Personal reflections, comments about things I've been doing, etc.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit; Resolutions and Resilience

And so, another new year starts. 2012 was a challenging one. We'll see what 2013 brings. I start the new year off, like I try to start every month, with "Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit", hearkening back to a simpler day when hopes for good luck and fortune could be invoked with a child's chant. Life seems harder now. I'm working on ways to be more intentional, to have more impact.

Before I go into my resolutions, I thought it might be good to go back and look at what I've written on New Year's Day in previous years. Last year, I wrote about wanting to improve my writing and learn new things. That's not very specific. What does it mean to improve one's writing? Is it about quantity? I wrote much less last year than I have in other years. Is it about creativity? Has my writing become more creative? I'm not sure, nor am I sure how I'd measure it. Is it having more of an impact? Again, I'm not sure, and I'm not sure how it would be measured.

In terms of learning new things, I wrote about watching TED talks or RSA animations, maybe attending some online classes. I've been doing this, and it has been good.

Two years ago, I was more reflective, looking back over the preceding years. Some of the blogging communities were more active back then and I had more comments.

With that, let me explore a few different resolutions. One resolution is to be more intentional and to try and have more impact. I'm not sure exactly how I'll go about this, and this blog post doesn't feel like it will be as intentional or impactful as I'd like. Another resolution is to be more resilient. This goes back to the Jane McGonigal's TED talk about SuperBetter I've been talking about in recent blog posts. She breaks resilience into four categories, physical, mental, emotional and social.

For physical resilience, there are some simple things. I'll try to drink more water, eat less junk and walk more. I'll work on finding small ways of building physical resilience while sitting at my desk at work. For mental resilience, I'll keep on with my searching of TED talks, RSA animations and other online material that makes me think. Hopefully, some of this will come out in my writing. Perhaps, I'll find ways of being more creative in my writing. For emotional resilience, I'll try to stare out windows more often and look at cute pictures. Perhaps I can view more great art work online. For social resilience, I'll work on more meaningful messages on social media as well as face to face.

So, that's what I'm thinking right now. What are you thinking?

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Goals for 2013

A month ago, I wrote a blog post about setting "S.M.A.R.T." goals about my personal leadership as part of the CT Health Leaders Fellowship program. S.M.A.R.T. is an abbreviation for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. As we approach the New Year, it is timely to set goals, but the other parts remain elusive. I’ve always been a bit goal adverse.

Perhaps some of this comes from a story I have a strong memory of from college. A philosophy professor told my class about when he had led a bunch of students on a pilgrimage from Paris to Santiago. They retraced the route of pilgrims from medieval times. It was a deeply meaningful experience for many of the students on the trip, and upon their return, they visited various alumni association meetings.

At one such meeting, an older alumnus got up and shook his finger at one of the students saying, “You know what’s wrong with you? You don’t have any goals!”

The student responded, “No, I have one goal: to live each day more fully and more lovingly than the previous”. I have often told that story when asked about my goals. It fits well with my interrupt driven ADD lifestyle.

This is not very specific, and perhaps not especially measurable, but very relevant, timely, and I believe achievable. My friends at the CT Health Foundation might ask, “So, how’s that really going for you? Are you being as successful and effective in this as possible?”

I would like to think so, but I don’t really know, and I suspect there are aspects where I could be more effective in the over-arching goal. To put it into the language we’ve been using in the fellowship class, I’m sure there are areas where I am not conscious of my incompetence.

So, I’m trying to break this down into smaller pieces to find skills to work on. One interesting framework to look for skills to work on is the Framework for 21st Century Learning from The Partnership for 21st Century Skills: Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Communication and Collaboration.

Creativity is an area I’ve always been interested in enhancing. This gets a bit more specific, but is also not particularly measurable. What would a measurable goal for creativity be and how would I work on it?

Communications and collaboration is another important area to me. I blog. I tweet, and I collaborate on many media. I could return to an old goal of putting up a blog post daily, or perhaps add in other goals, like putting up a blog post monthly on other sites about health equity or policy issues. An additional possible goal might be to get more interaction with what I’m writing.

Another interesting framework comes from Jane McGonigal’s game that can give you 10 extra years of life:

Please, take some time to watch this video. If you have time, you might want to watch her earlier Ted Talk, Gaming can make a better world before hand.

In her second TED talk, she speaks about four kinds of resilience: physical, mental, emotional and social resilience. These could match with the 21st century skills. Mental resilience as part of nurturing creativity and social resilience as part of improving communications.

So, now my more specific goals start taking better shape. To act upon them, let me propose an idea. If you’ve made it this far, send me an email with your thoughts about what my specific goals should be. What goals do you think would be most beneficial for me. Are their skills that I could be more competent in that I’m perhaps not aware of? For that matter, has this inspired you to think about some of your goals for next year, if so, what are you thinking of doing?

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The Hynes 2012 Holiday Quotes

I belong to a fairly eclectic, creative, some would say eccentric family, and this is especially noticeable around the holidays. Many humorous, thought provoking or just plain weird things get said around our holiday tables, and this year, I decided to capture some of them via social media.

When I was younger, I always used to carry a notebook around with me, where I could write observations that jumped out at me for one reason or another. This year, I decided to tweet some of the more interesting lines from Christmas morning.

They ended up fitting together very nicely, so, for those who didn’t see them on Facebook or Twitter, or didn’t view them as a whole, here are the Hynes 2012 Holiday Quotes

Of bowties and burquas,
and skin of teddy bear;
it's all very meta
like playing a song
with something that used to be a song,
or the cello guys with Toblerone

A slippery slope of maverick jelly beans,
touch screen gloves,
a Santa rubber duckie,
and a modern flint.
It's the holiday of candy fish.

Something happens when you talk too much, dad!

And it was the very, very end of the Swedish festival.
Did you get any fish?
I guessed a giant sonic screwdriver because that makes the most sense.
So many things I'm keeping inside my head right now

Is it a Tardis pillow?
I can't believe you guessed that
And how often do you get a bobble head of someone you know?
And what do you do at falcon ridge?
Lie on a blanket.
So what's better than a blanket that's a picture of you lying on a blanket?
Very meta.

Brimstone is hard to get
because we live in a blue state.
Now you need to write a song
about the fragility of the universe,
meta picture blankets,
and Doctor Who.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Sandy Hook Zettel

It has been a long week, with lots of thoughts, feelings, and ideas waiting to be written down. Many should be blog posts of their own, but I just don't have time, so I'm writing Sandy Hook Zettel. I take the word Zettel from Ludwig Wittengenstien.

Last night, I had another dream about being lost. This time, I was in visiting China, I think it was. I couldn't find my password, or any guidebooks. I set out from my hotel to explore and soon was lost. It was all the more difficult because I didn't speak Chinese. Eventually, I ended up on an elevated train platform with some Christian Bible Study group, with whom I could establish rudimentary communications.

I woke up, and the chant from Sunday's litany at Church went through my mind, "Oh Lord, hear my prayer…"

Last Thursday, I got home from work to find a "Dammit Doll" that had been sent to me. It came from a blogging friend that lives near Sandy Hook. She wanted me to review it on my blog. I had to rescue it from the dog who thought it was a chew toy for him. I brought it to work to show my co-workers and I've thought about Dammit Doll on the bar as a response to Elf on a Shelf.

In the evening, I sat up and watched the Geminids. I think I managed to get a picture of one. I need to get it off the camera and post it.

At work, I read the first reports of the shooting at Sandy Hook. As the horror started to become apparent, I wrote this:

"It's the most wonderful time of the year" blares from the loudspeaker outside my office. On my computer screen is a picture of some old guy with a vest, ten gallon hat and grey mustache with the caption, "You actually think that criminals will obey gun control laws? You're a special kind of stupid, aren't you?"

I had been thinking of posting a response, something to the effect, that even though burglars break into houses with locked doors, I still lock my doors in an effort to prevent crime.

I've been getting into lots of discussions about gun control and mental health online. Gun advocates have argued for arming more people, and suggested that we should follow Israel's gun control laws, but as I read things, Israel appears to have very strict gun control laws.

I've always been opposed to regulation of video games. On the other hand, most of the video games I've played have been pretty benign. I have played some first person shooter games, and didn't really like the way I felt afterwards. I have been focused on my media diet and these days watch almost no television. I even avoid good science fiction that has too much violence in it for me.

One meme that has been getting a lot of play online has been Mr. Rogers' "Look for the helpers". I think that is a great meme and one that I'm interested in expending. Be a helper. Spread the word about helpers.

On Saturday, I stopped at the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department for Santa's Visit. I spoke with Santa. He was very sad. He said his heart wasn't into it and he couldn't be jolly. He wanted to cancel, but his wife reminded him of the children that were counting on him. It felt like it came right out of a 1960's Hallmark Holiday Special. The Children were asking that Santa do something special for the children of Newtown. We talked about the first responders. Then ones in Sandy Hook need special prayers.

I work with some great helpers. Yet they are struggling too. Half the building I work in was out sick yesterday. Mostly respiratory illnesses. I don't think they were somatic, but I do believe that everyone is so run down that colds can easily spread. Take care of yourself.

Dicks' sporting goods is changing its policies on the guns it sells. A hedge fund is divesting its investment in the manufacturer of the gun used in the shooting. Both seem to be small positive steps. The question remains, is the NRA the association of regular moms and dads that happen to like guns, or are they the association of the gun sellers, people whipping up fear to sell their drug of choice.

And now, we are approaching the Mayan Apocalypse. It will start with a moment of silence for the victim of the shooting. The NRA will hold a press conference, and it is the longest night of the year. In Middletown, there will be a memorial service for homeless people that have died.

The next day, there will be a re-birthday party at the Buttonwood Tree. This fits nicely with the old story of what the caterpillar views as the end of the world, the butterfly sees as the beginning, and I believe it is closer to Mayan thought about human kind not coming to an end, but taking a quantum leap. Let us pray that it will be a leap to greater compassion.

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Yes, Sandy, There is a Santa

My mother died in a car accident during Hurricane Sandy. We lost power at our house, and gathered with our community to get through the difficult time. It was right before Halloween and the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department had a special gathering for the community to come together.

Today, a different Sandy is on our minds, the shooting Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many of us have friends from Sandy Hook. Many of us are parents trying to find ways to talk with our kids about the horrible shooting that took place there. Many of us are struggling with our own grief, trying to be strong for our loved ones.

Yesterday, at work, I shared thoughts from our chief behavioral health officer on how to talk with children about what happened at Sandy Hook. He said to reassure our children that they are safe and to review safety plans with them. He said to limit exposure to TV and other media. He said to talk with other adults about our own reactions.

So, my daughter spent last night with her papa, a retired Bethany Volunteer Fireman. He had been watching too much news and was grieving for the people of Sandy Hook. My wife urged them to watch 'Elf'. Towards the end of the movie, singing Christmas carols and believing in Santa is what saves the day.

Perhaps we need a little bit of that right about now. Today, at the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit. There will also be a clinic on car seat safety. Then, Sunday afternoon at the First Congregational Church there will be carol singing.

So, for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and of shooting at Sandy Hook, I'll paraphrase the great editorial from years ago…

Yes, Sandy, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Sandys. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

A gunman in Sandy Hook took the lives of some of its children, but the eternal light with which childhood fills the world has not been extinguished. It shines in the bravery and kindness of the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department. It shines in the carols that members of First Church will sing Sunday afternoon. It shines in the light of candles on the menorahs and advent wreaths across Woodbridge.

Yes, Sandy, there is a Santa

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