“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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Book Review – The Skin I’m In

The Skin I'm In2
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

My Mouth is a Volcano – Suggested Reading & Review

my mouth is a volcano
A Mom’s Choice Award book by Julia Cook, My Mouth is a Volcano addresses the annoying habit of interrupting others through a child’s point of view with humor and imagery. Louis, a vibrant boy with very important words to share with the world has a lot to say and struggles with controlling his words. Will he be able to keep his volcano from bubbling over onto others with a zangy method mom shares or will he keep erupting? Playful illustrations to match Cook’s words deliver the message of how difficult it really can be to stop “erupting.” A simple, fun read with practical application for all, and an excellent resource to set the tone for classroom behavior in the beginning of the school year. Teachers, parents and child-care workers will reap the reward for reading this witty book coping with social skills, polite conversation, self-control and appropriate behavior. Appropriate for ages 4 and up.

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

Math Blame – Taking responsibility for learning

“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that, is making you unhappy.” – Wayne Dyer

I should have been required to recite and analyze Mr. Dyer’s quote many years ago in high school and college. I was a model student, involved in: student counsel, extra-curricular activates, and excelled academically. I even worked diligently to the point of attending two schools my Junior and Senior years. I would wake early, be at school by 7:30, take classes through lunch so I could finish up my academics, and then catch a bus to Arts High, finishing around 5:00 in the evening. I loved it, and I worked hard, but, in one area–Math.

I blamed my lackadaisical math skills on my teacher, Mr. Y. He was an older teacher without personality, and we immediately clashed upon meeting. There were days he would meet me in the hallway before class would start and say, “Not today”. Fine with me, I would casually make my way to the principal’s office, where I would get some work done and no one challenged me or called me on it. Like I said, I was a model student, continued to receive A’s and B’s in all my classes in both schools, but fail math. I knew this particular teacher had a reputation for “giving” bad grades to students. So, I felt completely entitled to my blame. It was his fault I was so frustrated and flailing.

I believe the blame game is a way of life for many students and people in general, pointing their fingers at others for their personal flaws, inadequacies, and circumstances. Why bother accepting responsibility for what effects you directly; hmmm—because– it effects you directly, and typically no one else. Other times, like in my case, we can be oblivious to our blaming behavior because we feel overwhelmingly, justified in our judgment. If blame is not acknowledged and dealt with quickly, then a hard to break habit can spread across every aspect of one’s life, avoiding responsibility altogether. We can become stunted and have a horrible feeling that others control our life. This of course is an illusion. We, and only ourselves, have the ability to make choices that control the outcome of our lives.

The truth was, I didn’t like math, and it didn’t come easy to me, so, I dismissed it completely. I was doing fine in everything else. If I was slacking in math, and had a perfect scapegoat to take the fall for my arithmetic agitations, so be it.

Even in later years, I would tell people of the horrible math teacher I had, and that was the reason I didn’t understand logic problems. Ironically, I struggled years before and years after Mr. Y’s classes. Were all those teachers to blame also for my frustration and poor grades? I just refused to accept any responsibility for my learning, and in hind-sight, I know I could have put forth some effort. I never went for extra help, even though teachers were always available. Other things, places and people were more important. And, I would at times blame myself – “I just can’t get it” or better said, quit on myself.

My high school was really small, and Mr. Y knew what I was capable of. I think he was in the right for kicking me out, because I had no intention of even trying to learn Algebra II, which I had to take twice. If I was wise, I should have put forth the effort the first year, so I would not have to endure the second year too. But, I was too busying quitting and blaming to understand simple algebraic concepts.

These days, I am inspired by the children running through my house asking their father for math problems. I married a man who majored in chemistry and, yes- math. The boys are excited to get “hard” problems, and work through those challenges. Knowing my personal struggle in this area, daddy makes sure I am in the game too.

Mr. Y, I owe you a huge apology for carrying the burden of my responsibility all these years. I’m not sure if you were a good teacher or not, but it was my responsibility to at least try and learn.

Is it time for you to apologize to someone for carrying your burdens? Be accountable to yourself and for yourself.

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

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