Eps 119: “Honey and Onions” [Insights for Idealists] Guest, Alessandra Pigni

Eps 119: “Honey and Onions” [Insights for Idealists] Guest, Alessandra Pigni

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Today’s guest is Alessandra Pigni. (pronounced: péen – yee)
She will be joining me and the rest of the group selected for the On Being Gathering in February, 2018.

Her book is entitled:
Idealist’s Survival Kit, The: 75 Ways to Prevent Burnout
(The book is published by Parallax Press which is the publisher founded by mindfulness teacher, peace activist, and Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Han.)

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Listen to recent episodes:

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When & How to ask a question in class

If you’re a student or a teacher it’s nice to have a quick primer for the classroom environment.

Teaching styles and applications vary (and should vary) to accommodate the variety of learning styles and to improve retention.

A group environment where sharing is invited doesn’t and shouldn’t stay in the format need for some instruction.

But, when a lecture format occurs…some guidelines can help students and teachers alike.

By pure chance I landed on this…. (tell me what you think!) Click image enlarge.



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Blogging Moratorium

Blogging Moratorium

Yes, this is the start of a Blog Moratorium in Tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre , but for personal refletion too.

It doesn’t get past me that just as I gear up to spend 13 weeks teaching about the Problem of Evil a horrifying massacre of 6-7 year olds and their teachers and staff occurs.

I have a lot of information about how Evil works right on tap. But, I just can’t go there.

I know that we all react in shock about events such as these. We ask, “How could Evil be so close and innocence shattered so senselessly?” There is rage, anger, hatred. Emotions aplenty. And I know too that Evil runs right down each one of us too. It’s never merely “out there” or far off. If so labeled it shifts, it seeps, amorphous and eludes being so easily understood or classified.

The pain is so raw. The horror so near. The terror so frightening.

A nightmare.

Too soon people have started barking about gun control, and mentioning mental illness, and our crumbling society …all looking for reasons to make it all go down easier. But, right now, I’m just heartbroken. The weight of the brokenness of the world is here and present. Christmas is coming, and yet we lie ruined. Truly ruined. Hope feels like a faint whisper barely intelligible. A wisp.

I’m taking off for a few days. No blog posts. I’m going to reflect. Quietly. By myself. Away from it all and on the interior. Before the year is out, I’ll make another appearance. Thank you for your prayer for me at this time too for things I won’t mention at this time.

In the meantime, join me in prayer for the community and families of those affected by this violence.

Dear God,

Soothe our broken hearts.

How much pain, O’ God!

We cry out in agony…undone.

Have mercy on us

Bring us peace.

Bind up our wounds

Wash us with your Grace.

Grant us the strength to carry on 

And the resolve to not give up

Renew our hope in you and grant that we may forgive

So we ourselves are spared more pain.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,


A Practical Guide to NOT getting an Advanced Degree

Detail from
Photo Credit: Arallyn! via Compfight

I’d love to save you save money right now. I love education, but I do sense that our system is outdated by 50-500 years. I can hardly think of anything more stifling to creativity and innovation than this strange situation.

So many people in the North America are getting advanced degrees, I’ve noticed. Have you? I see a boat load of cautionary tales in the whole matter.

First of all….Have you noticed how much advertising is directed at feeding the desire to improve one’s self through education?

It gives me pause.

An affluent country can create a whole education industry that can make little sense when pragmatic end goals are apprehended. Indeed, it already has!

It seems many diploma seekers actually don’t actually know what they want…but it’s hard to dismiss education as a waste of time. Yet, education has never be easier to get…and for free. I have a list of places. More on that in a moment…

Since the job market is horrible many are delaying entry into it or avoiding it by enrolling in a masters program, etc. This trend depreciates advanced degrees across the board, duh.

Really the industry have never been shadier since public school teachers have been required to earn a masters degree to keep their jobs. Programs spring up to meet the need and basically make the whole thing a mockery. Busy work and rigamarole replace andragogic excellence. You thought I’d say pedagogic, right? See how outdated the whole thing is…pedagogy is a medieval term. Yeah, right…so anyways…

For people who value high-quality learning and scholarship it’s an affront.

BUT Why do people enroll?
…lots of reasons:

• To add Credibility (maybe some resume fodder)

• To soothe something on the inside

• In hopes that new opportunities will open up

Though plenty of places will give you the paper you think you want…it might not give you what you are really looking for. I contend that it often won’t. (Seth Godin has hit on this too. It’s worth the read.)

The reality is that without careful consideration the results are more debt and angst than possibilities. A Masters Degree or PhD may help to land a college teaching job…except for the fact that there’s a genuine glut of people with advanced degrees and fewer jobs than ever. School budgets are being slashed. Everywhere. Don’t want to teach? Then an advanced degree is the wrong tact much of the time. This illustrates the point that system is quite broken.

If you are (or someone you know) is in or planning to enroll in an advanced degree program, remember to ask the harder questions. The why questions.

• Are you putting something off?

• Are you afraid of something?

• Do you need or want something that really isn’t about the credit hours?

In reality Success can come in numerous ways through the vehicle of technology. Times have changed.

If it’s really education that you want. That’s all cool. Free Education initiatives are underway at so many top universities, like MIT, CMU, Berkley, Tufts, Yale, Princeton, Norte Dame and others. It’s AMAZING. Check it out.

In the end it’s results and experience that give you success, not who you paid on your paper chase.

Success has a lot to do with creativity, hard work, ingenuity, and perseverance. 

I hoped I’ve saved you (or someone you know) some time and $.

Jump In! (Road Trip)

Tomorrow marks my first day of teaching a 12 week stint on Spiritual Formation. I’m relating the journey of faith with and toward God to a scenic road trip, like Route 66.

Early on, Route 66 was well-traveled as people moved westward for a better life. Decades later, it became a common vacation expedition for families in the 1950s and 60s. What is it now? It’s not any of that.

The huge Interstate Highway system made traveling West smooth, faster, and more direct. Many of the towns with roadside attractions, and the windy roads from Chicago to Santa Monica were all but abandon. Some sections remain, and for the nostalgic traveler or the lovers of adventure on open the road, no other route is more alluring than, the Mother Road–the famous Route 66. It’s the stuff of legends.

For those of you who can’t come on join us, in person, here’s a “postcard” from the first leg of the trip.

Before we set off on a genuine road trip, we usually get an idea of where we’re going, and who we’re going with. We might venture off the map, and we’ll certainly have unexpected happenings along the way. We can become anxious over what lies ahead, out of view; or we can keep optimistic, knowing that we trust our companions. We can adventure on, tackling whatever obstacles we need to. The truth is, our the destination shouldn’t overshadow our view or enjoyment of the journey. The journey is part of how we are trained for our destination. SO, here we go.

Here are 8 ways we learn during the Christian journey. Maybe you can think of some more.

  • Through the Holy Spirit
  • Through Scripture
  • In community
  • Spiritual guides/teachers
  • Through Sacraments
  • Through devotional practices
  • Through Christian History/Tradition

Which ones have helped you the most? Which ones have you left out the most? Thank you for sharing your ideas on this topic. Hop in, let’s go!

Next week’s lesson: God’s Grand Story

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