Teaching Grown-ups

Homophones on the road

Homophones on the road

We’ve been out of school on fall break for two weeks.  This is a souvenir I received from someone really special.  This is one of those priceless little gifts that probably nobody else will really understand.  It’s from a husband and wife who come and mentor my little reading rock stars.  Not only do they mentor six of my little people every single week, but they fill-in on short notice when mentors are absent.  They do a lot of really nice things for me.  They are so precious and wonderful.

I often take a little time to give refresher info to the mentors so that they will understand what they’re doing with the kids they mentor each day.  Recently we’ve been working on multiple meaning words and homophones and so I’ve been giving the adults a refresher course on what, exactly, a homophone is.  That’s not common knowledge that we carry through life and use in daily conversation.  Even the most intelligent people forget some things.

So Sandi and David were driving through North Carolina over fall break when they passed this church.  They stopped and went back to take a picture of the homophone on the side of the road so they could show me that they’ve learned what I’m teaching!  It’s hanging on my bulletin board.

These are the kind of gifts that stick with me because they remind me that what I do matters and people care.  Probably silly to everyone else…priceless to me.


Do you have an hour a week to help a second or third grade student become a better reader?  Click here to find out more about how to become a HOSTS mentor. http://www.wayne.k12.in.us/hosts/

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

Dear Mom, I know I wasn’t an easy kid to raise.  I think that’s why God gave me to you; He knew you could do it.  And you did!  I’m far from perfect, but I’m way better than just OK.  You taught us what truly matters in life–love, loyalty, family, faith, education, and moral standards.  All things no amount of money could ever buy.  You led us by example. You ARE the Grandma you set out to be.  Their sun rises and sets in you.

Thanks, Mom.  I love you.  Happy Mother’s Day.

(Click the “Play Button” on the bottom right)

Our Struggle With “No”

Today my friend, Jill Shea, posted this to her Facebook page:

“Everybody is going to want you to do what is convenient for them. Learn how to say the most anointed word ever created: “NO”.

This is an area that has been an enormous challenge to me throughout my entire life.  “No” is not a simple two-letter word.  In fact, it is a huge source of stress and confusion in the lives of almost everyone.  We don’t like to hear it; we don’t like to say it, even though it holds an enormous amount of power.  We don’t say it when we probably should; we do say it when we probably shouldn’t.  Wars are fought.  Relationships are destroyed.  Jobs are lost.  Money is squandered. Health is compromised.  Lives are lost.  All at the hands of that one little word.  REALLY?  Really…

Can’t say no to food?  It’s likely that you wrestle with obesity and serious health issues.  Can’t say no sex?  It’s likely your personal life is a mess.  Can’t say no to cigarettes, booze, or drugs? Can’t say no to a salesperson?  Is it starting to sink in?

I have a theory.  Our struggle with “no” begins when our life begins.  It is innocent and very well-intentioned.  When we were kids we were taught to eat everything that was served to us. Regardless of whether we were hungry or liked it, we were forced to leave our plates clean.  If not, there were consequences and they could be severe.  That’s how our parents were raised, and their parents, and their parents…all the way back to when we killed what we ate and ate what we killed.  There were no leftovers. You ate it or you threw it away.  But as the world changed, this life practice did not.  And look us now.  We are the most gluttonous, obese, and unhealthy society on earth.  No blame here; I’m just stating facts.

When my oldest son turned one, I took him off formula and handed him a sippy cup filled with milk.  He took one drink, scrunched up his face, cried out, and threw the cup on the floor.  For months I was wringing my hands, trying over and over to get him to drink the milk.  My family and friends would call from all over the country to see if I’d forced him to drink the milk yet.  I was strongly  encouraged to thirst him out.  To literally give him nothing else until he drank it.  Children MUST DRINK MILK, right?  Wrong!!  It was his pediatrician who gave me permission to trust my instinct.  Everything in me was screaming that I should not force something that was clearly undesirable.  I didn’t like the message that sent to my child.  Nobody in my life agreed with me but they finally let it go. Guess what; he’s nearly 13 and he’s fine–healthy and thriving without ever consuming another drop of milk.  7 years of elementary school they forced him to take, and me to pay for, milk every day because I refused to sign a paper saying he’s allergic.  I refused to coach him to lie.

As we grow into a world where “no” is rarely an option for us, we begin to use it inappropriately.  Think about a two-year old child. What is typically their favorite word?  It holds a lot of power–that which they have quickly learned they possess very little.  And so it begins.  And as we grow it becomes ever more confusing and complicated.  Can you count how many ways your life might be different if you’d just said “no”–to that last drink, to those credit card offers, to that come-on, that cigarette, that cupcake…

We can’t change anything in our past, we can only learn from it.  Please don’t play the blame game; it is useless and so very destructive.  We can use our past as a tool to move ahead with better habits, rich in the knowledge gained at The School Of Hard Knocks.  Careful now, over-use of “no” is not better than under-use.  The key is in balance.  Tune in to yourself, to your life, and to those who matter to you.  When you start saying “no” to the things that are truly negative you will see your life change in amazing ways you never imagined.  We are all going to do some things we don’t necessarily love doing, but we learn when to say “yes” because it serves a greater purpose.  We feel better about stepping outside our comfort zone–about saying “yes” when we should, when we might have said “no” in the past.

So far I’ve said “no” to food that was making me sick and keeping me overweight.  My health has improved drastically and I’ve lost 40 pounds.  I’ve said “no” to cigarettes and I’m 17 months free from their hold on me.  I’ve said “no” to people who use me shamelessly but don’t appreciate me, and my stress level has dropped immeasurably.  These were not the easy habits to break.  I still do lots of things I don’t want to do, but I do them with a much better attitude.  I do many things I never did before that I really enjoy. I give of myself because I want to, not because someone demands it. I take pride in my accomplishments, work hard to keep changing the negatives, and live in better balance by using (not abusing!) the power of “no”.


The Journey Begins

Many years ago while listening to an audio cassette of a seminar given by a motivational speaker, Dr Layne Longfellow, I learned something very important—life is a journey. Doesn’t sound important to you? Please read on.

Many, in fact most, people lead their lives as a series of destinations. We tend to think that as soon as…I graduate, I find a job, I get a promotion, I get a new car, I fall in love, I get married, I buy a house, I have a child, I buy a bigger house, I get another promotion, I retire…everything is finally going to be OK. Quoting Dr. Longfellow “…we come to the middle and later years of our life and find that we have lived our life as a series of destinations, and not as a journey.”

I want to tell you why I have found Dr. Longfellow’s philosophy to be so important, and why I now feel a calling to share that philosophy with as many people as possible.

Even after I heard it, thought about it, believed in it, I still didn’t live it. Consequently, my own life has been that series of destinations. Some of the destinations for which I have longed I have not realized. Others turned out to be a huge disappointment. Still others have been rewarding BUT I failed to reap as much of the rewards as possible because life was all about finally being there. I completely missed out on all the rewards of getting there.

A real life example: In 2002 I was offered a job that afforded me the opportunity to work from my home. A real job with a salary, benefits, etc. WOW! I jumped on it. This job was a lateral salary move working for a startup company doing something very exciting for the industry I have worked in most of my adult life.

Over the next five years this company literally bled me mentally, emotionally, and financially dry. By the end of the first 6 months they had gotten me to agree to a “salary deferral” to help keep the company floating. I was brainwashed into footing the bill for a lot of expenses the company was supposed to reimburse. I worked ridiculously hard, long hours, never got a raise, never had the proper tools to do my job well, I could go on, AND ON, but you get the idea.

They did all of this by creating a series of destinations for us to reach, always with the promise that as soon as we reached that destination we would all reap massive financial and professional rewards. Then they would either make the destination impossible to reach or change the directions entirely. During this 5 year block of time (the journey) I met some really great people who ran some really respectable, profitable businesses. I had many opportunities to leave the land of insanity for greener pastures. But I had been promised so much and I had worked so hard to get it. Surely as soon as…but it never happened. A merger finally did me in. The new board of directors didn’t want to pay my salary—the same salary I had been paid for 5 long, grueling years.

During those 5 years, my 1 & 3 year old sons became 6 & 8 years old. I was here for most of it, physically. But mentally I was elsewhere—chasing the destination, thinking I was doing this for my sons and my husband, so we could finally have a better life.

I was missing the “life” part; the journey. I know I’m not the only one. There are millions of us. So my goal is to live out the rest of my life as a journey. Feel free to come along. There lots of great things to explore, no matter where you’re going.