Change of Perspective

Musings on Writing, Reading, and Life Narratives

Fiction writers and literary critics speak of point of view. Social scientists are more likely to discuss perspective. But both of these terms refer to essentially the same construct: the consciousness behind the perception and narration of experience. Each individual’s point of view is unique, and point of view shapes the stories people tell to themselves and to others about themselves and their relationships with their environment. The same event narrated from two different perspectives will produce two different stories.

A change of perspective can expand our perception and reframe our thinking about our experiences. We can all benefit from an occasional change of perspective.

[Return to MetaPerspective]

Friday, March 5, 2010

Change of Perspective Is Moving!

New URL:

New RSS feed:

The Backstory

Blogger will be discontinuing support of its platform for blogs not hosted by its companion site, Blogspot. I have therefore changed to using WordPress, a version of which is available through my hosting service, Dreamhost.

Since the old and new blogs are in different subdirectories, this blog will remain in place here, at least for a while, but it will be static. All new posts will go to the new blog. I apologize for the inconvenience and hope to see you at the new location.


Monday, February 15, 2010

The Official Susan B. Anthony House

The Official Susan B. Anthony House:

Today is the birthday of foremother Susan B. Anthony, who changed America's perspective on a lot of issues, particularly a woman's right to vote.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Different Perspective on American History

Howard Zinn, Historian, Dies at 87 - Obituary (Obit) -

Professor Howard Zinn is probably best known for his revisionist history book A People's History of the United States, published in 1980. When my daughter was in high school about 15 years ago, I was quite impressed that her history class was reading this anti-establishment book, which offers a perspective on American history decidedly different from the standard fare.

In the late 1960s I was an undergraduate at Boston University, one of the most politically active campuses in the U.S. Prof. Zinn was a standard fixture at just about every protest march and rally, so I was not surprised to find the following in this obituary:

Professor Zinn retired [from Boston University] in 1988, spending his last day of class on the picket line with students in support of an on-campus nurses’ strike. Over the years, he continued to lecture at schools and to appear at rallies and on picket lines.

Yep, that's exactly how I remember Howard Zinn.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Knowing Is Better Than Not Knowing

John is a friend of mine from college. We haven’t seen each other in nearly 40 years, but we have annually exchanged Christmas cards, letters, and photos. Last week the card I sent to John this past Christmas came back with “deceased--return to sender” hand written on the envelope.

Stunned and saddened, I cranked up Google and searched for John’s full name and the city where he lives. Near the bottom of the results page I found a link to a Facebook page for people who had formerly worked at one of John’s past employers. On that page was a posting about John’s death, followed by information about his funeral. I sent a message to the poster, and he kindly replied with the details. Through Google I was also able to pull up John’s obituary from his home-town newspaper.

Lots of people complain that we’re living in an age of TMI (too much information) and erosion of privacy. On occasion I am one of those people. But in this situation I was grateful for the ability to find something out. Granted, my knowing how John died does not change the fact of his death. But somehow, just knowing how he died made me feel a bit better. If there were no Internet, I would just have known that John had died, and that would have been all. So, at least in this case, I appreciate all the information that’s floating around “out there.”

Because, sometimes, knowing is better than not knowing.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

‘Conversations With God’ Author Accused of Plagiarism

‘Conversations With God’ Author Accused of Plagiarism - ArtsBeat Blog -

Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling series ‘Conversations with God,’ recently posted a personal Christmas essay on the spiritual Web site that was nearly identical to a 10-year-old article originally published by a little-known writer in a spiritual magazine. He now says he made a mistake in believing the story was something that had actually happened to him.

Oh dear. People who do this are always sorry--when they get caught. I stand firmly with Candy Chand, the woman whose work was lifted:

“I have strong issue with anyone who would appear to plagiarize my work and pretend it is his own,” said Ms. Chand. “That takes away from the truth of the material, it takes away from the miracle that occurred, because people begin to question what they can believe anymore. As a professional writer, when someone appears to plagiarize, they damage the industry, they damage other writer’s credibility and they hurt the reader because they never know what to believe anymore.”

And the fact that the man who got caught doing this is supposedly a man of God--well, I stand with Candy Chand on that point, too:

She added that it was ironic that Mr. Walsch in particular had been the one to appropriate her writing. “Has the man who writes best selling books about his ‘Conversations with God’ also heard God’s commandments?” she asked. “’Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not lie, and thou shalt not covet another author’s property?’”

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Photo of the Day

Happy Holidays to all,
And to all a good night

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Photo of the Day

With best wishes to all our friends in New England, the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Stay safe, happy, and warm.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Things I'm Thankful For

Instead of the Sunday Summary, here’s a list of some of the things I’m thankful for as this Thanksgiving weekend winds down:

  • family and friends, even though they’re scattered all over the country
  • the Internet, which, in addition to enabling us to learn anything we want to know, also allows us to keep in touch with family and friends, even though they’re scattered all over the country
  • thick, warm wool socks, which I wear all winter long
  • the election of Barack Obama
  • the abundance on my Thanksgiving table and in my refrigerator
  • glucosamine and chondroitin, which--at least so far--are keeping my 60-year-old joints working painlessly
  • libraries
  • the next generation, which is turning out very nicely, if I do say so myself
  • the approaching end of George W. Bush’s Presidency
  • music
  • human resilience, especially in children
  • flowers
  • audiobooks for listening to while exercising
  • the handiwork of my massage therapist and personal trainer (see above reference to glucosamine and chondroitin)
  • fuzzy warm pajamas and fleece-lined slippers
  • Excedrin
  • Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center
  • the fact that Sarah Palin is not going to be the next Vice-President of the United States
  • hot cocoa
  • the aroma of turkey soup simmering in the kitchen

© 2008 by Mary Daniels Brown

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here in the United States we're celebrating Thanksgiving today. We've taken a proprietary hold on this holiday, incorporating it into our national myth and folklore, by portraying it as a unique event involving Pilgrims and Indians that commemorates the founding of the country.

In reality, though, harvest celebrations are as old as agriculture itself. Throughout time cultures have offered thanks to their deities for the fruits of autumn. The cornucopia, or horn of plenty, has become the ubiquitous symbol of these celebrations. Although now we most often see the cornucopia portrayed as a woven basket holding produce, the original cornucopia, as the word's Latin root tells us, included an animal's--probably a bull's or a ram's--horn.
One autumn an Asian man participated in a life story writing workshop I was presenting. He is now an American citizen, and his children were born here in the U. S., but he wanted to write about his childhood experiences so his children would know about their Asian heritage. When he read his narration of how the residents of the village presented offerings of rice to the gods and visited relatives on a day in autumn, the other workshop participants commented that this sounded a lot like our American Thanksgiving.

It would have been more accurate to say that our Thanksgiving sounds a lot like the ancient Asian tradition of giving thanks. We don't have a monopoly on autumnal thanksgiving, even if we do spell it with a capital letter and get a paid day off from work. Sharing life stories with people from another culture can broaden our perspective on our place in the world and in history.

© 2008 by Mary Daniels Brown

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"That One"?

Did you hear John McCain call Barack Obama "that one" last night?

It's not quite as bad as "you people," but it's close.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Are You Reading for Banned Books Week?

ALA | Banned Books Week:

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2008, marks BBW's 27th anniversary (September 27 through October 4).

Check out the American Library Association's Banned Books Week Website for information about the most frequently challenged books and about how you can fight censorship in your community.

Labels: , ,

October: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month increasing early breast cancer detection awareness:

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Check out this site for all kinds of information about breast cancer and how you can help in the fight against this disease.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Please pass the Hydrox!

Last Friday, while visiting a friend in Connecticut, I walked into a grocery store and there they were: stacks of boxes of Hydrox cookies!

Even as a child I preferred Hydrox to the cloyingly sweet Oreo. The Hydrox chocolate wafers were not very sweet, and biting into a Hydrox produced a subtle but distinct contrast between the not-very-sweet cookies and the sweeter (but not nearly so overwhelmingly sweet as Oreo) creme filling. Oreos, and other products like them, have contributed to Americans' desire for overwhelming sweetness in everything: cookies, cereals, fruit drinks, even toothpaste and over-the-counter medications.

But for the more discerning palate, Hydrox cookies are back, at least for a little while. Kellogg Company has reissued them for a limited run in honor of their 100th anniversary.

Hydrox cookies were introduced as the first creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookie in 1908 by Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, which later became Sunshine Biscuit Company. Looking for a name that went well with sunshine, the company combined the beginnings of hydrogen and oxygen, the components of water with its connotations of purity and cleanliness. In 1996 Keebler purchased Sunshine Biscuit Company and renamed the cookies Hydrox Ddroxies. In 1999 Keebler reformulated the cookies and called them must Droxies. In 2003 the company stopped making the cookies but, in response to public demand, has brought back Hydrox for a limited time in honor of its 100th anniversary.

Find out more at

And in the meantime, get to your local grocery store. When they're gone, they're gone for good.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

As I Turn 60. . .

Happy birthday to me! Sixty years ago today, I was born--on the first day of a heat wave, as my mother delights in pointing out nearly every year.

Having now reached the age when wrinkles traditionally denote wisdom, I've accumulated a few nuggets of knowledge. Since it's my birthday, I'm going to claim the right of self-indulgence and share them with you:

(1) True friends are rare and special, and I should cherish each one.

(2) Contrary to the American myth, you cannot be whatever you want. I will never be an artist. Although I've done some drop-dead gorgeous needlework in my time, I cannot draw a lick. But I have learned to look for my strengths and then maximize them.

(3) We are not all created equal. Some people can draw. I can't. I've learned to live with this shortcoming.

(4) No matter how good I am at something, there's always someone else who's better. I've learned to live with this, too.

(5) Freud may have been wrong about infant sexuality, but he was dead on about our psychological defense mechanisms.

(6) You cannot have it all. You would not want to: You'd be overwhelmed. Figure out what's important to you, then go after it with zeal and passion.

(7) There are always as many sides to every story as there are participants.

(8) You cannot overcome every obstacle in life by sheer willpower. Learn how to figure out what help you need. Then learn to ask for that help. When you refuse to ask for help, you deny someone else the opportunity to be helpful.

(9) We are what we do. Actions speak louder than words. We demonstrate our true character through our behavior. Try to perform more good than bad actions.

(10) When I find a rut I like, it dig in deep and stay put as long as possible. Such routines are comforting, but change will occur whether we want it to or not. In fact, the more we want things not to change, the more they probably will. I try to view these occurrences as opportunities and embrace them.

(11) The world is a big place, and it can sometimes be scary. But you have to be willing to put yourself out there [apologies to Dr. Phil], to meet new people and try new things.

(12) However, it's also OK to enjoy being alone. What's important is to find a balance that's comfortable for you.

(13) "If you want something done right, do it yourself" is not always good advice. Learn to delegate. Then learn to be happy with "good enough." Perfectionism causes ulcers and high anxiety.

(14) Love and friendship are never wasted. Even when formerly good relationships go south, having experienced the good times is priceless [apologies to MasterCard].

(15) Say "I love you" to the people you care about. Say it out loud and say it often.

(16) Despite the lack of visible welts or scars, verbal and emotional abuse of children cuts just as deeply as physical abuse and should be equally condemned.

(17) Once you begin to look for meaning, synchronicity will occur.

(18) Trust your gut. Every time I've ignored my intuition, I've regretted it.

(19) What you send forth into the Universe is what the Universe will ultimately give back to you.

(20) Embrace life's mysteries. Expect to be surprised.

© 2008 by Mary Daniels Brown


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Comments Enabled

I have now enabled comments for new posts. When I created this blog I did not enable comments because I did not have the time to moderate them. I still don't really have the time, but I'm interested in the conversation.

Since comments are moderated, it may be a (short) while before you see your comment here. Only appropriately relevant comments will be approved. Please, no offensive language or personal attacks.

Let's see where the conversation takes us. . .


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Photo of the Day: Spring is on the way

molting goldfinch

Even more than the blooming crocus, the regoldening goldfinches always mean spring to me.

© 2008 by Mary Daniels Brown

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Photo of the Day: Flooding in Missouri

Missouri FloodThis was the scene yesterday (Friday, March 21, 2008) near Valley Park in St. Louis County, Missouri, where MO Hwy 141 intersects with Interstate 44. The photo was taken looking south down 141. The vehicles on the overpass are on I 44, which was reduced to one lane heading west. The Missouri Dept. of Transportation (MoDOT) placed concrete barriers and sandbags (which would be just off this photo to the right) along the northern edge of I 44 west to try to keep the rising water from the Meramec River off the road.

The water you see here is not the river itself; that's about a half mile north of the vantage point of this photo. There's a levee protecting the downtown area of Valley Park along the northern edge of the Meramec. This water is from farther west, where there is no levee.

When this photo was taken, the river was at about 34 feet. Flood stage in Valley Park is 16 feet. The Meramec is expected to crest at about 39 feet in Valley Park this afternoon. The previous high-water mark in Valley Park is 39.7 feet, which occurred in December 1982. The new levee was built to help prevent massive flooding such as occurred here in 1982.

Yesterday the temperature here was 72 degrees. Since the public schools were on spring break, there were a lot of kids in the crowd that came to flood watch. Many of the younger kids were more excited about getting to walk in the middle of the road than they were about viewing the power of Mother Nature.

You can see a lot more photos of the flooding here.

Update: Monday morning, March 24, 2008

As quickly as the flood waters rose, they have receded. This morning Hwy 141 was open in both directions. Overnight MoDOT crews used their snow plows to push the mud off the road. Over the next few nights they will remove the concrete barriers and sandbags from along I 44.

The Meramec River crested a little lower than expected. The water never did reach I 44. And Valley Park's new $49 million levee held. The towns further west, though--Eureka and Pacific--experienced bad flooding.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 15, 2008

What Color Is Your Mind?

Here's mine right now:

Your Mind is Green
Of all the mind types, yours has the most balance.
You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver.
You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

What Color Is Your Mind?

I'm in the midst of writing LOTS of papers for my graduate courses right now, so what my mind really feels like is mush. I hope to be back up to speed here in a couple of weeks.

Labels: ,