Wednesday, July 27, 2016

rambling little whine to commence

Once in a while I afford myself the luxury a good, solid whine. Read at your own risk.

Weary, frustrated, annoyed...did I say weary?  Describes my mental state and my physical state (probably more because of the summer cold I have - another reason I want to whine).

Stating the obvious: organizations are made of people and people are social primates and as such are driven to protect/defend/argue about: status, protocols, territory, and membership (of said organization).  It's one of those Captain Obvious moments, right? Like...if you stand in the rain you are going to get wet.

And I'm wondering if there is ever a circumstance when this organizational reality needs a good slap upside the head. When I look at the effort required for said slap - then I just feel weary again...whine, whine, whine.  Then I wonder if perhaps the head-slap is just self-serving (so I feel better) and if the right thing to do is let them have at it, do your protocol wars thing - it's a necessary tribal process.

If a group of people, an organization, has as it's primary goal the purpose of making people stronger, better, safer - shouldn't there be at least a wee bit of interest in keeping that mission at the forefront? Tribes must funnel energy and purpose into the maintenance of the tribe's existence, got it - check. When that's the fabric of every single tribe, ever, everywhere I should be smart enough to avoid jousting that windmill.

In self-defense and martial arts organizations what separates one tribe from the next is sometimes about the "what" that is taught and always about the "how" it is taught. The tribe needs a coherent identity - again I know - Captain Obvious. When the tribal identity drifts away from making people stronger, better, safer because the internal protocols become the primary agenda .... do we care? should we care? If tribes are fundamentally compelled to maintain themselves and the purpose of the tribe is secondary, is there ever a moment when jousting with the windmill has merit?

When good people with equally good commitments to helping people be stronger, better, safer forget that the mission is more important than the tribal markers we have lost ourselves -- Because I think organizations and people who care enough to teach the stuff that makes people stronger, better, safer are important, I think the loss of mission focus is more egregious. I know it's a bias. It's a bias I choose. And because of the bias I am wondering now about the slap upside the head v. jousting windmills and protocol wars and at the moment, I can't find an ounce of value in any of those efforts.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

tribal blindness

Tribe. Understanding our basic needs for belonging is becoming a little more common. More people are talking about it and writing about it.

That's good.  The more we look at it and talk about it the better chances we have for figuring out how to be in our tribes without completely fucking things up. What blinds us to the similarities between Tribe A and Tribe B causes conflict and violence. The internal similarities within our tribe blinds us to the differences we need to see.*

While we are learning how to better play nice with others, predators are learning too. Watch how Joey Salads demonstrates it. This post is not an endorsement of the guy and his social experiments because I have no idea if he is getting consent for these social experiments. Still, his little social experiment with the Pokemon Go phenomenon highlights a truth, and one I wonder how many people see.

 Watch the experiment here and then come back -

When we identify with a specific tribe we automatically assign deep levels of similarity and familiarity to the other members of our tribe. Humans do this without a lot of conscious consideration and often we do this somewhat blindly.

Defining the words.

Assigning Similarity: you think like me, behave like me, choose like me,  believe in what I believe in and follow the same ethics I follow even if I don't know what those ethics really are because most of us don't pause to evaluate this stuff.

Assigning Familiarity: I feel like I know you and you know me, sort of. Because we must be similar to share a tribe we must also already know a data set about each other. The more familiar you are to me, the more comfortable I am with you. The more similar we are, the more you have the right to assume you may be familiar with me.

Predators count on the assumed similarity and familiarity gained through tribal association. The shared S and F assumptions breed a level of trust. And Mr. Salads' social experiment identifies a harsh reality created by the S/F tribal assumptions.

I suspect when we deliberately choose a tribe and the tribe is artificial like the Pokemon Go tribe, we humans may be even more willing to assign a level of trust that is untested. It's one thing to belong to a tribe by the geographical markers of your childhood, or the religious markers, or tribe by heritage - we didn't choose that, it chose us. "Oh, you're Irish too? Excellent. I trust you completely." This is not what we do. Just because you have ancestors born where my ancestors were born does not mean I will jump in your car (if you didn't watch the video -the car reference doesn't have as much weight).

When our tribe is a product of our own choice perhaps we assume a deeper and riskier reality. We like to believe we are smart. Smart people make wise choices. Therefore, as I am smart, I naturally have chosen my deliberate tribes with wisdom and as a result - they are trustworthy. There are all kinds of things wrong with this proof of our intelligence but I think we do it anyway.

And I am pretty sure the predators are counting on it.

Most people have the ability to be smart. So be smart. Recognize when you choose a tribe by shared interests it does not mean everyone who shares your interest lives by your rules, your ethics, your moral compass.  Deeper still, don't assume they have chosen to share your interest because they want to join your tribe, the chosen interest might be a con and Mr. Salads demonstrates how easily the con works.

*this is all about Affordances: what you see completely determines what you can do. A concept in Conflict Communication and Violence Dynamics in Chiron Training programs I have the privilege to facilitate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

the wrong medicine

I know what it's like to have a child who struggles. My oldest had debilitating asthma attacks from the time he was 6 months old until early high school. Trips to the emergency room with a toddler turning blue is a unique experience I wouldn't wish on anyone. As a parent, you can't fix this. You can't breathe for your own kid. The only thing you can do is hope like hell that the experts can fix it for you.

Sometimes they can. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes all modern medicine could do was load my 2 year old (who became 6 who became...) up on oral steroids after trips to the ER and keep our fingers crossed while we superimposed a temporary case of hardcore ADHD so he could breathe. It sucked.

So I get it when parents struggle and search to fix something they feel they can't but somehow are expected to fix. With the asthma, soccer coaches would look at him and me and talk about "conditioning" and pull little man on the bench. Sigh.

Working with me at our training center is a naturally brilliant kid's instructor. He's well-trained but that's not what makes him brilliant - he really wants his little students to excel. But he's not there to fix medical problems. Recently, I got a call from a mom invoking the 30 Day cancellation notice for her son, it's the first time we've talked to the mom....up until now it's been all dad.  I always ask for feedback on a cancellation because it helps me know if there is something we can fix.

"He's having fun and he's learning but his dad was hoping it would teach him more discipline." This follows an admission by dad to aforementioned brilliant instructor that the young man in question was diagnosed (this past year) with ADHD. It's not uncommon for latency aged kids with ADHD to have aggression issues and on the mat in a self-defense program our kid in question had trouble with his aggression toward the other kids; a lot of trouble. The instructor worked with the dad and was committed to helping this little guy to success.

Then the backstory comes out. They were hoping training in self-defense would teach him to control what his brain could not. However a parent chooses to address the medical needs of their child is a deeply personal dynamic and regardless of my beliefs - I respect those choices. That being said - here's an important announcement:

Kids Krav Maga (or any other martial art) will not fix or cure a medical condition. Teaching kids to punch, hit, kick and defend against the same will give them choices and options for control. Teaching kids to defend themselves (and punch, hit and kick) will not wake up the latent screening system in the kid's brain. ADHD etc. is a medical issue. The filter that allows humans to screen incoming data for importance is not working as intended. All the incoming data hits the brain with equal force. Taking a 45 minute class in self-defense a couple times a week is not going to fix that. 

Bring your kids to train with us.  We love our Littles and we have a fantastic instructor team who want nothing more than for our Tiny Humans to succeed. No matter how much we empathize with the struggles of parenting, our training program has a specific set of goals, as does every other martial arts program for kids. If your Little has something s/he struggles with, let us know. Let us work with you and with your Little. But if you use a martial arts program as a means of doctor/cure shopping, you will be disappointed.

Friday, July 15, 2016

the drift

Humans are not a hive, you do not share a hive mind. When it comes to agency and personal authority, it isn’t enough for you to know you have power and that you are biologically wired to seek, authenticate, and express your power. You must also understand that your monkey brain’s tremendous influence to keep you plugged into a tribe also has the potential to brainwash you into believing you are only as powerful as your tribe.  

This is a lie. It is a convenient lie. Convenient for your tribe, and convenient for your comfort and the basic human tendency towards doing the minimal amount of work in life to maintain that comfort. It is, nonetheless, a lie. We can and do figure this out. Sometimes. There is a ridiculous amount of the opposite going on right now. Although the hive-mind drift isn't probably any more prolific now v. other periods in our recent social milieu, it is perhaps more evident because of the violent nature of its current expression.

When we let ourselves be influenced by the hive-mind drift we are succumbing to an intrapsychic version of domestic violence. This is how it works: 

The aspect of your nature driven and created for independent thinking, creativity and decision-making periodically expresses its independence. The monkey brain is watching. As long as the human expression of power doesn’t disturb the bees in the hive, all is well. When the hive starts to agitate in response, the monkey is going to start punishing. The human expression of power submits, retreats, and there is a tentative truce masquerading as peace. For a while. But because we are wired to seek power, after a while, the cycle begins again.  

This should feel a little crazy. 
It is. 

Understanding and accepting the purpose of the monkey brain is critical here. It isn’t bad or evil. It is important and can be beautiful. It is what allows us to feel the intense warmth, beauty and security of deep relationship. It is the source of profound joy when our children reach a dream. It allows us to pull together with people who otherwise appall our sensitivities so we can collectively house, clothe and feed one another after devastating natural disasters.The monkey wants us to plug in. Our ability to think like everyone around us is what keeps people alive when trucks smash through crowds and when tornadoes the size of the gods rip through towns.

Know the monkey brain’s purpose in your community and in your family. Understand the monkey brain’s strengths. Get intimately familiar with its limitations

Ignore this and your tendency toward tribal comfort will mirror the escalating cycle of domestic violence. Eventually the abusing partner destroys the target of the abuse. Emotionally, psychologically, physically. Domestic violence ends in death. 

If you want to live from your natural capacity as an individual capable of independent, creative power and impact you will be required to do what she is required to do. You will have to risk everything. You will have to unplug from the hive and go it alone. There is no other option. What you will find out there is the ability to feel even more connected. Your monkey will be happier because healthy relationships thrive when the power differential isn’t constantly contested and your monkey wants - needs - to belong. You will be part of your tribe without the internal violence of your monkey brain beating your power into submission. And you just might be able to solve problems like we seem to be facing right now.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

there's someone I want to talk to

Somewhere there's this guy, he is in his mid-late twenties. He has black hair and fair skin. I know his last name but not his first and I can't shake this question I have. I want to ask him...what do you say about this?

The this is what's happening - open season, intentional open season on law enforcement. I'm thinking about this young man because I remember watching him, innocent and confused in his mother's arms at a fundraising auction for his benefit a year after his dad was executed.

I know the dad's first name if I don't know the son's first name. The dad worked with my husband. He was a motors officer who responded to a call from a concerned neighbor about something odd. There was no concerned neighbor. It was a planned ambush execution for anyone wearing a badge.

The details of the plan are irrelevant beyond the fact that like Dallas, and maybe like St. Louis...they worked. Les responded to the call. He paid for his job, his badge and his responsibility with his life.

A year or so after his execution, our department pulled together and hosted an auction to raise money for his widow and this black-haired toddler. Les' widow was bright and smiling and thankful and it was a happy atmosphere of support and community that I couldn't really get into. It was a long time ago but all I remember from that night was watching this little boy.

And I remember him now and I wonder. What are your thoughts right now? You know what this is. You have lived this. It is, in some ways, the backdrop of you childhood. Growing up without Les because someone decided it was open season, little-black-haired boy all grown up, you may be one of the few people who actually has a valid voice. You had and still have, a front row seat.

Do you have littles of your own now? What do you tell your kids about their grandfather? What do you tell them now? Do you hate cops because the profession stole your father? Do you hold them as heroes on a pedestal? Are you raging right now? Or is it a stoic the risk comes with the badge kind of thing?

Did you even make it? I wonder about that question too. His mom looked like she was adjusting and doing well. But that was an act, a necessary public face. Maybe this little boy grew up in chaos born of trauma and grief and maybe he tapped out and there's a headstone with his name on it too.

It's my assumption born of want that Les' son is a decently adjusted twenty something man with a front row seat. What happened in that neighborhood over 25 years ago is happening now in Dallas, St. Louis...I want this young man to be decently adjusted because it makes me feel better. If he made it, and he has a good life it's a small win.

I don't know what happened to Les' little boy and however that story has evolved, I can't do anything about it whether I like it's progression or not. Neither can you. But we can be present now. We can acknowledge our agency and our accountability and our capacity to act and our remarkable tendency to sleep through life until shit like this acts as our alarm. And then the next wondering hits me...along with that stunning capacity to sleep through our lives we are equally capable of hitting the snooze when the alarm sounds. Ignoring it. Hoping it will go away and take the day's reality with it.

That never ends well.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

need a new log-in

Before all the IT security people lose their shit, I am not publishing anything that could compromise any of my accounts, take a breath.

Over the last 5 years I have used log-in names etc. to reflect the next goal in my Krav Maga journey. It started when I went for my Instructor certification and Graduate Level 1 rank (number 6 in our system). It started because the internal conversation was snorting. You know, that laugh that is so spontaneous it's out before you can censor it? The one that blows milk out your nose because well, what you just heard is stupid ridiculous? That one.

To combat the milk activating laughter in my head, I made my log-in reflect the goal. Like "instructorkm1" IT peeps, that wasn't it -just an example.

It became a talisman for me. Instead of eyeing a finish line in a marathon, the log-ins reminded me of what was next, even when I was snorting milk out my nose.

For the last year, the info has reflected a goal I was certain was impossible. Krav Maga Global's Expert 1 certification. If you are a belt rank person, this is test number 11 and up until recently in the U.S. there have been 2 women with that one checked off. Inexplicably, I made the number 3 last month in Israel.

The goal isn't all that impossible if you have the necessary prerequisites. Things like lots of years of training (in contrast to my 5). Putting in several hours a week in preparation for the test (which for many reasons *cough* excuses, I didn't). Not being over 50 and not being a smaller than average human. Younger, stronger, more experienced and physically fit-er practitioners would not see the E1 as a steep mountain climb. For me though, it looked like a good opportunity for the milk-nose experience.

When Expert Camp started in Israel, the pregnant question was "are you testing?" My answer was honest: I'll give it a shot. I knew I would get valuable feedback from the experience and I wasn't up to par, I would have another chance in the U.S. later this year. The honesty of the answer struck people as odd. People tend not to test unless they're damn sure they can pass. Failing is like a scarlet letter.

I don't relate to it that way. Yes, of course passing is the goal and yeah - it feels great. NOT passing isn't the kiss of death though, the deepest lessons and biggest jumps in my skills have come from the places where I fell (literally and figuratively).

The test was no joke. In my testing group there were 6 people. One not yet eligible and testing for feedback, 5 testing for real. Two of us passed. My monkey brain is very happy. It feels good. And it feels...well...yeah, still looking for the word. What do I use for a log-in now? There are more E Levels I can go for but I'm not eligible for another 2 years. And that really isn't the point anyway. Those look attainable now.

The world shifts. Reality rewrites itself when the impossible becomes part of the daily 'sure, I can do that' conversation in my head. The nose-milk relationship is gone. I suppose moving into this territory could look like a good place to settle down. Like the westward expansionist settlers who breached the rocky mountains...alive. Done. Good enough. Build a cabin.

But....something happens when you land in new territory. We can enjoy the terrain instead of finding it daunting and insurmountable. And then, then we get to find new. New realities. Deeper contact with what it means to be human and what it doesn't mean. I don't know what the next log-in will reflect. Not yet, anyway. So for now, it can be a question.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

free to move about the cabin

Well, here we are. The Fourth of July weekend in the U.S. - full of sentiment, BBQ, Beer, and fireworks. We toss the word Freedom around and once in a while "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" shows up too.

Most of the time, mincing words annoys me. It shows up in debates as a way to control the debate and dominate, derail and generally disguise an intense need to be right over actually engaging in something that could be defined as a dialogue.

Maybe that's me at the moment. Mincing words.

Freedom and Liberty aren't the same thing. That much, wordsmiths agree on. Which definition goes with which word though, that seems up for debate.

Option 1

Freedom is a state of being capable of making decisions without external control.
Liberty, on the other hand, is  freedom which has been granted to a people by an external control.

Option 2

Liberty is an internal state reflecting an existential relationship with your capacity for agency.
Freedom indicates lack of physical constraint. Example? Spent a lot of time on a plane the last month..."you are now free to move about the cabin" - shuck the seat belt sister you have our permission to climb out of the little cage called your seat.

Because it makes my life easier at the moment, I'm going with Option 2.

Fourth of July celebrations are about both. But...

There's a sneaky little saboteur to your freedom and/or your liberty: scripts. While your tossing about the sparklers, have you thought much about your own thinking? What you believe? How did you come to believe it? If you haven't looked at all the things you believe, all the ideas you hold as truths, then how do you know if you have really chosen those thoughts/beliefs?

Simple test: how do you feel about "being on time"? Why? Where did that belief come from? If you think it's important...why? and how did you decide that it was important? Do you think people who are late are...what...rude? disorganized? inconsiderate? attention-seeking?  Hmmm. What if someone is late because their life is in havoc, or they were anxious about meeting you, or their kid bloodied a knee, or some smart-ass tried to own the road and caused a wreck right in front of them?

Sure, the cell phone belays the excuse of not letting you know - but (there's that word again), what do you believe about it? Do you choose that belief? Or was it chosen for you?

The more conscious we get about our scripts the more our ability to choose or reject them shifts from a hollographic possibility to concrete reality. The more scripts we consciously acknowledge, choose or reject, the more liberty and freedom we can actually claim.

This is no small thing and it seems to be remarkably absent in the masses across the U.S. at the moment when it comes to the decisions we are making about our freedoms and liberties.  Like the flight attendant's instructions to tighten my safety belt in turbulence, we seem to have cinched in on our willingness to think.

You are now free to move about your mind. Please do.