art, motivation, Personal Success, poetry, writing

Walt’s Spider


A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
art, education, motivation, Personal Success

A Teacher Shortage, You Say?

Incomplete Monochrome  (need a white gel pen for detail work)


What could possibly be the effect should this continue?

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Solutions currently being considered implemented:

  • Hire teachers from abroad (Philippines);
  • Hire unqualified people;
  • Hire long-term substitute teachers;
  • Raise teacher pay



art, education, motivation, Personal Success

I’ve Joined…

Multi-petal flower doodle

Since taking a (trial) Lisa Congdon art class in watercolor, I’ve made drawing and painting part of my morning ritual. I don’t know where this will lead me (maybe my second self-published children’s book as author and illustrator?)…but I know I enjoy the process.

Subscription options for are below:

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They offer a multitude of art classes:

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When you consider the cost of classes at your neighborhood art academy or fabric store, this is a steal: unlimited classes all month for $8!

art, Health, motivation, Personal Success

Laugh at Your Fears



Salma Hayek told Oprah a story: When she was 10, there was a neighborhood flasher. This man accosted her and exposed his full frontal nudity. “I was terrified, just so scared…” She went home and told her grandmother who then gave this advice (Hayek offered a disclaimer – she is by no means telling little girls they ought to do this)  BUT…

“The next time that man flashes you – even if you are terrified and alone – LAUGH at him. Point at his groin and LAUGH.”

The man DID flash her again. And little Salma stopped. She felt her entire body tighten with fear. But she remembered her grandmother’s advice. So she stared, pointed at his groin and laughed.

“He ran away, he cowered and ran away!” Hayek says, still incredulous.

You can always choose to reclaim your power.



art, education, Personal Success

Education Research (cont’d)

Circle Doodle


This post is designed mainly to hold myself accountable for research. I hope you can glean something from it at the same time. The following are my notes from Paul Tough’s book, “How Children Succeed”:



  1. Simon p. 19


Data has shown (for a long time) that executive function correlates with family income

But why?

    • Childhood poverty affects executive function (Cornell Univ., Gary Evans, Michelle Schamberg)
    • Working memory – ability to keep a bunch of facts in your head at the same time
    • “Simon” – children’s game
    • Kids in poverty for 10 years did worse than kids in poverty for 5
    • Evans and Schamberg also measured biological stress (They created their own allostatic load data) – BP, cortisol levels, body mass index, etc). Of kids when they were nine and then thirteen
    • When they factored out the allostatic load, poverty factor disappeared. Thus, it is not POVERTY that compromises exec-function abilities, it’s the STRESS that went with it!


  • Why is this important? Because in high school, college, and the workplace, life is filled with tasks where working memory is crucial to success.


  • Prefrontal cortex is more responsive to intervention than other parts – stays flexible into early adulthood.


  1. Mush


Early childhood – bodies and brains are most sensitive to effects of stress and trauma

Adolescence – can lead to most serious and long-lasting problems

The reason teenage years are most perilous: incentive processing system reaches full power while the cognitive control system isn’t matured until early 20s.


Thomas Gaston (“Mush”) kicked out and sent to Vivian E. Summers Alternative HS

He didn’t like it, but he did well

Until he carjacked someone

Potential sentence of 21 years was changed to 8 months of boot camp

Mush took his allostatic load and turned outward with violence (fighting, acting up in class). Some kids turn it inward (fear, anxiety, sadness, self-doubt).

Mush decided to “not care” after his 14 year old brother was shot and killed.

Social, economic and neurochemical factors are at play. A 10 year old vs. a 14 year old: we sympathize with the 10 year old.


  1. LG


There is an antidote to the ill effects of childhood stress!

Good parenting.

It is biochemical.

Michael Meaney (McGill University)

Rats and mothering – some were nurturing, others not.

“LG” – Licking and Grooming (High vs. Low)

It is not necessarily the biological mother, but the REARING mother’s behavior that counts.


  1. Attachment


“Methylation” – the way certain chemicals are affixed to certain sequences on DNA

Showed that subtle parenting behaviors had predictable and long-lasting DNA-related effects

  • Researchers studied brains of suicide victims – some had childhood abuse, some did not
  • Showed that childhood abuse affected DNA
  • Clancy Blair (NYU) is reinforcing the finding that high-quality mothering can act as a powerful buffer to abuse
  • Regular good parenting – being helpful and attentive – can make a profound difference for a child’s future prospects.
  • “Attachment Theory” (Bowlby and Ainsworth) 1960s and 70s – The Strange Situation: mothers would bring a child into a room, and then leave and then return. The children who greeted their mothers warmly and enthusiastically were “securely attached”. Those children who reacted with tears or anger were “anxiously attached.”
  • Ainsworth: Reactions were directly related to degree of responsiveness in first year of life.
  • “Early attachment created psychological effects that could last a lifetime.”




  • Waters and Sroufe – set up a Child Development Institute with Egeland
  • Studied 267 pregnant poor women (all first-time moms, 80% white, ⅔ unmarried, 50% teens)
  • Tracked them for 30 years
  • The Development of the Person – book is fullest evaluation of long-lasting effects of parental involvement on child’s development (2005)
  • Found: attachment theory was not absolute – sometimes anxious babies could overcome, BUT it is highly predictive of outcomes later in life
  • Anxiously attached children are more often labeled mean, antisocial and immature


  1. Parenting Interventions


Lieberman (Child Trauma Research Program at UCSF)

Believes two important ideas missing from Sroufe and Egeland study:

  1. Plainly difficult for some mothers to provide secure attachments in overwhelming life circumstances (poverty, violence, mother’s own childhood history)
  2. Parents can overcome their own histories of trauma and can change their approach but most will need help.

Lieberman’s work focuses on strengthening bond between parent and child

  • Dante Cicchetti used Lieberman’s work and took 137 families with histories of child maltreatment. Half were given a year of parent-child psychotherapy the other half given the standard community services. When children were 2, 61% of the children in psychotherapy formed secure attachment.
  • His study proves that attachment-promoting therapies work.
  • Dozier, of ABC, shows that even if just the parent receives the therapy, children benefit


  1. Visiting Makayla


Makayla – a study in focusing on mother/child attachment.


  1. Steve Gates


“There is a very direct correlation between family issues and what the kids present in school.” The focus on creating family attachments where there are none (in Roseland, for example), have many setbacks, but inspirations form and lead to success.


  1. Keitha Jones


Father was a “player” and mother addicted to cocaine.

Sexually molested in sixth grade – didn’t tell mom, afraid mom would blame her

Got angrier and angrier and took it out at school – caused fights

Got a mentor in Lanita Reed, a hair salon owner

Developed a “big sister” bond with Keitha – teaching her about manicures, pedicures, hair…

“My whole outlook on life changed” Keitha said

Instead of fighting, asked Reed what to do about girls picking on her at school

They arranged a talk and it worked – everything was resolved.

Sexual molester started touching Keitha’s sister and Keitha felt guilt – did not want her sister to be removed from home.

Reed arranged to have the man removed from the home.

Mother was not supportive (lost $300 in rent)

Keitha: “I’m not going to let my past affect my future.”

Determined to graduate, she took night classes five days a week

June 2011, she graduated and attended Truman College, a community college

“Five years from now, I picture myself in my own apartment with my own money…and my little sisters, they can live with me.”



art, education, Personal Success, relationships

Free Spirit

Waiting on my white gel pen to finish this piece.


Another way to look at your day’s purpose (and string of those leads to a life’s purpose) is to be mindful of your “vibrational frequency.” Yes, that might sound like hippie-speak, but consider it. (What’s wrong with being a Flower Child or Free Spirit, anyway?)

I read Light Watkin’s blog and this is how it inspired me:

If you’re into positive thinking and purpose, think about the present moment in terms of the vibrational frequency you’re putting “out there” (into your world). Are you giving off positive vibes? Or are you complaining or worrying?

When we talk about people giving off “vibes,” we’re often addressing their general energy, not something that said or did specifically. We have all felt someone’s energy as positive or negative before that person said a word.

Appreciating your present moment in terms of energy can get you out of your head (when you’re worried or upset about a specific event). Sometimes, it can be easier than identifying your current thought and catching yourself thinking non-productively. Am I giving off good vibes? Easy to answer. And thus, easy to change.