Category: CY Columns

  • Refreshing Our Knowledge and Skills

    We tend to think of school as something we partake in during the early years of our lives. There is preschool, nursery school, kindergarten, primary school, junior high school, high school, college and graduate school. If we went to these schools in linear fashion, we would be attending them from, perhaps, three years old until our mid or late 20s. However, in today’s day and age, with so much changing so quickly, particularly in the area of technology, we might want to consider school as not only a foundational undertaking, which we participate in at an early age, but as a lifelong endeavor.

  • The Wise, a Poem

    You sit around and think. And you realize some of what you thought you knew, you didn’t. You think of the errors you’ve made. At times, it can be tough. Songs play. Some are laments about the past. Others express pride about actions taken. In the end, our reflections are our own. Assuming we choose to reflect at all. Some reflection is good. A corrective soul tonic, it is. Too much reflection can leave us baking in joylessness. Life is for living.

  • Tender Light from Above, a Poem

    Tender light from above. Sky light, my light, the heavens smile. A bird flies. The sun shines. We are happy. Happiness from the waves of the ocean and the blooming of the flowers. Happiness in all its simplicity. Our internal compass points to joy. We know and we are glad when we follow its course. That path by the eternal endorsed. A walk through nature’s wonders. A satisfaction from seeing the amazing gifts of this world. Behold them now, as we go through in a whirl. Mountains, canyons and the deep blue sea. Heights and depths and perspectives to see. The heart races as we climb a rock face. We smile as we come out of the ocean, refreshed and renewed. Our soul yearns to be by nature imbrued. Worms crawl and ants busy themselves doing that work that ants do. Bees are busy making honey. A breeze blows blades of grass as they gently rock back and forth, a trillion hammocks for organisms, perhaps, too small to imagine.

  • The Stuff of Creative Change, a Poem

    We are jettisoned pods in a bewildering world. We get up and our minds begin to whirl. What is that? What is this? Caught up, we are, in a cosmological twist. And it goes and it goes. And we are wrapped up in it. Do this; do that; an endless struggle to fill a void. Sometimes, if you speak about this, people might get annoyed. Let’s stop a second and reflect. Let’s step away from that awful tendency to deflect. Defensiveness, a potential perennial posture. So afraid are we of confronting ourselves. So afraid of seeing what dwells within. Ah, better we criticize others and grin. Sometimes we do this willfully. Sometimes we do this skillfully. Sometimes we do this with glee. Yet, it never works out for you and me. Tired. Spent.Waiting for something heaven sent. Then again, we are given the tools to create. So why for the great beyond wait? Our empowerment often hides in the shadows. Greatness is around the corner for us. Light the candle. Walk forward. Take action. Create!

  • Tearful Awakening, a Poem

    With a chest full of tears for the human condition Reflecting on loss, sin and potential perdition I sit back and hope Am I just wishing? Perhaps, I’d be better off spending my time fishing. Cried till I couldn’t cry any more Thinking mercy is a state of the heart; something to extend from the start I would like to express myself with more specificity Yet, people are endowed with remarkable plasticity A tremendous ability to change we are blessed with Return to school at later age, lose weight, learn to live without rage How many of us follow through though? Too much focus on what we can’t, when what we can should form the plan

  • Create, Why Wait? a Poem

    Fistfuls of arugula, hoping to improve circulation and such. Walking and resting and walking again, a tonic for the heart they say. Day in, day out, the need to eat, at times tedious. The play of life, repeated like a Broadway show, one after another. No special matinee performances, though. Just this and that, over and over and over again. Looking for a secret solution to every challenge, instead of looking to ourselves and our behavior. Sure, sometimes we need help. Yes, it’s true. But what about helping ourselves as well. When the water rises and you are in a swell, swim! Do not simply wait for the lifeguard. Do what you can do. We have to keep telling ourselves that. Do what you can do. Arrival. An imaginary destination that never existed. The path, the journey, the act of travel is what it is all about. Ask Mr. Cervantes. It is about flow. Creative flux moving forward, stopping time and forgetting place. The ideal cure for entropy, atrophy and apathy. Of these I sing. Don’t wing it. Plan it. Make it happen and you will be happy for the effort.

  • Bilingual Reading of Women Poets in Pilsen

    The third day of the third month, year two thousand and seventeen. A café named “La Catrina” in Pilsen, a neighborhood in lower West Chicago. People gather to experience the artistic expression of women as Women’s History Month begins. Xánath Caraza and Irma Pineda Santiago, take the stage capturing the audience with poetry. As it often happens in places where community comes together, ideas come to life in collaboration with others. The confluence of efforts of Contratiempo, Cultura en Pilsen and Café La Catrina, brought Poesía de origen, a reading of bilingual poetry by two poets whose life and writing are deeply connected to the original cultures of this continent, America. One might imagine a bilingual poetry reading in Chicago might involve English and some other language, but that was not the case here. The audience attending Poesía de origen, was delighted listening to the voices of Caraza and Pineda Santiago deliver poetry in Náhuatl, Zapoteco and Spanish. To start off, Caraza asked the crowd if they knew how many languages were spoken in Mexico. Sixty eight is the answer.

  • Noticias desafiantes, buena actitud

    Con frecuencia en la vida, nos enfrentamos con noticias que nos presentan retos. Consideremos por ejemplo ir al doctor y que nos diagnostiquen con una enfermedad que ponga en riesgo nuestra vida. No hay salida, esta sería una noticia desafiante, que nos presenta un reto a vencer. Sin embargo, la forma como nos entendemos con estas noticias tendrá un impacto considerable sobre ponernos al reto que estamos enfrentando. Primero que nada, noten que me refiero en las noticias como desafiantes, no malas. El relato taoísta llamado “Veremos qué” se nos ocurre. En este relato, un anciano en una granja en China, se enfrenta una variedad de circunstancias las cuales podríamos apresurarnos a clasificar como buenas o malas. De hecho, su vecino comenta en cada uno de los sucesos teniendo un impacto en el anciano. El vecino dice que es favorable o desfavorable. El anciano, sin embargo, reacciona a las circunstancias diciendo, “Quizás sea bueno, quizás sea malo, ya veremos. "

  • Challenging News, Good Attitude

    Frequently in life, we are confronted by challenging news. Consider, for example, going to the doctor and getting diagnosed with a life threatening illness. There is no way around it, this is unsettling news. However, how we deal with this news is going to have considerable impact on overcoming the challenge we are facing. First of all, notice that I referred to challenging rather than bad news. The Taoist tale called

      We’ll See
    comes to mind. In it, an old man on a farm in China is met with a variety of circumstances we might be quick to label as good or bad. In fact, his neighbor comments on each event impacting the old man, claiming it to be favorable or unfavorable. The old man, however, reacts to the circumstances by saying, “Maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.” This story points out that when we get news, news that we commonly perceive as good or bad, we really only know part of the story. The reason is that an event, in and of itself, may certainly affect our lives yet how we react to that event is equally if not more important.

  • Soft Lights, Soothing Music

    We often think of soft lights and soothing music, particularly when paired together, as things pertaining to romance. How often, however, do we consider the sound and lighting of our workplaces and homes? In fact, how much do we really pay attention to what kind of ambience is being maintained there at all? Consider stores you enjoy shopping in. Consider restaurants you like going to. Do you think the experiences you have there are impacted by the ambience? I believe the answer is an emphatic yes. Whenever we go to an establishment, we are impacted, positively or negatively by the environment we find ourselves in. The ambience of a workplace affects workers and customers alike. Customers are likely drawn to places that are clean, well designed and comfortable. Workers, no doubt, are likewise affected by their environs. And at home, the more soothing an environment we can construct for ourselves the happier we are likely to be.