Friday, January 24, 2020

So what do YOU believe?

When things go wrong, don't go wrong with them. ~ Caroline Kenmore

This quote is profound, in my opinion. There are so many lovely sayings and empowerment quotes to inspire and keep us on track, but I believe this one should be a mantra, a way to live life.

Often when our thoughts start to snowball, we act impulsively and irrationally, and pretty soon anxiety takes the wheel, and the situation gets further out of control. 

So often we want to fix a problem... our way, right away, instead of inviting God to step in and take control. 

My mom always said, "In His time, not our time." The older I get, the more I know this to be true.

Recently I learned this lesson when I calmed my inner, anxious voice. While I was trying to do everything in my power to find a used car for my grandson, and getting nowhere fast, there was already a plan in the works. 

When I got quiet, meditated, backed away, and put the problem in God's hands, the car came to us. 
I was driving home when a bald eagle circled my car overhead. I knew! I just knew!

My daughter called and said, "You won't believe what just happened. A lady wants to get rid of a car so SHE called my girlfriend's husband, who is a mechanic. He didn't even know her! She just wants the car gone; she's selling it for (unbelievable price). He's going to go over it for us and..."

I always believed! But believers sometimes have to calm their minds and find a way to not go wrong when things go wrong. 

Everything works out... the way it is supposed to. I believe that!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Same or Different?

Are you familiar with former teacher, Jane Elliott, born in 1933?  

In 1968 she taught third grade. The day after Dr. Martin Luther King, JR's assassination she did a bold race experiment with her students in Riceville, Iowa.

She told the class that the more melanin one has, the darker their eye and skin color. Those with dark eyes, she claimed, were smarter. Brown-eyed students were given longer lunch period and recess that day.

She witnessed immediate results. The children with brown eyes became instantly confident and condescending to their blue/green-eyed classmates. Those with brown eyes were allowed to drink from the water fountain. The others had to use paper cups.

Mrs. Elliott concluded her experiment by asking her seated pupils to stand--- first those who were of the white race, then those who were black, brown, red, yellow etc. and to remain standing. She asked anyone from the human race to sit down. Every student sat.

Jane Elliott went on to provide many valuable lessons on racism and prejudice, and how it affects others. She made an impact, offended many, and enlightened many. Jane Elliott made a difference in 3rd grade and also later on when she taught 7-8th grade.

                   I was known as Miss Linda.

I taught preschoolers for four decades and school-age students for 16 of those summers. 

I decided to incorporate Jane Elliott's activity into my preK curriculum. We made a classroom graph for eye colors. I helped the students print names and sign in the appropriate columns. We counted and talked about the concepts: more, less, fewer, and other pre-math terms.

Then I told the children that the blue-eyed kids were better than the brown-eyed kids. They would get snack. The brown eyed kids protested loudly. 

"Hey, that's not fair!"

I said, "Sorry. Then the brown eyed children can have snack, but not the blue-eyed."

The browns cheered, "YES!"

The blues complained, "What about us?"

"Yeah, let me think some more. Do you think if you have brown eyes you are the best?" 

Some looked at me wanting to say YES, some said NO. Many didn't know.

I explained we all have eyes, and eyes see, no matter what color they are. Maybe we should decide by who has dark hair or light hair?

The pre-kindergarteners were undecided.

I said, "Okay, then what about skin color? If your skin is brown you win. If it is light, you lose."

A chorus of voices raised, "That is NOT fair!"

I agreed and quietly explained that people are just people, not better or worse because of skin, eye, or hair color. Bad or good describes behavior based on how we treat others. We are all deserving of kindness, snack, recess, and inclusion.

I did a comparison later in the week. I chose an African-American student and a Caucasian student. They stood in front of the class and we listed attributes about each child.

My students listed height, gender, clothing, shoes, curly/straight hair.

I explained, in some ways they were both different, and in many ways they were alike. They both had eyes, noses, mouths to eat with and talk nicely to one another. They both had hands to help, legs to run, bodies that work the same way, etc.

I hung the list in the hall for parents to see.

Guess what? Not one child mentioned skin color. They had learned that skin color is not important. How you behave and treat others is the most important thing in any situation, any where you are, in school at home, or away from home.

My four and five year old students understood. They got it!

I did comparisons all the time in class between two or more objects. I tried my best to first list the things that were ALIKE and then what was different. Good lesson to practice at home.

Why do adults still struggle with color, class, gender, religion... bias prejudice?

I wish you peace.  Pass on a smile today. Won't you?  

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

And what about YOU?

The New Year is two weeks old. I have received two acceptances and a request to participate in a literary event, behind the scenes.
Making new discoveries and participating in new activities can be exciting AND create fear. But if you don't try, you'll never know how successful you can be. Don't compete. Encourage one another!
Alex and Charlie thought they were just playing, but they were actually honing their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they pounded golf tees into a chunk of styrofoam. This activity has to be monitored at all times for styrofoam choke hazard.
Thrill at what someone else might consider mundane, unimportant.
Find the uniqueness in a word, an object, and use them creatively.
Everything is exciting and new to Charlie. He is inquisitive.
 Even if you have no previous experience, try anyway. Prove to yourself you can do it. If you fail at first attempt, try-try again!
Alex shook his head NO, thinking he could not insert the ends of pipe cleaners into the colander holes. He has excellent dexterity.                                                            ~
Be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how insignificant they seem to others. Pat yourself on your own back. 
Once he got going, there was no stopping him. He named colors and made a creative design. He was amazed to discover he could also insert the pipe cleaners into the sides.
     All work and no play is not good! HAVE FUN. Get exercise.
I cleaned out the closets and discovered 10 old pillows. What on earth was I saving them for? A DAY LIKE THIS! Trapped indoors on a rainy day, I took the boys swimming in the "pillow pool." I did not name it; Alex did. He and Charlie jumped, swam, tickle-tickled me (they were so excited) and giggled for half an hour.
When you feel exhausted, rest you body, mind, and soul. Remember to replenish (feed) all three. Drift away to your happy place. Images in your mind, or on a pillow can calm and refresh.

How is your new year shaping up? And let's not talk about shapes until all the cookies are gone.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Lay it on me!

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Another new year is upon us. The older I get the faster time flies. Every single day has 24 hours. We  each choose what to do with those moments. Spend or invest them wisely.

I am of a certain age. I am closing out, while my little great grandsons are just starting out.

My grandchildren in their teens and twenties are finding out, making life discoveries.

My adult children are worn out from the struggles of making a home, a living, a life.

As an early childhood teacher, I frequently observed that adults have higher expectations of highly verbal and intelligent youngsters, those capable of higher level reasoning.

In reality, they have to learn what we already know. Learning experiences and teachable moments occur on a daily basis, and we sometimes overlook an opportunity to share knowledge, provide helpful information, or ask thought-provoking questions to help them do the reasoning.

Merely praising their efforts is a big deal! And remember, punishment should be helpful not hurtful.

Hindsight is always 20/20. If I am overwhelmed, I can think more clearly if I set aside the problem or issue and sleep on it. I awake refreshed, maybe not with the answer, but with a clearer mindset.

Five things I know for sure: 

  • Every single thing works out. Not the way, or in the time frame I desire, but in the end, it all works out.
  • Receiving everything you want is not the same as having everything you need.
  • Struggles and hurdles help us grow.
  • We need each other, no matter our ages. A smile, a gentle touch/hug, a kind word, a little praise and appreciation go a long way, no matter which end of the time line you are on... whether you are giving or receiving.
  • Faith is not a crutch; it is assurance. My church has no walls or doors. My prayers are sometimes spoken aloud, and are often just a few silent words of thanks, or a spontaneous plea for protection of loved ones and those in need. As much as I like to be in charge (or think I am in charge) I know there is a power greater than me at work. I have told my family even if they have left God, He has never left them, and they can always return.

I love the quote in this blog post.
Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891[1][2] – January 28, 1960) was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-20th-century American South and published research on Hoodoo.[3] The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. She also wrote more than 50 short stories, plays, and essays.

Read more about her at this site:

Will you share with me something YOU know for sure or have learned about life?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Oh yes, you can!

Sasee Magazine out of South Carolina is a wonderful women's lifestyle magazine. Won't you take a look at the informative articles and personal essays? Mine can be found at this link.

 Happy New Year 2020
Cautionary note: always write the year out in full as in 1/1/2020 instead of 1/1/20, because someone could amend the date on a document to 1/1/2016. Something to think about.

Now take a look at Sassy Boy, who covets every chair Bill sits in and resists being moved. When Bill is in his desk chair, this cat perches on the back of it.  He watched with interest as I cleaned my desk. 

The piles will pile up again. I will find notes jotted down and deadlines missed, but I will diligently work to achieve my goal of writing and submitting five to seven pieces per month. In 2019 I sent off 90 submissions. Some may wonder if it is even worth it, because the publication rate is low. I say listen to your heart. Do it for the love of writing if you are a writer. Don't be discouraged.
Make time to read this year. Liam is having fun discovering the world of reading. He loves kindergarten. He whines when I ask him to read, but then he gets very excited when he discovers he CAN read fluently. He writes notes all the time. I hope he will be a writer some day.

Get in gear and zoom to the finish line. Take pride in your work. You may have to tweak it a time or two to get the momentum going, to achieve the desired outcome.
 Rewriting is part of the writing process. Don't get discouraged. Charlie tried repeatedly to get the motor running. He was delighted when I gave the car a shake-shake-shake. He felt the thrill of success. Hope you do, too in 2020. 

Who knows? YOUR name may be on a book this year as AUTHOR. Alex was amazed to realize he was wearing his Thomas shirt and was climbing on Thomas the tank Engine. Make connections! Cerebral and physical. Lend a helping hand, your expertise, or support to other struggling artists. All successful writers were once beginners. Don't quit!
My daughter gave me this four generation photo from almost fifty years ago. She was six months old, and I had high hopes and magnificent dreams for her... as my mother did for me, and her mother for her. We all walked our own paths and brought our unique voices and gifts to this world.

This treasured photo speaks to me. I can almost hear the deafening noise level from those times my mom and five aunts gathered at Grandma's and everyone talked at once. I feel the mother-daughter love which makes me shed a tear of happiness. Oh the pride of each of us possessed for our offspring.

We all have gifts and we all work on our own timeline. 

Don't squander your talents or let them lie dormant. 

If your mantra is, "I do not have time," realize you have the same 24 hours that everyone else has.

Spend a few moments on yourself and your writing. 

Words are powerful and have a long reach.

My son and all our grandchildren mean the world to me. I have been richly blessed.

Head off into 2020 and make some memories.