“We do not mean to turn everything we know upside down,” Ron Paul, Obama, McCain?

September 21, 2008

Who Do You Think This Was Written By?  I’ll state that I do have permission from the author, the identity of which will be revealed at a later date.  The question is who do you think may have written it.  One of the presidential candidates?  If so which one?

     “We do not mean to turn everything we know upside down,.we merely wish to re-envision America’s future to be a more brilliant and hopeful one that will require the help of it’s government and the consent of it’s citizens.  I stand before you now a humble citizen of this great nation, but sadly one that sees certain un-ignorable faults in her systems, ones that we the people have the power to redress and amend.

     Education is on the downward slope in this country.  It is our responsibility as the government to support and further the governed in whatever way we can.  We must insure our future by putting more effort into the education of it.  I plan to take a very close look at government spending on education and hope to refocus funds as needed including higher learning and its availability.

     Taxes were a major motive in our revolt against the British, we can not and will not ignore unfair taxation.  Although taxes are the governmen’ts major funding, I understand that ludicrous taxation in and of itself puts a price on freedom.

     As health care becomes more and more unaffordable, I ask that all Americans bear with us as our economy recovers.  We will study this issue and find reasonable measures to combat the rising cost.

     The war in Iraq is shrouded in confusion for many.  Much of the nation feels it is an alien place and we have no right to interfere with their systems.  Let us not forget how the French once helped us in our own revolution against tyranny.  I will be straightforward with you here, the Iraqi government isn’t  yet stable enough to support itself and so we must remain for a brief period longer to ensure it’s stability in the future.  The war in Afghanistan is not over, as we pull troops out of Iraqi territory we must refocus some to combat the very real threat of the new terrorist regime.

     Our environment is that which supports us, let us not forget how much it deserves our respect.  Thoughout my adminsitration, I hope to promote the growth of eco-friendly technologies while making new efforts in habitat restoration and national parks.  There is no doubt that our economy is in a state of distress, but it is one that can be fixed.  For too long has America been the world’s foremost consumer.  We have more resources untapped than most can imagine.  It is important that we carefully manage these and use them to our advantage in the coming years.

     The Constitution itself declares that all men are created equal, to deny any man or woman the right to marriage makes a mockery of our liberty.

     It is in America’s earliest foundations that we shall find it’s best possible future, or rather it’s original path which was intended by the most humble and noble of men, our forefathers.  Not just the courageous leaders such as Washington, Jefferson, and Roosevelt, but the men who fought and died to defend and further our nation into the great Republic the original thirteen colonies had intended.  In this time of great change, let us not stray from the path and let us not fade into the shadow as so many before us, but instead let us bring light to the dark places of the world and offer liberty to those who seek it.”

  Kelton Fredrick                                                                                                                                                          

 

Now the curtain is pulled back, the author revealed, another disappointment perhaps.  It seems Frank Feather the Futurist was correct, again.  The above was written by a student as part of an ongoing American History assignment for his junior class.  On first reading it I was surprised at the depth in the  tone of his words and decided to share it with a wider audience for a few reasons. 

First, many questions and thoughts on the current state of education in the USA have been posted on Linked In, a professional network site.  Many of us have voiced the realization that bright minds capable of filling jobs, becoming self sufficient and  finding innovations to contribute to society will be our best hope for our future.  The above is a good example that there are bright minds out there, but also reflects the work of the group he was chosen to represent.  They chose the name “Re-Visionists”  Not as in revising, but re- envisioning our country through the eyes of the founders of the Constitution.  Ron Paul has struck a chord with many young people, including my son.

Which brings me to my second point: When we vote, we will vote not only for ourselves, but for those who will come of age under the next president.  These are the ones who will fight a war, try to get into college or make a living on their own, maybe bring a child into the world, all in the next four  years.  And make no mistake, the next four years will be tough and that will be true no matter who the next president is.  It’s almost a shame they have so little voice in these proceedings that will determine so much. 

My final point is this… as proud as I may be of his ability to write such a speech, I wouldn’t trust him to guide our country.  Americans need to wake up, snap out of the complacent trance they’ve happily succumbed to and stop listening to the charismatic words.  It’s very disappointing to find how few people have bothered to research the candidates stance on the issues.  Many Obama fans can’t voice why they feel Obama will be able to handle the economic recovery better than McCain.  When asked by a Rolling Stone reporter “How will your life be better if Obama wins” the woman’s reply was ” I don’t know, it just will.”  Sorry folks I just don’t have that kind of faith.  Not to endorse McCain either.  McCain certainly doesn’t provoke that kind of mindless following, but his stance on the economy will also lack teeth to be of any use if Congress doesn’t back the reforms he’d like to put in place.  And again, it matters not who is president, what they can’t control is the irresponsibilty of the American people.   Believe it or not it is within our power, and is absolutely our duty to demand better than this type of campaigning where issues are non existent, where candidates can refuse to disclose so much pertinent information ( and I am not referring to the Palin paternity question, I mean Obama’s refusal to reveal anything of any import about his activities and associations)  Maybe it is time we grow more bold and back an Independent, perhaps it’s time for the two parties to go through a thorough house cleaning.   

 So yes, as the speech above actually calls on the American people to make an effort, consent to necessary sacrifices, value our resources, and …. 

“…In this time of great change, let us not stray from the path and let us not fade into the shadow as so many before us, but instead let us bring light to the dark places of the world and offer liberty to those who seek it.”

Return to the vision.

Grief and Letting Go

August 23, 2008

I think maybe this is easier for some people than others.  As with life and adversity in general, how easily we deal with it has much to do with early experiences and how well those went for us.  As a military brat I became accustomed to people coming into and going out of my life.   I learned to love well and be a devoted friend in the time there was, and had no choice but to learn to let go when the time came.  ‘Letting Go’ refers to the ending of relationships as well as the deaths of loved ones, and while neither is usually a happy event, they’re both a natural course of life that must be dealt with.  It is how we deal with it that is actually more important than the loss itself.  Some may argue this point.

We all face these situations several times in our course of living.  Sometimes we find we face several situations at the same time.  A long time acquaintance recently passed away very unexpectedly.  A co-worker and friend who I admire has moved and I’m trying to keep a line open between us.  Another friend is combating a serious unknown illness which may not be curable.  An older relative who is dying…  So how do we go about Letting Go of all these people who are so dear to us?

Years ago I read a definition of grief which I think covers it fairly well “Grief is the expected presence of an individual”  (author unknown) but to flesh it out, I would add  “..punctuated by the painful realization that they will not appear.”  Often following the death of someone close we find ourselves expecting their presence.  Perhaps we wake up thinking to find them, the phone rings and a fleeting thought of them may occur.  We see someone on the street who resembles them from the corner of our eye.  These are all examples of the ‘expected presence’ we may have to endure as we mature through the process of grief.

Yes I did say mature.  I think this is important to differentiate between the moments we endure and the period in which we mature through the process.  These grief events may be painful to endure- the moment of realization brings the full sense of loss back to us again.  These events are also the catalysts for our ability to grow and mature as individuals.  We acknowledge the pain and sorrow these bring us, if only to ourselves, and eventually the pain does pass.  IF we learn how to let it. 

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross shook the world when she published her work in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying“.  She listed the five stages of the process as denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance.  Her model at that time was meant to assist the dying person come to terms with their impending demise,  and the family to understand what the dying individual was experiencing.  Her model has been widely used and applied to different situations.  A Google search will turn up numerous examples, as well as some criticisms.  Although Dr. Kubler-Ross listed the stages in a certain order, she was adamant that these stages did not always occur in that order, it was possible for them to manifest in any order and in fact, stages may be skipped altogether, though an individual would at least experience two of them.  I think if we consider past events in our lives we can find instances:

She was certainly in denial there when everyone told her he was cheating on her, until the proof was undisputable, then she was certainly angry !

He went through a period of depression when he was passed over for the promotion he thought was in the bag, but he eventually accepted the situation when he realized the other guy did have more qualifications for the job.

 The teenager who denied the mistake as long as possible, then  resorted to serious bargaining with the teacher/parent/girlfriend when trying to regain the trust/life situation he had prior to the big mistake. 

These situations reflect how easily the model can be applied to life events other than dying.   In the above examples we can see where a moment of realization occured to encourage a movement between stages.  I admit it’s been a number of years since I studied Dr. Kuble-Ross’ writings, but I  don’t think she quite emphasized the importance of two other points which move us throught her listed stages.  The first being the moment of Realization.  These are fleeting and happen with arbitrary swiftness- that moment when you realize it won’t be the “expected” loved one on the phone.  That moment of waking when we realize the “expected” won’t be there.   In that second, when the thought occurs and is negated by reality, is the point I’m referring to.  There’s the afterward which lingers as our mind reviews the presented material.  Perhaps even the self chastizing for the traiterous thought which we know very well should not have even bothered to come by to cause us fresh pain.  Annoying and painful though they may be, these moments bring us closer to ‘Letting Go’.

The second point I add into her stages is Understanding.  At some moment we will feel the need to acheive this in order to Acceptthis change which is forced upon us and perhaps these moments mentioned above are the mind’s way of forcing the needed reflection.   In order to be willing to let go we must come to understand that the situation is unhealthy for us – not necessarily understand why or how the change came about.  It is this lack of understanding which I believe is the sticking point for many individuals.  In some cases the understanding is never acheived.  We see this most often in people greiving deaths due to suicides, random acts of violence, and most tragically, the deaths of children.    At times we can accept, but that  doesn’t mean we choose to “Let Go’.  Again this is most often seen in people grieving the death of a child.  They may accept their life is now changed.  How could they not when there is no longer a reason to drive to ballet class or football pratice?  But they may not choose to move on, continuing to bring the deceased individual into each new day with them, rather than keeping a perspective of the individual’s place in the past of their life.  This requires an understanding of the detriment of carrying the grief with them day after day.

There are other life circumstances where the lack of understanding keeps us stuck in a stasis of sorts and keeps us from Acceptance and finally ‘Letting Go’ to move on with our life.  Often this is due more to a tendency to gnaw at the “why” of a situation even when we realize it is unhealthy for us.  Faith or religion can be helpful in resolving this if we can chalk it up to God’s Plan and be satisfied with that.  Barring this, we need to be able to see that knowing why may be nice, but in the end doesn’t really make much difference to how we move on,  where we go and where we end up.  And this is what is important to our individual growth- that we move on.

We rarely appreciate the changes in our ilves when the change is forced upon us.  Often there is the resentment at a loss of our comfortable circumstance.  We woke in the morning having a pretty good idea of what to expect from the day and figured the next day would be pretty much as endurable as the previous.  Maybe a little better ( We have plans with a friend) , maybe a little worse (We’ll have to give our boss bad news)  Many of us balk on occasion at having to repeat the same daily routine of going to work, chores, etc.  That’s why we take vacations, change jobs, perhaps move to a new house.  But in these events we choose the changes and feel some amount of control.  Forced change takes this control from us and learning/remembering that we do not have control of others or circumstances is a process of reaching maturity.  To acheive our end result of moving on we must reach some level of understanding to Accept the change.  The thoughts, “If I had done this better,  maybe if I didn’t do that so often…” – these are thoughts that fool us into believing we had some participation in the control of others, not a realization that we only have control of ourselves.  We may feel we simply choose to accept the circumstances we find ourselves in, but in reality I believe we at least reached an understanding of the point that we didn’t have control.

Now that we have moved to what is usually the final stage of the grieving process- Acceptance, we must practice Letting Go.  We can not let go, and yet remain the same.  This behavior isn’t going to work to our long term benefit.  To grow as individuals we must pursue a path which will lead us to the goals we have a desire to attain.  In this at least, the change does us a favor, for it gives us the opportunity to move in direction we weren’t pursuing for whatever reason. Many grieving individuals may feel it traiterous to move on with their lives, or worse, prefer to remain in anger.  This can be very frustrating to combat for the others in their life, but it’s very important to remember not to encourage the behavior, nor condone it.  A bit of tough love should be utilized here by setting a firm boundary with the person stuck in anger or guilt.    When we begin to explore these new paths open to us we can regenerate the immediate satisfaction, if not happiness with ourselves and our lives.  We should be prepared for a false start here or there, perhaps we’ll find a path doesn’t lead where we thought, and if so we should feel free to withdraw to explore another.  The point to keep exploring, growing and learning.

Wisdom of Summer

July 26, 2008
This is a follow up post to Midsummer’s Day Dream and the comment from Ravi regarding the effect of a long break on learning.
My guess as to the origin of summer vacation would be that it was agriculturally induced. Summer, as a season-not necessarily the months designated, is/was the time when most growing communities have/had crops coming in as well as many other tasks that needed done and thus, more hands needed and the instruction programs were arranged around the need.  It’s a great example of how an old sociological artifact effects modern life.  Like why roads are the width they are.  People would assume the answer would be because that’s the width of cars.  This would only be partly correct- it’s due to Roman carts.  Romans built the majority of roads and everything just sort of came from that.  But let’s get back to the topic which is the wisdom of summer and why we should keep it.
Many schools are indeed cutting the number of summer programs available and this year in particular, closing down as many schools as possible to save money.  This makes sense as an energy conservation method.  Some schools are discussing going to a prolonged 4 day week to cut costs as well.  
As far as learning is concerned, I agree that a long break does seem counter intuitive at initial glance. However there are several reasons why this works. One is the sleep needs of the average child.

According to the NICH the average child needs at least 9 hours of sleep per night, in adolescents the need for sleep actually increases and the average need is actually 10 hours or more. So lets work backward.

If the school day begins at 8:00 am, we must allow at least an hour for a child to wake, dress, eat, and travel to school. For children being bused we would need to add another hour for wait time at the stop, other pickups and the arrival must be 30 minutes prior to the bell. So a bused child would have to wake at 6:00 am for school. To attain the recommended 9 hours, the child would need to be asleep by 9:00 pm. In order for the child to be asleep by 9:00, the bedtime would need to be more like 8:30-8:45 pm. This seems quite reasonable and is exactly why adult TV programming begins at 9:00 pm.

Quite frankly though in society today this rarely happens. Many parents do not get off work until 5:00 pm or so, then by the time the kid is picked up, it’s usually closer to 6:00pm. At this point the various evening activities kick in; church, scout meetings, music lessons, dance lessons. Most children have at least one activity, most have more than one or siblings with a different activity schedule to sit through as well. These habitually begin at 7:00 and last for an hour, at which point there’s still the mandatory hour or so of homework, dinner to eat, daily chore to do, shower to take. Hmm, all have to be accomplished in the hour we had to work with. Sure it can be done, if one moves with a purpose with no dallying about. Maybe eat with one hand and pencil the math problem with the other. This is ok for adults, but this isn’t an ideal situation for kids, or young adults.

Soeaking of young adults, remember the NICH says they need more sleep. They also found that the natural sleep cycle becomes delayed in adolescence. This is why you’re teen is still sound asleep at noon in the summer or weekends. They truly do experience difficulty falling asleep at an earlier hour and need the extra sleep, because there is quite a bit going on there physiologically! This is a huge problem because many highschools begin at 7:00 or 7:30 am and the adolescents are not physically prepared for it. Some states have listened to the NICH advisement and moved the start time back to 8:00 or 8:30 and immediately found a reduction in tardiness and absenteeism.

Hmm, let them sleep a bit and they get to class on time and more often. Sounds like a plan, I wish more states would adopt it. So why don’t they? The teachers and staff are parents also, this means they would have to work later, and well you know they have kids to pick up, dinner to get, meetings and classes to go to, homework to grade and well they would like to get to sleep at a decent hour. Sound like a viscious cycle to you?

True we can’t please everyone, but we do need to consider how important this is.  I can’t swear to my recall on this, but I believe we are up to 25% of children in the US are obese, or at high risk.  We are seeing health problems in children which were previously confined to the adult population and these are due to the current weight and health status of the children.  How does this relate?  Easy, we now know that important hormones are released during sleep which helps to control weight.  If our children are not recieving adequate amounts of sleep, they are at risk.  Being left to a more natural rhythym in summer helps to combat this problem.  Not a full solution, but it helps.  Restoring daily physical education and recess progarms would help also!    

The other reason why a summer break works has to do with neurology, just how much stimulation can a young mind be expected to handle and is also under study by the NIH.  Facts here are harder to come by for a simple reason.  It’s hard to get volunteers for the brain study of normal children.  This is as it should be, I would hope parents aren’t willy nilly volunteering healthy kids to be poked and prodded particularly when it comes to their brains!  Even as MRI’s and such are not seen to have unhealthy side effects, prudence rules here.  The NIH is studying it now and though many findings are released, it will take several years to understand the full implications of the study. 

One finding of the study was that there is not one, but several ‘brain blooms’ we experience as we grow.  Sure we figured the brain underwent significant development as a baby learns to walk and speak, but it was believed that this curtailed around 4 or 5 years and then the brain set about refining the neural connections for the duration of life.  The NIH study found that we go through several of these  and it begins again with puberty.  Figure about ten years of age, of course some earlier, some later.  Hmm, the child began a significant period of neural growth and development after birth, again at age 1.5 which lasted until about age 5, began a period of neural refinement, which lasts several years and guess what, begins another vast period of neural growth and development which  lasts until… college.  The average age of prefrontal cortex full development is 23 years of age for males, females a little younger.  This is why teens can grasp the idea of black holes and not understand why they should not leave the dishes in the bedroom. 

The down time of summer is about the only long period of respite the brain gets.  It stands to reason that any over taxed system is prone to break down, whether you’re talking about ecologicl, mechanical or biological systems.  If we are overtaxing our youth with the modern schedule of activity then yes, we should cut back, but I doubt that will happen in this cut throat world.  These afterschool enrighment programs are making great money and parents are pushing ever harder at the kids to complete more classes and tougher classes than their peers.  I know students taking 8 courses, most of them honors, several AP and they belong to at least 4 organizations to rack up the volunteer hours and officer positions for the applications.  Now this is trickling down to the middle school level also, where the state of Florida is considering having all 8th graders commit to an area of study.  Get real, college freshman can’t even do that. 

There was a time when this type of hype was reserved for the upper grades, but it trickles down, down, down.  Look in the infant toy isle for the Baby Einstein and other ‘enrichment’ products.  Take into account that many pre-school age children are in well, pre-schools being cared for in an educational program while the parent/s work.  I work in one such program that serves children 1 to 5 yrs and am sad to say how many kids are dropped off at 7:00/7:30 in the morning still half asleep.  The majority are picked up by 4:00 but there are many who have to go to aftercare and don’t get picked up until 6:00.  This is an eleven hour day, with a nap time, but too long a day, day after day, for a child to truly develop and bloom.  Now tell the child they have to do this for the next 12 years of their life, oh and then there’ll be college, work etc.   

Still wonder why the kid may need a summer vacation?

 

 

A Little Busy Right Now

July 23, 2008

It’s hard to believe July is almost over.  It seems like it just began!  It’s been a little busy this month.  I devoted a week to tidying up before vacation (a  three state tour)  and it seems to be taking 2 weeks to catch up on return!  Life does pile up, even when we’re off living it somewhere else.  I’ll return to a productive schedule soon, until then- Enjoy!

A Midsummer’s Day Dream

June 8, 2008

 “What I did on my summer vacation….”

I was a superhero battling evil in the forest, a trainer of roly poly bugs for a circus, an arboreal tree dwelling native in the jungle, a teacher trying to teach with too many disruptions.  What were you during your summer vacations?

We all knew it was coming, the dreaded essay  on the first day back in school.  Why did we dread it so.   Everyone I knew then and now looked forward to summer.  Everyone seems to have plans of one sort or another.   Summer is the time filled with dreams and ideas.  Thoughts and possibilities, maybe even a few impossibilities brought on by too much heat and too many Popsickles.  Summer is the period between being one thing, and becoming another. This is true for parents and children alike, as our children grow, we are forced to grow and change with them.  Over the years we came to understand, there, in those few months, we would change, undergo metamorphosis if you will.  We were in elementary school, now we would be in Middle School.  We would leave this and go to that.   But in that time between, we could be, not just our ordinary ourselves, but our extraordinary selves. 

Did we look forward to those few magic months because it was a time when we had control?  We chose how we would change, what we would investigate and learn.  This was the time when we were masters of our own fate, motivated by our own desires and chose our own course.

Adults it would seem are no less immune to the siren call of summer.  Take Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights’ Dream for instance.  The chaos of the usual will break, and we look forward to the relaxation and time to…. well time to do whatever we chose to do in that little extra space in the day or our annual vacation.   Europeans are much luckier than Americans when it comes to this.  Most of those countries mandate 3 weeks of vacation, lucky individuals get even more time off.  Americans, well many of us are lucky if we get one or two weeks of paid time.  This leaves little dream time for our poor souls.  It’s no wonder society is so overstressed.

On occasion, usually around April, the desire to eliminate this wonderful period of childhood shows up in the newspapers or other media.  Many compelling and practical reasons are given and I would agree with the problems which are presented.    I don’t agree that the dissolution of summer vacation is the best answer to the problems.  Often we as a society do something to solve one problem while unintentionally creating another entirely new problem, or make an existing situation worse. 

Let us consider the opponents arguments.  (If you are opposed to summer vacation you may feel free to represent yourself and post a comment) 

  • Children lose a great deal of knowledge during these uninstructed months

True.  Children do lose “knowledge” that was little more than rote memorization of facts.  I argue that this wasn’t truly learned/understood in the first place and the brain would eventually shove it off in a back corner anyway.  In order to “learn” knowledge well enough to retain and retrieve it, we must be able to file it away in a context, at least within a framework that makes sense.  If we are not making sense of the information it is useless and the brain will have no easy time in incorporating it into our long term memory.  Knowledge not incorporated into long term memory from our shorter term working memory is lost regardless.   If you wish your child to retain academic skills – spend a little time together working on them!

  • Shorter vacation periods (2 weeks) between grading periods in lieu of a long summer break would be easier on families and more beneficial to the long term learning experience

I  have two points to make here:

  1. While it is true that it may be easier on the families- translate parents- it would not benefit the long term learning of the child.  Traditional school methods are not for every child. (Some may disagree vehemently on this point, but unless you are a teacher, frankly, you’re not qualified to disagree, but you’re welcome to anyway)  Traditional schools are meant to serve the average need, there isn’t any such thing as the “average child”.  There are those that fall more within the ability to learn by this average rate and average material, but many children do not thrive within these restrictions.   These children excel within the creative time they spend by themselves or in a creative environment exploring the world, gaining or even reinforcing the knowledge that the classroom teacher was presenting day after day.  
  2. Any child given enough time and too little stimulation will resort to finding a way to occupy themselves.  This should be a law of biological physics. 

A buildup of potential energy within a biological system of an organism will seek an outlet.  Potential  energy will be converted to kinetic energy and will be released in an active manner rivaling that of a supernova, and have surprisingly unpredictable consequences.  Said consequences will result in adaptability and increase coping skills within the organism. thereby leading to the success of the organism within their environment in the long term.” 

There’s nothing quite like that second month, sometime in late July, when the novelty has worn off and the individual is ready to experiment with new activities, maybe even to pick up a book on their own. This is when the magic can begin.  This is when the child will do their best learning- they will subconsciously learn How They Learn  through manipulating their own brain and employ the best method for them.  Whether it be through logical forethought,  hands on trial and error, or through study of instruction then employing the material taught.  This is the learning that will last them a lifetime and benefit them throughout their lifetime.

  • Families face undue financial burden in having to enroll their children in expensive summer programs

 This is going to sound harsh.  Families- translate parents- face an undue financial burden because they chose to have children.  It is not a right to have society make your life easier.  It is not a right to have your child taken care of by others to make your life easier, certainly not cheaper.  Some single parents and even two parent families do face terrible hardship for whatever reason and this is a shame.  However there are many organizations that do activities for little or no cost and provide fantastic learning opportunities for children.  If you make it a priority to research these programs you will find ones to meet your needs.  Your local library is a great place to start.  They often host programs as well as have information on others in your area.  While you’re there you might even find something to interest you!  Remember, now that it’s summer, you have a little extra time in the schedule, maybe some vacation time.  The best way to insure your child learns the value of knowledge and receives a quality education is for you the parent to model the behavior by doing.  Take time to increase your knowledge, show reading is important by reading a book yourself as well as one with your child.    

These seem to be the best arguments that society has thus far.  I don’t think they hold up under scrutiny.  Another point that I feel the need to make here is that of Transitioning.  Educators know the term- it’s meaning is simple- how to get a child/ren to move from one activity to another.  “Ok class we have ten minutes left and we will line up for ….”   Teachers use this technique because it’s needed, not just to encourage everyone to clean up.  Transition is used to signal change, inform what the change will be so it is both expectable and predictable, and the individuals are given time to make adjustments to their arousal level.  Think of it this way- if you were sitting at a desk and suddenly the boss tells you to jump up and start running a marathon- are you at a proper arousal level?   (Maybe this is a bad example; it may happen to you so frequently that you’ve become accustomed to it, if so realize you are only capable of doing so after much practice at transitioning, but you are not operating at an optimum level.) 

Transition takes time; how much time depends on the individual’s receptive language skill, cognitive skills, etc.  Suffice to say different people have differing amounts of time needed to move from one situation to another.  When properly transitioned to the next situation, learning in this case, the individual will be better focused resulting in increased likelihood of  success.    Summer is a needed, beneficial transition.  If we eliminate this, or fail to nurture it, we do so at risk.  What do we risk?  Creativity.  Innovation.  Adaptibility.  For it is when we have time to dream and imagine that our best work is done.

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

May 18, 2008

Do you place a monetary value on your time?  The answer here has to be “Of Course!” Obviously if your boss didn’t come up with your paycheck, you might give the employer a little bit of time to get with the program.  Eventually though, you would go elsewhere.  For money is what makes the world go ’round, we have to have a certain amount of it, no matter how wonderful a person we are. 

That said, how do you value the time you choose to donate to volunteer activities?  Maybe you only gave a moment, but how much was that moment worth?  Do you know off the top of your head?  Could you answer the question in less than, oh say ten minutes?

Strange question maybe, but one I have to ask of volunteers who work with our program.  Many volunteer programs receive grants or other funding that require the organization to match a percentage amount in donations of time or goods.  Goods are somewhat easy to get in donations, but the general public doesn’t give materials in large amounts.  Therefore, time is actually worth more to the organization. 

Example:Would it be easier for you financially to hand me $100 worth of copy paper, or easier to volunteer a little time here and there over the month.  Maybe that answer depends on your financial status, but then again with the price of gas and the economy right now, maybe not so much!     

 When a person works with us/for us in some capacity we have to fill out a form for that month, logging hours or parts of (you know the saying every minute counts!) and place a dollar figure on that donated time, which the individual has to sign.  This has become the least favorite part of my job!  It doesn’t matter seem to matter whether the individual is a doctor, lawyer, plumber or housewife (yes, I know there’s a joke there, but I won’t go for it, we’re being serious) they all react with embarassement and consistently undervalue the time. 

What? Did I say lawyers who undervalue their time?  Yes I know this is unheard of but trust me I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes.    Not a pretty sight when you actually need them to charge for every microsecond!  Because time does add up, every penny counts, old sayings that are applicable here.  Even when I explain why I need them to do this they are very uncomfortable.  The question is why?

Is it for the same reason many people have difficulty asking the boss for a raise?  Is it because they chose to give the time and one shouldn’t ask the price of a gift?  I suppose it can seem impolite to ask someone to put a price tag on a gift, but many freely state the amount, or at least loudly hint what it might be worth.  The same individual would easily give a ballpark figure on what supplies are worth, but are speechless when asked what their time was worth.

Maybe the question here is do you place a dollar figure on your effort?  Certainly the two are different things.  Some tasks are effortless for me, but would be difficult for others and vice versa.  That shouldn’t mean their effort was worth less to me, or mine to them.  In fact the opposite holds true in my mind. 

If you choose to give of your time/effort, should that not be worth more than your hourly pay?  In my experience, those who volunteer usually put a great amount of effort and caring into what they do for others. While doing so, they are giving up other activities to volunteer.  Sometimes really pressing and necessary duties, like cleaning out the garage!  Now having a good reason to avoid cleaning the garage are worth quite a bit I would think! 

How much is that extra work hour in the day, that hour less of sleep, that hour which was given instead of used in the movies, worth?  Post a comment, I’m keenly interested in knowing how you value your time.    

Mentors

May 3, 2008

As a lifelong seeker of knowledge I’ve learned much from others.   Some of these people would be surprised because the weren’t tryiing to teach me anything.  We often don’t realize what our actions say about us.  Modeling to elicit a desired behavior is an old tool, but not one that works just when we  take it out of the box.   We would do well to remember this!

I recently asked a question on LinkedIn about people’s mentors.  I received alot of positive responses. some more in depth than others.  This made me question: Is there a difference between a mentor and a role model?  Probably a moot point but I would say a role model can be anyone, sports stars, nobel prize winners, etc.  My definition of a mentor is someone who you’ve had contact with, that makes an impact on  who you choose to be, who helps you grow as an individual.  Not necessarily someone who specifically takes you under their wing and nurtures your growth.  Others may disagree with this definition..ok you can.  Moving on…

Why should someone take the time to mentor?  Simply because life is a long hard road and we make more progress as intelligent beings if we exchange knowledge with others.  The internet will play a big role in this in the future. but that’s another thread I think. 

Why should we care to make the way easier for others, well I think I answered this already but I’ll give you a case in point.

Her name is Julie Gray, she taught me a great deal.  We worked closely together in a volunteer group, though we’ve long since lost touch, I still want to thank her.  I frequently use one of the most valuable lessons learned from her: how to address a problem, and how to discuss it with others.  She explained once why she always did this.  Not to whine or gain sympathy, but to gain knowledge.  “How will you know if someone else has the answer, or maybe they have the same experience and you find the problem is more widespread- maybe you actually have a different problem than you thought.”  She had an amazing talent in locating the root of a problem and orchestrating a fix. By doing this she was also able to enlighten others as to how the problem was able to develop, and to take measures to see the environement didn’t continue, allowing a problem to resurface.   

Mentoring as an organized activity rises and falls in popularity, but is a part of our daily life whether we’re aware we’re doing it or not.  Who are you mentoring?  What lessons are you teaching?  Post a comment to share.

 

Reserve the Right to Learn From Your Mistakes!

May 3, 2008

I’m of the opinion that learning is an activity that should have a priority in your life.  If you stop learning you stop growing.  When you stop growing- well you start doing the opposite.  No not shrinking- dying!  A kind of death anyway, the death of the soul which to me is the worst sort!

The mistakes we make in life are due to lack of knowledge.  Whether we were being intentionally ignorant or just haven’t learned something yet.  Even if you knew better – yet did it anyway- you cannot claim you did so with full knowledge, or you wouldn’t see it as a mistake. 

Mistakes are the learning experiences that have the most impact on us.   I can tell you there’s certain things I will never do again!  Some that have to do with electricity, some that are relationship based! How many mistakes have you made?  How many do you admit to?  The experience of being wrong is painful yes.  Not usually deadly though. Mistakes we survive give us an opportunity to amend them in some way and hopefully help others by teaching from our experience.  Hence why I am bothered by some people’s inability to admit to mistakes.  

This isn’t something to be afraid of.  Will people see you in a different light- yes probably!  It will either give them a higher opinion of you or a reason to talk behind your back.  If this frightens you, well here is another thing you haven’t learned yet.  How to be comfortable with yourself and not depend on the opinion of others!  Get over that. 

 I do make mistakes.  Look at that I admitted it and  the world didn’t end.  We all do when we’re rushed, overtired, preoccupied.  (Yes, we need to learn to manage ourselves better)  My subconcious takes care of these most of the time.  Perhaps I have an overactive subconcious, it seems to sit around- pen in hand- writing flash cards which it flings up to the conscious mind.  Here’s one of my most memorable

” You know you just dropped your movies in the mailbox right?”

What did I learn from this mistake?  Quite alot.  How to be embarassed for one.  How to readlily admit an error to complete strangers.  How to laugh at my humanity.  Also, the US postal service does have a sense of humor but it’s a dark one. 

There are forms to fill out, waiting periods, everything but a full body cavity search.  Now you would think a mailman would just go out, open the little door at the bottom, see yes, you were telling the truth- DVD’s from Blockbuster do not belong there, and give them back.  This is not the case.  The long waiting period (prior to the new BB return policy)  meant I had to go to the video store and explain my delay in returning them.  The clerk found it hilarious.  I enjoyed that, but had to admit it was funny. 

Wounded Warrior

April 20, 2008

Agree or Disagree this is the freedom of choice americans have.  We have this freedom because of the soldiers who have fought for the right over the past 200 + years.  However you feel on the subject I would ask you to remember that it is they, the soldiers, who fought for your right to say it and who defend you for saying it. 

Please visit the Wounded Warrior website at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ to support them in return.  This means only that you support an individual(s) who’s lives have been forever changed through tragedy.  For this moment set aside the politics and seek to support the humans represented.  Thank you for your support.

Starting the blog

April 19, 2008

This will be a learning experience!  By nature I’m a quiet person until someone gets to know me.  It’ll be interesting to see how challenging blogging will be for me.  I’m not shy so much as just not good at the small talk.  I’m aware that this probably hurts me as far as others perceptions of me, but am just not able to think of anything interesting to say as far as the weather, etc.   Subjects I would like to talk about and find fascinating usually get me blank looks in return!

 Here’s something I would like people to know.  When I ask “How’re you doing?” I asked because I’m interested in the answer.  Of course an individual has a right not to share this if they don’t want to, they can say “o.k.”  If I know them well I’ll point out “Really? Because you don’t look it”   

Is this presumtious?  How many times do you say ok because it’s polite?  What would happen if you told the truth?