Post Traumatic Growth

Happy Friday the 13th; July is just zooming by. This week, I've been learning about Post Traumatic GrowthClick the quote card to hear Roberto Rivera talk about it; I loved his explanation about how resilience brings us back to baseline but post-traumatic growth takes us higher, deeper, and wider.

Roberto is a self-proclaimed hope dealer; don't you love that? According to author and speaker Scott Kaufman, hope is the number one predictor of resilience. Couple that with the info on this poignant picture from edu-hero 
Katie Perez that took my breath away and gave me pause yesterday.

Such a strong wake-up call for Social & Emotional Learning
for every child, in every school, every moment of every day, 
with every breath, every interaction, and every single word.

Speaking of words, as I was dusting in the Texas Room this morning, 
I came across this blast from the past, three year's worth of words from our daughter's UIL Spelling and Vocabulary Team days. She worked so hard to learn all of these words, what they mean, and how to spell them. 

And it paid off, too, because in May of her senior year,
she was crowned the Spelling & Vocab 4A Texas State Champ.
That, dear reader, was a tearful mommy moment,
because not only am I her proud mom, which is huge, 
but I'm also an English major, a writer, and a wordsmith,
so to see my daughter following in my footsteps
was an incredibly joyful experience.

So when I finished dusting, I went to my bookshelf of treasures,
found my new favorite Peter H. Reynolds masterpiece,
disrupted Kaitlyn's alphabetized stacks of words,
and put the two side-by-side in this special shot. 

Click the picture for a read-aloud of our picture book pick of the week. Better yet, order yourself a copy and step into the story of young Jerome, a word collector whose decision to share his collection than keep it leaves him satisfyingly speechless. Click {here} for some amazing curricular integration ideas. Then compare and contrast it with this other Word Collector

Then encourage your word collectors to start a Joy Journal
to jot down, illustrate, and share the words that bring them joy.

Our chapter pick of the week for our older learners is one that you'll have to pre-order since it's not due on the market for another month. Just Breathe is filled with ideas to help practice mindfulness with all its relaxation and restorative empowerment. Click the poolside picture for an author interview.  

Pair it with this Jonny Diaz's ballad by the same name.

Who needs you to be a hope dealer today? 


My Personal Bill Of Rights

Today I'm excited because I met one of my Twitter peeps in person; she treated me to lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. As we visited, I felt like we'd known each other forever, even though we were just now meeting for the first time.

Her name is Jessica Chandler; I've talked about her before. She just finished her 7th year teaching first grade and now she's headed out of the big city to a smaller, more rural school to grow alongside some very lucky fifth-grade learners.

We initially connected because, after purchasing some of my recommendations from our Books That Teach list of faves, this passionate, connected educator reached out to me on Twitter and invited me to read one of my favorite books to her class via Skype. We ended up connecting three times, her super-safe-keepers and I, to enjoy Dream Big, Little Pig, King Calm, and Flight School together.

Thank you, Jessica, for a wonderful lunch;
I recognize and am inspired by your grace, grit and growth.

I'm also pretty jazzed about a reflection exercise I've been working on, this personal Bill of Rights that I wrote as a part of the #nowitsup2me campaign.

What would yours say if you took the time to write one?
What do you have the right to . . . and to be free from?
Start with twenty rights or so, then whittle it down to 15-ish.
I have the feeling that mine is going to be a work in progress
as I've already edited it three four five times.

For fun, superimpose it onto a favorite picture that you snapped,
like this one from that stormy sunset last Saturday.

I used PicMonkey.com but you could also create it as a powerpoint slide.

When you're done writing, share it out and invite
your mentors, role models and friends to do the same.
Ask your teammates or your students to write one.
It might even be a fun idea for your immediate family,
first everyone's individual rights, then your collective rights.

Once you've completed the challenge, take a moment to enjoy this Mindful Minute. Listen to the cicadas while you imagine the heavy humidity hanging eerily in the air. Breathe in the remnants of the storm that just blew through and exhale any stress your body may be experiencing or holding on to.

I'm so thankful and blessed to live in a place where 
I have the right to sit by my pool and watch 
as God paints His beautiful canvas
over my home and onto my heart.


The Dog Days of Summer

As we cruise into July and wade knee deep into the dog days of summer, 
I'm thinking about, well, our best furry friends.

It started when my friend Tanya sent me this picture of Milo.

Don't you love this?
For some reason, it reminded me of this essay I found years ago:
It's whimsical, sure, but also kind of fun to imagine.
Dogs do have a lot to teach us, after all.

Then I remembered I'd promised to share 
the story of Digger, The Hero Dog.

It tells the real-life tale of Digger, who
saved his friend Kilee from a burning building. 
Click {here} for a video clip about 
his heroic rescue and her determined recovery
and {here} to read a review by Maria Dismondy.
Use it to talk about fire safety, loyalty and friendship.

It also reminded me that I've never told you about
this Maribeth Boelts (of Those Shoes fame)
treasure I found at the half-price store awhile back.

It is the sweetest story, one you can use
as a springboard for a discussion on adoption, 
friendship, and unconditional love.
Click {here} for a Humane Society lesson plan idea.

Finally, I realized I've never showcased this title, one of our Joshua's 
childhood favorites about fairness, starring Pinky and Blue.

Blue puts up with a lot from his little friend Pinky, including sharing almost everything. One non-negotiable, however, is his favorite toy rabbit. Will the squabble over that squishy rip their friendship apart? The brilliant illustrations and hilarious text make this one a delightfully engaging read-aloud for your young dog-lovers.

Want some more dog-gone good read alouds?

What are your go-to faves for the dog days of summer?


Listening Is {Heart} Work

Today I'm joyful because of this new Trudy Ludwig release:

I got so excited about its birth day that I drove to our Barnes & Noble 
to pick it up in person. And it was well worth the special trip.

This gem tells the story of outgoing Owen McPhee,
a talkative tyke whose mouth goes non-stop
and whose chatter simply can't be stopped
(believe me, they've tried!) 
even when his talking keeps him from listening,
even when his talking gets him in trouble,
even when his talking sends classmates running.

Nope, the only thing that can stop Owen is ... 

Okay, that's all I'm going to say, except that you will not want to miss the clever way in which this expert storyteller and her brilliant illustrator help Owen experience the gift of listening.
Really listening.
Listening to hear.
Listening to connect.
Listening to understand.
And listening to help.

After talking through the reflection questions in the back of the book, 
compare and contrast the adorable Patrice Barton illustration above
 with this eye-catching Julie Woodard dragonfly sketch.

Then, teach students this SOLER model that we learned
in our Capturing Kids Hearts training.

Finally, carve out some time for them to practice,
perhaps with an activity like this one from my archives.

Whatever the medium,
whatever the strategy, 
whatever it takes,
your students will benefit from learning
that listening is {heart} work
with a huge payoff in
and friendships.

We just need to get quiet, like Owen, and ... 


Appreciating Thoughtfulness

Happy July; this morning I woke up appreciating thoughtfulness
because of this scenic shot.

It probably took less than a minute,
maybe only seconds really,
for my brother Mark to momentarily leave the reunion gathering
to walk into the corn field behind my Dad's house
and capture this dusk rendering of my childhood home for me,
but it was a big big deal to me.
He sent it, along with these words: Thought you'd appreciate.
Boy was he right.
He also sent a few video clips, of the relatives
singing some spiritual songs in my Dad's garage.
Be still my soul.

Even if this last month hadn't been a rollercoaster of emotions,
of highs and lows as I say good-bye and hello,
of lots of bitter sprinkled with some sweet,
of closing old doors and opening new opportunities,
who wouldn't appreciate going home for a few moments in time?
Being a little homesick just amplifies the appreciation.

So Mark has me thinking about thoughtfulness
and watching for chances
to seize those magical moments
to give those thoughts wings.

My friend Tamara Letter wrote about that very thing;
click her intriguing image below to read all about it.

She takes thoughtfulness a step further
and muses that it can instill hope.
I agree; it's simply powerful in its potential to heal.

So here's some super thoughtful stuff I've noticed lately:

My husband running to the grocery to swap out the hot sausage I picked up by mistake. A kind text from Michelle asking how I'm doing. A phone call from Amy to make a connection with something I posted on Facebook. An invitation from Cheryl to have a quiet celebration over dinner this week. A promise from Margaret to borrow that prayer book she recommends. Jacob mentoring his brother in time management. A special delivery from Lisa, a box of Rise cupcakes. A friendly hello from Officer Ives at the bank. A kind invitation to come speak at a Rotary meeting. An email inquiry from Faye, a counselor in North Dakota, about our ukulele lab.

Click the picture to support her Donors Choose project
A video message from Maria congratulating me on my encore career. A hand-written thank-you note from Mrs. Vaughn. An invitation from Melissa to come swimming. A box of puppets from Meghan, a teacher on Twitter, who learned from a podcast that our students love them. A Vox message from Joanne, a Principal in WA who wants to meet when my travels take me to the Pacific Northwest. Albert the Alpaca puppet, gratitude for my service at Bales, from my friend Wendy.  

So much priceless thoughtfulness, much of it at no cost,
proof that the most valuable things in life are free
and a reminder that what we appreciate, appreciates.

How might you find yourself appreciating thoughtfulness?


Kindness Paints The Prettiest Pictures

Happy Friday! Today I'm excited
to share this story, with permission from
the owner of Penelope, this stately antique truck.

As soon as I saw this Facebook post,
I knew who Kathy was because
our town is a pretty small one
and only one Kathy around paints like this.
Isn't it incredible how she used her talent
to celebrate and bless this unsuspecting neighbor
even as she continues to recover from the flood!
Kindness always paints the prettiest pictures.

Today's picture book pick, also a celebration,
is a Rosenthal mother-daughter collaboration
to delight (and rejoice in) the honor of being a girl.

It's an adorable page-by-page reflection of 
thoughts to ponder,
wisdom to embrace,
advice to live by,
for those girls dear to your heart

Click {here} for an interview with Paris Rosenthal
about keeping her mom's memory alive
by publishing this beautiful treasure.
Oh how I miss AKR, but while she may be gone, 
she will never be forgotten.

Experience and enjoy a read-aloud here: 

Check out this book; it'll be the perfect gift
for that dear girl in your life regardless of her age or stage.

Our chapter book pick of the week comes straight from the heart of The Savvy School Counselor, my cyberspace colleague Vanessa Green Allen.

Vanessa's team invited me to preview and endorse the book, so here are my impressions: Kudos to school counselor and kid advocate Vanessa Allen for this timely empowerment tool that will undoubtedly bully-proof countless young people as it makes its trek around the world. The No More Bullying Book for Kids not only sets the important cognitive distinction between mean and bullying behaviors, but it also provides critical real-life examples alongside reflection questions to build capacity and strength to nurture healthy relationships. Teachers can use this text as a resource to enrich class meetings; parents and caregivers can grow along with their children as they equip themselves with respect and resilience skills that'll help them soar socially and emotionally. Check out this treasure trove of quick tips and proven strategies that will stand the test of time.

Congratulations, Vanessa; I am so proud of you.

Whether you're coupling your life experience with your writing skills to make a child's world better or you're working with your mom even as she's fighting for her life to scribe an inspirational storybook or you're creating on a canvas to express your gratitude even as you grieve, kindness always paints the prettiest pictures.

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