Big Bucket, Big Sky

Today I'm feeling blessed beyond words, in part because of the best Bucket Filling interaction ever that happened last week, between one of our new third graders and me. He stopped by the window sill where I sit every morning {with my ukulele, surrounded by my band of musical friends} and said, 
"Hey, you're getting pretty good at that!"  

I responded with, "Wow, thanks. That compliment overflows my bucket!" and, without missing a beat, he pulled what appeared to be an imaginary bucket from his pocket and replied, "Here's a bigger bucket for you." 
Perfect timing, too, because I needed that bigger bucket 
under the big sky in Montana this week!

So before I get to the point of today's post, 
let me share a few character cam shots of the breathtaking beauty.

The fog blankets the terrain as we head into
Custer National Forest,

the birds flit from pillar to post, 

and a red fox camouflages against the rocky road. 

We crossed over into Wyoming at some point;

and the picturesque scenery gave me pause.

Fall foliage peeking through ...

paints a colorful canvas along the Creek in Red Lodge.

Did I mention that my bucket is overflowing with peace, hope & joy?

And the restorative road trip wasn't even the best part.

Meet Tanya, Julie & Jeri, my three new friends from Billings Public Schools.

If you've been a visitor at the Corner for awhile, you already know Tanya from her guest posts about Empathy in a (Shoe) Box, Being Wendy, Fr(I) Statements and Vision Boards. Well, she got the idea that she'd like for me to come to her district to do some training, so this determined Montana Counselor of the Year wrote a grant last Fall and, voila, in March I got an email from her, asking me to pack my bags. We set my visit for September 22nd, Character Day 2016,
 and what a day of character development it was. 

I started the morning singing, dancing, laughing and building character with about thirty counselors, principals and administrators, then spent the afternoon doing much of the same with the combined faculties of Highland Elementary and Boulder Elementary. On Thursday night, I got to hang out with about fifty new friends at Family Character Night.

We sang together.

We read Flight School by Lita Judge.

And we talked about the power of that one little word: YET.

As I flashed up this picture from my friend Kristina, whose fifth grade teachers at Whitcomb Elementary made this visual display with the students' SMART goals for the year, I asked the children to share out loud something they can't do or haven't done yet so that we, as a group, could encourage them to keep on growing by chanting the word YET. Engagement and emotion grew as our growth-mindset Padawans shared their authentic answers:

I can't dance ... YET.
I can't bake a cake ... YET.
I can't play the ukulele ... YET.
I haven't found a friend ... YET.

Tears came when the Principal at Boulder Elementary sent me this note and explained that first thing next morning, one of those Padawans was waiting at her door, to share this thank-you treasure:

And, because of your note, Brady, and these kind comments
from workshop participants ~

This is how Professional Development is supposed to be.
I could have listened to you all day.
Just the shot of inspiration I needed.
I loved everything you had to say.
It was very good and really opened my own mind-set.
I learned so much; what a great presentation.

~ my bucket continues to overflow
bigger than Montana's big blue sky.

And the rainbow on the way home, a promise ...

that one day my plans (and a plane) would take me back in that direction.

Thank you, Tanya and Billings Education Foundation, for giving me this 
once-in-a-lifetime, picture-perfect opportunity.


May It Always Be Personal

Today, lots of questions as we traverse the tricky terrain 
around these three little words:
It's not personal.
I've heard this said a handful of times over the years and haven't ever really thought much about it, until recently, when I read this thought-provoking post.

 So I'm reflecting, trying to better understand
what people mean when they use those three little words 
and, borrowing from a few of my own personal experiences, wondering . . . 

If your teenager snubs you, is it personal?
If you lose your job due to budget cuts, is it personal?
If a teacher is curt with your child, is it personal?
If someone betrays your trust, is it personal?
If the person in line before you jams the copier, is it personal?
If a drunk driver hits you, is it personal?

I'm taking a huge leap here, and it may seem overly simplified or sensitive 
{and maybe even slightly insecure?}, 
but isn't anything that affects humankind kind of personal?

Because what we think is where behavior starts; 
our thoughts determine 
how we feel
and that, in turn, determines 
how we treat others.

Need help turning a thought like that around? Check out the strategy that author Byron Katie teaches in her tale Tiger Tiger, Is It True?. 

And though I'm still not totally sure if there truly is a time 
in which that cliche rings true, what I fervently hope is this:

For those of us in the people business . . .

may it always be personal.


Pursuing Perfection, Catching Excellence

Happy Saturday; today I'm excited to have a day
with absolutely nothing to do.
Not one thing.
I slept in until 10 am. Decadent.
And I may meander to the salon for a pedi at some point.
But mostly, I'm just taking the day to breathe.
Breathe in the goodness of another miraculous day.
A chance to relax, restore, refresh, recharge.
No running around.
No rat race.
No chaos or confusion.
A chance to just BE.
And reflect.

Look what I found on Twitter as I was enjoying every last drop
 of my morning candy bar in a cup coffee.

Click graphic for source.
Perspective. From Peter Pan. Perfect.
Wait, did I just say perfect?

Okay, time to talk about perfection,
because the struggle is real. 
At least for me it is.
Because I used to still want things to line up perfectly.
It may be part of how I'm hard-wired, that need for order.
And I'd like to say that I'm getting better at 
adapting and accepting
when they don't align the way I'd
they would.
That is, after all, a huge piece of growth mindset.
Accepting mistakes as part of the process.
Embracing failure as a success.
Letting go of that perfection ideal.

But I still mix up catching excellence
with the pursuit of perfection. Practically every day.
That's why this Lombardi quote speaks to me, I suppose.
Because he's right; perfection isn't attainable.
It's not supposed to be.

So who's with me in the fight against those persistent perfectionistic tendencies
that threaten to thwart our propensity to practice grace 
and our potential to maximize growth?
Because it's the journey that matters,
the chance to stretch and sightsee,
inspire and influence,
support and savor
as we keep moving forward.
Can I hear an amen?

In case you missed it, here's my respect guest post
from earlier this week.

Have I mentioned how grateful I am to be
on assignment with Free Spirit Publishing?
It's so kind of them to invite me share my 
and activities 
with their readers.


Make A Mark

Have you seen Emily Arrow's new song based on Peter Reynolds' book ISH yet? 

Isn't she just precious-ish?
I'll admit it; I went all fan girl when she Tweeted me that she's working on the sheet music for the ukulele.
I'm on it!
And there's another ukulele sensation on the scene; 
have you seen this little singer songwriter?
Amazing Grace. I admire how she's making her mark,
one original song at a time, big time!

The ukulele really is a magical little instrument,
especially when you have these little rays of sunshine
singing and clapping along. So many blessings.

It has been a busy few weeks as we get another school year way under way. This past week at Parent Night I tried something new, a seed that grew from a collaboration with Susan, a counseling colleague in PA. This ... 

became THIS!

There are so many sweet sentiments on this wall of fame, 
our caregivers' hopes, goals, and dreams for their children, 
many of which have nothing to do with academics. 
One of my favorites? 
You can ... be a rainbow of joy
So touching.

We also celebrated our grandparents with a breakfast ... 

and car hopped through Happy Hour at Sonic!

A FUNdraising end to a terrific week.

How have you been making your mark?


Why Mindset Matters

Lately I've been thinking a lot about mattering
You know, things that matter. 
Like kindness.

And how we treat each other.

Like relationships.

And mindset.

I'm super excited to be going to Montana 
to talk about why Mindset Matters in the middle of the month.

Click the graphic for my guest post about the matter.
But why, exactly, does mindset matter so much? When I was growing up, we thought that an IQ pretty much determined what a person was going to be able to achieve in life. We now know that the brain is a muscle that gets stronger as we learn and grow. And the more we learn about the brain, the more important it becomes to unlock those errant beliefs and rewrite those old messages.  

Here are two video clips that explain mindset really well:

And just like how the three kinds of empathy depend upon and build on one another, mindset {cognition} must come first before other skills can fall into place.

So how exactly do we teach mindset?
Enter this fantastic new resource by school counselor Lisa King.

Click book cover for more info at NCYI.
It came in the mail last week and I devoured it in a day. Then I went back through it to highlight and earmark pages. It's filled with puzzles, coloring pages, book recommendations, brain teasers, and lesson plan activities. There's a mindset chant you can use and some creative ideas for a Mindset Social Station

Using a MINDSET acrostic, the chapters address these areas. 

And though it is called a Counseling Curriculum, I would totally love to see it in the hands of any caregiver who has a stake in the future of a child. I especially like the last chapter, that encourages and empowers our future leaders to take what they know and teach others.

Need a little ditty or song to seal the deal? Here's one I wrote for my friends in Montana; feel free to add it to your mindset arsenal.

It's knowing, embracing, and living the fact that every day is a new chance to be 
the best version of you that you can be. That's why mindset matters!


A Stronger Song

I almost didn't go to church this morning, because it's a holiday weekend here, and I was feeling kind of lazy. But we're starting a Karen Kingsbury book study and I'd invited my friend Carol to join me for our Sunday School class so I went, because I said I would. And I'm so glad I did, because our teacher shared this video clip, which really has me thinking, reflecting, and wondering.

It's so interesting, the two versions of Amazing Grace that this talented music director sang. The first one was pretty textbook, safe and clean. But when the host gives him a new perspective from which to sing it and couples it with his permission to bring it, his voice amplifies and he sings with incredible passion.

So today's question is this: What makes your song better?
Is it trust? A willingness to be vulnerable? Knowing your why?
Is it a safe place? Community? Unconditional positive regard?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my recovery from being hit 
by that drunk driver because that life-changing event ended up 
strengthening my song.

It taught me to slow down and savor, 
it taught me to be grateful in all things, 
and it taught me to forgive. 

Even though it was a dark season of panic and pain,
the whole ordeal held an opportunity,
the burden hid a blessing.
I just had to be willing to look for it
and be ready to recognize the gift when it found me.
It took a lot of patience, persistence and perseverance;
sometimes more than I thought I could muster. 
But it was totally worth the work.

Liz Murray had this to say about staying the course:

It takes courage to change our song,
to trust enough to leave the script,
to share our music with passion,
to sing it out for the whole world to hear. 

How will you sing a stronger song today? Tomorrow?
This week? This month? This year?