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

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Jail Time for Victims of Bullying

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Yes, you read the title correctly. No error on my part. A recent study has presented evidence for adults who have been bullied during their childhood and teen years. There seems to be a strong correlation between this dual experience and being convicted of crimes. This study followed 7300 people for 14 years, and long story short. There are a significant higher percentage of people spending time in jail that have been victims during childhood and teen years versus those who have not or have had single bullying experiences.
This study definitely had me scratching my head. It is not a far stretch to image the bully doing time, even if it may be stereotypical. But, how do the victims end up incarcerated? One possible explanation would be the type of coping techniques victims are choosing to use to handle the abuse. The study found women were much more likely to use alcohol and drugs, and to be arrested and convicted for illegal use.
This study presents even more evidence that childhood bullying has a direct link to quality of life not just at the moment of abuse but long term damage. It is yet, another reason to continue to advocate for programs that empower children. Programs like Turning STONEchoice equip children with the tools to build self-esteem, confidence, and cultivate a positive path for a child’s life.
Please follow link below for specific study details.
http://web.mail.comcast.net/zimbra/mail?app=mail#2
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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Wake- Up Call!

Wake- Up Call!

A major obstacle children face with making positive choices is lack of exercise and nutrition. Our children are our future and we need to teach them the importance of healthy exercise and nutrition to help build positive choice making skills and an overall healthy lifestyle. The benefits to exercise and healthy nutrition outweigh the negatives. Their ability to overcome their obstacles to make healthier choices improves while building confidence and promoting self-esteem. Healthy eating provides more energy, better brain function and memory and allows children’s concentration to increase. By living a healthy lifestyle children can gain a positive feeling about them and decrease anxiety, reduce depression, and improve quality of sleep. Parents and educators your efforts to encourage our children to exercise regularly and instill the value of healthy nutrition is crucial. Let’s work together and give our children, of the future, this precious gift that will last a lifetime.

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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.

Respect the Apology

Why in the world is it so hard to say, “I am sorry?” I’m not a big fan of speaking the phrase, since it implies, somehow, I was in the wrong. Who likes to be wrong? Our roles as parents and educators can impede courageous moments to admit fault, to our charges, since we are coming from an automatic place of position. We are the authority figure and while this position should be respected, our power can be misused at times, with thoughtless acts that require an apology. We may think, it’s inconsequential or unnecessary, but our behavior will be modeled in our homes and classrooms. If we would like to see our students, without prompting, immediately and sincerely apologize to others, then we need to show them how it is done. We are the leaders and if we want our children and students to display integrity and know genuine connection, we need to apologize for our wrongs, even the accidental ones, and ask for forgiveness. You know the beautiful moment a child’s eye brightens over knowledge and joy. The same extraordinary flash occurs when we validate our children, and display respect for their being, giving them the choice to accept our misdeeds and decide if forgiveness should be rendered. The link below details the respect of a real apology and how to make one. Enjoy!
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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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