Perspective in the time of distress

Thought for the Day: Fear can be a troublesome thing. On one hand it helps us to monitor and maneuver through a world of danger.  On the other hand, it can be debilitating, keeping us from reaching our potential.  When this happens, fear is generally coming from a place with some basis in reality and yet is being overplayed in our head or in our environment.  Keep the proper perspective and recognize the things you can control.

COVID-19…how do we maintain perspective as we get mixed messages from our government, schools and families. As the cases increase worldwide, it seems that more and more people are simply taking one of two tacks: ignore the seriousness of this virus and its impacts or prepare for Armageddon. Which are you?

To be sure, the current situation creates anxiety and fear in our students due to the absolute uncertainty we face. Will school get cancelled? Will we be doing Digital Days? Will I get sick? What about my loved ones? Am I doing enough? Will I be okay?

I’ve heard each of these questions from students. So, what do I tell them? How do I reassure them? Today I will let them know the following: Perspective is a true friend in times such as these. Use facts to your advantage and never let go of that perspective. You’ll be okay.

Thought for the Day: Sometimes you need to chillax

Thought for the Day: Did you hear the one about the science teacher? He gave his students a one question quiz and 100% failed! What did he ask? What is H2O4?

Can you answer it?

Yesterday the school was given a half-day school day. It had only been announced the day before. Was it the Corona Virus? No. Our girl’s basketball team was in the Section Championship and it was scheduled at 2:00 PM.

With lots of discussion, it was decided to dismiss early so students, faculty and staff could attend the game. Students were excited, teachers were excited, parents were…cautiously excited…if their child didn’t attend the game, what would they be expected to do while they, themselves, remained at work? Not to worry. The school sponsored a watch party for students who were ‘stuck’ on campus.

There was food, drinks, snacks and even a pool that allowed students to guess the player who might score first? Would the first basket be one, two or three points? Who would be the leading scorer.? What might the score be at the quarter, half and at the end of the game? We didn’t award money, but rather athletic t-shirts and caps.

What was the result? Our girl’s team won by 17 points! But, more importantly, everyone, save some parents, got the opportunity to share some communal time without being at a meeting or assembly. Most importantly, the community got time to relax. Something that happens so rarely at our HS that the entire community was able to breathe a collective sigh. We actually were able to ‘chillax’. Go Falcon’s!

Oh yeah, and the answer to the quiz…water is for drinking. (lol)

Lent: Spiritual Housekeeping

Thought for the Day: Today begins a period of reflection that ends 40 days from now in the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Whether you take that event as literal or figurative/symbolic, the Lenten time is an important opportunity for each of us.  If, we choose to partake.  Lent offers the opportunity to reflect on our life, as we are living it today.  Are there things that we can improve?  Are there things we want to change?  Is there a need for us to reach out and ask for or offer forgiveness?  I invite you to use the next forty days as an opportunity to be come a better version of yourself. Let’s just call it spiritual housekeeping.

You don’t have to be a religious person to do this “housekeeping”. It does offer the opportunity to join with others, who may or not be believers in Christ. The idea is to reflect and practice introspection. It’s kind of nice to have some accountability partners. Let’s do this.

Thought for the Day: Preparing for Lent

Thought for the Day: Happy Fat Tuesday! Fat Tuesday is a day of excess as we prepare for the sacrifices we offer during Lent. It’s always, at least in my life, been an opportunity to splurge, feast, blow off moderation…you name it, as we prepare for the sacrifices of Lent. This year, I am again challenging my students to the challenge below. I’m going for it too. Here is to sacrifice and service.

Challenge: Give up one thing or behavior and in its place offer service that benefits someone you wouldn’t otherwise serve. It’s going to take some thought, preparation, and perseverance.  It won’t be easy. Then again, sacrifice and change rarely is.

But for today…Laissez les bons temps roule! (Let the good times roll!)

Thought for the Day: Service to Others

Today I received my quarterly college magazine. In our house we receive several since my two adult children attended different universities and my mother-in-law is living with us, so we get her alumni magazine as well. I really enjoy reading the articles and updates telling me what is going on in the world of academia. Reading these articles always reinforces my hope in humanity and the next generations. These young people are so smart, so driven, so inspired and so idealistic. I love it. But few address the ideal that service to others should always be our primary motivation in life. Service to others is the key to feeling accomplished in life. As a long-time teacher, believing and living this has kept me going for 32 years. Reading my alumni quarterly today, I immediately was drawn to an article written by a reporter who graduated shortly after I. His words were so inspiring and it is the reason I am writing on a weekend. So here it is…”I think the meaning of life is to serve others in your own unique way,”she said, “We all have talents that we bring to the table. Whether you pick up trash for a living or split atoms, if you make some sort of contribution to the planet – well, that’s what really matters.” (Cancer patient who lived with cancer for 14 years. UCI Magazine – Winter 2020, Greg Hardesty, ’85)

For years we have read memes, cartoons and other media that joke about the meaning of life. Well, in my humble opinion, this is it. If our life is not in service to others, than it is in the long run, meaningless. As usual, this is one man’s opinion. But, hopefully food for thought.

Happy Weekend.

Thought for the Day: Cats and Being in the Moment

Thought for the Day: Meditative music, a cat’s purring, a beating heart, the pounding surf, a water fountain or a light breeze…each of these things seems to soothe us in times of stress. These things involve patterns that when repeated allow us to settle our breathing and heart rate. Each of these phenomena also draws us to the moment. When we hear these sounds, we are forced to be here, now. This weekend, commit to one moment of listening, feeling and being.

Science has proven that a cats purr has healing abilities. Is it the wave frequency that is the key? Is it the cycle of the purring? Waves crashing, a heart beating and water dribbling each carry the same ability to reduce our stress, anxiety, and even depression. So, says science. What if these phenomena actually are healing because they promote living in the present. Really. Try this: place your head on a cat or have the cat on your lap. Listen to and feel the vibration of the purring. Can you really think of anything else? If so, for how long before you return to the purring? Cats and living in the moment. Mindfulness at its best. Happy weekend.

Impulsivity vs. Procrastination: Finding balance

Thought for the Day: While occasional impulsivity can be invigorating, acting without first considering the consequences may lead to difficulties that can be life changing. And not necessarily for the better! Conversely, a life of thinking without acting can lead to isolation and frustration. It’s tough to find the balance. I do know this…I have to do what feels right at the time. Like I told my students, “Sometimes you just need to trust your gut. If you have been thoughtful and practical in most things, a little impulsivity can give your life a boost you need. Just don’t make it a habit.” Dogs have it down to a science. Let’s be more like dogs. Lol.

Think Plan Act

Thought for the Day: Planting the Seed

Thought for the Day: Students tend to believe that it is teachers who are impacting lives. In truth, each of us can plant seeds of hope for the future many times every day. Let’s not focus simply on the rewards of each day, but rather how often we can sow the seeds that become positives in someone else’s life.

Each day we come to school and meet with our kids, we are led to believe that the impact of our interactions is singularly directed; we are impacting their lives. While I do not dispute this, I also know that each child who enters my classroom has an impact on my life, my day, and my hour. It’s inevitable. I have to accept them where they are. Which means that I can not help but to be impacted by them. No day is ever the same because they are never the same…ever!

And that is my blessing. As I told them today, “I could not do this for 32 years without getting my own bucket refilled by you.” It’s the nature of teacher/student interactions: We give and we receive.

Yes, what a blessing.

Thought for the Day: What does love really look like?

Thought for the Day: Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate ‘love’. Companies spend lots of time and money to make sure we feel insecure if we don’t spend the money to show our love to that special someone. Unfortunately, the love celebrated on Valentine’s Day is often immature and superficial. We need only look at how much a dozen roses costs today and tomorrow.

So, what does love really look like. Disclaimer: I, in no way, believe that I hold the only or best definition. This is one man’s experience and observations. From my own experience, love is lifelong, deep, hard work, time consuming, angry, forgiving, supportive, critical, comforting, demanding, forgetful, memorable and so much more. Love is all consuming and yet asks nothing in return. (1 Corinthians is a good read!) In class today, I shared these things with my students. But I also shared that love is not simply what you do for your loved one. To me it is more how we respond to their imperfections. When we experience their humanity and imperfection, will we love them anyway? Your answer to this question will speak volumes about your love.

Is it for real? Yes. Easy to find? Nope. But you’ll absolutely know it when you see it. Happy St. Valentine’s Day.

Thought for the Day: Faith and Growth

Thought for the Day:

Today a friend and I were again talking about this idea of faith. In the past he challenged me to see faith as the idea that ideals never die. He also argued that faith can not be in institutions or people because each of those is fallible. As such, it’s important to keep faith in ideals because ideals don’t die. I argued that they do die, as soon as we are let down by the people or institutions. He agreed and then he continued, “Faith is like clothing. Even though the clothes fit when we were children, as we grow and mature, the clothes no longer fit because we are not the same person. Nor are we faced with the same reality or challenges. Therefore, our faith has to grow as circumstances change.” Wow! Revelation.