Monday, December 19, 2011

I Am Convinced

I recently heard someone lament that kids do not know how to interact with adults.  Here is the problem with that-- in some instances, we do not teach them to communicate.  Instead, we tell them what to do and then expect them to do it.  Not much communication or interaction in that.  Definitely very little thinking involved in such an encounter.  Makes me want to stick my head out the window and holler.

I am convinced being generous is a better way to interact/teach.  Be generous with your time and patience. 

Be nice. Compassion helps.  Some kids are given the What For all the time.  They don't need marching orders.  Our students do not need a harsh, judgmental ear.  I am convinced they thrive with a sensitive and accepting one.

I am convinced that we should pursue peace in every situation.  Albert Einstein said,
"Peace cannot be kept by force.  It can only be achieved by understanding."
We all want to be understood.  Don't we?  So, try understanding.  It will help to build some empathy.  A little may go a long way.

I am convinced we need to appreciate the wisdom of others. Sometimes that wisdom comes from the places you'd least expect.  Like the time we visited a homeless shelter where a man confided,
"Beauty surrounds me."
Or when a young student volunteered that,"Mental strength is what courage means to me." 

I'm for being honest.  As in, I don't know.  Or, let's try it out and see if it works.  Kind of  like trying on a new coat to see how it fits.

I am convinced the 'little things' make all the difference.   A nod of encouragement.  A pat on the back.  A high five or a fist bump. A smiling glance.

I am convinced that laughter has the capacity to enhance the clarity of relationship.  When was the last time your students heard you laugh out loud with them?

Generosity.  Compassion.  Peace. Laughter.  These are just some of the ingredients essential to developing a rapport built on respect. Take time to engage in meaningful conversation as a way to nurture trust for the student.  These are some things for which I am convinced.  How about you?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Set Your Intentions #4

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again.  And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.”
                                 ~ Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Get Your Collaboreyes On!

This is simple.  This is brilliant.  I love this. 

Check out  Collaboreyes.

Collaboreyes is a global project to help students see the world through new lenses.

Just have/help the student(s) take a photo of self at their favorite place, write about it, and post it to the Collaboreyes site.  Nothing to it. (Of course, get your Collaboreyes Lenses first). 

So far, students from China, Oregon, Illinois, and California are a few who have participated in this global project. 

Do this with your son, daughter, grandchild, student, or anyone.  Get your Collaboreyes on and just do it. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

stumble upon

I stumbled upon the counseling profession gig.  It was a moment of epiphany, mind you.  Still, stumbling is stumbling.

Once upon a time, I was in an entirely different profession.  One day while having lunch with a colleague he shared with me that he was thinking of changing careers.  Either he was going to take an offer to be the Tennis Pro at a country club or go back to school to become a Counselor.  Aha!- the light bulb went off.  That is what I want to do.  BE a School Counselor.  Hence, the start of my path down This Counselor's Journey.

Education is what drives me and bestows me with a sense of purpose (Outside of my family, of course).  It provides me focus, a place to put my creative energy. It is one of the things I am here to do.  It is a calling that comes naturally.  I was lucky to have stumbled upon this profession.

What have you stumbled upon?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Three Easy Steps!

At a training I attended for Critical Incident Stress Management the presenter suggested to do these three things for most every situation and you will not go wrong:

             1.  Do not panic.

             2.  Assess the situation.

             3.  Do the obvious.

Since that time I always try to incorporate this into my daily life; both professionally and personally.  I think I have integrated the process into my being so that it just flows without even thinking about it.  It just happens.

What simple, yet effective strategies work for you in maintaining composure while helping others during highly stressful incidents?

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Books To Inspire

This next bundle of books in my Books to Inspire link are about Acceptance.

My personal pick is Acceptance:  Embracing Life's Experience by Wallace J. Kahn.  Acceptance is something I contiually try to better hone.  I think, for me at least, it is a life's work.  I've referenced Dr. Kahn in some of my blog posts.  Simply stated, if there was a Mount Rushmore for those who have left an imprint on me, he would be there.  Check out this book.

Willow is my KidLit pick.  It is written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan.  It's got a geat site for enrichment activities.  Click here to check it out.

My Professional selection for this bundle is Lost at School:  Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges Are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them by Ross W. Greene.  Quite a few folks from my PLN have read this and have given it rave reviews.  I have only just started reading, but it is certainly leading me to a significant paradigm shift.

Be sure to visit the Books To Inspire link over to the left to discover more about these selections.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Life is Simple

We visited my Dad yesterday.  After saying hellos and settling in, he asked me which way we came.  (We could have taken the Turnpike, the expressway, or the back roads).  Before I could respond, my daughter answered, "Through the front door, Grandpa".

Of course.  The front door.  What other way is there to come?  It is so obvious.

Here's my point.  Life is simple.  Sometimes we overthink a situation and complicate things more than need be.

With regards to education, what is your Front Door story?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Daniel Pink, School Culture, and Those People

I came across a blog post by Daniel Pink that is a source of inspiration to me.  Here it is:

There are two kinds of people in the world . . .
Those who make your life easier — and those who make it harder.
Those whose presence helps you perform better — and those whose presence makes you do worse.
Those concerned about doing the work — and those concerned about getting the credit.
Those who leave you feeling up — and those who leave you feeling down.
Those who simplify — and those who complicate.
Those who listen when others are talking — and those who wait when others are talking.
Those who give — and those who take.
Those who last — and those who fade.
Which are you?

How awesome is that!  Go back and read those again.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

About Daniel Pink:  Some look up to Sports Figures.  Others admire Movies Stars.  As for me, I think Daniel Pink absolutely Rocks.  Here is the link to his website/blog:

I think we can make our School Climate a comforting, accepting, and inviting one that can positively influence our Culture.  But here’s the deal–  it starts with you.  This is what you can do.  Print out this blog post.  Laminate it.  Now tape it by your computer.  Better still, frame it.  Make it your Mantra.  This is a keeper.

I have been pondering alot about School Climate and Culture.  I have found that it needs continual cultivation and nurturing.  I believe Daniel Pink’s post about two types of people speaks directly to School Culture/Climate.   Imagine what the climate throughout a school district would be if each one of us put forth a mindful effort to go through the day as he describes in his Two Types Of People post.  Isn’t that a place where you would want to go to each and every day?

Resolve to change. Be resolute. Be one of Those people!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Is Your Guiding Theory?

I have written a lot about change.  Here, here, and here

Change is inevitable.  As the saying goes, don't be a tree that will not let go of its' leaves.  After all, there can be no Spring if we are stuck in Fall. 

Stuff happens, to put it mildly.  James Taylor penned, "The secret to life is enjoying the passage of time." Easy to recognize.  A bit harder to put into daily practice.  What helps you to cope gracefully?  Whether it be a minor inconvenience or a life altering circumstance.  What keeps you forward moving and eyes clear of the rear view mirror?

Since my grad school days, I have been partial to William Glasser and his Reality Theory.  Simply put, it helps me take effective responsibility of my life and maintain an internal locus of control.

It is a nice framework: State what you want. Take the necessary steps to go get it.  If it is not working make a better plan.  Commit to it.  No excuses.  Be fully present, rather than perseverate on the past.  No punishment.  Never give up.   As a Counselor, I find it to be a wonderfully effective process to put into practice with those I meet with for counseling sessions.

It is simple enough, right?  Figure out what you want.  Develop a plan.  Go to it.  Now it is your turn.  Please take a moment to share your guiding principles.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Watch and Learn

For those of you familiar with my blog, you are aware that from time to time these posts are inspired by my own children.

This would be one of them.

My daughter rode a Boogie Board for the first time this Summer.  Turns out she was good.  Quite good, actually. 

Here is what I learned from watching her...

Know when to wait and let it come to you.  No need to rush and expend energy unnecessarily.

Be mindful.  Study the situation.  Know your surroundings.  Sense the moment.  Let yourself be guided by your instincts.

Be attentive. Be aware.  Know when to seize the moment.  Own it.

Ever do something you really truly enjoy?  It is not a chore to do.  Nor is it something you have to do.  Rather, it is just something that has become a part of you.  Time stands still, yet seems to fly by at the same time.  (There is a book about just this thing.  Check it out--Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.  And this one too--Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention).

These things -patience, anticipation, action, and flow- helped my daughter at riding the waves.  They definitely assist me in my work as a School Counselor, not to mention being called Dad.  How about you?  What lessons have come to help you in your life?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Set Your Intentions #3

“I've come to the frightening conclusioin that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” -Dr Haim Ginott

Click here to see Set Your Intentions #1.   And here for Set Your Intentions #2

Would you like this poster?  You can download your own right here.  This came from the latest issue of Teaching Tolerance.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Think Big, Start Small

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by a situation?   Maybe with a project?  Or perhaps a goal?

This is the time when educators select a professional development goal for the year.  If you are like me, then perhaps you have been really excited about something you wanted to do.  You felt a burst of creative energy and were motivated to take action.  Maybe that is what pure inspiration is.  Then for whatever reason that inspiration was never fully realized.

So why does this  occur?  There could be a variety of reasons.  Not enough Time is a big factor for why things do not happen.  Other things take Precedent and crowd it out.  It could be that Support is needed from others and that is missing.  I suppose there could be many circumstances for why something does not reach fruition.

On second thought, maybe this could be perceived differently.  Perhaps we should be more interested in the discovery of why things do happen, rather than why things do not happen.

I remember a time when I had what I thought was a really good idea; a plan for the future that would help at-risk students be better prepared to achieve their potential.  I pitched the idea to my supervisors.  They liked it and even wanted me to pursue it.  Then my bubble was burst with these words:  Think big, start small.  I was crestfallen.  I wanted to do it all immediately.  Right now!  There is no time to waste.  Just let me do it.

I am not sure why that was my initial reaction.  Looking back upon it now I understand this perspective.  They had the big picture in mind.  It was the right decision.  Not only that, but the Think Big, Start Small approach enabled me (and all those involved) to work towards observable and measurable goals in a focused, organized, and accountable manner.  An approach such as this allowed us to measure our progress and make adaptations or corrections as we worked toward making this idea into a reality.

Upon reflection what I have discovered about myself over the years is this–  having Support, Encouragement, and Guidance is a necessary compliment to my own personal Commitment,  Passion, and Motivation.  It is a nice counterbalance.  It is what I need in order to make things happen.  I understand that now.

What do you need from others to help you manifest a goal?  If you are an educator, please consider sharing your professional development goal.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm Here

What?  What!  Peter H. Reynolds has a new book.  And I did not know about it.  How did I miss that?

Time was, I'd be all giddy over a new song by a favorite musical artist.  Now I become gleeful over KidLit books.

Without knowing anything about it, I must have this book.  This author/illustrator is an inspiration to me.

And do not forget to celebrate International Dot Day on September 15.  Here is an old post with activities to do with The Dot (also by Peter Reynolds).  Celebrate with your family, your class, or the entire school.  Make your mark!

And while you are here-- take a peek over to the left at my Books to Inspire link.  Click on Ish.  Yes, another Peter Reynolds book.  It is a keeper-ish!

Do you have a favorite author/illustrator?  One who inspires you to be a better YOU.  Please share. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Wish Worth Sharing

I cannot think of a better way to begin the school year than by sharing this story with you-- A Wish For YouWhat a wonderful way to celebrate the start of a new school year.  It really is full of inspiration.  In fact, it is so contagious I bet you'll want to create your own story right-away.  It was created by Lyn Hilt. (Her blog is worth checking out).

This creation came from Storybird and it is my first encounter with the site.  It is nifty, don't you think?  I have hopes to use Storybird with my students in small group counseling.  I figure I will create stories and the group members will co-create their own as well.   I will be sure to share them.  You do the same, too.  Happy Storybirding!

Monday, September 05, 2011

September 11 Resources

With the anniversary of September 11 near, it is an important time to be mindful of how we each process our emotions and the manner in which we help those in our care.

While these resources are specific to September 11, they are also appropriate for effectively coping with other traumatic events.

Below is a link from the National Association of School Psychologists: NASP Resources for 9/11The link provides information on  Fostering Resilience and Optimism; Tips for Parents and Caregivers, Educators, and Youth; Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude, just to name a few.

Here, too, is a link to the American School Counselor Association website:  ASCA Resources for September 11This link provides information on Talking to Your Child About September 11, Lesson Plans, and more.

To my way of thinking, whenever we can promote/nurture resiliency, optimism, and perseverence when faced with adversity it is beneficial to us all.

I wish you well.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

New Beginnings

A fresh start.  A clean slate.  A blank canvas.  That is what a new school year offers.  A new beginning. I have come to believe that the start of a new school year is all about establishing routine and forming patterns of habit.  Maybe it can be looked upon as preparing the mindset for success.

My children are in First Grade this year.  It will be their first experience of being in school for a whole, entire day.  So that puts ‘back to school’ in a new and fresh perspective for me.  Essentially, what am I able to do as a parent to help my kids navigate this new beginning in their life?  How can I be a model for them to fill their blank canvas with things like motivation, accountability, and a happy effort?

At our home, the goal is to set simple, matter-of-fact expectations for my daughter and son.  Go to bed at a reasonable time.  Select clothes the night before.  Place backpacks by the door.  Choose and pack a snack/lunch prior to going to bed.  Talk a bit about what will be in store for the upcoming day; something they are looking forward to or perhaps something that is causing them unease.

I have found that this preparation allows mornings to be less stressful and the transition to school easier.  Not to mention that it instills a sense of personal responsibility as they begin to develop healthy, productive patterns of habit.

I would like to hear from Parents.  What works for you and your family?  What habits have you co-created with your children that pave the way for success to take place in school?  And if you are an educator, please chime in, too!  What stories do you have to share!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A New School Year: What's It Mean To You

A child is not a vase to be filled, but a fire to be lit.
                                                                                                        ~Francois Rabelais

A new school year is upon us.  What sort of meaning does that conjure up for you?

For me, it is to be witness to that moment when a student (or anyone, for that matter) "gets it".  Whether it be learning to read, when a math concept finally clicks, riding a bike for the first time, proudly creating a work of art, or finding a "good-fit" friend.

It is the precise point in time when motivation and confidence and continued effort embrace.  Aha!  The flame is ignited.

It is beautiful to behold.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What Awaits You

That's my daughter in the photo.  In an earlier blog post, I wrote about her brother and mindfulness.  Here it is.  Alas, being an equal opportunity Dad, I must write about her too. I love this snapshot.  It really does capture a moment-- FEARLESSNESS.  She was little more than a year old and walking independently-- just going forth to all that is out there.  She's teetering down the sloped hill, head on a swivel taking in everything all at once and intuitively knowing the here and now.  The whole world is right there in front of her waiting to be had.  And she does not want to miss one single moment.

That's her alright.  Going to it with exuberance.  Whatever she is doing at a particular moment is the Best Thing Ever.  No reservations.  No agenda.  No expectations. 

She enters into each space with bountiful trust. In the moment. Here. Now. Fully present. She remains completely open and accepting. Believing.  Without fear.

Sometimes I think we find ourselves paralyzed by indecision.  Hesitant by the 'what if' of disappointment and self-doubt.  Instead, why not open up to the 'what if' of possibility and discovery and the personal growth that comes from it. 

Go forth, Daughter of Mine!  I am right there with you.  And thanks for the lesson.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Friends and Flowers

In a way, nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small, we haven't time-- and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. -Georgia O'Keeffe

Coming from her, that is quite a statement.  A powerful, humbling one.  After all, she is Georgia O'Keeffe-- the artist who made us all look at flowers like never before.

We cannot see every flower we come across, can we?    It is true-- flowers are small.  She knew that and so she painted them huge.  That is what Georgia O'Keeffe saw and she made it her own.  Of course, we took notice. 
Still, there are some flowers you find yourself noticing more than others.  Maybe a Jack-in-the-Pulpit tickles your fancy.  Or the fragrance of Lilly-of-the-Valley floats your boat. Whatever it may be, you have taken the time to notice.

The part that interests me, though, is her belief of how to have a friend takes time.  We cannot become friends with every person we come across, can we?  What do you notice in a person that compels you to reach out and begin to form a friendship?  How does it develop for you?  What do you do to nurture a friendship?

These Jack-in-the-Pulpit paintings were created in 1930.  That got me thinking.  Georgia O'Keeffe did not have Twitter or Facebook. I find myself conflicted. Does having a friend mean posting on Facebook and maintaining connections with friends?  I have some friends that I have not seen for ages and ages, but I am able to stay connected to them with the immediacy of the Internet.  Or is it necessary to be intimate and face-to-face? After all, sometimes more is communicated by what is left unspoken.  And, this can only be observed in a personal encounter.  How do you weigh in on this?

No matter the time, 1930 or 2011, I suppose what this speaks to are the intentions you set and how you go about your business of living-- and connecting.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Summer Reading for Educators

This next bundle of books in my Books to Inspire link are for summer reading.

Nurture Shock is my professional selection.  It really challenges the way we go about teaching and rearing children.  By way of extensive research and case studies on intelligence, kindness, aggression, peer pressure, etc... the authors convey that we have mistaken good intentions for good ideas.  It is a compelling must-read for parents and educators.

My personal pick is Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  I think you will come away with personal insights as to what motivates you.  There is even a tool kit with strategies for you to put to practice.

If I Never Forever Endeavor is my choice for Kid Lit.  The message is one to keep close to your heart:  believe in yourself, nestle close to encouragement, give your best effort!

What is on your summer reading list?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Set Your Intentions #2

With Graduation Season in full swing, now is a good time to roll out another quote.  A while back, if you recall, one of my posts consisted of a quote.  Nothing more.   My intention is to share words that compel you to reflect upon how you go about your business of living.  Here is the second quote by which to lead your life.   Click here to see the first.  Congratulations, Grads.  Do good things!

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."   ~ Steve Jobs

Thursday, April 28, 2011

You Are A Mighty Force!

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.   -Basil King

If you work in a school you have a mighty job.  By that I mean you are so darn lucky to do what you do.  You get to be around young people, otherwise known as students.  They learn and grow by leaps and bounds.  You are an integral part of that learning, growing, and developing.

If you work in a school you have a mighty responsibility, too.  As in, people expect great things from your role as Educator.  You are tasked to shape and chart the course of these young lives.  Your students look to you and the example which you put on display for them.  Your students need you so much.  This is not to be taken lightly. 

Finally, if you work in a school then you ARE a mighty force.  I mean that as in you come to the aid of young people--day in, day out-- to bring them to the shores of acheivement.

Students need to feel capable.  They need to know that what they say and what they do really does count.  This, I believe, helps them to feel connected to the world in which they live.  As they feel worthy and confident about themselves as individuals, they will be able to pursue their highest aspirations. 

We must encourage our youth to set lofty intentions, and then support them as they set sail.  How are you bold?  How are you a mighty force?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lessons We Can Learn From Geese

You may have seen this already.  It is something I came across many years ago.  The message still resonates with me and I revisit it from time to time.  It also makes for a good lesson to use with my students.  I'd like to share it with you:

Fact:  As each bird flaps its' wings, it creates an uplift for the bird following.  By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if one goose flew alone.

Lesson to be learned:  People who share a common direction and sense of belonging can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the strength of one another.

Fact:  When a lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at the point position.

Lesson to integrate:  It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership.

Fact:  The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson to be mindful of:  We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging, and not something else.

Fact:  When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it.  They stay with it until it is able to fly again--or dies.  Then they launch out on their own, with another formation, or they catch up with their flock.

Lesson:  If we have as much sense as geese, we too, will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

What lessons have you learned from animals?  Please share the wisdom.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Screen-Free Week April 18-24, 2011

Next week, April 18-24, 2011, is Screen-Free Week. 

Get outside!  The weather is warmer and sunnier.  Daylight is lasting longer.  There are trails to hike, bikes to ride, and seeds to plant.  Even more, there are balls to kick, throw, and catch.  There is tag and hide-and-seek to play.  Still more, there are kites to fly and sandboxes in which to dig.

Or, if you must stay inside, then read a book, play a board game, or draw a picture.  Maybe do a craft, throw a party, or create some fun scrapbook pages.

The link below includes guides, ideas, and resources for Screen-Free Week:

Just turn off that television.  And computer.  And video game.

Need some inspiration?  Now may be a good time to re-read my post about change:  

Or this post about being your best Self:

 Give it a try.  Let me know how you make out.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Make Your Mark

One of my all time favorite books is The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. I use this story for fifth grade classroom guidance lessons (though it may be used for any age). In this book, we meet a girl named Vashti who has convinced herself she can't draw. Her teacher dares her to make a mark. Vashti makes one little dot on her paper… which turns out to be the beginning of her creative journey. This wonderfully illustrated book encourages us to be brave about expressing ourselves.  It gently reminds us to start small and explore the idea.  It is also a tribute to teachers who know how to use 'out of the box’ approaches, the art of humor, and who have the vision to see the possibilities in every student.  I encourage you to read this book to see for yourself what happens to Vashti in the end.  Click this for some wonderful activites to supplement the book.  After you read this story, come back and let me know how you enjoyed it.  Maybe you could tell us about your own creative journey, too!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Set Your Intention

Every now and again my post will consist of nothing more than a quote.  Specifically, a quote that has the ability to transform the way you go about your business of living.  I think this one may serve that purpose:

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”  - Lao Tzu

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Right Word

The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  -Mark Twain

Some days I hear words that just plain make me wince and hurt my ears.  And I make my living in a school. This makes me sad.

So, I am compelled to offer this to the blogosphere. 

The next time you find yourself on the verge of scolding a student, bite your tongue.  Filter yourself for just a second or two.  Three would be even better.

Before ordering a student what not to do, take a deep cleansing breath.  In fact, take two.  Three would be perfect.  Then, let the student politely know what she/he can do.

Prior to punishing students for not following a rule which they should most likely already know, press the pause button.  Instead, try looking them in the eyes with compassion, and smile.  One or two pats on the back might be just the thing.  Three would do the trick, for sure.  Then give them a do-over and brainstorm a better, more appropriate choice together.

Do you ever hear words that make your ears hurt?  What do you do when that happens?

Words really do make a difference.  The right word at the right moment has the potential to make all the difference in the world.  Tread lightly with your words.  It will be sweet music to everyone's ears.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Life Lessons

It is the first day of Spring.  This makes me happy.  That means a new season of baseball is nearly here.  This really makes me happy.  I can't help but harken back to my Little League baseball days.  My first baseball coach was Mr. Gingrich.  I was eight years old.  At the time, it was just a game to me… something fun to do.  Little did I know that I’d be writing about it decades later.  Nor did I think that those times would be so influential to me.  But they were.  I feel lucky to have had Mr. Gingrich as my Coach.

Here are some of the things he said to our team and the lessons I learned from him:

Keep your chin up.
That is what he would say after I struck out or made an error. I learned that there is no value in self-pity or feeling sorry for myself. Instead, think about what I can do next time to make the outcome better. Then move on and forget about it. How often do we have a ‘woe is me’ attitude or stew over a set back?

Let’s hear some chatter out there!
He would holler this out to us when we were in the field. He wanted us to support one another. It kept my head in the game and focused on the action. Let’s face it, when you are eight years old and standing in the outfield it is easy to watch the bees buzz about the clover or watch the clouds pass overhead. Mr. Gingrich wanted us to cheer and encourage our teammates. I learned that I could count on others and they could count on me for positive feedback. Too often, it seems, we can be critical of others when there is no need.

We’ll get ‘em next time.
That is what Mr. Gingrich would say when we lost.  No only if’s.  No blaming or finger-pointing.  No sulking.  No punishments.  Instead, just learn from your performance and try to improve the next time out.

Hustle up out there.
He wanted us to run onto the field, off the field, and on the base paths. No walking or dogging it. Anyone who did would find themselves sitting on the bench or in the dugout. The lesson I learned was to put forth a worthy effort and perform to my ability. There was a right way to play the game and he set the expectations for us to follow. Hustle.

Who shaped you into what you are today? Did anyone leave an indelible mark on you? What lessons have you learned which you carry within yourself today?

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Creativity

This next bundle of books in my Books to Inspire link are all about CREATIVITY. 

My KidLit choice is Ish by Peter Reynolds.  In the story, a vase of flowers is not 'perfectly' drawn, so an older sibling belittles the drawing.  The picture is discarded, a crumpled ball on the floor.  Later, we discover his younger sister cherishes the drawing and expresses to her crestfallen brother that it looks vase-ish.  And thus goes the story of Ish.  You need to read this book because it is a seed-planter.  You'll find yourself watering the creative efforts of others, being a spark of support, and offering the gentle nudge of encouragement.

The professional selection is Creativity:  Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  For me, this is the quintessential book on the Creative Process.  The author's list of people interviewed in this book is impressive:  scientist Jonas Salk, author Madeleine L'Engle, mathematician Margaret Butler, physicist Freeman Dyson, and many more.   All these people altered their Domain/Field.  In some cases, they even created a whole new one.  This book makes me want to be an even better counselor.  Maybe it will do the same for you.

My personal pick is Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.  Simply put, it is a fun book. Mr. Grossman certainly has no problems tapping his creative reservoir. 

Have you read any books with a creative bent?  If so, I'd like to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Being Mindful

That's my son in the photo.  Look at those footprints.  One after the other.  Step. Step. Step.  Each one is with determined focus and careful intention.  He has not yet learned about hurry.  No way, not him.  I hope he never does.  Each stride leaves an imprint of exploration, discovery, and wonder. 

Step. Step. Step. 

As for me?  Well, I am a different story.  Sometimes I catch myself rushing through the hallways here at school.  You know how it is, places to be and people to see.  In such a hurry I am not mindful. Nor am I fully present.  That is definitely not purposeful.  After all, how good of a counselor can I be if I am not completely focused on and fully engaged with whomever I am meeting.

During these moments I make a deliberate effort to slow down.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.


Go easy.

Doing those simple things makes a significant difference.  I feel better– my body is no longer tense and my mind is uncluttered.  Thus, I am in a better place to help those who need me.

When you find yourself shaken like a Snow Globe what do you do to settle yourself?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Upon Further Review

My last post was about change.  Upon reflection, what I really meant was growth.  I think.  You see, change for the sake of change is just as unhealthy and tail-chasing as staying-put. So, when I talk about the process of change I suppose what I really mean is the process of growth producing experiences that gain traction, take hold, and evolve 'you' to the next level or the next plateau.  Then the manifestation starts anew.

Whatever we call it --Change or Growth-- it still demands loads of hard work and focused effort.  Day in.  Day out.  Over and over.

This is a topic that I have a great deal of interest in and hope to blog more about in the future.  In the meantime, what do you think?  I am interested in hearing your ideas.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Are You At Your Best?

When I was a counseling student, my professor, Dr. Kahn, presented the process of change to the class by way of an activity.  It went something like this:  Consider how Man/Woman is at his/her Best.   Below are my personal reflections.  Before you read mine you may want to make a list for yourself.

I like to think people are at their Best when they are relaxed, hopeful, optimistic, accepting, aspiring, goal-setting, and forward moving.  Also, when one is self-aware, maintains objectivity and has a developed sense of belonging.  Of course, I am at my best when my sense of humor is intact and there is an easiness to my laughter.  And something else which I have found to be very important, for me, is to be able to tap into creativity and possibility.

Next, he continued, think how Woman/Man is at their Worst.  Again, jot down your own list before reading on.
At their Worst, I find people are anxious, irritable, inflexible, and clenched.  Further, when they posses an external locus of control, are full of duplicity, in a state of chronic dread or apathy, and a naysayer.
To complete the activity,  Dr. Kahn had us ponder Change:  What makes it ripe to occur?  What nudges us in order to allow Change to take place?  What gets you from here to there, from Point A to Point B, from unhappy to happy?

For me, the answer to this is open-mindedness, using trial and error, being diligent, and having perseverance. In addition, I find change is more apt to happen by having a coach or mentor, working/socializing in a collegial atmosphere, as well as surrounding myself with like-minded or open-minded people.  Lastly, of course, there is love.  The ability to feel the love of others and express love to others can move mountains.

How are you at your best?  How are you at your worst or most unbecoming?  What gets you unstuck and how does this happen?  Think about it and let me know how the process of change works for you.
Personal Note:  To this day, Dr. Kahn has a strong pull on how I pursue the Art of Being a Counselor.  He was big on the ABC's of counseling.  I think there is a blog post about this in my future.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Books That Inspire Me

Check out my Books To Inspire link over to the left.  In it I include three books that serve to motivate me, keep me current professionally, and nurture me on This Counselor's Journey.  One will be for Professional Development, another a KidLit, and one will be a Personal favorite. 

With Pitchers and Catchers reporting to Spring Training how could I not include a baseball book as my personal choice.  Besides, you can never go wrong with David Halberstam.  For KidLit, One is a must-have for your bookshelf.  It is illustrated in a simple, yet brilliant style and the message is spot on for young people.  Laslty, all I can say about Malcom Gladwell is that I always learn new stuff through his writing and he leaves me pondering long afer I finish his books.  If you have not done so, you must read Outliers.

I hope you find Books To Inspire to be worthy and that it helps you to help others.

Please know this is a place to share, so do pass along any books you find especially inspiring.  Play ball!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Change of Scenery

I was blogging over at WordPress.  Now I am making the switch to Google Blogger.  I look at it as This Counselor's Journey 2.0.  Hopefully, I'll try it and I will like it. If not, what is the worst that can happen?  I just switch back. 

So, now seems like a good opportunity to re-post my piece on Change. 

Here is an old joke:  How many counselors does it take to replace a light bulb?  One, but the light bulb must really want to change.

Change.  Sometimes it is so confounding. We can be resistant and contrary, holding it at bay with all our might.  Then, at other times, it is welcoming and desired, like a breath of fresh air.

Change.  It can bring out the worst there is to offer-- wracking the body with stress and clouding one’s better judgment and perspective.  Or, it can bring us a restful night of sleep and a sense of abiding peace.

Change.  I plan to write more about this topic.  But, for now, I want to hear from you.  What makes change arduous for you?  What is it that makes it simple for you?

This is my first post to this blog.  I am excited by the opportunity.  As time goes by I hope to write about nurturing confidence, developing coping skills, becoming mindful, and fostering respect, just to list a few.

I will also share lessons learned from the students I have encountered, as well as the many people who have influenced this counselor’s journey.  Occasionally, I will address issues which affect all of us in the school community.  Always  from a counseling perspective.

I am hopeful that I will hear from you, too, and look forward to your comments as I continue along This Counselor's Journey.

In the meantime, good luck changing your light bulbs…