Seeds

“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”                                                                                                                               

~ Helen Keller ~

 

Sharing is caring, as they say. When I find an article or video that captures my attention, I like to share it with my family and friends. Recently I saw a video of Tim Ferris interviewing Josh Waitzkin, a former child prodigy chess player who was the basis for the movie “Searching for Bobby Fisher”.  Josh coaches CEO’s now, and he mentions how listening to your intuition is critical for performing at a high level. I consider myself an intuitive person, so this topic is particularly interesting to me. Because of this self-perceived intuitiveness, I think I know what topics my friends like (you know where I am going with this).

I have a friend who likes to learn about several subjects at once. So I shared with him the video (don’t worry, I will also share it with you). I was certain he would find the section about learning and intuition fascinating. When I saw him next, I asked him what he thought of it. He said the video was excellent, and he especially liked the part about heart rate variability. I exclaimed “What!? Did I send you the wrong video?” I really couldn’t recall anything about heart rate variability. “Yeah”, he said, “I am pretty sure Josh mentions how he used HRV techniques to kick into high gear”. Ok, so then he did see the same video I did. So how could I miss this topic myself? I decided to re-watch it.

This morning I watched the video again, took notes, AND I noticed my behavior. The video covers several topics, including foiling/surfing, unconscious learning, tracking biomarkers, resonance frequencies, triggers, using your intuition (best part), and yes, the mysterious heart rate variability is indeed there. I was completely taken aback how I missed it, and of course, now I had to find out why. During my second pass at the same video, I realized that my attention would drift on and off. Why was that, if the video is not that long (about 45 minutes), and the topic interests me?

I realize that I watched that particular video because I already have an interest in the topic of learning and intuition, and I believed those topics would be discussed in detail. I also realized that any other topic I heard, I either skipped but remembered I did (surfing), or not noticed it altogether (HRV). Since I don’t see myself competing for a surfing championship any time soon, I disregarded it. HRV was something I had never heard of, and because it was outside my “zone of interest”, I did not notice it.

My behavior while learning is somewhat concerning in the sense that I may miss something important because I think I already know it, I think I have no interest in it, or I am unfamiliar with it. My own lesson from this is to pay attention to all I hear or see, not because I will use all of it, but because I may miss something, a hidden gem, that could benefit me. It is ok to discard those things I do not want to pursue, but I should do it with sufficient information.

My other lesson is that no matter how well you think you know someone, everyone is on a different path in their life journey. Priorities change all the time for people, and one week they may be interested in taking a new physical activity, while another they are contemplating whether to start a college program or attend a workshop online. Even my own priorities are changing all the time. I will try to not assume I know the present estate of interest of my friends/relatives as well as I think.

Now I see sharing knowledge as planting seeds. I still share articles or quotes that I believe are inspirational, but I have no agenda. I share complete and open, and people will interpret it their own way, and come to their own conclusions to use or not. Which is really the point of life, sharing experiences, and taking what you can use for the good, while leaving the rest alone, without judgement. The seed will become the plant in their own time and with their own means. You did your part by sharing the idea, and sometimes, somehow, you will benefit from its fruits.

The video I mentioned earlier is here: here 

 

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hurdles

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

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I hated reading. No, I am not contradicting my previous blog post. What I mean is that I only used to read fiction books and encyclopedias (yes, I know, it’s a bit strange). Now I have been reading self-improvement books, and the reason I find them so fascinating is the “self” part, meaning that I can try the techniques the authors recommend to my own life, and after some time, I can see if it works for me. I am my own guinea pig in my life experiments. Today I want to share something new that I tried myself, in the hope that it may help others.

This past week had been intense, work wise, I was traveling overseas for business and had a pending issue that had been nagging me for several days. The worst part is that this problem is related to a product that is well outside my comfort zone: it is software related (I am not a software engineer), it is an older equipment (I never received proper training for it), it is not widely used (but our customer likes it), and very few people are experienced with it (who do I ask?). So I have a few good excuses at my disposal if things get too hairy, so I could easily “mentally quit”.

I did what I usually do when trying to do troubleshooting, which consists of reading manuals, bulletins and then asking people who know more than I if they have ever encountered a similar problem. Reading the manual is easy, but asking people for help feels uncomfortable to me, especially in an industry in which the more you know, the higher up you are perceived in the technological ladder. The phrase “I don’t know” is never mentioned by other engineers. Most responses are filled with links to support sites and much technical jargon. But I decided to humble myself and ask for help, not advice, directly help. I mentioned I did not have experience with this older product and I would appreciate assistance.

It was overwhelming the quick and appropriate advice I received! Several questions I had about the problem were resolved and suggestions were offered. Do not be afraid or proud of asking people for help! If you have done your due diligence beforehand, good people will help. They will know if you tried your best to look for the solution (ask good questions), instead of going the lazy route. Also, if someone needs help, you should be the first one to step up, pass on the knowledge and experience, or even offer suggestions. Likewise, if you don’t know, just say so, and do not be worried about judgement from your peers. Life is not about who is better, but how we all can lift each other up.

Filled with a bit of added confidence, I decided to tackle the problem in a different way that I usually do it, and more importantly, putting into practice some of the tools that I had read from experts.

Have an intention and visualize: this morning I got up and I told myself that I would not wait until Monday to try to solve the problem. No, I said to myself that today I, Rene, would solve this problem. I visualized myself working on the problem, reading websites about it, and finally completing the task. I did not see myself just completing the goal, but also going through the steps and effort of getting there.

Think logically and unemotionally: going thru the effort means that the path to accomplishing a worthwhile goal is not all rosy. There will be disappointments along the way, and we should be prepared to handle them, both mentally and with possible action plans. In my own situation, I told myself “If step A does not work, how can I proceed? Check in website 1A”. Sometimes emotions overrule our logical thinking and we let projects stall for another day. So when the first inevitable hurdle happened, it had been considered, and I was able to overcome it by not behaving emotionally.

Take breaks: this is something I have argued about with friends, and don’t really understand how it works, but it has been suggested by many authors that while you go for a walk or wash dishes, etc, the mind is working in the background on the problem at hand. So when something was not working today, I took a step back and did something unrelated around the house.  While doing this, an idea popped into my head, and I went back to the problem and I jumped another hurdle!

Don’t give up: our mind is always trying to protect us, so one thing it does is when you have done good work, it will tell you something along these lines: “Rene, you have done great up to now, so you deserve to take a break, go eat ice cream and we can continue later.” When this happens, we should realize 1) that later really means never, and most importantly, that 2) we must be very close to figuring out the solution, so don’t give up now! This I did not realize until I fully understood the quote mentioned at the top of this blog. That is why I included it.

At this specific moment, I tried another approach, and voila, the final hurdle was completed and the finish line was in front of me!!!  Wahoo!!! After a few hours of hard and dedicated labor, I had finally completed this task, something which felt very unrealistic and almost impossible to accomplish, three hours prior. Overcoming hurdles which seem impossible at any given time, is all about having a plan of action and sticking to it, even when things become difficult (and they will). Believe in advice, believe in good people, and most importantly, believe in yourself!

 

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Writing

“Here’s the thing: the book that will most change your life is the book you write.”              – Seth Godin

 

Why do we do what we do? I personally write because it is the best way to express myself and share my purpose. What is my purpose? I have thought this quite a lot recently, and my best answer is to make people realize that time is precious, and they should do what makes them happy, and this happiness will align with their purpose. So when people feel asleep at the wheel of life, I want to gently shake them up and make sure they stay on target.

Seems simple enough, but the problem is that life itself has become complicated, handling relationships, jobs or businesses, caring for children and/or parents, and many other responsibilities and activities. So it is easy to get lost on the busyness of modern life. The key is to manage all aspects of life in a way that we maintain our individuality or sense of self. Yes, we may be spouses, parents, sons or daughters, siblings, friends, in one or several social circles, but we are also people, and we should not put our needs on hold in order to fulfill some sense of duty for others. It is perfectly acceptable to do both. We deserve to be the stars in the movie of our lives. I actually arrived at this conclusion by accident, as most ideas tend to happen to me. Or maybe it was not an accident at all, just I was not attuned to see the nuances of life.

I have been completely alone for the first time in my life. I lived with my parents into my 30’s (at a time before it was considered cool or financially necessary lol), then I was married for almost a decade, then divorced and then in a relationship for more than a year, and now I am flying solo for over a year. Like with new experiences, I was a bit scared at the beginning, like I had no purpose, nobody to support, counsel or raise anymore. But then I thought, maybe the person I am supposed to support/counsel/raise is myself! So I started to study myself and my habits up to now, what I was happy with, and what I wanted to improve. I started reading from people who have been thinking about this far longer than I. Then I took notes and started to see patterns appear, which lead me to listen to my own voice. The noise of life sometimes is too loud and we must be conscious. Now I am at the stage of sharing what I believe has helped me being my true authentic self, not necessarily a different me, but the true me.

One of the positive outcomes of my present lifestyle is that I have time to read, write, and especially think. I understand perfectly that not everyone has the luxury of having time to themselves, so taking baby steps, start scheduling some time to think about what makes you tick, what puts you in a state of flow, etc. If this has not happened to you in a while, think back when you were a kid, when there were no responsibilities and the summers would last forever. I remember when I was younger and my Dad would take me to John F Kennedy Library in Hialeah, and I would spend hours reading books, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.  Many years later, I have returned to reading, now made easier with e-books, although I still return to the library once in a while, as the smell of old books has not been (yet) replaced by their electronic counterparts.

What did you enjoy doing when you were younger? What would make you forget about everyone and everything, until your parents called you to have dinner? Or maybe it was later in life, in your teens, twenties, etc., when you would get lost in books, nature, swimming, working with plants, painting, taking the perfect photo, staring into the sunset? The best part of this exercise is that there is no right or wrong answer; it’s whatever works for us as individuals, and that is the whole point of it, finding our sense of self, which may have been sleeping all these years, and is now ready to wake up.

 

  • You can read more about my first library here

 

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My Dad and I at JFK library, circa 1985.

Voyager

My good friend invited me to watch “Inflatable Space.”  What, you don’t know what it is? The same expression you have now is exactly how I felt then. Huh? The event description reads as follows: “Two NASA technicians of the Voyager satellite get lost in a universe of inflatables, vacuum cleaners, miniatures and microphones, in this cinematic adventure.” Double huh?!?!  I see the words NASA, Voyager and space, and being a semi aficionado (only in my mind) of the field, I decided to go.

It turns out to be a performance art created by Thaddeus Phillips, with two people working with costumes, props, projectors, lights, etc. to convey the story of NASA’s Voyager satellite since it left Earth in 1977 until now. Although a bit difficult to explain to someone who was not there, it was artistic, creative, informative, thoughtful and cool event, and I would recommend you to see it live (details later).

Afterwards I realized that I did not know much about this event, and although I was alive in 1977 (although a child and living in another country), for some reason I did not know.  As soon as I got home, I googled all I could about this mission, and it turns out there are two satellites, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which left Earth in 1977 with different missions and trajectories. Voyager 2 flew close to Jupiter (1979), Saturn (1981), Uranus (1986) and Neptune (1989), and both of them then left our galaxy in 2018 and are now flying into empty space, where there is NOTHING to stop them. So they could be going for millions of years until someone finds them, alien civilization or future Earthlings.

The other cool thing I learned is about the Golden Record. This is as cool as it sounds, maybe even cooler! It is a record made from gold that contains 115 images describing people and Earth, greetings from people from Earth in 55 languages, sounds from earth (nature, animals, machinery, and humans), and music from several genres. The purpose is for whoever finds the Golden Record, to know more about humans, and how we lived, thought, felt, etc. So this is basically a time capsule or a message in a bottle sent into space. I told you it was cool!

One photo taken by one of the satellites shows a tiny dot, which is Earth, seen since the farthest edges of our galaxy. Carl Sagan commented how all our history and everyone who has ever existed has been contained in this tiny dot, how is basically insignificant when compared to the immensity and timelessness of the Universe, and how we should be kinder to each other.

I would also add that we should also be kind to ourselves, since we will not be here forever, neither will be our children, or our children’s children. So in the few years that we have (compared to the Universe), let’s live our life in a meaningful way so that we can grow ourselves, help our fellow humans, and do the best to continue the human race as much as possible. We do not want our only remaining memories to be contained in a gold disk.

So go experience that play and let me know what you get from it. Oh, and when your friends invite you to an event that sort of doesn’t make much sense, don’t ask a million questions, trust them and go. More often than not, there will be a lesson to be learned, but not in the way that you expect!

 

  • To know more about Inflatable Space, click here. To know more about Thaddeus Phillips, go here.
  • To find out about Voyager missions, click here, and Golden Record, go here.

 

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Nerd Nite Recap (6/6/19)

“The longest way must have its close,—the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning.” Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

The word extravaganza gets overused by some, but not in this case. Nerd Nite Miami presented a true extravaganza at the PAMM (Perez Art Museum Miami). This is the third installment of their Museum Tour, and it gives us locals a perfect opportunity to explore and enjoy the amazing museums we are lucky to have.

The location is amazing, and as usual, there were three great presentations on various subjects. This is my interpretation of the presenters’ messages, along with links to their sites, and additional information about the books, organizations, events, that they mentioned. I hope you enjoy as much as I do attending these live events.

1) Black Dreams Matter: Understanding Black Sci-Fi Movement by Jeff Carroll

Science Fiction is important because how it explores infinite possibilities, and it should include everyone, regardless of race, gender, age, etc. Different races see stories of their descendants in different ways. Sci-fi includes ALL nations, especially imagiNATION.

You can read more about this presenter in his blog: Hip Hop Comix N Flix

You can attend Florida Lit Con, a sci-fi BOOK/FILM convention on June 15, 2019. Check out info on Eventbrite and Facebook.

2) Seahorses: Magical Creatures in Our Backyard by Emilie Stump

Fun facts: seahorses are fish, they change color to blend into their environment, and the male seahorses carry the eggs in a pouch and give birth.

3 local seahorses: Lined Seahorse, Long-Snout Seahorse and Dwarf Seahorse. See them in real life at Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves and at Biscayne National Park.

Get involved, become a Citizen Scientist at iSeahorse.

Do you want to know more? IUCN Red List keeps status of threatened plants and animals. CITES regulates international trade of animals and plants, and Seahorses were first fish to make list.

3) When the News Lies, Fiction Tells the Truth by Julie Tyler

In modern times, news can get distorted and sometimes is difficult to tell facts from opinion. Fiction writing offers another way to convey messages, sometimes with powerful consequences. These 3 books deal with human suffering and injustice, and even though they are fictional tales, they are still able to make us feel real emotions, even many years later.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in 1852, which helped changed people’s views on slavery. You can find out more about author and book here.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, published in 1960, dealing with racial injustice and loss of innocence in the South. Read more about book, film and play here.

1984 by George Orwell, published 70 years ago, about government’s control of citizens in dystopian future. He also wrote another of my favorite books, Animal Farm. Check out more here.

 

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Urbanism Summit 2019

On 5/23/19 I attended the Urbanism Summit at the Design District, not really sure what to expect. I’ve always been interested in the future of Miami, as I have been living here for over 30 years. The event was organized by Andrew Quarrie, having originally started in 2016. You can see their website here: urbanismsummit

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There were 11 panels, about 20 minutes each, with 3-4 panelists and a moderator. Topics discussed were Cross Cultures, People Centric, Futuristic/Smarter Cities, The Arts, Future of Housing, Transportation and Walk-ability, Conscious City, Urban Entrepreneurship, Resilience, Government, and Climate.

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In between the Panels, there were Keynote talks by Craig Robins from dacra, Eric Gertler from US News and World Report, and Miami’s connoisseur, Billy Corben from rakontur films. The event concluded with a Fireside Chat with Andrew and Tony Cho from Metro1, where they wrapped up the event and discussed potential opportunities for Miami. It was definitely a full day, and all panelist, moderators, organizers, keynote speakers, did their best to convey how much they want the city to succeed not only for current generation, but also for those that are following in our footsteps.

PS. For a detailed list of all the panels, topics and speakers, go here: agenda

PS2. The impressive background art was created by Magnus Sodamin, @magnificentmagnus

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Decisions

Today my friend gave me a very good analogy for life. Life is like driving to work in the morning, you know the starting point (home) and end point (work). You start off in the usual road you take every morning, but invariably, there is traffic and you are forced to take alternate roads, one after another, taking roads that you believe have less traffic, are more pleasant, are on the way to to a place you wish to stop momentarily, etc. Then eventually you reach work but took a different path than what you expected to take at the start of the day. These different roads you decide to take are decisions you must take along the road of life (after high school, start working or go to college, keep dating someone or take the next step, rent or buy a home, etc.) So following the analogy, the following day you will take those roads that you had success and will avoid those with strife. We should do that in life as well, think hard about decisions we took early in our life, and evaluate the outcome, and then decide that the next time we are faced with similar option, we make the same or different decision. Easier said than done, but that is the only way to become aware of our internal thinking and decision making process.