Monkeying Around

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Daily Painting Challenge – #12

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.

 

 

Hedgehog

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Daily Painting Practice with August Wren (#13)

She goes about her business

and will tighten into a ball if you harass her

Her spines fall out under extreme stress

but she’s resilient (!) – they grow back

 

she’s vocal, nocturnal,

and has a natural immunity against snake venom

(through years of evolution?)

omniverous and vociferous

 

the badger can’t stay away

 

 

 

{Reading up on the hedgehog, it reminded me of the #metoo movement}

 

 

 

 

Toucan

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The toucan can!

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. 

 

 

Self-Advocate

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Daily Painting Challenge (#10)

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.

will.i.am

Podcasts and Promises

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Daily Painting Challenge: Day 9

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Kind of Vacation

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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.

4. Marine Four Seasons Maldives

Read the entire article here

Freebie for You

Now that I have nearly mastered painting (as evidenced in my drunken kangaroo and Chiweenie (aka “the Rat Dog”), I am sure you are wondering what goes on in the mind of an artistic genius. 

You’re in luck.

I’ve decided to share this with you – and completely free of charge:

First, I sit with a pencil, a glass of water, my assortment of paint brushes, my gouache paints and the paper. The magic commences…

Oh God, I can’t…I just can’t draw this monkey/llama/dog/cat/kangaroo…I wish someone would draw it for me and I could just paint it. Like a coloring book, but with paint, not crayons.

Oh no…I cannot mix paints. I wish these colors all just came in the tubes – ready to go. I’m no good at mixing colors. They never come out the way I want. Wah…wah…wah!

Ugh, I have to paint that fine line? How? How does anyone paint such straight/smooth/exact lines?  Its. Too. Hard. 

Surprised? Yes, I knew you would be. Even great artists can be wracked with self-doubt. But we just go on and do it.

It is called “courage,” grasshopper.

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Ice Breakers Part Deux

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The Hairless Rat

It’s summer school, 8:45am and the second graders are doing ice breakers (see yesterday’s post)

Adam*: “I have a little dog, a big dog and a cat…that cat is not so nice.”

Me: “I see. Does the cat bite?”

Adam: “Sometimes. If you came to my house and tried to pet it, then yes.”

Me: (laughing) “Well, I’ll try to remember that.”

“Oh! I also have…had…a hairless rat.”

Had? Did he die?”

“Yes. He’s dead.”

“Dare I ask…did the not-so-nice cat…”

“No, no. The rat, he just died. You know, it’s the circle of life thing.”

* (not his real name)

Kids and Pets Part I

The Setting: Summer School with eleven 2nd graders, 8:45am.

We do an ice breaker: How many of you have pets? I ask.

Sam* raises his hand. 

“I have a little dog, he’s part…”

Poodle?!” Adam* interrupts.

“No, he’s part…”

“Beagle?” 

“No, he’s part hot dog dog and…”

“Terrier?”

“NO! He’s part hot dog dog and chi…”

“He’s a chihuahua!”

“NO! I HAVE A CHIWEENIE!”

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Beatitude (Supreme Blessedness)

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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.

 

Legacy

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Parakeet – Daily Painting Challenge (Animals, Day 5)

Sitting with my daughter “Bunny” by the pool

we talk about Kate Spade’s suicide and sadness we’ve never known

Bunny’s hair is fanned all over the pool deck, her clear eyes to the sky

Spade wrote a letter to her 13-year-old daughter

telling her it wasn’t her fault

my words ride the waves of the pool and get sucked into the filter

Looking at Bunny, the note seems an especially cruel gesture

In the distance, we can hear a woodpecker on aluminum siding

The Squamate

 

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His food went directly to his tail, apparently.    (Day 3 of 31)

School is out and I’m preparing to teach summer school at a new site. I’ll be teaching 11 second graders and 6 third graders. Last night, I confided in my daughter (aka Wise Owl):

“I’m kinda scared of these kids.”

“Why? Aren’t they, like, five years old?”

“Seven! And some are eight!

 

Teachers have an opportunity to take enrichment classes to make up for days we took during the Walk Out. #Red4Ed

I’m taking CPR. I wonder how much it’s changed since I took it way back in the day? 

 

 

 

No Two Are Alike

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“The middle one is pregnant,” says the husband.

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.

 

 

 

Oh Rats! I mean…Cat…

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Daily Practice (Animals) Day 1

“So if your final product is not what you had hoped, the daily practice will help you.”

August Wren (Creativebug.com)

Let’s hope so!

Painting this was a lot of fun. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. I just ordered some “bleed proof” white that August uses. Watercolor white doesn’t mimic the bleed proof very well.

Flowers from a Student

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gerbera daisy

“When they go low, we go to the polls.”

and…

“Stop comparing yourself to other people.”

Oprah Winfrey

 

These are just a few notable quotes from her commemoration speech to graduates at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism graduation ceremony.

Can I See I.D. Please?

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My newly licensed 16 year old drove herself to Target to purchase cement glue for a poster project. They wouldn’t allow her to buy it because she has to be at least 18.

In Arizona, the minimum age to purchase a gun is also 18.

You know, because they are equally dangerous.

 

 

5,000 Hours

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Click to hear her play

 

Malcolm Gladwell estimates it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to be world class at a skill. 

But a new study destroys that rule.

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! 

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Click to hear her play

 

Slow and Sure

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Snail doodle

Tonight, our school will hold an Awards Night to recognize students for exceptional GPAs, Service Work and other academic accomplishments.

Not one student will receive recognition for work achieved in a day or a week. These kind of successes require dedication throughout the school year.

 

 

“Your” Children

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Dandelion Watercolor

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.

Kahlil Gibran

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Basics of Happiness

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Jars (Watercolor)

 

“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.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Create, Don’t Criticize*

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Rose Doodle

*Theodore Roosevelt

“Do you create anything or just criticize others and belittle their motivations?”

Steve Jobs

You might not admire Steve Jobs as a person or even as an entrepreneur, but there is truth in this quote, as Kovie Biakolo points out.

Social media is a tool of communication. As with any form of communication, it can be utilized for productivity and education or noise pollution.

I’d like to add: it can also be used purely for consumption – for hours on end.

Something worth considering: What is your consumption/criticizing to creation/production ratio?

Maybe it’s time to praise and produce more, and criticize and consume less?

A Teacher’s Week

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Morning Run

I started going out for runs at 5:30am this week. It’s a phenomenal way to start my day.

It was Teacher Appreciation Week and I received very touching notes from students (as well as their gifts).

It’s allergy season and it seems just about everyone exhibits some symptoms. My classes have gone through many boxes of tissues.

A word of advice: When a student sneezes and says, “Oh gosh!” Don’t look.

Freelancing – Inspirational Words

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31 Day Painting Challenge – August Wren

 

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.

 

 

 

Working for Free (Seth Godin)

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Watercolor with August Wren (Creativebug.com)

…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.

Podcast for Artists and Consultants

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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:

“Freelancers”

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?)

The Underdogs

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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.

You can learn more about the Battle of Puebla here. *

*History.com

 

Dog Daze

 

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I should get up now….get some work done.

 

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I’ll hit the snooze button…just need five minutes…
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…ok, maybe ten..

 

 

 

 

Red4Ed Update 5/2/18 5:15pm MST

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Just now, I received this:

#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:

  1. Cap class size at 25 students per classroom
  2. 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.
  3. Cap student-to-counselor ratio at 250:1
  4. 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.

Contact your legislators NOW to ask them to the #RedforEd amendments.

Here’s the “Problem”

To the teachers who do not support the Red4Ed Movement – the teachers who actively engage and complain with members of the community who hate us:

What do you tell children who say they want to be a teacher someday? That the job is awesome, but the pay sucks?

How do you reconcile in your mind that schools are using 20-year-old textbooks? What do you suggest I do when I have 37 students, but a computer cart that holds only 15 laptops, with 8 that work?

What is your solution to this?

A new teacher to our district makes $38,500 (gross).

She decides to opt for maximum take home pay, so let’s say she takes home $2,000/month (net). She wants health insurance (of COURSE) and health insurance for her kids. Here are her options:

HDHP 2500 (Cigna Choice HDHP 2500 Plan)

  • Employee Only:  $10.00 per month
  • Employee with children: $452.54 per month (actually, closer to $800/month because we get 18 paychecks, not 24).

These quotes are for a very high deductible – all the other options are more expensive.

And then there is the requisite retirement 11.5% taken out of each paycheck.

And food.

And shelter.

The cost of everything goes up (inflation). And yet, our salaries have been frozen for the past ten years, until this year, when we received a 1% raise. And guess what the Governor was planning on doing? He was going to give us another 1% raise. Gee, so generous!

You say, “Well, I agree with the grievances. It’s just that…I don’t like how it’s happening. We should have walked out just once a week until our needs were met.”

My reply: There is never a good time for a walkout. Never. But if you act like a doormat, you get treated like one.

What will you say when you get a (much) bigger – overdue –  raise thanks to the Red4Ed movement? There are teachers out there demanding better for you, for the kids and for our future. Don’t disparage them.

 

 

 

 

 

#Red4Ed (Arizona) Update

The Red4Ed Walkout was a stunning success: 75,000 teachers, students, parents and other supporters marched from Chase Field to the Capitol.

But, of course, there are detractors and fear-mongerers. People who criticize and tell us we’re letting the children down. Who’s letting the children down? Governor Ducey won’t even meet with our AEU! The Legislators took TODAY (a FRIDAY) OFF!

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Chandler teachers were told to show up for work on Monday (4/30) or else (!)

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But when realizing that too many teachers were standing up for their students and education in Arizona, they backtracked:

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