Monday, July 31, 2017

Love, Friendship, and Harmony

I was thinking about a lyric from Joni Mitchell's "My Old Man":

We don't need no piece of paper from the city hall keeping us tied and true...

And how Krista and I knew we wanted to share our lives together since summer of 1991. But as we did not like being apart and wanted to be able to share living quarters when visiting our respective parents, we ultimately relented got engaged summer of 1992, (The benefit of Tax incentive by being officially recognized by the State kind of made sense too.) We finally had our ceremony and signed our piece of paper on October 2nd, 1993. We had a rather simple wedding of our own design to reflect our Love. Yet we received push back from certain relatives that 1) because Krista didn't wear white, 2) because she didn't take my last name, 3) because a certain deity wasn't mentioned --- we weren't really married.

Their concern was not ours, Those particular traditions do not resonate with us.
We know that True Love transcends any human realization of the divine. We married in the open, in Nature-- if it rained: we'd get wet; if it got cold, we'd shiver..but we would adapt and move forward -- We ultimately got married for us. We chose music and harmony for expression of our souls among Nature and texts which reflected our spirit as Best Friends, Equal Partners, and Lovers.
A short 18 minute ceremony so that our friends could meet new people, talk and eat. This is also why the memorial for Krista only included my words, and lots of chorale music. And more time to gather, listen and take genuine interest in each other.  Words get in the way of Meaning. 
Living that truth these past 26 years has always been more important that either that piece of paper or an elaborate showy wedding where more effort is put into the ceremony, the price of rings, and the reception than the union itself.
Sandstrom-McGuire Love Knot
tattooed over our hearts
Throughout our marriage, our parenting and now in Krista's death, we carry on. We have a lot of really really good friends and family who maintain their Faith traditions - We recognize their expressions of goodwill, through acts, hugs, and listening... are Genuine and strengthened by their beliefs. We may not necessarily agree with the particular interpretations, but we do recognize the difference between expressions conducted for social mileage and those acts which stem from positive intent and expression of their Love for us.
As Cicero put it - (reading from our wedding)
"Virtue, I say, both creates the bond of friendship and preserves it. For in Virtue is complete harmony, in her is permanence, in her is fidelity; and when she has raised her head and shown her own light and has seen and recognized the same light in another, she moves towards it and in turn receives its beams; as a result love or friendship leaps into flame; for both words are derived from a word meaning “to love.”  But love is nothing other than the great esteem and affection felt for him who inspires that sentiment, and it is not sought because of material need or for the sake of material gain. Nevertheless even this blossoms forth from friendship, although you did not make it your aim."
-- Though I will add to Cicero, in our experience, Love is so much more than "great esteem and affection felt" - - where words lack, music expresses

Sandstrom-McGuire Wedding October 2, 1993

Memorial for Krista Lynn Sandstrom
June 9, 2017

Celebrating our 22nd Birthdays in Larsen Hall
February 17 & 19 - 1992

Dunning's Spring with Athena and the kids

Monday, July 17, 2017

Krista Lynn Sandstrom - Anthropology Coaching and Raising Children

July 1,
Krista Lynn Sandstrom the Anthropologist:

As I move forward, building a trusted network to help raise our children without her, some reflections:

While she and I both have History degrees specializing in Classical civilizations, At her core she was an Anthropologist (that was her other BA degree). Cultural Anthropology was her passion. In fact right when we moved to the Twin Cities in February of 1993, She intended on going to grad school at the University ofMinnesota in Anthropology, and I was going to do Ethnomusicology and Anthropological Linguistics. 
She of course, ultimately earned a Master of Education and a PhD in Organization Development. Through this all, Anthropology remained Krista's true love and passion. This drove everything behind her work as a Leader, an Executive Coach, an Organization Strategist, and Diversity advocate.
"People do not just react to an environment as given; rather, they react to it as they perceive it, and different groups of people may perceive the same environment in radically different ways. People also react to things other than the environment: their own biological natures, for one, and their beliefs, attitudes, and the consequences of their own behavior, for others. All of these things present them with problems, and people maintain cultures to deal with problems, or matters that concern them. To be sure, their cultures must produce behavior that is generally adaptive, or at least not maladaptive, but this is not the same as saying that cultural practices necessarily arise because they are adaptive to a particular environment." 
-- William A. Haviland, Cultural Anthropology 6th Edition.

The quote above, by William Haviland is drawn from the foundations of Plato's conception of Paideia as described in his Allegory of the Cave. Plato urges us to look beyond the perceptions of our own cultural biases (language, art, economics, religion, etc) to strive for greater understanding. - This is the basis of Scientific Investigation too. And the Classical Values which Krista and I shared.
Krista Lynn Sandstrom and I were in college (1988-92) during Star Trek The Next Generation -- and bonded over it values (though we both grew up playing the original series in our respective home towns. (me as Kirk / she as Bones) Krista loved TNG as The Prime Directive is essentially Anthropology in Space. - learning about how other cultures work within their own systems -- (seasons 3-4 were the best -- with "Darmok" and "The Inner Light" as the best episode ever.) -- though early in her executive coaching career, more than one Ameriprise executive referred to her as their "Deanna Troi"
She double majored in Anthropology and History with a classical civilizations minor; And I was on the linguistics / ethnomusicology path with my Philosophy and Classical Languages majors -- before I decided to become a Rock Star.

I do remember when she went J-Term 1992 to the Annapurna mountains in Nepal. It was some weird mix of Anthropology Students and Business majors.  Krista was shocked at the ethnocentric judgement displayed by some of the business majors who would remark on the "funny and weird way" people dressed...-- Of course that is one of the things that drove her to succeed in her career field first as a diversity expert then as executive coach. To help those in modern business environments learn to be human.

I miss her.

While, resisting temptation not to get into an extensive explanation distinguishing the Investigative nature of Philosophy versus the defensive purpose of Apologetics, the later often masquerades by using the tools of Philosophy.  The distinction is nonetheless clear:

Investigation and Seeking to Understand = Philosophy and Science
Defense and Justification = Apologetics and Law

Plato's point in the Allegory of the Cave is for us to overcome the base inclinations which compel us to defend our beliefs and norms. So he asks us to bravely investigate our cultural perceptions, assumptions, prejudices and beliefs about nature. To look beyond our structures, paradigms by bravely investigating matter how uncomfortable it makes us, or shakes our beliefs.

While Apologetics can be fun -- like doing the crossword or Sudoku, it certainly is not Philosophy and it is not particularly useful for Education.

Plato further warns the folly of those who engage in defense of cultural biases / apologetics: 
"And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplation to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavoring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice? "
Read Plato's excerpt here:

July 9
So with Krista in mind, I have been providing my children with daily devotions in Anthropology and Philosophy. This morning I got them addicted to the "THUNK" channel on Youtube with their introduction to "Teleological Bias." Today fortifying their moral fiber with the Sandstrom-McGuire values of Investigation and Cultural Relativism where we  Seek to Understand and Assume Positive Intent, as a guard against Ethnocentrism , have a look:

Teleological Bias:

This core investigative foundation, acknowledging the reality of Cultural Relativism while being on guard against the unquestioning shadow world of Ethnocentrism is embedded in our family values. Krista was big on Franz Boas, Eleanor Roosevelt and Laura Ingalls Wilder, I am big on John Dewey, Plato and Carl Sagan.

July 13,
Yesterday, I got myself a bit worked up with tangled emotions of grief, frustration, because a subject came up regarding the meaning of Diversity. Where I really really wish for the sake of all who care about education and diversity - would listen to Krista's wisdom. So I chimed in trying to share Krista Lynn Sandstrom and my values, but resorting to my own delivery rather than her wise-minded cool headed response.":

"...And wow, what a question, that is a subject right in Krista’s wheelhouse. Anytime the question of Diversity comes up...well its hard for me not to think about my conversations with her.
Krista recognized and taught that diversity goes well beyond just race, gender, culture...but delves deeper into learning styles, working styles of each individual...and that the recognition of the different talents each individual brings needs to be cultivated and nurtured by the leader / coach. The leader is constantly helping their team members develop their strengths, and sees how they can better work as a team. 
With regard to Education, the simple rubric we give Soren and Birgitta,
Defense and Justification = Apologetics and Law
Investigation and Seeking to Understand = Philosophy and Science
If one is constantly defending their position, they aren’t going to be able to hear the other voices. With Philosophy we are not defending, but seeking to understand with positive intent. Seeking to understand is NECESSARY for any claim to Diversity to be true It cannot be true when one's position is mired in conviction.
That IS what I would like to hear the Executive Director candidates to touch upon, Do they understand that Apologetics is not conducive for Education? Have they actually read at least Book VII of Plato’s Republic? The Allegory of the Cave? The very foundational work in Classical Education. For what its worth when it comes to serious education, I will ALWAYS chose Plato / John Dewey over any populist author of some 1980s homeschool Fad. (my critique of a few of these found here:"
For readings of Classical Education based upon the academic foundations laid by Plato, refer to this:

June 25
Reading through my wife's reading lists of journal articles and white papers, her work notes, her reminders -- While I no longer talk with her about these very topics-- I can hear her voice as I read. - Here is her PhD Dissertation - she quietly got her diploma - the only one in attendance was me.

And I always have 5 hours of video of her teaching executives how to be better Coaches to their employees.

Krista Lynn Sandstrom on Youtube


I wrote this as I look at my fun reading list on my bedstand:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Destruction is easy - Creation is the Greater Power.

June 20 6:52 am
Walking in winter, and in your path there is a place where water had pooled before it froze, leaving a uniquely shaped frozen pocket of air just under the surface ice.Do you impulsively step on it to break it, as one might with "bubble wrap?" - Or do you take some time to admire it.

I remember when I stopped stomping on these works of nature, I was in Jr. High, walking to school. And I began contemplating the nature of "Power", "Strength." 

* Destruction is simple, it is easy, it does not require effort or care or mental planning. Violence and Hatred likewise are easy. They do not demonstrate any show of power or strength.
Creation on the other hand is hard, it requires competency, care, and love. My children Soren and Birgitta have often heard me use this story, "Unless you can create something just as beautiful, you have no right to destroy it."

Creation is the greater Power.

- The image below was taken on a hike at Wild River State Park in March of 2010. Soren looked at it and said, "South America in Ice" - We took the photo so he could share it with his Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Toso. I don't think we ever did.


Creating in 2008

Krista, the mother of my children and my wife for 26 years was killed by stupidity and weakness.  There was no show of strength or power used to destroy her body.