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Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I've recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.




February 17, 2016

Opinion and Compromise

For some reason, I turned on the radio a few days ago, and caught President Obama giving a speech at the Illinois General Assembly. In 1996, Obama officially launched his political career, winning election to the Illinois State Senate as a Democrat from the South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park. This 2016 speech marked the ninth anniversary of the day he announced his candidacy for the presidency. In this speech, he called for unity and compromise to fix American politics. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the speech:

(In the Illinois legislature) I learned by talking to your constituents that if you were willing to listen, it was possible to bridge a lot of differences.  I learned that most Americans aren’t following the ins and outs of the legislature carefully…they understand the difference between realism and idealism; the difference between responsibility and recklessness. They had the maturity to know what can and cannot be compromised, and to admit the possibility that the other side just might have a point. And it convinced me that if we just approached our national politics the same way the American people approach their daily lives –- at the workplace, at the Little League game; at church or the synagogue -- with common sense, and a commitment to fair play and basic courtesy, that there is no problem that we couldn’t solve together.

Along those same lines, I’ve learned a lot about Justice Scalia since his death over the weekend. Justices are, according to some, appointed to the Supreme Court for life so they have the freedom to think. They have the time and independence to investigate law and to really argue the fine points of any case.  Sounds like Scalia was smart and appreciated others for their intellect. Michael W. McConnell, Stanford Law School, wrote, “By sheer force of intellect and personality, Scalia helped to move the court from a somewhat sloppy, results-oriented, center-left institution to a more intellectually rigorous center-right court that forefronts text and history over other modes of interpretation.”

There will be a big fight over who will appoint the next Supreme Court justice to replace Scalia. President Obama says he’ll nominate someone. Republican led Congress vows to not vote on his nominee, hoping a Republican president will be elected in November. Seems like a wastes of time to me. Let’s get on with governing.

I’ve been reminded this week that opinion is formed by what I know, by what I hear, by what I come to believe. I must be vigilant to always seek answers and to value, as Obama said, “common sense, a commitment to fair play and basic courtesy,” as a way to solve problems.

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  
     Staci Sleigh-Layman


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February 10, 2016

My Super Bowl 2016 observations:

Lady Gaga did a good job on the National Anthem.  Lots of performers try to do fancy things (well, they’re performers) but I thought she did a fine rendition.  What she wore (sparkly red pantsuit with matching eye shadow, sparkly blue fingernails, and flag inspired platform shoes) was staid compared to what she’s worn in the past.  Remember the dress made out of meat in 2010?

The Super Bowl game was nothing to write home about. Both teams combined for only about 500 total yards. Lots of penalties. Turnovers galore. I’m not really a fan of either team but was rooting for Denver, mostly, I guess, rooting against Carolina. I just found the arrogance of Carolina to be over the top, even though I will admit they are a lot like the Seahawks! Cam Newton’s got nothing on the arrogance of Richard Sherman.

Post-game was the time I found really interesting. Peyton Manning could not have been classier. He thanked his teammates and his family. He expressed how grateful he felt for having had such good coaches throughout his career. I’ll even forgive him for shamelessly plugging Budweiser, since I know they didn’t pay him to say anything and he does own a couple of Bud distributorships. At 39 years old, I’m glad he could end his career on a high note. 

I just felt sorry for Cam Newton. He set himself up for being humbled when he wore the gold MVP shoes during warmups. That set him up for a long fall. I found myself thinking about my own children at 26 years old. Someone that age is not equipped to take on the media, the pressure, the failure of that moment. I saw him at his press conference, where he spoke in one word syllables and walked out, and while I think he was childish, I’ll give him a break. I actually like him better humble than brash.

I thought about how our CWU students deal with triumph and defeat. Some respond to defeat by quitting; some go home to see their families; some gather their friends around; but none have to speak about that failing grade or the breakup of a relationship in front of nationwide television cameras. And I’m glad.

I’m writing about the Super Bowl because it has become one of our cultural markers. Although I didn’t celebrate in any significant way (just home with my husband and the cat), I envision families, friends, coworkers far and wide, gathering in living rooms to experience the ritual that IS the Super Bowl. Are there better things to celebrate? Sure. Are there less violent, or sexist, or important events than the Super Bowl? Yes. But the spectacle has made its way into the fabric of America. The older I get, the more I’ll take any reason to celebrate!

P.S. Twitter has it that Marshawn Lynch is retiring from football. I gotta give the guy credit. The picture of the cleats hanging on the wire was a great shot. I think it was shady to do it during the Super Bowl though. Lynch did a lot for the Seattle Seahawks. He made me think more than once about the wisdom of being your own person. I’m glad he’s leaving on his terms.

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January 27, 2016

Happy New Year!  Several years ago, I found this article titled, 30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself, available at .  Here are my favorites:

2.  Start facing your problems head on.  --  It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them.  Problems will not disappear unless you take action.  Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done.  It’s all about taking baby steps in the right direction, inch by inch.  These inches count, they add up to yards and miles in the long run.

3.  Start being honest with yourself about everything.  --  Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed.  Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become.  Be honest with every aspect of your life, always.  Because you are the one person you can forever count on.  Search you soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are.  Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there.  Read The Road Less Traveled.

7.  Start valuing the lessons your mistakes teach you.  --  Mistakes are okay; they’re the stepping stones of progress.  If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re not learning.  Take risks, stumble, fall, and then get up and try again.  Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, leaving, growing, and improving.  Significant achievements are almost invariably realized at the end of a long road of failures.  One of the “mistakes” you fear might just be the link of your greatest achievement yet.

11.  Start giving your ideas and dreams a chance.  --  In life, it’s rarely about getting a change; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure if will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learning something.  Win-win.

15.  Start competing against an earlier version of yourself.  --  Be inspired by others, appreciate others, learn from others, but know that competing against them is a waste of time.  You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself.  You are competing to be the best you can be.  Aim to break your own personal records.

23.  Start accept things when they are less than perfect.  --  Remember, ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’  One of the biggest challenges for people who want to improve themselves and improve the world is learning to accept things as they are.  Sometimes it’s better to accept and appreciate the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to try to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal.  No, you shouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity, but learn to love and value things when they are less than perfect.

24.  Start working toward your goals every single day.  --  Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  Whatever it is you dream about, start taking small, logical steps every day to make is happen.  Get out there and DO something!  The harder you work the luckier you will become.  While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it.  By ‘working on it,’ I mean consistently devoting oneself to the end result.  Read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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December 14, 2015

I found this yesterday in the Seattle Times.  It is one of those write-in columns, by a syndicated columnist named Carolyn Hax.  It is a reminder that not everyone is happy during the holidays.  According to WebMD, “Feeling down during the holidays can be tough, especially since you seem so out of step with the world. Everyone else seems to be beaming, ruddy-cheeked, bursting with holiday spirit. You’re feeling wretched and exhausted.  But here’s something to cheer you up the next time you’re stuck in a room of revelers at a holiday party: Plenty of them are probably unhappy, too.”









I hate Christmas.  I hate the expectations: put on the family dinner because my mother’s health doesn’t allow her to do it anymore.  Watching her and her husband drink too much.  Figure out how much money to give the kids because they don’t want presents, only money.
I hate people asking me what I want and never listening.  I know it’s the thought that counts, but, I’ve been asking for the same thing for 15 years.
The pleas from charities everywhere I go.  I give plenty.
My sister, conveniently living six hours away, who won’t travel because her husband HAS to be home on Christmas, telling me how I should do it.
My husband loving to bake but even when he thinks he’s done a good job cleaning up, leaving a huge mess for me.
Being forced to participate in office baked goods for the bosses.
Gifts for a stepdaughter I never see and who doesn’t like me.
Going out to eat is not an option as “it’s not our tradition” and too expensive.  How do I survive it without crying every day?

--- The Weeping Christmas Tree
Take care of yourself.
Happy Holidays!


Expectations lurk behind every gap between desire and reality; they’re the engine of stress and disappointment.  You’ve invested yourself heavily on the desire side of that pair, pushing aside everything you need, care about and believe to try to give others what they want.

It’s not working, and not just because you’re an advent calendar of tears.  Your mother and her husband aren’t at peace or they wouldn’t need to medicate themselves silly, and if your sister felt good she’d be at your side instead of up in your grill.
The answer is to stop chasing desire and start embracing reality.  Start asking yourself: What is and isn’t possible to change?

And then: What is and isn’t worth changing?
Ultimately you have to answer these based on your own truths and tolerances:

• You can’t change your mother’s expectations, but you can change whether or how you meet them.
• You can’t change what you can afford, but you can change how you spend…streamline the menu.
• You can’t change your sister’s urge to interfere, but you can calming state if she feels strongly about how things are done, then she’ welcome to host Christmas herself.
• You can’t prevent holiday chariteering, but you can choose to carry a stack of $1 bills wherever you go, and, for very little money, channel a morning after Scrooge.
• You can’t change what people give you, but you can change what you hope for.
• You can’t make your husband not bake or understand what “clean” means, but you can ask him to bake for your bosses, right?

Pour yourself something toasty and write your To-Quit List, topped by “Quit seeing others’ expectations as your responsibility.”


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December 7, 2015

“With no warning the attacking planes came into sight over Pearl Harbor. At 7:55 a.m., December 7, 1941 the first target was hit and by 9:45 a.m. it was all over. Behind them the Japanese left devastation as their aircraft carriers headed home to Japan. Over 2,400 people died, hundreds of planes were destroyed, and a fleet containing eight battleships was ruined. With a single act, Japan woke America to the horrible realities of war.”
Pearl Harbor Survivors Association

     Not many Americans even knew where Pearl Harbor was located on Sunday, Dec. 7 1941, a time when news traveled by way of newspapers and radio. It was still an innocent era in America, a nation only beginning to emerge from an economic depression. People still didn’t have much in the way of creature comforts.
What they had was each other. Back then it seemed like more than enough.
And then came Pearl Harbor when Japanese forces unleashed an unexpected attack on U.S. troops based in Hawaii. It was a brutal act of war in a world slipping into global insanity. The Axis powers of Germany and Italy were attempting to overrun Europe. And now, suddenly, America was also under attack. Who could say what might happen next.

     For those here at home, it was a day of fear and anxiety — two emotions expressed so well in a Sunday column by Don Bolden, the Times-News (of Burlington, NC) editor emeritus and a lifetime recorder of history. On that fated Sunday morning, news about our first “Day of Infamy” was breaking over the radio. It was a family gathering point for Americans of that period.

     And after church that morning, thousands of American families gathered by the small box and listened for any scrap of fresh news in what had become a horrifyingly uncertain time.  Don Bolden was 8 years old that morning. He was terrified.
Americans had every reason to be afraid. Then as now, rumors were rampant. War was a given. But did Americans face an attack on U.S. turf? When? How?
“The adults talked about what might happen following the attack. The main thing they considered was who would be going off to fight that war. What family members would go? What family members might not come back,” Bolden recalled on Sunday. “It was pretty obvious that I was not the only one scared to death.”

     Imagine this happening without the 24-hour news cycle, texting, cell phones…who would you turn to for support?  May today be a day to be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy and the people we love.

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The Tao of Pooh

Winnie the Pooh has a certain way about him, a way of doing things which has made him the world's most beloved bear. 'Tao of Pooh' explains Taoism by Winnie the Pooh and explains Winnie the Pooh by Taoism. It makes you understand what A.A. Milne probably meant when he said he didn't write the Pooh-books for children in the first place.

One of the basic principles of Taoism is P'U; the Uncarved Block. The essence of the Uncarved Block is that things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed. This principle applies not only to things, but to people as well. Or Bears. Which brings us to Pooh, the very Epitome of the Uncarved Block. When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few, other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work, odd as that may appear to others at times. As Piglet put it in 'Winnie-the-Pooh', "Pooh hasn't much Brain, but he never comes to any harm. He does silly things and they turn out right."


Owl instead, is the opposite of Pooh, the Knowledge for the sake of Appearing Wise, the one who studies Knowledge for the sake of Knowledge, and who keeps what he learns to himself or to his own small group, rather than working for the enlightenment of others. That way, the scholars can appear Superior, and will not likely be suspected of Not Knowing Something. Isn't the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn't?

While Owl's little routine is that of Knowledge for the sake of Appearing Wise, Eeyore's is that of Knowledge for the sake of Complaining About Something and Rabbit's is that of Knowledge of Being Clever. As anyone who doesn't have it can see, the Eeyore Attitude gets in the way of things like wisdom and happiness, and pretty much prevents any sort of real Accomplishment in life.

"A fish can't whistle and neither can I." There's nothing wrong with not being able to whistle, especially if you're a fish. But there can be lots of things wrong with blindly trying to do what you aren't designed for. Unfortunately, some people aren't so wise, and end up causing big trouble for themselves and others. The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.

To demonstrate what we mean, we can think of no one better than Tigger, who doesn't know his limitations ('Tiggers' can do everything'), which brings him in lots of trouble. Piglet instead knows his limitations and that's what makes him sometimes more brave than you would expect from such a small animal.

Excerpts from:

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10 Ways to Live a Life of Gratitude

1.  Find at least one thing to be grateful for every morning.  You can set the tone for your day by focusing on what’s going right with your life and be grateful for that.  Start each morning by writing down all you are thankful for.  It can be as simple as having hot water for a shower and food in your cupboard.

2. Look at your day differently.  Is it full of change and problems or opportunities?  Look for the silver lining in everyday circumstances.  For example, when you get cut off on the freeway and arrive safely to work; when your child returns home late, but safe; when you get into a fender bender and no one was hurt.

3. Think positively about your life.  It’s easy to find what’s not going well with your life.  Instead, focus on what you are grateful for.  Tell people, every day, what you appreciate about them – it can be something very simple and will make both your days.

4. Carry a token of gratitude.  Put something special to you in your pocket, purse, car or somewhere you will see it and be reminded to be thankful for your many blessings.  I have a gratitude rock hanging from my car’s rear view mirror that serves as a daily reminder for me.  It comes in handy when I am tempted to complain about something I find irritating.

5. Do something you love every single day.  What do you love to do?  What makes you smile?  Be careful not to get so wrapped up in the busyness of your life to forget to smell the flowers, talk to a family member, go for a walk, and make fun memories.

6. Take charge of your own personal and professional development.  You can only change you.  Take responsibility for your future quality of life both personally and professionally.  Don’t wait or blame your circumstances; take steps to change them.

7. Pause and reflect.  Take time away from the “to do” lists and busyness of your life to enjoy the world we live in.  Spend some spiritual time, take a walk, watch a sunset, and notice your surroundings.  One way to state this is to put your cell phone down (just sayin’).

8. Future shift your thinking.  Instead of always focusing on the here and how – think of what you want your future to look like.  Take steps to make that happen.  Set a goal and plan for reaching it.

9. Pay it forward.  Pay attention to those who need a little help – the person in front of you in line who’s 93 cents short, the lady who needs help juggling her stuff, the neighbors who may need help.  It will have a huge impact on them, and on you as well.

10. Don’t forget to appreciate yourself.  The most important gratitude you practice may be to appreciate yourself.  Talk nice to yourself and tell the nay-sayers in your head to simply shut up!

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Rituals for Replenishment

Just as strengthening your immune system keep you healthy despite constant exposure to germs, cultivating positive energy lessens your vulnerability to those things that steal your energy.  Start by looking at what’s around you – you can draw positive energy from the foods you eat, the music you listen to, even the colors you wear.

“Physical energy has a great impact on emotional energy, and vice versa,” says Jon Gordon, author of Energy Addict.  To keep both plentiful, get ample sleep, eat vitamin-rich foods, exercise each day, and monitor your stress levels.  “When you’re tired, burnt out, or sick, you’re more susceptible to low energy attacks.”
Spiritual replenishment – via meditation, prayer, or other practices – also enhances your vitality.  Try these daily soul-fortifying rituals to bring more good vibes into your life.

Say Thank YOU. Gratitude wards off negativity, says Gordon, who suggest taking a daily 10-minute “thank-you walk” to zero in on pressing matters.  “If you’re at work and dreading a meeting that’s coming up,” he says, “then take a walk around your office and say to yourself, “I know I’m stressed about this meeting, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to have it.”

Start a success journal.  Devote a few minutes to recording each day’s accomplishments, big and small.  You’ll always be able to come up with at least one thing to write about.  “The more you focus on success, the more success you create,” says psychiatrist Judith Orlott, M.D., author of Positive Energy.

Do a 3-minute meditation. You don’t need to overhaul your routine to fit in a rejuvenating mediation practice.  For three minutes each day, go to a quiet space, sit down, turn off your cell phone, and concentrate on taking deep, slow breaths.  “Focus on a positive image, like a child’s face or a red apple,” Orlott suggests.

Check your emotional health.  If there’s a problem you’re struggling with – a breakup you can’t get over, dissatisfaction with your career – you’ve made yourself a target.  “The energy vampires that get to us reflect what we haven’t worked out in ourselves,” says Orlott.  “But if we begin to heal, there isn’t the same pull"

Be accountable.  Observe how and with whom you choose to spend your time.  “Take inventory of the people in your life,” Orlott advises. “List the ones who energize you and the ones who drain you.”  While it may be impossible to rid your life of energy zappers altogether, you can choose to spend more time with the friends and family members who help your spirit shine.  You’ll likely end up finding your way to people who bring more radiance into your life.  “If we work on our energy needs,” says Orlott, “we begin to attract people with more positive energy.”

  From Natural Health, October 2005


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Closing the Circle

by Wendell Berry

Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing.  Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy.  The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.
Only music keeps us here,

each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out into the sunlight gone

into the darker circles of return.


In this month of "novembering" there is warmth as the northern hemisphere cools down. It’s a warmth that comes from moving indoors, anticipating holidays, participating in the rituals of Fall, remembering loved ones. 

It brings an end to the Farmers Market, to coats hanging in the hall closet, to sandals and flip flops and iced tea on the porch. 

But it brings a newness as chocolate, smoke coming from chimneys, long lazy mornings with no yard work to accomplish for weekend warriors.

There’s always something to be thankful for.

From Sunday’s Seattle Times, by Larry Stone
Pain of loss to No. 8 Stanford is a sign of progress for WSU, Mike Leach
They began the season as a punchline, a cautionary tale. Their coach was on the endangered list and their season already seemingly lost after a brutal opening defeat to Portland State.
But Washington State pulled itself back into improbable relevancy, to the point that Saturday’s 30-28 loss at Martin Stadium meant something more than just another game slipping away late.

It’s called HOPE... a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen...ambition, anticipation, aspiration, belief, confidence, desire, expectation...
HOPE can change everything.








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Autumn Movement

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman,
   the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes,
   new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind,
   and the old things go, not one lasts.

-Carl Sandburg 



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The World Is Coming to an end

 “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

    -Robert Kennedy




Violence simply isn’t an option.

Ta-Nehisi Coates was recently awarded a MacArthur Grant.  It’s a fellowship that is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's “originality, insight, and potential." The current prize is $625,000 paid over five years in quarterly installments. The Program doesn’t allow applications. An anonymous group nominates potential Fellows and recommends them to an anonymous selection committee of about a dozen people.   Coates published a book, Between the World and Me, in July 2015. The book contains his thoughts about being black in America.  From the SeattleTimes, yesterday:

“Because I came up outside of the church, I never understood it...(But) violence simply isn’t an option, no matter are an American.  That’s the first thing.  It’s your country...”

Violence simply isn’t an option.


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Take the Next Step to Becoming a Wildcat.