To run on a hamster wheel means to do things without thinking and without an end in sight. It’s a lack of presence.
“How can you tell if you’re on The Hamster Wheel? Your focus narrows and becomes singular. You get reactive instead of proactive. You’re not breathing deeply. Your shoulders are tense. Your jaw may be gripped. Your heart is beating fast and you feel frantic. You experience chronic fight or flight syndrome, your adrenaline is pumping like crazy. You stop really ‘seeing’ people and they start to become objects.”
One morning, Day 6 of our Walkout, one of my teenage daughters told me she was going out to breakfast with her boyfriend. She’d been out a lot that week: There were pre-prom activities, “The Prom,” and then post-prom outings.
As a recovering Tiger Mom, I’ve bitten my tongue when I want to ask about tell her to do her schoolwork. I’ve backed off (been over a year now), because I wanted to go from Tiger (ferocious and unforgiving) to Owl (wise and patient).
Since my own transformation, her grades have improved dramatically (4.1 GPA), she’s obtained her driving permit license, played violin at All-State and she’s noticeably happier.
But that morning, I voiced concern about her responsibilities. Inwardly, I judged her social calendar. She’s going out too much. She’s not working hard enough. How will she get a college scholarship?
Do you hear the fear?
Her smiling face turned dark. “I’m communicating to you my plans. Why do you want to pick a fight?”
And I answered confessed, “I am struggling inwardly. I know I should not say this. You know what? I trust that you know what you need to do and that you will do it.” Ah! Good catch!
And we were fine.
I chose love over fear.
People (who are “people” anyway?) might argue: “You are her parent. It’s your job to get on her about her responsibilities. You can’t let her run all over you like that.” But she’s not running all over me. She’s living her life. She is her own person and she knows what she’s doing. She’s not putting herself in danger. She’s not putting others in danger. I would say (and do) something if that was the case.
Too many Tiger Parents make the same mistakes over and over again. They communicate to their children that the outside is more important than the inside: grades, colleges and achievements are more important than knowing who you really are…more important than having fun with friends and learning how to navigate social waters. I’ve had several 5th and 6th grade students cry and tell me that they are receiving oppressive pressure at home.
Thus, I continue to choose love over fear. It’s challenging at times. Fear can look like caring, or “good parenting” or “discipline.” But it doesn’t feel quite right. Love always feels true.
This painting is highly imperfect. The face seems to be floating around, detached. The fur is stiff and square. Painting it was not as fun as painting the hedgehog and it shows. The process reminded me of this quote:
Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.
Mary Tyler Moore
Some pieces will be better than others. I love watching August Wren (Creativebug.com) paint because she talks out loud and often laughs at her mistakes.
Did you know that their beaks are “honeycomb-like” (lightweight) and virtually useless as a weapon? But the other animals don’t know that!
Tip of the Day (from personal experience):
Start your day with something that is hard to do physically…something that requires you to push yourself. Achieving it first thing in the day will give you a sense of accomplishment and vigor for the next 15 to 18 hours.
Listening to Oprah’s podcast with will.i.am, I was profoundly impressed with him not only as a musician, but as an education proponent. His i.am.angel foundation brings STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to under-served communities. This foundation has also awarded over $800k in scholarships and 97% of these students are the first in their families to go to college.
Will echoes Milton Berle’s sage advice:
If a door closes, build a new door.
This reminds me of something that happened a few weeks ago, when I was reading the Red4Ed message board. A school bus driver wrote: “Are you guys (teachers) demanding a raise and better benefits for us classified staff?”
I see way too much self-medicating and not enough self-advocating these days. Don’t ever assume someone is looking out for you. You’ve got to do the heavy lifting yourself. Exercise your rights. Vote. Do something with what you have.
If you go by the usual quote, “When one door closes, another opens,” it assumes you will just wait for another one to open. When you build your own, it won’t ever close.
I just finished listening to a Rich Roll podcast. His guest was Jesse Itzler who wrote a best selling book about Living with a (Navy) SEAL. Itzler is also married to Sara Blakely who founded Spanx.
Pursuing outrageous physical feats is not my bag. However, I like to keep learning about motivation and what might help others (as well as me) get/stay motivated to constantly improve (work, relationships).
The biggest takeaway from this podcast for me was to “circle a date in the future” for a goal I have in mind and then to tell everyone about it to hold myself accountable. As soon as I published “Esther, Mia and the Stars,*” I wanted to write my next book. But I haven’t. So here it is: by December 13th, 2018, I will write (and illustrate!) book #2.
What have you put on the backburner? Share it now (here or elsewhere), and get going!
*Yes, it says “Mia, Esther and the Stars” on Amazon. But it’s the right book. ;P
Don’t just worry or complain about global warming and ocean pollution. Do something: Visit the Four Seasons Maldives.
They have a rehabilitation center for injured marine life as well as a “Flying Turtles” program for animals that are unable to be set free in the wild.
Children visitors are the most frequent visitors. They love to name the turtles and check on them several times a day. They also pay close attention to information regarding what harms these beautiful creatures. Fortunately, children are passionate nature lovers.
Today was the fourth day of summer school (I’m teaching a 2nd and 3rd grade combo class). We hadn’t even gotten to the fun stuff yet (math Bingo with M&Ms and vocabulary skits) when one second grader beamed and said, “I love summer school!”
“What part?” I asked.
“All of it!”
Her gratitude was intense and contagious. Other students murmured in agreement. Summer school is the bomb.
She could have complained about waking up, getting dressed and going to school.
She could have dreaded doing math (again).
She could have complained and compared herself to other kids who are going on vacations to California and beyond.
But she was completely present. She was 100% here with 16 other kids and me and we had a great time.
Every zebra has unique stripe patterns – much like humans’ fingerprints.
If we could just appreciate our singularity – and the originality of others, this world would be a more peaceful place.
I like Ram Dass’ observation: When we go out and see trees, we don’t judge them. We don’t say this one is better than that one. We appreciate every tree. We should do that with people. Appreciate every person.
Judgmental people tend to judge themselves fiercely. They believe it makes them work harder and be better. In fact, judgmental people possess an insecurity and sometimes a level of self-hate that disables them to love others.
There is strife in America right now. There is a great divide. But ignorance is being met with consciousness and ultimately, awareness will win.
In any case, we’ve estimated that with regular practice, rehearsals, competitions and school orchestra, the girls have at least 5,000 of deliberate practice under their belt.
In nearly nine years of playing, the girls have not once said they want to quit. I attribute that to the fact that they only play violin – they do not do any other extracurriculars. The upsides of “being good” at something are: self-confidence, self-discipline and optimism!
One of the biggest lessons in life I’ve had to unlearn is that my children are “mine.”
Gibran’s words are plain and true:
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
Too many parents believe their children are a reflection of themselves. Our job as parents is to provide nourishment and safety for these souls. But they are whole people already – we do not – SHOULD not – impose our dreams on them.
Writing prompt: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Student: This prompt makes me sad. Because I don’t know. My parents tell me I must be either be an engineer or a doctor. I cannot have a job that pays less than that.
Teacher: Well, let’s say your parents tell you that you can pursue ANY profession that you want. What would it be?
Student: I don’t know…I don’t know, because I’ve never even thought of it.
Why do parents tell their kids how to live your lives when they have their own?
By the way, Gibran never had children. Maybe he could be this wise because he had the distance necessary to see the whole picture.
“Happiness is a living thing. You need to feed your happiness in order to have happiness last. It’s like love. If you don’t feed your love, it will die. Understanding and compassion are the foundation to happiness.”
Freelancers podcast from Seth Godin’s Akimbo – the Conclusion (last 5 minutes):
You need to deliver the product of difficult work. Solve a problem in a new way. If you had a great boss, your boss would understand and encourage you to keep doing it.
Be smart about how good you are, who you do it for and how much you charge. This is an opportunity to dig deeper and do the work. This is what you signed up for – not to work a lousy job for a lousy boss.
…and now, for the continuation of my notes on Seth Godin’s Akimbo podcast on Freelancing:
The world will ask you to do work for free and promise that if this is good, then maybe they will buy it.
Seth’s recommendation – “That thing you do…that you sell…you should sell it. You should find something else to do for free. Something you do to have people see you and understand you.” For example, Seth gets paid to fly to places and speak. But his blog is free. His speeches are expensive.
Differentiate what is free.
People will walk away. People will leave. But you’re work is so good, people will miss it. There will ALWAYS be people who will give away what you’re selling for free. Always. Your job, then: Build practices and skills that no one can give away for free because you are a category of one. Be comfortable advocating for yourself.
You’re the sales rep.
How does a freelancer get more? How to turn this into a career?
The alternative SEEMS to be that you have to work harder and longer hours.
Or, you need to hire people in order to get bigger.
The THIRD path (and Seth’s recommendation): Get better clients. Clients who trust you and want better…why pay better. What will happen? Word will spread and you’ll get better. Good clients lead to better clients who lead to the best clients.
I’ve been following Seth Godin’s work for many years. He just gets better and better. This podcast episode got me jazzed. If you’re considering freelancing or being an entrepreneur (or if you believe they are synonyms(!)) this podcast is for you:
Here are notes from the podcast:
First of all, entrepreneurs are people who start companies, make money while they sleep and employ people. Freelancers actually create the work and usually work alone (might shop out aspects of their work, but mostly do it themselves). When he said this, I realized I am definitely not an entrepreneur! But being a freelancer resonated with me when it comes to my personality and goals.
Choose an industry that is glad to see you arrive.
Possess hard-earned skills. You can charge a lot, but deliver more than what people pay for.
Focus on the smallest viable audience – not a large one [This is the opposite of what so many failed businesses do!]. As a freelancer, you can only handle so much. This small group of people (your customers) will talk about you and wait in line for you.
Commit to the discipline of prospecting – you need to do your work and spend time getting work (building your business). Dedicate some time every day to honing your skills, finding new tools, spreading the word, earning the privilege of working for others (NOT networking parties).
Godin uses an example: He knows a photographer who shoots in a specific location at specific times and only those for clients. She
What gets you picked is you being in the Category of One. No one can substitute you. Get beyond being One of Many. Do quirky, unique, exceptional work – work that sounds like you, looks like you….the work that most people do not like. (Are you trying too hard to be liked by everyone?)
Cinco de Mayo is not about Mexico gaining independence. Instead, it commemorates the defeat of the French in an underdog victory during the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War. It is celebrated to appreciate the Mexican culture and heritage.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the United States, commercialism has reduced it to a day of drinking and high jinks.
#RedForEd must act now. Call, text, or email your legislators. The Governor seems close to passing his partisan budget that we oppose. The House of Representatives is now on the floor with all sixty members taking the first official vote on the budget and debating the budget bills and amendments. The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate soon.
#RedForEd has friendly legislators who will be introducing amendments to the budget that support the #RedForEd demands. This is our chance, and you need to contact legislators now with a simple message. Tell them to support the four #RedForEd amendments:
Cap class size at 25 students per classroom
Defines “Teacher” as: any non-administrative personnel who teaches students or supports student academic achievement as defined by the school district governing board or charter school governing body including, but not limited to nurses, counselors, social workers, psychologists, speech pathologists, librarians and academic interventionists.
Cap student-to-counselor ratio at 250:1
Student support services personnel should receive a 10% increase equal to the teacher pay proposal, go into base level and be paid for by tax conformity.