comic · Moms · Personal Success · relationships · teens

Thanks, Nora!

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Have you ever read something that was just what you needed to read?

I finished reading Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. There is an essay/chapter within it titled “Parenting in Three Stages.”

“Adolescence comes as a gigantic shock to the modern parent, in large part because it seems so much like the adolescence you yourself went through. Your adolescent is sullen. Your adolescent is angry. Your adolescent is mean. In fact, your adolescent is mean to you.”

Back when they looked like this,

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I could ask them to make their beds and they’d respond with sweet laughter (even if they didn’t make their beds).

But now, they look more like this:

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YouTube

and if I ask them to do the smallest thing, fire comes out of their ears. They whine. They sigh heavily. They’re angry.

Thank you, Nora, for letting me know their behavior is normal. I can laugh it off now. Kinda.

 

 

 

 

 

Health · motivation

Laziness #3: Pema Chodron

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by Jason Rosewell

Chodron’s third kind of harmful laziness  is the “Couldn’t Care Less” form. This is a harder, tougher version of “Loss of Heart.” For in this type of apathy, we are hardened and angry at the world. We are “aggressive and defiant.” If someone tries to cheer us up, we lash out at them. We use “laziness as a way of getting revenge.” But really, we hurt ourselves the most.

Until we decide to investigate and objectively look at our intentions, we will continue this destructive pattern. We will continue to have our “problems”: health, relationships and career.

It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. Sometimes, we don’t want to “get real.” We are comfortable in our habitual patterns of laziness. But the benefits of doing the work will greatly outweigh any temporary comfort.

 

 

 

 

Health · meditation · Personal Success

Laziness #2: Pema Chodron

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photo by Parker Byrd

Yesterday’s post was a review of Pema Chodron’s take on laziness (part one) from her book The Places That Scare You. Chodron asserts that there are three “debilitating habitual patterns” that we often partake in.

The second type she identifies is “loss of heart.” One symptom of this form is when we tell ourselves something like, “I’m the worst. There’s no hope for me. I’ll never get it right.” (Chodron, 90).

When we become lazy with loss of heart, we avoid interacting with the world. We retreat and we watch lots of TV (or surf the net). We eat, drink, smoke and watch the screen mindlessly. We have forgotten how to help ourselves.

The remedy for Lazy Type 2 is the same for Lazy Type 1. Get curious. Ask the right questions (hint: one wrong question would be, “why me?”).  Notice that you don’t have to subscribe to negative thought or belief patterns. You can choose differently.

We often condone our behavior. We say we are “happy” and deserve to relax. But in reality, we are “haunted by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.”

Why concern ourselves with these notions of laziness? As Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor, 161 – 180 AD) reminds us in The Meditations, our lives are short. There is no time to waste.

 

Health · meditation · motivation

Laziness #1: Pema Chodron

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by Sven Scheuermeier

 

An oft-overlooked enemy of our confidence and strength is laziness. Pema Chodron identifies three different types of laziness. Today, I will address the first: Comfort Orientation. People (we) “tend to avoid inconvenience.”

Chodron accurately describes our tendency to want to be comfortable immediately in her book The Places That Scare You. At the first sign of cold, we seek heat. When it gets warm, we seek the cool. We will drive rather than walk a block in the rain.

This habit leads us to be aggressive. We get outraged at inconvenience. As soon as we lose internet connection, we feel personally attacked! Acting this way, developing the habit of seeking comfort in an urgent manner, also robs us of full appreciation through our senses: sights, sounds, and smells (Chodron, p. 90).

True joy eludes us when we are perpetually being at the mercy of constant comfort. When we act this way, the locus of control is outside of us.

How then, do we rectify this? Get curious! Ask yourself, “Why am I suffering? Why does nothing lighten up? Why do my dissatisfaction and boredom get stronger year by year?” (Chodron, 91).

Stories might arise. And we might realize that we do not have to believe these stories anymore. Do not resist laziness. (What we resist only grows stronger). Instead, be curious.

fears · Health · Personal Success

The 101 South

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photo by Taste for Life

My daughters are participating in a summer violin camp for 9 days. It’s a 30 minute drive on the 202 West to the 101 South. I’m always on the 202, but haven’t had to drive the 101 South much. I don’t like it. Drivers speed and change lanes quickly. They all know where they’re going and they’ll ride up on you if you hesitate for even a second.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and couldn’t sleep for over an hour. I was thinking of the 101. But this time, I remembered something.

Seven years ago, I had to take the 101 South to a high school twice a week, after work. I was completing my M.A, in Educational Leadership and I was in a night class. I had just been diagnosed with early stage I breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy. I was determined to finish the degree. So I drove to my class with tubes coming out of my chest. The tubes drained excess fluids where the tumors used to be. My chest was tightly bandaged and no one in my class knew what was underneath my shirt.

So my fear of this route was not so much the traffic, but old memories. The fear of infection, disfigurement, recurrent cancer… I had those thoughts during my drive. I mourned my life pre-cancer. Here is a post from that time.

My insomnia occurred on the seventh anniversary of my radical mastectomy.

Driving today, I felt much better. The apprehension was gone. Sometimes, just identifying the cause of one’s jitters and meeting it with compassion (not over-analysis or sentiment) can be enough to overcome it.

 

 

 

 

 

Moms · teens

Pick Your Battles

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by Annie Harrison

Today was the first day of Tetra Quartet Summer Camp for my daughters, 14 and 15. They both play violin.

The 15-year-old is a night owl. But for camp, she needs to wake up by 7:30 am, not her preferred hour of noon.

She was a sleeping angel – so cute! – who was about to become a demon. I dreaded it. I gave her a hug and kiss. Nothing.

I nudged her a little later. Nothing.

I yelled out from the hallway, “Got to get up soon!” Nothing.

My mind flashed past articles I read about not waking your children. Something about being a helicopter parent. I’m not a helicopter parent! Still…she needed to get up. My BP was rising.

At last, she woke. Grumpy. She slammed things. She packed her music stand roughly. I held my tongue. I asked her to do that last night! How dare she get angry because she didn’t prepare! But I remained quiet.

We were in the car. She wanted me to hurry, because tardy musicians must do a little song and dance for the (on time) group.

As calmly as I could manage, I said, “You weren’t prepared for this morning. Your oversight is not my emergency. I’m not going to rush and risk an accident. You have a cell phone with an alarm clock. I will not wake you up anymore. If you can’t get up, you’ll be late. Your song and dance consequence is not my concern.” Sitting in the backseat, the 14-year-old’s silence was deafening. Good – a bit of peer pressure for the older sibling.

We sat in peace for the rest of the ride.

I realized that had I said something earlier, when she was huffing and puffing, and slamming things, we would have had a “blow out.” Instead, I waited until I was calm (and she was calmer) and stated in a factual matter what was what.

Result: no arguments.

Ah! Sweet music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · motivation · Personal Success

2 Small Actions = Major Transformation

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photo by Andrew Neel

I made a couple changes this year and they’ve led to greater productivity (published my first book, lost a couple pounds and enjoyed more quality time with family). I thought I’d share them with you:

  1. Create an Intentions List, not a “To Do” List. Reflecting on your intentions (as opposed to “tasks”) ensures your actions are aligned to your deepest values.  When you sit down to enumerate all the things you want to get done, think about your intentions. Is it your intention to help others? Bring joy to loved ones? Be creative at work? This line of questioning will lead to precise calibration of your actions to your ultimate goals.
  2. Make your first intention task easy and simple. Crossing a task off your list will light up the rewards center of your brain. It gives you a natural boost! Start the day off with an (easy) sense of accomplishment.  Set yourself up for success!
Personal Success

Compassionate Living

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“Don’t expect applause.”

 – Pema Chodron

I was waiting for my car to be repaired at Discount Tire. Waiting at the counter, sitting on a tall stool, was a girl of about six. She was coloring in her coloring book. Her little brother started to walk up towards her. He must have been four or five. Anticipating his height, she pushed the stool next to her closer to the counter and he was able to climb onto it. She resumed coloring. He didn’t say thank you and she didn’t anticipate it.

“Don’t expect applause” means don’t await thanks for what you do. And do not do kind acts in hopes of having people like you. Be kind for integrity’s sake.

 

Health · Personal Success

Canine Consciousness

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Justin Veenema

Dogs embody the very concept of presence. They live for the moment, not worrying about the future or reliving the past.

They do not judge.

They do not form attachments to anything (OK, maybe their toys and treats). But they’re not attached to goals or ideas.

They do not resist reality. They roll with it.

Let’s try to emulate our best friend. Let’s try to stop judging, attaching and resisting reality. Let’s be fully present.

 

 

 

 

Health

Exertion

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by Sam Ferrara

“Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.”

– Pema Chodron

I stepped up my workout yesterday and this morning (in pain) I asked, why did I do that to myself?  The answer: I want to be strong and flexible and … I want to look good in my swimsuit.  😉   Completing an “easy” workout would not have the same effect. Sure, I’d burn a few calories, but without the extra burn and stress on my muscles, I would see little benefit.

It’s this way with our mental muscles, too.  Pema Chodron, a world reknown Buddhist nun and author of several books, (including The Places That Scare You), informs readers that it takes effort to experience peace and happiness. One must be attentive and aware of one’s thoughts. “Our training encourages us to open the bags and look closely at what we are carrying…much of it isn’t needed anymore.”

We’re so used to blaming others for our emotions. The first step to everlasting happiness is to take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. Self-deception is a workable habit of the mind, we only need to decide to change and do the “heavy” lifting.

 

fears · Health · Moms · Personal Success · teens

Eat Your Words

While pregnant with her, the most astounding thing happened! I would put food in my mouth and chew. She’d kick like mad before I even swallowed. This occurred every time. I was incredulous – what a baby! 

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Providence Doucet

When she was two, she had chocolate cake. She kicked her feet high in delight. The frosting was all over her face and her eyes shone with joy.

At four, she had pizza. How she held it in her tiny, pudgy hands!

She’s had many meals since then. With girlish abandon, she eats what she wants when she wants: warm bread with butter, garlic mashed potatoes, steak, ice cream sundaes and healthy food, too.

She. Loves. Food. She likes high quality food. She can discern whether ingredients are fresh and she doesn’t like gristle on her steak.

She also loves dance class. She loves to learn challenging moves and practice them over and over and get good at it. She’s made such progress! Her body is lithe, supple and strong.

She’s my baby. She’s 15, but she’s my baby and I want her to be happy and healthy. I want her to love eating, dancing, laughing and playing violin all the rest of her days. I want her to enjoy life!

But our culture wants to destroy her. American society wants her mind to be cloudy with insecurity and a bit of self-hatred. Air-brushed models are in magazines,  surgically modified celebrities are on TV, the Internet and film.

Even family members make comments. Grandparents plant seeds of doubt when they caution against weight gain. They compare sisters to each other, silently massacring dreams and self-confidence. They undermine the strong sisterly bond that exists. Well, they try anyway. These girls have each other’s backs, thank goodness.

If she were my son, would you tell him to watch what he eats? Would you scare him and tell him he might get fat if he “puts that” in his mouth? Would you comment on his figure as he stands in front of the fridge?

Please…I implore you…stop it. Stop with the comments and the body shaming. Stop trying to exert control through fear.

Let her enjoy all that life has to offer.

 

 

 

education · Health

High 5

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If you’re working to make a career change or focus your blog posts to a more precise nature, you might want to check out a FREE strengths test: http://high5test.com/

It’s comprised of about 170 questions. You’ll need a quiet, uninterrupted space and time of 15 minutes or so.

My High 5 Test results were:

  1. believer (I possess enduring core beliefs which direct my actions);
  2. empathizer;
  3. developer (cultivate potential in others);
  4. learner; and
  5. brainstormer

This is well-aligned to my career as teacher and writer. Check out the free assessment now.

 

(*Of course, you can pay extra for more information.)

Health · motivation

Arnold or Annie

 

My husband pours orange juice and tea into a glass full of ice.

“I can’t believe you’re doing that. That looks so gross!” I say.

“It’s called an Arnold Palmer,” he takes a chug.

“Arnold Palmer is ice tea with lemonade,” says his father Ken.

“Oh yeah,” my husband takes another sip.

“You’re drinking an Annie Palmer,” Ken laughs.

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motivation · Personal Success · relationships

Unshakable

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mercantile

I was shopping in a clothing store yesterday. I overheard one lady tell another, “Tag these before you put those away.” She said it in a very bossy and unkind way.

The other lady responded in a cheery tone, “Sounds good! I will definitely do that.”

Another command in a cold tone followed: “When you’re done with those, these need to be put away.”

“Got it! I will do it right away. No problem!”

For a second, I wondered if they were joking around. But there was no joviality or levity with the first lady. She was dead serious. The commands continued with the same enthusiastic, positive voice responding. They didn’t share a laugh. It was a genuine conversation with the junior retailer maintaining a positive demeanor.

The cheery saleslady demonstrated true persistence and integrity. Most people react to negativity with more negativity. In remaining unchanged, the lively retailer took responsibility for her own actions and her own feelings. She was unshakably positive. This is what is meant by “non-reaction” (Tolle). This is one of the keys to inner peace.

 

 

 

 

fears

Don’t Just Remember

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On Memorial Day, we ought not just remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but we should truly honor them. War is rarely necessary. We need to be mindful of those who profit from war and act ethically.

 

 

 

 

 

Health · Personal Success

To Do Lists Are “Dope-amine”

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by Glenn Carstens Peters

“To Do” lists can help you with your motivation. Crossing your tasks off as you do them actually releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter) in your brain. Excitement, satisfaction and pride are emotions that are experienced during this chemical reaction.

If you’re having a hard time getting motivated to do something, break it down into small tasks and assemble a list. As you do each step, cross it off. It might help you feel a sense of inspiration and before you know it, you’ll achieve your goal!

 

 

 

 

mortality · relationships

Choose Humanity

 

“Just because I am homeless doesn’t mean I haven’t got a heart, or I’m not human still.”

Stephen Jones, Homeless man who helped victims of the Manchester Arena bombing (Ariana Grande’s concert).

Stephen Jones could have run for safety. Instead, he stayed put amid the chaos of the bombing and pulled nails out of the faces of and arms of children.

Choosing humanity over barbarism isn’t always so dramatic.  We can make this choice each day. We can give 100% focus to the person in front of us. We can speak with kindness and patience. We can take care of ourselves (diet, sleep, exercise) so that we are able to give more to our families. We can choose to do better when we know better.

We can begin now.

 

 

 

comic · dogs · Personal Success

Our Vicious Pitbull, Opal

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Listen, we go through this every May. I have to close the door after you go out in order to keep the flies and mosquitos from coming in. No need for you to get anxious and insecure. Just go out there and do your business. I’m right here. And remember, this is our routine until it gets cool again. When is that? It won’t get cool again until probably early November.

 

 

Health · Personal Success

Shrink the Critic

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by Farrel Nobel

I was eating in a Phoenix cafe at an open window. A very good-looking family of five walked past the window: mother, father, three small children. The father, dressed in expensive athletic wear (his shoes alone must have cost at least $300), stopped and pointed at a man across the street.

He gestured at a homeless man who was walking and muttering to himself. The wife nodded in agreement to whatever her husband said to her and they laughed as they went on their way.

The young father was judging a man who was clearly struggling by society’s standards. Why? Because the father’s ego was projecting a defense mechanism. Somewhere along the way, this man suffered an emotional injury. He hasn’t worked to defuse his pain (and accompanying anger) and is now spewing his garbage onto his family.

According to Mindful.com, the cure for the critic is to sit and examine your judgmental thoughts. Be aware of your thoughts. Take responsibility for them. Get to the heart of the matter. Defuse your pain and focus on gratitude. You’ll be happier and your loved ones will, too.

 

 

mortality · motivation

Shopping with Others

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I’m grocery shopping on a Saturday morning.

It’s crowded and I’m behind two elderly ladies who are walking slowly. I want to go faster. I feel anxious. But I keep frustration at bay. When the lane clears, I will get past them. Besides, someday, I, too, will have white hair, age spots and arthritis. They are cute. Are they sisters?

Suddenly, someone sighs heavily behind me. His cart dashes passed me and then passed the ladies, to our left. He is a very fit and tan man in his thirties.  Swiftly, he parks his cart in front of the glass doors, reaches for yogurt and throws it into his cart. He scurries out of sight.

How dare he! He could hurt someone! What a menace…

My indignation softens.  I actually feel sorry for him.  He’s in some kind of pain which manifests itself this way. If he was happy, he wouldn’t act that way.

Choosing to see him in this light, my anger dissolves.

 

 

Health · writers · writing

The Best “News” Alternative

One of my goals with this blog is to write frequently in order to hone my writing skills. In doing so, I vowed to write original work and to avoid merely re-posting the work of others.

However, I love THIS WEBSITE so much, I need to share it with you:

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GREAT BIG STORY

 

Reading or watching the news lately has left me feeling a bit anxious. An instant spirit lift is this website. It’s news, but it’s all GREAT news. They cover individuals who are making a difference in their communities: city, county, country and the world. I recommend subscribing to this gem so that you get a bit of non-fiction inspiration daily.

Have a great Make it a great day!

education

Transgress Stress

 

 

I went to the mall last weekend and looked at these products. They were not discounted, so I didn’t buy them.

Today, one of my 5th grade students presented me with them! Funny how that happens!  In big letters, they say “Stress Relief.” As we near the end of the school year, stress relief is key. He is so thoughtful!

I wrote an email to his mother to thank her. She emailed me back:

“As for the gift, that was all “M.”* He used his money and it was his idea this year.”

He used his money! He’s in 5th grade and earns money by working for a hockey organization.  What an amazing kid.

Teaching kids like him gives me so much hope and optimism for the future.  Our kids are hard-working, thoughtful, intelligent, and just good to the core. They make me feel like everything is going to be OK.

I’m grateful to be a teacher and work with amazing kids each day.

Health · Personal Success · relationships

A Family That Plays Together…

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Our family (my husband, two teenager daughters and I) had fallen into a habit of eating dinner together and then retreating to our rooms to do homework, watch TV and write. We were together many hours a week, but we weren’t interfacing much. I longed for that connection, but evening walks fell by the wayside and watching movies together (which we all enjoy!) was not exactly interactive.

Our girls have adopted snarky, rebellious attitudes. It’s normal, but I felt like it could alienate us as parents if we didn’t talk more. The girls once mentioned a fun card game. I logged onto Amazon.com.

20 minutes in and we’re laughing and discussing our answers. Yes, it isn’t exactly “politically correct.” But it’s funny and the girls find it very compelling. The game is hilarious and we all enjoy it. It’s not for everyone – just “horrible people”.

 

 

 

Health · Personal Success

Classy

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by Danielle MacInnes

It’s not what you do, but how you do what you do.

She reluctantly volunteered to host the party. And then she complained and stressed about it for months. At last, the day arrived. She greeted the guests with a weary smile and they didn’t feel welcome at all. In fact, a good number of them wanted to leave right right away.  Her mood colored the evening a dirty gray.

As the party ended, she uttered aloud, “Thank goodness it’s over!”

The guests felt the same way.

All that time, energy, and money wasted.

If you don’t want to do it. Don’t.

If you have to do it, then accept it. Accept the situation completely.

But if you can, enjoy doing it. Spread love, not regret.

 

 

 

 

 

Grandmothers · Moms · relationships

Mom

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by Dakota Corbin

She used to treat us to McDonald’s every once in awhile, with money she earned selling Avon. We enjoyed sitting with her. My mom always beamed at us with love and pride.

I take my girls out for treats, too.  I hope they look back someday (as I do) and remember these good times.

Mom used to visit me in the middle of the night with medicine and a hug when I was sick.

I do the same for my daughters.

Mom used to drive us to violin, cello, piano and Tae Kwon Do lessons.

I drive my daughters to violin lessons, rehearsals, auditions and concerts, too.

Mom was always quick with words of encouragement, compassion and unconditional love.

I try to do the same, but she was (and is) better at it, definitely.

My mother taught me how to be a good parent and a good person. She’s still teaching me this.

Every nurturing mother in the world is the reason we have the compassion, love and support that we pass on.

 

Personal Success · writers · writing

15 Down, 45 to Go

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It’s that time again: Fifth graders write a research paper on a famous scientist/athlete/politician/artist. They will dress up as the celebrity and give a 30-60 second speech in first person.

Grading the papers can bring tears of joy or sadness.

It’s akin to the feeling when a student gives you an end-of-year gift with the message of thanks:

You are my favrit teacher.

Or,

You are grate.

 

 

 

Health

Desert Oasis

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We’ve lived here for 11 years now.

We putter around together in our backyard. William builds patios and walkways while I assemble a desert garden (herbs, cacti). Pretty soon, we’ll be swimming.

 

 

 

education · women · writers · writing

“1385”

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A belated (if there ever could be such a thing) Teacher Appreciation gift given to me today by one of my most eccentric 6th graders.

One of my favorite poems thus far:

“Secrets” is a daily word

Yet does not exist –

Muffled – it remits surmise –

Murmured – it has ceased –

Dungeoned in the Human Breast

Doubtless secrets lie –

But that Grate inviolate –

Goes nor comes away

Nothing with a Tongue or Ear –

Secrets staped there

Will emerge but once – and dumb –

To the Sepulchre –

 

That this student could appreciate great works such as this and create her own thoughtful writings makes my heart optimistic!

Personal Success

I Love Your Mohawk!

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baby quail

I was driving home and stopped suddenly – a mother quail ran across the street, with her 7 babies running right behind her. A family of quail is usually bookended by parents. After my car passed them, the daddy quail quickly crossed the street and caught up with his family.

Unfortunately, baby quail have an 85% mortality rate. They can’t fly for about 11 days after birth and predators are all over the place. Be safe, little ones!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

education · Personal Success

Clientele

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Olu Eletu

My husband is a project manager for a commercial construction company. I’m a 5th and 6th grade English teacher.

This morning, over coffee, he says, “Some of my clients seem to think we work magic.” [He was about to complain about their unreasonable demands.]

“Some of our clients seem to think the same thing,” I say.

 

 

 

Health · Moms · Personal Success · relationships

Parenting Breakthrough

 

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Jon Flobrant

I’ve discussed my trials and tribulations parenting teenagers here and here and…everywhere.

I had a breakthrough today. If you’re reading this and you’re a perfect parent, well, you won’t be impressed in the least. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But this is a true story.

I was walking today and listening Eckhart Tolle.  I know some of you think it’s all self-help crap and I’m a lost soul…but I have become a better person for it. Anyway, in this particular recording, Tolled talked about the importance of of “space” and “non-reaction.”

The goal, he says, is to feel at peace. At all times.

Just then, my daughter texted me. “—— can drive me to you.”

“Great,” I respond.

“I need to go home and change and do my makeup and then I need to be back at school by 6:15,” she texts.

“Can —– drive you home?” My boss had a retirement party this afternoon. It’d be quite challenging to drive back and forth.

Tolle continues to talk about the importance of space and non-reaction. If you can, create space between yourself and the angry person.

She calls me. I answer. Good, texting is dumb, anyway.

She talks to me in an angry voice. I can hear a bunch of teenagers trying to talk to her. She gets angry at me because I can’t understand her – she’s talking to me, she’s talking to them…I’m confused.

I ask her (again) if —- can drive her home.

She responds with sarcasm and anger. She sighs heavily, as if it’s so hard to have me as a mom. She talks to me as if I’m stupid. Her words become staccato with anger. I. told. you.

I hang up.

She texts me with more anger. Her answers include expletives. How dare I hang up on her!

I text back with: “If you think you’re going to talk to me that way, you’re out of luck.”

I’m proud of my lack of emotion. I feel the anger, but I refuse to react. Eckhart has my back.

Tolle continues, “Someone may even yell at you and you want to yell back, but don’t.” It’s as if he’s walking with me!

So I don’t. I don’t react. I want to, believe me. I want to remind her whose the mom…but I’ve been down that road before and it never works.

It never pays to engage with her rage.

Long story short, she tried to involve me in an argument. She wanted to place blame. She wanted to excuse her horrible behavior and blame me. I stop her. I re-direct her to make a plan. We make the plan. We execute.

Later, she apologizes. She has not apologized in a very long time…months, even.

We hug.

I see many painful moments in her future. She will have to learn the hard way, she always has. But that’s OK. I’ll be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

education · Health · Moms · Personal Success · teens

Helicopter? – No! Says Eric Hoffer*

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Helicopter parent

noun

informal
  1. a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.

Constantly hovering over children while they study, work, and do sports, etc. has been shown to “increase anxiety, depression and can lead to academic difficulties” (Psychology Today).

Effective parenting, is, in fact, nurturing your child to become independent!

Psychology Today offers these guidelines (abbreviated):

-Listen to your child, rather than imposing your goals and wishes on him or her. Listening to your child encourages independent thought and critical thinking. It helps you avoid a common downfall of helicopter parents: imposing your values on your child.
-Don’t manage your child’s relationships or communications for him or her.
-Don’t try to help your child escape consequences for his or her actions, unless you believe those consequences are unfair or life-altering. It’s fine to hire your child a lawyer if he or she is in legal trouble, or to intervene with a bullying teacher. But don’t try to get your kid out of detention or berate another parent who talks to your child about problematic behavior.
-Don’t raise your child to expect treatment that is different from, or better than, the treatment other children receive. Your child shouldn’t expect to get something they don’t deserve or didn’t earn.
-Encourage your children to solve their own problems by asking them to contemplate potential solutions.

-Don’t do your child’s work for them, or keep track of deadlines for them. Even school-aged children can learn to remember test dates and classroom projects. By middle school, your child should be managing their schoolwork largely on their own, with only as-needed help.

-Support your child’s teacher, and encourage your child to respect the teacher’s opinions.
-Allow your child to face natural consequences for their actions. Don’t allow a child to stay home sick just because she or he didn’t timely complete a school project.

 

*Eric Hoffer was a great American thinker and he never actually said anything about helicoptering parenting. It just rhymes nicely.

Arizona · education · Health · Personal Success

Why I Became a Teacher

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Joe Shillington

When I was eight years old, my teacher, Ms. Meretta, told my mother I was one of the hardest working kids she had ever had. Until then, no adult had ever said anything positive about me. Really. My parents were concerned that I showed no genius academically. They compared me to other kids (always unfavorably). My other teachers were either distracted by personal problems, or they just seemed mean (maybe they weren’t, but they seemed unapproachable). One teacher said she liked me, but I rushed through my work too quickly to get to the “book table.” I liked reading too much.

I loved Ms. Meretta. I worked even harder after her comment to my mom. But this time, I worked hard not just for myself..but for Ms. Meretta, too.

When I was a young adult, I worked as a summer camp counselor for the YMCA. It was a fun and rewarding job. I loved the energy the kids brought each day. I loved thinking of fun activities and working with them. I laughed every day. I laughed every hour.

I’ve held different jobs but none have had the creative opportunities or the intrinsic rewards of teaching. One of my favorite gifts from a student was a short letter. I had recommended him to go to a school for high-achieving students. He had older siblings who attended a school closer to his home. He always assumed he’d follow their footsteps. It was easy to hold the fastest track time there. It was easy to be the best student. I told him I knew he would succeed at the Academy, a school that was more rigorous and offered both Spanish and Mandarin. “Besides,” I told him. “if you go and you don’t like it, you can always go to the other school.” He went to the Academy and he loved it. He wrote a letter thanking me because he’s so happy and he’s learning so much. His younger sister now attends the Academy, too.

Helping kids is endlessly rewarding.

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. I wish the media and politicians would stop with the negative talk about teachers and public education. Why pick on educators? Of course not every single teacher is highly qualified, but not every doctor, nurse, accountant, or politician is, either. For every lousy teacher you hear about, there are easily 1,000 fantastic teachers. I’ve had to handle a sixth grade student who slashed her peers with a razor. I’ve had to handle a fourth grade student who crapped his pants every week. I’ve had to handle students who complained of verbally abusive parents and who cried of hunger.

I teach in Arizona. We rank absolutely LAST in teacher pay. Last! 

I did not go into teaching for the money and I will never expect the pay to equal the work or expertise.

My reward is working with the children. Yes, we get summer break, but most of my teacher friends will hold a second job (teach summer school, drive Uber Lyft, etc.) to make ends meet in June and July.

Did you know…

  • Teachers must get a fingerprint card renewed regularly and they pay for it.
  • Teachers must get recertified and they must pay for it.
  • Most teachers pay for school supplies for their students.

Let’s stand behind teachers who work to help students.

 

 

 

 

 

education · fears · Personal Success

Just Try…and Then Let It Go

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It’s that time of year again…when students who want to vye for a Student Council Officer position run their campaigns: create posters, prepare speeches, record them and hope for the best.

As I recorded several children giving their speeches, I was touched by their earnestness and jitters. It’s impossible for all who run to win, yet they are all – each of them – winners.

If there’s one thing I think we don’t teach our children enough (at home or school) is that it’s OK to try, to take a risk and not reach our goal. That it doesn’t mean we’re failures or that we ought to be ashamed.

It might sound like common sense to you.

Yet the words “loser” and “ashamed” are so pervasive in our culture. And “risktaker” denotes a type of reckless stunt person.

Risk-taking is the only way we grow, and it often includes some degree of pain.

 

 

Health · motivation · Personal Success · relationships · Silence

Focal Point

 

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If

Taking a good picture with a manual camera requires forethought, patience and careful calibration. You choose what you take a picture of  – that is, you choose what you focus on.

You also choose what you focus to think about.  There is new scientific data that shows people who choose to meditate and/or think positively have increased plasticity of their brains. That is, they have strong external and internal networks in their brains. External networks light up when people think about external tasks and internal networks refer to matters that “involve themselves or emotions.”

Buddhist monks meditate and direct their minds to think compassionate thoughts and positive reflections. They purposely think this way.

Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who ironically, suffered a brain hemorrhage. It (temporarily) disabled her ability for language and logic. With that, she was left with a dominant right hemisphere brain: creativity, intuition and imagination. She was happy. She was completely present and non-judgmental. All her thinking (and worrying) ceased. She had no negative thoughts! As her left brain recovered, she made up her mind (haha) to never go back. She chooses to think happy thoughts and to be blissful.

How do you do this?

Bolte Taylor says, “When you find yourself thinking negatively, it feels bad in your body. As soon as you feel it happening, think about something else!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

education · Moms · motivation · Personal Success · relationships · teens

Parenting Pain

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No longer mine – can’t carry you anymore,

you’ll stumble, fall and eventually – soar,

As your path widens and grows long,

I realize how I was so very wrong

 

 

You take your steps while I watch

sometimes wincing

Your self-determination can be dreadful

yet entirely convincing

It’s fast becoming apparent

that your flubs and whims aren’t errant

You don’t own reasons for my heart breakin’

for I never “owned” you, in that, I was mistaken

comic · education · school · writers

Word Nerd Undeterred

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Four 4th grade girls stand around, bored. I grab a board game out of the recreation wagon. “Here, play this, it’s super fun!”

They break into teams. Each has a pencil and paper. They shake the word box more violently than necessary.

“FUM!” Yells one girl with glee.

 

“Fum” is not a word!

Yes it is! Fee-Fi-Fo-FUM!

 

Mrs. Wipff, could you look up fum? Is it a word?

I look it up. “Well, according to Wikipedia, it IS a word: Fum is a traditional Catalan Christmas carol.”

The group disbands shortly after that.

Too many words. Kind of boring.

Boggle is the bomb! How can they call it boring? Maybe I’m just a word nerd.

Health · motivation · Personal Success

My “Space” Experiment

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Octavian Rosca

We are all so busy with life: our work, family, and hobbies. My job is very noisy. I’m a teacher in an elementary/middle school and the hallways are filled with children yelling and laughing from very early morning until late afternoon. My students and I have lively discussions and then there are meetings after school. My fellow teacher (and friend!) and I are also sponsoring the school talent show – another boisterous endeavor.

When I get home, my husband and I discuss our day, my kids practice violin and tell us about their day. It’s all good, but…it’s challenging – to say the least – to get some quiet time. And I LOVE, love, love quiet time.

 

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Kristina Flour

In addition to walking my dog after work and walking in middle of the day, I have started mini-meditations. In mini-meditation, I focus on my breathing. This might last 60 seconds or three minutes. I also meditate for 8 minutes in the morning right after waking.

Eckhart Tolle suggests the mini-meditations throughout the day in order to incorporate it as part of your “real” life and not as a compartmentalized portion of one’s life.

It makes sense.

I’ve noticed that since I’ve started this practice of incorporating space into my day, I am experiencing spontanenous moments of peace within chaos. Where I used to feel anxious or stressed, I feel calm and centered.

 

 

motivation · Personal Success

Are You Chicken Little or the Road Runner?

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Luis Llerena

When I worked at a startup company years ago and things got stressful, my supervisor would wail, “We’re just set up to fail!” She cried real tears once, when it looked like we were going to miss delivering our McDonald’s Kids’ Meal prize on time.

The deadlines were tight and stringent. “We’re set up to fail!”

There was a bug in the system. “We’re set up to fail!”

The art department misunderstood the engineering department. “We’re set up to fail!”

In actuality, she meant, “I’m afraid we’re going to fail!”

In the end, the entire startup did fail. But our department never did, we simply met our goals with a lot of stress. The constant cry of the “sky is falling” unnerved the team. Projects that could have been accomplished with fun and enjoyment were, instead, completed in solemn urgency.

Isn’t this what many people do at work and life? Aren’t a lot of people motivated by fear? Fear of failure, fear of losing money, fear of losing face.

People can be motivated by fun and awe and still get it done.