make an appointment with Dr. Steven Gundry who is local to my new home in Palm Springs. This will confirm the good news about my new choices.

The Role of the Choral Musician

Those who are offended by the request that they refrain from cell phone use by a fellow singer should seriously consider their membership because they don’t understand their role in the art.

I have been a choral music teacher and director for many years. Now, when I get the chance, I am a singer in a choir. I may have a unique perspective when it comes to the rest of the choir membership. The issue of cell phone use in rehearsal has come up in my choir where I am a participant. Of course, the issue comes up in social media…and then there is the back and forth…and then there is the defensiveness…and, well some philosophies come out that are somewhat confusing. Still, it seems that the choral ensemble member doesn’t know what their role is in the group.

A choral music participant must be on time with their music and a pencil and be actively engaged in the choral music rehearsal process all the time. Active engagement requires all of the senses. It means watching and learning while other parts are being played or performed. Clearly, this has been a problem before cell phones particularly in high school where the typically overachieving student will try to sneak in a little homework. It is now magnified by the presence of electronic distractions.

From the director’s perspective, it is not always easy to see who is disengaged from the rehearsal because the phone is obscured behind the folder. It is easy to see from the choir chair, from the rows and seats nearby, and yes, it is very distracting.

A common level of commitment to the group means that everyone is desiring a good rehearsal situation. Those who are offended by the request that they refrain from cell phone use by a fellow singer should seriously consider their membership because they don’t understand their role in the art.

The following issues are completely irrelevant.

  • It’s not a professional/paid choir. This is a complete cop out for those who don’t want to be held to the musicianship standards that we should all be striving to maintain. Whether you are in a grade school, high school, college or church and community group, you are still singing choral music and the standard for rehearsal should be the same. The compliance might not be as growth should bring maturity and older, experienced, and more seasoned groups should be much better prepared.
  • It’s not your job to police the choir, it is the director’s job. This one was mentioned in the “we’re all adults here” commentary. I guess that the concern is that you shouldn’t bring this to the director’s attention. It is likened to the grade school tattletale. Well, there are only two choices here. Go to the director and say that you are distracted or go directly to the source of the problem. Either way, ignoring the problem is the wrong choice. That’s the “mind your own business” implication.

The choir can be likened to a team. We all need to know our role. We all need to do our job.

Creating Your Own Reality

Whether it’s composing, writing, drawing, sculpture, painting, or any other art, the act of creativity is disciplined and on purpose.

It’s one thing to have a dream. It’s another to create a vision for your future. My son, Ryan had a vision for his life to be a professional drummer. He wanted to perform on Broadway. He made his Broadway debut on 9/9/2018 in Dear Evan Hansen at the Music Box Theater. Today he is a drummer for the First National Tour of the same production. This didn’t just happen. This didn’t just drop in his lap. He created his reality through vision and hard work and yes, he worked on his creativity muscle.

That’s right. Creativity is something that gets better through exercise. The musical performance above is on someone else’s channel, but it contains an original piece of music performed by the composer. Whether it’s composing, writing, drawing, sculpture, painting, or any other art, the act of creativity is disciplined and on purpose. This goes for life as well as art.

Conformity and standardization have become buzz words and they are killing the very creativity that all people will need in the very near future as jobs disappear. Today in schools, entire months are dedicated to testing to see how students measure up to standards. Then they return to their regularly scheduled learning complete with even more tests and grades.

Ken Robinson has suggested that schools do kill creativity. Maybe there should be a course in how to survive school so you can still be successful in spite of it.

Ken Robinson has suggested that schools do kill creativity. Maybe there should be a course in how to survive school so you can still be successful in spite of it.

Who’s idea was this…college thing?

Maybe there would be far less scandals about entering college if the child understood or believed in the education that they were receiving or were likely to get in college enough to make the move themselves.

In a recent article in USA Today, I was introduced to a term that I never heard before. It was Snowplow Parents. This article spoke about the parents of today clearing away obstacles from their children’s world, whether created by others or themselves even when they entered college. Which begs the question, “was it really the child’s choice to to in the first place?”

Maybe there would be far less scandals about entering college if the child understood or believed in the education that they were receiving or were likely to get in college enough to make the move themselves. They also would have to make the decision to keep up with all of the deadlines…themselves. This should happen without counselors and parents doing everything for them.

Then maybe, ust maybe, the kids who belonged in college would be the only ones there. What do you think?

College Admissions Scandal

Way back in time, college educations were for the elite. People would attend college as a status symbol. It wasn’t needed for success in the world. It was there for people who could afford it. It was a “class” thing and not about going to class to get ahead. That is definitely the crazy thing about this college admissions scandal.

Some of the biggest people involved in the scandal are those that already had success. If you take just one, Olivia Jade, for example…she had a business based on her look and celebrity. She also “threw her dad under the bus” by outing the fact that he took his tuition money and started a business that made his life what it is today. If that isn’t the purpose of college, then you shouldn’t be spending the money on it.

It seems that this degree is becoming less and less relevant and we are returning to a time when our own individual effort in creating value is what will ultimately make our success. This should be the biggest takeaway for the average person who is struggling with the college acceptance issue. I am speaking more of the individual accepting college as opposed to the college accepting the individual.

A Culture of Obsession

It has been said that it starts and ends with education. That education cannot be the same kind of education that got us to where we are.

In 2015, I stumbled across a YouTube video presented by a high school student that talked about his inability to be valedictorian because he took choir in high school. It would seem that the grading system is based on only the academics being of utmost importance and those classes only had the ability for weighting as more important. This articulate young man describes education’s culture of obsession and is worth listening to so the video is included here.

It is not just academics in school that is the problem. My own family is obsessed with their credit rating. I guess that is kind of important. It would seem that a number assigned to your credit would be kind of important. It is also indicative of the fact that you need more money that you have access to at a given moment.

In a speech by Daniel Pink, he describes America as doing very well financially. His reasons are that our level of comfort and well being compared to our previous generations have increased. Additionally, compared to countries across the world, we have an amazing level of prosperity. Yet there are still many people that are out of work and devalued and this is startling.

It has been said that it starts and ends with education. That education cannot be the same kind of education that got us to where we are. We need a different kind of instruction. A kind of instruction that leans on the creativity that exists in both arts, sciences, and technology.

The Year of the Pig

I think that a pig is a perfect metaphor for my life. No, it’s not what you think. Over the Christmas holiday, I actually played a game with my brother-in-law and my son. It was called “Pass the Pigs”. It may just have been a stupid little game, but it also happened to speak to a part of my life and my being that I may just have been ignoring. My strategy, no matter how much of a good hot streak I was on, I never deviated from my goal of not losing and having a winning turn.

I have been reading up on Day Trading. This is a post retirement career that has been intriguing me for some time now. The thing that I have always been frightened of is the prospect of losing a lot of money gambling on the market. The more I read, the more that I find that it is farthest from the truth. In reality, it is the mentality and staying true to your plan. You also have to keep emotion out of it.

It would appear that education is the biggest problem when it comes to something like this. I am talking about self education. Traditional schooling will instill far too much fear. Learning, real learning is for yourself.

Schools prepare you for work

Let’s celebrate this school and its desire to prepare its students for life after school on their own terms.

Finally, a school is celebrating the triumph of graduating its students into the work force. This is what schools should be about. This article shows a school bucking the trend of celebrating academic accomplishments driven by college acceptance statistics.

Students in school should go directly into the workforce and earn money. They should find out while they are still young if it is enough money. The motivation for getting a higher paying job will also include information that you can’t get in school.

No one knows for sure if they will even like working in their chosen field. Quite often, their chosen field is not even entirely their choice. Let’s celebrate this school and its desire to prepare its students for life after school on their own terms.

GPA and Class Rank

“I am not paying for my child to retake high school English at college.”

Recently, the way that class rank was calculated has changed in the Coachella Valley School District. This made the news because it “knocked out” some people from the coveted “Top Ten”. The news reporter interviewed affected students and they claimed that they couldn’t afford college without scholarships and the designation of Top Ten definitely gave them an increased chance at the scholarship.

This news story led to a conversation at a local middle school faculty room lunch table. The argued that Advanced Placement Classes should weigh more than Honors classes and certainly more than College Prep classes, which they argued are not really College Prep. Their reasoning is that when the students from College Prep and even some Honors Classes are forced to take placement tests, they are put into remedial classes anyway just so that they can be in the college. The frustration was borne out by the comment of a teacher who said, “I am not paying for my child to retake high school English at college.”

Sadly, we only retain what we are taught for a short period of time in the current model for education and the very nature of these “diagnostic” tests will often have the student come up short. This sad situation was created by our desire to “get the student ready for college” more than it was to get the student ready for their 21st century life. If the low end of our academic offerings are labeled college prep, then aren’t we saying that our schools are only a vehicle for going to college and that “everyone should go to college”?

As far as I am concerned, that is the biggest problem with our system. We are far too concerned with class rank, GPA, college acceptance and the prestige that we feel it brings over practical considerations of schooling. Public education was good enough for the industrial age. It should be good enough for the information age, but we need to rethink our priorities. It’s high time to change the conversation at the lunch table.