Thursday, June 23


I knew the day was going to be a challenge when I witnessed bird-on-bird violence while I sat at the kitchen table contemplating recent events concerning my son's first year funding to attend CMU. I watched as a bird (who I'll call Bob) worked diligently to wrestle breakfast from the ground and wondered how I would fulfill all my responsibilities if I had to fight as hard to secure three daily meals. To my dismay a second bird (George) interrupted my pondering when he swooped down, pecked Bob in the face, and quick as lightning stole the hard won meal. All Bob's hard work was erased in an instance. Bob seemed to pause for a moment before taking flight and I wondered about his response. Was Bob sad, pissed, discouraged, defeated...? Would he muster the energy and courage to search for another meal or go hungry? Would he live to fight another day??

Poopy things happen in life. It is ok to feel what you feel about them but we all are responsible for our choices. If an obstacle delays our progress and we allow it to become a barrier, there are always other birds out there who are only too happy to continue the fight and secure what may have been our next meal. My son will overcome the obstacle created by the loss of 80% of his funding because he is hungry and he is passionate about his goals. He knows about the struggle to fund an education because he lived it with me as I searched endlessly for support to achieve my bachelor's degree. He also knows that it is possible to persevere and reach your goals; he was there when my name was read at the May 2009 graduation ceremony.

Although you will encounter obstacles on your path to earning a doctoral degree, will you allow them to become barriers? Will you persevere?


Tuesday, June 21

I Love Shaun!

You have heard me talk about how much I love Shaun the Sheep, so I thought I would share. Take a break from all of your hard work and watch this six-minute video. It's hilarious! LOL!

Monday, June 13

Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Back in April, I posted to our blog on mindfulness and how it can help us to live better by being more present to our lives. I think everyone knows how much I enjoy encouraging our scholars to explore tools that can help them grow on many levels - yoga and meditation being two very significant tools in my mind. Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s work on mindfulness is interesting, and I think, a great entry point to the practice of becoming more mindful. I’m meeting with each of you this week and I’ll be chatting about this, in addition to inviting you to listen to a short podcast of Dr. Kabat-Zinn from Public Radio’s “On Being” with Krista Tippett. There are a ton of cool programs on this site, by the way. You know, for in your spare time….

I posted the podcast on SharePoint (if you wish to download it and listen) and here is a link to the transcript of the podcast, which also includes a link to download it from Public Radio’s website. I’m also including a link to Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s bio and short video of him encapsulating the primary focus of his work. Finally, we have a “McNair IPod” that I will be “passing around” to interested parties….I have a variety of items on the IPod; you might find some of them interesting and/or useful and/or fun!

Transcript from On Being – Opening to Our Lives

Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s Bio and Short Video


Sunday, June 12

A Little Hand is a Big Thing ...

My reflection from last week focused on all the small things I do to sabotage my progress.  All the little excuses I can create and justify to stifle my success.  Interestingly, I ran across this story regarding spiritual progress from Paulo Coelho.  I thought it was cool enough to quote here.

Quoted from the June edition of Ode Magazine -

Covering the Sun with One's Hand
A disciple sought out Rabbi Nahman of Braslaw and said, "I will no longer study the sacred texts. I live in a small house with my brothers and parents, and I never have the ideal conditions to be able to concentrate on what is important."

Nahman pointed to the sun and asked his disciple to place his hand in front of his face, so as to hide it. The disciple did as he was told.

"Your hand is small. However, it was able to entirely block the strength, the light and the majesty of the huge sun.  In the same way, small problems are able to give you the necessary excuse not to go on your spiritual search. Just as the hand has the power to hide the sun, mediocrity has the power of hiding your inner light. Do not blame others for your own incompetence."

Sunday, June 5

Getting Into the Groove

During the summer, my sister Patty and I have been known to do the “summer chant” when we’re swimming at the cottage, out by the raft. It goes like this. Give me an “S!” Give me a “U!” Give me an “M!” Give me another “M!” Give me an “E!” Give me an “R!” What’s that spell?! SUMMER! SUMMER! I know you are laughing…..but seriously……maybe we should say…..give me an “S!” Give me an “R!” Give me an “I!” What’s that spell?! SRI! SRI! Yes, it’s your Summer Research Institute and you are in the thick of it.

That’s okay though because each one of you is going to work in a very focused and efficient way on all items of business – your research, your GRE, your plan for grad school. Now is the time to do your best, taking advantage of the support, knowledge and guidance you are receiving. We know it’s a lot. It is a lot. I think everyone is well-oriented to striving for balance, which is good. Work hard, but find time to relax and enjoy the summer too. If you work smart and efficient, we think you can do both.