Speaking and Listening: The Power of Truth

By Angela Noel

April 6, 2017

“You know,” my dad said from his living room in California, “for that You are Awesome thingy you do . . . maybe you could ask people about speaking truth to power.”

“Tell me more.” I held my phone to my ear, enjoying a peek of springtime sun three-thousand miles away.

“Well, in my career (he’s retired) I never really gave much thought to whether I should say something, I just said it. And it got me in trouble, even fired. But, it’s really important. Especially now. So, I want to know how people do it, and do it well.”

Separated both by geography and sometimes ideology, my dad and I do agree on many things. We both, for example, believe societies big and small–families, workplaces, neighborhoods, countries–need healthy, well-informed debate by people that care. We believe respectful discourse among equals brings clarity, if not agreement.

But, there’s that whole power thing that mucks things up.

Continue reading “Speaking and Listening: The Power of Truth”

A Creative Career in Four Acts . . . and Counting

Guest Post by Pamela Asbury-Smith

March 30, 2017

Act One: Motherhood to Quantico

High school and jobs, college and career choices. Perhaps it’s the era into which I was born but I wasn’t expected to go to college. In fact, I was told I wouldn’t need it because I’d just get married and have children, whereas my brother would need a college degree to support the family he would one day have. I did get my MRS degree–I also got a divorce after two children and had to go to work.

My brother never married, never had children. Irony of ironies.

Without any marketable skills aside from typing and ambition, I was able to land an exciting job as a clerk-matron in a small police department. My sagging ego needed that infusion of power. Continue reading “A Creative Career in Four Acts . . . and Counting”

Why We Should Stop Being Polite

By Angela Noel

March 16, 2017

I was in college when the first Real World by MTV crashed into our living rooms.  What happens “. . . when people stop being polite and start getting real?” the show asked.

Interesting question . . . only I don’t think they ever answered it. In thirty-two (and counting) seasons, have we seen a whole lot of “real?”

Drama. Yes. But, real? Continue reading “Why We Should Stop Being Polite”

Simple Lessons in a Complex World

By Angela Noel

March 9, 2017

“It’s like raisin bread,” Ryan Allshouse explained, drawing a blue rectangle on his white board studded with blue dots, “As the bread bakes, it expands and the raisins get farther away from each other.”

“I still don’t get it,” I said. “How can the universe be expanding? Expanding into what? The bread expands into the air. Where there was air, the bread is now taking up the space. When the universe expands what gives way?” I cross my arms and tap my foot, brow furrowed, unhappy with the raisin bread explanation.

Ryan laughs. “I don’t know.”

Years ago, Ryan might have kept this conversation going. He might have argued with me and showed me the research on the expanding universe and why, from a space/physics/science-y perspective, my question was silly. But this Ryan, older, wiser, and passionate about knowledge and deep thoughts, has learned the importance of not-knowing. He’s learned the immeasurable value of the one statement every human can (and should) make, regardless of years of study and expertise.  Continue reading “Simple Lessons in a Complex World”

A Weekly Way to Share the Good

by Angela Noel

February 23, 2017

“Don’t go looking for trouble;” Sookie Stackhouse, heroine of The Southern Vampire Series often says, quoting her wise grandmother (who in turn was paraphrasing Proverbs 11:27), “it’s already looking for you.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, author and philosopher, offers a different but related perspective, “Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.” Even if you aren’t a fan of either Sookie or Dostoyevsky, it’s difficult to deny there’s truth here: Trouble is looking for us whether we like it or not, and we tend to focus on it, even when we’re trying not to.

But, trouble is neither all bad, nor all encompassing. At least, it doesn’t have to be. We can follow a different path. One highlighted by poet Mary Oliver in her poem Sometimes:

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be Astonished.

Tell about it.”

I think Mary’s on to something, so I’m creating a way to share the good. I’m calling it “Awesome Nuggets: A Weekly Way to Share the Good” and I hope you’ll join me. Continue reading “A Weekly Way to Share the Good”

Who We Are

By Angela Noel

January 19, 2017

Seems like just yesterday we were dressing up in feather boas and funny hats together, but CK Sanders has been CEO of a successful New York business for sixteen years now. She once helped me catch crawdads in a pond, and now she helps New Yorkers experience the great outdoors through day trips to craft breweries, wineries, and other hot spots for agritourism.

Playing Dress Up
CK on the left, me, and and our cousin Michelle in 1980. Dressing up with Grandma Sue’s old boas and hats. (Did people actually wear this stuff?)

If owning her own business wasn’t enough, CK launched a music career as a side project. Her recently released single, “Who We Are,” feels like an anthem to everything I want 2017 to be: heartfelt, collaborative, creative, and true. 

Continue reading “Who We Are”

A Resolution Revolution

by Angela Noel

January 5, 2017

The UN makes resolutions, defined as, “. . .formal expressions of the opinion or will of the United Nations organs.” One could argue New Year’s Resolutions fall into this category. We are expressing our will or opinion on what we want to create in the world as a result of careful consideration and after assessment of the conditions at hand. But, here a resolution is needed often to “resolve” a current conflict or friction point.

When we make New Year’s Resolutions, no doubt the goal is to resolve an issue we perceive in our lives today; something we’re doing we want to stop, or something we aren’t doing that we want to start. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to break the routine and introduce a new idea. The issue I have with resolutions, as we practice them in daily life, is with the stiff formality of it all. Our lives are fluid. Sometimes, even if I want a grilled cheese sandwich, the bread is moldy and the cheese has a funny (but not in a good way) smell. I must adapt my dinner preferences as I must adapt my life to the circumstances within it.

My answer to New Year’s Resolutions is a cluster of yearly Intentions.

Continue reading “A Resolution Revolution”

Music Review: M French’s Winding Road

By Angela Noel

November 17, 2016

Matthew French, whom you may remember from my very first blog post, recently released his second album, Winding Road. He asked me to listen to it, not because I’m a musician or qualified to critique his music the way a writer for Rolling Stone would, but because he was curious about how it would make me feel.

I think that’s the key to Matt’s music, actually. He’s not writing songs for those people OUT THERE. He’s writing for a few friends, who might be listening to his music sitting cross-legged on the carpet drinking wine from a mismatched set of tumblers someone found at a garage sale. In other words, me. And maybe you. Continue reading “Music Review: M French’s Winding Road”

What I Choose to Believe

By Angela Noel

September 22, 2016

I love finding money in my pants. I know it’s my own money in my own pants, but it still feels as if I’ve unearthed a hidden treasure. The routine of daily living can cause me to overlook something of value only to be surprised and delighted when I discover it again. I experience this same thrill whenever I encounter playful reminders of the creativity and kindness of my fellow humans in everyday life. Continue reading “What I Choose to Believe”