SPRING IS HERE!

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Whoo-Hoo! Today is the official first day of SPRING! It may be frigid and . . . snow might fall down on us, again, but, March 20th is the day that marks a new season, a new beginning or rebirth. It’s been a rough winter, hasn’t it?

I look forward to the mild weather, the sounds of neighborhood children playing outside, breathing in fresh air, stretching chilled and tight muscles and soaking up sun rays that were hiding behind winter’s gloomy sky.

There is something about Spring that brings an inner smile to the spirit and a sense of calm. Could be Spring, also known as, Vernal Equinox is the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator, making night and day approximately equal length all over the earth. In one word there is a balance in our world.

This could be the perfect time to reflect upon one’s personal balance with all of the choices afforded to each of us daily. New Year’s Day may mark the beginning of a new calendar year and repeated failed resolutions but Spring gives us a motivating edge with new adventures and possibilities.

I’m thinking it may be time to smell the flowers. What will you take the time to think through?

Happy Spring!
Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

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Practice Patient Parenting

Keep Calm
Doesn’t the title alone make you cringe? I lose my patience with my boys and yell, snap and say completely ridiculous things, like, “If you don’t stop that, I’m going to hang you by your toe nails!” often with a nasty tone. Do my kids think I would do such a thing, probably not. What in the world has me uttering such menacing words? Be truthful, you yell, scream and say bizarre threatening phrases too. It’s convicting of where I fall short and struggle as an effective parent. When my patience is gone no one wins. Because, there is the lingering guilty feeling from my reactive behavior and my kids feel the sting.
Practicing patience is an art form or better known as a virtue. It’s a skill of morale excellence and self control (another virtue). Virtues don’t suddenly arrive. We have to earn them through practice, effort, thought and some sweat and tears. Unfortunately, when the stork dropped our bundles of joy he didn’t give us auto-patience. But, patience we must have if we are to be the empowering parents we want to be.
Why is it so important? A general constant lack of patience creates a tense environment, possibly producing anxiety in our children and establishing unhealthy relationships. We all desire warm, positive connections with our kids, but if we are in a perpetual state of annoyance with them (or the world), we are then disconnecting from them. I want to enjoy this ride of parenthood, don’t you? Remaining patient allows me to savor the sweet moments and find strength when I want to have my own tantrum.
Losing patience with our children often has less to do with their actions or behavior than it does with us as individual adults. Children can and will test a parent or teacher’s emotional boundaries, but how we handle those emergency broadcastings is the difference between behaving like a trusting adult, modeling appropriate behavior or lashing out like a toddler. Join me in practicing, patient parenting through these three helpful tips.

1. REST Get your rest anyway you can because the #1 reason everyone on this planet loses their poise is feeling tired, fatigued or sick. Sorry, sleep is not overrated and keep in mind restricting sleep is used as a torture technique for a reason. It’s to break a person’s will, self-control and sanity. If you need that midday nap for 20 minutes to go the extra 10 hours in the day with a calm disposition, do yourself and your kids a favor- get the sleep.
2. MANAGE SENSE OF URGENCY If you find each day you are bribing or badgering your child to get ready for the day and dragging them by the shirt collar to get to work on time, your patience has already been lost before you walk out the door. If it’s the morning madness you are coping with be proactive and manage it before the morning by reducing distractions and creating focus. No TV in the morning and give a short, simple check list to your child the night before. Kids feel accomplished as they cross off each task. Be sure to acknowledge their efforts even if they did not complete the list but you see them trying, and allow them to try again the next day.
3. FORGIVE & REFLECT When you do snap, scream, yell and threaten, be sure to apologize for your behavior. Do not give into the “mommy guilt” with overt gestures. Pacifying your guilt by buying the latest video game does not equate to a meaningful apology. What you owe yourself and the child is a sincere apology and some retrospective thought. Give the situation some attention, “How could I have handled that situation differently?” Hopefully, we can learn from the mistakes we make but do not obsess, that is not true forgiveness and stifles growth and change.

The beauty of practicing patience is that we never truly arrive, unless you are the Dali Lama. We will always have those obstacles to push through, but if we keep practicing with the goal of being the parent we really want to be, I believe we will reap the reward of having a more loving relationship with our children. Remember, love is patient!

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Busy or Full – 2 Tips to Keep it Full

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About a year ago, I became aware of how often I defined my life as busy and how much I was saying it to others. I really had a disdain for the word because it was loaded with so much negative connotation. It rolled off my tongue bitterly! Although, at times overwhelmed or anxious, busy was not what I was, nor wanted. Just like everyone, I want an abundant life. But, does that mean feeling the burden of busyness? Once I practiced a few techniques, I began to feel the fullness of life was always mine to choose. Here are 2 simple suggestions to consider for your full life.
Beware of the Time Warp
I recently watched a very interesting program called, “Brain Games”, where scientific discoveries of the brain are revealed in unique ways. The last episode was on the perception of time and how often we misjudge time based on visual objects or in the case of feeling busy, tasks and responsibilities we do not enjoy or want to do. We often impose longer periods of time on those unpleasant “to do” items, when in fact it takes shorter periods of time than we imagined. To test this theory, grab a timer and time yourself on how long it takes to do one particular task. You will be surprised by the result and perhaps it may not change your feeling on the task at hand but at least you know that it isn’t eating up your time. Getting perspective on time can foster a more positive outlook, having you feel less burdened.
Drop it Like it’s Hot
Kick the word, busy, from your vocabulary. When I actually refused to use the word ever again to describe my life or even let others tell me,” I must be busy” my attitude to how I was doing life changed. This was more effective than dropping all events, and previous obligations, and with full consciousness, I perhaps added more to the mix of my life. Because, I chose those activities with the idea of being satisfied, not hectic, it had a profound effect on my attitude.
I realize there are enormous details to life that just sometime weigh you down. The bottom line is we always have a choice on how we spend our time and how we view it. Next time you share your life with others perhaps you can let them know — life is full not busy.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Tips for maintaining your own levels of confidence:

shutterstock_15812086When was the last time you felt your beliefs in yourself were slipping away? How can you live with less fear while maintaining a level of self-esteem that no situation could rattle. Imagine the things you could accomplish if you had the belief that you could do anything while making self-empowering choices. Self-esteem comes from positive self-imaging and corresponds with making self-empowering choices. The following are tips to help build confidence.

1. Be true to yourself
2. Face your fears
3. Be grateful
4. Create an image of yourself
5. Realize that failure will not destroy you
6. Get to know who you are and what you want out of life

By trying to aspire to these tips you will be able to trust yourself and your choices. You will become stable and live a balanced life.

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No One’s Fool

No One’s Fool

One part Vegas magician, two parts genius and a dash of Olympic runner would vaguely describe, former MHS principal, Peter Diskin. He would magically appear in the halls when we least expected it, phasing through solid lockers to be present! With the prowess of an expert chess player, he was always several steps ahead of his student body. Yet, that never stopped us from attempting to outwit the master on April fool’s Day. We plotted and planned, amused with our own cunning, only to realize the sting of his retribution. Mysteriously, our lockers were completely empty! How did he know it was us? Try using, the principal, has my books and homework as an excuse. He was indeed, fun!
I’ll never forget a time in his office, having a screaming match with a fellow classmate. He sat calmly in his chair and let us have it out, then he casually excused us and, as I left his office, he stopped me, looked me straight in my eye and, told me how proud he was of me for standing up for myself. That was over 20 years ago, a defining moment because it replaced the hurt of having to defend who I was and it gave me courage to speak up more often. In fact I can’t even remember the girl’s name I was arguing with.
What kind of principal, teacher, parent or boss are you? Are you there for your people through the good, bad, and, ugly? Do they feel connected enough to have fun with you and understand you are also someone present for real problems? Will you be that principal, 20 years from now, someone can write about the incredible gifts you gave them for a life time?
Have fun today! Keep it nice. Keep it wise and choose to make a difference!
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

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Balancing Act – 3 Practical Tips that work

Balancing Act – 3 Practical Tips that work

Life is one crazy, unique, balancing act, leaving the average American: stressed, fatigued, sick, depressed, and overwhelmed. We often meet the criteria for a prescription drug advertisement, listing all the ailments above. The fact maybe; the scales of life are tilting a little too low for us to thrive. We can have a knowing-feeling something is wrong with the way we “do life”. Yet, we keep grinding through the same actions or inactions each and every day, hoping something will eventually change. We cannot wait for change to come our way. We must be the change we seek. Our choices in life can create the balance we so desperately need. The fine art of having balanced lives is such a popular topic, evident by the numerous self-help and “how to achieve balance” books lining the shelves of libraries and book stores. I admit to perusing those aisles, wanting to reduce the stressors of work and family, but the mere thought of reading a 500 page book on a balanced life made me nauseous, and meditating an hour, in a twisted position, with screaming children in the background seemed ridiculous. With some reflection, I realized, I do juggle several balls in the air at once, and, although, I am not perfect and drop balls left and right, I can honestly say, I am content with my current balancing act–challenged but not fried! Here are three, very practical tips, I use every single day to manage the madness:

1. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST
If you refuse to eat breakfast, no matter the excuse, I guarantee you stress galore for the day. As a nation we sleep less, eat less of the good stuff and eat more junk, making us feel like slugs, all the while expecting our brains and bodies to engage at warp-speed. As a fitness trainer, I have heard of every excuse, using a few, myself. I always regret the donut, not out of guilt, but, because it always makes me feel like – a slug! Multiple studies reveal the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. According to a USDA study, adults will have better concentration, productivity throughout the morning, and suffer from less illness. For children, the impact of breakfast is enormous! The American Dietetic Association claims, children will have: better concentration, be more alert, more creative, better problem solvers and have better social interactions. More schools are practicing first period breakfast class, because, the end result is a student body ready and energized to learn. Taking 10-15 minutes to prepare and eat breakfast is an efficient and achievable way to start the day with some zing!

2. SAY NO!

This one is harder to implement if you are a people pleaser, but the freedom to say, “No”, creates confidence and gives wiggle room in life. My default answer to everyone at one point in my life was, “Yes”. I hated to say – “No”- to anyone; friends, family, co-workers. Flattery had me hooked and guilt kept me locked in. I did not want to disappoint others. In fact, I would end up crashing, and disappointing everyone, including myself. By accepting everyone’s request, I was setting myself up for failure. I love, Alicia Keys’ song, “I am Superwoman”, blasting and singing loudly like a personal anthem but at times, we need to accept our humanness. Perhaps, one can accomplish, A through Z, in a 24 hour period, but at what cost is it being done, and just because it can be accomplished, does it mean it should? Swirl that around in your head for a moment. If you have never said “No”, try this. Thank you, (person) for thinking of me for (XYZ). At this time I am concentrating on (pick a ball you are juggling). Do not make excuses for why you are saying no, because, bottom line, whoever is asking probably does not need a running list of all of your life responsibilities, they have their own too. Say no with graceful, confidence and don’t add, maybe I can… When I personally hear “Maybe”, I am hanging on to the hope of, “Yes”. Let your “No” be “No.” Friends and family will respect the boundaries you are setting for yourself.

3. TALK OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF

Don’t judge! We are already rambling to ourselves, constantly, about what needs to be done or said. For example, you might be, mentally rehearsing an excuse why the extra project you volunteered for is late (Should have said, “No”-go back to tip #2). Giving an audible voice to our thoughts can clear the clutter, and even focus us on what is truly important. Focus brings about a calm, constructive feeling. Obviously, you need to use good judgment, as to where and when to try this exercise. I do not recommend doing so in front of your classroom while students are taking a test, could prove to be a bit distracting, among other things. A perfect time to try this little exercise is in the car. Now days, if you are driving legally and talking on a cell phone, it looks like you are carrying on a complete, engaging, conversation with yourself, anyway.

I know life is challenging and circumstance can demand every ounce of energy you have in your body. I can’t promise the cure to the unbalanced life styles we live. What works for one person might not work for another. The good news, there are choices available and the opportunities to make positive ones are plentiful. Good Luck or good-balance!
Please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com for more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process.
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice