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

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.

 

 

dogs · 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.

 

 

 

 

education · fears · Health · Personal Success

I’ve Been Asking the Wrong Question

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As a recovering Tiger Mom, I’m working really hard to unlearn some bad practices. I don’t expect my kids to get straight A’s. I just want to ensure they always do their best. HOWEVER, I’m aware that I often use grades as a default metric. It’s so easy to buy into the hype: competitive college scholarships, high tuition, “name brand” universities, etc.

In my heart, I know it’s wrong. It’s the wrong place to stress priorities with my kids.

A blogger on Huffington Post bragged wrote about how he and his wife ask their daughters 3 questions each night:

  1. How were you brave tonight?
  2. How were you kind today?
  3. How did you fail today?

Aren’t these more important concerns? Won’t these values take them further than a perfect GPA? Their third question, “How did you fail today?” opens the discussion about effort and not achieving the goal. The parents wanted to stress lessons learned from this taboo subject and, to in fact, celebrate failing! The word “fail” is  leaden with negativity in our culture, but it’s really the only way we get stronger. It’s how we get resilient.

I’ve been asking my daughters a question each day, too. I thought I was being positive.  I shared my experience on FB with my friends:

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What is school for?

According to Seth Godin, school’s purpose should be to:

  1. teach kids to lead; and
  2. teach kids to try things and to FAIL.

He says, “Fine, getting an A is good. But it’s not the most important thing.”

Personally, I’ve known many “successful” (read: high income) folks who burned the midnight oil to get the excellent grades, get into the perfect college and then obtain the perfect,  high-paying job. They’re still not happy.

Don’t we want our kids to lead happy, productive, creative lives?

If you want the right answers, you need to ask the right questions. Perhaps the right question is not, “How can my kid get into an Ivy League School?” but “How can I raise my child to be a compassionate, productive, happy citizen?”

What do we need to do to be happy? Thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

*photo from unsplash.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fears · Health · immigration

The “S” Word

Growing up as a 2nd generation Korean-American girl, I was taught that indolence (or laziness) was a crime. My siblings and I took Tae-Kwon Do lessons, violin/cello/saxophone lessons, and piano lessons during the school year. During the summer, we added gymnastics (for us girls) and sports (for my brother). My father held three jobs when he first immigrated to the United States and he still managed to earn a PhD. All of this was considered “the norm” for people who wanted to succeed. And if you didn’t succeed, well, then you were a loser, a dreg of society. If you didn’t get straight A’s, get a full scholarship to college and then make a ton of money, you were not special. You were “blah.” No one wants to be “blah,” right?

All the other 2nd Gen KA’s felt the pressure. When the Koreans got together for dinners at each others’ houses, the main conversation was which child was going to which Ivy League school.

As you can imagine, there was fallout. Someone got pregnant and dropped out of high school. Another dropped out of law school and became (gasp!) an artist.

I became an elementary school teacher and writer. This is maybe one rung above being an artist. Maybe. It could be one rung lower. I don’t know. Ask a Korean. Anyway…

I’ve known a few people who committed suicide because their outsides didn’t match or meet their inside expectations. These were really good people and it scared me, because I could relate. So I studied yoga and meditation. The idea of just “being” resonated deeply. Feeling calm and peaceful feel really good. Isn’t this why people work so hard to attain their goals? To feel good in the end?

Yet, I had this conflict: I still wanted to DO something. I wanted to be “successful” at what I pursued and I wanted to feel at peace at the same time. Is this possible? How do you simultaneously work really hard at something and feel that “just being” is enough?

I’ve come to realize that there is nothing wrong with ambition, as long as it aims to help others. And working really hard toward that aim provides all the contentment one could want in reaching one’s goals. The surrender part replaces the expectation part (of accolades, awards, bonuses, fame, etc.)

As one yogi says,

“We show up, burn brightly, live passionately, hold nothing back, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.”

(Gates and Kenison, Meditations From the Mat).

 

So go ahead, burn brightly! But remember to surrender.