Coffee Table Stories

There was a time when coffee tables held the central place in our living rooms. Upon them rested the symbols of our lives. Scattered in plain sight, the magazines, books, and knick-knacks of our interest quietly broad cast the message of who we were. You could tell a lot about us by our coffee table top.

My childhood memories conjure up a coffee table made of 1970’s metal tube legs and glass. The top was a framed glass panel, revealing what appeared to be a star-burst pattern of small, rectangular tiles. The ‘tiles’ were actually a plastic sheet, molded and dyed to the pattern. We kept National Geographic magazine’s 3 or 4 most recent issues fanned out on the table. A center piece of plastic fern in a gold wooden dish was always slightly askew from the bumps and table top activity of us kids. If no guests were around, you would have seen the current homework project tossed into the mix. It wasn’t uncommon to find green toy soldiers tucked into the fern or climbing down the metal gold legs.  If company was expected, the soldiers and homework were always replaced by Better Homes and Gardens and a sculptured ceramic ash tray. Ours was a coffee table that told the story of a modest family, intrigued by learning and with aspirations of being normal. My grandmother’s coffee table wasn’t the same.

My grandmother’s living room (and it was her living room, even though my grandfather was allow in to sit in his chair and watch the nightly news) sported a large round cypress coffee table. Always on the top of it was a bowl of artificial fruit and an ash tray and candy combination dish. The ask try was never used and the candy was off limits except to guests. You were not allowed to lean on, write on, put anything on top of or run near the table. Once a year, at Christmas, the center piece was moved and replace by a bowl full or gold and white ornaments. The table told a story of constant order, measured hospitality and fragile balance. 

From what I can remember, the coffee tables of old served as statements – sometimes intended, often unconscious – of who we were. I don’t see as many coffee tables in living rooms today and lately have wondered if we might have found something else to take their place. When I look around I see a number of coffee table tops: Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, websites…. On these spaces we can broadcast much easier our likes, wants, feelings and interests. Posting a photo on Facebook, an emotive 140 characters on Twitter or a personal story on a blog all give us a means to set the table for others to see. So, today I’m wondering – what do my digital coffee tables tell about me? What do you see in the things spread before you on your friends and families spaces? How do you present yourself when you know friends are coming by your digital place?

Random thought: Is there a coffee table app? A virtual table with digital objects we cold display to tell our momentary mood or story? Should there be?

Careful. Your Body Is Listening To You!


Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts
— Deepak Chopra

Sometimes you never know what you are getting into on Facebook. A friend of mine recently posted the quote from Deepak Chopra cited above. I made a simple comment of "That's good" on her status. A few minutes later I got a message from her asking me to expand on my thoughts about the quote. It seemed like a good idea, so here goes...

First, I do like the analogy Chopra uses. The visual imagine of every cell in our body listening is powerful, if not a little scary. My mind goes kinda "Sci-Fi" and sees cells with ears attending to a anthropomorphic "thought" awaiting the next utterance as if receiving a command. To snag a phrase from EF Hutton, "When your mind thinks, everyone listens." Fun possibilities there. Meaningful possibilities there, too.

Second, I think the message Chopra is sharing is that our thoughts tend to direct our focus and thus our actions. There is an old saying, "If you hang around the barber shop long enough, you're going to get a haircut." We laugh because we know it's true. If we think about it, a similar correlation can be drawn from something that precedes hanging out at the barber shop - thinking about the barber shop. Our continued thoughts about people, places and things pave the way for us to walk right up to them. In a very basic way, thought commonly precedes action. The point here is that we need to be mindful (pun intended) of how we are thinking. I'm on-board with that, and most spiritual traditions - from extreme religious asceticism to tantric sex practices - place importance on the power of our thoughts to produce action and results.

Lastly, I'd like to go metaphysical on you. If you take Chopra's statement beyond analogy and consider the possibility that there is a cellular (or perhaps spiritual connection) between the cells and processes of our bodies, then it makes sense that the energy exchanged in the process of thinking does have a butterfly effect on all of our cells and thus our body. It isn't too much of stretch to see the connection between our thoughts and our physical and spiritual well being. Of course, we might wonder if those thoughts aren't driven, as well, by the overall health of the larger system. We might also so say, "The voice of the mind speaks but the opinions are of the body collective" - (we are borg??). Nevertheless, the point is a profound one and it is my personal belief that we can make meaningful changes in ourselves by immersing ourselves - body and mind - in an environment that promotes the values of our deepest beliefs. If we hang around the barber shop, we'll likely end up with less hair. If we spend our time with negative and shallow thinking people, we might very well find ourselves with less joy and analytical capacity.

Wait!- I guess I have another point, or thought at least. Within the Christian faith, we often speak of the 'Spirit' and our connection with the Divine. Chopra's tantalizing analogy nudges my mind to think of that connection of mind and body to also include spirit. As goes one - so resonates the others. If this is true, then maybe sometimes, when we are listening (eaves dropping) carefully - we might hear some thoughts that are greater than our own - moments when we are privy to eaves dropping on the thoughts of the Divine. If thoughts lead, then perhaps God's thoughts are one way the spirit is present with us, guiding, inviting us to respond to a possibility of change outside of what we can produce on our own in any given moment in time, and perhaps - it isn't about when those Spiritual thoughts are there as much as it is about when we are intently listening. Could we then say, 'The devoted mind is eavesdropping on the very thoughts of God?" 

I like that…and all from a social media interaction.

5 Thoughts on Crowd Funding @WSChamber

I attended an insightful panel discussion this week. Brought to us by the Winston-Salem Chamber's The Technology Council and several local sponsors, the event delved into the world of crowd funding and crowd sourcing. You can read more here about the series panelists and the days events.

Here are my notes/raw thoughts on the CROWD!


Crowd Sourcing and Crowd Funding

1.    Builds on the human desire to connect and contribute to things they believe have value. A new venue for charitable activity with the added ‘bonus’ of letting the participants access a wide variety of options and levels of contribution.
2.    Has been made viable by the advent of technologies that connect people easily and allow them to share and promote to their network. Social sharing has become common place, even mandatory perhaps, for users of social and forum platforms. Sharing things of value and individual support/advocacy of those has become accepted.
3.    It is, like all social media, a crowd activity. It leverages the familiar and popular experience of the ‘ground swell’ momentum of more recent digital platforms (with all apologies to Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li).
4.    Capitalizes on the ambient intimacy (thank you Leisa Reichet @Leisa) of social media to connect people with a momentary, albeit transient, intimate connection.
5.    Success depends, in part on: A. clearly defining your project or cause in a manner that is personal and emotive. B. selection of a platform that reaches your target audience. C. offering options, levels of contribution. D. clearly defining what success looks like.

As several local businesses have successfully used the process, it warrants some investigation if your business ideas or projects are likely to be seen as beneficial to the well-being of the local community.

For more about Crowd Funding, check out this table of platform options!


Do You Linger...?

Linger On It

Where do you linger? There are those tastes that just grab us by the tongue and scream delight and indulgence. Do you linger with them, allowing the full force of their impact upon that moment? 

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Then there are those sounds, the songs that we love to hear – every note, rhythm, and lyric as they dance into our mind and resonate within our body. Do you linger in them, playing them over again to light on each resonance and twisted phonetic? 

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What about those people whose physical beauty, simply passing by grabs your core? Do you allow yourself to linger in the impression as it launches into your libido and churns ancient and primal sensations, eliminating all thought for a moment? Do you linger there?

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What of laughter? When it sneaks up on you and you find your world invaded by a twist of fate or thought, a comical jolt of unexpected amusement.  Do you linger in the wake of a real gut level laugh, leaving you exhausted and spurting tears in spasms of delight?

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Do you linger on the good moments of life? I think you could…