Ben's Bells

When their little boy suddenly passed away, a family's grief over losing their toddler ultimately turned into something good; if I get really still, I can almost hear Ben's Bells in the distance. Read how the community of Tucson rallied to help them heal with the power of wind chimes, the therapeutic effect of clay, and the beauty of friendship. The Ben's Bells Project mission is to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby changing our world. 
     If you would like information on the Ben's Bells Kind Kids program, click here. Its goal is to inspire children to recognize the importance of kindness and it's available at no cost or obligation to interested schools. 


The Driving Force

Things didn't look nearly as bright for Packers wide receiver Donald "Quickie" Driver when he was a child struggling to survive as they do now as he starts his 13th season with the Packers on the heels of their championship in Super Bowl XLV. In fact, at one point he was homeless in Houston and living out of a U-Haul. His father was in jail and his mom couldn't care for her children by herself. Donald was a troubled teen headed down the rocky road of rebellion. But all of that changed one night when he decided he wanted something more, something better for his life. With the help of his coaches at Milby High School and supportive and caring grandparents, Donald did, in fact, make it. 
     He worked hard to keep his promise and turn his dream into a reality. He went to Alcorn State on a scholarship and was picked up in the last round of the 1999 draft by the Green Bay Packers. Since then, he's had nearly 700 catches, 53 TDs, three Pro Bowls, a Packers MVP award, the franchise record for receptions, and a Super Bowl ring. Equally as impressive? Along the way, #80 created The Donald Driver Foundation so that he could give back and help change the lives of kids that he connects with and understands all too well.
     Interestingly enough, one of those charity gigs was Breakfast on the Farm in Wayside, Wisconsin. It was in June of 2004, the grand reopening of my family's farm after a fierce fire destroyed the century-old timber barn and the milking facility. Donald Driver and three other Packers celebrated with us by hanging out and signing autographs for thousands of guests. YAY! Click here for the touching story behind Driver's determination and subsequent success and then check out his children's book Quickie Makes The Team for a character lesson on perseverance and drive. 


'Water' You Covering Up?

Can science possibly integrate with character development? This interactive water-displacement lesson (adapted from an idea in the book Activities That Teach by Tom Jackson) about honesty will visually show students the negative ripple effect that a lie can have. It requires a bucket or bowl of water, a quarter, and a roll of pennies. Let students circle around your bucket of water. Tell the students that the quarter represents a LIE and ask for an example of a lie students their age might tell. Drop the quarter into the water and ask students to make observations about what happened: it sank, it's heavy, it splashed me, it made ripples, it might rust down there. Compare what happened to the quarter with what happens when someone lies. Discuss how sometimes people try to cover up their lies. Make a T chart with the advantages and disadvantages of telling a lie to cover up another lie. Discuss the lists before the second part of your lesson.
     Tell students that the pennies represent lies that people will sometimes tell to try to cover up their original lie. From above the water level, without touching the water, students can take turns dropping the pennies into the water to try to cover the quarter. Stress how difficult it is to completely cover up that lie. Ask for a prediction about how many more pennies (lies) it might require just to cover up the first lie. If a penny partially covers the quarter, say, "but you can still see the lie." Once every student has had a turn and you can still see the lie, ask students if it's even possible to completely cover up a lie. This object lesson ought to generate some interesting dialogue about honesty. What does it cost to try to cover up a lie? Wouldn't it be easier to just tell the truth? If you want your students to take home something tangible to remember the lesson by, why not give them each a penny, which features the profile of Honest Abe himself! Talk about the reputation that Abraham Lincoln made for himself.
     To enrich the lesson, challenge students to write a paragraph comparing honesty and trustworthiness. Can you have one without the other? How many times does a person have to lie before you consider them a liar? Is it ever okay to lie? When? If someone has lied to you, how might he or she earn your trust back?


Our Newest Crop Of PALs

High school Peer Assistance and Leadership students are about to begin their mentoring journey with our little seedlings and I am jazzed about the hand-picked PALs in this year's crop! It’s such a thrill to work with teenagers who are willing to step up and be a mentor, confident that they’ve got something good to give, and to commit to being a positive influence and a 'bud' in the life of a younger twig.
     Our PALs apple-themed bulletin board will display their pictures to visually affirm them for the critical role that they play in the Westwood family: PALs . . . go out on a limb for us, help us branch out, are 'tree'mendous, model core values, are the apple of our eye, help us bear good fruit, root for us! All of that, and SO much more.   
     The coolest thing happened when my group of 34 PALs came for their tour of Westwood last week. Since our student teacher was headed our way, I stopped to introduce her and to announce that she had returned to Friendswood and was now doing her student teaching right here where she’d served as a PAL not too many years ago. That’s when I heard a little gasp, then a squeal. Then it happened; one of this year’s high school seniors – now a PAL herself - ran to hug that student teacher as she proudly proclaimed: Hey, she was MY PAL! Talk about your defining moment; the circle of life unfolded before our eyes.  
     I cannot wait to see what sprouts as these firmly-planted young mentors help shape the hearts and minds of our future orchard.


That Was Easy!

My friend Audrey got me this EASY button a few years back and I’m here to tell you that it’s still one of my students’ favorite things.  They think it's SO cool to press the button and hear it say, "That was easy!" So, whenever We solve a problem, we press the button. When we learn a new skill, we press the button.  When we do a little ditty or a dance, we press the button. Sometimes more than once. Such a surprisingly simple strategy.  What's something easy that you do to engage and incentivize your students?


True Beauty

A few seasons ago, there was a television reality show called True Beauty. Contestants were invited to audition for the show under the premise that the winner would get a modeling contract. Outward beauty. But the candid camera piece that they didn't know about was that they were actually being judged on how they treated the people with whom they were competing and how they acted in situations where someone needed assistance or help. Inner beauty. That show fascinated me. A lot!  It was unbelievable how they behaved when they didn't know that the cameras were on and they were being filmed. When our students talk about character, they know it's:  Everywhere. All the time. Even when nobody's looking. That's all there is to it.
     The Character Educator ran a story mid-August about Jennifer McKendrick, a photographer in PA, who actually cancelled a few girls' senior-portrait photo shoots because of comments she saw on those prospective clients' Facebook pages.  Her reason was posted on her blog:  I won't photograph ugly people. This beautiful artist obviously knows true beauty when she sees it and she clearly doesn't mind forfeiting business for refusing to let her camera capture anything else. You go, girl!
NOTE:  Just found this Random Act of Kindness post on Jen's website - she got a FUN surprise from Milwaukee, WI in the mail yesterday - click here to read all about it.  


He Didn't Miss The Mark

Photo from 12uspost.com
Mark needed help, and no one noticed, except for his competitor Josh Ripley. A spike from another runner's shoe had pierced his heel, and Mark was bleeding profusely. And, though he carried Mark half a mile to get him some help, Ripley doesn't think he's anything special; he simply says that he was "in the right place at the right time." Today's story from Yahoo's Rivals High fills me with hope for the future as I celebrate the compassion and kindness that kids like Josh bring to our world.


Metaphor Basket

I saw this suggestion on the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training FB page this summer and jumped at the chance to make a Metaphor Basket of my own because A. It gave me a chance to clean out two catch-all drawers, and B. What a FUN idea and versatile tool.  
   I use it as a starter in sessions with parents, teachers, or students. I simply show the basket and ask them to choose an item that tells their story. Or maybe that interests them. Maybe that expresses how they’re feeling right now. Or maybe there’s an item in there that sparks a memory or taps into a dream. There might even be a novelty that represents something they want to change. Ask participants to explain what they're thinking and feeling about the item they select. So much potential. 
   I’m even thinking I could bring it to a team leader or a character advisory committee meeting to use as a team-building activity to get to know one another better. How about putting it in a writing center? Or bringing it out at a morning meeting? Imagine the possibilities. So what will you put into your metaphor basket and how could you use it to create change, delve deeper or simply share?


Love Languages

I've been waiting for this for a very long time (ever since I first read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman), a book that delves into a child's world to explain how the love languages apply to and show up in our littlest learners. Without giving too much away, do you know who your kids are whose love language is Acts of Service?  Gifts?  Quality Time?  Words of Affirmation?  Physical Touch?  Check out this book and get in touch with how children express their affection and love.


Wish List Wednesday

It's Wish List Wednesday and I've been invited to guest blog over at Cachey Mama's Classroom. So I decided to dream B.I.G. and wish for peace. And then, in some coincidental twist of fate, my post gets scheduled for September 21st, the day that neither the author nor I knew was designated International Day of Peace. Hop on over or read below to see what I'm planning to do to make my wish come true. What are you doing today to help world peace become a reality tomorrow? 
Peace On Earth by Barbara Gruener 
It’s Wish List Wednesday and I’m going to go all out and wish for peace.  Peace on earth.  Peace in my back yard.  Peace of mind.  I know, I know, it’s a lofty goal, but don’t worry, I have a plan.  Here’s what I’m thinking are some of the essential ingredients that we’ll need as we make PEACE a reality.  If only we could add these virtues to our Core Standards recipe somehow, we’d be cooking up a whole generation of Peace Makers!  
 – A scoop of Purpose and Patience
E A heap of Empathy and Enthusiasm
A A dollop of Acceptance and Apology
C A generous helping of Compassion and Charity
E A dash of Encouragement and Energy

Patience and Purpose:  As we teach children to navigate their way through life, we need to be intentional; to do things with purpose.  Let’s not leave anything to chance.  Help them figure out where they belong.  Then teach them to be patient and give themselves (and others!) the gift of time.

Empathy and Enthusiasm:  Help students learn to put themselves in each other’s shoes so that their empathy will grow.  Look for elevating experiences to share with them.  Foster enthusiasm in students by sharing their joy when they make good character choices.

Acceptance and Apology:  Teach students to accept – celebrate and champion even! – one another’s differences and to apologize when they stray from the path of character choices to put us that much further down the road toward peace on earth.

Compassion and Charity:  Show your students how to think with their hearts and they’ll find themselves in the service of others.  Build that capacity for caring and compassion so that inner and outer peace naturally follows.

Encouragement and Energy:  Encourage literally translates into empowering with courage.  Help students find the courage to do the right thing; it will positively energize tomorrow’s leaders as they make footsteps worth following.

You may be wondering if I have a favorite teaching tool for this intangible concept, and the answer is an unequivocal YES!  Check out the book entitled Shhh! by Jeanne Willis.  In this treasure chunk full of onomatopoeic words, a little shrew has something important to share but the hustle and bustle of the world around him drowns out his voice and keeps him from being heard.  He’s got a secret; wanna know what it is?  If you don’t already have a copy on your shelf, put it on your Wish List.  In the meantime, sing it with me:  Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me! 


Cute As A Button

My new blog button is yet another example of a cool cyberspace collaboration. A few weeks back, Mrs. Parker from Learning With Mrs. Parker noticed that I didn't have a blog button.  So, in a really random act of kindness, she simply created one for me. How sweet was that?  Now, if someone wants to share my site and spread some sunshine, voila, here's The Corner on Character button.  Thanks, Mrs. Parker; I appreciate your thoughtfulness and treasure your gift!     
The Corner On Character


Tomorrow is International Day of Peace so I'm sharing this interesting and soothing video clip from Heart Math.  EnJOY the inner-ease that getting still and clearing your heart can bring.


Our Bucket-Filling Journey

The Bucket Filler movement has gained momentum of monumental proportions with school children in recent years, thanks to Carol McCloud, who resurrected the concept of emotional deposits and withdrawals in her book Have You Filled A Bucket Today?, and made it more concrete for kids. The author, a former early childhood educator herself, has created a wave of love by putting her award-winning book in the hands and hearts of more than a hundred thousand young (and old!) Bucket Fillers everywhere.

Here's Westwood's Bucket story:  I found my copy years ago as I was perusing the shelves at Barnes and Noble looking for a new resource for my small-group counseling classes. Sadie, the reading dog, was coming that next day, and I wanted a new book to share. Bucket Filling? Sure, I'm game! After reading the book aloud, I gave students an index card with the word Filler written on one side and Dipper written on the other to check for understanding. I'd give an example like - Your brother shares his toys. - and students would show me the Filler side. When I said - Your friend says "I don't want to be your friend anymore." - they showed me the Dipper side. They caught on so quickly that, before I knew it, they were volunteering to make up the examples. That's when I knew I had a simply powerful tool, perfect for kids. 

Since that initial success, BucketFillers 101 has featured us a few times in their FILL-osophy newsletter. That August, we kicked off our back-to-school celebration by sharing it with our faculty and staff. Buckets started showing up in classrooms all over our school and Bucket bulletin boards brought the concept to life visually. Kids were talking about it at school and taking it home! Teachers read it to parents at Open House. A mom stopped by to ask what her son meant when he said "I'm sitting by someone who dips on the bus" so we took the book to the bus drivers and train them on the concept. And when students came to guidance, every topic we covered connected back to filling and dipping. I was reading the book at every workshop I conducted, including up in New Jersey to a group of 500-plus elementary educators during my keynote there. I was so pleased with how well it was received and how quickly the concept was rippling out. One of the teachers up there quickly incorporated into her third-grade classroom by reading it aloud to her students' parents at Orientation and then sending it home as a family connection reader. And so our Bucket Filling crusade began. 
Now in our fourth year as Bucket Fillers, we kicked off this school year by giving the chapter book Growing Up With A Bucket Full of Happiness to each of our staff members. Our principal led a mini-book study to introduce the law of the lid and discuss the book's potential to positively influence their classroom climate. 

Are you using Bucket Filling in your school, classroom, or home? If so, what are some of your promising practices? Bucket filling sparks happiness in the hearts of everyone involved. As we celebrate the book's five-year mark, I just have to ask: How will you fill a bucket today?


It's All About Modeling

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking
 by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt—
But that it’s alright to cry.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking—
I looked . . .
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.
This love note to the author's mom is now available in a hardcover book; check it out here.



That's the word I'd use if I had to try to explain who Ron Clark is in just one word. Ron Clark lives life with passion. He exudes passion. He is a role model for passion. And he has surrounded himself with equally passionate people. He first became my hero after I read The Essential 55. It's basically 55 manners and skills that he advocates we teach our students for lifelong success. With his permission, we've adapted 36 of them as our Manners of the Week.

    When I saw the Ron Clark Movie with Matthew Perry, he became my hero again. Then I read The Excellent 11 right before I had the opportunity to hear him speak IN. REAL. LIFE. That's the day his Superhero status skyrocketed. He's the kind of speaker who gets up on table tops to make his point, that's how passionate Ron Clark is. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious like no other educator I have experienced. And he's a TON of FUN!  Look how ecstatic I was to actually meet him in person and pose for a picture. He is spot on and he is so R-E-A-L! 
     So now I'm halfway through his new book entitled The End of Molasses Classes and experiencing the essential and excellent Ron Clark all over again. Do yourself a favor and check out this treasure trove; it's filled with simple strategies and tried-and-true tips that you can use in your parenting or teaching starting now to connect with and captivate the little leaders that you live with, learn from, and love. 


America The Beautiful

I can NOT watch the Longhorn Band's 9/11 Tribute without getting choked up, out of pain for the victims and their families, out of respect for our country, and out of pride for our daughter, who's out on the field playing her clarinet (first in the S, then in the U) in this chilling rendition of America, the Beautiful. It's SO well worth your two and a half minutes - - the swell at 1:18 is the part where the tears start to flow. Grab the Kleenex and turn it up.

The Power of Kindness

Simple Truths has the BEST little movie clips; have you experienced The Power of Kindness?  It's a simple series of sayings worth repeating on scenic slides set to soothing sounds but it's OH so powerful!  So turn up your speakers, get comfy, and relax while you enjoy an injection of inspiration.


The Good Samaritan

Photo courtesy of chron.com
Sometimes you have to dig really deeply to find that silver lining, but Alvin Becker (John's distant relative) didn't have to dig at all this time, thanks to a good samaritan.  The story goes that their neighbor, Randy Stack, somebody they didn't really even know very well, evacuated as the Bastrop wildfires threatened to take his house, but then snuck back to save his home. He slept in his truck at night, and sprayed water on his house and Alvin's during the day.  After eight days of not knowing, Alvin and his wife Juanita returned to find their house in tact. Of the 14 houses on their side of the bridge, only four survived. Click here to read the Houston Chronicle's account of this selfless act of courage, compassion and charity. 


Remember, Reflect, Repost

Today's post was number 100 for me; can you tell that I find writing to be not only addictive but also therapeutic? Storying about inspirational and influential stuff is really forcing me to be on the lookout for elevating examples and guess what? I’m actually happier than I’ve felt in a very long time. I hope you're enjoying the Corner as much as I am!
     To celebrate this century-mark and join Jennifer at Rowdy in First in sharing some sunshine, here are my twelve favorite stories, to remember, to reflect upon, and to repost:
That Doll – This is the story of two women and the doll they cherished for more than fifty years.
The Last Lunch – Read about how my husband traveled through the letting-go process.
The Stranger At Starbucks – This is the tale of a pricey drink and a priceless friendship. 
Guiding Me Gingerly – This one’s a tribute to my counseling mentor.
One Last Shot – A difficult day I really want to remember when my memory fades.
Come Hungry, Leave Happy – A pay-it-forward idea from an expert Bucket Filler.
From Crayons To College – My daughter and I collaborated on this, so it’s really special to me.
Running On Empty – The world needs more teens like Tommy!
World Peace – This elevating experience from our kids’ camp is a summer keeper.
The Kindness Boomerang – When good goes, it always comes back around.
Fleeing From Fear – Experience the survival account of our hurricane Rita evacuation.
My Christmas Carol – The generosity of this friend never ceases to amaze me.
   I may slow down on blogging a bit as my responsibilities at school increase, but here's to the next 100 posts and LOTS of passion and positivity!

The Slogan On The Sleeve

I was only a little suspicious when my teenager came over my way with a “hey good lookin’” and a smile.  Turns out, he was reading his ecotainer, that brown hot-drink sleeve that keeps your hand from burning while you’re enjoying your hot beverage.  It so piqued my curiosity that I thumbed through them all to see what they said:
1.  Hey good lookin’.  Try to pay a compliment to at least one person each day.
2.  Feeling a little stressed?  Taking deep breaths allows you to inhale more oxygen and release tension.
3.  It’s your turn.  Turning off the water while brushing your teeth reduces the amount of water used.
4.  Flip the switch.  The best form of light is natural.
YAY; these are SO cool, er, I mean HOT! At the bottom, it simply says: take care – we owe it to one another. I like that. We owe it to one another. Just a little reminder, that the future is in our hands, from our friends at the Hampton Inn. What eco-friendly or positively-inspiring message would you write, if you could scribe the slogan on the sleeve?


Cyberspace Synergy

Synergy is defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable. I know this because we are merging two schools and synergy has been a huge part of our lives so far this school year. It also totally describes what has just happened with our Crayons to College concept. Let me back up to January when I was frantically searching for some sort of spark to use as I talked about careers with my K-3rd graders, our future workforce. My search really ended up fruitless, so I started to create on my own resource. When I got stuck, I elicited the help of our daughter who had just gone through the college application process and was awaiting news from the School of Architecture at UT-Austin. I told her what I wanted and we collaborated to create the ABCs of skills that she needed to successfully navigate her school journey and headed into her college career. I liked our final product SO much that I pitched it to a publishing company in hopes that it'd one day become a book. Fast forward nine months to September and my dream has become a reality.  Here's our book, thanks to Jen from Runde's Room.  
She saw my Crayons To College post at the end of August and completely brought the concept to life. She enlarged the alphabet letters and posted them outside her room for everyone to see and wonder about. Then she engaged her future workforce with a challenge:  Decide which skill you want to work on this year. Not all 26. Not a dozen. Not six. Just one. Baby steps. Their homework was to discuss their word and goal with their parents. What? Getting parents on board? That's SO smart! Then she asked for permission to share her mini-posters of each letter with her followers. Of course I said yes, because that meant I'd get a copy, too. And then a follower commented that she wanted to bind them all in a book - GREAT idea, I thought - so guess what I did today?  Yep, I sent that Google Doc right on over to Copy Dr. here in town (who just happened to be having a sale on colored copies) and, voila, I have officially accomplished my January goal of getting our ABCs published. Visit Runde's Room at the link above to download your free copy - YAY for cyberspace synergy! 


It's Golden!

I just love presenting my guidance lessons because I get to practice life skills with my little leaders. We've started our school year talking about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Oh, what fun! The focal point, of course, is my little white seal puppet Seymour, who's feeling a little scared and shy, like a fish out of water. After we discuss what that must feel like to be a seal in a group of humans and come to the conclusion that it's what's on the inside that counts, we read the book Something Else by Kathryn Cave. Simply one of my all-time favorites, this treasure finds Something Else feeling a little blue with nothing to be friends with because he quite doesn't fit in . . . until Something comes along. Will he invite him in or send him away?
    In an interesting twist this year, a little kindergartener actually said something like this:  I don't get how that could be so bad because when I'm with my grandma, she always says, "My, aren't you something else?" like I'm special or something. Food for thought, courtesy of a five-year-old. We get to wonder and worry, predict and process, reason and reflect with this gem. See why I love, LOVE, LOVE guidance? In the end, we seal the deal with this little ditty (I ask them why they think I used yellow-gold poster board for my poem) using the hand-jive motions to mix in some meaningful movement. Do I have a 'trrfcc' job or what?


Thanking Those Who Serve

Those of you who know me know that I LOVE my caramel macchiato in the morning. The bigger, the better - GO VENTI!  And if it's made by a barista at Starbucks, that's the best. So it made me happy when my sister called to say that there was a Starbucks RIGHT in front of the hotel where we'd be spending Saturday night. YAY!  I went to sleep with a smile because I knew what I'd be awakening to.  When I walked in, however, I saw a new flavor just calling my name:  Salted Caramel Mocha.  What to do, what to do? I asked the barista to describe it and what she told me sounded good, but I wasn't really feeling adventuresome, so I ordered the usual. That's when she said slyly, ok, but it really IS good! Alright already, go ahead, make me a sample.  S.O.L.D!  After all of that indecision (and the fact that she wasn't quite sure WHAT to do with the 50-cent piece I handed her), she ended up closing the drawer without giving me my change.  That was a twenty, I reminded her, but she couldn't open up the drawer until her next sale.
     Then they walked in. The next customers. Her next sale. And they were dressed in uniform. One in camo, and two in blue suits, all three obviously in some sort of service to us. To me. They had just come from a ceremony to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of a very dark day in history.  I didn't have to think very hard about what I wanted to do to thank and honor them for their service, especially on a somber Sunday like today.  I told that sweet Starbucks server that she could use my change to buy their drinks. They protested politely, of course, but I insisted. Thank you for your service, I said, to which the soldier responded: We don't ask for anything in return, but a kind thank-you now and again really goes a long way.
     Sometimes it's hard and even a bit awkward to do, to approach a man or woman in uniform, extend a hand, and express gratitude to them for serving, but I'm told that being appreciated goes a really long way. My hand-crafted candybar-in-a-cup ready to go, I smiled and was on my way with a jolt of java in my hand and a whole lot of happiness in my heart!


A Click For A Cause

Engage your 21st century learners in service to others without leaving the classroom with these amazing websites:
Free Rice - For every answer students get correct, the World Food Programme will receive 10 grains of rice to help end world hunger. Choose different levels and languages for extra challenge and a fun twist.  
Free Kibble - For every answer your student provides, this site will donate 10 kibbles to animal shelters for dogs in need.  Play every day and learn some trivia.
Give Vaccines - Funds for each correct answer will go toward vaccinations.  Why not give it a shot?


Make An Exception

True confessions Thursday:  I am a rule-follower!  I like it when I know the rules and I like it even better when I’m following the rules.  Now, that’s not to say I’ve never broken a rule – it’s just a ‘suggested’ speed limit, right? – but I really do like to play by the rules and let the rules guide my choices.

Here’s when that’s problematic for me.  Sometimes we have to make an exception.  Accommodating for someone’s learning to level the playing field, for example, doesn't always allow us to adhere to the letter of the law. We often need to test the flexibility of the rule.  We might even have to – GASP! – break the rule.

Yesterday was just such a time.  But it was I who was on the receiving end of the flex.  Without anticipating any delays, I’d timed my early-release exit from the building to the minute. I’d leave right after guidance, at 2:35, and arrive at the school where I’d be doing a Morning-Meeting training by 3:05, leaving me just enough time to set up, drink and tink, and breathe before the 3:30 start time. The monkey wrench that I didn’t foresee was the bus that was blocking me in. Oh, no!  I’ve been blocked in before. Those busses are under strict orders to park and NOT move. They’ve told me so. I’ve had to borrow a car before because they’re not allowed to move. It’s a rule. But since I can’t possibly borrow a car to go all the way to Clear Lake for an after-school training, this is an emergency, right?  Surely they’ll make an exception, don’t ya think?  I said a quick prayer before knocking on the bus driver’s window to explain that I was blocked in and I really, really, REALLY needed her to P.L.E.A.S.E. back up a little.

Well, we’re not supposed to do that, she said as she explained the rule. Soon there’ll be busses coming behind me and where am I supposed to back up to anyway? she added. I was pretty sure that was a definite NO! and I was already trying to figure out who would let me borrow their car, but then. it. happened.  Maybe it was the desperate look on my face or the pleading in my eyes, but she acquiesced and said, OK, I’ll try.  Three words that meant the world to me:  OK, I’ll try.  And when she didn’t quite back up far enough for my van to clear her bus and I went knocking again, she inched forward ever-so-slowly so I could eek my way out of that snug spot to freedom.  But I didn’t drive off until I thanked her profusely for seeing her way to making an exception.  Just this once. For my emergency. For me.  I hope that I'll always remember to not be such a rule follower that I can’t make an exception as need be. 
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