“We make our choices, then our choices make us.”

Short-Term Satisfaction!
Often choices are clouded by obstacles, like anger, stress, prejudice, etc.
which impede clear thinking and the chances of making a self-empowering choice
When decisions are made in this state, it leaves individuals feeling like they have
limited control over their life. Often, these choices result in a short-term satisfaction and rarely
result in an outcome that is truly fulfilling.

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To learn more visit TURNING STONEchoice

When Will It Stop?

Ferguson

We’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge go viral over the last two weeks on social media; people happily dumping buckets of ice water over their heads to raise money for a worthy cause. During this same period of time, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri and protests have continued in that city and around the country. In the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, may we engage thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and stand together on the side of justice and equality?

We need to make empowering choices to actively plan how to take actions that will dismantle injustice when it happens in America. So here’s a #FergusonChallenge:

Share a story about how the events in Ferguson have resonated with you, and then donate to an organization that promotes underserved youth, racial justice, and/or police accountability.

Here a story that resonates with TURNING STONEchoice. It is one of the Letters to the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch titled When Ferguson Hits Home August 21, 2014

I never thought I would be living so close to conflict. If I jumped on the highway and zoomed down a few exits, I’d be visiting Ferguson. We are that close, yet we are so far away. Our entire city and country has become focused on what is, and even more alarming, what is not happening in a town within our town. Yet we attempt to put distance between our neighborhoods, just like we attempt to say what’s happening in the Middle East is happening “over there.” Well, folks, “over there” just came to our backyards, and it is madly screaming for our attention.

None of us know the whole story of the incident that led to this massive turmoil my neighbors are embracing without choice. I grieve with every single person involved in this story. There is not one person who is unaffected by this tragedy, including those of us who attempt to drown out the sirens because it’s happening “over there.” It’s “here,” people. The world is watching us, and most importantly our children are silently observing every step we take.

I wonder what would happen if we embraced all those who were hurting tonight, and realized that grieving is actually taking place on both sides of the police line. What if we all held ourselves accountable and allowed each other to take a deep breath when confusion, fear or anger sets in to release a potential breath of hope? I wonder if we’d find peace.

Jen McCurdy  •  St. Louis County

The choice is yours to empower your children and help guide them through purposeful and empowering choice making to help end intolerance and create a peaceful world.

As TURNING STONEchoice always teaches children and adults in our communities, and as the writer of this letter suggests, the first thing we must do is to take that “breath of hope”.

Michael Brown

ACLU of Missouri Foundation: http://www.aclu-mo.org/get-involved/
Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/donate-to-amnesty
Ferguson Youth Initiative: http://fyifergyouth.org/
Ferguson Bail Fund: http://antistatestl.noblogs.org/…/bail-and-legal-fund…/
Or buy an “I Am Human” tee-shirt to support protestors on the ground: http://teespring.com/IAMHUMANDONTSHOOT

Signs of Positive Self-Esteem

As we work to understand ourselves and our children, we should strive to make choices that help us achieve long term success and self-fulfillment. When we have positive self-esteem, we can better understand:

  • The reality of our personal abilities and limitations.
  • The importance of understanding that we do not live within a vacuum and must interact rather than react to others.
  • The knowledge of when we are being influenced emotionally by past events which may cloud our judgment in a new situation.
  • The reality that ultimately we only have control of ourselves and no one else, not even our children.

Ultimately, when you have positive self-esteem, you understand the reality of your choice making and are able to maintain an attitude that with careful consideration will allow you to supplement and compliment your efforts and overcome challenges.

MIL_277x277_0006_middle_school~TURNING STONEchoice

 

Daughter vs. Parents

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Did you hear the one about the 18-year-old daughter suing her parents for child support and college money? Unfortunately, no punch-line – I thought it was a joke, some kind of spoof. I mean, who sues their parents in broad daylight? Not to say that some children shouldn’t take their parents to court for crimes committed against them. The courts are filled with those horrifying cases.

Rachael Canning, an 18-year-old, New Jersey high school student, has taken her parents to civil court with charges of emotional abuse and abandonment and is seeking money for her private school and college tuition. Her parents claim no abuse has ever occurred, that Rachael simply refused to respect house rules, and that she left their home on her own accord.

This case has the full attention of New Jersey’s legal community, as well as parents across the nation, due to the possible ripple effect. A favorable ruling for Rachael could establish a precedent setting forth further parental responsibilities toward children of legal age no longer living at home. Such a ruling would encourage similar lawsuits against parents by children who feel entitled to certain amenities and would add to the workload of our already overburdened court system.

It is quite easy to have the knee jerk reaction to such an event, especially if you are a parent (personally I did). The comments and posts have slammed Rachael as a spoiled-rotten child, filled with a sense of entitlement. Yet, the question remains: Who sues their parents? A hurting person lashing out and making decisions based on pain and wounds without a critical thought process taken place or a time of reflection and consideration of other people. Rachael, herself, has admitted in an email to her parents, “I’m my biggest enemy and do realize that a change has to be made.” The abrupt moment from childhood to adulthood is filled with enormous challenges, and our youth are completely unprepared to make effective choices that define adulthood. We cram the abc’s into their heads and hearts with fun carefree songs but as a society we hardly lay the foundation to developing empowering choices.

On the other hand, we should not simply assume that Rachael’s accusations are false. After all, victims of abuse must summon a huge amount of courage to come forth and speak up, and there are too many people in this world who have been abused and ignored because the evidence was not verified. Yet, if the accusations are, indeed, false, then we come back to a young woman who is hurting and in need of help.

Any way you look at this case, it is disturbing and warrants a dialogue on resources for families struggling with conflict and challenges that land them in court.

Share your thoughts and resources.

Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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

Selfie – An Empowering Choice

photo 1I confess to taking my first selfie this past week. Yep! That girl is me. I had mixed feelings about the process, since, to be honest, I was a total hater of the selfie. There seemed to be a tone of self-absorbed behavior that rubbed me the wrong way, when it came to selfies. I mean, consider the word, itself, which, by the way, is the word of the year 2013 for Oxford Dictionary.

Most of the selfies that I have seen, unfortunately, have been produced by teens making poor choices, searching for something beyond that which their audiences can give–perhaps a bit too much showing of self or a controversial setting that requires some adult intervention.

The primary reason I decided to click my pic was because I really didn’t want to! Looking at pictures of myself makes me want to sneeze. Even though I consider myself to be confident and comfortable with my physical image, I’m just like the millions of women around the world who can be self-conscious of the way I look, at times, wanting to measure up to the airbrushed faces that are stalking me everywhere I go. I thought, well my hair is a mess, I’m wearing no makeup, the lighting is horrible, and . . . girl, push through that fear , be brave and just take the picture.

My first attempt was comical. I giggled at myself, trying to figure out if I should stare at the little hole or the crazy twin looking back at me. I laughed hard and thought of the artistic details someone like Vincent Van Gough considered when he painted his own selfie. Trying to capture myself was equivalent to a dog trying to catch its tail. Sometimes you get a piece, but never the whole thing.

Yet, there is something empowering about being the artist and the subject matter, all in one. There is something of self to share that isn’t preoccupied with vanity; a self-acceptance in sharing the message, “I’m here, and I’m cool with who I am.” I came across a Dove You Tube that embraces the empowering component a selfie can have on mothers and daughters in regard to seeing oneself as beautiful. The video encouraged me with my newfound appreciation for the nuances of this art form.

I sent a trail of selfies to my husband, who replied, “Looks like you are having fun.” I was. Then, I realized, this was not my first selfie. A lost memory appeared, a time with a girlfriend, making silly faces at a Polaroid camera that spat out pictures of two girls enjoying their friendship.

Sometimes, we forget the innocence of a good time and over-analyze all the negative aspects and pitfalls of a new technology. I know it is our responsibility to be on guard as parents and teachers, but we should consider being less critical, remember the joy of our own youth and lead the way in initiating fun with empowering choices.

Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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

FIGHTING COOTIES -Tips to keep you healthy in the classroom & home

cooties-outbreak
No, you are not paranoid! The children are totally out to get you. What you are feeling is the side-effect from perpetual battle teachers and parents have been fighting against, kids and their . . . cooties. Well, maybe it’s not the kids themselves, or technically called cooties, but children are the hosts of a smorgasbord of viruses trying to take you down, and, right now is the height of flu, cold, and stomach bug season. Okay, I sound completely paranoid. In my defense, I have gone to battle with 3 walking Petri-dishes and I’m getting weary if not on the verge of catching something myself. I, like you have washed hands till they are cracked, bathed in hand sanitizer, disinfected surfaces (covered desks in shaving cream), and opened windows during arctic temperatures and the cooties are infiltrating the front line defenses. How do you stay well in a classroom filled with Sneezy, Queasy and Snotty, trapped in tight settings? Here are a few tips from teachers and parents who seem to remain healthy among the sick.
TIP #1 – GARLIC – One preschool teacher’s tip for staying cold and flu free not only keeps the vampires away, but her daily ritual has viruses retreating, even when students sneeze in her face. (FYI – a sneeze can travel 100 miles per hour) Each morning she takes a fresh clove of garlic and minces out a teaspoon and chases it with a glass of orange juice. Not a fan of garlic for breakfast? Increase your general intake throughout the day for lunch or snacks, with a clove or two in salad dressing or a hummus dip. Keep in mind, garlic’s cold fighting property is reduced when cooked.
TIP #2- HYDRATE – It’s chilly outside and you may not feel it is necessary to drink all of that water (8+glasses) but the dry forced heat many of us work in is sapping the water right out of our bodies, making us susceptible to the cooties. Is the idea of a cold drink giving you the chills? Warm up your water and add a squeeze of citrus for some additional health benefits. Keep your warm beverage in a thermos and close by for frequent use.
TIP #3- GARGLE – Clear the gunk out of the back on your throat with a glass of salt water. In a study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers recruited approximately 400 healthy volunteers and followed them for 60 days during cold and flu season. Some of the subjects were told to gargle three times a day. At the end of the study period, the group that regularly gargled had a nearly 40 percent decrease in upper respiratory tract infections compared with the control group, and when they did get sick, “gargling tended to attenuate bronchial symptoms,” the researchers wrote.
TIP #4 – GO TO THE LIGHT – It may be tough to find the sun during the winter months with short days and overcast skies but your name shall be Sun Chaser and the benefit will be a boost in vitamin D which helps support calcium metabolism, neuromuscular and immune system functions. There is a hot spot in the morning in my bedroom that I enjoy and it seems to also lift my mood.
TIP #5- CATCH A SENSE OF HUMOR– Get your laughter on. It may help keep the cooties away. It won’t hurt. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response. Some studies have shown that the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells. Read a funny book. Watch a comedy. My favorites always include Jim Carey. The man is just downright goofy!
Keep your head up and fight the good fight! Crush those cooties by making empowering choices that boost your immunity and keep you happy, healthy and well. Share your cootie fighting strategies in the comment box below.

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

Martin was a Man

dr-martin-luther-king-jr-and-children-on-swingWhat else could possibly be written about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King that has not already been put into print? How about the fact that he smoked cigarettes? Not exactly a ringing endorsement of sainthood or a picturesque frame for “the legend.” It’s not the information we share with our students, but, perhaps, we should. Truth is, Martin was a man that breathed in air like you and me, experienced doubt and fear, and, I’m sure, if we asked his wife, had his flaws. This is the time we honor and reflect upon his legacy and the civil rights movement, and I would never attempt to belittle his contributions to our society from which all Americans have benefited. However, I think some of us get wrapped up in “the legend” and forget about his humanity. When I think of his courage, strength, intelligence, and ultimate sacrifice, I am both inspired and intimidated. Simply reflecting on “the legend” can cripple our resolve and bathe us in self-doubt when comparing our service to his. In turn, this prevents us from continuing the work he began, because–well–we might not feel empowered to act because of fear of failure. We may never have high-profile platforms from which to speak, but our words do have weight, and our silence even more. We may even feel disconnected or overwhelmed by the social ills that swirl around us every day, justifying inaction in a variety of ways, but we do have power in our spheres of influence. The bottom line is, we need not start a revolution in order to empower others and ourselves, but, as individuals, we can and should continue Martin’s work by becoming aware of and diligently speaking out against injustice whenever we witness its occurrence in our own little worlds. Let not the mind obstacle of fear prevent us from moving forward. In Martin’s own words, “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

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

Grandma’s Wisdom

hands-grandmother
Be it a true tale or not, the following story, circulating on Facebook, is fraught with wisdom. Perhaps you have read or heard the story before. We can always be reminded of our abilities to make empowering choices. Perhaps, the story is a new one that will open your minds and hearts. I can almost hear my own grandmother speaking these words of warmth. Enjoy and pass on. Sammy@TURNINGSTONEchoice

“The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised, and proud lady, fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.
After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. ‘I love it,’ she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight year old having just been presented with a new puppy.
‘Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room . . . just wait.’
‘That doesn’t have anything to do with it,’ she replied. ‘Happiness is something you decide on, ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged; it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice: I can spend the day in bed, recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and, as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.’
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.”

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

The Intangible Wish List

I wish

The content Thanksgiving spirit in November has officially been thrown out with the leftover turkey and gravy, and the height of consumerism has taken over. Wish lists have been distributed. Anxiety- filled shoppers are buying everything in their paths before the clock strikes. I wish. . . has taken over the beginning of many conversations. My oldest son’s list is completely above his current socio-economic status, but then again, it is a wish list. Amusing longings pop up on Google when typing in – I wish, like I wish to lease a Subaru, I wish I could get rid of this cough and my fav, I wish I had curly hair. Through a search, I came across the Urban Art Project,” I Wish This Was. . .” by Candy Chang. Noticing an abundant number of abandoned buildings in her hometown of New Orleans, she created bright-red, fill-in-the-blank stickers with the words, “I WISH THIS WAS. . . ,” and the community would share their hopes for a particular building, like I wish this was a grocery store or a laundromat. Reading about the community response made me think of our children and how they are like empty buildings with potential. As parents and teachers, we place our red stickers of I wish on them and I wonder if they have the time to think about what they wish for. Not the laundry list of things, but the intangible wishes of their hearts. The intangible wishes could include I wish I had a friend, I wish I had more confidence, or I wish I was happy. The tricky thing about an intangible wish list is we can’t run out and buy it and stick a red bow on top of it. How priceless would it be to hear their intangible wishes and let them know they have the ability to make self-empowering choices to grant their own wishes?
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

http://candychang.com/i-wish-this-was/

Everyday Thankfulness – Why is it so hard to do?

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At any moment in time, it’s easy to be welled up with thanksgiving when the “big things” in life come around, like receiving an unexpected gift, a promotion, or being cued by a holiday. But that moment is just that, a fleeting feeling of gratitude, and then it’s back to the same-old attitude. Why is it so difficult to have everyday thankfulness for the little things we take for granted, which really aren’t little at all, like clean drinking water, a roof over our heads, and food to eat? The key to unlocking this virtue may be an understanding of the reasons we struggle to maintain a grateful attitude. Sometimes, gratitude is the victim of short-term memory loss. We forget all about our past and current benefits and grumble on forward. We tend to take for granted the people closest to us and simple, everyday things in our lives. This ungratefulness shapes our interactions.

I recall, after Hurricane Sandy, being without electricity for several days, and, when the power came back on, I was overwhelmingly grateful. Today, I don’t have that same attitude, since I’m not without. I leave lights on when I shouldn’t, and everything that has a plug is in an outlet, and I’m not being very energy conscious. (Don’t judge. You aren’t, either). I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder.
So, again, why is it hard to keep a positive attitude and maintain inner gratitude? There could be a link to a theory related to positive thinking and negative thinking. The latter is coined Brain Negativity Bias. According to Wikipedia, Brain Negativity Bias is a psychological phenomenon in which humans have a greater recall of unpleasant memories, compared with positive ones. Humans are much more likely to recall, and to be influenced by, the negative experiences of the past. Basically, our brains tend to focus on negativity, and this could very well be a major cause of our uphill battle to thankfulness. Some modes of thought explain that this is in place as a survival mechanism, allowing us to detect and to respond to dangerous stimuli. So we are fighting nature and our own brain. Ugh!! Are we just natural-born ingrates? If we are always leaning into our negative thoughts and experiences, then thankfulness is almost out of reach. I did say, “almost.”

There are ways to foster gratitude by consciously focusing and engaging our brain in an empowering choice to be grateful. We can also develop a small ritual of sharing something we are grateful for each day or writing it down at the end of the day. With the reference of a journal filled with grateful moments, perhaps we can reverse our short-term memory loss. One of the most gracious ladies I know on this planet shared with a large group of women her experience with bitterness, and she did not like the woman she was becoming. She decided to write down three things she was grateful for every day for 30 days. Some days were a major stretch, like the ability to breath in air, but she continued to focus on the positive gifts each day gave her. It must have worked, because, like I mentioned, she is incredibly gracious, and people would have never known she was going through a hard time.

How will you maintain the spirit of Thanksgiving 365 days of the year? Happy Thanksgiving!

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