Sunday, October 30, 2016

Problems Versus Opportunities

When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems.
When you focus on possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities.


If you’re in a negative mood, this quote can incite you to do a giant raspberry with rude gestures at it. At least, based on my own experience it can. ;-)

However, that doesn’t take away from the message’s truth. In fact, it affirms it.

Case in point: I have a chronic, lifelong disease: I have Type 1 Diabetes. There are spans of time where everything’s running well. I test my blood sugar, I dose insulin, I live my life and that’s that. Day in and day out, a comfortable, if imperfect, pattern can be maintained.

Then there are other spans where everything’s off. I pork out, I overdose insulin, I underdose insulin, I get hurt so I don’t exercise, I get stressed out and again I pork out and/or enjoy a beer or two or... Rinse and repeat.

Believe it or not, there are times when I feel a level of gratitude for having this body error. It’s trained me to feel my body in ways that others probably don’t or just can’t. It’s taught me to be grateful for all the amazing biochemical processes our bodies do on a daily basis: thousands of things that just happen without our knowledge but without which, we’d die. To me, it’s amazing our bodies work as well as they do! It’s humbling- we think we’re so smart. However, with diabetes, I myself must do what other people's bodies take care of automatically. Sometimes I’m good at it and sometimes, I fail miserably. There came a time when I set a bar and thought, “This is as good as it’s going to get.”.

Over the last 4-5 months I’ve pulled myself up to the best physical and mental shape I’ve ever been in, if I do say so myself. Other people inspired me. I had a mental shift. I saw opportunities. Growth mindset, one might say.

Each person has to be open to the possibilities/opportunity-based mindset. It doesn’t happen overnight nor is it likely to stay forever. We’re all in an awe-inspiring, ever-changing and intricate dance, as I’ve written before. We go up, we go down, we go back up once again.

Possibilities and opportunities. They may come in unexpected forms and uncomfortable times but we will never fail to become stronger if we can see life in those terms.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Happiness and Relationships

I’d like to share an image my younger son’s teacher shared this week on their class Facebook page, courtesy of and created by Roni Habib:

I asked myself a question: How are my relationships with students going this year? My answer was tough to admit: They are kind of rocky.

I do have some history with many of these students and I’ve been relying heavily on that. That past allows me to exchange a warm laugh on the field or communicate a wordless warning across the lunchroom. It gives me some gravitas when there’s an emergency and something needs to happen right away. However, it’s like a bank account that keeps getting drawn upon. It needs refilling or the relationship crumbles.

Am I building relationships this year? I need to open my eyes and really see. Pay attention to what’s NOT being said. Make eye contact. Hold my body and mind to the one standing in front of me and not my next job. Celebrate failure! “That was a great try!” “It’s a good kind of hard!” “I believe in you- try it again!!” are all things that should be on the tip of my tongue ready for everyone this time of year.

Relationships start with the one that looks back at you in the mirror. Am I feeling that happiness? Am I connected first and foremost with who I am and what I value? If I take care of myself, I can then do the same for those around me. I can then build those invaluable relationships that everything else hinges upon.

Happiness and Relationships Above All Else.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

To Play or to Converse...

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
- Plato

I’ve seen some pretty wild behavior on elementary school playgrounds when it comes to football. We had students who absolutely HAD to play it. Who brought their own balls (and sometimes even other pieces of gear) to do so. Who argued vociferously when denied the privilege due to prior problems.

Play wasn’t for everyone. Students would only play with or against specific students. Arguments about skill levels and plays were a regular occurrence. There was a single absolute goal: To Win. When something didn’t go right, hostilities were not left on the field and would carry over into the lunchroom and beyond.

Plato’s words speak on a couple of levels to me. I’d argue that we need BOTH the play AND the conversation. Sports organization in the elementary level seem to be channeling students towards a specific high school at an extremely young age. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, when the students absorb a strong us-versus-them message so early, they can easily misinterpret or process the message in an extremely negative manner.

Going around a tag zone acting like a dinosaur or rock star in Ro-Sham-Bo Evolution can put anyone- student or adult- in a completely different mindset than normal. Good-natured fun with no other goal than to enjoy the experience with others as practiced in the framework provided by organizations Playworks, can change you in surprising ways. It also gives everyone around you another perspective of you. Wacky and silly- but still you. Just...different..

Perhaps different enough to open up some new and interesting conversations.