Dee's Blog
Tue 01/24/2012
Naive Realism
Topic: Making Changes

Those who specialize in defining truth sometimes speak of "naive realism."  It's something we all need in healthy doses to get through the day.  Without it, we'd have to start back at Day One, doing an indepth analysis of everything we see before making the most mundane decision.

There is nothing scientific about naive realism.  When we act on it, we are not setting out to prove anything beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Our actions, choices, and assumptions are based on what seems obvious, in spite of the fact that many of those assumptions are based on illusions that we have been taught to accept without question.

Old people who are "set in their ways" have a lot in common with youngsters who do not know enough to question what they see. 

Naive realism works well for mundane tasks.  How I sweep my kitchen floor doesn't matter much.   When it comes to decisions that impact our world, though, we need the attitude of hymnist Clara H. Scott:  "open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth....."   that "set me free."

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:08 PM CST
Wed 01/11/2012
The Hesperian Foundation
Topic: Making Changes

"A chicken in every pot!"  That was the campaign promise of Herbert Hoover in 1928, a year before the Crash!  It's easy to dream, important to set goals.

 More important to find practical solutions to the problems that exist while the dreamers work out the details for greater things.  At least, that's how it feels if you are working in the trenches.

David Werner is not a doctor.  He's a world-renowned biologist who has worked for decades in community health programs, especially in Mexico. 

In 1973, Werner, along with Jane Maxwell and Carol Thurman published a very practical guide for community leaders and health care workers.  It gave life-saving information and illustrations on how to prevent and/or treat health problems.  The title says it all:  "Where There Is No Doctor." 

This book has become the most widely used health education book in tropical and sub-tropical developing countries in the world!  In fact, before the decade was out, I had ordered several copies for myself and others in remote areas.

In 1975, Werner founded The Hesperian Foundation. which I have continued to support monthly now offers an array of health care books for places where there is nothing CLOSE to universal health care.  Places where health care as we know it would seem like utopia!  Donations to Hesperian help them provide many, many copies free of charge to struggling workers with very limited training, in rural areas where health care, otherwise, is simply inaccessible.

A look at the list of materials available will give you an idea of the scope of their growing work, made possible through volunteers and low-paid writers.  How do I know? 

This organization is so dear to my heart that several years ago I applied for a job as one of their writers, thinking that I could do the work through the Web.  No, they wanted me to be able to sit down with their team to hammer out every detail.  No quick productions--clarity on the very basic level wouldn't allow me to do it as I had dreamed of doing it.

Still not convinced, I proposed that I'd be willing to move to CA--until they told me the salary!  That brought me back to earth, convincing me of why I love supporting them from a distance. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:11 AM CST
Fri 04/24/2009
Living as if the Present is What Matters Most
Topic: Making Changes

Since I last posted in February, I've been learning the joy of living as if the present is what matters most.  I think I've always lived that way, to an extent.  Yet, the older I get, the more I tend to forget this.  There's something about aging that can keep one focused on the past more than is healthy.  OR be concerned about future needs that may appear to be somewhat threatened, by one issue or another.

This morning, I got up with my day all planned out.  Was gonna start with this blog.  I had a list of fun things and 1-2 not-so-fun.  Managed to get in a picnic with my hubby since spring has briefly arrived today.  Oh, how glorious!  

Then, the day got re-arranged with a frig problem that is reminding me of how much I depend on this freezing luxury.

Tomorrow, perhaps I'll get to something of more substance.

Yet as I was removing the magnets from my frig this afternoon, I stopped to contemplate a very deep thought.  The magnet says something about surviving being a good thing, but "thriving is elegant." 

As meaningful as this has been to me, I'm just wondering today.  Maybe it's a good thing to sometimes say:  "Thriving is a good thing, but "surviving is elegant."  I say this after visiting a 93-year-old neighbor today.  And just hours after getting the call that my oldest former student (also in his 90's) died yesterday.  I really think this is the important lesson that I've learned from him, come to think of it. 

So, I'll pass it on to you.  Surviving is NOT bad at all.  It's when we are striving to "thrive" that we often get into the valley of unrealistic expectations. 

For just today, try living in the present.   Enjoy the springtime!


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 3:17 PM CDT
Thu 01/01/2009
A New Year with New Aspirations
Topic: Making Changes

Happy New Year to all of you!   I hope you are looking forward more than you are looking backward, as you anticipate a new year. 

As the song says, "time keeps slipping into the future." 

I hope that I am able to make a ton of positive changes in 2009, in the "story" that living this life allows me to "write."  I also hope that I have many more years to make a difference in the lives of the people I meet. 

After twenty years of advocacy writing, I'm making a major shift this year.  Always with the option of shifting back as my heart leads me. 

What I have written about collusion, as well as all the other topics that I've touched on, through this website and through books and publications, is out there.  The written word continues to do it's on work and have a life of it's own.  That's the beauty of it.

For me, the greatest part about writing is having the opportunity to connect with readers.  That's something I plan to continue doing, as I hear from people with specific questions or needs.

My mission in life has not changed.  It has only changed focus throughout my adult life.  Always seeking to give of myself in whatever I do, as an expression of my faith, my spirituality, my sklls, and belief system--all of them constantly evolving.

I am not closing this blog today.  However, with this entry, I am taking a break in order to explore some other avenues of reaching out and personal development. 

As I will explain again tomorrow, in a much briefer note:  The blog entries can always be accessed by topics (found on this page), and I hope that you and other readers will return to review each topic as it fits your needs.

Please feel free--each of you--to drop me a line.  I will do my best to answer, as always, as quickly as possible, while returning to my focus of responding with the most urgency to new contacts. 

If you wish to be informed, when and if I resume the almost daily entries, please drop me an e-mail.

Thank you for walking with me this far.  I wish you the best as you seek to develop companionships on your individual journey.  Please embrace that journey, wherever it leads you.   Remember that I am there in spirit and interested to hear from you.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:09 PM CST
Wed 11/05/2008
The Fear of Leaving What's Become Comfortable
Topic: Making Changes

When teenagers even were given the privilege of occasionally visiting another internment camp, the "imprisoned" Japanese youth of the 1940's sometimes felt uncomfortable.  Their worlds, built in just those three short years before they were allowed to begin returning to what was left for them on the West Coast, had given them the greatest sense of security. 

Captivity was familiar, in a way that it was for the captives in Egypt long ago, when they were suddenly allowed to go free--even if it was into the desert--to begin a new life.

Like the children of Israel, the 19th century Japanese captives had little in their possession.  And little to return home to.   That was life for them in the "land of the free." 

It reminds me of what is psychologically ripped from the hearts and minds of most survivors who have experienced "imprisonment" without an acknowledgement of this, from the community of faith. 

The Japanese were essentially told that they were "welcome" to go back to their old homes.  The fact so often ignored by others was that they had no status, no businesses, no property.  It had all been stolen.  They could not go back and be the people they once were. 

They were even afraid for their physical safety, and they certainly couldn't blend in, due to their stark appearance.  Their fears were not paranoia.  There was plenty of prejudice.  It had grown immensely in a world where everyone had experienced some degree of trauma.  They all had burrs up, even the people of highest character.  For that's what trauma does to all of us, if left unresolved, without having a very clear picture of what is real and what is likely to be lurking nearby. 

When I think of what these people endured and how they managed to go on, I am in awe.  What an inspiration!  How did they even consider being kind to others who had not experienced what they had?  How is it that most of them went on to push for American citizenship?  Who would want to be a part of a land after such personal atrocities had been dished out?  I wonder what kept them from saying:  "America!  It needs to just be destroyed!  It's just full of a bunch of hypocrits that we can never trust!"

The next generation got a little bit of financial compensation, provided they'd lived long enough.  It didn't come until 1988, though, when "each surviving internee" was granted $20,000 and provided a national apology for a "grave injustice." 

Oh, that we recognize within ourselves the capacity we have for destroying others!  Oh, that we recognize our capacity to overcome the destruction that others have put upon us, unknowingly or not!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Tue 10/21/2008
Down with Apathy, Up with Choice
Topic: Making Changes

"I've seen 'em on TV.   I know what they are saying.  I'm not interested in either one.  I'll just see what happens."  That came from a middle-aged woman who opened her door to my attempt to engage her in a conversation about early voting last week.  My stomach was already churning from the reek of tobacco coming from inside the residence.  I found the repulsion of the woman's attitude more repulsive than the tobacco.

While I accept that everyone has a different idea about how to achieve "liberty and justice for all,"  the idea that individuals in a free society would choose to believe that voting is not a responsibility--that's what upsets me far more than the ones who have views far different from mine on the issues that are high on my list.

I voted yesterday and encourage you to do so.   Just in case something happens that prevents you from going to the polls on election day.  It's an opportunity I never want to miss.  What's more, I plan to be using my little set of wheels to get others to the polls on election day.   Maybe you can consider doing this, as well.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:49 AM CDT
Tue 10/14/2008
Patience Wanted, Not Perfection
Topic: Making Changes

Some people, including many of my students, believe that patience and passivity go hand in hand.  They do not know the difference.  This goes for some of the parents of students, as well.

Problem is that they want me to be patient when they are passive.  Or pretending.  Both of the latter P words refer to another P word.  Spelled with a big P.  You guessed it--Practice!

What makes a good teacher is the same that thing makes a good student.  That leads to a 5th P word.  Persistence.

Whether we are dealing with systems or working on ourselves, a sixth P word needs to be eliminated.  That would be Perfection.

Occasionally, we'll get things perfect.  Problem with piano, like a lot of things in life, is that what one person sees as perfect, the next will only see as Progress.   Sometimes my students come in thinking they've gotten something perfect, only to find out that I see their "accomplishment" as Pitiful!  Depending on my mood that day, I may not be as patient as they would like when that occurs.  On my good days, I'll resort to just being persistent and give them a good lecture on the importance of paying closer attention to the details they are supposed to consider important already.  That is, if they want to make music rather than just a bunch of strident noise.

Practice does NOT make perfect--at least not usually.  It does make Progress in all of us.  Keeping this in mind is essential, as we patiently approach our own personal struggles, system challenges, or with individuals who can drive us insane. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 1:59 PM CDT
Sun 09/28/2008
The Death of the Story
Topic: Making Changes
Considering that we need stories to connect ourselves with our universe and with our history, it's a tragedy that story-telling has almost died out.  That's what Patrician Monghan points out at

It started dying with the advent of TV.   That box that tells stories very quickly, stories that we only see and hear once so they don't slowly sink into the crevices of our hearts and brains, especially due to the noise.  TV makes us think that life happens at a break-neck speed.  And it seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy since it now does. 

My guess is that it TV was just the start.  Maybe cars were the forerunner, for they quickly took us off of the slow roads that our ancestors had to take, filling their otherwise boring lives with slow-cooked stories that spoke from the heart, without visuals, and required so much creativity.  That's the kind my grandparents told, the kind my mother still tells as eyes glaze over and we rush to find ways to rescue ourselves from that slow way of life that is so much a part of the pre-technology age that they treasured.

As much as I prefer change as a whole, today I find myself agreeing with my mother.  Maybe some things shouldn't change so fast.   We need to hold on to the stories that have shaped our lives.  For it is in the stories that the eternal or spiritual threads are woven. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Wed 09/24/2008
Let's Just All Get Our Guns!
Topic: Making Changes

Heard it no NPR this morning.  Election predictions and concerns.  I have a love-hate relationship with trying to keep up with this campaign.  Figure it's a lesson in human behavior, anyway.  And Lord knows, I need lots of those lessons as I continue to try bringing my expectations and appropriate responses to violence and oppression into check.

This time it seems that the people in Southern Pennsylvania think one of the biggest issues is the right to hunt down wild animals as a sport.  So they are showing great excitement for Gov. Palin now.  She's one of them, they are thinking.   Rather significant observation since this is one of the the geographical areas where the way the vote goes may determine the final outcome of the election.

Amazing the attitudes people have toward the "wild life"--whether it's animals or people thinking outside the box!   More amazing.....

Last week I was shocked to read that 40% of Caucasians in the United States are hesitant to vote for a person of color, just because of the skin color!  Yes, in this "enlightened day," 40% say they still "do not trust 'em" and think "black people are lazy."

Sad to think that we are such a backward nation in our thinking, after all these years of "progress."  When will I ever learn that paradigm changes always take much longer than I think they take?   When will I stop being shocked at bigotry?   I hope never.   Heaven help me when I do!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:59 AM CDT
Wed 09/17/2008
Moving from Wilderness to the Wild Life Area
Topic: Making Changes

Just in case you were wondering where I was yesterday, I should tell you that I was in the wilderness.  Quite unexpectedly.

Partly from the shock of the economic news on Monday.  It sent me, perhaps like some of you, to start taking stock of my meager assets and to wake up from some of my denial about getting older and needing to be less of a risk-taker than most people my age are.  Literally, when it comes to my tendencies with my personal financing.

Oh, I'll stay a risk taker in some other areas.  That shouldn't come as a surprise to any of you.

Of course, as I get older, I'm recognizing the need to think twice about a lot of risks and about how I want to invest my time, as well as money.

Then, yesterday while I was coming to grips with some decisions from the Monday "crash," I had about a 10% reduction of my weekly income with some unexpected calls!  Ouch!!  Even for a self-employed person who rolls with the punches somewhat gracefully, this was a shock I'd never experienced all in one day.

This morning I found an e-mail from a friend I haven't seen in a couple of years or more.  Asking me to get together with her for lunch.  That was all I needed to make me realize that the wilderness experience is indeed temporary, and it really doesn't have to take much to bring us back to a place where we realize what is really important in this unpredictable life we all lead.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:39 AM CDT
Updated: Wed 09/17/2008 9:42 AM CDT

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