Your Independence Day

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Let’s talk independence. It’s such a power word often implying passage to adulthood. Independence commands respect. We all strive for it and beckon our children to attain it. It’s the word we celebrate on the 4th of July in this country with barbeques, parades and of course fireworks under dark blue skies.
Dictionary.com defines independence as; freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. But, when I think upon the history of our independence holiday, I can adjoin to the definition, freedom from oppression, persecution and…taxation without representation (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
I applaud the definition on one hand and challenge it with the other. I think how we, as a society can strive for individual independence that frees us from letting others control us in hurtful, negative ways through our own empowering choices. Or, releasing the bondage of wanting everyone to like us – people pleasing is not diplomacy—making nice for everyone else, that is a boulder wrapped around a neck. Sooner or later it’s going to break.
Then I realize for true independence I need to surrender to interdependence (a kindred connection). See, I want the constructive influence of others. I seek the counsel of those with whom I respect and have gifts and talents to share. I take their wisdom into account to make my own decisions. We want that kind of searching for our children and students because they are still trying to maneuver this big bad world. Shucks, I’m still trying to maneuver this big bad world. I tell my kids constantly, the truly intelligent folks in this world know how to seek guidance, are not afraid to ask for help, and know to exhaust every resource available to them. We relinquish some independence at a moment in time and this can feel uncomfortable because we bare our ignorance. Yet, on the other side of the struggle emerges a more independent person because of new found wisdom.
Contemplate your independence day. Are there obstacles or struggles keeping you from realizing your freedom, your independence?

Have a Happy 4th of July!

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

Happy Father’s Day

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As I reflect on this coming Father’s Day and help my children plan daddy’s special day, it hit me like a ton of bricks that every single childhood friend I had, at their age, never had fathers in their lives. I wasn’t Miss little popularity but I had a decent amount of friends and I never gave much thought to how many of them did the weekend juggle. Selfishly, I wanted them to stay home to play and sadly, most of them did for one reason or another.
The celebration of fathers can be difficult if not painful for many, depending on where you had to place the man who helped bring you into this world. It is for this reason we should encourage and honor the men who are present day in and out, the men working two jobs to put food on the table, dads who fight for any time with their child, dads who brush little teeth and the empty spaces in between, men who coach sports they never knew how to play, men willing to wear silly hats to tea parties with dolls, the imperfect fathers who share their love and for the ones who have broken the cycle of fatherlessness.
Gentlemen, you are appreciated beyond what you can imagine and there is an understanding that parenthood can be frustrating. Yet, you have chosen to be a father and may your journey of fatherhood be filled with great joy. Pass this along, and honor the men in your life with encouragement. Happy Father’s Day!

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

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Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?

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The concept of bucket filling is one that kids can really understand and relate to. This book is a wonderful tool for families and teachers to give kids a visual way to think about kindness toward others. Words hurt, that’s the simple truth! If we can teach young children the power of words and teach them to use those words carefully, we can change the future of the world.

This book visually conveys a message that is often difficult to explain to children, about finding happiness through spreading happiness. Kids understand it and love it, and it helps parents explain at a kid’s level why someone was mean to them. It is definitely one to read and re-read! Enjoy!!

Oklahoma Swept Away

OklahomaA class 5 tornado ripped through Oklahoma leaving behind hundreds dead and injured. Although, the area is known for twisters this time of year, the deadly force and size of yesterday’s storm has left communities in complete distress with neighborhoods leveled to piles of rubble.
Regular folks like you and me, going to work and school will not be returning to their families. It is yet another reminder of how precious life and loved ones are, and at any given moment it may be our last. May we be respectful of those who have lost family and friends, by treating ours with grace and appreciation. Today, choose to acknowledge the beauty of a fellow human being and engage with the intention to connect with one another. With respect, we extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/us/tornado-oklahoma.html?pagewanted=2

The Giving Tree – Suggested Reading & Review

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“Once there was a tree…” Simple prose, with an insightful indictment on the way society does life with such egocentric tendencies, and on the flip side, revealing the tenderness of altruistic giving. There are many reviews on this classic poem focusing on the incredible love of the tree, comparing the tree to a friend, or a parent. Others perceive the tree continues to give in order to relive the joy experienced with the boy when they simply spent time together. Of course, the tree gives sacrificially only to provide fleeting happiness to her boy. When will enough truly make the boy happy? He continues to take all she has to offer and on every returning visit her boy never reaches contentment, searching for happiness in money, a house, a boat, family. Where does real joy come from? Where does contentment and peace reside? Perhaps in the end the old boy and old stump will both decide.
Beautifully written and illustrated, convicting both adults and children to consider their roles in life. Are you a giver or taker? As always, the choice is yours! Enjoy, engage and contemplate, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

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

What Mother Really Wants

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Mother’s Day is just a few days away, and before you scramble to the local chocolatiers and florist, listen to what 50 random moms had to share when asked, "What do you want for Mother's Day." The responses were humourous to tear-filled. That's a mom for you! Out of those unique answers rose a more thoughtful inquiry, 'What do you need as a mom?" I believe every single woman repeated that question with a tone of surprise and serious contemplation. I enjoyed hearing their stories because a woman rarely gives one word answers. I was humbled and honored at the transparency some chose to reveal, detailing long-held traditions, deep hurts, expectations and their general feelings surrounding that day. Here are just a few of their thoughts.

What I want is a steak and what I need is respect.
What I want is a gift and what I need is some support.
What I want is nothing and what I need is to not be a side-bar to my husband's mother.
I don't know what I want but I need some help.
I want for nothing, I need to forgive my own mother.
I want and need to enjoy the day with my kids.
I want a day to not do what I do every single day. I guess, I need a break.
I need to keep my expectations tapered.
I don't know. I need to know that I am accomplishing something in my childrens' lives at the end of the day.
I want some sleep. Seriously, I need sleep!
I don't know what I want but I need to ditch the mommy guilt.
I want nothing and need nothing. I have 2 healthy kids and a wonderful husband. I am blessed!
I want some peace. I need cooperation.
I just want to see my grand-baby.
What I don't want is breakfast in bed. I need time.
I want some quiet space. I need energy.
I want my mother to come down from heaven and spend one day with my daughter to catch up and I just want to ask her if I'm doing this right.

The most common responses were, “I don’t know” and “I need help, assistance, a second set of hands.” I wish I could wrap this Mother's Day blog up neatly with some profound advice or some convincing statistics that draw a common theme, but that is not happening! Aside from having children we are as different and unique as snowflakes. Our wants and needs are specific to the seasons we weather as mothers. But, I guarantee you this, if you take a moment to reflect upon the distinction between needs and wants, and focus on giving mom what she needs — you will indeed give her what she wants!

Pass this along to the wonderful women in your life to let them know you are thinking about them on this special occasion and have a Happy Mother’s Day!

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

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Hypnotic Screens – Alternative Choices for Children

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A typical work week had me digging through homework folders, reviewing random papers and discovering an article from Time Kids, detailing the average American child’s time usage of electronics, not including cell phones. I was blown away by the staggering hours, with the record high for 11-15 year olds clocking 10 hours a day. That is a full-time job, plus overtime! Intrigued over the possible implications for what can only be described as addictive behavior, I continued investigating. I found some even more startling facts. I like to think, I’m somewhat savvy when it comes to screen time in our home, but, I felt dumb as a brick when my general thought of – TV and video games are just bad for you– needed some major upgrading!
Excessive screen time, excessive being above the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of 1-2 hours of daily screen time, places our children at risk for*
• Obesity – a 20% increase
• Cardiovascular Disease – a 20% increase
• Irregular Sleep Habits
• Behavior Problems – ADD
• Violence -A child will witness 200,000 violent acts on screens by age 18
• Impaired eyesight
• Impaired academic performance

To keep that list in perspective, a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded, for every hour of television watching we do, our life span is reduced by 22 minutes! Aside from curb-siding our televisions, smashing our computers and pitching our iphones out the window (not happening here!), how do we limit usage in this digital age to a healthy level, when screens are in the classroom, at home, at the grocery store and even on the side of a highway?

The heavy burden is primarily in the home where students are entertaining themselves to…death. Intentional choices must be made to limit usage and replace that full time job with a healthy lifestyle. Here are five alternative choices to screen time for our children.

Be bored – Out of boredom springs forth creative processes.
Go outside– Hunt for bugs or rocks, juggle a ball, walk to a friend’s house
Call a relative – Have an actual conversation, no FB, no Tweet, no Text
Help make a meal– Yum!
Read a book with paper pages…oooohhhh

I know the list can go on and on. Please share your alternative choices to screen time with our TSC family. Your expertise as an educator and parent can foster future, empowering choices for all of our children. Looking forward to your suggestions!

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

* Facts from kidshealth.org, Mayo clinic and National Institue of Health