Tuesday, August 26, 2014
On Being "Fully Present" - Breathing Space Blog
"Be fully present”
Samantha Power, U.S. Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights
excerpted from Occidental College commencement address, years back, and the situation has gotten worse:
IN WHATEVER YOU do, try to be present, fully present. As Satchel Paige put it, “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” You gotta be all in. This means leaving your technology behind occasionally and listening to a friend without half of your brain preoccupied by its inner longing for the red light on the BlackBerry.
I have gotten some glimpses of modern learning: In many college classes, laptops depict split screens -- notes from a class, and then a range of parallel stimulants: NBA playoff statistics on ESPN.com, a flight home on Expedia, and a new flirtation on Facebook....I know how good you are at multitasking. You have developed the modern muscle set. I know of what I speak because I, too, am a culprit.
You have never seen a U.S. government official and new mother so dexterous in her ability simultaneously to BlackBerry and breast-feed. But I promise you that over time this doesn’t cut it. Something or someone loses out. No more than a surgeon can operate while tweeting can you reach your potential with one ear in, one ear out. You actually have to reacquaint yourself with concentration. We all do. We should all become, as Henry James prescribed, a person “on whom nothing is lost.”
Labels: alert, alive, attend, attention, awake, here, listen, now, present
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Stress and Travel - Breathing Space Blog
Simply getting to the airport has become more stressful in the last few years. (Nevermind TSA), consider the following:
1. You have to pack the night before or very early that morning, and that in itself is an unusual burden. Then, largely because people are going to bed later and sleeping fewer hours per night you need to get to bed at a reasonable hour and get up on time.
2. Unless you've allowed plenty of time
to get ready in the morning, you have to dress and groom yourself more quickly, and get out the door at a specific time.
3. Then there's the trip to the airport. If you're driving, you have to make sure your car is in tune, hope that the traffic won't be too bad, and that there will be no other circumstances that prevent your timely arrival. If you're taking a taxi or shuttle, you still have to hope that it comes on time, and that it doesn't experience the same problems on the road that you might have.
Labels: airlines, packing, stress, taxi, traffic, transportation, travel
Friday, August 15, 2014
By the Time We Got to Woodstock - Breathing Space Blog
45 years flies by... By the Time We Got to Woodstock
In June and July of 1969, my friends and I were exposed to a
variety of ads in local newspapers and over the radio which
announced a unique festival of peace and music in a tranquil
setting in upstate New York. Sullivan County, New York was only a
three hour drive from where we lived in Bloomfield, Connecticut.
The concert was to take place over a weekend with major acts
appearing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, August 15, 16, and 17,
1969. The tickets were a staggering $7 per day, or $21 in total
which was a lot to high school kids. Many of us sent away for
tickets in advance, and as that second week in August approached,
we were as high as kites as we prepared to make our way to the
Woodstock Music Festival.
I went with Mike Delitesso, who was the boyfriend of my high
school buddy, Bonnie Gautreau, along with two other friends, in
Mike's station wagon. My best friend, Peter, went in another car
departing about an hour and a half after us. My classmates, Don
and Dave, Greg and Paul, and a couple other kids departed that
Mike's goal was to get to the Natural Amphitheater, Yasgur's Farm,
where all the action would take place, by about three in the
afternoon. The first act, Richie Havens, was scheduled to go on at
We arrived in Sullivan County itself with plenty of time to spare,
but didn't realize that the last ten miles or so would take us
more than an hour. We crawled along, and noticed that people were
streaming in from every direction – on bikes, walking, in
minivans, and even buses.
As we listened to the radio, it became clear that every high
school and college-aged kid in the Northeast had heard of some
message about Woodstock. If they were asked, the promoters claimed
that 100,000 tickets would be sold, but no more. I had only been
in large football stadiums housing forty to fifty thousand people,
so I had an idea of how many people 100,000 would be.
We parked our car several hundred yards away from the opening
gate. It wasn't possible to get any closer. We went into a market
in town to find that almost everything on every shelf was gone. We
bought up what we could and continued on.
No Gate, No Fence
We were walking for quite some time and did not see any gate or
any place to show our tickets. Within a few more minutes we were
actually in sight of the stage way down the hill at the bottom of
the Natural Amphitheater, perhaps a hundred or a hundred fifty
We asked some long-haired hippy type where the gate was and he
said, "You're standing on it, man!" Sure enough, when we looked
down, the chain-link fence meant to define the perimeter of the
festival, deciding who gets in and does not, had been trampled
down to the ground and covered over in about an inch of solid mud.
We had paid for nothing, because this was now a free concert.
There was no gate, nobody collecting tickets, and nobody keeping
score. I immediately tossed my tickets to the ground. Why carry
anything extra during this three-day event in which everything you
owned was on your back? (Today of course the tickets sell on eBay
for thousands of dollars each.)
My friends and I claimed some space about 110 yards from the
stage, directly up the middle of the amphitheater, what in other
words you might have called centerfield. I was curious, however,
to see what it would be like to move up closer. I owned two of
Richie Havens’ albums and thought he was a great performer.
So temporarily ditching my friends, I made my way around the
untold numbers of blankets, sleeping bags, towels, and little
settlements that had sprung up everywhere. There was no quick
access to anything inside the Amphitheater. Several minutes later,
having walked the seventy yards or so, I stopped about forty yards
from the stage just before Richie Havens was about to perform.
Risking Hearing Loss
There were scads of people on stage, fiddling with wires and mics,
turning dials, and all the while pretending to look official. When
Richie Havens began singing, however, I was totally unprepared for
the volume of sound coming from the speakers. I thought I was
going to lose my hearing. I had never encountered anything at that
decibel level before. I quickly covered my ears with my hands. I
looked around, but no one else was doing the same. As Richie
Havens sang on, I quickly made my way back, even as more people
had filled in the remaining spaces. The music was still loud, but
I thought to myself, don't people know that hearing loss can be
permanent? Maybe it was something in the air that was temporarily
impairing them. So many people were smoking marijuana, and who
knows what else, that to take a breath was to become stoned. The
noticeable aroma saturated the air and there was no getting around
it. I had never touched pot in my life, and though the smell was
odd, I was still happy to be there. It was a great day in August
to be listening to some of the top rock groups around.
As one act after another came on, at one point, I noticed that on
the far left of the amphitheater stood a row of portable johns. As
with so many other elements of this festival, there were few
alternatives to the vital necessities. I made my way over to the
lines that had formed in front of each one of the porter johns.
Port a Poo
After many minutes it was my turn. The stench, particularly when
someone opened up one of the doors, was already overwhelming. As I
made my way into one of the booths, I couldn't help but notice
that the pile of human waste was already approaching the top of
the toilet. In order to let nature take its course, one could no
longer sit down on the toilet seat for risk of encountering
You had to stand and carefully deliver your shot. Whatever meager
rolls of toilet paper had initially been installed were apparently
long gone. I was so glad my mother always told me to carry an
extra tissue or two. I couldn’t think of a time in my life when I
would need them more.
What the movies and books and everything that has been written
about Woodstock never tell you, is that the set changes between
one act and the next often took between thirty and forty-five
minutes. Therefore, instead of holding to the schedule which
looked so good on paper, which ended no later than midnight, the
music continued on until about three or four in the morning.
Making an End Run
By Saturday morning, all of the stores in town had everything
cleaned out. Department stores, grocery stores, anybody selling
anything had sold it all. The backpacks were gone. The umbrellas
were gone. Boxes were gone. Sneakers were gone. Bread was gone.
Milk was gone. Even Twinkies and Hostess Cupcakes were gone.
Amazingly, Mike made it back to his car, and we high-tailed it out
of town before the rest of the masses awoke, and crossed the line
into Pennsylvania. We found a market and loaded up the car with as
much food as we could. As equally miraculously as our easy exit,
we made our way back into town and found a parking space about a
hundred yards farther from where we had been. We then made the
long trek back to the amphitheater, but at least we would not
starve. We might not be able to go to the bathroom, but we could
Saturday's opening afternoon acts were lightweights, compared to
what was to follow in the evening. In a sequence that I’ll never
forget, and which has never been rivaled anytime else in my life,
I saw Canned Heat, Sly and the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane,
Janis Joplin, and The Who. Saturday's concerts ended at about four
in the morning.
To Breath was to Get Stoned
The air was saturated with the smell of marijuana, and people
clung to their knapsacks and sleeping bags for dear life, as an
August night in upstate New York can get chilly. Hippies were all
around us. There were so many long-haired hippies, it seemed like
the whole country was like this.
On Sunday, the day started even more slowly than Saturday. People
were really groggy; I guess non-stop marijuana use will do that to
you. Some didn't get up until past noon. When the early afternoon
acts did finally begin, it started raining. Not a summer rain like
you might imagine, but a freezing, pelting rain.
I had been up near the top of the amphitheater, away from my
group, on a mission of exploration. I was only wearing shorts and
flip-flops. I had no towel and no hat. When the rain came down, it
was freezing, and I was completely unprepared.
There was no place to turn. There was a sea of humanity in every
direction. Now, knapsacks, sleeping bags, towels, and blankets
were getting soaked. In another hour, the entire amphitheater
would be converted to a mud bath.
Cold Autumn Rain, to Mud Plain
As the film documentaries show, tens of thousands of sleeping bags
were abandoned after the festival. They were too muddy to take
back and certainly too dirty to put in anyone's car. I looked
around for any possible shelter as the rain grew heavier. There
was nothing except for the trailer sections of some trucks that
had been parked on stilts towards the back of the amphitheater.
I was a few dozen yards away from the trailers, which meant it
would take me many minutes navigating past the crowds that now
occupied every square inch of the amphitheater. As I finally made
it to the first trailer, I took a look at the bunker of cinder
blocks on which one side of the trailer rested, while the wheels
of the trailer supported it on the other.
Was it solid? Could I get under it safely? We're talking tons of
weight here. One slip, and I would be a goner. I quickly assessed
the sturdiness of the cinder block bunker. I gave the trailer a
light shove, but it was like pushing against the wall of a
building. There was about three feet of space underneath, I could
hunch down, and ride out the storm. To my surprise, nobody else
It was still cold, and I was shivering with no let up, but at
least I was out of the rain.
I had plenty of room under the trailer and I wondered how long
would this storm last. Who knew? I didn't have a watch, and there
was no music emanating from the stage - it was far too dangerous
with the amps and electrical equipment. There was no lightning,
but the sky was gray and foreboding.
Perhaps an hour later, the rain subsided. Then, a little bit of
sun shone through, and it looked like we might actually have a
day. I made my way back to my friends' settlement. Mike had an
announcement to make. He said that if we didn't take off before
dark, we might be stuck in town for hours. We all had to agree.
Head for the Hills
At three or four in the afternoon in late August, there is still
plenty of daylight, but we feared that the mass exodus from this
festival might become a mass traffic snarl that could last for
untold hours. So, we decided to depart by five. This means we
would not see Crosby, Stills, and Nash; we would not see Country
Joe and the Fish; we would not see Jimi Hendrix. Even as
high-schoolers, we knew sometimes you had to make tough choices,
and this is one we all agreed upon.
However, as luck would have it, we were about an hour out of town
when Mike's car
broke down. It was late on a Sunday night; we were in a small
town, and no
service stations were open. So we camped out once again, some
the car, some sleeping near it.
At the crack of dawn, we rolled it into a service station where we
waited a couple hours before getting back on the road again,
eighteen hours after we had departed from Woodstock. Unbeknownst
to us, the Sunday sessions went to about five in the morning, the
longest and latest of all. Still, an hour from the epicenter,
heading towards Connecticut when most others would be heading
towards New York, Philadelphia, Syracuse, etc., the roads weren't
We made our way back to Bloomfield, Mike dropped each of us off,
and I remember thinking, the only thing I want to do now is sleep.
I said “hi” to my mother, made my way up to my bed, and didn't get
up until about eight or nine that night. Even then, I awoke only
for an hour or two, then crashed again 'til the next morning.
When my parents showed me the newspapers, I was amazed. Instead of
the 100,000 ticket buyers who were scheduled to show up, 500,000
had shown up. Woodstock had been a national and perhaps
international phenomenon. There was coverage on the nightly news.
It made the headlines of the Connecticut papers. The mass exodus
that we wished to avoid, in particular, was highlighted on the
After two days, reporters and their TV cameras had a chance to do
I had been a part of "the defining moment" of my generation. I can
assure you that it didn't feel like a defining moment, although it
was certainly something I would not have wanted to miss. My
friends and I had always been responsible. If some of them smoked
marijuana that weekend, I didn't know about it. I was unprepared
for the behavior of the masses at Woodstock.
I also remember thinking, so this is the generation that's going
to move into positions of power? Sell-outs, if you ask me: All
kinds of principles in their youth, none of which they managed to
hang onto very long as soon as the reality of competing for jobs,
paying mortgages, and raising children set in.
As time passed, it occurred to me that more and more people were
claiming to have attended Woodstock. I had a pretty good idea of
who had attended from my hometown. When I went to college, I was
kind of surprised at the frequency of times I would encounter
someone who told me they had been to Woodstock. Quickly, I
surmised, a lot of people were lying. They said they had been
there because apparently, to the non-attendees, it seemed to be de
So, You Attended, Too?
I developed my own little test to determine who had been there for
real, and who had not. For example, everybody knew about the
musical acts because it was published in the papers and recited on
radio stations. But non-attendees would have little chance at
knowing about the particulars of everyday life, such as where you
could shop for food, where you could go to the bathroom, where you
could get medical aid, and so forth.
Likewise, the non-attendees had no idea that the fence had
actually been trampled down to the ground and then disappeared.
From the logistics, to the mechanics, to the smell of the air, I
could quickly surmise who had actually been there and who had not.
I never put anybody down when I caught them, and in fact I didn't
even let them know. I just smiled within and thought to myself,
good grief it was only three days! There will probably be other
Little did I know...
Friday, August 15, 1969
Richie Havens - 5:07pm - 7:00pm
"The Minstrel from Gault"
"From the Prison/Get Together/From the Prison"
"I'm a Stranger Here"
"High Flying Bird"
"I Can't Make It Anymore"
"With a Little Help from My Friends"
"Strawberry Fields Forever / Hey Jude"
"Freedom (Motherless Child)"
Swami Satchidananda - gave the invocation for the festival -
7:10pm - 7:20pm
Sweetwater - 7:30pm - 8:10pm
"For Pete's Sake"
"Why Oh Why"
"Let the Sunshine In"
"Oh Happy Day"
Bert Sommer - 8:20pm - 9:15pm
"The Road to Travel"
"I Wondered Where You Be"
"Things Are Going My Way"
"And When It's Over"
"A Note That Read"
Tim Hardin - 9:20pm - 9:45pm
"How Can We Hang On to a Dream?"
"If I Were a Carpenter"
"Reason to Believe"
"You Upset the Grace of Living When You Lie"
"Speak Like a Child"
"Snow White Lady"
"Blue on My Ceiling"
"Simple Song of Freedom"
Ravi Shankar - played through the rain - 10:00pm - 10:35pm
"Raga Puriya-Dhanashri/Gat In Sawarital"
"Tabla Solo In Jhaptal"
"Raga Manj Kmahaj (AIap, Jor, Dhun In Kaharwa Tal)"
Melanie Safka - 10:50pm - 11:20pm
"Close to It All"
"Mr. Tambourine Man"
"Tuning My Guitar"
"Birthday of the Sun"
Arlo Guthrie- 11:55pm - 12:25am
"Coming into Los Angeles"
"Wheel of Fortune"
"Walkin' Down the Line"
"Story about Moses and the Brownies"
"Oh Mary, Don't You Weep"
"Every Hand in the Land"
Joan Baez - 12:55am - 2:00am 
"Oh Happy Day"
"The Last Thing on My Mind"
"I Shall Be Released"
"Story about how the Federal Marshals came to take David
Harris into custody"
"Sweet Sir Galahad"
"Drug Store Truck Driving Man" duet with Jeffrey Shurtleff
"I Live One Day at a Time"
"Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South"
"Let Me Wrap You In My Warm and Tender Love"
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"
"We Shall Overcome"
Saturday, August 16, 1969
Quill - 12:15pm - 12:45pm
"They Live the Life"
"That's How I Eat"
"Waitin' for You"
Country Joe McDonald - 1:00pm - 1:30pm
"Heartaches by the Number"
"Ring of Fire"
"Rockin' Round the World"
"I Seen a Rocket"
"The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag"
Santana - 2:00pm - 2:45pm
"You Just Don't Care"
"Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries"
John B. Sebastian - 3:30pm - 3:55pm
"How Have You Been"
"Rainbows All Over Your Blues"
"I Had a Dream"
"Darlin' Be Home Soon"
Keef Hartley Band - 4:45pm - 5:30pm
"Too Much Thinkin'"
"Believe in You"
"Rock Me Baby"
"Sinnin' for You / Leaving Trunk / Just to Cry / Sinnin'
The Incredible String Band - 6:00pm - 6:30pm
"Come with Me"
"When You Find Out Who You Are"
Canned Heat - 7:30pm - 8:30pm
"I'm Her Man"
"Going Up the Country"
"A Change Is Gonna Come / Leaving This Town"
"Too Many Drivers at the Wheel"
"I Know My Baby"
"On the Road Again"
Mountain - 9:00pm - 10:00pm
"Blood of the Sun"
"Theme for an Imaginary Western"
"For Yasgur's Farm" (song was untitled at the time)
"Beside the Sea"
"Waiting to Take You Away"
"Dreams of Milk and Honey / Guitar Solo"
"Dirty Shoes Blues"
"Turn on Your Love Light" - stage
Creedence Clearwater Revival - 12:30am - 1:20am
"Born on the Bayou"
"Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won't Do)"
"Bad Moon Rising"
"I Put a Spell on You"
"Night Time Is the Right Time"
"Keep on Chooglin'"
Janis Joplin with The Kozmic Blues Band - 2:00am - 3:00am
"Raise Your Hand"
"As Good As You've Been to This World"
"To Love Somebody"
"Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)"
"Can't Turn You Loose"
"Work Me, Lord"
"Piece of My Heart"
"Ball 'n' Chain"
Sly & the Family Stone - 3:30am - 4:20am
"Sing a Simple Song"
"You Can Make It If You Try"
"Dance To The Music"
"I Want to Take You Higher"
"Heaven and Hell"
"I Can't Explain"
"It's a Boy"
"Eyesight to the Blind"
"Pinball Wizard" Abbie Hoffman incident
"Do You Think It's Alright?"
"There's a Doctor"
"Go to the Mirror"
"Smash the Mirror"
"Tommy's Holiday Camp"
"We're Not Gonna Take It"
"See Me, Feel Me"
"Shakin' All Over"
Jefferson Airplane - 8:00am - 9:40am
"The Other Side of This Life"
"Somebody to Love"
"3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds"
"Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon"
"Eskimo Blue Day"
"Plastic Fantastic Lover"
"Uncle Sam Blues"
"The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil"
"Come Back Baby"
"The House at Pooneil Corners"
Labels: concert, crowd, festival, folk, hippies, music, rock, Woodstock
Monday, August 04, 2014
Vacation Time Shrinking - Breathing Space Blog
"The U.S. Travel Association
, which has been gathering data on American
vacations for decades, has seen the length of vacations steadily
decline, even as people take them more frequently. In 1975, the
association reports, vacations lasted on average more than a week. By
1985, the average vacation had shrunk to 5.4 days, and by 2010,
according to the group's latest data, the average stood at 3.8 days."
Labels: escape, relax, rest, shorter, travel, vacation
Monday, July 28, 2014
Technology Bill of Rights - Breathing Space Blog
The Independent Worker's Technology Bill of Rights
established by Larry Rosen Ph.D. and Michelle Weil PhD. in their book Technostress
is well worth perusing.
Technology, say the authors puts independent workers in the driver's seat, so to speak. But it can create such dependency that it may even lead to questioning one's own creativity and capabilities. To keep technology in it's proper perspective, declare your independence;
The Independent Worker's Technology Bill of Rights
1. I am the boss, not my technology.
2. Technology is available to help me express my creativity.
3. I decide when to use the tools technology provides.
4. I have the right to choose what technology to use and what to put aside.
5. I can use technology to stay connected, informed, and productive-my way.
6. Technology offers a world of information. I get to choose what information
7. Technology will pose problems, but I will be prepared to handle them.
8. Technology can work 24-hour days, but I can choose when to begin and
when to stop working.
9. Technology never needs to rest, but I do.
10. I can work successfully by enforcing my boundary needs.
Labels: boundary, independence, rights, Rosen, stress, technology, Technostress
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Death by Overwork - Breathing Space Blog
Authors Louise de Rosario and Anthony Rowley, in an article written for the Far Eastern Economic Review
, observed that up to 10,000 Japanese die annually as victims of karoshi: death by overwork. In one survey, 40 percent of respondents indicated that they feel too uncomfortable to take paid holidays
Labels: death, holidays, karoshi, overwork, victim
Friday, July 18, 2014
The Value of Rituals - Breathing Space Blog
In an ultra-hectic world, small daily rituals play an important part in everyone's life. For example, some people linger in the shower for several minutes, collecting their thoughts, letting the warm water pour over them, to gain a sense of satisfaction or even renewal.
In the workplace, a ritual might entail setting the window blinds ‘just right,' clearing one's desk, and having all calls held before tackling a project. Teams at work might have breakfast or lunch together, or engage in five minutes of friendly banter before the beginning of a formal meeting. Rituals can serve as little breaks throughout the day to keep noise and distraction at bay.
Such positive rituals – automatic forms of behavior or activities – help to reduce stress because they effectively limit the array or options one might otherwise face.
Labels: behavior, breaks, habits, hectic, noise, rituals