8.07.2018

New Beginnings

What a difference a good night's sleep makes!
In the days leading up to yesterday's luncheon keynote,
I didn't sleep much. At all.
Too much rehearsing in my heart and in my mind.
So that it would all go well.
So that I would make my former district proud.
So that I would fire up their new teachers
and give a booster shot of inspiration to their mentors.


Since the event had a Broadway theme,
I dusted off my Elsa gown and took center stage.
My friend Melissa filmed it until the launch,
if you want to hear my encouragement to BE the MAGIC.


She stopped filming just as we were about to sing,
because it was the interactive part of the event.
Click {here} to feel that magic;
here are the lyrics you'll need to sing along.

I'm feeling so abundantly blessed right now;
it was, indeed, a beautiful and warm welcome to FISD.
It's a little melancholy to no longer be an active part of that magic
as the 2018-2019 school year started today without me.
So instead of putting on a new back-to-school outfit,
I laced up my shoes, dusted off my racquet,
 and scheduled a racquetball game with my son Joshua.
As I was playing, I found myself singing these Broadway songs.

Position ... position.
{I know, it's really called Tradition}


Like in life, it kind of matters where you are on the court
if you are going to effectively return the ball.
I found myself out of position a lot this morning.
I even got in the way of the ball once. Ouch.

My shot.


I threw away a lot of shots because I was going for the kill
instead of patiently waiting for the ball to come to me.
Patience is a virtue and not one that I'm very adept at ... yet.

Let it go.



I let a lot of shots go,
shots I'd have totally chased thirty years ago.
Then I'd get a tad bit frustrated, so I had to keep telling myself
let it go, let it go. It's just a game.
You can't show up after 30 years
and expect to play well.
You know, muscle memory and all.
Savor the moment and enjoy what it is.

It helped me a lot, actually, to sing through those songs
while I was trying desperately not to let Joshua skunk me.
Those few points I managed were well earned, for sure.
It was like going back to 1990-ish
and starting over again all at once
{if that even makes any sense}.

Without going back to school today,
I still got to experience a new beginning.
Time on the racquetball court with my son
remembering a sport I was decent at
way before he was born,
a long time ago,
in a totally different before-kids body,
in a very different single season in my life.

So here's to new beginnings.
I'll leave you with this incredible hand-drawn card
that a friend of mine sent my way this week
to remind me of the beautiful new beginnings ahead,
not only for those of us who won't be going back to school ...


but also for those of you who will.






8.04.2018

Let It Go

Today I'm excited because my daughter Kaitlyn helped me create
 this beautiful brochure to help launch my encore career.




Click {here} to take a closer look or to print and pass it along
to someone who might be in need of some SEL training.

On Monday, I'll be delivering the luncheon keynote to welcome our district's new employees. Since the event's theme is Broadway and Frozen is now on stage, 
I'll be wearing the Elsa gown from my 2014 keynote in DC


Not only that, but it aligns with my message ~ Be The MAGIC ~ and will also be a talking point because it spotlights the generosity of the people in our community since it was hand sewn as a gift by the mom of one of my students.

I've made these little magnetic cards as a table takeaway ...


it has my newest favorite mantra on it.

Love to teach. Teach to love.

It's even on a t-shirt that's on sale at Mardel this week.

I put that advice on this slide that will launch them into greatness.
I'm praying my message will be a magical welcome to our district.


Speaking of magical, this week's picture book pick has
a special connection with the Frozen ballad.


In this newcomer by Alan C. Fox
young Benji wants a kite more than anything.
A big orange one.
The really expensive kind.
So he helps his mom in the garden to earn the money.
Then it's time for the big day, his orange kite's first flight.
And what a dreamy day it was;
it was the day Benji became a kite whisperer.
What happens at the end of that magical moment 
might shock and surprise you,
so we'll leave the kite gracefully floating up high in the sunset sky.
Check out this book to discover its destiny.

And now today's question: What might you need to let go?
Maybe something's getting in your way?
Maybe there's an obstacle that seems impossible to hurdle.
Maybe letting it go would be a beautiful gift,
 because when you let things go, you make room for new stuff.
And it feels liberating to simplify and to start over.
Sing it with me:  Let it go, let it go

And speaking of powerful songs, I'll leave you, dear reader, with the new 
Jason Mraz song along with my wish that your wildest dreams come true.


Work hard and dream big.

Do you have a mantra for this school year?










7.31.2018

Be The MAGIC

Today I'm excited because comment #7 of the ten comments 
was chosen as the winner of a copy of Be Where Your Feet Are.


I love giving stuff away. Congrats, Vanessa, and thanks for being a reader. 
Send me your postal address and I'll send the book your way.

I'm also delighted that our second podcast went live this morning.
Click {here} to hear Houston Kraft talk about his kindness crusade.


Prepare to be wowed by Houston's message about being intentional as we work to make kindness normal as well as what he suspects gets in our way. Pure magic. We received some very kind feedback about the episode on Twitter today. 



So fun to rev people up about going back to school. 

For those of you who have someone special headed to a school with a locker, here's a tutorial for using a combination lock, recorded during a life-coaching session.


Didn't my Jr. High friend do a fantastic job?
It was so interesting to watch his transformation from
I can't do this; it's impossible! to I've got this; want me to help you?

This evening I got to give a keynote at Chara Dance
encouraging the dance and music instructors to . . . 


Be the MAGIC.

Don't just find it.
Don't just make it.
Don't just bring it.
All of those things are external.
BE it.
Internalize it.
Make it your own.
From the inside out.
Decide how that 
looks, 
sounds, 
and feels.
And then do that.
Because kids deserve it.
And so do parents.
And community stakeholders.
Each and every moment of
each and every day.

How will you be the magic this year?

Happy August.






7.27.2018

Be Where Your Feet Are

As mindfulness mantras go, this is one of my favorites.


I spoke about mindfulness yesterday, at the League City Rotary meeting. 
What fun it was to experience mindful eating with them. 
Click the sweet image below for a script.


Now, this mantra is the title of a children's book by Julia Cook.

Click image for more information and/or to order yours today.
And since our friends from NCYI sent multiple copies,
I have one to give away. Listen in to hear Julia talk about her new treasure.

 
Can't you just feel her excitement?

In this best-selling author's latest brainchild, the story's narrator has a lot going on in life, from band to soccer to his studies. Pretty sure he's rocking multi-tasking, the people around him keep urging him to
be where his feet are,
to be mindful of what's happening in the moment,
to not share his brain's attention with so many things at once.

Here's my favorite page, when the child finally understands,
but then he needs to influence the adults in his life
to get it, too. 


Teach your children well ... as a bonus,
Julia suggests seven concrete ways in the back of the book
to help us be where our feet are.

If you'd like a chance to win a copy of this mindfulness gem, leave a comment below about how you stay in the moment to unwrap the present. We will use a random generator to select a comment by number and post the winner on Tuesday, July 31st after noon, CST. Check back then to see if it's you.


Follow Julia's publisher, National Center for Youth Issues, 
on Facebook {here}, Instagram {here}, and Twitter {here}.

And don't forget that I have a mindfulness collection {here}.

Until then, I'm unplugging from my devices
and plugging in to my family.

Enjoy the rest of July.







7.24.2018

#CharacterSpeaks Podcasting Joy

Today's excitement comes from a bold, scary step out of my techno-comfort zone; our first podcast is now live. Click the image to hear Amanda Symmes talk about her passion and prepare to be uplifted and inspired. Don't miss what this edu-hero has to say about relational aggression, mindfulness, and knitting.


We will be posting podcasts weekly, so look for the #CharacterSpeaks logo on the right for a quick link. Better yet, subscribe when you're there so it downloads to your device. And, if you like what you hear, we'd like your feedback and a review.

Our guest next week will be Houston Kraft, co-founder of Character Strong, 
my role model, my really good friend and newest colleague.


This passionate kindness ambassador lives life with intentional joy. You are going to love his contagious energy and insightful take on building relationships and making kindness normal. We recorded yesterday and that episode is in editing as I type. I'm so grateful to have an IT team as my podcast is sponsored by Prosign Design. You might remember their amazing character banners that added color and pizzazz to the halls at my school last year. 


Like with Houston, I met Judy last October at the National Forum, forged a friendship with her, and now we're working and growing together. I've been so blessed to blog for them and now podcast with them. 


Click the image for today's post with six games that can help nurture confidence and self-esteem while you build character strength in your superheroes.


That's a lot of happiness for today, but here's one more thing
which brings us full circle back to my new friend Amanda.
Her second guest post at Free Spirit went live this morning;
click the image below to read what she suggests about 
busting the boredom blues seizing the benefits of boredom. 


Talk about genius.
Happy Tuesday. 
What's bringing you joy today?







7.19.2018

Fostering A Can-Do Spirit

Today I'm excited because I was invited to talk about empathy, compassion and kindness on this Kindsight 101 Podcast. It was such a delight to visit with Morgane, the interviewer, who crafted insightful inquiries and totally knew her stuff. Grab some coffee or tea and click the image below to listen in.


I'm also tickled because my stuff is almost completely out of boxes from my move out of our Leadership Central learning lab. True story, it's very hard for me to let go of things, especially the hand-made cards of gratitude and love in my Smile File from my superheroes and ideas I thought I might need one day, like this ring that we picked up over a decade ago, when the kids and I took a Developmental Assets Walk with the Bay Area Alliance through Challenger Park. 


I'm pretty sure there were eight beads, because the idea was to stop at eight stations along the way, one for each of the Asset categories, and collect beads while talking with the person at that station about that Asset. I figured we could easily adapt this to our six-pillars framework, so I saved the beads that most closely aligned with our true colors and put it in a box with so many other treasured ideas, to try it one day. I advocated for a Pillar Power Walk many times, but to no avail. Still I kept this idea, perhaps for such a time as this. 

How would you use it in your character building? Could you give out beads as students go through your core values lessons? Could you host a Family Character Night and give families an opportunity to make these together? Could students collect beads with every stop on campus (classroom, library, music room, STEAM lab, etc) that they visit at Open House? Could there be a certain colored bead to align with the emotions or skills they've attained? Unlimited possibilities for these colorful rings that students can hang on their backpacks or use as a keychain. 

Today's picture book pick of the week by Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley came in the mail yesterday and I'm pretty jazzed about it, possibly since I always figured I wasn't a math person. {Turns out there's no such thing.} 
And probably because it's such an inspirational read.


Meet Raye Montague.
She's a woman.
She has dark skin.
And she's a whiz at math.
Back when she was growing up, 
those three things didn't add up.
It was during a time when inequality was amped up.
In fact, her genius was over and over again passed up.
But this can-doer never gave up.
This is her success story, spotlighting her big big dreams, how hard she worked to become an engineer, and what she endured and overcame to get the recognition she'd earned as the first person to design a ship using a computer. Check out this growth-mindset title; it'll inspire your can-doers to reach higher and never give up.

Our chapter book of the week was buried in my boxes
of stuff because I'd taken it to school to share it with
a few of my students and suggest it as a summer sizzler.


I even had this bookmark that my friend Paisley made for me
hanging out on the title page, to remind me
to share it with you, dear reader.


  But it got lost in the move, until yesterday.

It's a Fantรกstico race in a Grand Prix of the Food Truck kind,
which I struggled a little bit to explain to one of my
students on the autism spectrum as I was recommending it.
He couldn't understand how Food Trucks could go fast. At all.

Anyway, in this tasty treasure by Richie Frieman, 
Maddy dreams of buying herself a bike
and sees entering the Food Truck competition
with her brother Cole and her grandfather Pop Pops 
as an avenue to make that dream come true. 
This savory intergenerational tale finds the trio overcoming incredible odds and slowing down to go fast over 
those proverbial speed bumps in the road of life
to reach the finish line and realize those dreams.
Maddy finds out that it's going to take 
a can-do attitude,
a whole lot of perseverance and grit, 
and a little bit of magic.
Even unkind Kenny, one of Maddy's obstacles,
 might soften and sweeten a bit on the Prix path.
Check out this book; I predict it'll win a spot on your heart.

What are you go-to strategies for helping cut through I can't


and fostering a can-do spirit in your learners?






  





7.16.2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Today I'm excited because I started the day swimming with this little superhero, who's now going in to 8th grade already, and reconnecting with her mom. Allison is a climate changer, making the world better with that huge heart and kind smile.


I was so grateful to see her again and spend time with them.

I'm also thankful to Prosign Design for partnering with me to help support caregivers as they work with intention to build character in their children. Click the lemonade-stand image below to read my latest guest post. 


After swimming, I stepped way out of my techno-comfort zone and recorded my first Prosign Design-sponsored Podcast. What fun it was to interview Amanda Symmes and find out how a School Adjustment Counselor walks the talk by nurturing healthy relationships. It'll post next week, to stay tuned for details.


Now, on to the Won't You Be My Neighbor? part of this post;
have you seen the Mr. Rogers documentary yet?

It's on my to-do list, but my friend Tanya cautioned maybe not going alone to see it, so I'm waiting until I can see it with a friend.

I ran into my neighbor at the grocery store on Saturday.
Not my neighborhood neighbor, 
but the teacher from across the hall,
on Respect Route, 
at Westwood Elementary
for fourteen years until three years ago.

I came across a dozen or so notes in my Smile file that she wrote during our days togetherHere's one she wrote after I brought back some Wisconsin cheese and then visited her first-grade class as a guest farmer during their farming unit.


Can't you just feel the empathy and love in every word?

Everybody loves Mrs. Quigley, so time stood weirdly still when I saw her coming my way. It was as if we were the only ones in that store, she in her It Is Well With My Soul shirt, I in my Be Where Your Feet Are shirt. Catching up with her for those few moments in time felt like going home. I can't wait until she comes home to the family farm with me one day.

Jennifer Quigley is the kind of neighbor that everybody deserves to have.

She's warm and welcoming,
compassionate and caring,
generous and grateful.

She's the real deal, just like Mr. Rogers . . .

Click image for source.


because she knows what he knew
about being a good neighbor and friend.








7.13.2018

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? 










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