“Nevertheless She Persisted”

Recently, we saw a male US senator silence his female colleague on the floor of the United States Senate. In theory, gender has nothing to do with the rules governing the conduct of US senators during a debate. The reality seems rather different.

The silencing of women ordinarily entitled to speak has often been the case during times of deep political acrimony. In March 415, a mob in the Egyptian city of Alexandria attacked and brutally murdered the female pagan philosopher Hypatia. Their grievance was a simple one. Hypatia had inserted herself into a conflict between Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria, and Orestes, the Roman governor in charge of the region, that had degenerated into city-wide violence. Hypatia was working with Orestes to resolve this incredibly tense and dangerous situation. To Orestes, collaboration with the philosopher Hypatia was a prudent step consistent with longstanding Roman tradition. To Orestes’s detractors, however, Hypatia’s gender and religion marked her as an outsider. She had intruded into a public controversy where she did not belong.  Her voice needed to be silenced.

This murderous anger erupted against Hypatia despite the fact that Roman philosophers had been involved in moderating public disputes for centuries. The Roman world had long respected the wisdom and rationality of these figures. Since the late first century AD, everyone from Roman emperors to local city councilors accorded philosophers the freedom to give uncensored advice on public matters. Many philosophical schools came to expect that philosophers would be actively involved in guiding their home cities and fellow citizens. Hypatia herself had long played this role. She had hosted many Roman governors, Alexandrian city councilors, and important visitors at her home. She had also regularly given advice to these men in public.

Capitol Senate
Image Credit: Capitol-Senate, 25 May 2007 by Scrumshus. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

No other woman in early fifth century Alexandria had earned such access to power. Male authors were quick to explain that Hypatia’s influence resulted from her temperance and self-discipline, virtues they felt a woman who interacted regularly with such prominent men must possess. These men spoke at length about Hypatia’s virginity, even repeating a rumor that Hypatia once warded off a prospective suitor by showing him a used menstrual napkin. They clearly understood that Hypatia had to surrender some of her privacy in exchange for this extraordinary level of access.

Hypatia had earned this influence, but her position was fragile. It depended on a group of men continuing to agree that a woman should be given the sort of authority usually reserved for them. Hypatia might expect this recognition to endure during times of relative calm, but the tensions of 415 had produced toxic political dysfunction. Neither the bishop nor the governor trusted one another—and their supporters looked for someone to blame. For Cyril’s partisans, Hypatia was the perfect choice. She was a powerful outsider who suddenly seemed to exercise influence that far exceeded what a woman should. As tensions increased, discussion of why exactly a woman played so prominent a role started to emerge. Rumors spread that Hypatia’s influence with the governor came from sorcery not philosophy. Soon it was said that she had caused the entire conflict with the bishop by bewitching him. It was a short leap from there to the decision by Peter, a devoted follower of Cyril, to assemble a mob to silence Hypatia. While Peter likely planned only to use the threat of violence to intimidate Hypatia into silence, mobs are not easily controlled. When they found Hypatia unprotected, their anger became murderous.

Thousands of Roman philosophers, both famous and forgotten, played the same sort of public role as Hypatia in the first five centuries of Roman imperial rule. Only Hypatia was killed by a mob. It is impossible to say what role her gender played in her fate, but it is also difficult to deny that being a woman made her a target.

This points to a crucial and uncomfortable truth. It is far easier for societies to acknowledge and honor the achievements of prominent women during times of political calm, although, even then, publicly-engaged women endure scrutiny their male counterparts do not. During times of social stress these female leaders are often targeted in ways men are not. And yet, whether in fifth century Alexandria or twenty-first century Washington, these women do not stop speaking. Hypatia was undeterred by the slanders that made their way through Alexandria in the winter of 415. She continued playing the public role her philosophical convictions demanded. Her heroism in doing so stands unacknowledged by her male contemporaries. But this does not make it any less real. Hypatia had been warned repeatedly that her influence could be challenged, perhaps violently. Nevertheless, she persisted.


Change Your Mindset and Do Something Incredible

The world is full of amazing people. We look up to the most successful and incredible people. Some of them probably didn’t even realize how much potential they had. People who fulfill their highest potential are not always the ones you’d imagine.

The only thing holding you back from doing something truly amazing, is you.

It’s still okay to dream, wish and hope for an amazing life — not just an okay life, but a ridiculously amazing life. But there is always a price for success. Are you willing to pay it? You are where you are today because of the choice you made yesterday. Your choices today will determine whether you will have an amazing or regretful life tomorrow. You will do great this year if you embrace these mindsets.

You are ready to step outside your safe zone

“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal”. — Robin S. Sharma

When was the last time you did something that scared you? Don’t think. Get outside your comfort zone, just do it! Leap, jump or dive into something that takes you outside your comfort zone, something that scares you a little or a lot. And no matter what the outcome, embrace every experience as an opportunity to spread your wings and grow.

If you have moved beyond your comfort area in the past, you may already know that something different happens! Take charge of your life. If you’re unsatisfied with the present, do something different — your life won’t change unless you create the change. If you are comfortable outside your safe zone, you are on to something.

You see failure as a set up for a come back!

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” — Johnny Cash

No one can live their life without failing. If you want to be amazing, you have to want to try something without necessarily thinking about failure. Nobody plans to fail, but you can’t possibly succeed without trying or risking something. If you are not comfortable in your mediocrity and you choose to try to get ahead, you are likely to break through and land on something amazing. If you think everything is not so hard or too complicated but tend to give most things a try, you are on to something.

Every successful person has probably failed several times. Failure is part of the process, it’s not an end but can be a means to an amazing end. Get out there and try to fail, challenge yourself, learn new things and fail as fast as possible. The important thing is not to give up. if you are already getting your hands dirty without regrets.

Dreams are all we have. Never give up on them!

You have planned to invest in yourself

Your development starts with what you know about yourself. Do you know “YOU”? What are you capable of? What are you passionate about? I am not talking about what you are currently doing or your present job but what you really want to do in your spare time that could become your life time career.

If you have a good idea of who you are and what you want to do with your life, you are half way to a successful life. Invest in yourself, it’s the best investment you can ever make.

Create a bigger version of yourself. Don’t settle on a self-imposed plateau; always aim a bit higher than before.

It’s not about the kind of skills you acquire because you have to, but because you want to and it feels right. Something you are happy to do without hesitation. Skills that are unique to you. I’m talking about skills that cannot be taught in a classroom or in a textbook. Skills you can only learn by doing;by learning how to fly after jumping off the cliff.

Skills that can only be developed when you find your true self. When you put yourself on the line or otherwise expose yourself to the possibility of failure. Basically, what I am trying to tell you is that, there is something about you that can be explored and developed to your benefit and the rest of the world.

YOU are your biggest investment!

At one of his Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings, Warren Buffett said:

“The most important investment you can make is in yourself. Very few people get anything like their potential horsepower translated into the actual horsepower of their output in life. Potential exceeds realization for many people…The best asset is your own self. You can become to an enormous degree the person you want to be.”

If you have a good idea of who you are and what you want to do with your life, you are half way to a successful life. Invest in yourself, it’s the best investment you can ever make. Create a bigger version of yourself. Don’t settle on a self-imposed plateau; always aim a bit higher than before.

It’s not about the kind of skills you acquire because you have to, but because you want to and it feels right. Something you are happy to do without hesitation. Skills that are unique to you. Skills you can only learn by doing.Skills that can only be developed when you find your true self.

When you put yourself on the line or otherwise expose yourself to the possibility of failure.

Basically, what I am trying to tell you is that, there is something about you that can be explored and developed to your benefit and the rest of the world.

You have decided to ignore everybody and focus on building the life you deeply care about

“You have to find your own shtick. A Picasso always looks like Picasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway. A Beethoven symphony always sounds like a Beethoven symphony. Part of being a master is learning how to sing in nobody else’s voice but your own.” ― Hugh MacLeod

You don’t have to fit in. You are not required to be like everybody. Don’t fit in if it hurts. If you are not afraid to embrace your true self for fear of how the world will see you, it’s a good sign. Whilst others are trying to fit in with the rest of the world make the world fit in with you.

Don’t be afraid to expose your authentic self to the world, be creative about what you do. Show your work. Don’t be afraid to show others what you are capable of. Become immune to the impact of others’ opinion and stand naked in a crowd of ideas; comfortable in knowing that while others married the mundane, you explored the exceptional. If you don’t care about showing your work and what you are capable of, you are on to amazing life. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

The real world rewards those who get stuff done!

You want to assume nothing but question everything

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. — Albert Einstein

Some people desperately curious about lots of things. They just want to know. Are you that kind of person? Are you desperate for knowledge or information that can be used to improve or create something. Do you thirst for knowledge, regardless of the topic? While others waste time, would you rather learn how to create, build or design something?

How hungry are you to make a difference or do something significant? Do you ever question human creation? Are you willing to ask this simple question… “What if it’s all a lie?” Do you question authority? Do you pay attention, open your eyes, ears and mind: it’s the only way to rediscover your senses. When you pause and actually notice the little things, what you see might surprise you.

The only thing holding you back from doing something truly amazing, is you. If you want to do something amazing, don’t just talk about it, actually do it.

Make 2017 your most amazing year yet. Don’t invest in a career. Build a life.

For centuries we’ve been trained by the system to stop thinking and do as we are told. But dreamers and thinkers are changing the world as we know it. Thinkers and dreamers are the new untouchables. Everything you want is a dream away.

You believe in life-long learning

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Research has proven that more than ever before, a challenged, stimulated brain may well be the key to a vibrant later life.

One of the best ways to gain knowledge and be better is self-education. Period. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a college classroom or a coffee shop.

As long as you are genuinely interested in the topic, don’t stop. Make the most of your time and improve yourself every day. Studies have found that learning throughout our lives can improve self-esteem and increase life-satisfaction, optimism and belief in our own abilities.

People who take the time and initiative to pursue knowledge on their own are the only ones who earn a real education in this world.

Lifelong learning will get most of your questions answered.

You don’t even have to commit long hours everyday to learning. Whatever time you decide to put in your own education, stick to it.

What are the most interesting topics you wish to know more about. The goal here is to find as many sources of ideas and knowledge as possible. Look for answers to some of your most important questions at places people normally ignore.

Cheers to a new and life-changing beginning.

How they What-The-Hell-Effect Impacts Your Willpower

Several weeks ago I had the urge to bake. It’s one of my favorite hobbies, and I was trying to pass the time on a cold, dreary Saturday afternoon. As I combed through my recipes, I found an old gem — chocolate peanut butter bars — that I hadn’t baked in a number of years. As the warm bars cooled, I snuck a corner just to taste. After all, as the baker of said bars, I couldn’t serve them to others without first making sure they were delicious. The soft, warm peanut-butter crust melted in my mouth, along with the gooey chocolate peanut-butter topping. As I cleaned up, I cut another piece. Then another.

By the next morning, my husband and I had polished off the entire pan.

Welcome to one of the biggest threats to your willpower — the “what-the-hell effect.” The what-the-hell effect describes the cycle you feel when you indulge, regret what you’ve done, and then go back for more. Your brain rationalizes your behavior by saying, “You already blew your goal of only having two cookies, so … what the hell, you might as well eat the entire pan.” The phrase was coined by dieting researchers, but the effect can apply to any setback or willpower challenge.

According to Kelly McGonigal, who writes about the effect in The Willpower Instinct, “Giving in makes you feel bad about yourself, which motivates you to do something to feel better. And what’s the cheapest, fastest strategy for feeling better? Often the very thing you feel bad about … It’s not the first giving-in that guarantees the bigger relapse. It’s the feelings of shame, guilt, loss of control and loss of hope that follow the first relapse.”

So how do you break the what-the-hell cycle and regain a measure of control over your goals? The most important thing is to recognize how you respond when you realize that you’ve let yourself down. Do you automatically shift into self-criticism and beat yourself up over losing control? Most people do, which only fuels the feelings of guilt and shame. The trick is to shift into a mindset of self-compassion instead.

In one study, researchers asked a group of women to eat a doughnut within four minutes, then drink a glass of water so they would feel full. After eating the doughnut, some of the women received a message of self-compassion encouraging them to not be so hard on themselves for indulging. The other group did not receive this message. In the second part of the study, the women were presented with bowls of candy and were invited to eat as little or as much of the candy as they wanted. The women who had received the self-forgiveness message ate only 28 grams of candy compared to the 70 grams consumed by the group that didn’t get the message. That’s a big difference.

As it turned out, self-forgiveness didn’t give these women a license to eat more; rather, it turned off the pipeline of guilt and prevented them from overeating during the candy challenge.

According to McGonigal, when you experience a setback, you can harness these perspectives to avoid the downward spiral of shame, regret and loss of power:

Cultivating Your Emotional Resilience  

The work of an educator is always challenging. Yes, it does get easier over time—perhaps because we acquire more strategies to manage the challenges? But it’s always going to be hard. Change is hard, and that’s one thing we can count on if we work in schools.

Being human is also hard at times. The best thing we can do is to learn how to respond to the difficult moments and bank every positive, joyful, and satisfying moment. Winter is the optimal time to engage in contemplation—a key strategy for cultivating emotional resilience.

Myles Horton was the founder of the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, a training ground of sorts for civil rights protesters and later for people beginning the environmental movement. When asked what he did to develop resilience or get a break from the pressure of his work, he said, “I look at the mountains. I just sit back and look at the mountains.”

The Power of Contemplation
Traditionally, when you think of contemplative practices you might think about meditation, prayer, stillness, and silence. But we can widen the definition of this concept and perhaps find that there are other activities we might try that achieve the same purpose—to slow down, turn inward, and reflect on who we are and on life, to appreciate and celebrate the little joys, and to connect with other living and nonliving beings.

This morning, as I thought about writing this post, my cat settled into my lap. I put the computer down and found myself absorbed in petting her soft, fluffy fur and listening to her low purr. I watched her eyes slowly close as she fell asleep and her head dropped onto her paws. I lost track of time for a few minutes and found myself in deep appreciation for this creature that lives with me. I felt calm, peaceful, and happy. And then I realized that I was engaging in a contemplative activity.

Contemplation in Action
The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society offers a Tree of Contemplative Practices that suggests seven branches of practice: stillness, generative, creative, activist, relational, movement, and ritual.

Among the activities included are singing, storytelling, visualization, journaling, drawing, dance, and bearing witness. This resource also reminds us that activities like eating an apple, weeding the garden, or preparing a meal can be done in a contemplative fashion when done with the intent of cultivating awareness and wisdom.

Which kinds of contemplative strategies do you already use? Which do you really enjoy? What else might you try?

When you carve out time to pause, turn inward, or connect deeply with others, you are fueling your reserves of resilience—emotionally, physically, and perhaps spiritually. The key is to engage in the practice with intention, with presence and focus.

Perhaps with the short winter days and the break from school you can find some time to cultivate contemplative practices that can continue in the new year.

Me, myself and I: How to use pronouns (1)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter

Lamaip/iStock/Getty Images Plus Lamaip/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Pronouns are words we use instead of nouns in order to avoid repeating the nouns. Compare the following:

Laura picked up the book. Laura gave the book to Zalie.

Laura picked up the book. She gave it to Zalie.

We use pronouns when we have already mentioned a person or thing, or when it is obvious who or what they are.

The most common pronouns are personal pronouns – pronouns that refer to people or things. The most important thing to remember about these is that (with the exception of you and it), they are different according to whether they are the subject or the object of a sentence.

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On the Phone or Over the Phone

The phrase “on the phone” means that someone is using a telephone. The following examples show how “on the phone” is used:


  • Please do not interrupt your mother while she is on the phone. [=while she is using the phone]
  • Can you please turn down the TV? I am on the phone.
  • He was on the phone when I arrived at his house so I let myself in.


The phrase “over the phone” means that something is done using the phone as a way to do it. The following examples show how “over the phone” is used:


  • She told him the news over the phone. [=she used the phone to tell him the news rather than telling him in a letter or in person]
  • I am able to pay my bills over the phone so I don’t have to write checks.
  • We ordered take-out over the phone before driving to the restaurant to pick it up.


I hope this helps.

How to Use “Learn” and “Study”

The words learn and study are closely related to each other. Learn means “to gain knowledge or skill by studying” and study means “to read, memorize facts, attend school, etc.”

When you study something, you have not learned it yet. When you are studying something, you are reading books or articles about something you do not know a lot about yet, or using flash cards to memorize facts, or listening to a teacher in a classroom, or watching videos about something so that you can know something or do something well.
When you learn something, you make it part of the things you know. When you know a lot about a subject, or are very skillful or knowledgeable about something, you have learned it.
Learning is gaining knowledge by studying, and studying is done to learn things. Below are some examples showing how these two words are used.
He learned about computers by reading a book.
He studied computer science in college.
He is learning a lot about patient care in his nursing classes.
She spent an hour every night studying her new vocabulary words.
Study the definitions of these words to learn them.
She learned how to do her job very quickly.
Some people learn best by reading books and others learn best by listening to lectures in class.
Students who spend some time each day studying will do well on tests.
The children learned several facts about cows in class this week.