Train puppies – Mentor kids

via Daily Prompt: Mentor

“Training- training is everything; training is all there is to a person. We speak of nature; it is folly; there is no such thing as nature; what we call by that misleading name is merely heredity and training. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own; they are transmitted to us, trained into us.”
Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

When I was 19 I lived in Madison Wisconsin USA on the isthmus between 2 lakes.  There were bike trails, the university, outdoor festivals and farmers markets on the capital square.  My neighborhood was a mix of students and hippies.  My next-door neighbors were a young family and much to my surprise one day I found the 5 and 6-year-old had written in sidewalk chalk – Subvert the dominant paradigm.  I wasn’t sure what it meant so I looked it up and I liked it immediately.

madison

My parenting style may be different than others – or I should say it absolutely is different from others.  I want my children to function successfully in the school system and to be respectful.  I do not however want them to lack in critical thinking and to just accept everything they are told at face value.  I also don’t want the personality conditioned out of them so that they can be docile and easy to control.  As you may intuit this has led to some challenges for me and some calls from the school over the years.

principal

It has also led to parent teacher conferences where a teacher tells me how much my kids contribute to the discussions and how my son saw something in a story that has been in the curriculum for the last 15 years that she had never noticed and how insightful it was.

Children need boundaries but they also need to have space to develop their natural gifts.  A bright child with logical arguments should be directed to the debate society instead of the principals office.   Aggressiveness can be honed on the athletic field or basketball court.  Creativity can be explored in art club, band, chorus or drama.  Trying to force kids into a box only stifles them.

Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

If we want our kids to become leaders instead of followers, we need to encourage then to test their boundaries.  Don’t be afraid to let your kids fight for what they believe in and see what they can accomplish.

Fear and suspicion

creeper

 

Every day at noon I would walk around the corner from school and meet my mother and the crossing guard.  I was a “home luncher” rather than a “carrier” or a “buyer” meaning I  got to leave school and spend some time just me and my mom.  I am the youngest of five children, the only girl.  I loved lunchtime.

One day I was on my walk home for lunch and a van pulled up in front of me.  A tall man with reddish brown hair and a mustache started walking toward me.  He was saying something that I couldn’t understand, not because it wasn’t English but because I was terrified.  I knew there was something wrong with a stranger getting out of a van walking toward an eight year old girl and trying to talk to her.  I ran to the corner to where my mom and the crossing guard were waiting.  As I did, the van peeled around the corner fast.  I relayed the story to my mom with tears streaming.   I was out of immediate danger but felt fear after that when I would walk home.

I have often thought about that day and wondered, was the man talking to me at all? Was he really some kind of a creep?  The school is very close to several highway on ramps and it would have been easy for him to jump on a highway and be long gone before anyone knew.  Maybe he was there to meet his girlfriend and he was talking to himself in anger that she wasn’t there and didn’t have any bad intentions at all toward me.  I will never know what may or may not have been the reason that this situation imprinted itself on me.  Something about it made it different that the thousands of other contacts with people that quickly vanished from my memory.  Perhaps it is just a healthy fear of  strangers, especially those in windowless vans.  Kids have been taken.

About four years after the van incident a girl who lived a few blocks from me went missing.  I knew her but not well.  We were on softball together one season and she was a year older.  She had glasses and short straight blonde hair.   She had a paper route which was a big deal.  That was one of the few jobs a kid could get.  All of my brothers had paper routes and I helped them and wanted to take on a route when I was 13.  But that was never to be.

Writing this is emotional, I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.  I didn’t have the language for it then but now I would say it was surreal, terrifying.  Where was she and why didn’t she come home?  There were 7 blocks between her house and her paper route.  It felt like she would have to turn up, like it was all a mistake.  Being a kid there is a naive sense of hope that kept me focused on her being okay, but also the sense that something was wrong.  All the parents were visibly shaken and when the adults are worried the kids feel it.  Deep down we all knew this wasn’t going to be okay.

They found her.  She was dead. My friends mother explained a little bit of the news story because we didn’t understand what had happened.  Looking back, I wish she hadn’t.  I didn’t need to know how ugly the human mind can be and how a depraved man can steal a beautiful child from this world.  I had nightmares for a long time after that and my seemingly safe little working-class neighborhood suddenly felt like a danger zone.  In my dreams, when I saw her it was either as a scary ghostly floating vision or as one of the kids at school as if nothing had happened.

There was no paper route for me or any other girls in my neighborhood after that.  In gym class we started a pretty aggressive chapter on self-defense.  I remember being scared.  We were learning how to put a man’s nose through his brain or groin kick him to do damage.  I didn’t feel empowered to take out a bad man, I just felt like the bad men could be anywhere and they wanted to get little girls.

As I grew up and the initial fear of being taken began to fade, I started to read books about criminals.  I had this idea that if I understood how they thought and worked then I could spot one and I would be safer for it.  I had a conversation with a friend who was police officer for years and I got some serious wisdom from him.  There is nothing different about these people.  There is no key to it all that will illuminate why someone will wake up today and do something that most of us would never do.  They just make these choices.  That is so sensible and yet also difficult to accept.

The normal quiet man in the blue house with the nice lawn could be a killer, trust your instincts and suspicions.

via Daily Prompt: Suspiciouscreeper

Writer ponders subject worth writing about – ends up buying shoes

Somewhere in Upstate NY – Author commits to spend at least one hour writing every day, but ends up thinking about what to write and dismissing her ideas.

balloon man

 

“Oh, I could write about working” – A fresh perspective on staying focused and keeping the atmosphere positive – no this is shit, no one will want to read it.

“Of course – parenting, I can write a blog about the rewards and challenges of raising kids”  pull out the good notebooks and pens to do an outline to then it type up.  Set up the perfect writing area but spend time prepping not writing.

Current events, weather, the implications of genetically modifying food, top 10 books, anything?  A short story?  I poem? No – it is all shit.

Come on – you got this…. Write – do a writing prompt.  And then it might be something like “there are 2 kinds of people in this world…” way too much pressure, I would have to write the most brilliant response to that and I am almost out of my procrastinating,  I mean writing time.

 

But wait there’s more – I will write something starting with an A and then all the letters in the alphabet – here goes:

All day long

Because I have to

Contemplate

Deterrents

Eroding

Fantastic

Genius

Hilarious

Interesting

Joyful

Killer

Laughs

My

Nocturnal

Optimism

Poses

Questions

Resonating

Splendidly

Toward

Universal

Victory

Wordsmithing

Xenocryst

Yippy

Zen

There – I wrote today 

The Struggle is Real – Strategy can help

via Daily Prompt: Strategy

“One may know how to conquer without being able to do it”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

You can’t boil the ocean – having goals without direction or too many goals for the resources available is a sure way to fail.

Understanding what you want is key. It is impossible to plot a course without understanding where you want to go.  The goal may be – I want to increase my net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets or I want to lose 20 lbs.

Understanding your limits is also important – I want to increase my net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets in a legal and ethical way.  Getting money faster may be easier with blurred lines, but understanding that your goal is to do it legally and ethically keeps you on the path.  I want to lose weight safely and keep it off.  Crash dieting for a month isn’t going to cut it.

Now that there are goals – lets look at what to do to make our goals into reality.

Goal One – increasing net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets

How?  Do a Reality Check – where are you now versus where you want to be?

money

The Current situation – I am saving money at a rate of $250 per month, current balance $1,000

The Ideal situation – I have a savings account with $15,000

By comparing the current and ideal a specific target of $14,000 in additional savings is defined as the goal.

Next consider time – Do you want to increase your net worth by December 2018? Or December 2020?

Time to take a look at the factors impacting this decision.

Do a SWOT analysis – What are your Strengths and Weaknesses? What external Opportunities and Threats impact your goal?

Internally –

  • Strengths – Debt to Income ratio leaves extra money for savings
  • Weaknesses – High car payment, tendency to buy new things when not needed

Externally-

  • Opportunity – Get higher paying job, get less expensive car and save the difference
  • Threats – Unexpected expenses, Increases in taxes or utility rates, Economic downturn

Understanding what is going to help achieve the goal as well as what will potentially undermine success is information needed to formulate a strategic plan.

In order to save $14,000 by December 2018 would require a monthly contribution of $1,167 per month starting this month.  Is that feasible?

In order to save $14,000 by December 2020 would require a monthly contribution of $400 per month.  Is this feasible or could you do it sooner?

Maybe you can comfortably save $650 per month which would put you at the $14,000 mark in 21 ½ months.

Another goal is weight loss. Let’s say I want to lose 20 pounds.

hmm donuts

Reality Check – Do I have 20 lbs to lose?

Current Situation -My Body Mass shows Index I am 15 – 20 lbs heavier than ideal for my height

Ideal Situation – I am the ideal weight for my height

The goal is set – lose 20 pounds without crash dieting

When? – I want to lose 20 pounds by the middle of April 2018

How? – Is this do-able by my preferred time?  Time to do a SWOT analysis

Internally –

  • Strengths – I like walking in nature and occasional hikes, I like to swim and, I like bike riding
  • Weaknesses – I love chocolate, sweets, and chicken nuggets

Externally –

  • Opportunities – onsite workout center
  • Threats – Krispy Kremes and Sonic

So if I set out to walk, hike, swim and bike ride more and eat fewer sweets and chicken nuggets – is that a strategy?  Not quite, I need to add in a measurement – April 30, 2018 is 3 ½ months away so I will need to lose a set amount of weight each week.  Or none this month and 7, 6, and 7 respectively in February, March and April.  In order to know if I am on track to succeed I need a tracking signal.

Two goals are illustrated above.  Once the facts are known determine how aggressive your strategy will be, do you want the slow steady approach or a quicker result.  You can do either as long as you have the resources to meet the milestones.  A milestone is a set target – balance in savings or total lbs lost at the 1 month mark – are you on schedule at this rate to meet your goal?

The measurements will allow me to adjust the strategy if it isn’t working.  It is better to adjust the strategy and meet the goal than it is to give up – so if you aren’t on track adjust and see your goal through to completion.

Take a look at your own goals and try to create a strategy to achieve them.

Thank you for reading

 

 

Breaking the spell

It’s December – the perfect time to reflect and breath in the cold crisp reality….

Today from my backyard

Today is 23⁰F (-4⁰C) in the lovely city in upstate NY where I live.  It is not currently snowing and the sky is bright.  The furnace is on and air inside is on the cool side, but tolerable with some flannel pajamas.  This morning I decided to jump back into my blog and write.  It has been quite a while since my last entry and I have been reflecting on why that is.  I have been studying for an exam in supply chain management.  I am busy raising my kids as well.  The lack of writing hasn’t been due to my busy life.

I forgot myself for a while.  

lost

 

As much as I enjoy great motivators like Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, and Tim Ferriss – I can also find myself giving in the great disruptors like my own insecurities and the negative people who have all the reasons why it won’t ever happen or gossip about what someone else said or thinks.  I found myself interpreting everything through a negative lens – instead of seeing opportunity and maximizing it I began to see all the signs to reinforce my negativity.  Wallow I did.

Ironically – it was one of the disruptors who snapped me out.  Once again I was listening to an unsolicited complaint from the soothsayer of doom when it hit me.  “I am affiliated with this.  I have been feeding in to the negative BS and the taint of it is on me. ”

I had this realization on Friday and yesterday I let it sink in and today I break the spell.

lost and found_LI
Found

So now what?  Well I get back on track of course. I have the laptop that I treated myself to with the back lit key board and I am doing something that I love – writing.  I have been using my commute to listen to Jane Eyre on audio, Charlotte Bronte wrote beautifully and it makes me happy to hear it. I am studying for my exam and feel prepared for it.  I am going to make time for exercise daily, it keeps me energized and happy.  I will look at a situation and see it through my own eyes.

Thank you for reading.

Keep Warm, Read a great book and Stay Feisty!

 

Gratitude

via Daily Prompt: Gratitude

I am a believer in the idea of being grateful for the positive things that happen in life.  It is a great tool for shifting a “bad day” into a good one.  It can be humbling to think about all the things that truly are blessings that I sometimes take for granted.

I am comfortable with gratitude for the positive things in my life – I am contemplating gratitude for the negative things in my life.  This is more of an abstraction but almost certainly one that can help me on my path to personal growth.

wings

What am I grateful for in this (fill in the blank with a negative word) situation?

Dig deep. Find Something.  Anything.  What did I learn?  How can I grow from this?  Instead of a scar this can be a reminder – a reminder that things get better; a reminder to trust my instincts.

“Every problem is a gift – without problems we would not grow.”
Anthony Robbins
Lately I have been in a funk and feeling angry a lot.  Am I forgetting to be grateful?  Do I need to view the things that frustrate or vex me from a perspective of how they are good for me?
 IMG_1674

The path is not always easy

There are things and people that make life frustrating.  Channeling that energy into something positive makes us stronger.

Resolve to Evolve

via Daily Prompt: Tentative

wimpy2

Don’t wait until next Tuesday – Invest in Yourself Now!

Over the past few years I have been on a personal journey of self- development and improvement.  This has included small measurable goals like reading more and getting at least 10,000 steps each day.  It has also involved getting to know myself better by acknowledging the feedback that my body is giving me.  There is more harmony in accepting that I can decide what I enjoy and don’t have to make anyone else happy.

As I sought out information and improvement I found a great website where anyone can take inexpensive and even free courses from amazing schools like MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley.

harvard

Here is the link to the site for those who are interested

https://www.edx.org/

I love to write and found a course from the University of Queensland in Australia on English grammar.  I enjoy history and politics and found a phenomenal American government course on HarvardX.   There are courses on a wide range of topics and the other students are all over the world.

Every day we all have the opportunity to learn and evolve.  This is not limited to mastering tasks on the job or checking boxes on a to-do list.  Learning doesn’t need to be expensive – it could and should include going to the library and borrowing books or using Wi-Fi to take a free class.  There are podcasts and audio books.  There is an abundance of information available for those who seek to learn.

library

Investing time and energy into learning every day is beneficial on many levels.  It will give you advantages in your professional life as well as in your personal life.  There are resources to learn everywhere and instead of waiting until it is convenient just go for it.

 

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”
― Pelé