How to Overcome the Little Black Submarines

Morning little buddies…

There I was.

Standing and staring at 600 square feet of carpeting, pad, and tackstrips that needed to be pulled up. This space usually filled me with content and joy over the past 15 years. Reminiscing of kissing your mother for the first time. Memories of staying up way too late with John to play Guitar Hero for “one more song.” Imagining the white walls brought to life with colors, photos, and your mother’s heart. Despite the fondness of these memories, I stood paralyzed by analysis. All I heard was the voice.

“Do it right the first time.”

A simple phrase that was delivered to encourage me to do things the right way. A message all kids should hear.

But all I heard was, “don’t fuck this up.”

It’s interesting how even some of the simplest messages can be heard in a different manner than they are sent. And how these incorrectly received messages can then be carried with us through our entire lifetime. And from there, the little black submarines pop up out of nowhere armed and ready to go.

Pick you up, let you down

When I wanna go

To a place I can hide

You know me, I had plans

But they just disappeared

To the back of my mind.

~Lyrics from The Black Keys

At similar moments along my journey, I would hear that voice. Then the anxiety and stress of the submarines would come knocking. Bringing with them the fear of possibly screwing things up. For me, it was flight over fight every time. I would take off not knowing what to do with the roller coaster that was inside of me. Wouldn’t even give it a try. Slithering back was much better than the possibility of screwing up.

But not this time.

This time I would get over the worry hill. I was going to try. Plybar and hammer in hand.

I would stay in the arena.

The biggest obstacle was not going to be me today. It was going to be the tackstrips, carpet, and pad-and I was going to complete the task. No matter how long it took me or how cut up my hands ended up being.

Yes, of all projects, tearing up carpeting may not seem like that big of a deal. But use the picture and mental model to help you create yours. Your anxiousness will have its own set of cues. You will have to learn them as you get older. But here are three thoughts to helping you overcome the “little black submarines.”

1. Find buddies who don’t feel the risk that you do in the specific instance. Make sure they hold you accountable. When it comes to these tasks that make you uncomfortable, strength in numbers will be your foundation. For example, your mother has no fear when it comes to these household tasks. She put up a backsplash in no time as I worried and overthought the first cut. Or stick close to a friend who takes calculated risks in areas that make you uncomfortable. Their confidence will then hopefully translate over to you. And don’t be afraid to ask these people questions. More knowledge will be your tool to get over the hump.

2. Learn the languages of those around you-and make sure you help others learn your personal language as well. And what I mean by “language” is not necessarily English or Spanish or Mandarin. It can be either verbal or nonverbal. For example, when I have certain specific responses, Mommy knows my sensory bucket may be almost empty. But I had to explain that to her. I wasn’t being snippy or mean, it was my way of sending a message. Learning how to send and receive these messages will take time and work, but it will be worth it. The message the voice was telling me was to take my time and do the job the right way. But I heard it differently. I always wish I would have asked or learned a way to respond showing my anxiousness so that the voice could understand. Now I know better, and I hope you learn this tool to help you with others as well.

3. Finally, a great book I read is called Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. Just because you might not win doesn’t mean you automatically lose. Transfer your thought of losing to the process of learning-and this may also relieve some of the anxiousness and stress. Because isn’t the whole point of this journey on Earth to learn as much as possible? Don’t be paralyzed by winning or losing, be free to learn.

With every inch of tackstrips that was pulled up, a bigger smile came across my face. A feeling of content washed through my heart and mind. The submarines and the voice were thwarted on this day. I was encompassed by more cheerful thoughts. Inflatable furniture, lunches with your great grandmother, and maybe one day, you moving in here.

And eventually, the job was completed. I have the picture of a bucket to remind me that I can do it. I stayed in the arena. And you can too.

And if you need the carpeting pulled up or any other job done, I will be there to lend a hand.

Be Bold and Be Brave,

Daddy

P.S. When you were little, you enjoyed What Do You Do With a Problem as well as Jabari Jumps when we were stuck on a worry hill!

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The Most Important Thing All of Our Children Need to Be

As I was watching the scene unfold, I knew there were only two possible outcomes for what would happen next. The little lump in my throat had an inkling it was going to go a certain way at this point. By the looks of things, our little guy might be sitting this one out.

The look on his face showed that he was not aware of what was coming next. As a parent, you know these types of moments will occur-they have occurred to all of us. Running to the gym as soon as the last bell sounds to see if your name is posted for the spring baseball team or walking nervously to the mailbox to see if that long awaited college letter has arrived. All parents want to shield their kids from the possible pain of not being included or being rejected. Whether it’s a game, a party, or a lunch table, these situations will arise. I was watching one of these moments about to unfold for our four year old.

At that moment, I was starting to prepare the story in my head of the conversation I was about to have with our little guy. We could talk about how he is feeling at that moment with the goal of modeling empathy. We might walk through how he could respond next time. We could then talk about when he is the older kid, what might he do if there was a little guy who wanted to play. How would he approach it? How could he be a role model in an instance like this?

But then everything pivoted.

Jay stepped in between our son and one of the older boys. “He’s on my team.”

The moment filled me with joy and hope. I have been through enough to know not all of these moments would end this way. My hope was that it would leave a lasting impression on our little guy-because it did for me.

Have you ever sat and watched a group of kids as they play? It is always interesting to me the dynamics that are presented. You have your bossy pants…your jokester…the annoying one…your strong willed…your athlete…your harasser…your follower…

Then you have kids like Jay.

Jay isn’t your best dressed or your worst dressed kid. He’s not the least athletic nor is he the stud athlete. He may not be your gifted child but he definitely isn’t the dumb one in the group. He in fact, is the most important one in the group. He may not be the most articulate kid in the group but always seems to know the right thing to say and do.

He’s the glue.

You see, I have a little four year old that asks a million questions. He sometimes gets hyper focused on minute details. He sometimes misses social cues. Our son follows Jay around and wants to be like him and does everything Jay asks him too. Our son is about 5 years younger than Jay, but you wouldn’t know it. Why?

Because those things do not matter to Jay. Jay doesn’t see it-any of it. Nor should we.

The world needs more Jay’s. Let me tell you why.

On a beautiful November day in Northeast Ohio, we were gathered to celebrate Jay’s sister’s birthday. Our beloved Indians had made the World Series and lost in a heart breaker to the Cubs earlier in the week. Baseball fever had blown through our community and the Fall Classic had made an imprint on this group of kiddos. As soon as they were done eating, they headed to the back yard for a pickup game. Our son was by far the youngest in the group of kids. It didn’t matter to Jay. He made sure our son had a good time. He was accommodating. He provided ideas for the game to continue moving on but also gave our son a chance to participate and have a good time. Jay helped him run the bases…told him when to stop…grabbed a tee when he was getting frustrated at the plate…showed him where to throw the ball when he fielded it. And Jay made sure all the other kids had fun too.

Jay is the includer.

It started getting dark and we had to sing to Jay’s sister after the “big game.” Our son was sitting with us beaming after his pickup baseball game. He told us how he hit a homerun and how Jay helped him to where to go. It was Jay this and Jay that. As our son was enjoying his cupcake, Jay snuck by and told our son, “make sure you meet me downstairs after you are done with your cupcake.” I know kids like cupcakes but our son inhaled that one like no other. Why?

He was a part of the group.

For our little sensory guy, sometimes it’s hard to fit in or be accepted. He has some quirks about behaviors like any 4 year old might…some kids may find it annoying or frustrating. Others may exclude. Not Jay.

He’s accepting of all. He’s the inclusive one.

The world needs more Jay’s.

And we are thankful he is a role model to our son…because kids now a days need peer role models more than ever. Our kids are barraged in so many different ways in a variety of different environments. Jay is a gift to those around him.

Hey kids out there, be more like Jay. He’s our dude.

Thanks, Jay.

Listed below are a few ways I thought I as a parent/teacher could help our kids become more accepting.

1. Read Wonder. Man, is this book fantastic. There are countless moments for great conversation starters to have with your kids. READ IT. NOW.

2. Encourage your kids to play/work with different kids at school. Our kids are in a multiage classroom and many times we hear about the same kids each day. During our breakfast, we thought we would use the class picture and find out a little more about all of the kids in the class. Do you know what work/activity is ________’s favorite? Is it something you can work on together?

3. At suppertime, we could identify times during the day when we saw moments of inclusion or exclusion. We could then discuss how everyone in the moment felt and possibly why. Both Wonder as well as Augie and Me do a great job of showing different viewpoints. Take the moments that are brought up and role-play the possible moments from all angles.

4. Our little lady’s favorite book right now is Strictly No ElephantsShe is three and loves the pictures and what happens in the story. It is a great conversation starter for your toddler or early preschooler.

5. One of our goals for this year is to visit more museums, try different cuisines, and find opportunities where our kids can be calculated risk takers. Anxiety is in all of our blood, but stepping out of our comfort zone together may help us each be more accepting. I can’t expect our kids to be inclusive if I do not demand it from myself.

Call to Action

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As you can see from the article, we love books. Books have shaped our lives and belief systems. Please consider supporting our cause and clicking an Amazon link to start your journey as well as support ours! You could also try Audible here or here if you like listening to books! Kindle is an option as well that we like too.

Courage to Connect CLE is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

How to Unlock Genuine Meaning in Your Life With These 2 Powerful Books

“I want to be a good person,” said Nikolai. “But I don’t always know the best way to do that.”

Little Nikolai was looking for answers to three very important questions:

When is the best time to do things?

Who is the most important one?

What is the right thing to do?

We stopped for a moment before turning the page. I could tell by the look on our son’s face he was thinking about them deeply. “Why don’t we continue reading to see what Nikolai finds out,” as we continued to follow little Nikolai’s journey in Jon J. Muth’s book titled “The Three Questions.”

These questions are still puzzling to me as I continue on my own journey towards meaning. Moments and people have been guideposts in helping me find some direction.

“Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. This is why we are here.”

As Leo the Turtle’s final message concluded the story, I could tell the idea was a little hard to grasp for our little boy. He gave me a pondering look and I could read his mind.

“What do you think that means, buddy?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” he responded. “Maybe we should read it again later.”

“I’m still trying to figure it out too, buddy,” as he went back to work on creating his stage for his rock concert.

Oh, to be six again. As I watched him run off with a smile on his face, I thought maybe there could be a way to translate some of these ideas from “The Three Questions” into daily practice the kids can learn from?

“He who knows the ‘why’ for his existence, will be able to bear almost any ‘how.’” ~Viktor Frankl

It took 32 years for the “why” to finally take hold within me. I remember the moment when the “why” hit me like a train. The instant a set of piercing blue eyes looked at me as he wailed on the scale at the hospital. The “why” had arrived and announced his presence with authority.

Prior to our son being born (and then his sister three years later), I thought I knew where I was going. But I had no idea. I had a wonderful team of family and friends around me that helped me in my dark days. Days filled with inner feelings that I could never truly explain with the right words. Even as I crept into my thirties, I needed translators to help piece together my thoughts and feelings into words. The best translator was my wife. The mother of this little package. The one who would somehow hear the tone in my voice, see the feeling in my eyes, and grasped whatever it was that needed to come out as we held hands.

Now it was my turn to be the translator. The moments Leo the Turtle described to little Nikolai were the “how.” That Dr. Frankl was referring to.

To interpret the anxiousness. To decode the emotional outbursts. To give a voice to the reservations in a new environments. To describe why simple sorting and ordering can bring balance. How the repetitive nature of an activity can bring inner peace.

I believe we learn so much about ourselves through our own kids. What works in deescalating a conversation. The gentle nudge to take a risk and get over the worry hill. The assuring smile that everything will be ok. Much of our conversations can be a self-talk or mental imagery to help myself.

Just like Nikolai, I want to be a good person. And I am still trying to figure out the best way to do that-all the while helping my children and our students figure out how to be the best version of themselves. My home is that in helping them, the best version of me can grow too.

Here are a few ideas I am going to try with my kids and explorers:

1. Pick up “The Three Questions’ at the library or here. Prior to reading “The Three Questions” have your child write down or draw pictures to Nikolai’s three questions. Afterwards, have another discussion comparing thoughts from the before.

2. For parents and teachers, Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” is a must read. If time to sit down to read is difficult, I love audible.com for my commute and walks. I will brainstorm ways to share Dr. Frankl’s incredible story of survival during the Holocaust.

3. At suppertime, share a moment from the day when we made the right choice, with the right person, at the right time.

4. Create a “Kindness Jar” or “Jar of Awesome” and add special moments that can be reflected on at a later time.

5. Have the kids decorate handprints and tell a story of when they lended a friend a hand.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation — we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl

Call to Action

If you enjoyed reading this, please give it a thumbs up and share it.

As you can see from the article, we love books. Books have shaped our lives and belief systems. Please consider supporting our cause and clicking an Amazon link to start your journey as well as support ours! You could also try Audible here or here if you like listening to books! Kindle is an option as well that we like too.

Courage to Connect CLE is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

26 Important Beliefs I Have as a Parent and Educator

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I believe in the power of education. I believe we can use education to make the world a better place. What if districts were given a report card based on compassion and empathy as opposed to a state test? What would our world look like?

I believe everything begins with our mindset.

I believe in Eudaimonia and the power or living a meaningful life.

I believe when it comes to crafting a life, we should teach our children to be like a chef.

I believe our children should be taught Essentialism and to focus on their one thing.

believe we can help raise and nurture kids to be like what Dr. Adam Grant refers to as “givers.”

I believe books should be treasured. I believe we should teach our kids to cherish books at a very young age.

I believe children must be taught the tools to develop optimism and curiosity. I believe these two are the most important skills we should pass on.

I believe we should give our children a chance to find their true autarkeia, which in Greek translates to “a mind filled with content.

I believe when a compass and a map are the navigation tools available, we should teach children to choose the compass.

I believe we should all play to our strengths to achieve excellence. We should identify them within ourselves and our students and push them as far as we can possibly go.

I believe we need to develop calculated risk takers and reward for making a mistake after taking a well thought out chance. A synonym for mistake-making? It’s called learning. Ask Thomas Edison how many tries it took him to invent the light bulb.

I believe we should have a spot on a child’s report card for grit.

I believe we should assume absolutely nothing. We should constantly question and approach life through the lens of a researcher or scientist. We should take a page from Elon Musk, “This would be better if…”

I believe if we explored our experiences with fresh eyes, anything is possible.

I agree with Seth Godin. I believe we should teach our kids to solve interesting problems and be able to lead.

I believe a portion of every child’s day should be focused on physical well-being: nutrition, sleep and physical activity.

I believe spending a portion of our day expressing gratitude can go a long way for our children’s future.

I am a public school teacher, but I do not believe everyone fits nicely into a box or flow chart. I believe our outlier kids could be our greatest asset and we can learn a ton from them. These are the kids who need certain supports or interventions but don’t check off enough boxes in our current system.

I believe in habits, systems and checklists. I believe that for a person wired as I am, I need these tools to help me navigate my day and help me maintain balance. I believe habits can be taught even to little ones and it will benefit them. I see it every day in my classroom. I believe I can reroute some of the DNA within me by creating positive habit loops. I believe it is all in mindset.

I believe in spirituality more than organized religion. I believe in mindfulness, meditation and karma. I believe a time for mindfulness should be required in schools and all children should have access to mental health tools and resources.

I believe everybody should have the same rights as a white dude from suburbia like me. I believe I don’t have the right to tell people who they can or cannot love or marry or worship. As long as they are choosing kindness, we are cool.

I believe there are great people out there. Everywhere. No matter the color, orientation, geography or social status. I also believe the antithesis is also true- there are mean, disgruntled people out there. I am trying to work on being in the former group on a full-time basis because many times I have slipped into the latter group. Always something to strive for.

I believe words, spoken or written, are powerful.

I believe in “Audaces fortuna iuvat,” which in Latin is translated to mean “fortune favors the bold.”

This is the beginning of my journey to becoming bold.

I will share mistakes, lessons learned, stories and anecdotes as I search for meaning each day to become a better husband, parent, friend, and educator.

There is something to learn from everyone. I believe everyone is creative in some way.

Won’t you come along?

Call to Action

If you enjoyed reading this, please give it a thumbs up and share it.

As you can see from the article, we love books. Books have shaped our lives and belief systems. Please consider supporting our cause and clicking an Amazon link to start your journey as well as support ours! You could also try Audible here or here if you like listening to books! Kindle is an option as well that we like too.

Courage to Connect CLE is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

How To Bring Our Biological Systems into Better Rhythm: 6 Research Based Strategies to Combat the Effects of Stress

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Cortisol. The stress hormone.  

 He’s been surging into my life lately. Trying to find the right rhythm for my day has been hard. Meeting the wide-ranging needs of our students …the responsibilities and expectations of our job…being present as a husband and father…modeling a positive wellbeing for my own kids…nurturing relationships with my friends… all contribute to the tempo of my week.  Each part of our lives is like a section of the orchestra.  And currently, my ensemble is not playing together at all. I can almost feel the cortisol pumping through me. And I know I need to make some changes to get back into rhythm. Life experiences and reading have helped me to understand the cues and triggers.

 But I’m 39.  So I believe it is crazy to expect a 4 year old or an 8 year old or even a teenager to know what to do when their lives our filled with stressful experiences.

 As the adults, we must model positive defaults on a daily basis to help the children in our lives find their own personal rhythm. Much of my life has been spent picking myself up and getting back to “zero” and in balance each day.  If I pushed myself enough I could get into the positive, but it took a great deal of energy.  I see the great therapists, counselors, teachers and doctors out there helping people of all ages work their way back to center, but what if we put daily activities into place where we have had a better shot of starting closer to zero and then heading into the positive?  What would happen then?  What could we do each day to help our kids wellbeing? Doctors, therapists, teachers and counselors could really go to work and make an even bigger difference.

 These thoughts came into mind after reading Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ book The Deepest Well about the long-term effects of adversity.  Dr. Burke Harris is a pediatrician in San Francisco and the CEO of Center for Youth Wellness.  She won the Heinz Award for her work promoting awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and has some insight that can help mitigate the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress.

 You can see her awesome TED talk that has close to 5 million views here: https://www.ted.com/talks/nadine_burke_harris_how_childhood_trauma_affects_health_across_a_lifetime?language=en

 “ACEs” comes from Dr. Vincent Felitti’s CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a groundbreaking public health study that discovered that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence, as well as financial and social problems.  

 The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire was developed to identify childhood experiences of neglect, abuse, or family dysfunction. The survey consists of ten questions. Each affirmative answer is assigned one point. At the end of the questionnaire, the points are totaled for a score out of ten, which is known as the ACE score.  As the number of adverse experiences increase, so does the risk for varying outcomes in adulthood. These outcomes may include impairment of social, emotional, and cognitive development, and higher risk of developing health problems.  The study found that two-thirds of people had a score of one and 40% of people had two or more. 

 ACEs are stressful events that harm children’s developing brains.  These experiences may lead to changing how the child may respond to stress in the future. They can also damage the immune system so profoundly that the effects show up decades later.

Our brains are constantly shifting in response to the environments we come across. If we incorporate practices that build resilience, our brains can slowly undo many of the stress induced changes that had occurred prior. Dr. Felitti, (from original ACEs study), Dr. Burke Harris, and others found that individuals’ brains and bodies become healthier through six resilience-building practices.  The six activities include:

1.    Good nutrition

2.    Adequate sleep

3.    Exercise

4.    Mindfulness practices

5.    Mental health care

6.    Healthy social interactions

 From The Happiness Advantage:

“Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives performance upward.” 

Need a help keeping track of your personal resilience building activities? Click here!

After reading the research a simple thought crossed my mind. What are we doing to our kids?  We are not cultivating positive brains.  We are focusing on the wrong things.  

 To think that we as adults are pushing our kids in this direction makes me sad.  We want to build this great building with a wonderful penthouse view. We have great dreams for our kids to get to that top floor, but the foundation is incredibly weak.  We are solely focused on having our students scoring at a certain level to be promoted to fourth grade or achieving a certain score on the SAT to get into a college.  This is the view from that top floor penthouse. All the while, the foundation has cracks and is sinking right below them.

If you want to read about ACEs from a child’s point of view, click here

We need to consider connecting Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the six resilience-building practices for ourselves and for our kids.  At the base of the pyramid are the physiological needs.  Learning about sleep hygiene, good nutrition, and the importance of exercise.  If you need proof of the importance of exercise and what it can do for the brain take a look at Naperville Schools in Illinois (from Spark).  

 Once this base is set, we can move up to the next level: safety needs.  We can start incorporating mindfulness activities and providing mental health care.  These can be included in daily routines to help students cope, emotional regulation, mood, empathy, and self-compassion.

 Finally, to round out the six resilience activities, we can focus on creating healthy relationships. Can we have the older children become mentors or “big brothers/big sisters” to the younger children?  Could we connect more with community members?  Can we join or create tribes that we can relate too?  Resilience will build throughout life and close relationships are very important.  Research suggests that just one caring, safe relationship early in life gives any child a much better shot at growing up healthy.

With the strong foundation created by the six resilience-building practices, we are ready to build toward that penthouse view. With cortisol levels managed through these practices, we certainly give ourselves and our children a better shot at taking on the curve ball of life. I wonder what kind of world we would live in if our schools, communities and our workplaces focused on building this foundation first.

We can only hope.

 References:

1.    Center for Disease and Prevention. (2003). ACE Reporter: Origins and Essence of the Study. San Diego.

2.    https://acestoohigh.com/aces-101/

3.    https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/ace-questionnaire

 

Want to join in our weekly discussing? Check us out here!

Each week we will share books, resources, stories, and ideas that we think will be beneficial to you and your kids (at home or in the classroom).  Our focus will be on wellbeing and potential but we will continue to explore neurodiversity and sensory processing.  

Courage to Connect CLE is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. 

Healing

I may be the quiet neighbor in the brownstone.

Or the rambunctious classmate from the farm down the dirt road.

 

I may be the gregarious boy at the playground

Or the wallflower in the dance class.

 

I may be the middle child following my dad into the shelter

Or the youngest child living in the gated community.

 

I may check the race box that says “Pacific Islander” or “White” 

Or maybe “Black or African American” or “Asian.”

 

I may be a toddler or school age.

A teenager or an adult.

 

Adverse childhood experiences exclude no one.

 

My father may have thrown things and blamed me

After my mother abandoned us.

 

I may have watched my grandmother drink her sorrows away

After my grandfather was sent to prison.

 

I may have watched my step dad verbally abuse my sister

Because she ate the last of the peanut butter.

 

I may sit in class in a daze

Or act out with the strongest of emotions.

 

Unless strategies are put into place

These experiences might disrupt the development of my brain.

Or my immune system may be compromised.

 

My days need to be filled with healthy social interactions 

Or I may be plagued with high blood pressure 

that sets me down a path of serious health risks.

 

If you come to our basketball game

One of my teammates on the floor may have had one adverse childhood experience

And another may have two or more.

 

These are the things I need you to consider

As you ponder about my well being and my future

Whether it’s in the classroom, on the field or in the studio.

 

A safe relationship with an adult

Moments of mindfulness 

And plenty of chances to move

Are all great ways to relieve some of my stress.

 

If you really cared about me

These activities would be non-negotiable and scheduled into my day.

 

No matter what my reading level is

Or my score on the math state assessment.

 

This is what is important for me right now

If you really want to see me flourish.

Thank you to Dr. Nadine Burke Harris for her book The Deepest Well on Adverse Childhood Experiences and stress. Please check out her book to learn more!

Want to join in our weekly discussing? Check us out here!

Each week we will share books, resources, stories, and ideas that we think will be beneficial to you and your kids (at home or in the classroom).  Our focus will be on wellbeing and potential but we will continue to explore neurodiversity and sensory processing.  

Want to build your resilience building activities reportioire ? Click here!

Courage to Connect CLE is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

5 Elements of an Incredible Life Backed by Research

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To Whom It May Concern:

 Lately I have been asking myself a series of questions:

 Why am I here?

Who am I?

What can I contribute?

What legacy am I going to leave?

 I listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast with the great Coach George Raveling. Coach Rav is 80, has a five-year plan, is a voracious bibliophile, a purposeful giver, and an overall “Human Google.”  He led me to the following thought:

 Your number one goal for your journey on earth is to grow into your fullest potential.  Set the goal of pouring your energy into your personal vision of your best possible self. Learn. Listen. Flourish.

 I wondered what it would be like to live deep into your 80s and 90s.  Where could I find answers about a life well lived that are backed by research?

 Gallup scientists of course.

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements

 “Gallup scientists have been exploring the demands of a life well lived since the mid-20thcentury. More recently, in partnership with leading economists, psychologists, and other acclaimed scientists, we began to explore the common elements of wellbeing that transcend countries and cultures.”

 According to researchers at Gallup, you should focus on the five essential elements of wellbeing.

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements 

“Wellbeing is about the combination of our love for what we do each day, the quality of our relationships, the security of our finances, the vibrancy of our physical health, and the pride we take in what we have contributed to our communities. Most importantly, it’s about how these 5 elements interact.” 

 And how did they come to these five essential elements?

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements 

“As part of their research, Gallup conducted a comprehensive global study of more than 150 countries, giving us a lens into the wellbeing of more than 98% of the world’s population. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, we asked hundred of questions about health, wealth, relationships, jobs, and communities. We then compared these results to how people experience their days and evaluate their lives overall.”  

 Keep in mind the elements of the assessments measured by Gallup and Rath are within our control. We can choose how we spend our days and with whom we spend our time.  We have the ability to select healthy food to eat.  As the elements are explored, a great first step is to acknowledge what positive habits you want to see in your daily life. Rath defines them as “positive defaults.”

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements 

“One of the best ways to create more good days is by setting positive defaults. Any time you help your short-term self work with your long-term self, you have an opportunity. You can intentionally choose to spend more time with the people you enjoy most and engage your strengths as much as possible. Through these daily choices in the moment, you can create stronger friendships, families, workplaces, and communities.”

 It took only a moment to think about two people from your gene pool that personified these attributes.  

 Like Coach Rav, both lived a long wonderful life under their own terms.

They found their tribe within a social community.

They focused on experiences rather than material things.

And in their own way, they did their best to take care of themselves. A taco supreme every now and then or a bowl of ice cream never hurt anybody, right?

 She lived in her house until a little after her 90thbirthday. 

She lived through the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression. She said goodbye and welcomed back her love from a World War.  She watched as the Towers collapsed and the Internet connected us to the world. To her friends in the Eastern Stars, she was Nel, but to us, she was Gram.

 

“Joyful.”

This word came up over and over again when the members of Messiah Church described your GG Richard.  He rode on a destroyer in the Pacific. He lost his wife at 87 and lived 6 more years on his own terms. He participated in the choir at church and was in a walking group. At 93. No matter the environment or the experience, everything was always “joyful.”

 “Physical Wellbeing”

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements

In their research, Gallup found that Physical Wellbeing is defined as having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis.  People with thriving Physical Wellbeing effectively manage their health.  They exercise regularly and feel better throughout the day as a result.  They make good dietary choices, which keeps their energy high throughout the day and sharpens their thinking.  They get enough sleep to feel well rested and to process what they learned –and to get a good start on the next day.  People with thriving Physical Wellbeing look better, feel better, and will live longer. 

 GG walked. And he walked. And he walked some more. Even into his 90s.  While he walked, I can picture him listening. In the years I knew him, he didn’t speak up a lot. While the walking helped raise his physical wellbeing, finding a tribe (even in his 80s) elevated his Social and Community Wellbeing.

 Exercise could also include gardening or working in the yard.  Gram always insisted on keeping her yard up. The energy expended taking care of her yard gave her an extra push in the other parts of her daily life. She had more energy to find her “tribe” that contributed to her Community Wellbeing.

 If you take care of your body with the proper meals, movement, and get enough rest, it will have a ripple effect in the other areas of your wellbeing.  

If you want to dive deeper into a life well lived, check out these titles: Flourish, The Little Book of Hygge, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F.

 

“Community Wellbeing”

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements

According to Gallup researchers and the author, Community Wellbeing is the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live.  They take pride in their community, and they believe it is headed in the right direction. This often results in wanting to give back and make a lasting contribution to society.  People with thriving Community Wellbeing have identified areas where they can contribute to their community based on their strengths and passions. The positive outcomes of high community wellbeing may be what differentiates a good life from a great one.

 After his walking group, GG Richard turned his attention to giving back. He delivered meals with joy to those in need.  He sang with the choir and was very involved in his church community.  GG’s strength came from his faith. It held him together in the tough times and boosted them in happy times.  He took pride in his tribe and wanted to leave it better than it was when he arrived.

 Gram loved to cook and sew. Each week she arrived with her friends at Eastern Stars to create these little dolls that they made to raise money.  She helped to cook and put on dinners at the Hall. She served at those dinners and was always in the middle of the conversation.  She took what she was good at to help others, which enhanced her life a great deal.

 “Social Wellbeing”

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements

Social Wellbeing is defined as strong relationships and love in your life by the Gallup Researchers and Rath. People with thriving Social Wellbeing have several close relationships that help them achieve, enjoy life, and be healthy.  They are surrounded by people who encourage their development and growth.  They make time for gatherings and trips that strengthen these relationships even more.  As a result, people with thriving Social Wellbeing have great relationships, which gives them positive energy on a daily basis.  

 Gram had the ability to meld into any group, discussing anything from current events or reminiscing about the matching Mustangs she had with my grandfather. Gram loved to go on trips and visit the ballpark. One of her favorite pastimes late in her life was ordering items off of the TV.  A highlight of her day was the conversation with the post carrier and what was in the box. I always smile when I think about how much she would have loved Amazon Prime.

 Amongst his walking group friends, GG Richard was by far the oldest. After their walks he would buy the entire group coffee at McDonalds.  He personified the idea of strength in numbers.  With the group’s positive energy, GG continued to grow and helped him stretch even further.  At the age of 89, GG Richard boarded a plane for a daytrip for Veterans to Washington DC. Left at 6AM and arrived back at 10PM or so. No big deal.  How did he do it?  The energy from his Community and his strong Social Wellbeing.

***Ever wonder how a child might view an incredible life? Click here!

 “Financial Wellbeing”

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements

Financial Wellbeing is effectively managing your economic life.  Rath and Gallup concluded that people with thriving Financial Wellbeing are satisfied with their overall standard of living.  People with high Financial Wellbeing spend their money wisely.  They buy experiences that provide them with lasting memories.  They give to others and don’t just spend on themselves.  As a result of managing their money wisely, they have the financial freedom to spend even more time with the people whose company they enjoy the most. 

 To me, GG Richard and Gram never seemed to worry about money.  They obviously both had taken the lessons learned through wartimes and saved properly.  They both gave to their respective churches and to organizations that helped those in need. They focused on making memories with those around them.  Purposeful giving for the greater good.

 “Career Wellbeing”

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements

Career Wellbeing is how you occupy your time or simply liking what you do everyday.  People with high Career Wellbeing wake up every morning with something to look forward to doing that day.  Whether they are working in a home, classroom, or a cubicle, they have the opportunity to use their strengths each day and to make progress.  According to the Gallup researchers and Rath, those with a thriving Career Wellbeing have a deep purpose in life and a plan to attain their goals.  

 Each and everyday, GG Richard had his positive defaults in place to create a “joyful” day. He looked forward to his walking group and pizza night.  He drove his car into his 90s to deliver meals or head off to sing in the choir. He would create little bookmarks for the kids that he taught Sunday school too.  He definitely LIVED each day.

 Gram always enjoyed a good meal, worked out in her yard, and loved a good nap. You would never have known my grandfather had passed away 27 years earlier. I never had the opportunity to meet Grandpa Bob in the flesh-but I did feel him through the look on Gram’s face as she told stories of him while we rocked in our chairs on her back patio. I always wondered how she was so resilient and lived a full life.  How could I channel her approach to life?  

From Wellbeing: The 5 Essential Elements 

“…Biologists have are discovering that events during our lifetime can be passed on not only to our children, but also to future generations.  This newly discovered phenomenon, known as “epigenetic inheritance,” is much more common than we think.  So as an added incentive for improving your own health for the next few hours, weeks and months, consider that your lifestyle choices might also influence the health of your children and grandchildren.”

 We can learn a lot from those that walk before us.  To begin our own journey to the fulfillment of our talents and potentialities, we must listen to the stories of our elders.  To reach our potential, we must live effectively in all five Wellbeing elements-not in isolation, but keeping in mind they are interdependent.  Just as Gram and GG Richard did, we all take a different path.  Our “why” may be different, but we all have one as our north star. It motivates us to be the best version of ourselves.

 So, what will you today to improve your wellbeing?

Need a help keeping track of your personal resilience building activities? Click here!

Want to know a great tool to get through more books? Try Audible. It is one of our favorite apps and the best way for us to enjoy books on the go! Use this link to get 2 free audio books!

Want to join in our weekly discussing? Check us out here!

Each week we will share books, resources, stories, and ideas that we think will be beneficial to you and your kids (at home or in the classroom).  Our focus will be on wellbeing and potential but we will continue to explore neurodiversity and sensory processing.  

Courage to Connect CLE is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Wellbeing

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Do you want me to reach my potential?

 

Then think about my wellbeing first, please.

 

Please challenge me to become the best version of myself that I can be.

 

Please demonstrate how important it is to for me to take care of my body with proper nutrition, necessary sleep and a whole lot of movement.

 

Please support me as I acquire the habits to practice self-compassion-from it will come empathy, resilience, gratitude and the ability to cope. 

 

Please introduce me to a variety of environments to find out where I can flourish

 

Please help me develop the mindset that time is a non-renewable resource and it is valuable.  Please make the most of our time together. Every single moment.

 

Please surround me with engaging mentors from all walks of life whom I can connect with.  Instill in me to fill my life with strong, meaningful relationships with others that care about my wellbeing.

 

Please foster the belief that I should play to my strengths. Because, I do in fact, have strengths. Lots of them.

 

Please impart in me to take pride in my work.

 

Please, nurture what lies within me as I navigate unearthing my purpose, my direction and what is meaningful to me.

 

These are the building blocks of what I need.  As Bill Walsh would say, “The Score takes care of itself.”  

 

Please prepare me for the path-not the path for me. Walk with me on my journey, not behind me or in front of me.

This will be the greatest gift of all that you can give to me…and to my kids, and to my grandkids.

Do you want to learn more about your kids, students, or yourself? Complete this questionnaire to find out what brings out your positive emotions!

 ***If you want to explore these topics further check out The Coddling of the American Mind or Wellbeing. Both books inspired ideas for this piece and are great reads.

***If you want to see what research says about what makes for an incredible life, go here!

Want to build your resilience building activities reportioire ? Click here!

Courage to Connect CLE is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Everlasting Impact

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"Angels live among us. Sometimes they hide their wings, but there is no disguising the peace and hope they bring." ~Unknown

It takes a team. It always has and it always will. I would love nothing more than to be all he needs all of the time but it doesn’t work that way and I know that... What better way to show this kind of love than to surround him with many people who also see him for who he is and love him as much as I do?

 

But…What about when a teammate has to leave the day-to-day grind that has so much determined our journey to this point?

 

He’s five. He can only appreciate in a way that five year olds do but I know that his appreciation with grow and change over time as he is able to zoom out and take it all in. I’m doing my best to write a thank you letter and through blurry tears I cannot come up with the right words; maybe there are no words.

 

Our occupational therapist was at many times over the years been the thread of hope that I hung on to. Just to get to that Tuesday appointment was all of the emotional strength that I had. Some weeks she was the only one that didn’t look at us like we were absolutely crazy.  Never judging, never criticizing and she knew everything we went through; everything he went through. She stretched him; she challenged him in a gentle but persistent way.  She celebrated the small wins because she knew just how big they really were. She gave us confidence. Whether it was six months before he could wear a band aid again. Including many weeks of her coming out of therapy sessions with band aids stuck all over her or how she truly listened and heard us as parents. Constantly blending our needs with his to create the best possible environment not only for him but for our entire family. She worked consistently with other doctors and therapists to provide supports that best fit his ever-changing needs.

 

She understood him and she reached him at a time and in a way that I couldn’t.  In one sense she gave us our little boy back from an environment that he could only show as us being too loud, too bright, and way too scratchy.

 

I feel forever grateful that she came into our lives when she did and although she is going to be doing this with other families, our time together has come to an end. I know it’s time and I see the grand strides that have been made-I live them. The testing, the papers, all say loud and clear that it is time to let him go but I don’t want to.

 

It’s hard to describe how I can feel so full from appreciation and accomplishment through years of work yet at the same time have this hole of feeling like one piece is now gone. She has made a huge impact on who our little boy has become and the courage he shows to take on this world.

 

I thank her for all of the answered emails and phone calls, hours of listening, schedule adjusting, test administering, scoring, and presenting, tears and fears she has calmed, visual icons she has created, strong foundation she has built, and never-ending kindness she has shown.

 

We are both now on new paths ahead but the impact she has made is everlasting. I raise a glass for all of the accomplishments thus far and to the journeys ahead. Cheers.

 

 

You Are Enough

Some of the best advice I have received came from a friend in three small but powerful words that I now repeat to myself.

I

Am

Enough

I can’t make it disappear but I am enough to show you the positive perspective that makes all of the difference in your day.

I can’t change others but I am enough of a steadfast presence to make them think an extra second before judging and reacting.

I can’t shelter you from the sadness but I am enough to be a soft place to land and to build you back up stronger than before.

I can’t keep you from the anger that bubbles up but I am enough to teach you the only person that makes you angry is you.

I can’t stop the world from overwhelming you but I am enough to model courage, the inner peace of balance, and finding calm in the little things.

I can’t shield you from the bigger is better but I am enough to show you the simplicity and strength of gratitude and a less is more attitude.

I wasted too many minutes wondering, worrying that I wasn’t enough for you; that somehow you would have been better off with a different, better version of a mother.

I am brave.

I am strong.

I am enough.

 

You are brave.

You are strong.

 

YOU

ARE

ENOUGH