Live Fearless – Projecting Fear

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My husband suggested a blog discussion on facing fears as he clicked the picture of that freakishly large bug in my child’s hands. (Just to answer the obvious question, that bug is called the hickory horned devil caterpillar.) Instead of facing fear, I’ll share how I projected personal fear to one of my boys. Joseph*, my middle child is absolutely obsessed with bugs. So much so, he received the birthday gift of a real life bug party. This would be the first and last time I would pay someone to bring bugs into my house (think huge hissing cock roaches). Joseph catches bugs everywhere we go. I think he is a bug whisperer. Praying Mantis walk right up to him, butterflies land on his head and chill, and there always seems to be an insect of interest around our home in some homemade habitat for his viewing pleasure. Never has he been afraid to approach or handle any insect. It is refreshing to watch – a child’s fearlessness. But, along comes Mr. Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar and I’m wondering what a creature like that, which clearly belongs in the jungle of the Amazon, is doing in South Jersey. My immediate reaction was to yell firmly, “Do not touch that thing! It could be poisonous.” I know- terrible, right. I dare you to come across this creature and not be a bit cautious. Every family member and friend who actually saw this thing for the first time all had the same reaction –a slight jump back and a, “What in the world is it?” I even commented I thought it might cocoon and turn into a bat. Joseph kept returning to the bug and I could tell he wanted to touch it. But, I had squashed his fearlessness with my reaction and it took him two whole days and a verbal “Ok” from me to say it would be fine. The point is, as teachers and parents we have fears and can project them onto the most fearless people on this planet, our children. Perhaps being more childlike and thinking – what if I did not fear, would change my reactions and life experiences? How much more would our children grow if not stifled with adult fears or even their own? I’m not advocating reckless behavior or ignoring clear signs of danger. I am asking all of us, self included these questions: What would I/we accomplish if I/we did not fear? What would be possible living a fearless life?

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

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Book Review – The Skin I’m In

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According to Maleeka’s peers, she is too poor, too skinny, too black and too smart. All of which seems to make her a moving target for abuse by Charlese, a frienemy who extorts homework from Maleeka in exchange for nice clothes and a deferral from a beat down. As if life was not cruel enough after the loss of her father, she endures relentless insults from John-John. Every turn in the hallway, in class, and on the bus, he hurls negative remarks about her dark complexion. “What is his problem anyway?” She wonders and questions her self-image. Although the reader can assume Maleeka struggles with loving and accepting the skin she is in, the writer, Sharon G. Flake clearly examines the turbulent life journey of a young person trying to understand the right choices to make under tough circumstances, which is the more significant issue for Maleeka.
The Skin I’m In is a quick pick for reluctant readers and a Coretta Scott King award winning book. Appreciated for exploring how a young person with incredible potential can feel so low, and how one teacher can make a difference in a student’s life, The Skin I’m In is highly recommended and perfectly relevant for middle school and high school students.

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

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

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An Awesome Read for Kids

An Awesome Read for Kids

TSC just did a lesson to 1st & 3rd graders in a Camden Charter School using the book, “Cool Down and Work Through Anger.” This wonderfully written book is by Cheri J. Meiners. It is a fantastic book for showing children how to help deal with anger. There are many reasons for getting angry but how one chooses to deal with the feeling of anger is the key. This book gives the reader wonderful scenarios, discusses the feelings/emotions of anger, and discusses the choices we are faced with when dealing with the emotion of anger. The best part are the tips offered to children to help manage their anger. This book is highly recommended to any parent or educator of young children. A great choice for children learning how to deal with anger.

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Kindness is Intelligent

Kindness is Intelligent

Across the monkey bars to the twirling seat-cups, where I sat, spinning in an attempt to entertain my 6 year old son, Nicky*. I heard his voice call, “Who wants to play cops and robbers?” The alpha male command in the jungle beckoned and the natives came running. I was grateful to this little boy for gathering the troops on the play ground. I was getting dizzy. Also, 15 minutes prior, I was standing outside my car trying to convince my son to go, have some fun. Although grateful, I kept my eye on that alpha male, Calvin. I expected possible bossiness, intimidation, physical aggression and the like. Why? My ignorant, preconceived notions were running amuck. I watched that kid like a hawk, and not for any of the reasons above, but, because I was witnessing a natural born leader.
He began the play-process with such interpersonal discipline, I could not believe, I was watching an 8 year old boy conduct himself like a board member of a civil committee. He introduced himself, had everyone say their names, then he went around and repeated each person’s name, so everyone would know who was who. He divided the teams equally based on age, and off they went to have a great time. At no point did anyone challenge him or whine about their assigned roles.
When it was time for Nicky to leave the park, Calvin bid him a friendly good bye as if they had been friends for years. “Did you have a good time?” I asked, Nicky. “Yep! Calvin is so smart, mom.” Intrigued by his statement, “Why do you think he is smart?” I questioned. With a look that implied, I should already know this information, he countered, “Because, he was kind!”
*Alias
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