The bees are doing something interesting this time of year.
To the unaware eye, they might look like they’re just swarming around a little extra. To the uninformed patio-sitter, they might even present a nuisance.
But you, Prism friend, are not unaware or uninformed, because you are here, reading this very blog! And we want to share with you another wonderful, completely natural thing the bees do that can teach us something very valuable about our own lives, too.
This time of year, a third of a colony of bees will leave their hive with the queen in search of a new home. They know they have saturated the resources in their existing environment. They know it is time to grow and move on.
And so, despite their innate desire—like ours— to stay comfortable and safe at home, they leave the safety of their hive in search of a new place to set up camp.
A cluster of bees surrounds the queen as they wait on a branch while “scouts” go and look for a new site to set up camp.
Without a hive for protection and no familiarity of their surroundings to feed on known sources, the bees are at their most vulnerable in this process. They’ve stored up food for the journey, and the scouts will gorge themselves on nectar to help feed the queen in the interim as well, but it is a dangerous time.
The bees know, though, what many of us struggle with at several points in our lives: that the risk of staying put is greater than the risk of venturing out into the unknown for the sake of growth. The bees know that if they stay in the same hive forever: they will die. But they also know that they need not take the risk alone. They go in community. They go as a team. They protect each other, feed each other, and search together for the next point of safety. No single bee could do it alone.
Where does this challenge show up for you? Where might you need to trade safety for growth? Let us learn from the bees. And before you swat at that next swarm, know that they are vulnerably daring to survive!
At Prism, we talk a lot about the power of perspective and how the way we look at things greatly impacts the way we actually experience things.
We think of perspective like a lens through which we see the circumstances in front of us— like different pairs of glasses, each with their own unique visual-altering abilities. Perhaps one lens magnifies, while another shrinks. One lens turns things shades of green, another rosy pink. What we see depends on the lens through which we’re looking.
That’s perspective. And while most of us swallow that and move right along, it’s actually quite an incredible thing when you think about it.
Perspective is so powerful that it overrides reality.
We may be seeing things as all green or all magnified, but that’s not the way they actually are. It’s just the way we see them. It’s important we make this distinction between reality and our perception of reality, lest we make decisions based off a perspective that’s liable to shift in the very next moment.
One perspective we see and slip into often is that of being jaded. We start to see our work through a very jaded lens. We start to view relationships from a jaded perspective. We move through the world with a jaded outlook. And it translates to us showing up apathetically, cynically, and exhausted by things that are, in reality, very real and very meaningful circumstances. It’s simply our jaded perspective that alters the way we see them.
Being jaded robs us of the ability to empathize. When we’re overexposed to certain circumstances— be them legal, marital, social or political— we roll our eyes, sigh, and feel as if we can predict what will happen next. We tap out of the present moment, feeling certain this time will be like the last, and we fail to meet people with understanding, curiosity, and genuine interest in their problems or concerns.
A jaded perspective is so easy to adopt, especially when you’ve been at something for decades(work, marriage, raising a family, being a part of a social organization— we get it!) But easy is a cop out. We have the capacity for so much more as humans. We are capable of complex thinking, empathy, love, compassion, critical thinking, and more. And we do ourselves and others around us a disservice when we sink into a jaded, hum-drum perspective, simply because it’s easy.
Where are you living in a jaded perspective in your life right now? Why do you think that is? What are the effects of that? Our challenge to you is to opt for the difficult work of thinking critically and empathizing, when it feels easier to be cynical and apathetic.
And while with good intentions and beautiful enthusiasm for self-improvement, we actually think the real key to the desired self & lifestyle improvements many of us begin to seek during the new year season is to remember that despite it being a new year, there is not a “new you.”
You are still you.
And as you embark on the journey to lose weight, read more, be kinder, have more patience with your kids, try more new things— you have to remember who you are.
Approaching these endeavors as if you are a new person is almost a surefire way not only to fail, but also to feel an immense amount of unnecessary self-guilt for said failures.
You are still you, and it helps to remember and consider who you are as you reach for new things and try to change your habits. Because when you remember that you are someone who struggles to wake up early, you can build systems that help you reach your goals while taking that into consideration. When you remember that you are someone who impulsively says “Yes!” to things and fills up their plate very quickly, you can be conscious of this as you make decisions to make room for new activities.
“I always fall off the wagon,” “I’m terrible at sticking to it,” “This never works for me.” It could be that we failed to include our real selves in the planning and instead, mapped out a route fit for someone who doesn’t have our struggles, weaknesses, time constraints and priorities. Maybe we “fail” (and we use this term loosely, because to have tried is a success in itself) not because of who we are, but because of who we aren’t that we thought we “should” be.
If you don’t take yourself along with you on the road to your New Year’s Resolutions, you’re sure to arrive quickly right back where you started, because it was this real self doing the work all along. And when we honor who that self is, we can create routines and make choices that align with them, rather than with a version of ourselves we long to be.
Maybe the way to change your self and make those little lifestyle tweaks is to first know your self, so you can be best equipped to make those changes and tweaks, and make sure they last past January.
Starting way back with Halloween and extending all the way to Christmas, “the holiday season” is known as a time of joy and cheer. There’s a magic in the air, people seem more smiley in the stores, and the near-constant Christmas music helps encourage the “jolliness” of the season.
Certainly, this time of year can be full of fun and joy, but it can also be a time of great stress, resentment and even conflict as we give and receive gifts, host visitors, attend parties, hang lights, spend money and hustle here and there with a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Ironically, “the most wonderful time of the year” can end up being the most tense time of year for many.
But if there’s one thing we know at Prism (don’t worry— there’s way more than one!) it’s conflict management, because it’s what we do everyday. We walk with people through their own unique conflicts, we listen to their stories, and we help give them a map that they can use to find their way from where they are, to where they want to be.
The approach we use in the mediation room is no different than the approach we use at home when our spouse is upset that we still didn’t hang the lights like they asked. It’s no different than how we handle that spat about who “forgot” to tell us about the holiday party tonight or who “never mentioned” it. The attitude we have when we’re impatient with a member of a mediation is the same attitude we (try to) have when we’re impatient with a cashier.
In short, the way we approach conflict in our work, is the same way we approach conflict in our lives: with care and respect.
As we experience the occasional Christmas Conflict with our spouses, kids, coworkers, neighbors, or the unbelievably slow customer in front of us in line, we extend the same care and respect that we use in our mediations.
Some things we try to practice in conflicts inside and outside of our work are:
truly listening to the other person’s story Whether it’s “true” or not, it is this person’s reality and it’s true for them. Listening and acknowledging their perspective is key.
“I would be upset too if a Christmas party was sprung on me at the last minute, too.”
validating feelings instead of trying to “logic” them away Spoiler alert: it’s not about the lights! It’s about the feeling. And no amount of logic is going to help that feeling go away.
“I’m sorry you feel alone in decorating the house. How can I help you?”
asking questions rather than giving demands Leading people to a solution is much more effective than telling them what they “should” do.
“Could you try to talk to your Mom about it so we don’t repeat last year?”
Although we hope your holiday is free of conflict and filled with that special Christmas joy and cheer, should you find yourself in a scuffle, we hope these thoughts come in handy, this season and after!
It’s a way of looking at life and the world around you.
When we look at our days with a perspective of gratitude, suddenly, we have everything to be grateful for. When we view the world through a lens of gratitude, we subconsciously stockpile a collection of positivity, priming our brains for happiness and our hearts for connection and openness.
Having a perspective of gratitude doesn’t mean that the tough things disappear, and it doesn’t mean feelings like sadness, fear, frustration or disappointment are “bad,” but rather it gives us a way to reframe those things in a way that makes them easier to manage. And, when we arrive at challenging places already armed with a running mental list of things to be thankful for, it simply changes how heavy those challenges feel.
The holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving— a time to gather and be thankful. We hold hands and circle around the table, counting our blessings and intentionally naming things for which we are thankful. We hang seasonal “Be Grateful” and “Tis The Season for Gratitude” decor— as we should! It’s a beautiful and needed reminder.
But why limit gratitude to a season?
Why not celebrate abundance, togetherness, and all the many fortunes we enjoy on a daily basis, all year long?
Of course there is a specialness that comes with the timing and season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is a mood and ambiance in the air that can’t be upheld or recreated throughout the year. That is part of the magic of the holiday season. But maybe there is a way to celebrate gratitude in all seasons by simply shifting our perspective and choosing to focus not on what’s wrong or missing, but instead on all that we have that makes us so very lucky every single day.
Nature, family, morning coffee at the push of a button, our homes, friendly co-workers, reliable transportation, warm meals, good conversations— these are things not available to so many that most of us are afforded on a near daily basis! The choice to make these things the focus of our days rather than the onslaught of negative, nagging nuisances we could focus on instead makes all the difference.
From your friends at Prism, may you count your many, many blessings this holiday season and after. We are grateful for you and the opportunity to serve you and be a part of your community.
This month, Prism had the privilege of presenting about our mediation practice at the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Seminar by Juge Napolitano. Because mediation is about so much more than just reaching a settlement, we thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to share some insights about our strategies and mindsets we use in the mediation room.
Among the many things we keep in mind is the idea of efficiency vs. effectiveness.
Thanks to technology and the wonderful pandemic-inspired discovery of all that can be done remotely, the workplace is more and more geared towards efficiency. We not only want to get one thing done as quickly as possible, we also want to get 3 other things done at the same time.
While not an inherently negative aim, we often get distracted by efficiency and end up sacrificing effectiveness.
In mediation, this can look like rushing a case to closure, only to end up at a result that leaves parties feeling uninvolved in the outcome.
In our relationships, it can look like trying to engage in a meaningful discussion while one person is checking their email, which leaves both parties only 50% engaged in each task.
In our personal lives, it can look like taking a work call while we grill with a glass of wine and unwind after the day, which renders our efforts to relax quite ineffective.
Being efficient is great.
But being effective is often what matters more.
At Prism, we try to carry this mindset with us in mediations and in our lives outside of work, because we know that injured workers, insurance companies & businesses— like humans— ultimately want effective resolution. We can certainly be efficient and effective at the same time, but only if we’re cognizant of both and aim our efforts appropriately.
All month long we’ve had the Earth, Wind & Fire hit song, September playing on repeat in our heads.
It is one of those songs you can’t help but groove to when it comes on. (We know, “the kids” aren’t using that word any more, but it’s only fitting here!) As the first few iconic notes build up to that familiar saxophone series, it’s almost automatic to chime in with your own choice of musical participation: vocals, air sax, the clap-and-snap, or a good ole fashioned head-bob.
In the car, September is a “windows-down-on-a-finally-cool-autumn-evening” jam as you chant the familiar chorus of “ba-dee-ya” or “party-on” depending on who you ask. In short: it is a feel good tune, and any research of the “why” behind the song will back that up.
With such a dance-evoking song stuck in our heads all month long, it raises the question: how often do we dance?
And not just the traditional definition of dancing, but the concept of moving and flowing with the rhythms around us, letting our bodies lead the way instead of our heads.
We spend a lot of time inside of our minds, making decisions, crunching numbers, scheduling, emailing, task-mastering all day long for 5—sometimes even 6 or 7— days of the week. It is no wonder we are tired, stressed, irritable, and craving a break from the mind-heavy hustle of the day-to-day.
How much time do we spend just inside of our bodies?
Swaying in the kitchen while we chop vegetables, singing with the windows down, jumping on the trampoline with our kids or grandkids, running after the dog in the backyard, picking up the old tennis racquet or golf clubs and taking a few fun swings?
How could such time impact that fatigue, stress & irritability?
Oftentimes, we let our minds talk our bodies out of such things saying we don’t have time, we’re “too old,” too tired, it’s a waste of time, what’s the use? We spend our days working hard and our time outside of work thinking about work and tempering our fun, thinking our way through things rather than feeling our way through and giving in to the rhythms around us.
We work with folks everyday whose lives have been altered in some form or fashion by an accident at work— from both the worker’s perspective and the company side. It is always a reminder of how quickly things can change and how little we have control over in our lives. But one thing over which we absolutely have control is whether or not, when the rhythms of life shift, we give in to the dance or retreat to our minds.
Life is so very short and the music so very good.
If only we choose to listen to it.
Dance while you can. This is what the living is for.
Maybe you were a straight A student through and through, always told how smart you were, and always believing it (for the most part.) Maybe, like some of us, you skated by with Cs and heard how you weren’t “that smart” and you believed that, too.
Our education system teaches us one definition of “smart” : good grades. Making good grades, however, ultimately boils down to passing tests, which can be further reduced to regurgitating information deemed “important” by an educational governing body. Our system rewards only this kind of “smartness” (memorization and passing of tests.) Those who mark too few correct answers “fail” the tests and are graded lower than those who marked more correct answers. They are then labeled “less smart” and that’s that.
The “smart” students are admitted— on the basis of this sole measure of “smartness”— to higher education opportunities, where they will gain the knowledge and skills to find work doing jobs that financially reward their “smartness.”
The “not as smart” students are told to work harder, study more, play less, and take their schoolwork more seriously, for, since they are “not as smart,” they will either have to work harder to get the same education opportunities, or perhaps, they will not get them at all, and they will have the unfortunate fate of doing one of those jobs had by people who didn’t “do well” in school.
Fortunately, some of those folks can squeeze by with a C average in law school and go on to “be successful” (at least by a single metric of this word, as well) but the quiet belief that they are not “smart” will stick with them, because the world loves “smart,” right?
The truth is, there are all kinds of ways to be “smart.” In the words of Albert Einstein, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
And yet we do just that in school. We measure all students by a single ability: that of being able to memorize and perform on a given day.
What if “smart” were broader than grades and correct answers? What if “smart” was relative? Unique to each of us? The end of Einstein’s quote that is often left off is: “The question I have for you is, ‘What is your genius?’ ”
What is your genius? It’s likely not a subject measured in school: the ability to see the bigger picture and connect the dots, the ability to paint exactly what you seem, the ability to relate to others. Maybe it’s improv comedy, fishing, cooking, chess, creating community. We all have our own zone of genius. Each of us is, therefore, “smart” in our own ways, and we miss so much of ourselves when we fail to see our own genius.
We also miss so much of the world. How many times have you quickly made the assessment that someone is “not that smart” and maybe even “dumbed” things down for them a bit? What happens if we consider the fact that they are a genius in some way besides the one we’re thinking of as a measurement for “smart”?
“What makes a child gifted and talented may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world and learning.”
It’s hard to measure “the way one looks at the world,” but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of an indication of how “smart” one is. What about you? Were you told you were “smart” growing up? Perhaps the opposite? What happens when you consider a broader definition of the word “smart”?
Hopefully by now you’ve had the pleasure of tasting some of our fresh, local honey made by our very own Prism bees. (If you haven’t, as you’re about to learn— we have plenty! Be sure to ask any Prism team member next time you’re around and we’ll give you a jar.) Our “Claris Honey” as we call it, gets harvested annually by Alan and a crew of other helpers, and the latest harvest took place just a few weekends ago.
We asked one of the harvesting crew members, Nicole, about the process and were fascinated by how it all works!Read on & watch the video below to learn how the honey you enjoy from Prism gets from bee to jar.
How do bees make honey?
Bees make honey by gathering nectar from flowers with their tongues and storing it in their “honey stomach” which is different than their food stomach and has a specific enzyme to help break down the nectar. They take it back to the hive and then spit it back and forth to other bees in order to reduce the moisture content. I’ve heard that each bee chews it for about 30 minutes! Then the honey is stored in a little hexagon wax cell made by the bees. It gets dried out even further by sitting in the warm hive or being fanned. Once enough moisture evaporates it becomes honey and the bees put a wax cap on the cell to keep it safe in storage!
How often and at what times of year do beekeepers harvest honey? Why this timing?
Bees make honey and store it in their hives to eat during the winter when there are no flowers available to get nectar from. Uniquely, bees will make more food (honey) than they can possibly need if given the space and right environment. This makes it possible for us humans to harvest some of their honey and still leave enough for the bees to survive on during those winter months.
How often and what times of the year a beekeeper harvests honey really depends on what climate they live in. For example, often in Louisiana you can have a summer and a fall honey harvest. The fall is mild enough to still have flowers blooming for the bees to keep foraging (gathering nectar) and making honey late into the year. Some beekeepers will choose to harvest almost all of the honey in their hives and then feed their bees sugar water throughout the winter months; others will leave enough for the bees to eat for themselves so that they do not have to be fed.
What happens if a hive’s honey is not harvested?
Honey does not have an expiration date! Supposedly they found honey in King Tut’s tomb and it was still edible! So if a hive is left with all of their honey, they will eat through the honey stores they need for the winter months and then just continue to make more of it next summer if given the space. One thing to look out for if you choose not to harvest is that, if in the spring the hive does not have more room to expand and grow, they will be more likely to swarm. This means they’ll make a new queen and the old queen will leave with 2/3 of the population to find a new home. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can decrease your honey harvest in the next year.
What are boxes, frames, hives?
A hive is a family of bees with only one queen. They work together to make honey, take care of their young, dote on their queen, and keep their little society running smoothly. A hive can live in nature in some crazy places like an old tire, under the hood of an old car, or just in the hole of a tree. Beekeepers use bee boxes made of wood to create a pleasing environment for a hive of bees to live. Usually the bottom boxes are where the queen stays, lays her eggs, and they raise the babies. Beekeepers can then stack more boxes on top for the bees to store extra honey. In each box there are frames that the bees can use to create sheets of wax with the classic honeycomb pattern. They build those cells on each frame and use them to store eggs, larvae, or food. The beekeeper can easily remove the individual frames to harvest honey.
What is the order of events in a honey harvesting/extraction process?
First the beekeeper will suit up in your bee suit (or if you’re like some of us… just a veil) and go into the hives to take out the frames that have “capped” or completed honey. You then need to “uncap” or break open that wax covering so that the honey can spill out. There are lots of fun tools that can be used to do this, or if you’re the low-tech type you can just take a potato masher and crush all of the honeycomb into a container so that all of the honey spills out.
Keepers with more hives typically have a tool called an extractor that looks like a big barrel. It gets filled with the uncapped frames and will spin them around so that all of the honey gets slung out to the side of the barrel and then drips to the bottom. There’s a valve at the bottom that can be opened to allow all of the honey to flow out into a bucket with a filter to clean out all the little bits of wax. Once all of the honey is drained into the bucket it is ready to be jarred! The honey buckets also have a valve on the bottom that can be opened and closed to pour the honey into those glass jars you know and love! (For those low-tech beekeepers, its possible to crush the honeycomb and then leave it in a bucket with a filter to drain out, it just takes a little more patience.)
What do you do with the frames and boxes after extraction? How does this affect the bees?
After extraction, you can set all of the sticky equipment and frames out for the bees to clean all of the leftover honey off of. Depending on condition, frames and boxes can often be reused in the next season. After a honey harvest, the hives will be smaller with less boxes of honey on top. This can help them survive over the winter months because they will have less space to have to keep warm and defend against pests.
How much honey does an average hive make per year?
An average hive can make around 50lbs or 4 gallons per year. (We recently harvested from several hives, however, and collected over 40 gallons of honey!)How long does the extraction process take?
Depends on how much honey you have! Also your method of extracting and tools can really impact the time it takes to extract. Usually it’s an all-day affair so we’ve found that it’s best to make a party of it and invite some friends!
How easy or difficult is it to get involved in beekeeping? How could one start?
Beekeeping does not have to be complicated and thankfully the bees are good at knowing what they’re doing even when you don’t! A good way to dip your toes into beekeeping can be to go to your local beekeeping club meetings or find an established beekeeper in the community to be your mentor. Ask them to take you out for a hive inspection so that you can learn what types of tools/equipment you’ll need and familiarize yourself with the bees.
Please let us know whenever you want some Claris Honey! We love giving it out and teaching people where it comes from and how it’s made!
We hope you enjoy getting to know Joe a little more through the following questions + answers!
How long have you been doing work with Prism prior to joining the team?
I believe I have been using the Prism Group since inception but frankly it has been so long ago I can’t really remember the first time I had a mediation with Alan Jordan, but it had to be about the time he started Prism Group. That would mean 15 years at least.
What are you looking forward to contributing to the Prism Team?
I am hoping to be more than just another mediator. I would prefer to be another virtuoso mediator as are the three who are already here. I do bring a different practice area to the group. What the industry calls “wet work”. I’ve actually practiced defense under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) since 1984 and began defending LA State Workers Compensation cases in 1987. I have also defended Jones act and Section 905(b) (vessel negligence) claims since 1984 having started my legal career with Adams and Reese in its Maritime Section.
What/how does being a part of the Prism Team add to your life?
In a word, “everything”. It is positive. It is wonderfully fulfilling, and when I have a mediation or two scheduled for the day, it’s Christmas morning again as when I was 12. I hope and do believe that that wonderful feeling will continue through the years.
What do you feel are your strengths when mediating worker’s comp cases?
At this point, what I will call “active patience”, which is listening attentively, being able to read the room and act effectively. I’ve always believed that most compensation cases should settle at some point because both parties are better off settling at that point. In my years of practice, I believe I have seen almost everything in some form, but yet there is always a twist in the facts or unique set of facts to which the law has not yet been specifically applied, that can surprise me. However, rather than frustrate me as a mediator I find that fascinating. I may not always recall where I was yesterday at a given moment, but I remember issues, disputes and strategies taken in cases that date back decades. I can draw upon those experiences and creative ways of resolution to share with parties and their attorneys to reach a present one.
What’s one “Prism”-ism or Prism “philosophy” you try to keep in mind while mediating?
Alan Jordan likes to say “focus on the relationships not the result” to get the best result. At this point, he cannot waste time and does not.
I am fond of saying (and hopefully saying this more often in the near future) that this is not rocket science but it could be bracket science that brings the agreement home. It helps to have observed and trained by one of the best.
What have you learned from the mediation business that has been helpful in navigating your own life challenges?
This is an easy one… or two: concentrated listening and active patience. Discern the problem and solve it comfortably with all cooperating.
What is your favorite way to spend your time outside of work?
Well for me this is another easy one: doing anything with my grandchildren. I have a great relationship with my three children but as I like to tell all of them I like their kids better. When able, I like hiking, fishing anywhere, crabbing on Ship Island, paddle-boarding my blow up almost anywhere there are no sharks, clay target shooting, preserve shooting at doves or quail, reading, Viking cruises, and sipping fine bourbon… unless there is finer scotch available, on my back patio, especially on Fridays.
Kathy and I have been married since May 16, 1987 and I have no problem remembering that date because if not etched into my brain, it is etched into my wedding band. We were engaged in November 1985 and I learned that apparently you can only marry Kathy in the month of May, but May 1986 did not give her sufficient time for whatever. It was perhaps the longest engagement in history. I felt it was way too much time for her to change her mind, but thankfully she did not. It was my first mediation. I lost the battle but won the war.
How many kids and where are they in life?
Kristen, my favorite daughter, is in her very low 30s, married, and has three wonderful children.
Jeffrey, 31, a PA in Birmingham married, no kids yet. (Jesuit HS)
Ryan, 28, our youngest, is married they have one child. Ryan is a steadily employed landman doing well. UL grad. (Brother Martin HS)
What are you reading and/or watching right now?
I just finished Dr Mary’s Monkey which led (at the recommendation of Dr Brobson Lutz) to On the Trail of the Assassins by former DA NOLA, Jim Garrison. Amazing and I will leave it at that. I am currently reading a book by Professor Brandt Pitre on spirituality of prayer.
I have read Band of Brothers, separate books by almost all of the band of brothers, many others by Stephen Ambrose, all of which I recommend. I am usually reading 2 or 3 at a time. Mom was an English literature teacher who gave me the reading genes. I recommend anything by Mark Twain, especially Joan of Arc, not his usual work, but of the best and which took him the longest to write. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. The movie was terrible and a waste. Don’t let that stop you from reading the book before you depart. It is a treasure box of humor. Call me anytime for more….
What famous or well-known individual would you most like to meet and have a conversation?
God. I just need a D+ to make it there eventually…
As far as humans go…Volodymyr Zelenskyy, because he basically told Vladimir… “nuts” and is currently fighting our evil dedicated enemies.
Send Joe a welcome greeting or gather some more book recommendations from him here: firstname.lastname@example.org