Category Archives: Opinion

Neighborhood Outdoor Free Swaps During Covid

Rope between street trees hangs free clothing, box holds other free items

Many of us are downsizing and de-cluttering. Some because we have the time on our hands and it’s enjoyable, some preparing to move to a smaller place, some because kids/families are growing and we don’t need/fit the items anymore.

At this same time, many of the places we usually drop off our de-cluttering donations are not accepting donations at this time, and indoor Free Swapping activities are mostly on hold. Where can we put all our de-cluttered stuff?

How about a Neighborhood Outdoor Free Swap? For an example, we live in a walkable neighborhood where there is lots of foot traffic. I’ve strung a line between our street trees and have been hanging up clothes I no longer need/use love, with a ‘free’ sign. I also have a large cardboard box in the parking strip with a ‘free’ sign. It’s fun to watch neighbors walk by and look through the goodies, and see the joy on their faces as they take things they can use/repurpose. If you are in a more rural area, having a ‘free neighborhood swap’ might do the same thing by having families bring items they have decluttered to a central location.

My husband and I go on evening walks through our neighborhood. I’ve noticed that more neighbors have started putting out ‘free’ boxes in their parking strips now. Some have hung clothes from the branches of their trees. Others have laid items out on their front lawns with free sign and arrow. It makes walks through the neighborhood feel like a scavenger hunt! It also keeps usable items out of the landfill, and occasionally allows some social distancing neighborhood visits.

Right now it’s beautiful, sunny, warm weather. However, when it gets rainy, cardboard free boxes and clothes hanging in trees won’t work. But this fun activity can last longer if we bring in the items if rain is in the forecast, and put them back out when it’s sunny. As long as neighbors are walking their dogs, walking in the neighborhood, then this will work. When we are in our homes keeping dry and warm will be the time to pack in the idea. Maybe by then there will be a Covid vaccine and we can begin inside free swaps again?

Many of us have appreciated the added free frugal entertainment of Neighborhood Outdoor Free Swaps during this strange time, having something simple we can do together that combines community building, de-cluttering, and treasure hunting fun.

For more details on Free Swapping, check out the Swap Positive blog.

Barb Hughes

Encourage Gun Ownership, Teach Empathy, Implement Resource Matching

A few practical steps to create a safer, happier, more productive community (both by community building and workforce building):

 

  1. Ban sale of assault rifles to civilians – however encourage and reward responsible gun ownership by treating gun ownership, registration, training, etc. the same way we treat the responsibility and privilege of car ownership. Also suggest/encourage concerned citizens to join the NRA so they can influence from the inside empathic and sensible accountability and responsibility of gun ownership and handling.

 

    2. Teach/include practical empathy classes in all classroom curriculum – not only would this be FUN, it would be helpful for student mental health by allowing them to see the humanity in those smaller and weaker…thus help them appreciate and be empathic to their own vulnerability and value:     

 

  1. Create a job dating game where job seekers of all ages, sexes, and abilities could input their transferable skills and passions as well as their past job experience and education. Business could input the transferable skills and passions needed for their particular job openings – including the ‘worst’ things about their jobs and the ‘benefits’ of the jobs. Because one person’s worst job is the next person’s best job – you could match what the employer and employee both want from the relationship. Since this game would be blind to age, sex, race, etc. it would naturally help diversify a workforce. This dating game would focus on passion, for example: the person who loved playing in the mud as a kid would get matched up to outdoor jobs with real mud, science jobs working with goey stuff, baking jobs working with dough, manufacturing jobs working with chemicals and more…so the future employee gets to choose from a wide variety of interesting and diverse jobs/career paths, while the employer gets someone passionate about their industry (an industry the prospective employee may have never thought to apply to). (Idea by Barb Hughes)

 

  1. Create a resource matching game. Non-profit organizations, government organizations, businesses, housing, universities, police, realtors, churches, individuals, etc. input what resources they have to offer. Individuals looking for a new house, apartment to rent, stores that deliver organic food, Tool libraries that loan out items for temporary use, non-profits or senior centers who can loan a wheelchair or crutches short term, local government agencies, schools that have a program in the field they want to study (and scholarships/bank financing), – the resources to match are endless. The difference between a resource matching game and just using google, is the individual playing the game can enter in their yearly income or explain they temporarily need resources for free. This allows non-profits and helping organizations to step in to assist people. It also allows individuals to offer to help – such as a hair stylist may input into the game that he/she is willing to give free haircuts to someone who is below the poverty line, or looking for a new job, or just got out of prison, or just graduated from college. It allows people and organizations to play a game to ‘match up’ what they have to offer, both for profit and for community building. And it allows the person playing the game to play both sides of the game – as a resource provider and a resource receiver. (Idea by Barb Hughes) Other ideas at https://betterideasnow.com/

Three Simple Ideas To Solve Our Biggest Problems

Reading Bill Nye’s book Everything All At Once, I’m inspired to share three of my ideas that would immediately change the world for the better using simple, doable processes that would solve multiple problems simultaneously. These three ideas would partner business, government, nonprofits, and community members to work together for good:

1. A job matching game focused on employee passions and transferable skills that matches the best employee to your business with the least amount of work and the most mutual satisfaction. Businesses that offer living wages, benefits, and respect their employees will be included…and job seekers of all abilities, education, and background can play.

2. A resources matching game that helps solve the multiple challenges of homelessness, poverty, addiction, and personal hopelessness. This game would be open for ALL to play so that there is no stigma.

3. A free sharing model that has worked for 12+ years that combines bringing new customers into businesses, community building, keeping items out of landfills, and free fun for all players.

I want access to partner with those who have the connections and resources to bring these ideas into reality (actually the third idea I’ve already created into reality at https://swappositive.wordpress.com/about , but need a bigger team to expand it).

These three ideas are practical and doable. I want to join a successful team to help create and implement these ideas in the spirit of the Bill Nye lifestyle philosophy. Please contact me at barbtalks22@gmail.com.

Free Speech

Free speech does not give you ‘rights’ to terrorize people (children, girls, women, immigrants, people who look different then you etc.).

Free speech does not give you ‘rights’ to commit murder.

We need to reel in this thinking that our ‘rights’ include using anger, hatred, and abuse to take away the personhood, safety, and even lives of others. If white supremacists are so enamored by their white skin that they want to flaunt it and show it off, go ahead! Show off your beautiful skin. Talk about how much you love your skin.

If a person thinks their religion is the best religion, then by all means love your religion! Go to your group and sing your songs and read your books and celebrate how great your god is.

But that doesn’t give you the ‘right’ to harass people who’s skin is a different color then your own, or who choose to celebrate their religion in a different way.

That doesn’t give you the ‘right’ to terrorize girls.

That doesn’t give you the ‘right’ to intimidate, terrorize, or seize other people’s bodies, minds, or physical lives.

Free speech comes with responsibilities to honor others, not just ourselves. And when the idea of honoring ourself involves causing harm to another, then that is no longer honor, that is a crime.

Barb Hughes

Respecting Workers Means Better Business

This article from the Portland Business Journal says the greatest number of undocumented workers are employed in leisure and hospitality, followed by the construction sector and professional/business services, but the biggest hit on the overall economy by deporting undocumented workers would be in manufacturing.

The article states, “How could these sectors move forward following mass deportations? It’s difficult to say, but employers may be left in the lurch as native-born American workers increasingly turn away from low-skill, labor-intensive jobs.” A farm industry study released in 2013 indicated American workers were not compelled to take up farm labor positions even during high unemployment.

Let’s break that down.

Most farms are not inside a big city, where most workers reside. So if a farm wants to hire workers, they need to hire local, or provide enough money for workers to move to the area and pay for housing and relocation costs.

Labeling farm, manufacturing, and hospitality work ‘low skill’ by pundits shows disrespect for the work. For example farm work needs to be taught and learned, just like any other job. Cherries need to be picked with the stem intact because they stay fresher longer thus can be sold for more money. There are techniques how to effectively and efficiently pick fruit – it is a skill. So job training of workers is important. When is the last time you saw a class on how to pick fruit? How about the physics and science safety of ladder placement?

“Americans turn away from labor-intensive jobs” is also a half-truth. Some people LIKE the idea of getting paid to work out. Some people LIKE to work outside and not be trapped in a stuffy office. But they haven’t been given the opportunity to learn, and have been told that this type of work is beneath them. (So – eating good food, being outside in the fresh air, and being paid to exercise is beneath you?  Some people would LOVE to do those things and get paid!)

Americans have also been led to believe that physical labor, farm labor, manufacturing, and hospitality labor is paid at a starvation wage. Business and industry can change this image by advertising and paying living wages, as well as providing benefits, training and/or mentoring to make these jobs attractive to quality workers of all ages.

So how do you get Americans to apply for jobs in agriculture, construction, hospitality, professional, business, and manufacturing?

  1. Respect the job
  2. Provide training
  3. Pay a living wage (where the worker can afford a home, food, transportation, etc.).
  4. Offer to relocate city workers if your job site is out in the middle of nowhere.

Business: you can’t get something for nothing. Pay your employees a living wage and respect them and the job they were hired to do.

Educators: we need food and plumbers, as well as teachers and doctors. Encourage kids to explore.

Everyone: don’t talk down a job and treat workers badly… and then expect people to seek out that job.

And finally, ponder this:  What does it say about all of us when we label certain necessary jobs only fit for “undocumented” workers? Why do we disrespect these necessary jobs AND the people who do them gratefully and well?  How can we take responsibility and provide leadership?

By Barb Hughes

“Updating my resume. Plz kill me.”

“I’ve been playing with my Jobs Dating App idea. Here’s a conversation I had a few days ago on facebook when a friend mentioned they are begrudgingly looking for a new job.  I changed the names (other than my own) to protect privacy, and did light editing for clarification :

______________________________________________________________

Carl:  Updating my resume. Plz kill me.

Lynn: I did update mine recently and it suuuuuucked

Carl: Few things make me feel like more of a loser / impostor / slacker / etc.

Jeanie: I feel your pain. Doing that myself. Oh, and the job search itself. If I get so bored just reading a job description, how can I possibly imagine actually working there! Egads.

Carl: Right? Or finding the perfect job that you know you’ll love but realizing you’re not qualified. 

Jeanie: Right? Because somehow when it’s time to hire, all of a sudden HR and hiring managers seems to think that if you haven’t done that exact thing already, you can’t possibly be acceptable. You know, because once we start looking for a job, it’s impossible for us to ever learn a new thing ever again.

Carl: EXACTLY

Jeanie: I once got a rejection letter to my resume submission that actually said, “…you’re not a perfect fit.” Perfect. Who the hell would ever be a PERFECT fit? Except for the person who previously had the job but even that person would not be PERFECT because if they were, they’d still be in the job. Ugh.

Carl: No such thing as perfect. Sorry you’re job hunting, too.

Barb Hughes: I want to be on a team to design a job dating app. Where you fill out all the things you think are FUN, and then the algorithms find jobs that have similar things to what you like. It would make job-hunting entertaining, and bring up all kinds of new jobs that we’d never have thought to apply for. It would also be a great game for grade school, middle, and high school kids to get an idea of what current jobs out there they would actually be compatible for, so they can take classes that feed that interest…I mean they’ve already listed things they like to do (or want to try doing) so what better way to choose a career path?

Jeanie: Great idea! Except that I don’t think there’s a big market for someone who excels at reading books, binge watching Madame Secretary, snorkeling and frosting cupcakes. 😉

Barb Hughes:  Jeanie HA! That would be where the questions would be broken down and crafted in such a way that they would apply to job interests. For example, binge watching could be a transferable skill of “able to sit for long periods of time staring at a screen totally focused on watching something I find interesting.” Other questions would ferret out what those interests are.

Carl: ^^^Going through surveillance footage like those poor guys on legal dramas. 🙂

Barb Hughes: Frosting Cupcakes might be listed under several categories (depending on which actually brings you joy) such as ‘creating masterpieces with food, clay, or art’ or ‘repetitive hand motions that create a product such as knitting, frosting cupcakes, or painting’.

Barb Hughes: And then if a business has similar activities, such as assembling widgets,  bread making, painting clay figurines, etc. you might be paired up with possible jobs in anything from manufacturing to pharmacy work to watch repair. See how much fun this would be? Jobs you never would have thought of would be offered as possibilities of transferable skills to the things you ACTUALLY enjoy doing.

Barb Hughes: Carl, concerning surveillance footage – my daughter has a friend who would get in trouble as a kid for sneaking around listening in on people…and now he works as head security at a department store and gets to watch people on security cameras and then confront them. He loves his job.

Carl: I’ve made peace with the reality that not all jobs must be work one loves. That whole “do what you love and the money will follow” is nonsense. Someone has to do unpleasant jobs and that’s okay.

Jeanie: Carl I actually agree. I’m totally fine working at a job I’m not “passionate” about, as long as it’s fairly decent and the pay is sufficient. There was this great article I came across a few years ago about how the idea of “following your passion” is overrated. I’ll see if I can find it–you may like it.

Jeanie: I think that whole passion following thing has created a lot of disappointed young people. But maybe Barb can crack the code…

Barb Hughes: I would also like to add in – for the business offering the job – for them to fill out what benefits they offer. Free clothes (radio stations have lots of promotional t-shirts and stuff that they give to staff -radio outfitted me for awhile there; and  I’ve heard people at Nordstrom et all have nice employee discounts on clothes). Free Food (when I worked at a restaurant you could have one free meal each shift you worked; at New Seasons Market they offer employees 20% off everything in the store AND they give you free food through the blue slip program). Businesses would also fill out what kinds of health care they offered, if they give out free bus passes/pay for a car or your gas money etc. So not only would the prospective employee fill out the game to match, but the employer would fill out what that actual job does and what perks the company offers, so you get a *real* match. I’d also like google maps included in the game so you can see which jobs are closest to you via walk/bike/public transportation/driving/work from home so you can choose a short commute if you want (saving the city in gridlock and pollution).  I’ve been working on gamified questions, but of course this would take a lot more input and  research as well (which I enjoy doing).

Jeanie:  Barb these are all great ideas! Maybe you should develop the app!

Barb Hughes: Jeanie I’m looking into how to do that!

Barb Hughes:  I think gamifying it in a way that hasn’t been done before would at least give options we don’t currently have. I mean, it seems like all jobs ask for is what degree/how much college you have, and if you’ve done *that* particular job before. And  how many jobs are not even around anymore (book binder? radio disc jockey? all the things people over 40 went to college for?) It really doesn’t make sense to NOT have companies look for transferable skills, and what actions/opportunities brings an employee individual joy…and then for those same companies to offer to pay for any upgraded training an employee might need. Not only are there community colleges and tech/trade schools available for company paid training, there are also tons of free online classes, as well as free classes through public libraries, so an employer may not even have to PAY to train the employee…just give them a website and paid time to learn. And since the employee has already listed their interests, they will be thrilled that you are investing in them so they can invest in the company.

_____________________________________________________________

I’m interested in being on a team to develop this web app.  Please contact me at urbanfarmer pdx1 (at)  yahoo . com  and include what organization, skill, or financial backing you would contribute to make this job dating web app a reality.

By Barb Hughes

Job Matching Of The Future

People are scared because the future is unknown and moving so quickly.   They feel economically left behind. We could start to turn this paradigm on it’s head and take out the fear, take out the us/them thinking, by applying the following ideas and principles.

  1. We need an easier way for people to find living wage jobs.  I propose apps/websites/videos that gamify matching people’s skills and loves with today’s jobs, found in one easy to use place.  A combination of aptitude tests like Strong Interest Inventory, online games to find your emotional likes (similar to facebook games), and list any degrees, certifications, and skills you might have (including how many pounds you can lift, if you like to drive a vehicle, etc.)  These games need to be accessible online, searchable, and shareable on social media so they are easy to use.
  2. The ruling class needs a new game, too, because “who can make the most money and have the most toys” is old, stale and boring. Gamify the 1% and ruling class to see who’s employees/businesses/towns/states can create the best new ways to provide and process clean water, whole fresh food techniques, ways to improve health, etc. – and then implement those ideas through living wage jobs found on easily accessible apps/games that can be found on websites/facebook pages so people in all areas of the US can find out about them (see #1).
  3. B Corps are a new way to do business, with a people/profit/planet focus, thus creating a cradle to cradle loop which is more fun, cost effective, and a better (and cheaper) use of resources for business.
  4. And we need new training/education – sponsored by the industry/new industries, ruling class, and 1%ers themselves, as well as government and possibly other creative inputs – to give people hands-on training in the new job skills needed. Putting people to work in living wage jobs by matching their interests, skills, ability, and vision, will unite us socially by allowing us all the dignity of feeling a productive member of society and making life better for ourselves, our families, our communities…plus we’ll be creating goods and services right here in America that we can use ourselves and export for profit. We’ll all be part of a team again – with the ruling class actually leading the way to sustainability and honor, by simplifying and gamifying the process of creating new industries, jobs, and opportunities for all, no matter where you live or what your current skill set.

Let’s replace fear with practical fun and hard work.   I’d like to be on a working team to bring America together using simple, practical solutions to equip all Americans – city/country, colored/white, male/female, ruling class/working class, etc. – with successful tools/skills.  I have some templates to help get this started.  Contact me if interested.

Barb Hughes, Better Ideas Now blog founder

Finding a Job/Career Fit for the Future

With the job market changing people aren’t sure what jobs are even available now, what skills are needed, or where to look for living wage work. Students, laid off workers, management, and people starting or re-entering the job force are frustrated, confused, and feel beaten down.

Companies/employers seek quality, diverse, happy employees with a variety of skill sets. They want to get the right employee fit the first time, saving time, energy, and money.

I recently put some thought into workable and doable solutions for homelessness. Now here’s my ideas to better address matching people and jobs/careers:

  1. (YouTube) series highlighting new and established quality jobs available right now
  2. (Online) job matching game with searchable data base/website

The YouTube Job Series/Channel would feature new and established jobs that are available right now. Each job/segment would highlight job responsibilities, company benefits, what the company/job is looking for socially/motivationally in an employee, short interviews of people who LIKE their job saying why they like it, what training is provided, the future the company offers to employees, and how/where to apply for the job. This series could be used not only by individuals doing job searches at home, but also by human resource departments, public relations teams, schools, re-training centers, prisons, and more. Being that it is public and on YouTube it can be accessed by those searching at home, in libraries, and can be shared on social networks. Workers could better self-select jobs they will personally enjoy, and feel confident applying for jobs and industries they – after watching the video(s) – now better understand. Employers who create videos of each type of job can easily share job openings, giving an easy and shareable way to attract the right person for their job. In one step the un/under-employed job seekers’ stress level is eased…and employers have better access to a quality job force of interested and qualified people. I would love to help craft the over-all template/questions/content that can be replicated by organizations big and small (possibly using iphones and desktop publishing to make it cost effective). Completed videos and job opening information could be emailed to the channel for upload and inclusion to their jobs database/website.

The Online Job Matching Game could be similar to current facebook games (i.e. the Disney Princess match ups), but instead of only focusing on job history and education, the jobs game could also have questions that help focus your social/psychographic interests. Let’s say you are an extrovert – you may thrive as a cashier or in direct sales because you get to talk to different people all day long. If you are an introvert you might thrive stocking shelves or working in close-knit small teams. The game could help suggest options where you would socially and emotionally thrive, and then match you with videos that show what a person does on the job(s) suggested, the personality traits that work well with this job, the benefits and training offered, etc. So the online jobs game would help you see how your current and past skills could cross over into other/new jobs. If you had the option to save each search, then try again and add new skills to this same online game, you could re-play it and get more options for jobs in the future…plus it would sure be nice to only have ONE resume/portfolio/game to fill out, and let the algorithms figure out what information is needed to apply to each job.

By Barb Hughes

Homeless Housing Of The Future

I’ve never been homeless. I think it would be important to ask homeless people what THEY want before we start building things or spending more money, or sending them off to prison somewhere.

The reason I say that, is I know one woman – who HAS a job and a cat – who was priced out of her apartment and she was living in a tent in a friends’ backyard over the winter. What she needed was an apartment in Portland that didn’t raise the rent above the salary she could afford and that allowed pets. So the person I knew who was homeless didn’t need a lot of fussing…she just needed a wage and housing that matched…which had matched no problem until the landlords decided to up their pricing to compete with the fancy new buildings being built.

Currently she’s living in an art studio downtown. I wonder with all the air bnb people, if there could be a similar website that could match up compatible people to rent rooms in homes? Again, the homeless person I know is a normal person, with a job, a pet, who actively volunteers her time in the community, etc. who could be your neighbor. How many homeless are like this? Why don’t we find out by asking them, and letting them help create a solution for them that matches, say, elderly homeowners with cats and a boarder with cats, where the boarder not only pays rent, but can help around the house? Building community, instead of creating an ‘us/them’ paradigm of ‘look at those homeless people – can’t we just sweep them, blow them up, or cart them off so we don’t have to look at them?’

Yes, some people might need more helps than others, but at least one leg of the situation is individuals and families that have jobs, have a community around them, but for whatever reason (raised housing costs without a raise from their employer? Unexpected medical bills? A new baby? A death of the main breadwinner? Investments disappearing that they were living off of? Job loss? Parents getting new jobs across the country but the high school teen wanting to finish out his/her senior year etc.) the money they have doesn’t match the housing they are in. Sometimes this is only temporary. To keep a person/family in their familiar neighborhood while they get the money matched up to their living situation seems like it would be easier to get a footing back up with minimum displacement.  And how can we make this a mutual helping, instead of shaming?  How can it be cost effective, where the person looking for a home, and the person who has space, can mutually help each other?

Another affordable housing idea that might work as a collaboration between businesses, government, and renters, is to work out a collaboration where the working tenant pays no more than 25% of their gross monthly salary towards their rent, with the stipulation that they also contribute a talent or skill that benefits the other renters.  Examples could include an accountant could lead a monthly money management seminar to interested tenants (and guests?), a grocery worker could bring leftover packaged or nearly expired food to share with tenants,  a young mother could hold a monthly clothing and toy exchange amongst tenants.  This gifting of abundance from tenants would create added community benefit, helping to mutually uplift all tenants not only financially but emotionally, and helping to lessen dependence on overworked government social services.  As tenants get pay raises or move to higher wage jobs, their percentage paid towards rent would raise as well.  As tenants make new like-minded friends and as their pay raises, they may decide to move out of this housing and into other non-subsidized housing, thus freeing up the space for new tenants.  This would help retain quality employees for low-wage area businesses, and the businesses could write off the percentage of rent not covered by their employee paycheck as a tax write-off/employee benefit.  The city could contribute by allowing already built apartment complexes in various neighborhoods close to the businesses to be utilized for this venture.  This way no new buildings need to be planned and built, saving time and money.

One of the things my friend told me was she was thinking of fixing up a truck and living out of that, so at least she’d have a safe mobile place for her cat and herself, where all her stuff was safe and she could lock it etc. The living small movement is afoot, partly because some people are tired of owning too much stuff, but partly because people can’t afford to store stuff/move stuff and because housing prices are so high. So maybe another option would be affordable trailer parks where people can live within their means, leave when they want to and take all their stuff with them if they get a new job or new opportunity? Just trying to brainstorm options where people feel they have a bit more control then being forced/herded like cattle by people/government officials who haven’t even talked to them.

People support that which they help to create. People who for -whatever reasons- can’t currently afford housing should be part of the leadership team in planning local homeless housing options, job training options, new innovations etc.  I would think that if I were homeless, I’d have to know /learn all kinds of survival hacks (necessity is the mother of invention).  We should be utilizing the brainpower of those who know what it’s like to be homeless, in helping to create the most cost effective, mutually helpful for society, community building affordable living situations.  And who knows?  The businesses who partner with experienced homeless people might create a whole new world of marketable invention$.

By Barb Hughes

Practical Solutions To End Rape Culture

Upon thinking about the Brock Turner case and how to deal with the underlying rape culture, I’ve come up with some practical solutions.

1. A rape kit needs to be a part of everybody’s first aid kit, right alongside bandaids and aspirin *. Since 1 in 5 women experience rape (I’m not sure what the numbers are for men), this is such a common occurance we all need to be prepared because it will inevitably happen to us or someone we know as things currently stand.

2. All children need to be educated about consent, starting from an early age. (No, you can’t play with Trisha’s doll unless Trisha says you can. No you can’t touch Ben’s private parts – those don’t belong to you, etc.)

3. All teenagers through adults need to be clearly taught what consent and respect for others means, and the legal consequences of not respecting others boundaries. (I think overall social and kindness practices used to be taught in class as ‘citizenship’ or ‘social studies’ or something like that? But this would add the meaning of consent to the mix as well.)

4. All teenagers and adults need to be taught that assault is assault, and consent is consent – that a person (in this case, the rapist) doesn’t get to decide that someone else ‘wanted’ it. He can only say that HE ‘wanted it’. And if the other person was asleep, or drunk, or said no, or was unable to respond, or was vulnerable (a child, special needs, an employee afraid of losing their job, physically ill, mentally ill, etc.) then they CAN’T legally give consent. Meaning, even if *you* were ‘just getting 20 minutes of action’ using the vagina etc. of another person, if that other person didn’t want your ‘action’, that is called rape and you will be prosecuted.

5. The legal system will clearly define the above (i.e. consent, assault, personal responsibility, personal autonomy) so that there is no doubt as to the meaning of consent, assault, and that personhood rights belong to each individual concerning his or her OWN body.

By Barb Hughes

PS. This discussion is personal for me as my daughter was raped and went through much the same things Brock Turner put his victim through – and many of you/your friends/family have experienced the same thing. Honest education, legal protections, and creative and proactive medicine can help.

*I just discovered this jewelry that is proactive to set off a loud alarm, text friends/family/contacts of your location, and dial 911 all at the touch of a button.  It’s called Roar Jewelry. Part of the purchase price also goes to educating children in empathy, so that the rape culture cycle ends.

Money and Fame

We’ve been conditioned to believe that ‘winner takes all’ and ‘if I have money/fame, THEN I’ll be secure, I’ll have friends/be popular, have meaning and feel accomplishment in my life’.

This video leaves with a question at the end.  I would add an additional question:

What do I have in abundance?

Often we don’t see our own abilities as worthwhile/abundant because they’re not reflected back as valued in society.  As we wrestle with personal values and the simple things that sustain us – quietly sharing the things we DO have in abundance – the result is joy.  Appreciating what we have begins by not judging ourselves that we aren’t rich/famous/thin/successful enough.  At first our personal abundance may look silly or useless, but sit with the tiny simplicity of it, and it may take on a life of its own, crafting a way to bring joy not just to us but to others.

Here’s an example of a simple abundance from my own life.

Our house breeds clothes.  When the kids were small  I set up a clothes and stuff swap for entertainment in our home.  We moved what we wanted to other rooms, and set up marked areas with signage so guests would know where to place their unwanted things for swapping.

It was a hoot! Fun was had by all as friends and family brought over things they didn’t need and we socialized and swapped. The kids pretty much stayed in the toy room and found new toys to take home, the parents socialized and found things we needed, I was able to clear out clutter we didn’t need anymore and found things we could use.  I found a creative and socially fun use for my abundance.  It brought me joy.

My abundance (clothes and stuff that seems to breed in the attic) wasn’t money, or fame, or power.  It was ‘just’ clothes and stuff.  It was something simple. I started looking for ways to be creative with what I saw as my abundance.

To make a long story short, after years of experimenting I created Swap Positive– started with the simple abundance of extra clothes.

Sharing abundance gives joy.

What do you have extra in your life?  What do you have a lot of?  What is your abundance? Are you someone who can’t wipe the smile off your face?  Do you have way too many empty toilet paper tubes?  Do you get a thrill from constantly holding babies?  If you give away your extra, what kind of joy will you bring to yourself and to others? If you smile at people it could make a positive difference in their day.  Maybe a local preschool would love those toilet paper tubes for the ongoing projects they have, and appreciate your steady supply?  A hospital might need someone to hold premie newborns, or a church/school/clinic nursery might appreciate your skills so young mothers can get a short refreshing breather. What you see as ‘not really anything’, or maybe even feel guilty about, might be what you have in abundance.  Realizing and using your abundance creatively could make all the difference in how you see yourself and your place in this world.  Being rich, famous, and powerful doesn’t bring joy, but maybe having too many toilet paper tubes or egg cartons might be the beginning of a new chapter of joy and giving in your life?

Barb

Honoring Tomb-time

With Easter and stories of new life and resurrection on our minds, I wanted to explore a side of Easter that I’ve never heard discussed before.

I saw a comment on facebook from a friend of mine that said:

“Sick. Depressed. More than I can handle”.

Without having context to that comment, it got me to thinking.  How many of us have felt that way at one time or another? It sucks. Sometimes life gets sucked out and so it just sucks. Lack of health sucks. Trying to keep a smile on sucks. Having a person/pet you love die sucks. Getting out of bed sucks. Watching people just not ‘get it’ sucks. Not being able to do anything about it sucks. Not having energy sucks. About the only things that don’t suck at times might include:

1. the love and kindness of a spouse who cares/close family who will listen and not judge

2. soft organic flannel sheets

3. Hyberbole and a half dark humor

I wonder if sometimes ‘hitting bottom’ might possibly be compared to a place like Christ in the tomb: cold, dark, quiet, a suspended life. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be buried for awhile. In fact, maybe that’s part of the Easter Story? Maybe instead of rushing to the resurrection, maybe it’s OK to be in the tomb? Maybe it’s not a ‘fault’ to be in the tomb? Maybe it’s just part of a – can I say it – healthy life to be in the tomb?  Even if we don’t know how long it will last?  Especially if we don’t know how long it will last?

Yes, resurrection does come, and we celebrate that, but maybe there is also a place to respect the times in our lives that represent tombs?  Why do we fear the cold, dark, quiet, suspended times?  Is it because in American culture those are seen as ‘weak’, or ‘useless’, or ‘bad’, or ‘unproductive’…and we feel shamed for them?  What would happen if those times of depression/grief, or “tomb-time”, had a different, purposeful meaning in our culture?  Do other cultures have a place of respect for those times in a person’s life?

How can we incorporate a safe, honorable, and healthy place for those -including ourselves – who are experiencing tomb-time?  If we had a different perspective, maybe we wouldn’t feel the cultural need to deny, try to cheer-lead it away, or shame it?  Maybe tomb-time is an important part of a healthy life?

Some possible resources: the book Tear Soup , online helps from Tear Soup.

Barb

Four Steps To Economic Recovery

The news is full of articles trying to figure out a way to save America:  how to bring back the middle class, create jobs, help stop the disparity between the few rich at the top and the majority falling (or fearful of falling) toward poverty, and what to do about increasing homelessness and food insecurity.  American society seems gripped in fear, as many young people wrestle with college debt and little or no living wage work prospects.  Middle managers in their 40’s/50’s/60’s have been downsized/laid off, and haunt monthly job fairs featuring door-t0-door commission sales work (to try to reach those who don’t want to open their doors to strangers and/or don’t have money/need to purchase their products anyway).  An undergirding of fear is sweeping our nation just under the surface for those of wealth (and those hanging on by their fingernails to their wealth), a daily reality for many more.

The conversation is here.  People are awake and aware that this growing soup of problems are encroaching on us as a society, not just ‘the fringe others’.  This involves all of us.  Some of us who have not yet lost our job/home/health respond with self-protective denial.  Some of us in frustration and fear blame the ‘other’.  Some of us become clinically depressed and use pain medication/drink/drugs to hide.

I believe there is a practical way to turn this poverty of economy and spirit around. Here’s my idea outline for a Four Step Plan To Economic Recovery:

  1.  Living wage jobs provided by the very corporations and businesses that have taken living wage jobs away, as well as innovative business models such as B-Corporations and worker cooperatives that balance wages, community building, and benefits with profits.
  2. Mortgage companies/banks/developers et all to sell/rent housing that is affordable to wages earned in area said housing/businesses reside.  Seed Seattle is an example of an organization creating partnerships and inspiring investments in affordable housing, arts, and economic development.
  3. Medical health care that actually provides health benefit – not high priced/high deductible insurance that doesn’t cover any type of actual care.
  4. Education tied with industry jobs, so instead of graduating with a 4 year degree and $30,000-$200,000 of debt and no income/job in sight, the education/training is included in most businesses/jobs as part of the training package of said business/job. This would also be helpful for those re-entering the workforce and those who’s jobs have changed/no longer exist.

These four steps would in practical ways help turn the economy around with innovative business and industry leading the way by creating living wage jobs and incorporating training and benefits back into the business model.  Add to that affordable housing, fanning innovation, creating community building opportunities, rebuilding a middle class and giving tangible tools to bring disenfranchised into the middle class, and the result would be uplifting all of American society for a better future.

Barb Hughes 2013    Barb Hughes

Book: Journey of Souls: Case Studies Of Life Between Lives

journeyofsoulsWhether religious or not, this is a fascinating look into an unexplored possibility of what happens after death. I enjoyed the example of the creator/source being an active and living presence in our lives – here and in the hereafter- as opposed to the current working definition that tends to separate the creator as the big judge outside that has created a hierarchy of painful separation through rules, rewards, and punishments.

Author Michael Newton PH.D has a background as a counseling psychologist, master hypnotherapist, teacher, and researcher. This book covers such topics as How it feels to die, What you see and feel right after death, When and where you learn to recognize soul mates on earth, Different levels of souls- beginning/intermediate/and advanced, What happens to “disturbed” souls, and The purpose of life and manifestation of a Creator.

If you’re able and willing to stretch your mind and imagination, enjoy this fresh look at the age old idea of ‘what happens after we die?’.

Are Bronies changing the face of masculinity?

Are the qualities of friendship, fun, working together, inclusiveness, and kindness ONLY male traits; female traits; or are they human traits?

These hero’s are making the world a happier, kinder, more inclusive place; creating 3D men (instead of men chained in a 2D world box of destruction, disfunction, and distance).

Accountability -vs- Forgiveness

Accountability has gotten a bad rap.  American culture sees accountability as a punishment, and forgiveness as a sign of a good person.

I have a different take.

Here are samples of the same conversation:  one from a forgiveness perspective, one from an accountability perspective, using the random names Mike and Jim.

Forgiveness Conversation

Mike spills the milk on the table.

Jim, upset, points out Mike’s milk is soaking into Jim’s papers!

Mike denies he spilled the milk, and/or makes excuses for why he spilled the milk:  he was tired; he was distracted; he didn’t see the milk there; it was someone else’s fault for placing the milk on the table in the first place.

Jim frantically works to keep his remaining papers dry, and in exasperation calls Mike to Get A Towel!

Mike wrings his hands crying “don’t be mad at me, it wasn’t my INTENT to spill the milk, I really AM a good person, I TRY my best, EVERYONE makes mistakes, don’t hold it against me!”

Jim gets a towel himself and cleans up the mess, sad/angry/disappointed/upset/ that Mike didn’t admit to his own mess or in any way help to clean it up.

Mike pleads “Will you forgive me?”

Accountability Conversation

Mike spills the milk on the table, and immediately says “Jim – grab your papers off the table!”  Mike quickly fetches a towel to clean up the mess.

Jim quickly picks up his papers, focusing on the most important ones.

Mike cleans up the mess, dries the table, and says “Hey man, sorry if I ruined any of your papers – is there anything I can do to make it right?”

Jim answers gratefully “I really appreciate your quick action to clean up the accident. I saved most of the papers, but a few got wet.  I’ll dry them out and check to see if I need to re-write any.  Thanks for asking though.”

Accountability brings out personal characteristics such as strength, resilience, quick thinking, problem solving, caring, helpfulness, satisfaction, self-mastery and concern.  Reactions to this caring response are trust, thankfulness, appreciation, and feeling valued.  If Mike wasn’t aware he spilled the milk, as soon as Jim brought it up, Mike would have switched into accountability mode and went straight to cleaning up the mess.  There is mutual respect and trust with an interaction where a person takes personal responsibility and accountability for accidents or hurts they have caused.  Both parties feel like winners.

Forgiveness brings out personal characteristics such as the inability to take responsibility, inflexibility, lack of empathy, neediness, denial, defensiveness, excuses, blame, guilt, and pride. Reactions are exasperation, disappointment, feeling devalued, and feeling unheard. There is a mutual mistrust and imbalance of power, where Mike feels like a victim even though Mike was the one who hurt/inconvenienced Jim. Jim is left in the uncomfortable position of being the ‘bad’ guy if he doesn’t offer forgiveness, and Mike is in the position of feeling weak. No one wins: Both feel they got the raw end of the stick. Even if Jim does say “I forgive you” to keep the peace/look ‘good’, Jim won’t trust Mike in the future since Mike doesn’t take accountability/responsibility for his actions.

In Summary

My hypothesis is, if you have to ASK for forgiveness, you probably haven’t been accountable for your actions.  Instead of asking for forgiveness, ask how you can make it right, then listen.  Better yet – be accountable in the first place – it’s empowering!  You’ll be in the position to make a positive difference, and the person you wronged/hurt will feel heard.

For everyday situations with kind caring empathic people, I think accountability should be the go-to power word, and forgiveness be an un-asked for gift given AFTER the person harmed feels heard.

Article by Barb Hughes

A Cancer Therapy

photo 1Even though I don’t have cancer, many of my friends have walked that road.  So I thought reading this book would be enlightening.

In the book A Cancer Therapy, Dr. Max Gerson gives a foundation to understand how cancer can best be framed so that it can be cured.  According to Dr. Gerson, studies show that cancer is a degenerative disease that takes a long time to develop.  So when we find a lump, that is the culmination of years of degeneration, so much that the liver has finally grown too weak to fight the cancer.  This book is a summary of thirty years of clinical experimentation by Dr. Max Gerson M.D. from the 1930’s-1950’s.  He successfully took advanced cancer patients that traditional medicine had written off, and figured out how to heal the majority of them.

Dr. Gerson said that there is no magic pill that cures cancer.  Yes, if you remove a large cancerous lump, sometimes that takes enough of the toxins out of the body where the liver can resume to clean the rest itself.  But many times there is still so much sickness left in the bone, blood, and organs that’s just not showing signs yet, that the cancer ‘returns’.  Dr. Gerson’s therapy was developed to treat not just the end symptoms (the tumors etc.) but the many causes  – such as toxins from our pesticides and poor soil nutrition, using food and rest medicinally, detoxifying gently and slowly so the body doesn’t go into shock, etc.

This book was first published back in 1958.  Today, as then, this research seems to be the last resort for those with advanced stage cancer who have been told they will die.  So they get this book, find out about the Gerson Institute where they can get updated information on how to treat their disease at home, or go to a clinic where it can be treated for them.  The regime is currently a little less intensive then what was written originally in the book, but it is still a slow, steady, time-consuming walk to healing.  While the typical person prefers a faster more heroic rescue to a slow personal climb, if you’re willing (or desperate) to see results, this book is a fascinating read.

I found some healthy concepts I’d like to use/modify for use in my own life.  The suggestions list of potassium rich veggies and fruits (many I already enjoy, some I want to buy and try out) look like a delicious and easy addition to my diet.  And the detox ideas are ones I may explore in the future as well.

solid shampoo is a win

photoSo I’m wandering the haircare aisle looking for a shampoo that won’t strip the oils out of my dry hair, isn’t full of toxic type chemicals, doesn’t cost a fortune, doesn’t pollute the environment, and is in a skinny enough bottle that it will fit on the side of my tub.   I spied a tiny little package – the only bar in the shampoo aisle.  I’d never heard of a bar shampoo so took a closer look.  This is J.R. Liggett’s old fashioned bar shampoo. It has no synthetic oils, no chemical concoctions, no plastic bottle, no detergents, so this shampoo won’t strip the natural oils from hair, is good for our water (from bathing in streams, to city showers because it travels well and doesn’t pollute!)

It sounded interesting, and seemingly fit all my criteria and more.  The ingredients are mostly oils such as  olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, a little bit of New Hampshire spring water, sodum Hydroxide (a binder) and essential oils for fragrance.

Since it was cheaper than most regular shampoos, I bought a bar to try it out. It doesn’t have a noticeable smell, so I can’t tell what essential oils were used.  I rubbed the bar shampoo around in my wet hands to make a lather, and shampooed as usual.  I can’t say my hair came out looking salon like, but it looks and feels CLEAN, and it’s not as dry as when using regular bottle shampoo with no conditioner, so probably all those oils in the bar soap are doing a good job of moisturizing.

I used it on my guinea pig and it lathered up and rinsed out fast and complete ( a plus when bathing animals!).  My husband tried it with his short hair and said he barely used any at all and it was effective.

I think J.R. Liggett’s is a keeper:)

I got the wire chair as an attempt at a soap dish, and it seems to work well to keep the shampoo bar dry.  I think the bar would melt into a sloppy mess if it didn’t have a place to dry out between uses.

My son is not going to college

Toby dressed as the 'Repair Wizard' at Mac PCx on Halloween 2013

Toby dressed as the ‘Repair Wizard’ at Mac PCx on Halloween 2013

My high school senior is chomping at the bit ready to move on after 14 years of classroom education.  He’s going to high school part time and working part time at a computer store diagnosing and repairing computers.  His past resume includes volunteering at Free Geek where he learned to take apart and put together computers, then trained others to do so.   As a high school sophomore he took computer classes in C++ and other programming languages.  He’s currently studying on his own to get CompTA+ certified, and through a school class learning to write code and design his own website.  He’s been saving up his work money and when he turns 18 plans to purchase professional design software and begin his own software company on the side.

As a parent, I’m getting bombarded at all sides by society telling me my son MUST get a college degree or he’ll never get a living wage job. My son tells me “I know what I want – to work with computers and design computer software.  Why spend 4+ more years in a classroom and be thousands of dollars in debt before I do what I want?”

He’s got a point there.

He says a company should pay to train him in what else they might need because he’s a fast and motivated learner.  He also said that computer technology is growing /changing so fast that what he’d learn in a classroom would be practically obsolete by the time he got out of college, so taking courses now and building on those courses as he works makes more sense than spending his money/time on PE 101 and introduction to Lit classes.  He is studying and problem solving on his own to be on the cutting edge, and expects to be paid for his work (he feels he’s already done the internship route and proved himself).  He is calm about this.  He is focused.  I’m the one freaking out inside.  I’ve heard my whole life “Everyone needs a college education to get a good job”…yet many people in their 20’s  (as well as older adults) who have expensive university educations are looking for work that pays a living wage.

My child has his own vision.  I trust my son and support his wisdom.  And if in a few years he decides that a college education would be beneficial to him, he’ll have the money saved up, or the contacts made, to create a path where he doesn’t have debt.  That’s pretty amazing planning/thinking for a 17 year old.

The freedom of age

Women talking about what they love about their age and how they see themselves grow and thrive.  No matter what your age, from 4 to 93, here’s how to love your age.