Stay or Go?

Teaching sucks sometimes, but it shouldn’t suck all the time.

 A friend of mine has got herself in a bit of a pickle. What seemed like a wonderful opportunity to teach overseas turned into some kind of a nightmare. The behavior coming from the students is outrageous and the administration appears unwilling to do anything about it. What would I do?

 There’s a couple of pieces of philosophy or at least the way I think about the world  and how I  analyze what I want to do or what I’m doing and if it’s satisfying the five basic elements of well-being. Those elements are positive feelings. Engagement therwise Known is Flow. Positive relationships. A sense of achievement. And finally a sense of purpose. So in a situation like that I ask myself: am I having fun; am I making any progress and will I have any sense of achievement. Am I making the world a better place by my tolerating this situation. Only the person in that situation can make the final judgement.

 There’s another aspect of decision making for me when to stay when to leave whether it’s a relationship or a job. And it has to do with intuition. It’s much deeper than just surface feeling. There were years where I taught where I was miserable but I intuitively knew I needed to stay and figure out how to make it right, What I needed to change to become a better teacher. In the end I ended up teaching 27 years.  The first few years we’re pretty rough. I and the situation got better and better over time. I had some tough students but for the most part I had excellent support from the administration which made life tolerable if not downright enjoyable. Students were taken out of my class if they proved to be repetitive behavior problems.

 Back to the intuition thing because of my belief system I believe we can access a deeper knowing if we truly listen so what’s going on inside our head or you might say, inside our hearts. Does this activity truly make me happy. Is this good for my well-being and health. I’ve tolerated some miserable jobs because I knew they were temporary. But I can only take so much misery. So much damage to my mental and physical well-being. I’ve had jobs where I lasted three days. Or a month.

 It’s a big world and there are plenty of opportunities. I don’t believe any of us need to stay in a painful unproductive emotionally abusive situation for any length of time. unless of course there’s absolutely no way out. 

So I wouldn’t tell another person what to do but I know what I would do. I would jump ship. Count my blessings. Chalk it up as a learning experience. And find something better.

Gardening Class.

Change is good

I’ve been told by a very wise man that I need to let go of what no longer serves me, and somewhere in the Bible, it talks about giving up childish things.

rt on scooter 2

Parked outside the old Watauga High School probably in 2010.

It will be an interesting year, exploring what used to give me joy, and no longer does.  And what things continue to give me joy, and new things to explore.

I said goodbye to a hobby, a guaranteed escape from the house for an hour or two, and a source of curiosity about how things work.

Yesterday, I did it!  I sold my scooter.  It was a 2006 Yamaha Majesty 400.  Perfect bike for me.  Big enough to haul ass down the highway but small enough to maneuver easily.  I had a Kymco 500 recently, and it bordered on cumbersome.

vt 700

Years ago, I had a HOnda Shadow VT700.  VT stands for V-Twin.  Nice bike but heaviery than I liked.  And no storage other than saddle bags.  Sold it, bought a Honda Reflex. LOVED IT!!!  Regret selling it really.  Bought a Burgman 400, which WAS stolen, and then the Yamaha.

The joy and time for riding is no longer as strong.  Even when I have time for ride, there are other things I’d rather do, and do without the risk of life and limb, e.g., woodworking, hiking, gardening, and so much more.

I’ve heard about others my age and younger really getting damaged, through no fault of their own, so I am no longer willing to let that happen while I’m driving a scooter or motorcycle.

Anyone out there want to buy a nice xl helmet or two?

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Burgman 400

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2008 Kymco Xciting 500

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2006 Yamaha Majesty

 

 

Re-opening Schools Dilemma

Copied from a friend.  Not my words.

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Consider this Betsy!!!

One of the saddest days of my life was the day of this woman’s appointment over our educational system. Now that she has completely dismantled it & removed civil rights protections for students, she’s planning a full out slaughter.

Teacher friends, good talking points for your conversations! ♥️

Copied and pasted:

Betsy DeVos, we have a few questions for you:

• If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19 are they required to quarantine for 2-3 weeks? Is their sick leave covered, paid?

• If that teacher has 5 classes a day with 30 students each, do all 150 of those students need to then stay home and quarantine for 14 days?

• Do all 150 of those students now have to get tested? Who pays for those tests? Are they happening at school? How are the parents being notified? Does everyone in each of those kids’ families need to get tested? Who pays for that?

• What if someone who lives in the same house as a teacher tests positive? Does that teacher now need to take 14 days off of work to quarantine? Is that time off covered? Paid?

• Where is the district going to find a substitute teacher who will work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students for substitute pay?

• Substitutes teach in multiple schools. What if they are diagnosed with COVID-19? Do all the kids in each school now have to quarantine and get tested? Who is going to pay for that?

• What if a student in your kid’s class tests positive? What if your kid tests positive? Does every other student and teacher they have been around quarantine? Do we all get notified who is infected and when? Or because of HIPAA regulations are parents and teachers just going to get mysterious “may have been in contact” emails all year long?

• What is this stress going to do to our teachers? How does it affect their health and well-being? How does it affect their ability to teach? How does it affect the quality of education they are able to provide? What is it going to do to our kids? What are the long-term effects of consistently being stressed out?

• How will it affect students and faculty when the first teacher in their school dies from this? The first parent of a student who brought it home? The first kid?

• How many more people are going to die, that otherwise would not have if we had stayed home longer?
30% of the teachers in the US are over 50. About 16% of the total deaths in the US are people between the ages of 45-65.
We are choosing to put our teachers in danger.
We’re not paying them more.

We aren’t spending anywhere near the right amount to protect them. And in turn, we are putting ourselves and our kids in danger.

Please copy, paste and share.

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/506985-pressley-hits-devos-over-reopening-schools-i-wouldnt-trust-you-to-care-for-a

houseplant comment

Politics and Friends

Consider friendships, one’s that have no practical need other than the pleasure of the connection.

I have acquaintances that are Trump supporters. I don’t have any close friends that are Trump supporters.  I think I know why.  I do not trust Trump supporters.  I don’t engage in deep or difficult conversations. Why? Conversations are usually futile. By choice or ignorance, most are unwilling or unable to practice critical or ethical thinking. They nitpick “but Obama…”, and refuse to look at the big picture, the destruction Trump and his minions are unloading on the U.S.  It reminds me of gated communities.  They only have to see the pretty things, and shut out the reality of everyone else.

Really though, it really boils down to integrity.  I’ve heard integrity explained as willingness to do the right thing, even when it is not convenient or comfortable.  In other words, a willingness to tolerate a madman as long as it benefits me.  Screw everyone else.  The party of ME is the party/cult of Trump.

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Many are willing to tolerate deplorable behavior from their elected leaders in exchange for a few morsels of self interest, e.g, tax benefits.  They don’t want to consider legitimate news.  They like their narrow focus that Fox News or OAN provide.

By doing so, they don’t struggle with the contradictions of their stated beliefs about love and justice with the hateful injustice coming out of the White House. They refuse to reckon with the truth.  Ignorance is bliss for Trump supporters, until it comes crashing down.

His now emboldened fiercest followers are also the most dangerous.  Think white supremacists and weapons.

Critical thinking skills are essential for making informed decisions. To think critically is to examine reason, purpose, assumptions, facts, consequences, alternate viewpoints, and personal biases before choosing to take action, whether you’re in the voting booth or just talking to a friend. Hopefully, with the help of these examples of fallacies, it just got a little bit easier.”

I could go on but I’ll stop. Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”― W.C. Fields

The last paragraph in this article says it best.
and if you need to read more, this is a good one. 
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Building a chicken Coop

When it was all said and done, I told Danielle that having chickens and going to the trouble and expense of housing them is not a good financial decision. She agreed. It was strictly entertainment. So here it is.

We did a little reading and I had/have a stack of sawmill lumber sitting out in a pile, and for a minimal amount of money for wood, we got this built. Hardware and fasteners were extra.

The coop is way overbuilt.  I used 2x4s, and the posts in the ground are 6×6’s.  Easily accomplished with lighter duty wood.  

 

The planning. Using an older and more comfortable version of Sketchup.

 

chicken coop 3chicken coop 5chicken coop 6chicken coop 7chicken coop 9chicken coop 10chicken coop 15chicken coop 16When it was all said and done, I told Danielle that having chickens and going to the trouble and expense of housing them is not a good financial decision. She agreed. It was strictly entertainment. So here it is.

We did a little reading and I had/have a stack of sawmill lumber sitting out in a pile, and for a minimal amount of money for wood, we got this built. Hardware and fasteners were extra.

The planning. Using an older and more comfortable version of Sketchup.

chicken coop 19chicken coop 21chicken coop 22chicken coop 24chicken coop 25

Cluckingham Palaceplans 5plans 6plans 7

The chicken pen.

chicken coop 28chicken coop 30chicken coop 33chicken coop 37chicken coop 48chicken coop 49chicken coop 50chicken coop 51

 

The nesting box.

Nesting box all togethernesting box exploded view 2nesting box exploded viewnesting box isometric assembled

A video at the beginning. https://youtu.be/wZJoPcYsKX0

 

Beliefs about making beliefs

beliefs of peak
beliefsI’m fixated, which is different maybe from obsessing. The topic? Beliefs. I’m amazed that highly intelligent people, some of the best in their field, believe things that seem to me to be objectively absurd. But then my belief about reality is only a belief based on the information I choose to expose myself to.

To my ultra conservative friends with whom I have not yet alienated, When I try to bring up information that contradicts their opinion, instead of being curious, they discount it, usually calling it fake news. But when questioned about their sources, the “believe” that Fox and OAN are valid. I shake my head and wonder what it is like to be in their head, not that I want to go there for very long.

Other than current events, belief is critical to our perceptions. Where one person sees problems, barriers, and futility, others see challenge, opportunity, risk but potential reward. And then one can take it too far, of blind optimism, rose colored glasses. Who among us has bought lottery tickets. We know the likelihood of losing our hard earned cash is practically inevitable but we rationalize and hope.

Dr. Martin Seligman, the granddaddy of positive psychology says of the five elements of well-being, purpose and meaning is the most important. It worked for Viktor Frankl. Do you find that people that have some belief that they are born, live, and some say incarnated into human form, a spiritual being having a physical experience, have a greater sense of well-being? Are more prone to look for opportunities, accepting of what is and seek the silver lining? Seligman says they do. I know I do.

Remembering how I felt when I was agnostic, as a young adult. I rejected Catholicism at age 14, found religion again at 17, then rejected that in my early 20’s. (Trying to force myself to believe something that wasn’t more verifiable provided a cognitive dissonance that squelched any “peace that passes understanding.” I made a decision to do my own exploration, read, listen and learn, and ultimately found enough out there for me to believe in a higher power, that there is a reason things are the way they are, and that you life, my life, all of life has purpose. Don’t ask me to get too specific though.

As a result, you, we, become what we think about. Our beliefs are just thoughts that we keep thinking. Right or wrong, accurate or not, verifiable or not, to the point where we don’t need to be able to defend our beliefs. They suit our purpose. Joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.

I’m running out of steam here. My question and I WOULD LOVE SOME FEEDBACK. What are your thoughts on beliefs? Or better yet, what are your beliefs about beliefs? Have you consciously cultivated your beliefs or default to what you grew up with? Do you challenge your beliefs by exploring other ideas, visiting and participating with folks with alternative ideas? If too personal, text me.

Maybe we should have a zoom meeting on the topic.

Life is like a lawnmower

Rough draft of a presentation.  Imagine a powerpoint with great pictures as you read.  

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Your lawnmower engine is a lot like life

Both are complicated and the more you know about it, and take care of it, the better it runs.  The less you know, the more trouble you have. 

There’s a couple of things I’ve been trying to understand my whole life. For starters, how things work? I’ve taken lots of technical courses.  After High School I took courses in and out of college in auto mechanics, sewing, woodworking, graphics and small engine repair. The other thing I’ve been trying to understand is what makes people tick? And more specifically why are some people happier than others and some people are not happy at all and then once in a while you bump into someone who is just completely accepting and happy and joyful seemingly most of the time.

156674-160776I was one of those who was fairly unhappy most of the time. I armored up and tried to put on a happy face. Sometimes, due to a new challenge or opportunity,  I was filled with hope but it was temporary.  

DrWhoFacepalmSo if you ask me to explain in a short presentation how a lawn mower engine works, and everything a person needs to do  to make sure it runs well, with the least amount of wear and tear, I would cringe. That’s not enough time. There is no easy quick answer.  The best I can do is maybe give you an outline of what I do that works for me. 

And after the presentation, you’ll go home and forget most of what I said. That’s okay. You will remember that at one point it made sense and you knew there was a way to figure it out. There are plenty of books, videos and people to give you more information but only if you are inspired to seek them out.  Some will decide that you don’t have what it takes to figure it out. You’ll get someone else to do it for you. And some of you will say screw it, I’m just going to run this thing til it doesn’t run no more.  

 

Life is like that too.  Except, in life, we only get one engine on that mowing deck, and when it is done, IT IS DONE.  

Doesn’t it make sense to do whatever we can to learn the maintenance required to keep our lives running at maximum efficiency, with the least amount of emotional garbage clogging up the intake and exhaust valves of our heart? Do we understand the acronym, GIGO? Garbage in and garbage out!  Not just food but what we consume with our mind and our senses, what we choose to see and hear? Entertainment, books, church and political parties included.

Where is the manual for living a wholehearted life anyway? I’ve been looking for it for a long time.

Despite our attempts to live well, we sometimes neglect one area or another, and the sludge of emotional pain and hurt builds up inside until we are about to blow a gasket. Like putting black tape over the “low oil” or “engine needs maintenance light”, we can disregard the warning signs and choose to numb out instead.  We do something to take the edge off, to feel good, or at least numb the pain; food, drugs, shopping, gambling, and more is readily available to most grown ups.  behavioral-addiction-signs-symptoms-and-effects

 

3a0e3ce6a21f8cf093cfd125d85d78b1WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? What do kids do if they haven’t yet acquired the emotional awareness, the self worth; the perseverance and the resilience to deal with the emotional setbacks and disappointments in life?   Many of our kids see only limited choices. Escape. Numb out. Armor up. Get tough. . Fight or flight, act out or isolate. Numb out. Video games and food. And then, adolescence. When the need for belonging is overwhelming, and if their community is not up to the task, it is no wonder drugs and promiscuity become appealing. What the hell. Who cares anyway. After all, if it feels good, do it.

the-teenage-brain-drinking-risky-behavior-part-1-in-south-windsor-ct-6-728

 

Maybe, if we gave our kids an idea of how things work, how to do proper maintenance, where to go for help,  we’d have a lot less broken lawnmowers in the landfill and fewer broken hearts in the world. 

books

 

And one more short one.

Doctor, doctor, give me the news.

When you think about it, there are a lot of similarities between emotional pain and physical pain. With physical pain there’s a reason. With emotional pain, there is a reason. With physical pain you can go to a doctor, and get some ideas of what’s causing the pain. They can do one of two things: fix the problem or he can give you some painkillers. If it is a broken bone sticking out of flesh, the painkillers won’t fix the problem but make the pain more tolerable for a while. Painkillers will make it so you can’t feel. And in fact you won’t be able to feel a lot of things. It might make you sleepy and inhibit your ability to function. Or with some more time and energy, the good doctor fixes the problem, resents the bone, and over time, you heal.  You will never be exactly the way you were before, but for the most part, you are on the mend and over time, you can return to most if not all of your activities.

 

My emotional pain also is there for a reason. If it is minor, I can try to self-diagnose and self medicate. If I have a splinter, I can try to fix it and pull it out. If it is too deep,  and I can’t get a hold on it, I might put some antiseptic/anesthetic on it. For a while I won’t feel it so much. It will fester, become infected. When the pain gets so bad, I might then call a professional. And they’ll fix the problem, not  just treat the symptoms. It is removed, expunged or discharged in some form or fashion. There might still be some residual pain but at least I’m on the path to healing.

 

Thoughts and feedback are welcome.

 

PERMA and Character Strengths

  1. Brief overview of PERMA
    1. Read a short article explaining the acronym.
    2. 5 minute video with brief explanation. The longer video is here. 
  2. Access your character strengths to maximize your well-being
  3. What are your character strengths.  Take the assessment. (You must register first)
    1. Short Survey
    2. Longer survey
    3. Description of character strengths and the virtue category they belong to. 
    4. Optional (but in reality, it is all optional) This looks like a good video on why operating in your character strengths improves your satisfaction in the areas of PERMA.
  4. Discussion
    1. On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being non=existent and 5 being “the best it could be”
      1. Positive emotions (fun)
      2. Engagement (flow)
      3. Relationships
      4. Meaning (sense of purpose)
      5. Sense of Achievement
    2. Times in your life when you were scoring 4-5 in each of those areas.  Take a walk down memory lane and stir up some pleasant thoughts.
    3. What do you do now that gives you the highest levels of satisfaction in each area?
    4. What are some things that you are not doing, or could be doing to increase your level of satisfaction in each area?
    5. How could using your character strengths improve your satisfaction in your life?  Work? Home?  
    6. What’s getting in the way of your taking steps to increasing your sense of wellbeing?  E.g. fear, shame, physical limitations, time, money, etc. What are creative ways you can still operate in your character strengths and experience higher levels of satisfaction in the five areas of PERMA?
  5. I’m looking forward to hearing what you come up with. 

 

For Teachers: Change your Career and Your Life

I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum of teaching.

Image result for kids loved at home come to school to learn

At first, I hated it.  Was overwhelmed not only with the managing the logistics but my own fears of incompetency, fear of judgement, and loss of control of the classroom.  As it turned out, I relied on my child rearing models of crowd control.  Threats, manipulation, pleading, yelling, and shaming.  I did some damage, I hurt many a kid, and some responded with anger, others slinked away, and many grew to hate me and refused to learn. Not all of them.  The good students and I got along.  The challenging ones and I battled it out.

Fortunately, life has a way to teaching us what we need to learn.  About halfway through, I learned about Love and Logic. And then with time and more reading completely changed my beliefs, and then my practices, and then my habits.  I believe I ended on a high note. I learned to love the kids, even most of the challenging ones.  And even the hardest, I could hold space for them to be themselves, within healthy boundaries, and the lessons I learned myself, I passed on to the kids, like communication, appreciate, attitude, and so much more.

How different was it from the early to the later years?  Here is a clue.  In the earlier years, I never bought a year book.  I didn’t believe many students would have interest in leaving a sentiment, and fear several with markers to write hateful things.  In the last few years, not only did I buy year books, but students filled the pages with kind, fun and loving sentiments.

Must of what I learned can be summarized here and if it appeals to you, there is plenty of more information.

Brene Brown and “Daring Classrooms.” 

To really get into the info, explore her website with lots of resources for yourself and classroom.  https://brenebrown.com/daringclassrooms/  Great books too.

You owe it to yourself to have the greatest career, to give yourself a break, learn what is really important, and revolutionize your classroom  Your are in a powerful position  to do either great good, or psychic trauma.  I’ve feel like I’ve done both.  Create a classroom, no matter the subject matter that kids want to go to, where they feel accepted, and even cherished, and learning will become easier for them and easier for you to teach.

Are their other resources.  Yes.  I’ve integrated Growth Mindset, and concepts from other positive psychology experts.  But Brene Brown is in my opinion is the best.

 

 

 

 

Connect at the Heart Level First

Brene Brown talks a lot about courage, vulnerability, fear, resilience and leadership. But we soo too many people who may be discouraged or hopeless that any effort on their part will make a difference. “Why bother”, which is just another way of saying it won’t matter anyway. Nothing will change, I’ll still be the same old so and so, an I’ll still be alone, ultimately unloved and unlovable. 
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I know that feeling. I grew up questioning my worth. It appeared to me that I was just another mouth to feed, and that my existence added to the family’s hardship. I hustled for a way to make myself indispensable, and became quite the people pleaser, always ready to lend a hand, fix this, do that. To this day, at times, I struggle with the feeling that my value is what I do, not who I am. Old habits die hard.5a1c7f5bffbc430df856e25900f68b61
 
As a teacher, I learned late in my career the difference a caring teacher can make. “Love and Logic” introduced me to the idea that it is okay, even necessary to connect with the kids as human beings, as valuable in their own right, unique, talented, capable, lovable and worthy of the investment of our time as teachers. Love and Logic said “fall in love with your kids” and they will do work for you that they wouldn’t do for themselves.
 
I posted a sign where I could see it, “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Over time, I hope they will have the inner strength and history of success if  provided some impetus from a caring adult.
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I should have known. Left to my own devices as a teen and young adult, it was often a concerned friend, or my mom, though tired and struggling herself, saw in me something I couldn’t see. She encouraged me to do things, to try for something a little bigger or better. When I didn’t care, the fact that someone, my mom, a friend or caring adult, did care kept me going.
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You often see articles where classrooms adopt an animal, and even dogs. Kids love dogs. And dogs love kids. I wonder if we could get some kind loving grandmotherly and grandfatherly types to volunteer in classrooms to be that adult that helps when needed, but mostly just provides unconditional love and caring and a reminder that kids are worth the effort. It would help the old timers know that they still matter, but just as importantly, that the kids matter.