time for each other

Several years ago some dear friends encouraged Laura and I to have a weekly time with each other when we can really talk and share important things.  It’s been so helpful.  But in the past few months we haven’t been making it happen.  One of our resolutions is to re-establish this time together.  With kids, work, and activities, there is always one more thing we “need” to do.  Always one more thing to squeeze into the schedule.  But this is something we love and we feel we just can’t do without.

Our friends P & K also do this, and they have really encouraged us.  Tonight we sat in their kitchen talking about this, and we identified seven things which have made these “marriage meetings” valuable: 1) calendar coordination, 2) parenting plans, 3) express appreciation and affirmation, 4) positively share needs and difficult issues, 5) financial update, 6) share what we are learning, and 7) pray together.  I guess there are 3-4 of these that we make sure we always cover. 

“They say they will love, comfort, honor each other to the end of their days.  They say they will cherish each other and be faithful to each other always.  They say they will do these things not just when they feel like it, but even–for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health–when they don’t feel like it at all.  In other words, the vows they make at a marriage could hardly be more extravagant.”  -F. Buechner

new year, new hope

Happy New Year!  I hope you are leaping into 2008 with eager expectation.  For the new year I’d like to carve out three 45 minute slots per week for swimming and possibly swim the 5 Kilometer race across lake Balaton in the summer.  Never thought I would enjoy swimming for exercise, but it has really grown on me while living in the water polo capital of the world.   

I’m also adding a couple new components to my journaling this year.  Journaling has been so helpful for me over the years with the inward, outward, and upward journey.  I’m also really glad moleskin notebooks are back in business!!

Thirdly, I’d like to create more integration between this blog and our present communities, our work with Nexus, and our spiritual and family journey here in Budapest.  I’ve mapped out a plan for this, and I’m going to give it a try for a month and see if the plan needs adjusting. 

Fourthly, we of course still have some concrete goals for working hard on the Hungarian language. 

I’ve heard that 46% of us are still keeping our resolutions after six months.  That sounds conservative to me.  So here is a helpful acronym for goal planning from the project management world- S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Specific – goals should be specific and clear as opposed to general.
  • Measurable – goals need to be capable of being measured in some fashion.
  • Adjustable – there needs to be a way to adjust your goals according to your rate of progress…if it is faster or slower than originally anticipated. 
  • Realistic – goals can be set beyond you present ability but are attainable over the present length of time.  Research says that difficult goals usually lead to improved performance as long as those goals do not exceed your ability to attain them. 
  • Time-based – there should be a clear time-frame (short-term, intermediate-term, long-term.)  There should be clear target dates set from the beginning.  

And you know, thinking of goals in positive terms instead of negative terms is always more effective.  And process goals are usually better than outcome goals (improving effort or performance vs. winning a competition).  And finally, most goals deserve a good strategy.

With our minds we plan our ways,
But God directs our steps.
-Proverbs 16:9


Look at the chart below and say the COLOR not the word.





Left-Right conflict

Your right brain tries to say the color, but your left brain insists on reading the word.

community building

Somewhat related to the previous post, M. Scott Peck identified a typical process people go through as they are transformed into “true community.”  Here’s wikipedia’s summary of this process:

  • Pseudocommunity: This is a stage where the members pretend to have a bon homie with one another, and cover up their differences, by acting as if the differences do not exist. Pseudocommunity can never directly lead to community, and it is the job of the person guiding the community building process to shorten this period as much as possible.
  • Chaos: When pseudocommunity fails to work, the members start falling upon each other, giving vent to their mutual disagreements and differences. This is a period of chaos. It is a time when the people in the community realize that differences cannot simply be ignored. Chaos looks counterproductive but it is the first genuine step towards community building.
  • Emptiness: After chaos comes emptiness. At this stage, the people learn to empty themselves of those ego related factors that are preventing their entry into community. Emptiness is a tough step because it involves the death of a part of the individual. But, Scott Peck argues, this death paves the way for the birth of a new creature, the Community.
  • True community: Having worked through emptiness, the people in community are in complete empathy with one another. There is a great level of tacit understanding. People are able to relate to each other’s feelings. Discussions, even when heated, never get sour, and motives are not questioned.

education as conscientization

Wikepedia states the following about “conscientization.”

The term Conscientization comes from the Portuguese term Conscientizacão. Paulo Freire used the term Conscientizacão in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, written in 1970.

Conscientization refers to a type of learning which is focused on perceiving and exposing social and political contradictions. Conscientization also includes taking action against oppressive elements in your life as part of that learning. Conscientisation proceeds through the identification of “generative themes”, iconic representations that have powerful emotional impact in the daily lives of learners. In this way it helps end the “culture of silence” in which the socially dispossessed internalise the negative images of themselves held by the oppressor in situations of extreme poverty. Liberating learners from this mimicry of the powerful, and is resulting fratricidal violence, was a major goal of Conscientisation. This is a major part of Paulo Freire’s problem posing education or Popular Education (In Brazil it is called pt:Educação popular)

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientization”

observing people

Coaching and counseling university students over the years, we’ve really enjoyed helping them think about their strengths, talents, and styles of leading and communicating. Every person is infinitely unique. Even still, there are some intriguing similarities among our personality types. Over the past 3000 years, significant thinkers have all independently observed and identified four primary categories of personality. In case you’re interested, here’s a brief list of some pre-20th century thinkers and their observations.

Galen, a doctor during the Roman empire, identified four humors: Sanguine (optimistic), Melancholic (doleful), Choleric (passionate), Phlegmatic (calm).

Around 400 B.C., in his book entitled The Republic, Plato wrote about the four temperaments (in terms of virtue) attributed to Hippocrates: Iconic (artistic), Pistic (caretaker), Noetic (idealist), Dianoetic (rationale).

Aristotle observed four types and defined his in terms of happiness: Hedone (sensual), Propraietari (asset gathering), Ethikos (moral) and Dialogike (investigatory).

Paracelsus, a Viennese doctor in the 1500’s, observed four spirits similar to what Galen and Plato offered: Salamanders (impulsive and changeable), Gnomes (industrious and guarded), Nymphs (inspired and passionate), Sylphs (curious and calm).

Interesting huh?