Technological Innovation: Is the Alarm Clock Really Such a Great Thing?

Technology is wonderful, except when it isn’t.

Take alarm clocks, for example. Not that long ago, high tech alarm clocks featured large, red, glowing digital numbers, and we had our choice of waking up to a series of beeps or a radio station. Prior to that, we wound the things up and they yelled out, with bells.

mountain wilderness lake countryside landscape morning steve henderson art

Morning in the mountains starts slowly, thoughtfully, peacefully and . . . quietly. Morning Sun Salutation, art print at Steve Henderson Collections.

Now, thanks to technology, we can sleep with our phone (some people do this, hugging the unit next to their ear, like a teddy bear). We can awaken not only to a series of beeps, but also electronic robotic default tones, or tinny tunes from the online radio or a music service.

One thing we don’t awaken to is silence.

But how can we, nowadays, when part of our technological lifestyle is that we get up early to devote a chunk of our waking hours — our most active, creative time of the day — to . . . work? (Fortunate are those whose work engages their intellect and creativity; even more fortunate are those whose engaged intellect and creativity economically benefit them and their family, as opposed to a corporation or financial magnate. Would that this were the norm.)

To get to work, which for some people is a couple hours away on a freeway, highway, and series of roads, we need to arise before our body really wants to. And to get our body up before it really wants to, we need an alarm clock.

So our wonderful technology, which is supposed to make our lives easier and more convenient, wakes us up when we’d really rather, and probably need to, get more sleep.

The artwork, Morning Sun Salutation, shows us a different way to start the day, a new beginning that has unfolded itself, in calm silence and the gentle emergence of light, for many, many, many years.

The major sound we hear is silence, broken by the song of (real, not digital) birds who greet the day with cheerfulness. There is no rush, no leaping out of bed and pounding to the bathroom where we get ourselves ready while the coffee is brewing.

And while it may not be “realistic” to dispense with the alarm clock and focus on starting the day calmly and with a sense of peace, perhaps it’s a goal worth reaching for.

It’s not high tech; it’s timeless.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

Peace and Quiet: We NEED These

The Power of Doing Nothing

When You Work Smarter, Harder, Faster — You Don’t Live

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Fear Blocks Our Ability to Think

Calmness and tranquility — these do not sell. Nor do they make headlines in the nightly news.

What does make headlines, what causes people to tune in at 11, share the post, or click the link for more information (and thereby targeted ads) is

Fear.

horizon ocean sunset coast beach oregon painting purple steve henderson

We need to step away from the noise and chaos to a place of silence and peace — where we can think. On the Horizon, art print at Steve Henderson Collections.

Fear, uncertainty, anxiety, concern, dread, dismay, panic, trepidation: these sell.

And for this reason, these are what we read about, hear about, are nudged to focus upon. Often, what we are told to fear is nebulous — an enemy (nation, ethnic group, random assailants, lone crazies), the threat of nuclear annihilation (especially popular in the 1950s), a mystery disease, economic despair. The news wrapped around them is what might happen, what could be, what will possibly unfold if this occurs and that develops.

Often, human interest, and thereby added plausibility, is brought in by vignettes of one or two people who have, somehow, encountered a form of the threat. Targeted with limited but repeated information and well thought out, timely visuals and graphics, we find ourselves, if we don’t watch ourselves, announcing that the sky is falling because that’s what everyone is saying.

It’s not to aver that there are no threats or dangers to good, honest, ordinary people. There are. Throughout history, greedy people with a lust for power have ravaged over the lives of others who simply want to live their lives in peace.

And that’s what we get back to: peace, calm, tranquility, meditation, thought — the things that don’t sell, but are the glue that keep our souls from fracturing with fear.

The artwork, On the Horizon, is an encouragement for each of us to take time for silence and thought, to turn off the voices that push us against the wall in a small, small room as they shrilly cry, “Be afraid! Panic! Run! Listen to the people in charge who will tell you what to do!”

In a quiet place, we ponder, question, analyze, the things we are told. We use this time to employ our intelligence to determine their validity. Who benefits by our actions and reactions to the news? Is the source giving the news impeccable for its truthfulness?

Cui bono? (If this is the only Latin phrase we know, it’s enough.)

But we can only do this if we walk away from the noise so that we can hear ourselves think.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

Lies and Darkness, Truth and Light

We Don’t Need Influencers: We Need Each Other

The Lies We’re Told

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The History of Real People Isn’t Boring

When I was a schoolgirl, history bored me.

But then again, my only exposure to it was through textbooks, which have a knack for distilling entire civilizations into lists of emperors, kings, conquerors, presidents, financial magnates and military generals, whose insatiable quest for power is deemed the only story worth telling.

forgotten country path house homestead woods steve henderson art

A family once lived here — they had hopes, dreams, struggles, and successes. This is true history. Forgotten Path, art print at Steve Henderson Collections

Understandably, we know more about the superficial trappings of the wealthy and the powerful than we do ordinary people. If any house is going to survive, it will be one that is well constructed to last.  Gold and silver and precious gems are treasured — and kept — moreso than the implements of the poor.

Even today, we focus on the lives of our contemporary nobility, those who have leveraged themselves into a position to purchase power and fame. But if we look to them to tell humanity’s story — his story, her story — we limit ourselves.

Because history is the tale of “ordinary” people — our hopes and dreams, our struggles and triumphs, the many challenges we face (often because of the emperors, kings, conquerors, presidents, financial magnates, and military generals) and how we chip away at them, day by ordinary day.

The artwork, Forgotten Path, celebrates the determination, strength, and dignity of regular, everyday, normal, ordinary people. Along a country path, in the midst of an overgrown copse of trees, a house stands. It has been abandoned for years, forgotten, because the people who lived here are long gone, their story unknown.

But we can piece a story together. The house is decently built: someone took time and care to craft a home for their family. It’s located in farm country, so it’s likely that the family grew crops and kept animals. Children played in the yard. Someone, probably a woman, cooked and cleaned, washed clothes and hung them out to dry.

Each day there was work to do; each night, light glowed from the windows as the family ate, read books (there are volumes, scattered about, inside), talked. We don’t know if the family was a happy one or a sad one, cheerful or angry, but they worked and played, ate and slept, dreamed of a future worth dreaming about, and worked to make it come true.

That kind of history? It’s not boring.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

The Power We All Possess

Are You Important?

Choose Wisely Who Influences You

 

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Problems Are Mountains and Mountains Can Be Climbed

If there is a large mountain in our way, and we have to get to the other side, it doesn’t do much good to pretend that it isn’t there.

mountain lake alpine wilderness landscape trees steve henderson art

To get to the other side of the mountain, you don’t have to get rid of the mountain, so much as figure out a way through or around. The Divide, art print from Steve Henderson Collections.

And yet, we do this all the time, not so much with mountains, as with problems. Large, obvious, societal problems, like high housing prices and low wages, or the inability of many people to afford health care, and many other overwhelming issues that have to do with money — or the lack of it. Those who don’t have enough of it must still come up with it, or else.

(Back in the day, it involved serfs and laborers paying onerous taxes — generally food and goods they needed themselves — to the king. It didn’t matter if the peasants starved; they had a financial obligation to fulfill. For the king, his major focus was getting his “contribution.” For the peasant, it was staying alive. Their perspective on the problems was different.)

“Well, what are you going to DO about it? It’s just too big to handle,” ordinary people tell ordinary people when we muse. Better to “just get on with things.”

If we have to get to the other side of the mountain, however, we can’t just “get on with things.” The mountain looms over the landscape. We’ve got a lot of serious talking to do, because the solution won’t be quick or easy.

But . . . the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that it exists in the first place.

It seems like such a simple thing, but just coming out and saying that there is a problem –greed, say — oddly, offends some people. Because the problem is so big and seemingly insurmountable, we take refuge in throwing up our hands and letting “the people in power” take care of it. (Just as bad is polarizing ourselves: taking up Side A or Side B, and refusing to budge or listen to one another. Another bad option is blaming people for having issues with the mountain’s existence. If they worked harder, or were smarter, or weren’t so lazy, it wouldn’t be there. End of Discussion.)

The artwork, The Divide, is dominated by a mountain. It’s there. It’s obvious. It is, unlike our societal problems, quite beautiful.

Now one solution to getting to the other side would be to dismantle the mountain, but that’s not the only — or perhaps best — way to reach the other side. We can climb, we can scrabble, we can make paths up and through and over. Whatever we do will have to be in a spirit of truly helping one another, with a sincere desire that we all make it to the other side.

But we won’t begin to start anything until we say, “Hey, look! There’s a mountain in our way.”

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

How to Complain, without Hurting Others

Are We Truly a Divided People?

Fomenting Hate Divides Us — And Divided, We Are Weak

 

 

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Fellowship: It’s Not a Church Thing. It’s a Life Thing

Fellowship with other human beings is one of the sweetest gifts life has to offer.

girls day out shopping friendship sisters paris france steve henderson art

Everyone has something to say, and each person takes time to listen. Girls Day Out, art print by Steve Henderson.

For years, my mental association with the word was limited to church culture, the five minutes before or after formal services in which people were allowed to freely mingle and chat. Although we were repeatedly assured that fellowship was a “valuable, integral, intentional part” of our religious experience, it never seemed to mean as much as the announcements or sermon, and certainly never approached the status accorded to Adult Sunday School.

People milling about, chatting without prodding or supervision by “leadership,” seemed to be more of an annoyance than a blessing.

But fellowship, true fellowship, is rich, rich indeed. And we find it best in places outside of prescribed meetings and supervised convocations.

Around the dining room table, at a restaurant, in line at the grocery store, on the street — wherever we meet and connect with other humans, this is when we have an opportunity to fellowship. And what is this fellowship? It’s essentially talking and listening — not monopolizing the conversation for the former, and truly being engaged in the latter.

Through our times together, communing and communicating, we learn about each other, and the more we know about each other, the less likely we are to shallowly judge. As an added bonus, we find ourselves more poised to be there for one another, to provide practical assistance when and how we can.

The artwork, Girls Day Out, shows a rich, meaningful moment of fellowship and companionability. A group of friends (sisters? cousins? nieces and aunts?) rests after a day of shopping. Who wouldn’t have fun on a day like this, in Paris, no less?

But the true fun, the true goodness comes because they are spending that time together. Each has something to say and share; each takes time to listen and care. At the end of the day they have reaped far more than a collection of colorful shopping bags.

They have fellowshipped.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

Insist upon Living Your Life

Quiet People Have a Lot to Say

We Don’t Need Influencers — We Need Each Other

 

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Romance: Hand in Hand and Side by Side

Years ago, when my Norwegian Artist husband and I were poor college students, we didn’t have money to go on a proper date. So we took long walks instead.

holding hands romantic couple beach walk love steve henderson art painting

As expansive and broad as the beach are the many wonderful things this couple has to talk about. Hand in Hand, art print by Steve Henderson

(As an aside, we were often passed by a couple in their 80s who jogged together — hand in hand. It was an inspiring sight.)

A major facet of walking side by side with another person is that you talk. About what’s around you, naturally, but often about what went on that day, who irritated you, who was kind, politics, movies, books, philosophy, dreams for the future, and plans on how to get there.

There’s something about moving your feet that stimulates the mind. And there’s something about being under a big expansive sky that makes life’s challenges seem, for the moment, just a bit smaller.

Sometimes, we felt bad because our “date nights” didn’t look like what they were supposed to: we weren’t sitting across from one another at a restaurant, wine glasses in hand, eyes boring into one another’s soul.

“How will our relationship last without real date nights?” was a fleeting topic on one walk. And then we moved on, literally and figuratively, because walking together, and talking a lot, is what we did.

The painting, Hand in Hand, is a celebration of communication and best-friendship, which, when you think about it, are major components in a lasting relationship.

Strolling barefoot along the beach, a couple in love blends into their surroundings  as they are focused on one another. Their conversation is animated, dynamic, inspiring — surrounded by a majestic ocean and under a grand sky, they talk and listen,  question and answer, animatedly agree and just as animatedly disagree.

This is what any true relationship — be it romantic or not — requires: constant, deep, and meaningful communication. The two go hand in hand.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

Little Things Really DO Make a Difference

Movies Aren’t Real — But Life Is

We Don’t Need Influencers — We Need Each Other

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Driven to Succeed — and Discontent

We are a driven people.

And whether what drives us is ambition or anger, pressure or fear or desire or purpose, the result is that we never rest. There is always something we need to do to move forward, to make the next step toward eventual success. (That’s the interesting thing about the success — it’s always eventual.)

summer breeze boy kite country pretend play steve henderson art

Flying the kite can wait. What’s important is the moment, the imagination, the play. Summer Breeze, art print by Steve Henderson

In the midst of this, many people sigh,

“I wish I lived on a serene tropical island where all my needs were met, and I could just enjoy lazing around in a hammock.”

But the irony is, if they found themselves in such a situation, they’d never find their way to the hammock. It would be “wrong” to “waste” their time doing “nothing.”

Now there’s no discredit to setting goals — most notably if those goals are good and right and kind and honest which, unfortunately, not all people’s goals are — but the goals themselves can become our masters. Our purpose in life somehow becomes to achieve these goals, and nothing must get in the way of that.

The artwork, Summer Breeze, reminds us that there was one time in life when we recognized the importance of things other than goals.

A young boy strolls through a country meadow in the sunlight, the wind catching the kite in his hands and giving it a life of its own. Just like a child, he’s not flying the kite in the prescribed, proper, societally approved manner, but is pretending that it is something else — a sail, perhaps, and he is the schooner; or maybe he is a dragon, and the kite his wings.

You can see that he is deep in thought, intent upon what he is imagining, and there is a sense of contentment, creativity, and joy in every step. Whatever is driving this boy right now, it is not ambition, anger, pressure, fear, desire, or purpose.

Actually, there is nothing driving this boy right now, because he is not driven. He is free.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

When You Live Smarter, Harder, Faster — You Don’t Live

Think Like a Child

The Power of Doing Nothing

 

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Major Decision? Don’t Be Rushed

Important decisions require time and thought.

As obvious as that statement is, however, too often we feel pressured to decide quickly:

“Go ahead and sign; reading through the contract will take forever,”

or

tide coast rocks ocean coast seaside passage steve henderson art painting

Sometimes, you can walk through these rocks without getting your feet wet. Other times, you don’t even step in. Circumstances ebb and flow with the tide. Passage, art print from Steve Henderson Collections.

“I can’t promise that this product (or opportunity) will be here much longer. Others are interested. Very interested.”

And then again, there’s always,

“This is the LAST one in stock! If you want it, you’ve got to decide NOW.”

In a “land of opportunities,” we live, timorously, under the mistaken notion that these opportunities are fleeting, random, capricious. If we don’t decide now, and decide right, then our entire life — which could have gone in one direction — will veer off the tracks, and we will be stranded.

But we’re not trains, stuck to one track. We are intelligent humans, walking forth with many paths branching off in many directions. And these paths themselves change with time and the tides.

The artwork, Passage, shows us one of these paths. At the moment, we are standing at the beach, in between tides. During very low tides, there is no water in this passage at all, and one can walk through and examine the starfish and anemones, the little crabs and the mollusks. It’s a magical place to be.

But at high tide, one can’t get even this close, and it looks as if there is no space between the rocks at all. Inundated by water, only their tops peek out. Birds land at the crest, where they are splashed and battered by crashing waves.

Each time shows us a different perspective, and what we are able to do at each one of those times differs. But here’s the important part: if we miss low tide, it will be back sometime within (roughly) 12 hours: maybe not quite as low, or maybe even lower. It will be different, but it will still exist in some form.

If we miss high tide, it will be back — not quite like the one we missed, but it will still be high tide.

It’s a matter of waiting, actually, as opposed to jumping in.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

We Have More Than Two Choices

It’s Time to Trust Our Own Judgment

The Power of Doing Nothing

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Fast, Efficient, and Furious — Is This U.S. Culture?

One of the most conspicuous aspects of U.S. culture is that we do things fast.

Not necessarily well, not with joy and satisfaction, but fast.

novel landscape woman reading tree mountains relaxing steve henderson art

She is in no hurry, this wise woman reading a book. The day is sunny, the landscape beautiful, the book delightful. Why hurry through this? A Novel Landscape, art print from Steve Henderson Collections

Efficiency, the sister to speed, is also a major facet of our culture. Working in tandem, the two elements are a foundation of capitalistic, corporate thinking, a thinking that infuses itself in our schools, political arena, workplace (of course), entertainment world, even our churches.

Smart people do things fast. They don’t waste time, and their successful day is marked by productivity: make and produce (not necessarily well, not with joy and satisfaction) lots of stuff, or, if you’re in management, drive and push the people below you to perform. Numbers matter and time is short.

We even extol the virtues of reading fast — again, not necessarily well, not with joy and satisfaction — fooling ourselves that by the sheer volume of matter we mentally ingest, we will attain wisdom, intelligence, and understanding.

“Read through the top 100 classics in a year!”

Or better yet, “Watch the synopsis of the plots, in these fun, short video clips, of the last three centuries of major literature!”

More realistically, it’s, “Here’s this week movie! It’s based on fact! The year 1792 really did happen! This is what we think it could have looked like!”

It does not have to be this way, however. If we choose to step away from the scuffle and scrimmage of hyper frenzy, we can. It won’t be easy, because we’ll be accused of being lazy, unambitious, slothful, and shiftless, but part of becoming wise is learning to think for ourselves, and not allowing others to do it for us.

The artwork, A Novel Landscape, invites us to step into a world of quiet and peace. Resting against a tree, a young woman divides her time between reading the pages of a very good book, and looking up at the beauty before her. She has set aside time to simply enjoy this day, to lose herself in the words of the novelist, to “do nothing” all day with no obligation, no drive, no sense of guilt.

She is not speed reading.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

The Power of Doing Nothing

Choose Wisely Who Influences You

Walk Away from What Doesn’t Work

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We Don’t Need Influencers; We Need Each Other

Think about the people who have made the most impact in your life.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably wasted precious time paying attention to strangers whose faces you recognize: celebrities, “role models,” Influencers (great word — it doesn’t even try to hide its intent) and an assortment of pushed and publicized others who are largely famous for being famous. It’s easy to confuse our familiarity with their public persona for some sort of relationship.

hairpin beautiful woman thinking nostalgic innocence steve henderson drawing

Becoming a person of grace and wisdom, the type of person others want to emulate, takes thought and reflection. The Hairpin, artwork by Steve Henderson

But the ones who matter, the ones who make a lifetime impact, generally don’t post viral social media posts or attract the paparazzi. Many of them won’t show up on the Internet at all, other than on the White Pages.

One of these is my high school English teacher, a woman I haven’t seen for, well, many many years. But her actions, her mien, her deportment, showed me at a young age what class, compassion, respect, and honor look like.

I never heard her raise her voice, because she didn’t have to. And while she clearly expected respect from each of her students, it was willingly given because we knew that she just as clearly respected us first, treating a motley crew of potential teenage rabble as intelligent, reasonable adults. We sought to do our best for her not because we were afraid of her, but because we valued her esteem. And her esteem was worth valuing.

This is not an encomium that the famous for being famous have earned, nor deserve. (Perhaps, just perhaps, we might stop giving it to them?)

The artwork, The Hairpin, invites us to look deep within ourselves and contemplate the type of person we want to be. We do not become good, wise, kind people by accident.

It is through our experiences, our interaction with others, and a great deal of thinking and meditation that we grow, day by day, into a person of grace, wisdom, and kindness, a person, in short, worth emulating. Fingers running through her hair, the young woman stops, arrested by a thought that needs to be explored — and that thought has little to do with the placement of the hairpin.

Quiet, intense contemplation: when we engage in this, we look as if we are doing nothing, but in truth, we are doing something incredible. We are taking the next step toward becoming a person whose impact on the world, while it won’t result in Likes, Shares, reposts, and a mention on whatever talk show is in vogue for the next ten minutes, will make an impact that lasts.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

When Will You Be Honored for What You Do?

The Power We All Possess

So American — Assigning Value Numbers to People

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