Happy Soul Food for the week of Dec 16th 2011

Here are three flavors of soul food for this week: rich, bitter and sweet.

  1. Inspired to change your world? Enjoy more from TEDx San Diego with some insight from its co-founder. – Thanks Jack
  2. Believe in the importance of keeping kids safe? Here is a somber reminder about the deadly impact of bullying and cyber-bullying and how it is Cool to Be Kind     Thanks Anna
  3. Seeking some tips to make life a tad easier? Just scroll down…- Thanks Larry

First, a follow up from last week’s TEDx Conference. As promised, here is some insight from TEDx SD co-founder Jack Abbott and how to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones:

“The TED conference had been food for my soul for a few years from when the financial crisis hit my business hard.

I was going to skip the event in 2008 due to a fairly desperate effort to keep my business alive as it was heavily dependent on the real estate market.

I didn’t have the time or heart space to get the value out of it, but since I had paid the admission fee, and I didn’t want to lose my TED status, I went.

The session were all about “RE”. “Rethink”, “Reboot”, “Reimagine”, “Recreate” and so on….it was what I needed because as we all know, letting go is very difficult.

I drove home after the event and called my staff together and advised them that it was time for me to reboot. I “gave” the company to a competitor and whaled away.

Best thing I’ve ever done on so many levels….I  had long thought about my desire to “pay back” the TED organization. Two years later the TEDx program was launched.

I signed up and that was the beginning…”

Here is a summary of this year’s event from Jack:

A day that took the minds and emotions of a sold-out crowd on a roller coaster thrill ride began with a literal bang. San Diego Taiko’s energized and energizing performance set the tone for a line-up of 28 speakers and performers to present interpretations of this year’s theme, The World in Our Grasp. For nearly 8 hours, they demonstrated- with personal experiences- how anyone who sufficiently inspired can make a difference locally, nationally or even globally. Throughout the day, break sessions provided opportunities to explore various interactive experiences including a photographic installation showing the many faces of America’s homeless, street artist Tracy Lee Strum’s 3D chalk art interpretation of the event logo and graphic recorder Jeannel King’s delightful notes from each presentation.

The event was divided into four sessions and co-emceed by Emmy-award winning news anchor Susan Taylor and award-winning food writer Troy Johnson.
The first session, Self, challenged the audience to explore the expansive power we have as individuals to create the internal transformations that trigger innovation, creativity and action. It began with spoken word artist Sekou Andrews urging us to sprout our stunted wings and fearlessly realize our potential. Other self-challenging presentations ranged from conquering inner demons with lucid dreams, altering our perceptions and reactions, keeping family histories vibrantly alive and dissolving the iron cage of rationalism to free our minds.

During Session 2, Community, presenters looked at the meaning of local in a globally connected world and explored ways to bring about lasting, positive change. Topics ranged from rethinking accepted wisdom to find innovative solutions, tapping new sources of community activism and reaching out to new, often neglected segments of our communities including the homeless and under-privileged girls.

Session 3 dealt with Finding solutions to global problems. Speakers from such diverse disciplines as oceanography, climatology, genomics, bio-mimicry, music and software development demonstrated practical and visionary innovations. Along the way, we journeyed beyond our solar system and through explored coral reefs that hold the promise of cancer cures.

The final session, Seeds of Change, provided the ideas and inspirations each of us could employ to be active, motivated agents of meaningful change. We heard an impassioned case for teaching civics to our children, learned how simple changes at our family dinner table could help alleviate world hunger and found ways to make creative use of the many crevices in our busy lives. We also got progress reports from five of last year’s presenters on their global projects.

TEDxSanDiego 2011 concluded as it had begun, with Sekou Andrews delivering an rhythmic , upbeat recap of the day’s presentations and all we had experienced in our quest to take the world in our grasp.


I want to excerpt a couple of the ideas that resonated for me…


From the Self (session #1):

When challenged in life with the “it can’t be done, that would take a miracle” mindset, do you respond,

“It WILL take a miracle. Thank goodness I am one!”- Sekou Andrews


Are You a Super-Coder? With Martha Beck

All Wisdom Traditions (and I am not talking about knowledge here but wisdom) share certain commonalities. If we tap into these and learn from those that have gone before, we can put them into practice regardless of the time, culture, orientation and values of the (current) tribe.

Those in touch with their spiritual self are “super-coders” of the human brain as they use a larger frame of knowing and a re-definition of possibilities.

As Arthur C Clarke famously stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. But it is not magic to the magicians!

4 Technologies we might choose to explore as we strive to lead magical lives and make our dreams come true:

  1. Accessing a state of Word Less Ness– Cultivate our capacity to transcend the verbal/rational part of our brain/processing to access a broader way of experiencing. Sinking into a worldless state, creates an altered state of heightened perception where our over-focused attention shifts, our attentional blindness recedes and we tap that inner stillness.
  2. Experiencing One Ness– Our wrong identification of self as this body/mind expands to include a larger definition of self not limited by restricted beliefs or pure self-interest. An all-connected feeling opens our hearts to others even beyond borders, de-tribalizing, de-nationalizing is intuitive and normal not some externally taught moral value system that we either buy into or don’t. “Above all…CONNECT!”
  3. Unleashing the Imagination– Foster the ability to imagine what has never happened before. Zero-based thinking and re-framing what is possible are key skills of Super-coders. Shrinking what is possible to what is practical is utilitarian but only one tool in the tool kit. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail! “If we always do what we’ve always done, we will always get what we’ve always got”
  4. Practice Forming- “To know and not to do, it not to know”. One we cultivate the skill of thinking differently we must manifest that. Play is a fundamental way to do this. Our natural state is to play until we rest and then rest until we play, but modern life has taken a lot of the play out and left nothing but the drama. It is up to us to put the play back in our lives. It is in play that newness is found with more regularity than “structured” work. Alas, we are not compensated to “play” unless of course we are musicians, professional athletes or in other type roles…

On Civility: Richard Dreyfuss

Most of us know Richard as the consummate and Oscar-winning actor. I had the privilege of meeting him last year at  Nonprofit Management Solutions Salute to Excellence Awards (See below)

He lives in North County and today as a community leader his current focus and passion is to encourage, revive, elevate and enhance the teaching of civics in American Schools. He is the Founder of the non-profit organization, www.TheDreyfussInitiative.org. and is leading a nation-wide effort to bring back civics to our American youth: “All people have a right to know who they are and why they are who they are. Clarity of thought and honesty in self-reflection are more than needed utilities – they are the building blocks of our national moral character.”, says Dreyfuss.

At TEDx, Dreyfuss posited that the goal of education is “mobility of the mind”. The real war on independence was a revolution of education for all. In his view the constitution has been co-opted by the political parties (in the constitution there is no mention of political parties). Today instead of focusing on the constitution we find ourselves held hostage by the political parties playing each other. In his view, and I agree, emotional maturity means we can share space with those with whom we disagree. Civics untaught begets values untaught- leaving current and future generations with no idea of who we are and why we are here and becomes a white collar form of child abandonment. The USA is the richest country that has ever been, so to say we can’t afford to teach civics (or anything else for that matter) is not a matter of economics, it is a matter of priorities.

You can get a flavor for his call to civics and its power at his website or here:



One dire consequence of the absence of civility with manifestations both in schools and online is bullying.

See it, STOP it-Zero Tolerance!

Left unchecked, bullying’s impact can be devastating as a former colleague of mine found out first hand with the tragic loss of their child

Here is an article that  came out recently regarding Daniel, bullying, and why it’s Cool to be Kind (C2BK) at San Clemente High School.


On a lighter note, we could all use an easier life. Click the link below to read some awesome tips for solving every day problems!

Tips to solve every day problems

May your days be merry and bright, and your soul filled verily with light!

Pay it forward,

Love, Nev

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