Friday, August 30, 2013

Take a little break...

That's right, I said take a break. I did NOT say knuckle down and produce more, or better or smarter. I said take a break.

Take a moment for yourself. Do it responsibly and within the limits that your job and life permit but do it every day.

If you can walk around your building or lobby or house or whatever during lunch, do it. Don't take your phone, don't make calls or think about work. Don't think about anything. Focus on the trees or the grass or birds. Really look at them. When is the last time you actually looked at the eyes of a bird or the shape of the leaves on a tree?

Calm your busy mind for a moment. Let your mind enjoy a bird's song or a tree's beauty.

Work is not life. It's good to work. It's good to strive to be the best you can be. We need to work, it fills our lives with purpose and meaning and we help each other by working.

The moments are few in this life. Take a few, every day, and enjoy something beautiful.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Support and attend local theater

My granddaughter is in a local production of 'Annie'. It's her first play. She's not Annie or one of the chorus, she's just an orphan in the background. She gets to sit on the stairs during some of the songs and do some singing and little 'mopping stuff around'. It's frikkin' amazing!

One look at her on the stage and I start weeping. I'm 61, sitting in the church sanctuary with 200 other parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors, bawling at these adorable girls singing 'It's a hard knock life!'. It's wonderful.

The insanity here is that there isn't a full time, free (OK, I'll help pay for it with taxes and donations ;-) theater group in every town and village in the world. Places where boys and girls can get together and learn more social 'skill's in a month than some do in a lifetime.

Things like:
Cooperation: how can we make this scene come alive with all of us on the stage?
Acceptance: I'm not Annie for this production but I'd like to keep learning and tryout for a bigger part next time.
Humility: Oops, I messed that up. I'm sorry. I'll get it right next time.
Skill: Last year I was an OK orphan. This year I want to try it again and be better!
Experience: I don't know if I can sing well enough but I'm going to try something new!
Patience: I've been sitting here ALL DAY, waiting for my cue, but that's OK. We need to get this scene right.
Applause: I really like this feeling, I'm going to be in another play!

OK, so once again I over simplify things, but you get the idea. If you didn't get a chance to be in a high school production, or you simply didn't want to, it's OK. You can now. I was too shy, so I did the lighting for the plays. It was a blast. But I wish that I had overcome my shyness and tried out for SOMETHING.

Your homework assignment:
Check the local schools, city government, churches, etc and find a couple of theater groups that need help.
Maybe you can just contribute a few dollars.
Maybe you can volunteer to be an usher or greeter.
Maybe you can help build sets, or make costumes or be in the orchestra.
Maybe you can finally direct! (You know you've always wanted to try it ;0)
Go find a group that suits you. Get involved. Help.

You would be insane for not having fun.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Laugh a little more...

For me it's watching anything with Red Skelton, Steve Allen, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal or Bob Hope.

It's playing games with my family and making terrible puns, by them as well as by me.

It's watching Victor Borge at the piano. Or Tim Conway try to crackup Harvey Corman and Carol Burnett.

Robin Williams, Whoopie Goldberg and Billy Crystal in the Comic Relief shows.

These people and acts make me laugh in a genuine, deep, uninhibited way. They make me happy. There are times when my mouth hurts from laughing so much. My ribs ache. And I feel GOOD!

It's a mystery to me that I don't watch them more often. That we all don't spend at least a few moments, every day, laughing. Smiling at life.

It's not that hard, folks. And the benefits are life changing.

We're insane for not laughing more. It's even cheap!

Be happy, friends.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stress in 3rd grade is nuts

While walking my 9 year old granddaughter to school last week, I got a view into her life in third grade. Remember that I'm 60+ and she's 9, I haven't had a child in elementary school for 30 some years and I that was in third grade in 1961. I'm just trying to be as fair as I can. ;-)


I could not believe the stress she was radiating, worrying about the STAAR tests she would be taking on Tuesday and Wednesday. She was actually wringing her hands and frowning, close to tears with worry. 'I'm afraid I won't do good, Grandpa. What if I miss something and do bad. I won't get to go to 4th grade.'

This had been going on for days before that. She would go from the typical little girl bouncing off the walls, singing the latest Bieber song, happy as a lark, to frowny-faced anxiety, whining 'I don't think I can do well on the test. What if I don't remember everything?'

The insanity I see here is multi fold.
1. She's 9 years old. She should NOT be THAT worried about a test that is a review of past learning.
2. She's 9 years old. She should NOT be THAT stressed about school academics of ANY kind.
3. She's 9 years old. She SHOULD be enjoying school. Enjoying her friends, her teachers, recess and of course fretting over tests. Fretting. NOT stressing. Huge difference.

Now, I've wondered if it was just her and not the rest of the kids, so we've checked with other parents and talked to kids and teachers. Nope, it's most of the kids. They are so worried about these tests that school is more like my office at work than a fun, peaceful, positive learning environment.

This is wrong. This is insane.

Today's homework assignment:
1. Find out why these tests are stressing out my grand kids and work to change it. I invite you to make your own assessment of these tests and how they affect your kids and grand kids.
2. Get involved with your teachers and find out how they are presenting these tests to the kids. What are they telling them to motivate them to do well.
3. Remind the children that these are 'reviews' of things they have already learned. That's how I finally got my granddaughter to relax a little.

It's insane to stress out a 9 year old about a test.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Simple feelings

I've been walking one of my granddaughters to school each morning, supposedly to save her mother from being exposed to the cold. My daughter has Scleroderma, which is aggravated by changes in temperature and cold weather. (Look up Scheroderma and see if this is a cause you can contribute resources to, please.)

I say supposedly because that's not the whole truth. I also walk JJ  to school because I enjoy it and so does she.

I hold her small hand and we talk about anything that comes to mind. And with an 8 year old, that means just about anything a young, agile mind can focus on for more than 30 seconds.

We've talked about the curse of learning multiplication tables. "Why do I have to memorized them? Do you use multiplication at work, Grandpa?" Not sure how I danced around that one, because of course I rarely use those pesky tables.

"Why does God have to make it so cold? The grass is brown because it's so cold, so why not make it summer all the time so the grass would be green and I wouldn't have to wear this coat?"

"I want to be a teacher when I grow up."

"I want to be a doctor when I grow up."

"I don't think I'd like to be a programmer, GrandPa, you work too much."

"I want to be an astronaut and go to Mars. We've already been to the moon and there isn't anything interesting there."

Talking with JJ lights a small, warm candle in my heart that glows and carries me through most of my day. Walking with her reminds me so much of walking and talking with both of my daughters at that age. The world isn't even 'the world' to her yet. It's small and comfortable. Safe and fun and mostly happy.

It's the way it should be for me, for you, and everyone.

It stopped being small when I learned about JFK's assassination in 5th grade home room at school and I saw all the teachers crying. It stopped being comfortable when a relative died and for the first time I knew what that meant. It stopped being safe when my brother crashed his car in high school, even though everyone was OK.

All these things, and others, affected my life, just like they would and do yours. I'm always trying to be positive, let the anxious feeling go, relax, be happy, be cool. And it works most of the time.

But when I'm walking with JJ, on a brisk school morning, talking about 3X3 and why birds sing, I don't have to try to be warm, safe or happy. I just am.

Exercise Time:
After dinner, sit on the floor with your child and help them make a list of 10 things that make them happy. Tape the list on your frig.

Now make your own list, and share it with them. Read your list each morning and ask yourself, 'how can I be happy today?' You can keep your list internal if you like, but there no reason you couldn't put your list next to hers.

Now, take your child to get an ice cream cone and ask her or him why dogs barks but cats meow. Then just listen. Really listen. And laugh. Be a child with your child. It's OK.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

TV is so under utilized!

It's in virtually every household and yet we fill its programming with so little. Hey, relax, I'm not slamming Ellen, or Dr. Phil or game shows. TV is an entertainment venue, so be entertained if you can live your life productively as well.

What needs a boost are the educational opportunities. Daily, main stream, programs that apply to high school, college, trade and arts, everything! The 'daily' and 'main stream' are the parts I see we're missing. We have specialty programs like Nova, Disney, college PBS, etc. And I love these programs. They inform as well as entertain.

But where are the structured, relevant, productive, useful programs? Ones that improve your everyday work life. Or your everyday emotional life?

And think of the contests we could have! Want a couple of million high school kids hitting the history books for a month? Hold a contest where the top 10 winners get to meet the President! And the President signs 'atta boy' certificates for all who complete the course.

Paper exercise!

Write down 10 'courses' you would like take if they were free. Yes, 10. Spend some time on this; make the courses meaningful to you. If you always wanted to learn Japanese, write it down. Want to learn how the brain works, write it down. Interested in how a city government runs, write it down.
  1. You'll be taking them at night, 30 minutes to an hour, Monday through Friday.
  2. Course information is available at your local library and/or post office or through the mail and Internet.
  3. Your input helps determines what courses are created and viewed. Want a course in US Presidential history, send it in.
  4. Keep your own damn notebook and articles. You are a grownup, take responsibility for these classes and track them yourself.
  5. If you 'want' to learn, you will. If you only 'wish' to learn, you're wasting every one's time. (Sorry, soapbox just showed up and I had to say it ;-)
  6. You take it from here, there's so much more we could do.