January Peace Obstacles

Have you noticed that we still tend to be surprised by obstacles? Why is that? I’m not pointing any fingers here, mind you…

Whatever your dream is about, it’s going to change the way the world works if you pursue it. That will happen, if for no other reason, because people will sometimes resent your pursuing your dreams. If you can, they can, and all this time they’ve been pointing to the obstacles as reasons for not moving forward.

But our dreams are not for or about other people, even if in the long term they benefit others. We dream about what’s important to us, what raises our passion. We say no to the obstacles because our passions are vital to our well-being. We say no because realizing our dreams is being faithful, even grateful, for the gifts we’re given.

Obstacles are real. Many times we’ll find out that the cause of those obstacles was our own failure to plan. But other times, we’re just going to have to figure out how to go around and keep going. If Peace were easy and straightforward, we’d be living in the midst of it. It’s hard. But we’re gifted. And the world is waiting.

So gather your advisers about and figure out how to move forward. You don’t have advisers? ah, now that’s a problem. We all need a Board of Directors. We need someone to see what we can’t see. No reason to go flat on our faces if there’s a friend around to point out a rock in the road!

Our obstacles will probably be our faithful instructors and our worthy opponents. Let’s learn the lessons and keep working on Graduating the Dream!

Synchronized Working

Years ago, before work changed the way it did, people talked about setting up small offices for people working at home. At that point, every one had an office. You needed a copier, a central place for messages to be taken, a fax machine. If you were very lucky (or paid a lot) a place for file storage.

Enterprising work-at-homers gathered to start small offices. There was a meeting room, work cubicles, perhaps a receptionist and all the shared technology. It was in an office building and someone cleaned it up. You paid a certain fee per month and got everything you needed to function. Including the occasional meeting at the water cooler. It was a good and very temporary system.

The technology changed so quickly and as it changed, so did our work. Cell phones, laptops 3-in-one printer/copier/scanners became completely affordable, even as written documents became more and more obsolete. If you think about it, it’s astonishing how much of our work gets done on line these days. Well, it’s astonishing if you’re a person who remembers carbon copies (oh blessedly on the way out as I was becoming a secretary. What a delight the Selectric was! I could type as quickly backward as forward. I always made a lot of mistakes in my hurry to be done.) Early adopters’ lives changed quickly. But at this point, even the most reluctant embracers of technology are moving along far differently than they did.

I still print my sermons. I’m sure if at some point I get a Kindle or an ipad that will stop. Why waste the paper? Why have it building up around the house? Make a pdf and send it to one of your e-readers. Goodness knows I’m a much more efficient filer on line than I ever was in a file drawer. And thanks to the search function I think I’ve found every poem I’ve ever written except that wonderful piece about the Susquehanna at twilight. (sigh.)

I spend time these days, working in the realm of ideas and trying to decipher which ideas are best suited to which media. It’s interesting… and publishing doesn’t seem to have a very clear idea which way it’s going yet…

So, much is taken care of… except that water cooler thing. Cue the rise in number of coffee houses. Now they’re not just the new meeting room, they’re the new water cooler. Every Monday morning, I have a study date with a friend, now two. Mostly, we work on our own work. But we each know what the other is working on. Occasionally, we’ll stop and say… “so, am I on track here?” and read a short piece aloud or push our laptop across the table. No one else at the table does theology. Neither woman is churched. But they both, boy howdy, came equipped with ideas and opinions.

So there we are. We write. We nosh (gotta keep our meeting place in business). We talk about world events and what more appropriate responses should be. We offer advice. We just listen. We Google. We giggle. Occasionally our separate wonderings fuse into a solid workable idea that changes each woman’s work for the better. Even more occasionally we realize we can collaborate on something. Most importantly, we remember we are not alone as we strive to do good work.

Free Education and Certification

Ever since I saw the TED program on the Kahn Academy I’ve been fascinated. So simple. So straightforward. MIT is in the mix now. So are Stanford and Harvard and lots of other big name schools. There is conversation going on fast and furiously about possibilities for certification rather than diplomas from the big schools. And even if it’s just for fun. If you like physics, or don’t understand it at all, why not tune into a master and figure it out?

I’ve written on this page before about the blogs (Fixes) written by David Bornstein and others that are found on the Thursday NY Times Op-Ed Page. They’re examining things that work to make people’s lives better. (oh what a novel idea, things that make life better, not horror stories!)

His post today is about ALISON which is teaching certification for work programs. And it is providing these courses for free. Although the bulk of students come from UK and US and India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Nigeria and the Middle East where ALISON has 200,000 students. But there are also students in tiny countries who would not otherwise have access to the career of their dreams or a skill that fills a local need. This way, enterprising people are looking at jobs that are available, and going after the certificates needed to match their skills to the openings… It’s a great tool for a new world.

This is an idea worth supporting… and ingenuity worth celebrating. Hooray.