Saturday, August 28, 2010

List of Failures

I just finished conducting a seminar for my colleagues in the College of Business Accountancy, where I shared information and my learning on Professional Scholarly Writing in a Global Context; the difference among Plagiarism, Copyright and Fair Use; and the use of the latest APA Style, 6th ed.

What struck me most from the seminar was the audience's feedback on using sensitive language in research, and "describing participants and subjects at the appropriate level of specificity." I gave them the example of how, sadly still, in our University, we use the term "List of Failures" to publish the list of students (well, their id nos. actually) who have incurred failing grades in their subjects at the end of the semester. A more appropriate and specific term for "List of Failures" should be "List of Students who have Failed Grades".

It catalyzed a spirited discussion among us, about our almost unconscious tendency to throw words around as if they meant nothing more than what we intended to use them for the moment. I shared my own thoughts about how, when we really take time to reflect on them, a lot of the words we use are actually violent, in the sense that they contribute to a paradigm of treating people as less than the fullest human beings that they are.

I remember a time many years ago when I was still chairing a new department in our University, which was really a department formed to "catch" all the students who've been floating around, shifting from one program to another, and just aimlessly going through college. The department was euphemistically named, "Interdisciplinary Studies" (IDS), but it had the stigma of having students whom people perceived as "losers", since they got kicked out of their previous programs.

So, when I took over as chair, I was faced with the challenge of how to handle 400-plus IDS students who perceived themselves as losers and failures, with half of them put on academic probationary status for less than satisfactory grade standing. They are usually called "Probees". And when you're an IDS Probee, that's double the stigma.

Just out of curiousity, and to put a more "fun" and positive spin to the status, when I called them for meetings, instead of posting the usual "Attention IDS Probees..." in the bulletin boards, with their names listed there, I turned to using the term "Late Bloomers" to call them, still with their names listed there.

It quickly caught on among the students and they thought it was really cool and fun... and they started seeing themselves that way, as late bloomers-- they may not have bloomed yet, but will.

I should have done a formal research on that, but I was too engrossed in addressing the myriad needs of the students in the department, getting them to believe in themselves again and to get out of the ruts they have temporarily dug themselves into. After 4 years, though, the "Late Bloomer" list interestingly went down from 50% of the student population in the program to only around 15%. Coincidence?

I don't know so.

That's why I don't join (name your disease/angst) support groups. The very act of naming them there and attaching "support group" to it actually perpetuates the mentality and one's perception of one's identity as being stuck there.

Naming something is making it real.

Be careful of the names you use.

Friday, March 05, 2010

oh, me of little faith!

here i am, down to my last P200 again, feeling the claws of anxiety gnawing at me again, EVEN IF--

-- i already know there are more funds in the pipeline from projects accomplished; they just haven't gotten to me yet, but will do so in a matter of days;

-- i already know how there are ample food and other living provisions at home, and there really is no extra foreseen expenditure for me to attend to this weekend, so all i need is to get through the weekend with just my (actually) extra P200;

-- i already know, from experience, that even without the above, i am still taken care of, somehow;

-- i already know, from experience, too, how it's been like for me many times before this, and that there really is no need to worry, because things do really turn out alright, for me and my kids;

-- i already know now, from my many spiritual studies and practices, how the Only Reality there is is God's Love and God's Infinite Provision, and that all else is human-made Illusion, yet i, with my anxiety, still allow the Illusion to have more power than the Reality!

ohhhh, me of little faith!

i can understand better now, how the fishermen in the boat must have felt amidst the raging storm at sea, and how Jesus must have felt when they called upon Him for help!

oh, me of little faith!

Lord, grant me the grace of more Faith!

Friday, January 01, 2010

2010 Day 1 Early Morning Lesson

I feel bad. And on a New Year's morning at that! : (

Nope, it's not about me nor my life (thank God for that, at least!). It's about someone in my household I was trying to help.

Weeks ago, a colleague asked me for recommendations as to whom I can refer to her to help her cook for her children around the New Year, as they were flying in from many parts of the country with their families to celebrate New Year with her. And she said that, this time, she wanted to enjoy them as well as the occasion, instead of slaving away at her kitchen feeding them all.

So I recommended our laundress. She's a widow with grown children but whose grand kids have been left with her for caretaking as her grown children seem to not be able to take care of themselves on their own... They lead messy lives and have dumped their own young children on her.

Manang Lisa only comes to our house once a week to do the laundry. Actually, we don't need her services anymore because I have two washing machines and a dryer at that. But we still keep her on if only to add a little bit more to her income, since her other incomes are irregular, what we in the Philippines call "remedio heneral" (literally, "general remedy", wherever it can be found.)

So I recommended Manang Lisa to my colleague, and they arranged a meeting for my colleague to pick her up yesterday at 1pm at Jollibee Lopue's East, so that she could start working for my colleague for 4 days, where she will be paid P200 a day, net of transportation expenses. I thought that was settled, and felt good knowing that Manang Lisa would be starting the year right with sure extra money.

But, things happen, and--calming down a bit more now as I write this--I guess, the things that happen reveal character and life lessons to us if only we pay keener attention.

Manang Lisa had very painful diarrhea yesterday, according to her. So she sent one of her grown sons to tell me early in the morning yesterday. But her grown son only came to me yesterday at around 2pm already, when my colleague had been waiting for Manang Lisa at Jollibee's East for 1 hour already!

So I told the son to go to his mom quick, and at least take her to Jollibee's East to talk to my colleague and let her know of the situation and arrange a new set-up with her. And I also texted my colleague yesterday to just wait for Manang Lisa a little bit more as I sent the son to fetch the mom.

Not hearing any more from either for the rest of the afternoon and evening yesterday, I thought things were worked out between them, only to find this morning, upon my waking up, that Manang Lisa never did get to go meet my colleague yesterday.

And I feel soooo bad, imagining my in-her-fifties colleague, waiting for nothing yesterday, and having to contend with cooking for her large brood at the last hour, without any backup!

I rarely recommend people, but when I do, it's because I believe in them and want to help both parties.

Needless to say, this is an embarassment to me, and of course, a loss of potential additional income for Manang Lisa. My colleague has quickly found a replacement, at least, thank God!

Of course I felt very angry at what happened. Sloppiness always upsets me, in addition to dishonesty and cruelty of any form.

But I try to calm and center my self, considering that it's the New Year, and force my self to find the gem in the mud. "Nothing happens by accident." "The Universe always delivers me perfection, each and every moment." I try to recall past quotes and affirmations learned and used, as I will my self to calm down and not let this get to me.

Why is this happening? What is there for me to learn?

And then it dawns upon me:

Many times, the Universe helps us with our needs for abundance, like more money, or more of what we need and desire, and the Universe usually courses it through people and circumstances. Since this is a physical world, too, there has to be physical channels.

However, we not only have to be open to them and ready for them and say "Yes!" to them, we also have to ACT on them with commitment and follow through. Receiving is not a passive matter. We have to go out there and TAKE what we've been given, and not let anything like diarrhea, stop us from receiving it.

And when we start receiving it, it's only the beginning, to get the momentum going. We have to keep maintaining the open-ness and the saying "Yes!" and the committed action to reaching out for more of it, until it fully manifests in our lives.

That's how God's Help, the Universe's assistance, miracles, deliverance, whatever-you-call-it -- works.