Get Your Head in the Clouds

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Ever been worn down to the nub, feeling your metaphorical pencil is no longer sharp, your point is really nonexistent, yet, somehow, you keep on functioning, not very effectively, in a state of pointlessness? I think it’s difficult to remain fresh and sharp, constantly in the zone. People of all walks of life get burned out from living life–be it school, work, or worthy causes. Even family and friends can wear you down. It’s hard to keep it all together, isn’t it? We all need a break or a charge to keep us moving forward with the daily responsibilities set before us.

Some of us are completely unaware of the need to take it easy or recharge our spirits, because getting burned out sneaks up on us slowly, if we don’t learn to recognize the signs we may end up with a joyless life. There are many forms of burnout: physical, mental, emotional; and all of them can wreak havoc on our person. The good news is most of what is taking us to the depths can be changed through simple choices–choices that brighten the person we are on the inside. For some, that could be spending time dancing in the kitchen to loud music, having lunch with a friend, or reading a book in one sitting. I believe we, as a society, get so hung up on productivity and accomplishments that, in the name of productivity, we ignore and turn our backs on the things that bring us joy.

Interestingly, the one complaint I hear most from adults is that they, myself included, are so tired. If we make a conscious effort to engage daily in the things that bring us joy, I wonder if we would feel as beat as we do.

Children, too, are not immune to fatigue and burnout. The rigors of school, homework, packed after-school schedules, and back to school again, can take a toll on a little life that might just need to take a breath and make a paper airplane, spill Legos all over the floor, or pick blades of grass and look at cloud animals in the sky.

Do you remember the last time you gazed into the sky seeking a rabbit? Don’t have time for that? Maybe taking the time to choose a joy builder will give you the extra jump to accomplish the next mundane task you have. Making joy a priority in our lives is an empowering choice toward living a worthwhile life.

I could list the signs of burn-out and list the ways to bring joy into life but I believe most of us are living burned out lives and what brings joy to one person isn’t exactly the spirit lifter for another. I will simply ask, do you feel tired, fatigued, hitting the wall, beat, exhausted? Then perhaps it is time to embrace some simple joys and get our heads back in the clouds.

Enjoy spring break!

For more information about our programs for parents and educators please follow http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TURNING STONEchoice

 

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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

Your Independence Day

American Flag
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

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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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