Seven years ago Alison Shapiro was the picture of a healthy 55 year-old. A happy life, a successful career; no health issues, no weight issues; her blood pressure was normal. She was in the middle of living out a lifelong dream, illustrating her first children’s book. She had three of 17 pictures finished.
Then she had a stroke. Twenty-four hours later, she had another.
You may think you’ve got problems, but probably not like Alison had.
The two strokes struck her brain stem – the most lethal place for a stroke to hit. Fifty percent of brain stem stroke victims die; others suffer from “locked in” syndrome, where they are fully conscious – and fully paralyzed. By the time the strokes were over, Alison’s left side was mostly paralyzed, and her right side was wildly uncoordinated. She couldn’t swallow, she couldn't sit up, her speech was heavily slurred, her eyes wouldn’t focus, she couldn’t walk.
It was the kind of event no one is ever prepared for.
“There I was, in that hospital,” she says. “I was completely stunned. It’s a very sudden event, it’s like a train wreck: one minute your life is fine, the next minute you can’t move. When it happened, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do. I had no idea how to face it.”
But don’t feel bad for Alison: she figured out how to face it. And she wants you to know that when you have to face it … or any other adversity … that you can, too.
Today Alison is healthy, active, and engaged with life again: a fully functioning person who has published her children’s book. In fact, she says she feels more empowered than she ever has before.
And this month Alison, the Chair of Saybrook’s Board of Trustees, is seeing the release of a book about her recovery experience.
What do health care providers need to know to stay current?
The field of healthcare is changing dramatically.
Hospitals, clinics, and patients have new needs and expectations. Do you know what you’ll need to know?
Learn more about trends in medicine and the new skills that will be essential to 21st health-care practitioners at a special presentation featuring:
- Dr. James Gordon, MD, Dean of Saybrook Graduate School’s program in Mind-Body Medicine and Director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, and;
- Heather Young, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., the Associate Vice Chancellor for Nursing U.C. Davis and Dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
Together they’ll cover the ways that medicine is moving away from traditional roles in which the professional talks and the patient listens and towards a dialogue in which the patient’s participation is seen as crucial for good health.
Will file sharing, easy downloads, and a universe of experts all posting on Wikipedia make universities irrelevant within 15 years?
Yes, says David Wiley. Information will be free, and that means universities will have to radically restructure to accommodate that … or else face irrelevance.
Wiley, a leader in the “open content” movement and professor of psychology and instructional technology at Brigham Young University, made that prediction recently in the wake of student bodies more inclined to download than watch TV … and universities putting more and more class lectures online.
Between Facebook, Google, file sharing, YouTube, and universities putting lectures online, Wiley says, all universities have to offer paying students is a credential – and at some point that will be provided by other means, too.
Or will it? Eric Fox, Saybrook’s Dean of Instruction, says that he had a great time reading the article about Wiley’s prediction – but doesn’t think the future will pan out just that way.
That, Fox says, is because having “access” to information isn’t the same as “learning.”
Saybrook is proud to announce that it is co-sponsoring the annual conference of the Existential Humanistic Institute, which will be held November 19-21st, at First Universalist Unitarian Church and Center in San Francisco.
The topic of the conference will be “From Crisis to Creativity: Necessary Losses, Unexpected Gains.”
“The theme of our conference reflects the paradoxical nature of life and our times,” says EHI Vice-President and Saybrook faculty member Kirk Schneider. “In order to change and grow, a familiar way of being must end, so that a new way of being can develop. Letting go can be a terrifying process, filled with anxiety and confusion. But if we find the courage to let go and begin a new journey, down a new path, the possibilities of unexpected gains will be revealed.”
The roster of presenters is now being finalized, and there will be many significant names in the Existential-Humanistic therapy participating.
Do you ever worry that maybe you spend too much time updating your Facebook status at work?
Don’t. An Australian study suggests that, in fact, your office should be encouraging it.
According to the research out of the University of Melbourne, people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are nine percent more productive.
According to Wired Magazine, “’workplace Internet leisure browsing,’ or WILB, helped to sharpen workers' concentration,” so long as it took up less than 20% of their time at the office.”
Wow – who knew YouTube could be a productivity tool?
“This made me smile,” says Nina Serpiello, a PhD student in Saybrook’s Organizational Systems program and a human factors research designer at IDEO. “A traditional company might not encourage goofing off without having a business reason for it, like cultivating creativity for innovation. If a company is interested in empowering employees to offer ideas to outsmart the competition, then it also should promote activities that stimulate creative thinking.”
Students posted about it on their Facebook pages; faculty sent links back and forth; at Saybrook’s San Francisco offices, administrators asked one another about it. Everyone in the community, it seems, has an opinion about last week’s New York Times op-ed by Mark Taylor, “End of the university as we know it.”
In it, Taylor suggests scrapping traditional fields of study in favor of real-world problem solving clusters; abolishing tenure and replacing it with seven year, renewable, teaching contracts; replacing academic papers, and even dissertations, with scholarly multi-media presentations; and training academics for careers outside of teaching.
It’s not the first time the death of the modern university has come up (link), but this time it’s engaged the Saybrook community like no other.
Here are some student and faculty reactions. Please continue the conversation by leaving your own responses in the comments section.
Psychology faculty Eugene Taylor found the document “Orwellian” – and product of the very type of thinking it wishes would end.
“(Mark Taylor) might be more optimistic if he were more person-centered. The very thing all his emphatic points miss is the spiritual side of learning.” Eugene Taylor wrote.
Ruth Richards was thrilled to discover she had won the prestigious Arnheim Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Psychological Association – but she was less excited for herself than for her field.
This award, and the fact that it specifically cites her as one of the pre-eminent scholars in the study of creativity, is a major recognition of the field she’s devoted much of her scholarly life to.
“Everyday creativity may seem obvious, even a necessity for any of us to survive in this crazy world,” says Richards, a member of the psychology faculty at Saybrook. “But not everyone gets it yet. Clearly (the APA) committee did, and this award helps make our work much more mainstream.”
The study of creativity, Richards points out, goes back to the founders of humanistic psychology: both Abraham Maslow and Rollo May wrote a great deal about it. Her contribution has been to take the creative out of the realm of the artistic, and instead show how it operates in daily life.
Last month His Holiness the Dalai Lama held the 18th of his celebrated “Mind and Life” conferences – inviting notable neuroscientists to India in the hope that when Buddhist epistemology and western neurology compare notes, the results are educational for everyone.
It’s the sort of communication that Saybrook faculty say they’d like to see more of: different intellectual approaches coming together to get a bigger sense of the picture.
“Exchanges between spiritual understandings of consciousness and scientific understandings can be mutually enriching,” says Amedeo Giorgi, a Saybrook faculty member in psychology who is a major figure in contemporary phenomenology. “Such exchanges can only be helpful.”
They have born fruit in the past, according to an article in the London Guardian:
(C)onferences have spurred the development of research programmes that examine the effects of Buddhist contemplative techniques and how they might be applied more widely to benefit humanity. They have, for example, been instrumental in the work of Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin, whose brain imaging studies found that experienced meditators show increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area associated with emotional well-being, as well as having stronger immune systems.
But Saybrook psychology faculty Stanley Krippner, long at the forefront of the exploration of consciousness, says he always has mixed feelings when he hears about the Mind and Life conferences – because he thinks they could be taken to the next level.
The Saybrook Dialogues, a new series of conversations for networking, exploration, learning and making meaning of our personal and professional lives during uncertain and challenging times, presents its next program in early June.
“Creativity, Leadership and Wisdom” will explore the ways we can allow the creative process to inform our leadership, our work, and our lives. It will be led by Steven Kowalski, Ph.D. and Marc Lesser, MBA.
Marc Lesser is the founder and president of ZBA Associates, a company offering coaching, consulting and facilitation services. Currently conducting executive training programs for Google, he is a board member of the Social Venture Network and the author is the author of Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less.
Steven Kowalski has over 25 years expertise in the field of creativity and innovation, and is the founder and president of Creative License. Since 1995, Steven has facilitated, coached, and trained clients in the U.S. and Europe to activate creativity and ingenuity of leaders, teams, and entire departments. He currently provides executive development solutions to impact performance and business aims at Genentech.
The Dialogue will be held Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m., at the Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center’s San Francisco offices. Seating is limited. A $25 donation is requested.
To reserve a seat, RSVP to Terry Hopper at 415-394-5220, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
James S. Gordon, the Dean of Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine Program, and the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, now affiliated with Saybrook, are pleased to offer two training programs this summer. “CancerGuides II,” and “Food as Medicine.
CancerGuides II, which grew out of a conference that the New Yorker called “the most important alternative medicine meeting in America,” teaches health professionals and patient advocates to create safe, effective, individualized programs of comprehensive and integrative care for people with cancer and their families.
World leaders in integrative care and CancerGuides practice will help participants put their work in a larger social, historical and ecological context. Plenary speakers will offer a vision of cancer care that is fully consonant with the principles of integrative medicine, a vision which we believe will be reflected in policies the Obama Administration will implement.
“Food as Medicine,” a comprehensive clinical nutrition training program for healthcare professionals, will focus on sustainable nutrition, nutrition in practice, digestive healing, longevity and the aging brain, family nutrition, community nutrition, herbal remedies, and more.
Both programs will be held June 11 – 14, in Washington D.C..
For more information, or to register, visit www.cmbm.org.