Guidelines for Living Fully

I started a few months ago compiling some guidelines (rules, if you prefer) for living fully. I share a few with you below.

1. Be grateful
2. Rejoice
3. Smile and laugh often
4. Trust
5.  Don’t waste good
6. Tell the truth
7. Know when to cut your losses
8. Know when to say no
9. Know when to wait
10. Know when to say nothing


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Who wants to study Chuck? Why would anyone want to? He’s a nice guy and fun to be around; even I acknowledge that. He’s also interesting and has some great experiences to share. He likes people. Chuck is also human and can empathize with almost anyone. There are skeletons in his closet, but he doesn’t try to hide them–for the most part.

But study him? He doesn’t want anyone to study him. The very idea gives him the shivers. Chuckology? The suffix, ology = the study of.

Bio = life.

Biology = the study of life.


Geo = the earth.

Geology = the study of the earth.


Chuck = me.

Chuckology = the study of me.

Boring! Why not just spend time with me, get to know me. We might become friends. I’d like that. Yes, indeed.


Theo = God.

Theology = the study of God.

Boring! Why not just spend time with him, get to know him. You might become friends. I’m told that he’d like that. Hmmmm.


DISCLAIMER: WordPress occasionally adds an advertisement at the bottom of my blog. Twice, I’ve been notified by readers that those ads were offensive. I am unable to view these ads, and I cannot delete them. I apologize and am attempting to prevent this from happening in the future.

Parenting and Public Schools

My hypotheses about the current fundamental public school problems are simple.  First, effective parenting is paramount.  And, second, sound relationship skills undergird the entire education enterprise.

Exemplary teachers usually have solid parenting skills.  Must a teacher be or have been a biological parent to acquire these skills.  Not at all.  They can best be learned by rearing children in a nuclear family.  But, they can be learned other ways too.  Most importantly – they can be learned (and taught).

Good parenting skills teach us the importance of letting our children (students) know that we value and accept them, regardless of their behavior.  Simultaneously, we inform them (and demonstrate to them) that bad behavior has negative consequences.

More to come….

Discipline in Public Schools

PHS added a dress code this year.  Oh, the outcries of offense!  But the administration stood firm.  The dress code policy reduced violence in the school.   Ninety-six students were expelled (not suspended) the year prior to the dress code.  This year, the first year of the dress code policy, one student has been expelled

Ninety-five percent of the prior year expulsions were a result of fighting, drugs, and failure to make academic progress.  All that changed this year.  Teachers report a big difference in classroom performance, student attitude, and learning.  The administration and staff took charge of the school.  Rules and order govern the school, not gangs and violence.

A dress code is a form of discipline – something sorely lacking in most public schools.   PHS would almost certainly benefit from other forms of discipline, but this is a good start.  When students receive discipline, they can develop self-discipline.  Self-discipline leads to success and positive accomplishments.  Thanks, PHS, for this great example.

The Bean Dance

Piki Bread

Last Saturday, Zoe and I (along with Nancy, a friend) enjoyed the Bean Dance at Mishongnovi, Hopi, AZ on Second Mesa.  Zoe and Nancy went early and helped the women prepare the food.  They saw things I didn’t.  The Bean Dance is associated with couples’ engagement to be married.  It involves the exchange and consumption of much food and Kachinas.

The whole week before the day that the woman takes the food to her in-laws, her family prepares a lot of pastries like cakes, pies, cookies, donuts, sweet rolls, etc.  Baskets and baskets of bread are also prepared as are strings of fruit.  The female relatives bring boxes of Piki bread, a traditional food only made on a hot, flat stone.  Piki bread is made from dried Sweet Corn kernels.  Dried Sweet Corn is a very costly commodity and  must be finely ground to make what the Hopi call a ‘Horse’.  It is actually a kind of a cake.  Many families have to prepare for this event a year or two in advance to be able to have everything ready.

The Dance itself has Kachinas coming out of the Kivas and dancing, chanting, snorting, and making other noises as they scurry in and out of the kivas with loads of food and other gifts that they take to members of the village.  The event we attended lasted approximately two hours.  This was preceded by a nice meal in the ancient home of the family of the woman who invited us.  Her home was directly across the street from three Kivas, so we literally had a ringside seat (sitting or standing just outside the front, and only, door).

We feel honored to have been invited to and participate in The Bean Dance.

Poverty on the Navajo Nation

In a previous post, I briefly discussed the “third world nation” status of the Navajo Nation (NN). This was primarily due to the poverty issues they face.  Yet the NN received millions of federal and state funds – enough to distribute non-trivial monthly checks to each family living on the “Rez.”  On the other hand, citizens of the Navajo Nation:
  • do not pay federal or state taxes.
  • do not pay to register and license their vehicles
  • do not pay real estate taxes
  • rarely have house payments
  • never have to pay for land, since no one owns the land (yet every family has an allotment of land)
  • rarely have credit cards, so their debt load is minimal, usually a vehicle payment
  • receive free medical, dental, and eye care
  • much of their education is paid for by the tribe via workforce development or other social agencies.

How can one explain the ironies of monthly checks, incredible tax breaks and other government provision, and persistent poverty?  Government Dependency is an insidious thing.

Government Dependency

“”Todd’s family had worked hard to escape a rut that some find themselves in when faced with harsh conditions.  They saw that when government programs started growing, sometimes citizens became dependent on the programs and abandoned the strong work ethic of their elders.  This resulted in too many young people giving themselves over to a dependent lifestyle that often leads to fractured families, abuse, subpar education, and other problems.” – Sarah Palin referring to her Native American husband, Todd.

Working and living on the Navajo Nation the past year has confirmed Todd Palin’s observation.  I’ve also seen it on the nearby Hopi Reservation, and I saw it on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation when I worked with them several years ago.

Is the same thing happening to the U.S. general population?  Hmmm.

Navajo Nation and Socialism

navajoWhy would I call the Navajo Nation a socialist nation?  I’m glad you asked.

The Diné (Navajo people) receive monthly checks from their government who receives monthly checks from the U.S. government.  They depend on those government checks.  They do not have to work to survive.

Few jobs exist on the reservation – other than governments jobs, school-related jobs, health-care related jobs, and jobs in the few retail businesses that exist – convenience stores and fast-food outlets in the smaller communities – and larger retail stores in the few larger towns.  Other possibilities include mines (coal) and power plants.  Most of the businesses are owned by people outside the Reservation.

Navajo Nation government, local and National, experience corruption typical of governments.  Power, control, and opportunities for fraudent accumulation of wealth corrupt humans.  To be sure, many government officials are very honest and servant-minded.  Nevertheless, corruption frequently harms the Nation’s citizens.  U.S. government corruption also harms.  Some local citizens call the Bureau of Indian Affairs – the BIA – “bossing Indians around.”  🙂

From my perspective, socialism is not working well on the Navajo Nation.

Indians on the Reservation

indiansWhere I teach, at Piñon High School on the Navajo Nation, we have one Indian on staff.  His name is Udai Singh, and he teaches Chemistry.  He has an earned Ph.D. and is originally from India.  Therefore he is an Indian, right?

Columbus Day is coming next month.  We won’t be celebrating it on the Navajo Nation.  When he crossed the Atlantic Ocean and struck land, Columbus thought he had arrived in India.  He called the natives he encountered “Indians.”  Unfortunately, the moniker stuck.  To this day, I have yet to meet a Native American who originated in India. But, on the Navajo Nation, I have an Indian friend, Udai Singh.

Interestingly, Udai (Dr. Singh), tells me the British called his dark-skinned people, native to India, “Niggers.”  Oh, the arrogance of cultures that think they are better than others!

Socialism on the Navajo Nation

100_3833The most difficult challenge that I see on the Navajo Nation (Dinetah) is giving the people incentive.  Incentive to acquire an education, incentive to study, incentive to get a job (if any exist), and incentive to start a business is lacking.  In the public school classrooms, children lack incentive to study and learn.  Yes, that’s true in most public schools, but it appears to be more of a challenge on the Navajo Nation.

Understandably, many Navajo people do not want to leave their homeland to work.  They really love their homeland and most love their culture.  The younger people who do not love their culture at least are more comfortable with it than with “white man culture.”  When they do go to college, off the reservation, they face many cultural challenges.  A high percentage do not persist until graduation.

The Navajo do highly value military service, and a high percentage of them do enlist.  Military service ensures some form of education, including technical, that helps them obtain work after discharge.  Military service also provides opportunities for travel and reasonably safe immersion in another culture.  While many of these enlistees are very patriotic, almost all are willing to die for their country, they primarily enlist to protect their land (the Reservation) and to get off the Reservation and receive an informal and formal education.

I really respect the Navajo.  I really want to provide incentive to start businesses on the Reservation.  The people are highly intelligent and creative.  With a little incentive and encouragement, the sky is the limit for these amazing people!