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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Student Stress and One Whacked-Out Dream

Vibrant, multi-colored baby sheep rose up from the ground and surrounded me. They were perfect, adorable, little puff balls, leaping off a cliff. I was trying to stop them, but there were too many. One, slightly bigger, baby sheep approached me. He was a delicious, milk chocolate hue and his eyes were huge. He proceeded to talk fluent “Baa” to me, but I did not understand, then he smiled sweetly, and jumped off the cliff. That was my whacked out dream last night. I really didn’t need an interpreter to tell me, this was my subconscious dealing with today’s event. My oldest son is on his way to an amazing environmental science field trip that will be four days long. This would be his first time truly away from home. My anxiety decided to manifest in an unusual dreamscape, resembling a video game. I am a bit stressed, but I am not alone.
Stress is a way of life these days and According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA),” Many Americans — both adults and youth — experience high levels of stress.” As an adult, I am able to recognize my anxiety, give the proper attention and respond accordingly. Unfortunately, young individuals typically do not recognize stress and do not have the skill set to cope appropriately.
It is estimated that 10% of our teen population suffer from anxiety disorders due to stress. Guidance counselors and social workers are giving more health referrals for students who are dealing with stress and witnessing more hospitalization with anxiety and panic attacks. Stress is on the rise and crippling our children.
The causes of stress for children are extremely broad but one study in Baltimore identified the five top most experienced stressors for students: 1) school work, 2) parents, 3) romantic relationships, 4) friends, and 5) younger siblings. The same study found that boys and girls dealt with these stressors in significantly different ways and recommended separating the sexes for some stress management activities. The study also recommended that programs should teach students how to react in a healthy manner towards stress. The TURNING STONEchoice program implements techniques that will equip students with knowledge, allowing them to identify stress, or other obstacles in their lives, and how to work through these challenges in a positive way.
Schools across the country are taking action to de-stress the student body. Some schools are using service dogs to roam the halls in between classes; other schools are replacing traditional chairs with large exercise balls. Extended homeroom times are the norm in many school districts, allowing students to catch up on their work or meet with a teacher for extra help.
These ideas are needed and refreshing but one dimensional. Most of the programs being implemented are focused with relieving the symptoms of stress, not promoting students’ skills to recognize what stress is, or make self-empowering choices that reduce or eliminate stress to begin with. Relievers are necessary since we can never escape the realities of stress. Equally important, is a student’s understanding of his/her unique stress tolerance and their ability to make positive decisions that bolster their confidence, keeping stress in their dreams.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Obstacle Highlight : Fear of Failure- Make a Mistake

Did you know the chocolate chip cookie was a kitchen fiasco? How can something so amazingly delicious be a mistake? Inventor and owner of Toll House Inn, Ruth Wakefield wanted to make chocolate cookies but ran out of the key ingredient. Substituting chipped sweetened chocolate into the batter, she expected the chocolate to melt. To her surprise and the world’s pleasure, she birthed a whole new food group, the chocolate chip cookie. Did you also know cornflakes, the pacemaker, and post-it notes are among the mistaken inventions we enjoy and rely on daily? Obviously, wonderful things can derive from mistakes, including a lesson learned. Yet, many struggle with a fear of failing or making simple mistakes.
No one likes to fail but, “To err is human”. Our pride, low self-esteem, external and internal messages of perfection keep us paralyzed or have us chanting mantras of, “I can’t”, before we even try. Humans are flawed, imperfect and need to embrace this fact, because if we accept this knowledge we can be set free from the bondage of fear. Elbert Hubbard penned eloquently, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one”.
How different would we live our lives if we kicked the fear of failure to the curb. What if we removed the fear, and accepted possible success. What if we said to ourselves, “I will not fail”? I have often heard, we only fail when we fail to try. What if we gained confidence making mistakes, admitted failure and moved on because it was nothing new. These are all self-empowering choices we can explore each day that we breathe. Imagine the wonderful blessings in our homes, work places and classrooms. What mistakes are you willing to make today?

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