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March/April 2011 

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Here is a new version of my every/other monthly newsletter which I hope will be a fun way for us to keep in touch. You are receiving this newsletter because you have been a long time recipient of my email updates or have requested and confirmed to be on my mailing list. 
Thanks for your support as I'm learning these 21st century technologies. I'd love to hear from you either through email, at the contact section on my website, or perhaps even through Facebook. And if all that doesn't work, there's always the old fashioned phone call or its new cousin, the text message. I must confess, I haven't gotten to tweeting yet.     




Sheila Collins



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In Honor of Women


    "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of

                                                    Emma Goldman, activist

My Infinite Family net buddy,  Mbali, (we're electronic pen pals) lives in South Africa.   During a skype session last August, she told me she had the day off from school. Her country was celebrating Women's Day, honoring the South African women who held a national march in 1956 to protest the requirement that African persons carry a special identification. This objection to the "pass" which curtailed freedom of movement became the beginning of the end for apartheid.


Mbali asked if we had such a holiday honoring our women and I had to say no.  I explained we have Mother's Day, which honors women's roles in the family, but nothing to commemorate women's influence and leadership in the larger world. In fact, in my experience, the women who are behind many, if not most, important achievements seldom get credit. As my friend, Rose Meile who was head of the Nebraska Commission for Women was fond of saying, "You can achieve a great deal if you don't care who gets credit for it."


Since March is Women's History month in the U.S and seventy countries around the world celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, I decided to honor some specific women and their achievements -- giving credit where credit is due.


Three women together are responsible for the first achievement I want to mention. Many people in America has heard of Title IX, but few know that activist Bernice Sandler, Congresswoman Edith Green. and Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink collaborated together to author and enact Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In 2002 it was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.  People today would be surprised that it made no mention of sports.


My experience consulting with school districts on implementing Title IX in K-12 school districts in Nebraska taught me its most important impact was the change in people's attitude towards the interests and capabilities of women and girls. "Our girls don't want to do sports" has become, what my middle school age granddaughter reports, "Soccer is soo fun!" and she and her teammates chant, "Girls Rule!" 


The second achievement is most recent. With all the images of brave young men demonstrating in Tahrir Square in Egypt, the press took little notice of women's contributions.  Yet when you look closely, women played unique and inspiring roles. Women used their internet and social media skills to get the word out, both inside and outside of the country. One Herculean effort at education was made by Dalia Ziada, who translated the comic book, "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story" into Arabic. By distributing this comic book widely in Tahrir Square she made available wisdom from an earlier generation and a different time and place. Were the demonstrations more peaceful and effective because of her actions? Makes sense to me.                                                                     


Sheila K. Collins 2011


 Remember how satisfying it was to "put your whole self in," when heartyou played and danced in the children's game, the Hokey Pokey? I've often wondered why as adults we often resist putting our whole selves in when it comes to life and learning. What gets in the way of a "go for it - no-holds-bar" approach to life? What holds us back from being all that we can be, and giving it all we've got? 


School personnel talk about a student's level of engagement in classroom activities and homework assignments. Parents urge their children to "do their best" because they know that learning happens more often when there is a high level of wholehearted commitment.


In the workplace organizational consultants, in order to measure productivity, suggest not only tracking absenteeism, but presenteeism as well. Presenteeism looks at the question of how many employees, though present physically, have their hearts and energies somewhere else other than in their workplace assignments?


I found a social worker in Houston, Brene Brown, whose ten years of research have attempted to answer many of these questions.  In her studies she identified people she categorized as having "wholeheartedness." Then she did something especially wise. Instead of focusing on the people who were struggling, or getting it wrong, she focused on the people who seems to be successful, that seemed to be getting it right.


She found that these people who lived their lives wholeheartedly had three things in common,  1) the courage to let others see them as they truly are, to tell who they are with their whole hearts, 2) the compassion to treat themselves, and (therefore others) with kindness. 3) And, this seemed especially important, they embraced their vulnerability. This made connection possible and desirable. They didn't expect themselves to be perfect, or to never make mistakes, nor did they expect that of others. But overall, they had a sense that they deserved connection, love, and belonging, and therefore they could have it. Take a look at Dr. Brown's description of a journey that changed her work and her life. 


There's lots of food for thought here.  

I'd love to hear your reactions to this TEDx talk  


Sheila K. Collins 2011

Sheila K. Collins, PhD 
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