Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Pamela Positive: “Manifest Plainness, Embrace Simplicity. Reduce Selfishness, Have Few Desires.” – Lao Tzu

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity. Reduce selfishness, have few desires.” – Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu’s counsel helps us to keep life pure.  If we are running from one activity to the next, we are missing serenity in our daily lives. If we are accumulating things, our lives are crowded by materialism.  It can prevent us from being clear and free to receive new ideas.

Simplicity allows us to not be distracted.  We focus on living a life well-lived. We focus on spiritual qualities such as kindness and consideration, which allow our lives to serve others, and ourselves, with the highest good in mind.

The specific birthdate of Lao Tzu is unknown. Legends vary, but scholars place his birth between 600 and 300 B.C.E. Lao Tzu is attributed with the writing of the “Tao-Te Ching,” (tao—meaning the way of all life, te—meaning the fit use of life by men, and ching—meaning text or classic). Lao Tzu was not his real name, but an honorific given the sage, meaning “Old Master.”  Lao Tzu wanted his philosophy to remain a natural way to live life with goodness, serenity and respect. Lao Tzu laid down no rigid code of behavior. He believed a person’s conduct should be governed by instinct and conscience.

“The Parents Are Saying, Get It Yourself” – Patrick Mims, Alumnus, San Quentin Prison University Project

Patrick Mims, Prison University Project Alumnus: “I’ve worked with kids whose parents do not provide them with the basic essentials to go to schools. Bus money, lunch money, clothes. And the parents are saying, get it yourself. And if that’s the message they’re projecting to the child, then this is what’s going to happen.

Jody Lewen, Executive Director of the Prison University Project : So another point of intervention is with the child who has no support financially – providing for them –

PM: – or just saying, I’m proud of you.” 

We think all support that happens in our life is physical. We need to get somewhere, eat something, have a book to become knowledgeable, skilled, confident. Yet as Patrick Mims, who is a Prison University Project Alumnus at San Quentin, states, sometimes the best support can come from the spirit.

A hug.

A bit of encouragement.

Or, “I am just proud of you for who you are.”

Tell someone today you are proud of them.  Boost their spirt and yours with a loving message of support.   They will go miles!

—✶—

The mission of the Prison University Project is to provide excellent higher education programs to people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison; to create a replicable model for such programs; and to stimulate public awareness and meaningful dialogue about higher education and criminal justice in California.

They provide approximately 20 courses each semester in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science leading to an Associate of Arts degree in liberal arts, as well as college preparatory courses in math and English, to over 300 students. The program is an extension site of Patten University in Oakland. All instructors work as volunteers. They receive no state or federal funding and rely entirely on donations from individuals and foundations.

The central goals of the College Program at San Quentin are to educate and challenge students intellectually; to prepare them to lead thoughtful and productive lives inside and outside of prison; to provide them with skills needed to obtain meaningful employment and economic stability post-release; and to prepare them to become providers, leaders, and examples for their families and communities.

Through the College Program at San Quentin, as well as other education and outreach activities, the Prison University Project also aims to challenge popular myths and stereotypes about people in prison; to publicly raise fundamental questions about the practice of incarceration; and to incubate and disseminate alternative concepts of justice, both within and beyond the academy.

I will study and prepare myself, and someday my chance will come.
-Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, in a one-room log cabin on a farm in Kentucky.  After the death of Lincoln’s mother, his older sister, Sarah, took charge of caring for him until their father remarried in 1819.  As a young man, Lincoln was clearly a religious skeptic, but later on his frequent use of religious imagery and language might have reflected his own personal beliefs – or it might have been a device to appeal to his audiences, who were mostly evangelical Protestants. He never joined a church, although he frequently attended with his wife, but he was deeply familiar with the Bible, quoted it and praised it.

He served as the 16th President of the United States, 1861-1865, leading the country during the Civil War.  As President, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause.  He was instrumental in ending slavery and is admired for his commitment to national unity, equal rights, liberty, and democracy in America.  In 1858 Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. He lost the election, but in debating with Douglas he gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for President in 1860.  On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C was dedicated to him in 1922.

The Classic Pamela Positive: “Do All the Good You Can”

“Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.”

– John Wesley

John Wesley (1703-1791) was the founder of the Methodist movement, along with his brother Charles. Wesley went to Christ Church College, Oxford, and taught at Oxford’s Lincoln College.  He preached in Georgia, and throughout England, giving over 40,000 sermons in his lifetime.  One of Wesley’s best-known doctrines is that of “salvation by faith.”  He also emphasized striving for “Christian Perfection,” where the believer lived by the love of God.  He was engaged with social issues such as prison reform and the abolitionist movement.  Methodism is now considered a separate denomination of Christianity, although in Wesley’s lifetime it was within the Anglican church.  At the time of Wesley’s death, there were 135,000 Methodists; today, they number some 70 million.

When Do You Fight? Only Because of Love

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
-G.K Chesterton

A fight is never our first option. Whether that is a war on another land, or in a personal relationship, we want to first go to the place of peace and trust. It’s a place where all are loved and cared for; we live in that loving space together. And from there results a good outcome.

We prepare our minds with loving expectation, for any situation. That could be a challenging business relationship, something skewed in your marriage, an unrestful dating relationship, or a church relationship that just seems to feel ‘off.’ Or perhaps your child seems impenetrable and you just can’t get through.

But you can. And we do this by trusting that we are loved. That is where we start.

At times, however, we might need to take up our shield – – or our sword. In that day, we only do so to protect that loving place that everyone lives in. We defend love.

—✶—

G.K. Chesterton was a profound English writer of the 20th century who contributed across philosophy and poetry, as well as fiction.  Two of his best known works are Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. He also wrote a weekly column in The London Illustrated News for thirty years.  He was known for his incredible intellect, desire to decrease political divisions, and strong reasoning skills.

A Little Gracious Way to Live Life

Even 50 years ago

I feel her sense of love and support
She was not just a yes-man
but she understood

I feel she’s always looking over my shoulder – –

     Would she approve of it, what I was doing in that moment

Yes, I think of my toasty bathroom
Boss always used to turn the furnace off at night… but now I keep the heat on and wake up to a toasty bathroom. A little gracious way to live life. And to work hard, I love that, too.

5/13/96 Oma on Mahetty, her mother.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Give A Gift Every Day

Give a gift every day.

Send your friend’s birthday gift early.

See a gift that would be meaningful for someone you care about, and just buy it. Give it to them now.

Take the time to cook a meal for your partner or your roommate.  Take the time to cook a meal for yourself.

Smile at a person walking down the street.

Smile at a homeless person and stop and learn their name. There is the gift of knowing someone. Of acknowledging you care.

Be kind to yourself.

Get in bed early.

Say three gratefuls before you fall asleep.

Say three gratefuls when you wake up.

Believe today is special.

Take time at lunch to be grateful for three more things.

Pay the phonebill for your roommate.

Drop off banana bread for your neighbor.

Give a lot. Expect little.

Smile at yourself in the mirror.

Work hard and attain the gift of devotion to something you believe in.

Work and leave early and give yourself a gentle night off, nurturing yourself.

Stop and look at nature. Any part of nature. The expanse of the sky; drifting clouds; a vibrant flower.

Give yourself the gift of awareness of how precious and beautiful life is every day.