motivation · poetry

High School is Short-Lived

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B is for Barbs

In high school, our mascot was “the barbs”

– that’s short for barbed wire – which was invented in DeKalb, IL.

barb = sharp, bristly, obviously unpleasant…

causing inflamation and swelling. High school was constant stress over

grades, posturing and “success,” whatever that was.

My home life was more of the same, pure misery.

I felt invisible all the time. Nobody saw who I was, they saw who they wanted to see.

(Mostly, they were disappointed by what they saw!)

But I survived. I’ve actually thrived.

And you will, too. Hang in there. High school is temporary.

barbed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · Personal Success · relationships

Principles

 

One of our vocabulary words in my fifth grade class this week was principle: “a personal or specific basis of conduct or management.” Basically, I told my students, principles are your personal beliefs and values and they dictate how you act.

My sister in Silicon Valley emailed a news article to me. Santa Clara officials have “declared the teen suicide problem an urgent health care problem” due to the episodes of suicide clusters in that area. High school students (many from affluent homes of highly educated parents) are committing suicide in staggering numbers. They jump in front of trains, they jump off overpasses and buildings and they hang themselves. A Yale psychologist who has studied this phenomenon says that, “on average, rich offspring experience serious levels of depression and anxiety at twice the national rates.”

Why are children who seem to have so much promise taking their lives?

The experts have identified two factors: overwhelming pressure to succeed AND a broken or non-existent bond within their families. These youth are showing signs of mental illness and their parents are in denial. The principles, then, of these parents are simply high achievement, excellent education and then successful careers for their offspring. Absent is the principle of unconditional love and acceptance.

At this moment, our country is experiencing high tension: racial violence and racist rhetoric not seen since the civil rights movement is now a reality. The principles in our current federal administration seem to be tax cuts for the wealthy, protect the KKK and bully people into submission. Again, absent is the principle of unconditional love and freedom. Absent is the principle of peace and equal rights (for women, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc.)

With such principles, only disaster can result.

It is up to each of us to do our own part to right this wrong.

  • Vote hate out.
  • Join the NAACP.
  • Join NPR.
  • Subscribe to the NY Times.
  • Volunteer at a community organization that serves people in need.

Any other ideas? Feel free to add!

 

 

 

Personal Success

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

Toe Bone Connected to the Foot Bone…

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Photo by Hisu Lee

My lower back has been hurting lately – and, the cancer survivor in me jumps straight to fear. It’s a tumor, it’s come back, I assume. I fight the urge to Google it. Believe me, nothing good comes from Googling “pain” + “cancer”!

Of course, after thinking about it, I realized that my plantar fasciitis has returned and I’m walking in a different way to compensate for it. Consequently, my posture and walk has been thrown off kilter and voila (!) back pain.

Have you ever had headaches and/or dizziness and realized that your shoulders are super tight?

Everything is connected.

Doing a body scan on a daily basis has become effective for me. Try this: When lying down to sleep, do a scan. Start with the top of your head, down to your temples, your shoulders, your arms and so on. Check in with your body. Relax each part as you settle in to sleep.

It can be informative. You’ll be able to relax tight muscles and maybe put to rest any worries you have.

 

Personal Success

Subtraction, Not Addition

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You’re bored. You’re anxious. You’re angry or you’re sad.

You think you’ll be happy if…you get that new job, a raise, new clothes, a new car…

But actually, you already have everything you need to be happy.

Any sign of discontent means you need to SUBTRACT something: stress, work load, self-expectations, junk food, social engagements…THOUGHTS. 

Thoughts can be our enemy. Thoughts can drive you crazy. As Mickey Singer (The Surrender Experiment) points out, “anyone who has ever committed suicide did so through thoughts.”

So if you’re anything less than happy right now, consider subtracting something in your life.

 

 

Health · Personal Success

Melancholy or Merriment?

 

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Yesterday’s blog was about being fierce and how to get there. Today’s post is about the opposite: sadness and lethargy.

2016 was a difficult and painful year for many people I know. The holidays can sometimes lead to funk, not cheer. According to Psychology Today, the anticipation of merriment might lead to pensive gloominess or even depression. We drink too much, eat too much and sleep too little. Some signs of the holiday blues include: “Headaches, insomnia, uneasiness, anxiety, sadness, intestinal problems, and unnecessary conflict with family and friends.” (Psychology Today)

How to beat it?

The article cites 10 tips. I’ll give them to you in a nutshell:

  1. Be reasonable with your schedule.
  2. Organize your time.
  3. Declare an amnesty with your friends and family.
  4. Manage your expectations. Holidays won’t be for you as an adult what they were when you were a child!
  5. Volunteer to help others in need.
  6. Alcohol is a depressant. Drink in moderation.
  7. Take breaks – especially physical ones, like exercise or just walking.
  8. Think half-full, not half-empty. The choice is yours!
  9. Take breaks – exercise, walk around the neighborhood. Get moving!
  10. Choose to see the glass half-full, not half-empty. You do have a choice.