Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back and Looking forward

It's fun to look back and see where we were last year and how far we have come.  I was pleasantly pleased to read last year's post on 'resolutions'.  Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees.   So looking at such lists is helpful for seeing the big picture. 

Looking back at 2010's goals:

Spiritually-I was staying in the Word and growing closer to the Lord until mid November.  Since then I've been stagnant, but look forward to getting back into a routine.  My goals for my prayer life did not happen, maybe this year will be the year of implementing prayer regularly. One thing that I finally came to terms with is the concept of the 'elect'.  It's something I've struggled with so long and this year I can finally say I have come to appreciate why God worked that way. 

Emotionally- My main issues were nutritional/biochemical, and I can see major improvement in those areas.  And we have been working on better habits now that our brains are more clear. 

Marriage-Drew and I are doing so much better then 2 years ago.  It's very exciting!  This year we have been able to work on our own issues more since being more clear-headed and healthy.  God esp has been using the last few months to work on my respecting of my husband.  It has slowly evolved over our 9 years of marraige, each time going a little deeper.  It's hard to let go of things, but God is showing me that life is so much better if I do.

Parenting-Broken record... Well, I did not make a lot of the actual changes that I hoped to from last year. so they will be this year's goals.  But overall, the kids are doing much better and Drew and I are able to train them more then in the past.

Education-Same as the others.  Definitely happy with the changes and the things I've learned and I want to continue to learn and implement more.

Financial, same as last year.  We have our credit card debt down quite a bit and we'll keep chipping away at it.  We have mostly managed to live within our means.  Not perfectly, but definite progress.

Nutrition-same as last year.  I'm soo happy with where we are, but there is always room for improvement. 
Some highlights from last year's nutrition goals: We like liver!!!  that is great.  But, we still can't handle canned salmon without major groans.  GAPS is more doable, as we are eating more traditional and liking it more. We consume a lot of bone broth, but still not great on the fish broth.  I cook with coconut oil and make cookies with them, so we consume a lot of that.  We don't do CLO like I'd like, just because of the money.  And cheese making hasn't happened either.  Still working on the fermented foods also. 

And my number one goal of bringing God glory in all we do, well, I'm actually very happy with that one.  There will always be room for improvement, but I can see how it has become more a part of our very fibers, to want to bring glory to God in all we do.  Which is very exciting! 

Looking forward to 2011:

Spiritually-To just keep growing closer to the Lord.  To be in the Word regular and let it saturate my very being.  I'd like my prayer life to improve, but I have wanted that for so long I hardly think it's possible. I think as I draw closer to the Lord, my prayer life will improve.  A lot of my issues with prayer are a lack of understanding it's power and place in the Christian's life.  Also, I hope to grow more in grace this year.   Not sure where this goal belongs, but a desire I have for 2011 is to better understand what motivates the 4 of us, and to use that information to help us to make good choices in every area of our lives. 

Emotionally-To continue to keep our physical brains clear so we can work on our sin issues of the heart.  I hope to see improvement in all of our moods, but esp mine at night with the kids.  I tend to get grumpy and I want to stop.

Marriage-To continue to give ourselves to God and see his plan for marriage, and to make that our own plan as well.  Which includes me learning to truly respect and honor my husband.  Not just act respectful, but to truly, deeply respect him.  I feel I made such huge strides last year, I hope to see just as many this year.  I also will hope again this year, that we will find a way to be in the Word and in prayer regularly together.

Parenting-To continue to train and teach.  Esp to concentrate on character development and skill learning.

Education-To get through Egermeier's.  We still have not done that.  And to read lots and lots of books.  To concentrate on spending more one on one time with them (half hours we call them), and really getting to know who they are and how God made them, so we can mold them properly. 

Financial-same as last year.  To learn to live within our means and continue to pay down our debt.  
Nutrition-I hope to see us continue to eat traditionally and enjoy it.  To continue to heal our bodies and to give them what they need, while detoxing what they don't need.  Specific goals for 2011:

1.  To find ways of eating well when we're with others.  For myself esp, to find foods that we can have when others are eating with us, that are truly nourishing, but enjoyed by all.  As well as more 'picnic/to go' foods.

2.  To eat fermented foods with every meal.  I've had that goal for some time, and for some reason, I find it difficult.  

3.  To afford and take fermented cod liver oil daily.

4.  To find a source of grass fed meats/fats/organs that we can afford.

5.  Continue to find natural cures and remedies.  

6.  Find more 'grain free' foods to enjoy.

7.  Work more towards finding ways of enjoying canned salmon

8.  Possibly do the GAPS diet this summer.

9.  To find ways to consume homemade fish broth regularly. 

And, like last year, my Number One goal for 2011-and life-is to glorify God in all we do.  Ultimately, that is all that matters.

Dear Lord, I pray for the coming year.  I thank you that your grace is sufficient and your mercies are new every morning.  I pray for my myself, my husband and my children.  I pray that you would be glorified in our lives, in every little thing, as well as every big thing.  I praise you that not only can I wish for that, but I can truly 'hope' for that.  Knowing that you will complete the good work that you began in all of us.  Thank you that you have called us to you.  I pray for your peace and power and wisdom for 2011.  I pray that we would draw closer to you, that we would come to know you better every day through your Word.  I pray for wisdom in all of the decisions we will have to make in the coming year.  I rest in the truth that you will work ALL things out for our ultimate good.  AMEN

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Global Achievement Gap, by Tony Wagner

Oh, what a fantastic read this was!  I identified with it so much, it was downright amusing!  And it's so exciting to see the classics/mentor type approach to learning in the bigger context, and applied to today's global economy.

The Global Achievement Gap, Why Even our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Sills our Children Need-and What we Can do About It, by Tony Wagner brought together the TJE of homeschooling that I have come to love, as well as the needs of the general public.  Mostly.  :)

And even so, he wanted to hone his skills and ask questions and come to see the big picture.  Which he assumed he could be able to do 'on the job'. However, he found the other teachers completely unilling to discuss what works and what doesn't.  He wanted to 'shadow' some teachers, but they looked askance at him.  He asked his boss to come in and watch his class and give him tips, etc.  But he wouldn't do it.  Wagner also was a principal for a short period of time.  After some frustrations and disappointments, he went back for his masters and I think his doctorate.  He ended up working on the research end of education and was appalled that his experience was the general rule instead of the exception. 

His main complaint of the current education system is that it is incapable of raising up a generation of citizens and workers who will be able to compete in today's global economy.  The vast majority of public (and many private) schools teach 'to the test'.  They don't teach general thinking skills, but rather the facts that are on the tests. If their schools don't pass the test, they are not given the money and get a bad rap.  And this really is dumbing down our next generation of leaders.  He actually quoted from 'A Whole New Mind', and cited a number of the sources Pink quoted.  It was fun to read them back-to-back to get the big picture better. 

In order to be able to compete in the new global economy, it is going to be of utmost importance for people to think for themselves and be able to get along with others.  As a matter of fact, after research and reading and asking questions, he came up with 'Seven Survival Skills for Teens Today' that schools should be teaching instead of the current 'teach to the test'.

1.  Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
2.  Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
3.  Agility and Adaptability
4.  Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
5.  Effective Oral and Written Communication
6.  Accessing and Analyzing Information
7.  Curiosity and Imagination

He agrees that there ought to be a 'core' of knowledge taught, although what that core ought to included in all education, although deciding what that core ought to include is almost impossible (and a bit socialistic in my opinion).  But, other then that core information, what really needs to be stressed is the overall story of life and how it all fits together and how it can be used and manipulated for today's needs.  People today have a glut of information available to them.  They need to be able to find information (google, books) and then sort through to find the pertinant info, and then place that info into the bigger picture.  Simply sorting through a google search can be overwhelming. But things like dates and names, etc, are easy to come by these days, and in the blink of an eye.  It's the skill of being able to sort through it that will make a person useful on the job. 
For example, if you can't remember the dates of World War II, you can easily find that information on the computer.  But trying to understand how WW II affected the world today is something that takes thinking and deductive skills.

Of course, using all of the usual information that is taught is the best way to teach the 7 Survival Skills.
But if the actual details are not remembered (and they must be in order to take most state tests today), then it's not a big loss. 

He spends the last part of the book doing 'walk throughs' of school that are implementing principles similar to his 7 Survival Skills'.  I'd love to visit them!  Here are a few of them:

High Tech High
Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School
the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center

What fun to read about the teachers and students of these schools and to realize they really are living out the TJE model of learning and development.  And it works, even in big schools!

I still believe that all of the issues he addressed are most easily addressed at home.  But, I was excited to see that it could be done in a larger setting also.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink

I saw here on the TJE website, a list of books that talk about the classics approach to education, but are main-stream today.  I was excited to see the list and ordered a number of them from the library right away.  Go figure!

A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink was the first one I read.  And I really enjoyed the 'right-brained' view of things.  I am definitely a left-brained person.  I have a hard time with imagination and definitely prefer liniar thinking and rules and definite results.  That is something I've been trying to challenge lately, but it does not come naturally.  And this book helped me to see that the creative/right brain side is just as useful as the more practical side. We all, of course, work with both sides of our brain.  But I think most people tend to have one side more dominant then the other-which translates to what we call personality.

Pink's thesis is that in order to survive in the up and coming job market in America and most of the Western world (and the rest of the world eventually), a person must use both sides of their brain in order to offer a goods or service that will allow him or her to have a job that pays more then minimum wage.

He gives 3 questions that need to be answered in order to determine if you will be viable in the workforce in America in the near future.

1.  Can someone overseas do it cheaper?

2.  Can a computer do it faster?

3.  Am I offering something that satisfies the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age?

He gives plenty of reason why those 3 questions need to be asked.  He gave all kinds of stats that show how most jobs in America have transferred to the eastern world where people graduate with MBA and have a much lower cost of living.  So the same job could be done in America for $70,000 or Asia for $15,000, allowing the same quality of living for the worker.  Hence companies like GE, Dell and HP have hired people over-sees instead of America.  My husband works in investment banking and he has told me many stories of jobs being sent overseas because of cost.  I had no idea until a few years ago, but apparently it's a very common thing.  No one in America can pay bills on $15,000 a year, it's just not possible (at least not in the NY metro area).  So how do you make yourself worth the extra $55,000 to a company?  By using your right brain says Pink.

He also gave a lot of examples of how computers are being used to do more and more things that used to be done by the human brain and hands.  Even writing computer programs is being done by computers now!  Go figure.

His last question addresses how you can distinguish yourself from those in Asia and from computers.  People now have the opportunity to have so many things inexpensively, that the only way to get them to choose your product, is to make it beautiful and artistic and to give it some sense of inner meaning.  The guy is definitely right-brained!  :)  Computers can't offer that dimension, and even people in another country can't offer the creation of such things, as they do not know what appeals to different cultures and people.

Make it personal.  Offer something that people can't get anywhere else.  My mother-in-law's consignment boutique  is a perfect example of this.  It's funny how many times I thought about her and her store while reading the book.  I'll have to ask her if she read it.  Her clothes are not cheap.  People could go to TJMaxx or Marshalls and get things for the same price, or even cheaper. But she offers things those places can't.  No malls or traffic.  She and her associates are amazing at outfitting people with wardrobes that they look and feel good in.  She knows her customers names and life stories.  Those are things no computer, or Asian graduate or even a discount store, could offer.  And people love her for it.

"For business it's no longer enough to create a product that's reasonably priced and adequately functional.  It must also be beautiful, unique, and meaningful.  In an age of abundance, appealing only to rational, logical, and functional needs is woefully insufficient.  Engineers must figure out how to get things to work.  But if those things are not also pleasing to the eye or compelling to the soul, few will buy them.  There are too many other options." 

The last 6 chapters are devoted to teaching 6 'senses' or skills' that Pink thinks a person will need to succeed in the days ahead.  They are all right-brained of course, and some are a little off the wall.  But it was a very fascinating book to read for a left-brainer like me.

The 6 senses are:

1.  Design
2.  Story
3.  Symphony
4.  Empathy
5.  Play
6.  Meaning

He talks about each one in detail.  He gives examples of how they are used in big-business today and then he gives a 'portfolio' after each one of books and other resources for developing these senses or skills.

While I have no desire to go into business at the moment, it's still some good skills to learn and sharpen.  And to keep in mind for helping my kids to get an over-all, truly 'liberal-arts' education.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Fourfold Path to Healing, by Thomas Cowan

Ok, first, let me say that today is a special day.  My sister turns 40 today.  I so wish I could be in Iowa to celebrate with her!  Happy Birthday Angie!!!!!

Ok, now on to the book.

I have been wanting to read The Fourfold Path to Healing, working with the laws of nutrition, therapeutics, movement and meditation in the art of medicine, by Thomas Cowan, pretty much since I first found Nourishing Traditions. I'm glad I finally read it, but I also think it was best that I waited until now to read it.  :)

It was a fascinating book.  His theories of 'dis-ease' are very interesting and different from mainstream, and even different from a lot of 'holistic' books that I've read.  But so utterly fascinating!  It was good to get a more 'rounded' view of the human body and disease.  It definitely ventured into the 'etheral', but I have really come to appreciate that the body is a 'whole' and needs to be addressed as such. The emotions are not separate from the body, they all work together in a synergistic fashion.  I think if you lean too much on one or the other, it's not good. But I think it's good to have both sides brought to the table for consideration.

Cowan discusses the 'Four-Fold Path to Healing'  and how all 4 points are important to understand and consider for 'wholeness' and 'wellness' in the body.  The 4 points are: Nutrition, Therapeutics, Movement and Meditation.  He gives an overview of all 4 at the beginning, and then he deals with specific illnesses in the rest of the book.

The overall of nutrition is founded on traditional diets as studied by people such as Weston Price, Pottenger, Lee Royal Rudolph Steiner, and others.   He feels this is the foundation for the rest of the 'paths' and must not be ignored.  He talks about nutrient dense foods and eating a high-fat diet.  He recommends fermented cod liver oil along with high vitamin butter oil for healing as well as daily health.  He even suggests insects for those who dare eat them. :)  He refers to Nourishing Traditions throughout the book. 

Therapeutics is based on homeopathy, herbs and an overall 'balance' that he learned from Rudolph Steiner,  Edward Cayce and Samuel Hahnemann.  All people whose works I'd like to read.   His definition of disease is good: 'the body's attempt at self-correction, or self-healing.'  So rather then work against, it, his goal is to work with it, to heal itself.  Makes sense to me!  So his therapeutics are used after nutrition is firmly in place.  He goes into details about how to use balance and herbs and homeopathy, etc. to heal specific ailments.  I loved this section of the book.  So much to learn about the natural means God gave us to heal and be healthy! 

His section on movement is actually written by someone else: Jaimen McMillan.  He gives a lot of specific movements and exercises for dealing with different emotions, body parts and diseases.  I must confess, I did not read much of them.  I'm still trying with the body mechanics and barefoot movements. :)

Meditation was, well, about the mind and meditating, etc.  Again, I confess, I did not read nearly enough of this section to give any account here.  It's not that I think the mind is not important. I truly do believe it's essential to have healthy emotions and thoughts in order to heal.  But my meditation and prayer life are based on Scripture as opposed to more new-agey type things.  But, for what it's worth.  For a non-religious person who is trying to heal themselves naturally, I do think that meditation would probably be helpful, and his suggestions were in line with the rest of the book. 

The chapters on specific illnesses are: infectious disease, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, diseases of adrenal insufficiency, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue, women's diseases, men's diseases, weight loss, depression, back pain, arthritis and neurological diseases.  

He gave far too much information for me to go into in regards to the various diseases.  But it was so interesting to read his ideas on the 'whys' behind them.  Most of it was not new to me, but one that was new and interesting was his explanation of the heart.  But, alas, my brain couldn't wrap itself around it enough to be able to explain it 'in my own words', so I shall have to reread the book again later and hopefully it will sink in then.  But it was a fascinating concept and one I mean to look more into, esp if we find we are ever struggling with heart disease.  His overall answer to heart problems and cold extremities was to eat more good fats and to not drink too much water.  As a matter of fact, he was pretty against drinking water in general, as he believes it messes with the natural balance of minerals in the body.  That seems to come up a lot in the books I read. Good well water with the minerals is fine, or even water with some celtic salt. 

Some specific things he mentioned at the end of the book that I found interesting were:

Bee venom as a way of helping with osteoarthritis.  I'd never heard of it before!  They take real bees and have them sting you as a way of helping the inflammation to go down.

Blessed Herb Internal Cleanse.  I would love to do this, but it's expensive.  But I hope to find some herbs that do similar things and incorporate them into our lives as necessary. 

Castor Oil packs are something he highly recommends throughout the book.  They apparently have been used for thousands of years in the medical world.  They apparently create warmth in whatever organ they are placed over, almost immediately. And they also help the body to increase the flow of bile in the liver, which helps it to detoxify the toxins that are often stored there.  I would like to get some good castor oil and some flannel patches of cloth and use them as a part of our healing protocol, along with enemas and liver cleanses, etc. 

Bowel cleansing using milk of magnesia.  I've been doing enemas, but I might try this sometime also.  I just need to do more research.  Gunky colons are definitely a problem in America today!  Of course, this is just helping a symptom, not addressing the actual cause, which is of utmost importance.

Epsom Salt Baths, which we do often.  He has you drinking tea with it as well, which I don't.

Hydrotherapy, which stimulates a fever.  He has you take a warm bath for 10-15 minutes, and then stand under a cold shower for one minute.  Then wrap up in a warm blanket and get into a warm bed and drink warm tea (elder flower, linden flower or peppermint to induce sweating).

I really enjoyed reading the book and would love to find it super cheap to add to my collection for reference when dealing with a specific disease or ailment.  His use of therapeutics is esp useful, because he has such extensive use of herbs and homeopathy, etc.  His combinations are tried and true and good to know!