Love and Fear

“What should I blog about tonight?”

“How much you love me,” Josie says.

“OK.”

“Really?”

“Yes, I will.”

She smiles with delight and surprise.

Try as I might, I cannot separate love from fear entirely. I love her, my first born. Knowing her has lit the dark corners of my soul forever. She laughs often. She is deeply sensitive to others and is quick to help…anyone. A friend recently texted me. She thanked me for raising such a generous daughter who offered to loan dresses to her friends for a dance. I had no idea.

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And I fight the fear that clouds my love for her. Will she get college scholarships if she gets a “C” in math? Couldn’t she have practiced a wee bit more for her violin competition? Will boys taunt her sexually when she goes to high school? Will they touch her against her consent? Will she develop an eating disorder like the 20 million women in our country suffering from anorexia nervosa? On and on it goes. The remedy for this chain of anxiety? Be present. Admire how she paints her nails and reads her English book. She hops about the kitchen, looking for a snack. She jumps up and teases the dog, English book in hand.

Fear.

I fear the swimming pool filter ever since I opened it and found two small mice, spooning each other, dead.

I fear centipedes and the carpet in our guestroom sheds. When a filament comes loose and I’m not wearing my glasses, it looks just like a … CENTIPEDE!

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“The Carpet”

But I’m not afraid of snakes and I’m not afraid of javelinas (collard peccary), despite the recent attack in Phoenix. I can overcome my fears. I CAN stop worrying over what has not happened and enjoy what is in front of me, right now.

 

Circuitously, I have offered my advice. Pay attention. Be present and kick fear to the curb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Palo Alto’s Potent Transformer

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.*

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Eastside College Preparatory School’s Outdoor Education Program

I interviewed the Vice Principal and Co-Founder of Eastside College Preparatory School today (Helen Kim). Trying to write a blog post about the interview in 20 minutes (which is all I have tonight!) would not begin to do her or her school justice. Not even close. But I will write about one very important aspect of her work with low-income students who are college-bound: growth mindset. One of the most critical factors for success in helping her students reach their monumental goals is to have them perform self-assessments and self-reflection. One of the questions they most pose of themselves regularly (each quarter, minimum) is: Do I have a growth mindset?

Asking this question is very powerful. Instead of believing success in certain areas are “fixed,” its premise is that through hard work and focus, one can achieve lofty goals. The question empowers the student.

Eastside College Preparatory School consistently and vigorously trains their students to love learning and to be resilient. THIS is the key to success! Of course, academic basics and content mastery are important, but without love of learning, one is apt to quit when the going gets rough. And believe me, the going is going to get rough.

In a world that seems to be going a bit loco, it is truly heartening to know there are people like Helen and her staff who work tirelessly, selflessly and energetically to help others in need.

*http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/

 

Elections from Kids’ POV

 

Our school just held Student Council officer elections this week. Classes voted yesterday and we identified our winners by the end of the day.

One thing that struck me throughout the week of campaigning was how CLASSY the kids were. These were 12 and 13 year olds. They wanted to be school President, Vice President, Secretary, Historian and Treasurer. Each one made posters (most decorated them themselves) and they were funny and witty.

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NONE called their opponents names. Instead, they focused on the positive: they shared their visions of making our awesome school even better. They wrote speeches. They were nervous wrecks as they recorded them and they did it despite knowing the entire school would see them on the broadcast system. They did it, dreading the fact that by running for office, they left themselves vulnerable to criticism and defeat. I wanted every one of them to win, but of course, that’s not possible. I was excited to announce the winners, but I also dreaded breaking young, hopeful hearts.

The candidates were an eclectic bunch: nerds, athletic nerds, new-to-school kids and popular kids. The popular kids didn’t always win.

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Each candidate focused on giving the student body what they wanted. They promised to listen. They shared personal information  (“I have two sisters  and a dog. I love watching movies and eating ice cream.”) They were so scared, that a few shared how nervous they were giving the speech DURING the speech. One of the candidates sang her entire speech acapella. They read their qualifications and it sounded like a list of Over Achievers Anonymous: Science Fair winners, Eagle Scouts, Straight A students, Star Soccer player, and on and on.

I don’t doubt that most of our American Presidential candidates really want to help America. But I wonder where our election process is going. Billions of dollars are spent on campaigns for an election that has been named “A Race to the Bottom.” Certain candidates have made allusions to gender, sexual body parts and trophy wives. They have mocked each other’s intelligence and looks. They lie and disregard fact-checking.  In my social studies class, I wanted to utilize this year’s election in the classroom by taking candidates’ speeches and having students analyze them. To my dismay, I couldn’t do that (in a bipartisan platform, anyway). Must of what was bantered about was X-rated!

As I spoke to the candidates, I expressed how extremely proud of them I was and how I wished that adults could handle their campaigns in the same smart and mature way. They smiled. They knew what I meant.

I really hope that our young students grow up and remain full of enthusiasm and integrity. I have faith that they will.